Sep 11, 2007

Group holding a Counter Coulter event

Livingston County Voter’s Voice and the Community Unitarian Universalists in Brighton are sponsoring a “Counter Coulter” event to provide a positive event in response rightwing pundit Ann Coulter’s appearance at Cleary University’s Economic Club Speakers Luncheon Series in Howell on Oct. 1 at the cost of $30,000.

Jonathan Cohn, a senior editor at The New Republic magazine, will appear at the Howell Opera House at 7 p.m. on the same day Coulter is speaking to lead a discussion on the state of health care in the country. The price of admission is a donation. Cohn is appearing free, and organizers say once the $100 cost of renting the venue is met the rest will be donated to The Livingston County Free Dental Clinic for Children.

“A number of us decided back in May there should be something positive instead of the hate speech and racist comments from Coulter,” said Jim Swonk, the president of Voter’s Voice and the President of the Board at the church. “We’re just trying to do something positive while she’s in the county.”

Livingston County has suffered with a lingering reputation as a racist community because the former Grand Dragon of the Michigan Klan lived on a farm in rural Cohoctah Township just outside of Howell, as well as having a very small minority population in the county.

“There are a lot of people in the community upset that she is coming,” Swonk said. “We hope to get a good response, and we have room for 200 people.”

In addition to being a senior editor at The New Republic magazine, Cohn is also a media fellow at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and a senior fellow at Demos a non-partisan public policy center. Cohn writes about domestic politics and policy with a primary focus on health care. In April he published his first book “Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis --- and the People Who Pay for it." Cohn has also written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, Mother Jones, Rolling Stone and Slate. A graduate of Harvard University, he now lives in Ann Arbor with his wife and two children.

Although organizers here began the planning for the event five months ago, they were buoyed by the recent "Thank Ann Coulter" campaign at Xavier University in Cincinnati where a coalition of student and progressive groups raised the same $25,000 speaking fee Coulter received and donated it to student groups at a Counter Coulter rally while Coulter was speaking.

The Voter's Voice is a group for independents, moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans formed in 2002 for people concerned about politics and public policy.

“We try to take out the spin from both the right and the left,” Swonk said, who is also a former Democratic candidate for state Senator.

Howell Opera House is located at the corner of Grand River Avenue and Walnut Street in downtown Howell.

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