Jan 29, 2009

Senate Republicans deepen Michigan’s budget problem with irresponsible and politically motivated vote

LANSING -- Senate Republicans played politics with an irresponsible vote to eliminate the surcharge on the Michigan Business Tax (MBT) and deepen the state’s projected budget deficit.

Senate Bill 1 passed 25-11 along party lines on Thursday with four Democrats crossing over to vote for the irresponsible measure. The phased in measure will blow a $166 million hole in the budget in the first year, and more than half a billon dollars by the third year when the phase in is complete. The Republicans offered no plan to make up the revenue, no cuts to make it up and no savings to make it up.

“What has happened to all my fiscal conservative friends on the other side of the aisle," said Sen. Michael Switalski, D-Roseville. “It’s as if the goal of the proponents of this bill to put the budget into a bigger deficit.”

Republicans are sticking to the false claim that the surcharge is costing jobs and causing companies to close. Of course, they could not offer a single example. In just the last couple of days, Starbucks will close another 300 stores in 2009 and slash about 6,700 jobs, Black and Decker will cut 1,200 jobs, Ford Motor Credit said today its cutting 1,200 jobs, Boeing is cutting 10,000 jobs, Pfizer is cutting 19,500 jobs, Caterpillar is cutting its workforce by 20,000, Home Depot said it would slash another 7,000 jobs and I have no idea how many jobs the Big 3 have cut.

How many of those jobs were lost because of the MBT Surcharge? The answer is zero.

This is just a political ploy designed to make Republicans look good to voters. Republicans have a history of doing this so they can tell voters they cut taxes. They pulled a similar trick in the election season in 2006 when they killed the Single Business Tax (SBT) with no replacement in sight.

The good news is the voters saw through it, and gave the Republicans control of the House and more people voted for Democratic Senators; the GOP only kept control of the Senate because of gerrymandering.

This has more to do with the fact that most of the Senate Republican caucus is running for statewide office in 2010. Mike Bishop and Tom George are running for or have been mentioned as running Governor, Bruce Patterson and Bishop are considering runs at Attorney General and Michelle McManus and Cameron Brown are running for Secretary of State; so far.

A bipartisan effort enacted the MBT to replace the SBT in 2007. To avoid a brief government shutdown and erase a huge budget deficit, the Legislature enacted a 6 percent sales tax on certain services in November 2007.

Then a month later on December 1, the Legislature enacted the same MBT surcharge on December 1, 2007 to do away with the service sales tax. The same Senators who voted for it in 2007 are the same ones who killed it today with no replacement. It passed 33-4 in the Senate.

Democrats want to get rid of the surcharge too, and House Speaker Andy Dillon has made abolishing it a priority this session. But not without replacing the revenue.

“Unreasonable haste is the direct road to error, Moliere,” said Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing. “I wanted to stand up and clear something up. Not one of us thinks we should or cannot afford to do anything.”

The bill now goes to the House Tax Policy Committee.

County GOP gives lip service to Support the Troops slogan

I wish I had a dollar for every time a Republican accused anyone who opposed the unnecessary Iraq invasion of not supporting the troops.

But when it comes down to actually supporting the troops, it's just a campaign slogan for the GOP. The recent action by all Republican Livingston County Board of Commissioners demonstrated that fact. Because of budget constraints, the board of commisioners is not replacing the director and the administrative assistant at the Livingston County Veterans Affairs Department when they retire at the end of February. The VA county department only has three employees; the third one being a counselor.

Current director Bob Heinel presented a plan earlier this week to the board's Health and Human Services Committee to replace him, and a very emotional Heinel said the office is “headed towards catastrophe." I, like Bob Heinel, am a veteran, and I worked with him when I covered the county for the county's daily newspaper. I know how dedicated he is, and how involved in veteran's affairs he is. Not just officially, but he is at the ceremony to add new names to the Veteran's Memorial in downtown Howell, presides at the annual awards dinner and at the Veterans Day ceremony.

The department helps veterans and their families and survivors in the county in filing out the sometimes complex claims for all federal, state, county and other benefits to which they may be entitled. It also administers the county operation of the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund and county Veterans Relief Fund to assist veterans and their dependants with financial emergencies, and the county Veterans Burial Fund to help provide an honorable burial for veterans and their spouses. Some of this complex paperwork and appeal process to get the benefits veterans are entitled to can take months and even years.

In 2007 alone they provided assistance to some 5,000 veterans. The Iraq war has really increased the workload. Those veterans need readjustment assistance, including claims and treatment for PTSD, traumatic brain injury and other disabilities. Livingston County has had a soldier killed in Iraq every year since 2003 up until 2007 and 2008. We have lost more soldiers in Iraq than the 12 years of hostilities in Vietnam. The downturn in the economy, layoffs and foreclosures means veterans need help even more. This decision comes on the heels of news that suicides among soldiers in the U.S. Army rose to its highest level in decades.

When these services are most needed, why are we cutting back on them? Perhaps it's so the Livingston County Republican Party can put billboards up along I-96 that brag the county has the lowest county tax rate among Michigan's 83 counties. That is true, but we also have none of the services that other counties enjoy. The heavy snowfall this winter has really demonstrated what kind of havoc cutbacks in snow plowing can cause.

The Board of Commissioners has floated a couple of options to keep the department going. Those include partnering with neighboring Washtenaw County, shifting duties to other departments or raising taxes. We know the third option is out of the question.

Let's look at partnering with Washtenaw. Michigan is losing population, but not Livingston and Washtenaw. According to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), Livingston has a population of 184,000 people. Since the 2000 Census, the population of Livingston County has grown at a rate of 17 percent. That makes it the fastest growing county in the state. Washtenaw County has a population of 352,000, and it has grown 9.3 percent since the last Census.

The bottom line is when the need for help for veterans is growing and the population is growing, we are cutting back on services and limiting access. So much for supporting the troops, and all so the GOP can lay claim to the title of lowest county taxes in the state so the local GOP can put up billboards touting that fact.

The Board of Commissioners will meet at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23 to discus the issue.

Jan 28, 2009

Senate Republicans again put politics above good policy

LANSING -- Michigan Legislative Republicans continue to put politics and grabbing power above the economic health of the state, and the decision by Senate Republicans to blow a $166.1 million hole in the general fund budget is just one more example.

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans moved Senate Bill 1 that will phase out the Michigan Business Tax surcharge to the third reading, and they plan on voting on the bill Thursday. If approved - and it most likely will because Republicans control the Senate - it will phase the surcharge out over three years, and according to the Senate Fiscal Agency the bill would cut revenues $593.4 million in the third year. All with no replacement in sight.

Just like the Republican’s decision in the summer of 2006 during the election to eliminate the Single Business Tax (SBT) without a replacement, the Senate Republicans plan to eliminate the surcharge with no replacement and leave it to the Democrats to be the adults and figure out a solution to the Senate Republicans irresponsible decision.

Senate Democrats say they want to repel the surcharge, but that it should not be done in a hasty fashion. Making major changes to the tax code requires reflection.

Considering most of the Republican Caucus is running for a statewide office, this is just another campaign ploy to make them look good. Mike Bishop and Tom George are running for Governor, Bruce Patterson and Bishop are considering runs at Attorney General and Michelle McManus and Cameron Brown are running for Secretary of State.

Basham introduces Senate version of workplace smoking ban

LANSING – The fight for healthy air began in the Senate with the introduction of Senate Bill 114 in the Senate today that bans smoking in workplaces, including bars and restaurants.

The bill was, as anticipated, was introduced by Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor. The bill has bipartisan support, and its co-sponsors include Democratic Senators Gilda Jacobs, Liz Brater, Michael Switalski and John Gleason. It also includes Republican Senators Bruce Patterson, Patricia Birkholz, Cameron Brown and Tom George, a medial doctor.

One reason the bill was derailed last session was because Detroit area House members declined to support a bill that did not include an exception for casinos that passed out of the Senate because they were under the mistaken belief that the ban would hurt business and cost jobs to the Detroit casinos. But the fact is study after study from the 34 states that have such a ban demonstrated that there is no drop-off in business, and in many cases business improves.

In that vain, the bill's co-sponsors also includes Detroit area Senators Hansen Clarke, Martha Scott and Tupac Hunter.

Rep. Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc, introduced the House version, House Bill 4099, last week.

Jan 27, 2009

House Speaker doles out committee assignments

Livingston County lawmakers received some good committee assignments after Michigan House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford Township, announced committee assignments on Monday.

Freshman Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Brighton, was named to the important Appropriations Committee. The appropriations committee is broken down into 19 smaller sub-committees that approve the budgets for each state department, but that list was not yet promulgated or announced.

Freshman Rep. Cindy Dendy, R-Handy Township, was named to four committees. She was named minority vice-chair of the Insurance Committee. Her former boss, term-limited Rep. Joe Hune, R-Hamburg Township, served on that committee, and was briefly the chair. The former Handy Township Supervisor and Clerk was also named to the Committee on Intergovernmental and Regional Affairs, the Committee on New Economy and Quality of Life and the Health Policy Committee.

Dillon also announced the chairs of the 24 committees, and only seven are returning to the same committees thy chaired last session. Among the most interesting, at least to me, was the assignment of Majority Floor Leader Kathy Angerer, D-Dundee, from the chairmanship of the Health Policy Committee to the chair of the Ethics and Election Committee. I'm a little biased because I once worked in her office as the world's oldest intern, but she has a well-deserved reputation for getting things done. Rep. Mark Corriveau, D-Northville, takes over the chair of the Health Policy Committee.

Rep. Kate Ebli, D-Monroe, who I campaigned for, gets a chairmanship for the first time with the important Tax Policy Committee.

Jan 26, 2009

P & A’s tradition of Rogers’ cheerleading moves on to another Rogers

The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus is living up to its name as the Rogers Newsletter, and it has shifted its kid gloves coverage to anointer Rogers, freshman state Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Brighton.

In his five terms in the U.S. House, the newspaper has been the biggest cheerleader for U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Livingston County. The paper’s reporters and editors have not asked many tough questions of Rogers. I, unfortunately, was also guilty of that when I covered politics for the P & A. The only reporter I know of who was ever tough on Rogers - actually more on Press Secretary Sylvia Warner - was Jon Zemke. The Rogers camp complained, and he was reassigned. To be fair, every single beat was changed, and I don’t know if they were related.

A few weeks ago the newspaper editorialized that Mike Rogers should run for governor, simply because he’s from Livingston County. Why?

“Because having a governor from Livingston County would obviously benefit the home folks.” So why Rogers shouldn’t put his hat into the ring? “The Howell High School grad is as qualified as anyone else considering a run.”

The facts don’t bear that out. At best his record is thin, and at worst anti-child; voting against the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Can anyone point out a major accomplishment or even something he has done for the 8th Congressional District? His biggest accomplishment is his ability to raise money for the GOP.

Last Sunday there were four articles that mentioned Mike Rogers, but the most blatant cheerleading piece was a column from metro editor Buddy Moorehouse, a former Republican state House candidate. He predicts Rogers will run and most likely win.

“Furthermore, if he does run for governor, I think he'll have a good chance of winning. A very good chance.”

The only thing I do agree with is when Moorehouse says, “I've never seen a better campaigner. Ever.”

If he decides to run, the task for Democrats will be to force him to run on his record and not on his ability to work the room.

The kid gloves treatment has now shifted to an elder Rogers. Now, Bill Rogers is really a nice guy, but that does not make him a good lawmaker. His predecessor proved that. In Friday’s edition of the newsletter, it basically reprints a press release outlining Roger’s legislative agenda. If you ever need an example of uncritical reporting here it is. In fairness, I’m sure if some of it has to do with overworked reporters doing more with less.

The press release that came out on Jan. 22 says, “Rogers today began work on that agenda by introducing legislation to immediately repeal the job-killing Michigan Business Tax surcharge.” It also said, “The lawmaker's MBT surcharge legislation now goes to a House committee for review.”

The only problem is the bill was never introduced; not by any state Representative. On Jan. 22 there were 119 bills introduced in the House, but not that one. The only bill Rogers introduced was House Bill 4082, the “Hardesty Law” that bars a candidate who loses in the primary from running as a write-in candidate in the general election.

The press release also says, “Along with ending the MBT surcharge, Rogers also will introduce legislation to reduce state legislators' pay if they do not attend session in Lansing.”

There is only a small problem with that. Rep. Paul Opsommer introduced House Joint Resolution (HJR) A that cuts legislative pay and reduces lawmaker’s pay when they miss votes. HJR D, introduced by Rep. Marty Knollenberg, also reduces lawmaker’s pay when they miss votes. Rogers is a co-sponsor, but that is not much more than ceremonial. Lawmakers like it when they have cosponsors from the opposite party to demonstrate bipartisan support. But the sponsor and the other two co-sponsors are all Republicans.

Jan 22, 2009

The fight for healthy lungs begins anew with introduction of workplace smoking ban

LANSING -- The fight to enact a workplace smoking ban, including bars and restaurants, in the 95th Legislative session began Thursday when freshman Rep. Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc, introduced House Bill 4099.

It was a short session that saw little more than the introduction of bills with just a few lawmakers present, and 119 bills were introduced at the end of the session by the House Clerk. The bill has bipartisan support with both Democratic and Republican co-sponsors; Reps. Alma Wheeler Smith, D-South Lyon, Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, and Rebekah Warren, D-Warren, and Republican Reps. James Marleau, R-Lake Orion, Richard Ball, R- Bennington Twp., Matt Lori, R-Constantine, and Kevin Daley, R-Arcadia Township.

The bill was referred to the Commerce Committee instead of the more appropriate Health Policy Committee, but that was where it was approved out of during the last session. The chair of that committee, Rep. Andy Meisner, D-Ferndale, was term-limited. The make up of the House standing Committees have not been announced.

Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, who has championed the workplace smoking ban for the past 10 years, is expected to introduce the Senate version as early as next week.

Hoosier study reveals high levels of deadly seccondhand smoke in casinos

The Indiana Campaign for Smokefree Air and the Indiana Academy of Family Physicians recently released a Purdue University study revealing the state's casino workers and customers are breathing air containing 14 times more secondhand smoke than normal.

The study assessed indoor air quality in 11 casinos in Indiana during unannounced and clandestine visits in April and May of 2008. This inaugural in-depth study of air quality in Indiana casinos reveled levels of find particle indoor air pollution that were significantly higher than the maximum recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Seven of the 11 casinos had nonsmoking areas, but these have little impact on reducing smoke exposure, said Neil Zimmerman, the Purdue professor who led the study.

"It's the same as trying to enforce a non-peeing area in a baby pool," Zimmerman said.

Indian, bordered by states to the west and east by states with a workplace smoking ban, is in the same situation as Michigan. The Indian legislature is reconsidering a smoke-free workplace law after a similar bill did not make it to the floor last year. Michigan got a ban approved by both the House and Senate last year, but the two bodies could not agree on where to have exceptions or not, and the bill died last month. Casinos were at the forefront of that disagreement.

The release of the report comes just after the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS), an organization comprised of state legislators from states with casinos or gaming venues, formally adopted a resolution encouraging and calling for state legislative action to make gaming venues smokefree.

"Without Smokfree laws, Indians' employees are forced to risk their health in order to receive a paycheck. Michigan is no different," said Judy Stewart, campaign manager for the Campaign for Smokefree Air (CSA). "We applaud the efforts of the NCLGS and encourage Michigan lawmakers to follow their lead and make passing smoke free legislation in Michigan a priority."

The Campaign for Smokefree Air is a grassroots coalition with more than 260 members, including leadership from the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association of Michigan, Michigan Health & Hospital Association, and Michigan State Medical Society, as well as other statewide groups that support making workplaces, including restaurants and bars, smokefree. For more information about the Campaign for Smokefree Air,

Jan 20, 2009

Where were you on this historic Inauguration Day

People remember where they were and what they were doing during historic times and events, and millions of Americans will remember where they were when President Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States.

Even though I was only 5-years-old, I remember, vaguely, when President Kennedy was assassinated, when Martin Luther King was assassinated, when RFK was assassinated and even when John Lennon was murdered. It will be nice to mark a pleasant and uplifting historic event for a change.

More than 2 million people, the most ever, braved freezing cold to witness the Ingurgitation of President Obama, and with all those people, there were no arrests, no protests and no “free speech zones.” The only mar was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court messing up the oath of office. We can forgive that flub on this joyous day.

I was not luckily enough to be in D.C., or to even watch it on TV. I was chained to my desk at work, but I listened to all of it live via NPR. At least I get to watch the replay on C-Span.

Progress Michigan wants to know what you were doing and how you felt witnessing this historic event, and they are collecting memories of the day. The best responses will be posted on their website and sent to the Whitehouse.

Jan 16, 2009

In calling out Ward editorial board forgets it endorsed him

A dollar short and two years late are just a few of the descriptions that fit the editorial by the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus calling out term-limited state Rep. Chris Ward, R-Brighton, for missing more votes than any lawmaker in the 94th Legislative session that just ended Dec. 30.

Closing the gate after the horses are gone is another way to describe it; he is term-limited. But the editorial claims "Ward owes his now-former constituents an explanation."

As you recall, Michigan Votes, maintained by the conservative think tank Mackinac Center for Public Policy, keeps track of missed votes, and according to them, Ward missed more total votes for the entire session that ran from January 2007 to Dec. 20, 2008 than any lawmaker. This occurred while Ward was in a leadership role. He was the No. 2 Republican in the House; the Majority Floor Leader until the GOP lost control of the House for the 94th Legislature, and then he was the Minority Floor Leader until he was sacked for voting to increase the state income tax in October 2007 that ended a brief government shutdown.

"Prior to his maverick 2007 vote, Ward's attendance record was fine. So why did he all of a sudden start missing work 20 percent of the time during his last two years in office? Was he sulking over losing his leadership position? Was there some other explanation." Said the editorial.

Simply not true. Ward missed more votes than any lawmaker for the calendar year 2007, and that was eight months before he made the vote he was rightly praised for.

Once again, for full disclosure, I was a volunteer for Ward's Democratic opponent in the November 2006 race. We worked hard, but we got killed. During the campaign, there were clear indications of what his attendance record would be, and we saw very little of Ward in the 66th District and in Livingston County. In fact, this very same editorial board that is now calling Ward out endorsed him without the traditional endorsement interview of him or his opponent.

Being a Republican in Livingston County should not mean automatic victory, nor should an incumbent go unchallenged in the primary.

Jan 15, 2009

Bush sorry legacy will include a presidential library

You can turn on any news program or 24-hour cable channel, and it's a pretty good bet you will see soon-to-be-former President G. Walker Bush giving an interview.

The spin in a vain attempt to rescue the legacy of perhaps the worst president in history is in full swing. He even gave a disastrous press conference this week where we learned the only mistakes in his presidency were PR mistakes made by someone else. I recently received an email that really sums up his legacy. I don't normally post anonymous stuff I receive for a couple of reason. First, I want this blog to be primarily my work, and second I don't like posting material without giving credit to the person who actually wrote it.

So, I searched for the originator on the web, and the best I can do is find it posted on Democratic Underground.

The magnificent George W. Bush Presidential Library is now in the planning stages and accepting donations.

The Library will include:
1. The Hurricane Katrina Room, which is still under construction.
2. The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you won't be able to remember anything.
3. The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don't even have to show up.
4. The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don't let you in.
5. The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don't let you out.
6. The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room, which no one has been able to find.
7. The National Debt Room, which is huge and has no ceiling.
8. The Tax Cut Room, with entry only to the wealthy.
9. The Economy Room, which is in the toilet.
10. The Iraq War Room. (After you complete your first visit, they make you go back for a second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth visit.)
11. The Dick Cheney Room, in the famous undisclosed location.
12. The Environmental Conservation Room, still empty.
13. The Supreme Gift Shop, where you can buy an election.
14. The Airport Men's Room, where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators.
15. The Decider Room, complete with dart board, magic 8-ball, Ouija board, dice, coins, and straws.
Note: The library will feature an electron microscope to help you locate and view the President's accomplishments.

The library will also include many famous quotes by George W. Bush displayed prominently in the public areas:

1. "I've abandoned free market principles to save the free market system." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2008
2. "Yesterday, you made note of my -- the lack of my talent when it came to dancing. But nevertheless, I want you to know I danced with joy. And no question Liberia has gone through very difficult times." --George W. Bush, speaking with the president of Liberia, Washington, D.C., Oct. 22, 2008
3. "Anyone engaging in illegal financial transactions will be caught and persecuted." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Sept. 19, 2008
4. "There's no question about it. Wall Street got drunk -- that's one of the reasons I asked you to turn off the TV cameras -- it got drunk and now it's got a hangover. The question is how long will it sober up and not try to do all these fancy financial instruments." --George W. Bush, speaking at a private fundraiser, Houston, Texas, July 18, 2008
5. "And they have no disregard for human life." --George W. Bush, on the brutality of Afghan fighters, Washington, D.C., July 15, 2008
6. "I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008
7. "And so, General, I want to thank you for your service. And I appreciate the fact that you really snatched defeat out of the jaws of those who are trying to defeat us in Iraq." --George W. Bush, to Army Gen. Ray Odierno, Washington, D.C., March 3, 2008
8. "I can press when there needs to be pressed; I can hold hands when there needs to be -- hold hands." --George W. Bush, on how he can contribute to the Middle East peace process, Washington, D.C., Jan. 4, 2008
9. "I don't particularly like it when people put words in my mouth, either, by the way, unless I say it." --George W. Bush, Crawford, Texas, Nov. 10, 2007.
10. "Make no mistake about it, I understand how tough it is, sir. I talk to families who die." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 7, 2006.
11. "You know, when I campaigned here in 2000, I said, I want to be a war President. No President wants to be a war President, but I am one." --George W. Bush, Des Moines, Iowa, Oct. 26, 2006.
12. "I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is -- my point is, there's a strong will for democracy." --George W. Bush, interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Sept. 24, 2006.
13. "No question that the enemy has tried to spread sectarian violence. They use violence as a tool to do that." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., March 22, 2006.
14. "He was a state sponsor of terror. In other words, the government had declared, you are a state sponsor of terror." --George W. Bush, on Saddam Hussein, Manhattan, Kan., Jan. 23, 2006.
15. "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." --George W. Bush, to FEMA director Michael Brown, who resigned 10 days later amid criticism over his job performance, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005.
16. "You see, not only did the attacks help accelerate a recession, the attacks reminded us that we are at war." --George W. Bush, on the Sept. 11 attacks, Washington, D.C., June 8, 2005.
17. "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." --George W. Bush, Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005.
18. "It's in our country's interests to find those who would do harm to us and get them out of harm's way." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., April 28, 2005.
19. "Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." --George W. Bush, Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004.
20. "Tribal sovereignty means that; it's sovereign. I mean, you're a -- you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity. And therefore the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities." --George W. Bush, speaking to minority journalists, Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2004.
21. "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004.
22. "I'm honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., May 25, 2004.
23. "Security is the essential roadblock to achieving the road map to peace." -George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., July 25, 2003.
24. "First, let me make it very clear, poor people aren't necessarily killers. Just because you happen to be not rich doesn't mean you're willing to kill." -George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., May 19, 2003.
25. "The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam Hussein, the history of Saddam Hussein, and his willingness to terrorize himself." -George W. Bush, Grand Rapids, Mich., Jan. 29, 2003.
26. "There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again." -George W. Bush, Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002.
27. "There's no cave deep enough for America, or dark enough to hide." -George W. Bush, Oklahoma City, Aug. 29, 2002.
28. "I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace." -George W. Bush, June 18, 2002.
29. "My trip to Asia begins here in Japan for an important reason. It begins here because for a century and a half now, America and Japan have formed one of the great and enduring alliances of modern times. From that alliance has come an era of peace in the Pacific." -George W. Bush, who apparently forgot about a little something called World War II, Tokyo, Feb. 18, 2002.
30. "We need to counter the shockwave of the evildoer by having individual rate cuts accelerated and by thinking about tax rebates." -George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Oct. 4, 2001.
31. "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy….I was able to get a sense of his soul." -George W. Bush, after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, June 16, 2001.
32. "It is time to set aside the old partisan bickering and finger-pointing and name-calling that comes from freeing parents to make different choices for their children." -George W. Bush, on "parental empowerment in education," April 12, 2001.
33. "My plan reduces the national debt, and fast. So fast, in fact, that economists worry that we're going to run out of debt to retire." -George W. Bush, radio address, Feb. 24, 2001.
34. "They want the federal government controlling Social Security like it's some kind of federal program." --George W. Bush, Nov. 2, 2000.
35. "Never again in the halls of Washington, D.C., do I want to have to make explanations that I can't explain." --George W. Bush, Portland, Oregon, Oct. 31, 2000.

Jack Abramoff, Co-Chair
G.W. Bush Library Board of Directors

Michigan flunks in protecting its citizens from the ravages of tobacco use

LANSING – It came as no surprise to people paying attention, but Michigan received a failing grade from the American Lung Association in protecting its citizens from the ravages of tobacco use.

The ALA released its Fifth Annual American Lung Association State of Tobacco Control (SOTC) report at a press conference Wednesday at the Capitol, and the state received its failing grade primarily because policymakers in Michigan have not yet adopted strong, comprehensive polices to adequately protect citizens; despite the fact that nearly 40,000 people die each year from smoking-related diseases.

"Michigan clearly has a long way to go in its fight against tobacco,” said Susan Schechter, Program and Advocacy Specialist for the American Lung Association of Michigan. “To begin with, Michigan legislators need to step up and pass a statewide smoke free worksite regulation that includes restaurants and bars and allocate more dollars towards tobacco prevention programs."

It looks like that will finally be a priority in Michigan after 10 years of stonewalling. The 95th Michigan Legislature opened Wednesday, but generally not a lot is done until the Governor outlines her legislative agenda in the State of the State address set for February 3 this year. However, she said a major task the Legislature can accomplish now is the workplace smoking ban, and Gov. Granholm told Capitol reporters on Tuesday that she would like the Legislature to resolve the workplace smoking ban issue as quickly as possible.

The report gave Michigan the following grades:

• Tobacco Prevention and Control Spending, Grade: F

• Smokefree Air, Grade: F

• Cigarette Taxes, Grade: A

• Youth Access to Tobacco Products, Grade: F

Also contributing to the failing grade was the fact Michigan continues to under fund tobacco prevention programs, falling well short of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended investment of $121.2 million, and the state spent a mere $3.6 million in 2008.

Only Michigan's $2 a pack tax earned them a passing grade. Higher taxes makes cigarettes more expensive, which not only deters kids from starting to smoke, but also motivates adults to quit. I know that was one of the motivating factors for me to quit.

Jan 14, 2009

Obama Radio Nation 2009 features best talk show hosts in the nation

If you are a fan of progressive talk radio like I am, you will get to enjoy both the best liberal talk show and some of the best radio hosts in the country and a great inaugural event.

“Obama Radio Nation 2009" is a three-hour live show and national radio broadcast from Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University, located just three blocks from the White House, hosted by the nationally-syndicated progressive talk-radio host Bill Press. It will be broadcast live on progressive talk-radio stations around the country, and C-Span will carry it live on TV. It will give people the opportunity to see and hear some great entertainment, and it will make you wonder why it’s so hard to find them on radio stations.

It will feature my favorite host, Stephanie Miller, as well the country's leading progressive talk-radio hosts Joe Madison, Randi Rhodes, Ed Schultz, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Mario Solis-Marich. It will be a celebration of the inauguration of President Barack Obama and the role progressive talk radio has played nationally in this historic occasion and the rousing Democratic election victory.

The show will also feature a "house band," giving the show a feel akin to a more lively "Prairie Home Companion.

Speaker Dillon outlines an ambitious agenda fore the 95th Michigan Legislature

LANSING -- The opening of the 95th Michigan Legislature on Wednesday was routine, unless you were one of the 44 new House members who took the oath of office from Michigan Supreme Court Justice Michael Cavanagh.

The Senate met briefly and adjourned, but the excitement was in the House with the new Representative that increased the Democrats lead in the House to 67-43, up from 58-52 when the Democrats took back control of the House in 2007. Family and friends were on hand on the House floor and in the galleries to watch the ceremony, highlighted by Rep. Joel Sheltrown, D-West Branch, playing "How Great Thou Art" on his saxophone. Members chose their seats in the House Chamber, and elected the Speaker of the House.

New Majority Floor Leader Rep. Kathy Angerer, D-Dundee, nominated last session’s Speaker, Rep. Andy Dillon, D-Redford, who was elected unanimously.

“Our country and state are in a time of transition and changes, and we need strong leadership to see us through,” Angerer said. “We need honest, ethical leaders like Andy Dillon.”

Dillon’s nomination was seconded by new Minority Leader Rep. Kevin Elsenheimer, R-Bellaire, saying the speaker has been willing to meet with him over the past several weeks. Early indications are he will be an improvement over term-limited Minority Leader Craig DeRoche, R-Novi, who has nothing but an impediment.

“It is my honor to second the nomination of Andy Dillon as Speaker of the House,” Elsenheimer said.

Dillon outlined a broad and ambitious agenda that included reforming the state's tax structure, cutting property taxes, eliminating the Michigan Business Tax surcharge, addressing home foreclosures and enacting a workplace smoking ban. He wants to accomplish the bulk of the work before the Legislature breaks for the summer in June.

“We are serving in the most challenging economic climate since the Great Depression,” he said. “We may not be able to fix all the problems, but shame on us if we don't do what we can.”

He is also facing a current budget shortfall of $350 million and as much as $1.5 billon drop in tax revenue next year. He also wants to cut lawmakers pay and lifetime health care after just six years.

“If we are going to ask other people to sacrifice, then we must lead by example,” he said.

Local inaugural events also honor community service and MLK

The excitement is growing for the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, and there is plenty to do locally to mark the historic occasion for those not lucky enough to be one of the millions who will make it to Washington, D.C. next Tuesday.

The Livingston County Democratic Party is sponsoring its own inauguration party from 7-11 p.m. Friday at the VFW/American Legion Spirit Center, 10590 Grand River Road, in Brighton for just $30.

The Blue Tiger Committee of the Livingston County Democratic Party is also answering the President-Elect's call to observe a day of service prior to his inauguration, and they have planned a potluck at 4 p.m. Sunday at party headquarters, 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600 of the Fonda Place office park, in Green Oak Township, to mark Martin Luther King Day and to help out Livingston County United Way.

In addition to attendees bringing a dish to share and the beverage of choice, they are also asked to bring an item from the United Way's wish list. The extensive list is on the party's blog, LivingBlue, but it includes everything from board games to yellow legal pads.

I have been to some of the potlucks thrown by the party, and the food is unbelievable. In addition to some of the best food in the county, there will also be a showing of a film of King's famous 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech, as well as a short film starring James Earl Jones called "Martin Luther King, Jr. – Legacy of a Dream."

For more information, please call the office at (810) 229-4212.

Jan 13, 2009

The fight for the workplace smoking ban begins with the first day of new Legislative session

With the failure of the Conference Committee to come up with a compromise between the Michigan House-passed version of the workplace smoking and the Senate passed version, proponents and supporters of the Michigan workplace smoking ban are back it again just two weeks after the measure died on the last day of the 94th Legislative session.

The renewed fight will kick off, along with the 95th Michigan Legislative session, on Wednesday with a press conference by the American Lung Association of Michigan at 11 a.m. on the Glass Floor Rotunda in the Capitol Building in Lansing.

It will be a busy day that includes the official swearing in of the 45 new Representatives on the first day of session. The press conference will feature ALAM representatives, as well as the person who has been fighting for this important public health issue fro the past 10 years, Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor.

The plan is for the bill to be introduced on the first day of session in both the House and Senate. The public is encouraged to attend to show your support and to lobby your Representative and Senator.

Jan 12, 2009

Come out and celebrate the historic Inauguration with the LIVCO Democrats

My daily Bush countdown calendar has only eight pages left on it before I can chuck it into the trash, along with the eight years of incompetence, arrogance and criminal behavior that was the Bush Administration.

But it is not a time of bemoaning the incompetence of the past eight years, but of celebrating and preparing for the work ahead to put this country back on the long road to prestige, respect and economic recovery with the inauguration of President Barrack Hussein Obama. Millions of people are expected to be in Washington, D.C. next week to celebrate, but the millions of us who cannot make it can still join in the celebration.

This Friday, Jan. 16, Livingston County will celebrate its own inauguration party with an event sponsored by the Livingston County Democratic Party. The event will run from 7-11 p.m. at the VFW/American Legion Spirit Center, 10590 Grand River Road, in Brighton.

For just $25 per person in advance - $30 at the door- you can enjoy a buffet dinner of hot and cold appetizers and desserts. You can dance to the music of Crystal Clear DJ of Howell, a cash bar, and a short video featuring local campaign highlights and volunteers will be shown. You can simply mark this historic event with like-minded people. There is even a special $10 per person rate for students.

For further information, call (810) 229-4212

Jan 11, 2009

The 2009 Michigan Notable Books reflect the creativity of Michigan residents

Michigan residents and former residents are some of the most creative people in the world.

Some of the most famous authors, actors, directors, comedians, musicians and inventors call or have called Michigan home. To name just a few, Francis Ford Coppola, Gilda Radner, Della Reese, Danny Thomas, George C. Scott, Arthur Miller and Ernest Hemingway.

The Library of Michigan’s annual list of Michigan’s Notable Books highlight some of that talent, and it also highlights Michigan people, places and events. The books are chosen from both fiction and non-fiction books published in Michigan, by Michigan authors or books about Michigan, and the 2009 Michigan Notable Books include 20 of the best books Michigan has to offer. Michigan Notable Books is an annual program with roots stretching back to Michigan Week 1991.

The exciting development is we may get to see a book written in Michigan and then turned into a movie that is filmed right here in Michigan. The Michigan Legislature passed a package of attractive incentives for filmmakers in April, and it has led to hundreds of productions being filmed in Michigan. That has led to a proposal for a $100 million studio in Allen Park that can bring as many as 3,500 jobs to the state.

Here are the 2009 Michigan Notable Books

Asylum for the Insane: A History of the Kalamazoo State Hospital by William A. Decker, M.D. (Arbutus Press)

The English Major by Jim Harrison (Grove Press)

The Expeditions: A Novel by Karl Iagnemma (Dial Press)

Historic Cottages of Glen Lake by Barbara Siepker. Photography by Dietrich Floeter (Leelanau Press)

"Jiffy" A Family Tradition: Mixing Business and Old-Fashioned Values by Cynthia Furlong Reynolds (Chelsea Milling Company, distributed by University of Michigan Press)

Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Mostly True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka (Viking)

Looking for Hickories: The Forgotten Wildness of the Midwest by Tom Springer (University of Michigan Press)

Measure of the Heart: A Father's Alzheimer's, a Daughter's Return by Mary Ellen Geist (Springboard)

The Model T: A Centennial History by Robert Casey (Johns Hopkins University Press)

Ninety Years Crossing Lake Michigan: The History of the Ann Arbor Car Ferries by Grant Brown, Jr. (University of Michigan Press)

A Picturesque Situation: Mackinac Before Photography, 1615-1860 by Brian Leigh Dunnigan (Wayne State University Press)

Ravens in the Storm: A Personal History of the 1960s Antiwar Movement by Carl Oglesby (Scribner)

Roadie: The Misunderstood World of a Bike Racer by Jamie O. Smith. Illustrated by Jef Mallett (Velo Press)

Sirens of Chrome: The Enduring Allure of the Auto Show Model by Margery Krevsky (Momentum Books)

Summer Dreams: The Story of Bob-Lo Island by Patrick Livingston (Wayne State University Press)

The Toledo War: The First Michigan-Ohio Rivalry by Don Faber (University of Michigan Press)

War as They Knew It: Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, and America in a Time of Unrest by Michael Rosenberg (Grand Central Publishing)

When the Church Becomes Your Party: Contemporary Gospel Music by Deborah Smith Pollard (Wayne State University Press)

Who's Jim Hines? by Jean Alicia Elster (Wayne State University Press)

Wreck of the Carl D.: A True Story of Loss, Survival, and Rescue at Sea by Michael Schumacher (Bloomsbury USA)

Jan 9, 2009

Howell High School wins third place in We the People state finals

LANSING - Howell High School students from teacher Mark Oglesby's senior government class took third place in the State Finals of the We the People competition on Friday, the 4th year in a row Howell has placed third.

Howell scored 920 points out of a possible 1080, and that left them a mere 25 points out of first, the closest Howell has ever come. Seven other high schools participated; Coldwater, East Grand Rapids High School, East Kentwood High School, Hudsonville High School, Marguette Senior High School, Mason High School and Richmond High School.

Students are divided into teams of three to six students, and the teams demonstrate their knowledge of various areas of the U.S. Constitution before three judges made up of community leaders from across the state in a format that resembles a Congressional hearing. They are then graded on a variety of areas, such as knowledge, reasoning, presentation and participation. We the People is a nationwide program developed by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center For Civic Education. The group’s s mission is to foster the development of informed, responsible citizen participation in civic life. The actual program is based on materials developed by the center, and the program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

Howell’s Unit Three team - consisting of Michael Brown, Shayla Henrikson, and Matthew Wendell - finished first out of all of the unit three teams.

Work on popular bipartisan workplace smoking ban already beginning

It has been less than a month since the bill enacting a workplace smoking ban in Michigan, including bars and restaurants, died on the last day of the 94th Congress when the Republican members of the conference committee - formed to come up with a compromise between the total ban approved by the Senate and the House-approved version that exempted casinos and others – refused to consider a compromise, but work has already begun to enact the ban this year.

The 95th Congress will not begin until Wednesday, but incoming freshman Rep. Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc, told subscription only Capitol newsletter Gongwer he planned to introduce the bill when the new session opens Wednesday. The sponsor of the bill last year, Rep. Brenda Clack, D-Flint, was term-limited. The move by Scott really illustrates support for the smoking ban is bipartisan. Scott is also making history as the first African-American Republican in the House since 1904.

Scott told Gongwer he talked with thousands of local residents during the last few months and there is steadfast support for a smoking ban.

Meanwhile, over in the Senate, the man who has championed the cause for the past decade, Sen. Ray Basham D-Taylor, plans to not only introduce the Senate version of the bill, but he plans to form a bicameral, bipartisan anti-smoking caucus, asking all lawmakers to sign a pledge that they will work on the smoking ban issue.

Basham said he was both elated and disappointed at the progress of the bill this session. It had never before even been allowed an up or down vote, but he was disapointed that it did not passes, despite a majority of lawmakers in both bodies voting for it. Shortly after the bill died on Dec. 19 he sent out a letter to supporters of the ban all across the state saying he will push a ballot initiative if necessary.

"If the Legislature won’t take action on behalf of the people, I’ll see to it that we put this issue on the ballot and before the voters," he said.

Basham has a network of supporters of the ban from all over the state; collected from people signing his smoke free dinning petition, and he said the list of lawmakers who sign the pledge will be made public, as will the list of legislators who don't sign the pledge.

Jan 7, 2009

Ward calls in sick for 94tth Legislative session

After the 2006 campaign where he was as scare as snow in July in Livingston County, it came as no surprise that state Rep. Chris Ward, R-Brighton, missed more votes and more days of work than any lawmaker during the 94th Legislative session that just ended on Dec. 30.

Ward missed 385 votes out of a total of 1,500 roll call votes for the two-year session that ran from January 2007 until Dec. 30, 2008, according to an annul report by Michigan Votes, maintained by the conservative Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The outcome for the term-limited Republican was never in doubt because he led the Legislature with the most missed votes in 2007, trailed closely by fellow Livingston County Republican Sen. Valde Garcia, R-Howell.

But Ward was given a run for his money in the session by Detroit Democrat Rep. Marsha Cheeks, the aunt of imprisoned Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Cheeks missed 358 votes in the session, but she edged out Ward for the annual lead in 2008, missing 288 votes to Ward's 252 votes in 2008.

With the Legislature only meeting three days a week it seems a little odd that Ward would miss so much. Many state employees live in Livingston County and work in Lansing, and they make the commute up and down I-96 everyday, myself included. The only difference is we are not paid mileage to commute like Ward is.

Jan 5, 2009

2008 Year in Review Part I

What a year. Two thousand eight was a busy year, especially if you love politics like I do. There were a lot of newsworthy things, but by far was the election of Barack Obama as President. But here is a monthly recap of 2008 via the Conservative Media blog.

JanuaryThe month of January was consumed with news of the Michigan Presidential primary that was really a bust. Most of the leading Democrats removed their names from the ballot because Michigan dared to question the absurdity of Iowa and New Hampshire’s primaries going first every four years. The only names on the ballot on the Democratic side were U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, U.S. Chris Dodd and Sen. Mike Gravel.

I was one of the Livingston County residents that got to see one eventual presidential nominee when then candidate John McCain and the “Straight Talk Express” made a stop in Livingston County’s Genoa Township for a town hall meeting.

On the labor front, friends of labor and the middle class geared up for a possible petition drive expected at the Jan. 15 primary polling places to make Michigan a “right to work for less” state, but the petition drive never materialized.

The petition drive by Health Care for Michigan got off the ground at the primary, but it eventually died The drive was put together by a coalition of labor, religious and activist groups that wanted to amend the state constitution to require the Legislature to pass laws to ensure that "every Michigan resident has affordable and comprehensive health care coverage through a fair and cost-effective financing system."

The maneuvering in the ridiculous and unsuccessful recall efforts against state legislators who voted to in October 2007 to increase the state income tax and place a sales tax on some services that helped balance the state budget and erased a $1.8 billon budget deficit began with a couple of court cases.

Recalls were in the air in February, and we saw a mixed bag. In the news in February were recall attempts against Rep. Marie Donigan, D-Royal Oak, Rep. Mike Simpson, D-Liberty Township, Marty Griffin, D-Jackson, Craig DeRoche, R-Novi, and Rep. Robert Dean, D-Grand Rapids. The recall attempts saw lots of smoke, but no fire. They all eventually died, and they were not popular. Even Former Republican Speaker of the House Rick Johnson, R-Leroy, published an editorial denouncing the recall attempt of Simpson. In the end, only the recall of Speaker of the House Andy Dillon made it to the ballot. It violated campaign the law to do so, and was easily defeated.

There were plenty of attempts at ballot issues, but only a few were successful. The Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care (MCCC) turned in 474,752 signatures -- 304,101 were required -- to put medical marijuana on ballot. The petition drive to implement the Michigan Fair Tax Proposal got underway, but it ultimately failed to get enough signatures. The Fair Tax Proposal would completely eliminate the Michigan Business Tax (MBT), personal property tax, the 6-mill business education tax and the Michigan Income Tax in favor of a 9.75 percent sales tax on goods, food and services purchased in Michigan.

The year also saw the demise of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. In March, he laid out his vision for the City of Detroit in his seventh State of the City Address, but he inexplicitly marred an excellent speech to take shots at his critics, including TV stations, for what he called “a hate-filled, bigoted attack on his family” over the growing text-messaging scandal.

The Iraq war entered its fifth year and the 4,000th American soldier was killed in combat -- 169 of those from Michigan -- this month. Don Bortz of Waterford, who served a year in Iraq as a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, called out the media for its lack of coverage on the war.

The U.S. Congressional race for Michigan’s 9th District between long time incumbent Joe Knollenberg, R- Bloomfield Hill, and Democratic challenger Gary Peters got underway in earnest. Peters went on to unseat Knollenberg in his bid for his 9th term in Congress.

In the first of many recall attempts that will crash and burn, the one against Rep. Robert Dean, D-Grand Rapids, is the first to publicly admit defeat and throw in the towel.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger was the featured speaker at the Livingston Democrats' 25th annual Edwin B. Winans Dinner put on by the Livingston County Democratic Party. Gettelfinger, who negotiated the historic labor contract with the big 3 automakers last year that included the union taking control of retiree health care costs, made national news this year in the fight to save U.S. automakers.

Rightwing wacko and conservative hero Rush Limbaugh continued to flirt with the law by urging his lemmings still voting in primaries to waste their vote by crossing over and voting for Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton because the GOP nominee has already been chosen. Limbaugh has labeled his perverting of the democratic process “Operation Chaos.” He took it a step further when he urged his listeners to incite riots at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

The workplace smoking ban was in the news this year. Iowa began the latest state to protect the health of innocent nonsmokers and enact an indoor smoking ban.

The Michigan Townships Association (MTA) joined in the growing chorus of people against the recall of primarily Democrats in the state House. The MTA called the attempted recall of Michigan House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford Township, recall abuse. In its weekly Legislative Report, the bipartisan MTA headlined the brief that goes to elected officials across the state “recall abuse spreads to state level.” That call was echoed by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which never endorses a Democrat, calling it "counterproductive.” Even House Republicans got into the act, introducing House Resolution 358 that would "express the sense of the House that recalls should be based on specific misconduct, criminal activity, or abuse of office and should not be based on a single vote and to denounce the effort to recall Speaker Andy Dillon."

After more than a decade of debate, a smoking ban in Michigan workplaces, including bars and restaurants, was finally approved in the Senate by a vote of 25-12. The Senate approved a substitute to House Bill 4163 that calls for a total ban on indoor smoking in workplaces with no exceptions.

More than 600 people gathered at the Lansing Center for the Second Annual Michigan Policy Conference, sponsored by the Michigan Prospect. The all-day summit to featured breakout sessions, skills workshops and speakers, like author and journalist Amy Goodman and author and humorist Jim Hightower.

After 10 years of the workplace smoking ban not even getting a committee hearing, the House held its second vote on the ban. The Michigan House approved a smoking ban by a vote of 65-39 that put the exceptions for non-Native American casinos, bingo-halls and so-called “cigar bars” back into the bill. The House approved a substitute to House Bill 5074 and sent it to the Senate where it died.

The evidence keeps piling up that a workplace ban, including bars and restaurants, will be a good thing for public health and will help business and not hurt it. Grand Valley State University marketing professors Frederic Kraft and Suzeanne Benet have just concluded a study that shows non-smokers are more likely to go to a place that bans smoking and it’s less likely that a smoker will not go to a place simply because it bans smoking.

Dave Dishaw, chair of the Kent County Republican Party, is claiming a weekend break in at their headquarters is the work of Democrats without an ounce of proof. What is even more predictable than a baseless allegation without proof, is he is using the incident as a fundraiser. Dishaw posted a letter on the web site saying, “We knew the Democrats would do anything to win, but we didn't expect this! For the first time in history, the Kent County Republican Headquarters was broken into, vandalized and burglarized.”
And what will make it all better for Dishaw, “Your contribution of $100, $50 or just $25 will help support our candidates and spread our conservative values across Kent County!”

A new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found the number and restrictiveness of state laws regulating smoking in private-sector worksites, including, restaurants and bars, increased substantially over the past three years. The analysis found the number of states with strong smoke-free laws tripled between December 31, 2004 and December 31, 2007. The report also says “eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from second hand smoke exposure.” To that end, the CDC’s “A Healthy People 2010 objective” calls for establishing laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia that make indoor public places and worksites completely smoke-free.

Another report that says indoor smoking bans are benefiting the health of people was released, this one from Italy. In just one year after Italy enacted a national smoking ban, researchers in Rome found an 11.2 percent reduction of acute coronary events in persons 35 to 64 years and a 7.9 percent reduction in those ages 65 to 74, according to a study in, “Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.”

Representatives from the Detroit International Bridge Company, the private company that owns the Ambassador Bridge, played hooky from the House Transportation Subcommittee that was anticipating taking testimony on the DRIC (Detroit River International Crossing) study. The lobbyist for the bridge company, Mickey Blashfield, and company president Dan Stamper were supposed to testify before the panel , but they opted out by sending a letter to Subcommittee Chair Rep. Lee Gonzales, D-Flint, in which he said it was "not possible to adjust pre-existing schedules and prepare further testimony,” according to the subscription only MIRS. But in a mid-day news conference, according to MIRS, Gonzales told reporters that he'd spotted Blashfield in the lobby of the House Office Building shortly after he'd adjourned the hearing.

In further bridge news, the Canadian government announced its decision on where it will locate a new Detroit to Windsor bridge in a press release from Transport Canada.
The Canadian crossing will be the Brighton Beach section in west-end Windsor, and 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.

Debates have long been a way for people to hear directly from the candidates, but only the Republicans choose to use it as a fundraiser. The Livingston County Teen Age Republicans (TAR) sponsored a candidate forum for the two open Michigan House seats, but they are charging you 5 bucks to attend the forum and hear from the candidates.

Jan 1, 2009

Another scientific study proves the wisdom of indoor smoking bans

If you needed anymore proof that indoor smoking bans are good for the health of nonsmokers and smokers alike, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the results of an extensive report that said heart attack hospitalizations in the city of Pueblo, Colo. fell sharply after the implementation of a municipal law making workplaces and public places smoke-free.

Numerous reports have shown that laws making indoor workplaces and public places smoke-free were associated with sizable, rapid reductions in hospital admissions for heart attacks. But none of the nine published reports were as extensive or for as long as the Pueblo study and they looked at only a year or less of data after the implementation of smoke-free laws. This study looked at the decline of heart attack hospitalizations over a three year period; a 41 percent decrease.

The report found smoke-free laws likely reduce heart attack hospitalizations both by reducing secondhand smoke exposure among nonsmokers and by reducing smoking, but the reduction of secondhand smoke was the largest factor. To erase any doubt that it was smoke-free laws that reduced heart attack hospitalizations, researchers also looked at two nearby areas that had not implemented smoke-free ordinances and found no significant decline in heart attack hospitalizations during the same time periods.

“We know that exposure to secondhand smoke has immediate harmful effects on people's cardiovascular systems, and that prolonged exposure to it can cause heart disease in nonsmoking adults,” said Janet Collins, Ph.D., director of CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, in the press release announcing the results. “This study adds to existing evidence that smoke-free policies can dramatically reduce illness and death from heart disease.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the nation's premier public health agency; working to ensure healthy people in a healthy world. The CDC is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and it is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting public health activities in the United States. CDC’s focus is not only on scientific excellence but also on the essential spirit that is CDC – to protect the health of all people.

Michigan’s workplace smoking ban died in the conference committee tasked to work out a compromise between the Senate passed version and the House passed version as the 94th Legislature ended on Tuesday, but it will be reintroduced when the 95th Legislature convenes on Jan, 14.