Jul 31, 2008

Youtube ad shows why Brandana is the best candidate for the 22nd District

ROMULUS – Knocking on doors in near 90 degree weather for almost five hours is not my idea of a fun way to spend a day off, but keeping a Democratic majority in the Michigan House of Representatives and putting the best Democrat there is worth it.

I walked for Jill Brandana , one of the Democratic candidates for the open seat in the 22nd District that represents the Downriver cites of Romolus and Taylor. She is a solid Democrat who will represent the district well.

She holds a master's degree in public administration from the University of Michigan, and she is currently serving as the Chairwoman Pro-Tem of the Taylor City Council. She is running against fellow Taylor City Councilman Doug Geiss for the Democratic nomination. Now, Geiss seems to have all of the qualifications for the job, but I believe Brandana is the best candidate. A recent statement he made regarding the controversial new runway proposed for Detroit Metropolitan Airport makes my decision easier.

It’s obviously a hot issue for Romulus residents, as well as Taylor residents, but a master improvement plan that includes a 10,000-foot landing strip will displace business, schools and up to 800 homes in Romulus.

There have been numerous town hall meetings on the issue, and at a meeting in Romulus on March 3, in response to a question from a Romulus on whether Taylor would provide financial help to fight the expansion, Geiss said yes, to loud applause from the crowd.

Just a month later at a Taylor City Council meeting, a resident objected to Taylor tax dollars being spent in Romulus, and Geiss said that would not happen and then said that he never made the remark on March 3.

The Brandana campaign has put an excellent ad together on it that can be seen on Youtube. Some might call this a negative ad, but I find it hard to call pointing out someone’s own inconstancies to them a negative ad. Now, if you were to compare Geiss to Brittany Spears or Paris Hilton, that’s another story.

Vote for Jill Brandana on Tuesday and in November.

Jul 29, 2008

Latest Livingston County GOP attack on Obama filled with false talking points

The Livingston County Republican Party’s letter writing team continues its attack on Barack Obama, but at least the latest letter published in the Daily Press & Argus is not racist like the last two from the Grand Oil Party.

Although the one from Howell Township resident Tom Worley is not racist, it’s still filled with false talking points and inaccuracies. It’s like he copies the talking points, but doesn’t elaborate on them. Russ Spencer needs to do a better job of communicating the false talking points to his drones.

Mr. Worley claims the only one praising Obama is Obama. Apparently he missed the huge crowds all over the country and world. He then claims he has no idea what changes the Senator is talking about. The only person to blame for that is Mr. Worley. If he doesn’t know what Obama stands for or his positions, then he has not been paying attention and does not want to know.

Mr. Worley writes “He says that the surge in Iraq hasn't worked, but the war seems to be slowing down and Iraqi leaders are declaring their willingness to take the responsibility for their own protection.” What he fails to mention is that the Iraqi government has endorsed Obama’s position on the occupation, followed by the President. That is a consistent position of a16-month timetable, dependent on conditions on the ground. That was just endorsed by the Iraqi government, and Bush endorsed it too; only he called it a “horizon.”

Mr. Worley takes a shot at Obama for the troop surge in Iraq. In regular language that’s called an escalation. It was also sold as a temporary measure, which it had to be because we do not have the troop strength to do it for long. It ignores the face that Obama was against the useless invasion of Iraq from the beginning. Here’s the most important question: what does victory in Iraq mean? When do we know we have achieved that undefined goal? When Bush says so? He’s already done that once before, years ago and many dead soldiers and dead civilians ago.

Then Mr. Worley changes talking points midstream with this one that makes no sense. “Congress has passed a bailout bill to care for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.” I have no idea what that means or where that even came from.

“One thing he seems to be focused on is a surge in troops to Afghanistan. Wonder why,“ Mr. Worley writes. That’s pretty easy. The people who planned and executed the September 11 attack did so from Afghanistan and are in Afghanistan. If we had consternated on doing the job there instead of invading Iraq for no reason we would not be in this mess.

He than goes off on a confusing tangent on health care.

His next paragraph makes no sense. “One thing he has promised is to prohibit using our natural resources to find oil, saying we can find a way to exist without dependence on foreign oil. He will support even late-term abortions.”

The Grand Oil Party’s fronting for the poor oil companies makes no sense. The oil companies have thousands of leases on millions of acres of land where they can drill and get oil, but it will not effect the price of gasoline for up to 10 years. Instead, they want to extort the Americans people to drill in environmental sensitive areas. There is also the myth that because of environmentalists no new refineries have been built in years. True, but that ignores the increased capacity built at existing refineries. We not only can break our dependence on foreign oil and oil in general, we must.

No one supports late or even early term abortions. I support a woman’s right to choose, and we should do everything possible to make sure that’s the last choice she chooses. I want to see abortions like they were during the Clinton years: legal, safe and rare.

Mr. Worley’s parting shot, “Obama is indeed a great orator,” makes no sense when taken with his opening salvo, “He speaks in riddles and innuendoes.” But that disconnect describes the entire attack.

Another smear attack on Obama debunked

We have all seen the Barrack Obama smear emails making the rounds that falsely accuse him everything from being a Muslim terrorist to being a coke addict. I have only gotten a few examples of the vile garbage because I am obviously not a right-winger. But I got this one based on Obama’s successful overseas trip, and I was also surprised how quickly it was debunked and also how quickly Grampy McSame tried to use to swift boat Obama. Here’s the letter.

Hello everyone,
As you know I am not a very political person. I just wanted to pass along that Senator Obama came to Bagram Afghanistan for about an hour on his visit to 'The War Zone'. I wanted to share with you what happened. He got off the plane and got into a bullet proof vehicle, got to the area to meet with the Major General (2 Star) who is the commander here at Bagram.

As the Soldiers where lined up to shake his hand he blew them off and didn't say a word as he went into the conference room to meet the General. As he finished, the vehicles took him to the ClamShell (pretty much a big top tent that military personnel can play basketball or workout in with weights) so he could take his publicity pictures playing basketball. He again shunned the opportunity to talk to Soldiers to thank them for their service.
I swear we got more thanks from the NBA Basketball Players or the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders than from one of the Senators, who wants to be the President of the United States. I just don't understand how anyone would want him to be our Commander-and-Chief. It was almost that he was scared to be around those that provide the freedom for him and our great country.
In service,
CPT Jeffrey S. Porter
Battle Captain
TF Wasatch
American Soldier

Snopes is working overtime to debunk the constant smears against Obama, and this is just one more. According to Snopes, he did not even play basketball at Bagram or visit the “clamshell,” and he visited with troops from Illinois privately. The above photo is a picture of Obama “blowing off Soldiers.”

A new McSame false attack ad says Obama "made time to go to the gym, but canceled a visit with wounded troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras."

“McCain's facts are literally true, but his insinuation – that the visit was canceled because of the press ban or the desire for gym time – is false. In fact, Obama visited wounded troops earlier – without cameras or press – both in the U.S. and Iraq. And his gym workouts are a daily routine,” according to Fact Check.

We can expect to see more of these as the McSame campaign and the Republicans get more desperate.

Jul 27, 2008

Blogger concurs with editorial board state House endorsements

The editorial board of the Livingston Daily Press & Argus confirmed the endorsements I made Friday when they came up with their endorsements Sunday for the contested races for the two open state House Districts in Livingston County.

The paper endorsed Handy Township Supervisor Cindy Denby in her bid for the Republican nomination for the 47th District seat. The paper endorsed Livingston County Commissioner Bill Rogers - older brother of U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers - for the Republican nomination for the 66th District seat. It endorsed community activist Donna Anderson for the Democratic nomination for the 66th District seat.

I live in the 47th District, and I am considering voting for Denby. Remember, you can’t split your ticket between parties in the primary or the ballot will be rejected. I don’t believe there is a contested race in my commission district, so I may vote on the GOP side.

Like I said before, I strongly disagreed with the positions Denby took in the latest debate, but I hope she was playing to the base like many politicians do in primary elections. I will be voting for Scott Lucas in the General Election. My experience with Denby from covering Handy Township as a reporter is she is fair, competent and professional.

But I want the best candidates running in the General Election in case Denby wins in the General Election, and past history says the GOP nominee will win the General. A vote is too precious and too many people died to secure the vote for me to waste it on an inferior candidate just because I want to see a Democrat win.

I disagree with the paper’s final word of caution. “Denby is often low-key and quiet for a policymaker. We believe she'll have to show initiative in Lansing to get attention for her agenda and the agenda of Livingston County. She'll need to show more assertiveness to get her issues heard in the hubbub of the House of Representatives.”

My experience is the person who works quietly behind the scenes with both party’s gets things done.

Jul 25, 2008

GOP candidates try to out conservative each other

BRIGHTON -- Any primary in Livingston County consists of Republican candidates trying to out-conservative and out-pro-life each other, and it was no different Thursday at a debate sponsored by The Livingston County Daily Press and Argus to fill the open seats in the Michigan House of Representatives.

Republicans Jason Corosanite and Bill Rogers are facing off to run against Democrats Donna Anderson of Brighton and Milford resident Tom Crawford for the open 66th District seat that includes the city of Brighton and the townships of Marion, Oceola, Brighton, Genoa, Green Oak and Milford. Crawford was absent.

Republicans Charlie Aberasturi, Cindy Denby, Carl Konopaska and Frank Portelli are facing off against Democrat and Hamburg Township resident Scott Lucas for the open 47th District seat that includes the City of Howell and the townships of Cohoctah, Conway, Deerfield, Hamburg, Handy, Hartland, Howell, Iosco, Marion, Putnam, Tyrone and Unadilla.

Over the years I have been to many debates, and I even coved this debate for the Press & Argus. But I was never more frustrated and disappointed after a debate. This is really the first debate I attend after working in both the Michigan House and Senate, and I’m much more familiar with the process. The Press & Argus did an excellent job like they always do, and I recommend you watch their video feed of the event. But their choice of questions was not the best. Why would they ask their position on stem cell research in a primary where five of the six candidates are Republicans? I already knew what their answer would be, and only Anderson favored it.

“It will go forward in Michigan, and it must go forward,” she said. “People need to understand where these cells come from.”

Embryonic stem cells are primitive cells that can be generated in a Petri dish after an egg is fertilized by sperm in a dish in a fertility clinic. I can’t get past the fact they will just toss them in the trash when they are no longer needed or wanted, but they can’t be used to conduct research that may help to find a cue for things like multiple sclerosis; cancers; cardiovascular diseases; circulatory and respiratory diseases and spinal cord injuries.

I am happy to say they used my question on whether they support a workplace ban on smoking. I was really surprised all the Republicans were against it, and only Anderson supported it. This is a bipartisan issue, and both the House and the Republican controlled Senate have passed a version of the smoking ban. The debate is will we ban it completely or will we allow exceptions for casinos, cigar bars and bingo halls, not that it will be banned.

“It one of the best ways to protect our health,” Anderson said.

There was too much talk about either banning tobacco in general, it’s hypocritical to ban smoking in bars because the tax on cigarettes balances the state budget and individual business owners should be able choose. First, this is not about smoking, it’s about secondhand smoke. The U.S. Surgeon General has said there is no safe amount of secondhand smoke. Simply put, second-hand smoke kills. Some said they support a ban in office buildings. But if I’m a bartender or waitress I can’t light up in their office, so why are people allowed to light up in my office?

The bottom line is there is little difference between the GOP candidates, so it comes down to qualifications and experience. I would endorse Cindy Denby in the 47th District only because I personally know her. I covered Handy Township from 2000-2008 where she served as Supervisor. Because I live in the 47th District, I will be voting for Scott Lucas.

In the 66th I endorse Bill Rogers for the GOP, only because I know him from covering the county Board of Commissioners where he currently serve as the chair. He is a really nice, sincere guy, and I respect and like him, as well as Denby. But frankly, I was more than disappointed by their positions. Clearly, Donna Anderson won this debate, and that’s who people should vote for.

I can’t wait for the general election debate.

Jul 24, 2008

County GOP continues its thinly-disguised racist rants

The Livingston County Republican Party continues its letter-to-the-editor writing campaign with another thinly-disguised racist rant. The latest one published in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus comes from Howell Township resident Bob Moriset.

The gist of the letter is that Sen. Barack Obama is unqualified. However, Mr. Moriset used the thinly-disguised use of his entire name, Barack Hussein Obama. This is a signal to other racists that you should not vote for Obama because he is a Muslim with a funny-sounding Muslim name. Now, he is not a Muslim, and if you need any proof of that, just watch the Hatey & Colmes show on Faux “News” where Hatey brings up his Christian minister with every question he asks. Frankly, it should not matter a lick what religion he is, but unfortunately it does.

To make sure the bigots out there know he is not only a Muslim, but black as well, we get this ridiculous sentence from Mr. Moriset. “His orchestrated background, conducted by his liberal guardians and a bureaucratic African father, will be noteworthy.”

If it wasn’t enough the sentence makes no sense, we get the remark that his father was African. Can someone tell me the significance of that statement, other than to point out Obama’s race? Obama’s mother and father separated when he was two years old and later divorced, and he saw his father only once before his death. He was raised by his mother in a single parent household, but this is common knowledge. With a 50 percent divorce rate in this country, he was far from alone.

The rest of the letter is an exercise in code words to the base and outright lies.

Mr. Moriset writes that Obama “may qualify as the most articulate ultraliberal decoy ever to get a U.S. presidential nomination.” First, Obama is a moderate Democrat, much like President Bill Clinton, but he certainly cannot be described as “ultraliberal.” I only wish that were the case. I have no idea what the “decoy” part means. A decoy for what?

He next claims, “His arrival on the scene can only be attributed to a once great, now brain-dead, Democratic Party ruled by a radical bunch determined to wreck the country as we have known it.” I’m not sure if Mr. Mr. Moriset is aware of the shambles the Grand Oil Party really is. As for wrecking the country, he might want to take a look around at events in the country and the shape of the economy after eight years of Bush. Certain events look all too familiar to people who lived through the Great Depression.

Mr. Moriset then claims, “He gained the nomination almost by default over a supremely unqualified opponent.” Is this the same opponent, Hilary Clinton, that right-wingers were falling over each other to support and endorse because they did not have enough dirt on Obama? The answer is yes, by the way.

But he saves the best for last, “This young man we know as Barack Hussein Obama has spent his entire sheltered life learning to hate the traditional values most Americans hold very dear and don't cotton to giving them up easily. President George W. Bush hasn't been perfect; few presidents are. But he is true to American ideals. So is John McCain.”

This is a man raised in a single parent household where money was often tight, to overcome racial prejudice and graduate with honors from Columbia University and Harvard Law School. He did it on his own, and he was no legacy. His grandfather and father were not admirals, nor was his grandfather a U.S. Senator or his father a president. What tradition values is it that he hates? Racial prejudice? Count me among those that hate that traditional value.

As for his unqualified and inexperienced take. They also said that about the greatest Republican president ever, Abraham Lincoln.

Jul 22, 2008

Former media darling McCain acts like jilted boyfriend

Grampy McSame campaign surrogate Phil Graham was half right with his disgusting comments that the U.S. is a nation of whiners, but he must have had his employer in mind when he made the ridiculous comment.

A McCain rant hit my email inbox today, and Grampy McSame is up in arms because he claims the “media is in love with Barack Obama.” The email claims “It's pretty obvious that the media has a bizarre fascination with Barack Obama. Some may even say it's a love affair.”

That got the rightwing echo machine revved up, and rightwing think tanks and organizations are picking up this theme, and the crying and whining can be heard coast-to-coast. The Communications Director for the rightwing propaganda machine the Media Research Center was on the Thom Hartman show today, and I thought he was going to come unhinged trying to get his talking points out. He was engaging in the Republican tactic of screaming over every one else to get his talking points out. It was his claim that this is proof of the myth – effective political strategy actually – of the liberal media. To me, I would prefer the media cover Grampy McSame more because his constant gaffs are rarely covered or are passed off as “senior moments” are going uncovered.

It sounds more like jealously from Grampy. He has courted the media over the years, and he is angry at being jilted. He was the media darling in 2000, and he sounds like a jilted boyfriend.

Hartman, who has to be the smartest man in the world, broke it down very simply. Network news stations, and most media outlets, are for-profit entities owned by a few mega corporations. That’s why the media is conservative. The simple fact is they want to increase their ratings because increased ratings means more profit and more profit means more profit to stockholders. It seems logical that they want to cover what people want to see.

“There going to follow the rock star instead of the boring, old man,” Hartmann said.

The media Research Center is launching a letter-writing campaign aimed at GE stockholders, owners of NBC, to alert them of this alleged love affair with Obama. I don’t think that will work. If you want to spur them to action, show them they are losing money by covering Obama and you will get results.

General Electric: now there’s a liberal corporation.

Jul 21, 2008

Good news for Michigan: bad news for Republicans

Here’s some news you will not hear from the rightwing bloggers, actually blogger, since they have only one: Michigan was one of six states to record significant job gains between May and June, according to figures released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

We hear with glee and loud cheers from the right when Michigan has a high unemployment rate, the highest in the country they love to tell us. It’s kind of sad when they cheer when Michigan goes through hard times.

According to the BLS press release, the job gains totaled 16,700, which meant Michigan added the second highest number of jobs, statistically speaking. Texas added the most jobs with 47,700, followed by Wisconsin with 8,200, Ohio with 7,900, Oklahoma with 7,700 and New York with 7,300. This is despite the state’s largest employer starting another round of massive layoffs.

It’s hard for me to understand how the governor, any governor, can be blamed for the state's largest employer losing market share, and how a governor can be blamed for the state’s dismal economy when they cannot change or alter the two most important factors that effect the economy: trade policy and monetary policy.

Many of those jobs will come from Michigan adding 800 new jobs through a Dow joint venture and 3,798 jobs through multiple companies receiving tax incentives and brownfield development projects, but the GM layoffs will most likely offset those gains.

Despite the cheerleading from the right for Michigan to do badly, the state has had higher unemployment in recent years. The modern high of 16.9 percent unemployment was reached in November 1982. In fact, it stayed in double digits until 1985, and the unemployment rate stayed at least 8 percent until 1988.

Jul 16, 2008

Newspaper sponsoring informative political debate on Thursday

The Livingston County Daily Press and Argus is again sponsoring a debate for the candidates looking to fill the open seats in the Michigan House of Representatives.

The debate is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday July 24 at the Brighton Center for the Performing Arts, 7878 Brighton Rd.

Democrats Donna Anderson of Brighton and Milford resident Tom Crawford are facing off against Republicans Jason Corosanite and Bill Rogers for the open 66th District seat that includes the city of Brighton and the townships of Marion, Oceola, Brighton, Genoa, Green Oak and Milford.

Democrat and Hamburg Township resident Scott Lucas is are facing off against Republicans Charlie Aberasturi, Cindy Denby and Frank Portelli for the open 47th District seat that includes the City of Howell and the townships of Cohoctah, Conway, Deerfield, Hamburg, Handy, Hartland, Howell, Iosco, Marion, Putnam, Tyrone and Unadilla.

The newspaper always does an excellent job, and unlike the county GOP that recently used a debate as a fundraiser, the event is free and truly meant to inform voters, not to raise money. The Daily Press & Argus is continuing its practice of soliciting questions and areas of concern from readers. You can e-mail your questions to kkarol@gannett.com. These questions will be used to formulate those used

Jul 15, 2008

Cropsey threatens blackmail to kill DRIC study and keep monopoly for billionaire GOP backer

The Detroit-Windsor border crossing near Zug Island proposed by the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) Study is holding up the Michigan Transportation budget, and the conference committee report to iron out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget is not on the agenda for the Senate session on Thursday.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) wants the bridge to be built in the Delray section of Detroit, and last month the Canadian government announced the Canadian crossing will be in the Brighton Beach section in west-end Windsor, adjacent to Delray. The new crossing would alleviate frequent traffic jams and long delays on the Ambassador Bridge and through the Windsor-Detroit tunnel caused by the 17 traffic lights semi-trucks must go through in downtown Windsor to reach the highway. The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest commercial border crossing in all of North America.

The aging Ambassador Bridge is only one of two international border crossings in the country in private hands, and it is owned by Grosse Pointe transportation billionaire Matty Moroun. In order to keep his monopoly, Moroun is planning to build a span right next to the current bridge, despite a Canadian law that says an international crossing cannot be in private hands.

Moroun’s money has gained him some powerful friends, such as Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, who is on the conference committee for the Transportation budget bill, House Bill 5805.

Subscription only Gongwers reported Cropsey is using blackmail to keep Moroun’s monopoly intact.

“Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Cropsey (R-DeWitt) said he is taking the Senate's lead on negotiating on DRIC. And he furiously said there will be little negotiating unless the House adopts a resolution about DRIC that is sent to Congress and Governor Jennifer Granholm write a letter supporting a second Ambassador span.”

This piece of blackmail is dispute the fact that the second Ambassador will not get a permit from the Canadians. Then we get this ridiculous quote from Cropsey.

“Mr. Cropsey was also furious at the "bullying" of Canada. "Where does Canada get off saying they don't want that bridge? Canada needs to be a good neighbor," he said.

Kettle, meet pot.

Gongwer also said, “Senate Republicans strongly support a plan by the Ambassador Bridge Company to build a second span adjacent to the current nearly 80-year old bridge,” as well as noting, “The Ambassador Bridge company is owned by Matty Maroun who is also a major financial backer of the Republican Party.” That, my friends, is the reason for the standoff.

This news comes on the heels of news of support for the MDOT and Canadian crossing decision by prominent Republican L. Brooks Patterson.

If the Legislature refuses to give the department the authority to move on the proposal, then MDOT has to stop its end of the work, and Michigan could be on the hook to pay back some of the federal grant. There is also a possibility the federal government could continue with the process.

Democrats do not play politics with break in of Obama campaign office

The Detroit campaign office of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was robbed over the weekend, and a campaign spokesman said personal electronics, including some mobile phones and a laptop, were taken.

My first thought, was aren’t they making this a campaign issue and using it as am excuse for a fundraiser like the Republicans do, but then I remembered that Democrats have more class and integrity.

You will recall that last month former Kent County GOP chair Dave Dishaw claimed a break in at their headquarters was the work of Democrats without an ounce of proof and the direct opposite of what local police were saying. .He even took it a step further by posting a letter on the web site saying, “We knew the Democrats would do anything to win, but we didn't expect this,” he said. The letter also asked for contributions of $100, $50 or $25.

As far as I know the case is still pending. It’s hard to get any follow up on minor incidents like this. But the good news is Dishaw is gone. Some three weeks after the break in, Dishaw resigned claiming “business obligations have made it impossible for him continue in the role,” according to the Grand Rapids Press.

Despite at lest one computer being stolen from the Obama office, there was no campaign material on it, but thieves did not know that. Still, I’m sure it will turn out this was a routine burglary with the thieves just looking for stuff to fence. But on the other hand, Watergate was a two-bit robbery. No, I don’t think Republicans are that stupid.

Jul 10, 2008

Patterson endorses DRIC study bridge location

Republican Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson joined Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis Wednesday to support the downriver Detroit-Windsor border crossing near Zug Island proposed by the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) Study.

The endorsement by the prominent Republican Patterson may put an end to the lobbying effort of Grosse Pointe transportation billionaire Matty Moroun, who owns the Ambassador Bridge, and GOP opposition to the DRIC study, as well as Moroun’s plan to build the exact same bridge next to the current one. The bridge will be a bridge to no where because Canadian law says an international border crossing may not be in private hands. The Ambassador is only one of two border crossings in the country owned by a private entity. Canada officials
announced last month
that the Canadian location will be directly across from the American crossing chosen by the DRIC study.

Moroun has and continues to conduct an intense lobbying effort on both sides of the river with his deep pockets, and his main ally on the American side in state Sen. Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, the Senate Majority Floor Leader. He has held up the state transportation budget because of it. It remains to be seen if he will now back down based on Patterson’s endorsement.

The private, for profit bridge company has fought hard in an effort to keep its monopoly, saying there is not enough traffic to justify a second crossing, and then contradicting that by going forward with building a second span right next to the current one, despite not having clearance from the Canadian government to connect it to Canadian soil. Additionally, traffic on the Canadian side of the Ambassador empties into a city street in downtown Windsor, and trucks must go through 17 stop lights to reach the freeway. Backups can be as long as 5 miles, and Canadian officials do not want to see more traffic dumped onto city streets.

"The DRIC Downriver Border Crossing is the absolutely best alternative because it will significantly ease traffic congestion between Detroit and Windsor thus enhancing the ability of companies on both sides of the river to get their products to market in a timely and efficient manner," Patterson said in a Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) press release.

The DRIC study indicates that Canada-US trade supports 7.1 million U.S. jobs including 221,500 Michigan jobs and one in three Canadian jobs.

Last year, Canadians made more than 1.2 million visits to Michigan and spent $208 million. Michigan exports to Canada total $13 billion, representing 61percent of its foreign sales. In addition, the U.S. exports about $135 billion worth of goods every year to Ontario. To put this in perspective, the U.S. sells only $55 billion annually to all of China.

"The Windsor-Detroit Gateway is more than a river crossing. It is not only vitally important to the economies of Windsor and Southeast Michigan, it is a critical supply chain stretching from Montreal to the Port of Los Angeles. Windsor supports the preferred location announced recently by the bi-national study to locate the next crossing in the Brighton Beach industrial area of the city," Francis said.

Two bridge designs are currently under consideration for the downriver border crossing. One is a suspension bridge, similar to the Ambassador Bridge. The other is a cable stay bridge similar to the Denver Millennium Bridge. The cable stay bridge is less expensive and more in vogue today around the world.

Partners in the Detroit River International Crossing study are the U.S. Federal Highway Administration; MDOT; Transport Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. The timeline for the project calls for property acquisition in 2009, construction starting in 2010 and the opening of the border crossing in 2014.

According to MDOT, the project will be government owned and maintained with the private sector playing a role in construction and operation of the facility. Details still need to be worked out. The cost of the project to the U.S. will be approximately $1.25 billion for the bridge, plaza and interchange. However, less than 10 percent of the total cost will come from Michigan, none of which will be General Fund dollars.

Jul 9, 2008

Pair of GOP adulterers cosponsor so-called defense of marriage act

Only Republicans would have the audacity, hypocrisy and gall to have the likes of Senators Larry Craig and David Vitter co-sponsor the Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution, known as the so-called “Marriage Protection Amendment” that denies gay couples the right that every other American enjoys, the right to marry whoever they please.

Craig, R-ID, and Vitter, R-LA, are just two of 12 cosponsors of Senate Joint Resolution 23, but their past performance is the absolute height of hypocrisy. This is old news because the resolution was introduced on June 25, but I just heard about it. It just struck me as shameless. Perhaps the best way to protect marriage would be to not allow Craig and Vitter to marry.

As you know, Craig was arrested June 11, 2007 on charges of lewd conduct in a Minneapolis airport terminal restroom in the infamous foot-tapping incident. Craig pled guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, was detained and charged for attempting to engage in sexual activity with a male undercover police officer. His arrest and plea became public two months later. At that time, Craig attempted to withdraw his plea and enter a new plea of not guilty. To date, his efforts have been denied by the courts. He has been a strong supporter of anti-gay measures, and despite an attempt to have sex with another man, he denies he is gay.

In July of 2007, Vitter was identified as a client of a prostitution firm owned by the late Deborah Jeane Palfrey, commonly known as The DC Madam. Upon his return to the Senate, he was cheered by his GOP senate colleagues. Perhaps, they were just happy his indiscretion was with a Congressional Page or a male.

The language is nothing new from past efforts. Section 1. This article may be cited as the `Marriage Protection Amendment’.

Section 2. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.

This appears to be little more than a ploy to boost the GOP’s sagging prospects at the polls where they are stuck with an unexciting and uninspiring candidate who has flip-flopped on almost every single issue just to get elected. With the candidate’s past marriage record, maybe the best way to protect marriage is to also bar him this basic human right too.

Jul 8, 2008

Just say no to complex ballot issue

Reform Michigan Government Now turned in almost 500,000 signatures to the Secretary of State on Monday to place the ballot proposal on the November ballot that will make a number of changes to the structure of state government.

Right-wingers have come out against this petition drive, and even though some of their reasons for opposing it borders on the hysterical and ridiculous, I agree with some of the reasons for opposition, and if it makes it on the ballot I will vote against it. According to the group's new web site, the proposal will “Reduce the salaries of executive branch, end free lifetime health care for lawmakers and bring their retirement benefits in line with other state workers and increase transparency by requiring elected officials to disclose their income and assets every year. I agree that those things need to be looked at, but it does much, much more than that.

It would also cut the Supreme Court Justices to five members, from seven, reduces the Court of Appeals by seven members and adds 10 circuit court judges. There is no doubt the Supreme Court is firmly in the pocket of insurance companies and big corporations, but what needs to change is how Justices are selected.

The House would be cut to 82 members from the current 110 and the Senate to 28 from 38 and half of the Senate seats would be decided at each election.

New reapportionment requirements would be established, including the creation of at least four Senate and nine House swing districts in an attempt to produce more competitive elections; districts would be drawn by a nine-member commission, with six votes required to approve any plan; it would not be subject to change or repeal by voters, the legislative or executive branches and judicial review would be limited.

Elections would be overseen by an autonomous nonpartisan agency.

The number of allowed departments would be cut to 18, from 20, and no more than 200 boards and commissions would be permitted.

Many of these proposals I agree with, some I don’t and some I simply do not have enough information on to make a decision. Neither will voters. These complex proposals, at the least, should be taken one at a time. Frankly, I am not a fan of legislating by petition. We elect people to represent us in our representative democracy, and they make laws after plenty of debate, analysis by nonpartisan agencies, committee hearings and debate on the respective House or Senate floors. To me, that’s the best way to make laws and policy.

I’m also not crazy about the petition drive itself. I do not believe the baseless charges of fraud make by the Republicans, but the fact is there was not a lot of publicity, openness and visibility of the drive. I’m pretty politically active, and I never saw a petition.

I urge people to vote no if this makes it on the ballot, and instead to call for a state Constitutional Convention to address some of the important issues brought out in the petition.

Jul 3, 2008

Bush is the Joe DiMaggio of vacationers

As you begin to get older, like I am - or you get past your 21st birthday - tearing off the days of your daily calendar get a little less fun, even if it’s a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit calendar. But my “Countdown to when Bush leaves Office” calendar offers me some small pleasure when ripping off the days.

The good new is there are only 201 days left until the national nightmare is over and Barrack Obama is sworn in as president. With just 201 days to endure, it got me to thinking about the Bush legacy. For that we have the worst attack on U.S. soil that occurred on his watch, Bush lied us into what will become the longest war/occupation in U.S. history, the person for planning the attack has not been brought to justice after almost seven years, the war in Afghanistan is falling apart, the economy is in sad shape, home values are plummeting, incomes are declining, home foreclosures are at an all-time historic high, the dollar is declining against all foreign currency, energy costs are skyrocketing and our national debt is skyrocketing. He has trashed the Constitution and our image and standing around the world has been badly tainted and we actually torture people.

But what Bush’s legacy, at better yet, the record, he will leave office with is what my daily calendar revealed today: Bush is the most vacationing president ever.

The record for most consecutive vacation days away from the White House was formally held by another president from the Grand Oil Party who had almost as much scandal as the Bush White House, Richard Nixon with 30 straight days. That record belonged to Bush just six months after taking office.

But Bush holds the all-time record for most total vacation days that may never be broken, and his record will most likely stand as long as Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. The previous record was 335 days set by another Republican president, who was also the oldest U.S. president, Ronald Reagan. However it took eight years for Reagan to rack up that number, but Bush shattered the record in just four-and-a-half-years. According to the Washington Post, as of January 15, 2007, Bush has racked up a whopping total of 770 vacation days. He will continue to pad that record for another 201 days. When you compare that to the normal American worker, if they have any benefits left any more, who only gets 14 days a year, it’s obscene.

The good news is Bush will go on a permanent vacation in just 201 days.

Jul 2, 2008

Long arm of the law inching closer to Drolet

It finally looks like the long arm of the law may finally reach Leon Drolet - former Republican state Representative, current Macomb County Commissioner and executive director of the so-called Michigan Taxpayers Alliance (MTA) - for his illegal activities in the misguided recall attempts against primarily Democratic lawmakers who voted to increase taxes to avoid a government shutdown and eliminate a $1.8 million budget deficit in October.

Subscription only Gongwers is reporting that the State Police are in the “early stages of investigating the tactics used by petition signature gatherers attempting to recall House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford.” Dillon’s recall attempt was the only one to collect enough signatures, but it was accomplished with fraud and deceit, out of state money, illegal petition gathers, cash for signatures and illegal campaign contributions.

Last month the Bureau of Elections found 7,789 invalid signatures out of the 15,739 signatures presented to them. The Department of State turned all evidence of forgery and fraud over to Attorney General Mike Cox and the Wayne County prosecutor’s office.

According to Gongwer, “a State Police spokesperson said Monday that one interview has been conducted by the Metro South post of the department. But Shannon Akans said the investigation is still in the beginning stage and there is no timeline for when it will be completed. “

Jul 1, 2008

Groups push for no reason absentee voting

LANSING – With voter turnout at an anemic rate often below 25 percent across Michigan, logic says any attempt to improve that number in a country that prides itself on Democratic elections would be welcome, but that does not seem to be the case with no reason absentee voting.

Members of the Senate Democratic Caucus held a press conference Tuesday in front of the state Capitol surrounded by members of the Michigan Municipal Clerks Association (MMCA), various advocacy groups, working people and mothers. The message was simple: an absentee ballot any time, any place for any voter.

“Workers of the state don’t always know if they will be able to vote because they may have an extra shift or get called in to work on Election Day,” said Sen. Liz Brater, D-Ann Arbor. “I go door-to-door all the time and have people tell me they're sorry but they can’t vote because they have to work.
“I also don’t want to see anyone disenfranchised because they can’t stand in that long line,” she said.

Brater introduced Senate Bill 12 that will allow no reason A/B voting way back when the legislative session opened in January 2007, but it has been bottled up in the Senate Committee on Campaign and Election Oversight. Brater hopes Michigan will join 28 other states that allow no reason A/B voting, and she hopes the ground swell of support, similar to the grassroots support that got the smoking ban bill out of committee, will work with SB 12.

“We urge you to contact Sen. (Michelle) McManus (Chair of the committee) and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop to urge them to take up the bill and give it a hearing,” she said.

Macomb County Clark Carmella Sabaugh recently made news when she was ordered by the Michigan Court of Appeals to stop sending A/B applications to every county resident age 60 or older.

“There is no reason for anyone not to be able to vote absentee,” she said. “The state can take your taxes by mail, why can’t you vote by mail?”

Sen. Gilda Jacobs, D-Huntington Woods, Minority Vice-chair of the Campaign and Election Oversight Committee, praised Sabaugh’s actions.

“You have done some very courageous things in your county with absentee voting,” Jacobs said.

A/B voting will increase voter turnout, and people are hard-pressed to find a reason why anyone would be against no reason A/B voting. It is not a Democrat or Republican issue, but for some unknown reason some Republican so-called leaders are opposing it. Jacobs said in a recent U.S. Census survey, more than 7.5 million people said they did not vote because of “logistical reasons,” and in Macomb County voter turnout increased 40 percent after Sabaugh mailed out A/B applications to all senior citizens. It’s much cheaper to mail out an A/B ballot for the price of a 42-cent stamp than to pay $4.20 for a gallon of gas to drive to the poling place to stand in line and vote.

“People ask why anyone would be against no reason absentee voting: that’s a good question,” Jacobs said. “People say it will cause problems for clerks, but the clerks are here to say it doesn’t.”

Current Michigan law says the are only six reasons for A/B voting: age 60 years old or older, unable to vote without assistance at the polls, expecting to be out of town on election day, in jail awaiting arraignment or trial, unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons or are appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.

“We have all been in the situation when a voter comes into our offices to fill out a A/B application, and they freeze when they come to the part that asks for a reason,” said Evan Hope, the Vice-President of the MMCA and the Clerk in Delhi Charter Township.