Oct 29, 2010

False and sleazy attack ads against Leyton having an effect

Voters say they hate negative, attack campaign ads, but political pundits and consultants say it works. The pundits must be right because there is no other explanation for Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton trailing in the polls for Michigan Attorney General.

His opponent, Bill Schuette, has run some of the sleaziest ads I have ever seen, but he has finally been shamed into taking one of them off the air by the family of someone he was shamelessly exploiting. But that, in my opinion, is not the sleaziest ad.

The TV ad most people have seen has lead to a profane-filled death threat against Layton, yet it still stays up.

That ad stars Debbie McIntosh, of Grand Blanc, whose son, Adam, 25, was murdered in 2006. She is very angry that the killer did not get more time and that he was the only one charged, even though there’s no evidence that anyone else was involved. Republicans are using the millions of dollars of unregulated corporate cash to run that smear ad exploiting McIntosh holding a photo of her son and calling Leyton a liar.

Even after an anti-Semitic attack by McIntosh on the Flint Journal web site and death threat, the ad is still running.

I’m not sure what crime has to do with the Michigan Attorney General, since the job is largely a civil and administrative posts and acts as the state’s attorney, but the Republicans have been trying with no success to paint Leyton soft on crime. Every ad they have run has had a foul called on it by the nonpartisan Michigan Truth Squad.
In his two terms as Genesee County Prosecuting Attorney, Leyton has prosecuted more than 20,000 criminal cases to Schuette’s zero. The teabggers have driven the Republican Party so far to the right they are in danger of falling off the cliff, but one thing they constantly claim is that they will not support career politicians. Yet almost all of the Republican candidates can qualify for that label.

While Leyton was serving in local government as an elected prosecutor, he also served on the Flint Township Board of Trustees, first as a Trustee and later as the Township Clerk; Schuette was, first, a U.S. Congressman, a member of former Gov. John Engler’s cabinet, then a state Senator and finally an Appellate Court Judge.

This is just more Republicans teabagger hypocrisy.

The ad that was pulled off the air claimed that Leyton was “overly lenient in the plea deal he reached with a drunken driver who led police on a chase that resulted in the death of Flint police officer Owen Fisher,” according to subscription only Gongwer.

“Flint police officer Owen Fisher, murdered while on duty. An open and shut case: not for David Leyton," the ad says. “He plea bargained down to just three years in prison; said it was just and right."

But Gongwer said David and Vida Fisher, the deceased officer's parents, said “the ad is wrong and that Christopher Bentoski would see more than three years in prison for his convictions on assault with intent to do great bodily harm and fleeing police.” The Fishers also criticized Schuette for using the story without consulting with them first and for making an ad that was disrespectful to their family.

"We request that Mr. Schuette remove this ad from the airwaves," David Fisher said. "Our son was a tremendously civil human being and this ad is both uncivil and incorrect. We believe that Genesee County prosecutor David Leyton approached this case with appropriate gravity and treated our family respectfully."

Back to the drawing board, and since Republicans have so much unregulated corporate money to burn, a new ad is already up in its place featuring Republican Oakland County Executive Brooks Patterson criticizing Leyton for plea bargains. Patterson is very familiar with plea bargains; like the one he took in 2003 to reckless driving after being pulled over for possible drunk driving.

The choice is clear on Tuesday: Benson over ‘No Truth Ruth’

If you want to make sure Michigan’s elections are run fairly and in a nonpartisan way and that campaign finance law will be enforced fairly for all political parties, then the clear choice for Michigan Secretary of State on Tuesday in Jocelyn Benson.

She is the only candidate who has taken a pledge of non partisanship. In that pledge, Benson pledges that she will not co-chair any campaigns or endorse any candidates running in elections where she will serve as the final certifier of results. We saw the problems in Florida in 2000 that made them the laughing stock and the butt of the nation’s jokes because their SOS was the chair of George Bush’s campaign in Florida. The pledge makes sure that does not happen.

If that common sense measure does not do the trick, then you just need to look at Benson’s impressive résumé as the Wayne State Law professor makes her first run at public office.

At Wayne State University she not only teaches election law, but she has also published the first major book on the role of the Secretary of State in enforcing election and campaign finance laws. Benson also served as the Voting Rights Policy Coordinator of the Harvard Civil Rights Project, where she worked on the passage of the Help America Vote Act, the federal law that improved election law standards in the wake of the 2000 Presidential recount. And in 2004 she helped with the Democratic Party’s national voter protection effort, recruiting, selecting and training Voter Protection coordinators in 21 states with the goal of ensuring that the 2004 election was conducted with integrity in accordance with the law.

During the 2008 election, Benson led a successful effort to ban the use of foreclosure lists to challenge voters’ eligibility on Election Day.

After earning her B.A. at Wellesley College, Benson began her career at the Southern Poverty Law Center, investigating hate groups and hate crimes throughout the country. She earned a Master of Philosophy as a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, and subsequently earned her law degree from Harvard Law School.

Now, I don’t really have a problem with a so-called “career politician,” but if you do, her opponent, Ruth Johnson, is the very definition of it. However, in a job that thrives on being nonpartisan, a partisan career politician is not the best choice for this job.

Because Johnson is a career politician, the false, partisan attacks on Benson have been relentless. To combat the constant lies from Johnson, the Michigan Democratic Party has launched a web site appropriately called “No Truth Ruth” to combat those lies.

“In a desperate attempt to win this office, Ruth Johnson and her cronies at the Republican Party have spread malicious lies about Jocelyn Benson,” said MDP Chair Mark Brewer. “We launched this website today to dispel those rumors, and put out the truth.”

One of the dog whistles to call and excite the GOP base is to mention humanitarian billionaire George Soros, who is hated by the right because he is one of the few billionaires who contributes to Democrats and liberal causes.

The GOP recently launched an ad that claims Benson has ties to Soros, has participated in voter fraud and is connected to the so-called “fake Tea Party scandal.”

“These allegations are completely false,” Brewer said. “Jocelyn Benson is the only candidate that has spent her career advocating for issues related to this office. It’s pretty clear that the GOP used these scare tactics to once again, deceive voters.”

The website also offers real information on Ruth Johnson, including Johnson’s false claims of non-partisanship, companies that support her campaign but violate campaign finance laws and Ruth Johnson’s erroneous claim that she will bring new solutions to Lansing.

Oct 28, 2010

Michigan has one of the best climates for business in the country

Maybe now teabagger Republicans and Rick “The Chief Outsourcer” Snyder will be busted for crying wolf on the alleged high and job-killing taxes in Michigan, but I doubt it.

For the second consecutive year, the economically conservative Tax Foundation of Washington, D.C. has ranked Michigan the 17th best in the nation for business climate for 2011, and the ranking had Michigan with the second-best business climate in the Great Lakes region, according to subscription only Gongwer.

Republicans like to throw up neighboring Ohio and Minnesota as great examples of low tax and business friendly states, claiming businesses are not just moving to China but there, too. However, those two states in the region were both listed as having one of the 10 worst business climates, according to the annual report.

Not only has Gov. Jennifer Granhom managed to accomplish what no other governor has done and actually diversify the state economy from the auto industry only, but she has improved the business climate with the help of the Democratically-controlled House. In 2006 when Republicans controlled both the House and Senate, the state was ranked 28th in terms of business climate. I also doubt she will get credit for either of those accomplishments.

Indiana is another state Republicans like to claim where Michigan jobs are going, and they did do slightly better than us at 10th. However, “one analyst not related to the study pointed out that in the Great Lakes region Indiana has the lowest per capita income.”

South Dakota was ranked 1st in terms of total business climate, while New York was ranked last. It was the second consecutive year South Dakota topped the list.

Oct 27, 2010

Blanket endorsement demonstrates conservative media bias

Livingston County Daily Press & Argus General manager Rich Perlberg erased any pretense that he is anything other than a Republican with a blanket endorsement of all the Republicans running for the Livingston County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

The editorial glosses over the mismanagement of the nine-member, all-GOP board, and it buries the financial irresponsibility brought to the attention of the paper by the Livingston County Democratic Party.

“The Republican board has done well by the issues that resonate with Livingston County voters — providing essential services in a frugal and efficient way.”

Then why, Mr. Perlberg, does Livingston County have some of the worst roads in the state. They are even worse than a place that many county Republicans love to hold up to ridicule, the City of Detroit.

A blanket endorsement might be in order if they were running as a slate, but they are not. Not only that, there is an open seat in the 5th District I live in where Democrat David Berry is running. He is running against a candidate that has lost judicial races in the county at least twice where you had to stand on your own merit and not simply rely on the R after your name in predominantly Republican Livingston County.

But the biggest example of mismanagement by the board was the more than $100 million in debt county taxpayers could be on the hook for. The county backed bonds for developers for townships to put in water and sewer infrastructure for housing developments using special assessment districts (SAD). The money would be paid back when the owner bought the house and was assessed for it through their property taxes.

But as the housing market hit bottom, developers simply walked away, leaving the townships, the county and taxpayers holding the bag. The county has done everything legally possible to hide the debt until after the election. We don’t even know which townships are in trouble.

The Democrats have asked for a townhall meeting, but Republicans have continued to stall. They were aided by the local chamber of commerce, but it was shut down after the first tough question.

The board has tried to hide it with an obscure committee that never posted its notice of meetings anywhere but on the wall of the board office and only when it was legally required to do so. Then, it never bothered to approve the meeting minutes when it met, so it did not have to post them. Only a FOIA request by Democrats led to a year’s worth of minutes being finally approved. Conveniently, the chair of that stealth committee is not running for re-election, so he will not have to answer any embarrassing questions or be held accountable. It makes you wonder if he will be the scapegoat for the chair of the Finance Committee.

The paper said:

“Democrats have largely ignored these accomplishments. Instead, they have zeroed in on the large bond payments due for water and sewer special-assessment districts in townships across the county. County officials say they have taken the lead in managing the looming payments, which are first and foremost an issue for the townships. The complaints, say county officials, are exaggerated.”

This may be the reason for the blanket endorsement. This is a huge story that could lead to receivership and an emergency financial manger, yet the newspaper was only dragged to it kicking and screaming. The national business publication Bloomberg had to break the story while the newspaper located just across the street completely missed or ignored it. I guess this is payback for the Democrats breaking the story locally and pointing out that the newspaper fell down on the job of being a watchdog on local government.

I also see Mr. Perlberg’s hand in this when he rails against mass transit. He is a longtime critic of the planned Washtenaw Livingston (WALLY) commuter rail line that will link Howell and Ann Arbor.

“Their complaints, however, may largely fall on deaf ears. Many of their programs — such as supporting the WALLY commuter train between Howell and Ann Arbor, or establishing a county-run parks program — are examples, in the eyes of traditional county voters, of unnecessary, overreaching and, ultimately, expensive government. County residents, for example, already have ample access to state and regional recreation areas.”

That’s simply not true, because it has the support of the City of Howell and the Brighton Chamber.

If you want some real accountability and an independent watchdog on the board – a role the newspaper has rejected – vote for one of the Democratic candidates next Tuesday.

District 2 – Thomn Bell of Oceola Township
District 3 – Dane Morris of Hartland Township
District 5 – Dave Berry of Conway Township
District 6 – Keith Tianen of Putnam Township
District 7 – Kelly Raskauskas of Genoa Township
District 8 – Amir Baghdadchi of Hamburg Township
District 9 – Barry McBride of Green Oak Township

Oct 26, 2010

Dingell makes clean sweep of newspaper endorsements

The Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives - Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, - made it a clean sweep of endorsements from newspapers covering the 15th Congressional District when the News Herald, the voice of Downriver, gave Dingell the nod.
That makes it a perfect six for six, and the News Herald joins the Toledo Blade, the Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, the Ann Arbor online News and the Monroe Evening News in singing Dingell’s praises.

“…We’d argue that Dingell has been Downriver’s only true voice in Congress since departing Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-13th District) and another veteran, U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-14th District) — whose districts moved into parts of Downriver and Dearborn as a result of redistricting — essentially are Detroiters who have few or no ties to these communities,” the paper said. “Dingell, the longest-serving member of the House, has represented this area for 55 years. And, he continues to take interest in and aid Downriver communities that no longer are in his district, but that he used to represent.”

The only support opponent Rob Steele has garnered has been that of teabaggers, and the News Herald recognized that.

“Conservatives are going to vote for Steele. Liberals and mainstream voters are going to cast ballots for Dingell. We believe our endorsement represents those in the middle.”

Steele did pick up one endorsement that will matter to no one but some teabaggers. However, precious few of his endorsements have even been from people inside Michigan, let alone the 15th District. Failed Alaska Governor and Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin announced today she is endorsing him. That might have been a big deal in the primary election, but a week away from a General Election doesn’t mean a whole lot. Maybe that will help Steele lose by 17 percentage points instead of 19.

An endorsement from someone who has never completed a term she was elected to, to some who has never ran for public office. It should carry a lot of weight, but not with voters.

Original teabagger emerges to challenge the first ever teabagger in the 7th District

What Republicans are calling the “fake tea party” that collected eng signatures to actually place candidates on the ballot last summer is actually going to spawn a candidate for next month election.

Republicans have claimed fraud was used to get it on the ballot. I don’t know if that’s true or not, and an investigation is on-going. But I can guarantee that with the most partisan Secretary of State ever, if a Democrat was involved in any fraud they will be prosecuted to the max.

The Tea Party had submitted 59,535 petition signatures, and based on sampling, the state found the group had 45,150 valid signatures, well above the 38,013 signatures required by law. But the two actitivist Republicans on the state Board of Canvassers – which is only charged by law to verify the signatures, not how they were collected; and nothing else – voted not to certify the petitions.

What the effort did; legal or not, was to expose what most people already knew: that this was not a nonpartisan, grassroots effort that was neither Republican nor Democratic, and that teabggers are just the same old Republican Party moving to extreme right side of the road. It also proved that the crap teabggers are spouting cannot stand up to voter scrutiny or stand on its own two feet.

But subscription only MIRS is reporting that one of the original Tea Party nominees, Dan Davis of good old of Riga in Lenawee County, is running as a write-in candidate in the 7th Congressional District.

Davis is and has also been a strong Republican.

According to MIRS, “Davis said he is running as a conservative and his platform is reducing the size of government, cutting taxes, having transparent government and increasing production of energy through America's "vast resources" to include coal, oil and natural gas. “

He blamed Republicans for kicking the Tea Party off the ballot.

“No party should have the right to deny others a voice,” Davis told MIRS. “Nearly 60,000 Michigan registered voters signed the TEA Party petition. They and many others have in effect been told by Republicans that their voice is not relevant.”

According to his bio, Davis was a former City of Monroe Police Officer, and he is a security manager and consultant.

Oct 25, 2010

Land’s action in the 20th District is the reason the SOS should take nonpartisan pledge already taken by Benson

The situation in the 20th Senate District following the tragic death of Democratic candidate Rep. Robert Jones, D-Kalamazoo, is why Michigan needs a Secretary of State like law professor Jocelyn Benson, who has taken an oath to the citizens to operate the office in a neutral and nonpartisan fashion.
Jones lost a battle with cancer on Oct. 17 after many people had already cast absentee ballots, and under state law a vote cannot be counted for a deceased candidate. Votes will be counted for the Republican candidate, but votes for Jones will not be counted as going to the replacement for Jones, Bobby Hopewell. Jones appeared to be winning a seat that is currently held by a Republican.

Not only that, it appears that an absentee ballot cast by a voter who votes straight Democratic Party will just be thrown out, and it will not be counted for the other candidates on the ballot as well as for Jones.

An estimated 8,000 of the 16,000 absentee ballots issued in the race before Jones’ death last Sunday have been returned to date, and absentee voters, whether they turned in their ballots or not, may request a replacement ballot.

According to the Kalamazoo Gazette, “some clerks, including in Comstock and Oshtemo townships, wanted to send a notice to voters who received an absentee ballot of this option,” but super-partisan Republican Secretary of State Terri Land has refused to allow local clerks to send such a letter as a public service to make sure their voters are counted.

There is nothing in Michigan election law to bar local clerks from undertaking such a public service to make sure voters have their vote count, but Land, who has a long history of partisanship, is barring them from doing it.

Land played politics with the closing of branch offices in Democratic districts in 2007, throwing up a roadblock to putting Lance Enderle on the ballot as the Democratic nominee for the 8th Congressional District and Land has gone after Democrats who allegedly violate campaign finance laws but ignores Republican violators.
To fulfill the oath that Benson took and the Republican candidate refuses to take, Benson will not co-chair any campaigns or endorse any candidates running in elections where she will serve as the final certifier of results.

Too bad Land didn’t take such as oath.

Republican candidates afraid of voters and refuse to debate

Republican political candidates in Michigan continue to hide and do everything possible to avoid debating their opponents and avoid a side-by-side comparison as they try and run the clock out because they believe they have a large lead, bought with a massive influx of cash from corporations.

For the most part, journalists have let them get away with it, but WDIV-TV4 anchor Devin Scillian called them out Sunday on his weekly political program “Flash Point.” He invited the top of the ticket – Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State – to debate on the show. But as usual, only the Democrats accepted.

Scillian relented and allowed GOP nominee Rick “Chief Executive Outsourcer” Snyder to appear separately on a prime-time Flash Point last week, and WDIV made sure big, mean Lansing Mayor and Democratic Gubernatorial nominee Virg Bernero got no where near the Outsourcer.

But When the Republican AG and SOS candidates declined to appear on the set at the same time with the Democratic nominees, Scillian - to his credit - held his ground, and said whoever shows up will go on the air in the state’s largest media market.

Predictably, only AG Democratic nominee David Leyton and Democratic SOS nominee Jocelyn Benson showed up to defend their positions and went on the air, and the Republicans chickened out.

On Sunday’s “Two guys named Joe” podcast, Joe DiSano and Joe Munem summed it up best. They said that if the Republicans refuse to debate then they can’t talk about transparency, they can’t talk about openness and they can’t talk about being accessible to voters. They can talk about those things, but they will be hypocrites.

The rest of the conservative, corporate media has failed to point out this hypocrisy. Let’s hope the voters see the truth.

Newspaper says Dingell is ‘the far better choice for 15th District voters’

The conservative editorial board of the Monroe Evening News said U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, is “without question, the far better choice for 15th District voters.”

The endorsement by the Monroe Evening News last week makes it an almost clean sweep of newspapers that cover the 15th District, including the state’s two largest newspapers, the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News. The only major one remaining is the News Herald. The only thing keeping the teabagger Republican opponent, Rob Steele, in the race appears to be his rather large ego.

Dingell enjoys a lead of 17-19 points, and the News, like most people, wonder why Republicans are even wasting money on this race.

“One reason is that the match-up has all the characteristics of an actual race — an oddity in a district that long has been steam-rolled by Rep. Dingell, the longest serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives.”

For every job you interview for you will not even be considered for the position without some experience, yet Steele and his supporters think not knowing how the legislative process works, knowing nothing about national security or that someone with no experience will hold the purse strings of billons of dollars is a plus. It’s amazing to me that as little as two years ago and for the past 230 years the serious character flaws and extremism of some of the Republican candidates would automatically disqualify them for office, but today that is seen as positive or just ignored.

“Although Dr. Steele tries to cast his political inexperience as a plus, it sometimes reveals a threadbare understanding of some of the daunting issues facing the nation,” the MEN said.

Steele has also tried to use Dingell’s long and distinguished record against him, but only for a small fringe minority that Steele calls his base is Dingell’s stellar record a liability.

“Steele has tried valiantly to use Rep. Dingell’s record against him,” the paper said. “Problem is, the record is too long, too accomplished and too laudable to be a liability. Despite whatever political winds of change might sweep the nation, Rep. Dingell’s stands still resound with an often silent majority of District 15 voters — Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike.”

One of the more laughable and ridiculous false charges Steele has leveled at Dingell is that he never shows up at events, he is out of touch with voters and can never be found in the district. Anyone who has spent any time in the district knows how accessible Dingell is, and the paper agrees. What is really illustrated here is how truly out of touch Steele is. That or he is just a complete liar, and in keeping with his past record, it may be both.

“He not only has a record of listening to “the little people,” he’s been a watchdog for years for many of the interests of the big auto and energy industries, which have been the backbone of southeast Michigan’s economy,” the paper said. “More recently, in Monroe County alone, he’s been a champion of federal incentives to business and industry, one of the architects of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, and a driving force behind the creation of the new River Raisin National Battlefield Park.

“Indeed, time and again, he has stood for principle over party.”

Oct 22, 2010

Senate candidates in battleground districts pick up endorsements

It was good news to see two of state Senate candidates I have spent lots of weekend afternoons canvassing for pick up endorsements from the Deputy Sheriffs' Association of Michigan (DSAM); Kathleen Law, D-Gibraltar, in the 7th district; and Paula Zelenko, D-Burton, in the 26th district.

Unfortunately, they also endorsed 16 Senate Republicans, but no one is prefect.

Law is research scientist in alternative energy; working that field for 22 years. She was also the former Mayor pro tem in Gibraltar and a State Representative from 2003-2008.

She has been running a very positive and active person-to-person campaign, and I can personally attest to that. She is facing one of the very few teabgger Republican candidates to make a through the primary, as well as former Republican Sate Representative John Stewart running as an independent and two other third party candidates. No, not that Jon Stewart; the spelling is, obviously different or I would vote for him.

Like all teabaggers, he has some extreme positions, like killing Medicare and Social Security.

Law has stayed above the fray, focusing on meeting individual voters, but Stewart and the teabagger Republican, Patrick Colbeck, have been bringing out the dirt. According to the Observer and Eccentric, at a recent debate, “Stewart criticized Colbeck’s voting record, saying Colbeck has failed to vote in numerous elections. Stewart, in an apparent swipe at the Tea Party, also called “despicable” the political rallies, such as one in Plymouth’s Kellogg Park, in which people carried signs offensive toward President Barack Obama.”

He is 100 percent correct. Colbeck has only voted in the general election since 1998, when he voted in a primary. Not in a local election or any other. I assume he voted for himself in August. It always amazes me that candidates can ask for your vote, but they can’t be bothered to vote themselves.

My former boss at the News Herald, Karl Ziomek, wrote a recent column on a debate held at the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber’s legislative forum on Monday where Colbeck falsely accused his opponents of lying. This guy already has a problem stretching the truth, and he was busted for it by the Michigan Truth Squad.

“…He then accused Law and Stewart of lying about him. He said Stewart lied about his campaign donors and that Law’s campaign lied with what it said about what he was going to do to things like Medicare.”

Zelenko is a former State Representative from Burton who served three terms in the State House and is currently a member of the Burton City Council. During her time in the House, she served as chair of the Governor's Task Force on Long Term Care, and fought for better protections for vulnerable senior citizens.

Zelenko, like all Democrats, is fighting against a huge influx of unregulated corporate cash from no one knows where or from who. Her opponent, who just happens to oppose legislation to prevent outsourcing, has blanketed the district with expensive mailings – even TV commercials - at a rate of 10-1 to Zelenko, including, according to subscription only Gongwer, a false piece painting Zelenko as “soft on illegal immigration.” Zelenko’s opponent has also commissioned some very nasty and false robocalls against her including one falsely attacking her record on government spending saying, "she's like a pig at the trough,” according to Gongwer.

It’s tough to fight against all that big money, but it just makes me pick up of door knocking.

Tough question shuts down chamber forum

The Livingston County Board of Commissioners is hoping that voters are stupid, and they are doing everything possible to hide more than $101 million in bad debt taxpayers are in the hook for until after then Nov. 2 election.

The Livingston County Democratic Party brought to light that the all-Republican Board of Commission backed $101 million in principal and interest from bonds by townships for Special Assessment Districts (SAD) for water and sewer infrastructure for developers to be paid back when people moved into the new developments, but because of the Bush recession, many developers just walked away, leaving the township and county taxpayers holding the bag.

The Democrats have been demanding that the county come clean by holding a townhall meeting to explain the situation, but the county has done everything legally possible to hide the extent of the bad debt from the public. On Thursday at its monthly breakfast meeting, the Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce had county officials come in and make a presentation that turned out to be little more than a campaign speech. If you anted up your $25 to get into the event hosted by the most pro-Republican organization in the world, you simply heard a whitewash, and the first time a tough, or any question, was asked the chamber director ended the forum.

According to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, it was nothing but a campaign speech from Board Chair Maggie Jones. She only talked about the great things the county has accomplished, but the fact that most of the stuff - like the Livingston County Ambulance, which has been around since 1971 – took place years ago.

For the all the good news, the Board has had its share of mismanagement that always gets swept under the rug, like the foreclosure crisis in Livingston County, which has the highest rate of property tax foreclosures in the region, awful roads and the financial drain at the county airport.

The Board has tried to hide the debt by forming something called the “Debt Management Committee,” and it meets the bare minimums of the Open Meetings Act by placing the notice of its meeting on a bulletin board in the board offices. After the county Democrats submitted a FOIA request for the meeting minutes, it turned out they had not even been approved. Only after they received the FOIA request did they even approve 10 sets of meeting minutes, going back for more than a year shortly after getting the FOIA request.

Conveniently, the chair of the sub-committee is not running for re-election after four terms on the board, giving the board a possible scapegoat.

The local daily newspaper has done a lousy job acting as a watchdog on the all-GOP board, but they could no longer ignore the minutes deception. Last week it finally came out it with an editorial on it. The Republican editorial board hates to criticize Republicans, so the criticism was very muted and couched as more of a question.

“But (Commissioner Jack) LaBelle said there was nothing "sinister" about the lack of minutes on this most critical committee. Then he said that the board didn't want to be "pitting the county against townships." Such a comment makes it seem that the Democrats are correct in saying that the county board was trying to keep the public in the dark about the nature of this issue, particularly since county officials have more recently suggested that some township officials were reluctant to acknowledge the possible inability to pay the looming debt payments.”

Pretty tame. The editorial should have demanded transparency from the board and administration, and it should have demanded the county hold a townhall meeting to inform the public of the extent of the problem and the possibility of an emergency financial manager taking over some townships.

By the way, this would be a townhall meeting where taxpayers don’t have to pay $25 to hear from their elected officials.

Oct 21, 2010

Dingell maintains double-digit lead

In the second reliable, independent poll in the race for 15th Congressional seat in the U.S. House, the dean of the House, Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, maintains his double digit lead.

Dingell has a 17-point lead over Teabgger Rob Steele, according to a Detroit Free Press-WXYZ TV (Channel 7) poll. Dingell is leading 53-36 percent. According to the Free Press, EPIC-MRA of Lansing surveyed 400 likely voters in Michigan’s 15th Congressional District. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points, so at a minimum Dingell has a 12.1 percent lead.

Steele has touted a pair of questionable polls that had him within 4 percentage points, and one unbelievable poll amazingly had Steele actually winning by 4 points.

Steele has been on every righting national radio and TV show possible, and it has done little to cut into Dingell’s commanding lead. In a Detroit News/Local 4 WDIV poll last month, Dingell had a 19 point lead.

But Dingell is not easing up on the gas, and former President Bill Clinton is appearing at a GOTV rally in Ann Arbor on Sunday.

Sleazy and false attack on Leyton results in death threat

We know Republicans have no shame and that there is nothing the Republicans won’t say or no one they won’t exploit to regain and keep power, and the latest illustration is the shameful attacks on Democratic Attorney General Candidate David Leyton.
They exploited Debbie McIntosh, whose son was murdered, to falsely attack Leyton, the Genesee County Prosecutor. Then McIntosh launched an anti-Semitic tirade against Leyton, who is Jewish, on the Flint Journal’s comments section. After that, you would think the Republicans would pull the TV ad - featuring McIntosh holding a photo of her son and calling Leyton a liar - and apologize to Leyton.

If you thought that then you don’t know Republicans. Instead, they blamed Leyton for the tirade against him. In fact, the reaction of Republicans was downright bizarre.

The Republican AG nominee’s mouthpiece, the former chair of the Michigan Republican Party (MRP) Rusty Hills, claimed the McIntosh family was victimized a second time even though it was the Republicans that shamelessly exploited her grief and anger.

“If David Leyton would put as much effort into fighting crime in Flint as he does to attacking the mother of a murdered child, it would be much more productive," Hills said. "As a former member of congress, Bill Schuette has always been a strong supporter of the special relationship between the Unites States of America and the State of Israel."

Unbelievable. I have no idea what Israel had to do with anything.

The current MRP mouthpiece, Jennifer Hoff, who has a history of bizarre comments, did not disappoint.

“It is sad and sleazy, but predictable, that the Leyton campaign continues to attack a victim's mother in this way," Hoff said. “Mr. Leyton should apologize to Mrs. McIntosh for such awful accusations. The Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party is Jewish."

“The Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party is Jewish?” what, exactly, does that mean?

But the story does not end there. Schuette’s dirty campaign tactics using McIntosh have resulted in a very serious death threat against Leyton. According to subscription only MIRS on Tuesday, Leyton received a call from a male-sounding voice on the voice mail at his Genesee County Prosecutor's Office using the number listed in the attack ad.

MIRS reported the man as saying: “Hey, David Leyton, I’m a Michigan resident. I think you’re a piece of (expletive) dirt. I hope you get murdered in a spectacularly horrible way that (expletive) makes your family (expletive) wish people didn’t exist. People like you. Because you’re a piece of (expletive) dirt. And If I ever (expletive) see you driving or walking, maybe I’ll (expletive) swerve your way and maybe I’ll (expletive) run you over. Because you’re a piece of (expletive) dirt. (Expletive).”

MIRS said the police know who the man is, and that he “has a criminal record, and will be handled within the jurisdiction of Oakland County.” The reason foe the threat had to be the attack ad because Leyton is the Prosecutor in Genesee County, not Oakland.

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer is calling on Schuette and the Michigan Republican Party to pull the ad featuring McIntosh from the airwaves before tragedy strikes.

“The death threat against David Leyton is the result of the hate-filled campaign that Bill Schuette and the Republicans are running,” Brewer said. “Bill Schuette is running a false attack ad against David Leyton, which he knows to be untrue. It’s outrageous that Bill Schuette and the Republicans would continue running this dangerous ad, considering the woman in the ad, Deb McIntosh, is being motivated by her dislike of the Jewish people, gays and lesbians. Anti-Semitism and homophobia are bad enough — now there are people out there threatening to kill David Leyton, all thanks to Bill Schuette and the Michigan Republican Party.”

Somehow, I doubt that will happen.

UPDATE: When you hear the actual audio of the threat, it’s even worse. The Two Guys Named Joe played it on their Oct. 21 podcast, and it’s disgusting. Like they say, clear the kids from the room before you play it.

Fact checking Steele’s lies in the debate

Tebagger Republican candidate Rob Steele is a proven liar, and that was on display Wednesday when U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, bested him in a debate at the La-Z-Boy Center Meyer Theater on the campus of Monroe County Community College.

Steele, basically, stuck to his standard false, teabgger talking points, and when he had to go off script, like on questions on foreign policy, he looked like someone who has no experience.

Steele has tried to back away from his stated position in the primary election; like that he wants to privatize Social Security, but unfortunately he included it on candidate questionnaires he filled out. Last night, he does often when caught in a lie, doubled down and repeats it.

“I’ve never once talked about privatizing Social Security,” Steele said last night.

When Steele speaks, fact checking is called for.

In the Ann Arbor.com voters guide he wrote this: “The most important long term issue is social security and Medicare. They must be restructured for those under 35. Let them have their own accounts.”

Steele also claimed that, “…people talk about the deficits under Bush, they exploded when Pelosi took over in 2006.”

Not true. At the height of the Bush Administration the deficit was $413 billon or 3.5 percent of GDP, a year after Democrats took control of Congress, the deficit was reduced to $248 billon or 1.9 percent of GDP. This is a result of instituting PAYGO, ensuring new spending is offset, and cutting waste and fraud in our programs through vigorous oversight. If a disaster occurred and Steele was elected, he would make permanent the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent, which would add $700 billion to the deficit in just a decade.

Steele is running on the pipe dream of repealing the historic health care insurance reform bill, and he wants to allow your insurance company to deny you coverage for a pre-existing condition, drop you if you get sick and not allow your children under age 26 to stay on your policy. Steele said during the debate that the historic Affordable Care Act does not address the problems of waste, fraud and abuse in the health care system. Again, not true.

The Affordable Care Act includes an unprecedented effort to fight waste, fraud and abuse in the healthcare system. The bill strengthens Medicare and Medicaid’s existing compliance and enforcement tools, reduces fraud and abuse and saves billions of tax payer dollars.

Now we know why Steele is lying about wanting to have debates, and why he wimped out of a candidate forum hosted by the Washtenaw County Medical Society last week.

Oct 20, 2010

Michigan chamber funnels $5.3 million to RGA to attack Bernero and Democrats

We can expect many, many more attack ads against Lansing Mayor and Democratic Gubernatorial nominee Virg Bernero while Rick “Chief Executive Outsourcer” Snyder gets to keeps his millions and maintains the lie that he does not accept PAC money and is running a clean, positive campaign.

Rich Robinson, the director of the non-profit and non-partisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network, released a report on Tuesday that said the so far in 2010 the Michigan Chamber of Commerce has contributed more than $5.3 million to the Republican Governors Association (RGA).

The RGA also received $1 million form News Corp., which owns Faux “News," and it has been very busy smearing Bernero. It has spent so much money, that it refuses to even say how much. In fact, it has been "bullying" Michigan television stations into not revealing to the public the size of their substantial ad buys. If a station dares to be honest and reveals that number, they don’t get to share in the millions in smear money and ad revenue.

The spending has been so large that the Outsourcer did not buy a single ad from the time of the primary election in August until just a few days ago.

Earlier this month Robinson tried to get Snyder to convince the RGA to reveal that information, but he claimed “he cannot stop the Republican Governors Association's efforts to push Michigan television stations not to release information about the size of the organization's ad buy.”
The Internal Revenue Service classifies the RGA as a 527 organization whose primary purpose is to support or oppose candidates for public office. Robinson only found out abut that huge donation because contributions to the RGA must be disclosed through the IRS. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce is a 501 (c)(6) nonprofit corporation that does no public disclosure of its donors. Its members’ dues payments are tax deductible as business expenses. In other words, the chamber can accept money from anywhere and from anybody, including foreign governments.

Robinson said the advertising agency for the RGA is Target Enterprises of Encino, Calf. The RGA’s third quarter report to the IRS shows $15.5 million worth of media buys through Target Enterprises. Target has asked several Michigan broadcasters to withhold records of its Michigan gubernatorial ad buys from their public files, and some broadcasters have complied with Target’s request for non-disclosure. Target was the advertising agency for the Rick Snyder’s campaign committee through the primary election. So much for Michigan first with the Outsourcer.

“The Michigan Chamber of Commerce has been aggregating contributions from anonymous donors for candidate-focused electioneering advertisements since the 2000 state election,” Robinson said. “They’ve spent millions of dollars for television advertisements that sought to define political candidates’ suitability for office, and they reported nothing about the sources whose contributions paid for those ads.”

Most people have this old fashioned image of the chamber of commerce as promoting business and the community. That is a false image.

“What is new in 2010 is that the Chamber’s primary financial purpose now appears to be aggregating contributions to give to the Republican Governors Association, an organization whose purpose is to promote the election of candidates for public office,” Robinson said. “The Chamber’s function as a business association is secondary, financially, to its role as a political fund aggregator.”

Oct 19, 2010

Fact checking the lies of Rob Steele

The latest victim of U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, - extremist teabagger Republican Rob Steele - continues to lie about his positions and the historic health insurance reform bill.

His latest lie, according to his Facebook page, is that “Congress being too busy to include necessary Tort Reform in the Dingell-Pelosi Health Care bill.”

Ah, the favorite Republican false talking point. As a physician, paying for malpractice insurance may cut into Steele’s already huge profits, but it has almost zero effect on health care costs.

The health economists and independent legal experts who study the issue say that malpractice liability costs are a small fraction of the spiraling costs of the U.S. health care system, and that the medical errors that malpractice liability tries to prevent are themselves the real cost; both to the injured patients and to the health care system as a whole. In fact, alleged “tort reform” ads less than one-half of 1 percent to health care costs.

Tom Baker, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and author of “The Medical Malpractice Myth” said alleged “tort reform” is really just a distraction.

“So we’re not talking about real money,” he told the Washington Independent. “It’s small relative to the out-of-control cost of health care.”

Republicans like to point out that doctors do extra or defensive medical tests to protect themselves from malpractice and lawsuits, but I’m at a loss as to why that’s a bad thing. Don’t we want doctors to be more careful? That’s why they get sued; because they were careless.

Baker also says that’s not a bad thing.

“Like defensive driving, some defensive medicine is good,” he said. “To change behavior. When you drill down those studies, you see that what it means is, doctors are more careful with patient records. They spend more time with the patient. They’re more careful to say hello and goodbye to the patient. That’s good.”

Steele also continues to try and fool people into believing he has the support of labor and the United Steel Workers (USW) union by calling his volunteers “SteeleWorkers” despite the USW sending him a letter earlier this month asking him to cease and desist from misrepresenting them, adding Steele "is not a friend to working families,” and is “only trying to deceive voters.”

Just on Saturday he posted photos on his FB page saying, “My SteeleWorkers were out again working hard at Homecoming, Saturday.”

When Steele was busted, and the Detroit Free Press ran a brief on Steele trying to misrepresent himself, his campaign manager blamed the volunteers; claiming it was “coined by volunteers spontaneously and isn't meant to mislead anyone,” even though Steele made up a logo and asked them to use it. This latest use of it proves he is continuing to lie.

Don’t forget the debate between Dingell and Steele at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow October 20 at the La-Z-Boy Center Meyer Theater on the campus of Monroe County Community College, 1555 S. Raisinville Rd. Steele has already chickened out of one debate, but he should be shamed into showing up this time.

Speaking of events, former Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Lynn Rivers is co-hosting a fundraiser for Dingell from 2-5 p.m. Sunday Oct. 24 in Ypsilanti. Call (202) 347-3042 for further information.

You will recall that when Michigan lost a congressional seat after the 2000 Census, Republicans gerrymandered the districts to pit the incumbents Rivers and Dingell together in the new 15th District in 2002. Republicans knew then and now that the only way to beat Dingell was with another Democrat.

Dingell won that race, and it was the closest race Dingell has had in many years. But Rivers thinks enough of him to host a fundraiser for the man who retired her.

Livingston County roads in worse condition than Detroit roads

HOWELL - Thanks to the all Republican County Board of Commissioners, our roads are worse than those of Detroit.

To illustrate that fact, the Livingston County Democrats are announcing a “Worst of the Worst” pothole contest in a bid to find the worst pothole in the county. This is similar to a statewide contest.

Figures from the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA) have shown that 37.4 percent of Livingston County roads are rated “poor.” Livingston County Democrats would like to know which pothole among the hundreds of miles of poor roads is really the worst.

“With so many bad roads to choose from, it shouldn’t be hard to find a winner,” said Judy Daubenmier, chair of the Livingston County Democratic Executive Committee. “We all drive on these roads each and every day, resulting in damage to our vehicles.

“Yet our all-Republican county commission has decided that the best use of public funds is to expand an airport that fewer and fewer people use,” she said. “This is an example of the wrong kind of priorities for our county. Bad roads not only cost us money out of our pockets. They also turn off people and businesses that might want to locate here. We don’t have to put up with bad roads. We can do something about it by changing leadership on Nov. 2.”

The MITA compiles a report annually on the number of miles of poor roads in the state. The 37.4 percent figure for Livingston County, based on the November 2009 report, is nearly double the 20 percent of roads in the city of Detroit rated “poor.” Statewide, only 32 percent of the roads were rated “poor.”

Some areas of the county have virtually all the miles of roads covered by the report rated “poor.” In Iosco Township, for example, 35 of 37 miles, or 96 percent, are rated “poor” by the report.

“It’s a sad commentary when a wealthy county like Livingston County can’t afford to keep its roads in better condition than the city of Detroit,” Daubenmier said. “The situation will only get worse as more and more of our tax dollars are spent paying off debt for infrastructure in subdivisions the county backed that were never finished, leaving less money available for services.”

Daubenmier noted that while townships have been making bond payments for the unfinished subdivisions, they are using money loaned to them by the county’s delinquent tax revolving fund. Now they must begin repaying the county that money plus interest, while continuing to make the bond payments. The double-whammy will devastate services. Instead of spending the interest received by the delinquent tax revolving fund on the airport, Daubenmier said it should be returned to the townships in the form of road repairs.

MITA has estimated that the average Michigan motorist spends $370 a year for vehicle repairs and time spent stuck in traffic due to poor roads. As a way to defray part of that cost, the Livingston County Democratic Executive Committee will award a $50 prize to the person who nominates the winning pothole.

Contestants are invited to submit a photograph of what they think is the worst pothole in the county. They should include their name, address, phone number or email, and the location of the pothole so that it can be inspected. Entries may be mailed to the Livingston County Democratic Executive Committee, 10321 Grand River Road, Suite 600, Brighton, MI 48116. Entries also may be emailed to livcodems@sbcuc.net. In lieu of a photograph, contestants also may submit a video and upload it to youtube.com. The link to the video should be emailed to livcodems@sbcuc.net. The deadline is noon on Wednesday, Oct. 27.

In case of a tie, the entry submitted first will be the winner. Entries will be judged by officers of the Livingston County Democratic Executive Committee. The winner will be announced on Friday, Oct. 29.

MITA is a broad-based, bipartisan partnership of business, labor, local government, associations and citizens with the goal of improving Michigan’s transportation infrastructure.

Here are the townships in Livingston County with the number of miles covered by the report, the number rated “poor” and the percentage.
Township Miles in Report Miles Rated Poor Percentage Rated Poor
Brighton 136 23 17 percent
Cohoctah 51 39 76 percent
Conway 45 29 65 percent
Deerfield 40 21 52 percent
Genoa 124 39 31 percent
Green Oak 112 35 31 percent
Hamburg 65 21 33 percent
Handy 66 29 43 percent
Hartland 93 18 19 percent
Howell 98 22 22 percent
Iosco 37 35 96 percent
Marion 57 24 41 percent
Oceola 60 26 43 percent
Putnam 40 19 47 percent
Tyrone 32 80 41 percent
Unadilla 49 19 47 percent
TOTALS 1153 431 37.4 percent

Teabagger candidates take refusing to talk to the press to new heights

It’s pretty sad that federal Republican teabagger candidates refuse to take to the press; instead taking the advice of queen teabgger Sarah Palin and “talking through Faux News,” but fellow Alaskan teabgger Senate candidate Joe Miller took it a step further and arrested and handcuffed a member of the conservative mainstream media.

Palin, Miller, Sharon Angle and Jan Brewer in Nevada, Christine O'Donnell in Delaware and Rand Paul in Kentucky are staying away from real media in favor of the propaganda arm of the GOP, but they are even avoiding some hosts on faux in favor of more friendly interviewers like sean haity as they run away from their previous extremists positions for the General Election, such as killing Social Security and Medicare and privatizing the VA.

Even U.S. Rep. John Dingell’s opponent is running away from his primary election position on Social Security and Medicare, even though it is in print for everyone to see.

But Miller takes the cake. Alaska Dispatch staffer Tony Hopfinger dared to ask Miller about his record as attorney for the Fairbanks North Star Borough. According to published reports, Miller said last week he would no longer talk about his personal background. Miller was disciplined for violating the municipality’s ethics policy in 2008 when he was a part-time borough attorney. Miller used borough computers for political purposes in 2008 when he organized a failed effort to oust state Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich.

Apparently, Miller thinks his conduct as a public official is his “personal background.”

As a former reporter for more than a decade, I can tell you reporters are treated with a little more respect because what they say or write reaches so many people. If a reporter gets treated so badly, you can just imagine how badly a constituent will get treated. Why does a Senate candidate even need private security? I have seen Michigan Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow show up at events alone and at most with a staffer. Considering how hateful and violent some teabaggers are it appears they have more guts than Miller.

There is no doubt that the teabggers are dragging the Republican Party off the cliff, and every reasonable or moderate Republican that wants to clean up the mess left by Bush is drummed out of the party.

It’s telling that every single Michigan Republican statewide candidate but GOP Gubernatorial candidate Rick “The Chief Executive Outsourcer (CEO)” Snyder appeared at another teabagger rally on Saturday in Livonia; including the candidates for Attorney General, Supreme Court, Secretary of State and the candidates opposing Dingell and U.S. Reps. Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, and Gary Peters, D-Bloomfied Township.

Another corporate and GOP lobbying firm sponsored teabagger bus tour was launched by Palin on Monday, and it will only stop in places where Republicans have a chance to take Democratic seats, including the districts of Schauer and Peters here in Michigan.

Do you remember the days not so long ago when teabaggers claimed that the “movement” was nonpartisan and “not about Democrats or Republicans?” So long ago; almost two years.

If you need further evidence of the radical extremist direction of the GOP, we have the words of Palin at the event.

“Heaven forbid the GOP machine strays from this message," said the unsuccessful Republican vice presidential candidate. “If so, the GOP is through."

On that, I agree with Palin.

Oct 18, 2010

Republicans use discredited smear add to slime AG candidate David Leyton

You have to wonder if there is anything Republicans won’t say or anyone Republicans won’t exploit to regain and keep power.

That person is Debbie McIntosh, of Grand Blanc, whose son, Adam, 25. was murdered in 2006. She is very angry that the killer did not get more time and that he was the only one charged, even though there’s no evidence that anyone else was involved. Republicans are using the millions of dollars of unregulated corporate cash to run a TV smear ad agaisnt Democratic Attorney General Candidate David Leyton featuring McIntosh holding a photo of her son and calling Leyton a liar. The last line of the ad says it all.

“How do you get over the death of your son.”

Exactly. You don’t, and the Republicans exploited her anger to falsely smear Leyton. In his two terms as Genesee County Prosecuting Attorney that has prosecuted more than 10,000 criminal cases this is the best smear they could come up. One out of more than 10,000. That’s like saying every single person will agree with every call an umpire makes over the course of a 162-game season.

Republicans exploited the grief and anger of the mother of a murdered son. They had to do that because the Republican candidate has not prosecuted a single criminal case; not a single one.

How angry is Mrs. McIntosh? Well, a racist comment on the Flint Journal gives you an idea where she comments as “ADAMSMOM.”

“…how dare the FLINT URINAL not show me the respect to get my side of the story, instead of ONE SIDE,,,oh A JEWISH OWNED PAPER,,,,and lEYTON IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE JEWISH FEDERATION,,,,FLINT JOURNAL…”

It just makes you wonder if there is anything Leyton or anyone else can do that will allow her to let go of her anger. What it does is give the Republicans some mud, and they will not hesitate for a second to spread it far and wide.

According to the Flint Journal, “Prosecutors convicted Horatio Brown of manslaughter and he is now serving up to 22 years in prison, but McIntosh said the family only agreed to the plea deal if Leyton would charge two other individuals who were involved.”

The problem is there has to be evidence to charge someone, let alone convict them, and there simply is no evidence to even charge anyone else.

Capt. T.P. Johnson of the Flint Police, who oversaw the homicide unit at the time of the McIntosh killing, said the case was investigated thoroughly. In fact, he went even farther in a press release.

“The claims made in the Michigan Republican Party’s advertisement are simply untrue,” Johnson said. “We thoroughly investigated the homicide, leaving no stone left unturned. The killer confessed to the crime and he has been sentenced.

“We were so concerned about the case that we asked the State Police to review it,” he said. “They are in agreement with us that nothing more can be done.”

My bet is that the truth and a little anti-Semitism will not deter the Michigan Republican Party from a good smear.

Steele runs from his previous position that he wants to privatize Social Security and Medicare

Extremist Republicans are making a dash back to the middle before Nov. 2 because they know they will never be elected by the small fringe groups that attend tea parties, and Teabagger Republican candidate Rob Steele is one of those dashing back so fast he forget what he wrote on those positions for the primary election.

Steele is running against the Dean of the U.S. House, U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, and Steele is furiously running to the middle and disavowed his previous stated position that he wants to privatize Social Security and Medicare.

Steele wrote in a campaign questionnaire for Ann Arbor.com that he wants to privatize those two excellent programs, saying “The most important long-term issue is social security and Medicare. They must be restructured for those under 35. Let them have their own accounts.”

That almost exactly what former President George Bush tried in 2005 after he was re-elected, and the people spoke loud and clear then that they did not want a highly successful program that is the major source of income for most of the elderly turned over to Wall Street. If that rejection wasn’t enough for extremists like Steele, the financial meltdown should have done away with this issue, but its back. Nine out of 10 individuals age 65 and older receive Social Security benefits, and for many it’s their sole source of income. Still, extremists like Steele and teabggers want to gamble with it.

They have been hard at work trying to undermine a well-run, fiscally responsible program, and they have been at it for the past 75 years.

Steele has a history of lying, even when caught, and this latest lie is no exception. When called out ion his radical position, here is the latest lie he launched on his Facebook page where he allows no one to contradict him:

“John Dingell is trying to define my policy positions in repetitive ads that are simply not true,” Steele said. “Team Dingell is littering this FB page with these false statements, declaring that to be their reason for not supporting me.”

Just for those with out a scorecard, that’s two Steele lies; a doubleplay. First, Steele is busted advocating for privatizing Social Security, and then he claims “Team Dingell is littering this FB page with these false statements.” That’s impossible because he bans anyone who disagrees with him.

There is a good reason why Dingell received the endorsement of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and there is a good reason Steele did not.

Paul N. Van de Water - a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities where he specializes in Medicare, Social Security, and health coverage issues – sets the record straight on Social Security.

“The Social Security trustees — the official body charged with evaluating the program’s long-term finances — project that Social Security can pay 100 percent of promised benefits through 2037 and about three-quarters of scheduled benefits after that, even if Congress makes no changes in the program. Relatively modest changes would put the program on a sound financial footing for 75 years and beyond.
Nonetheless, some critics are attempting to undermine confidence in Social Security with wild and blatantly false accusations. They allege that the trust funds have been “raided” or disparage the trust funds as “funny money” or mere “IOUs.” Some even label Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” after the notorious 1920s swindler Charles Ponzi. All of these claims are nonsense.”

Steele continues to lie about debates

Teabagger Republican Rob Steele is hoping voters in the 15th Congressional District are stupid, but judging by the 19 point lead the Dean of the U. S. House holds – U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn – they are not.

Steele has been falsely accusing Dingell of ducking debates and forums, but last week Steele chickened out of a candidate forum sponsored by his peers, the Washtenaw County Medical Society. Surely you would think there may be one or two friendly faces among those of his profession. In fact, a teabagger State Representative candidate took up for Steele, giving the crowd of doctors discovered what teabagers are really like. But, Steele was a no show.

On his Facebook page, Steele responds to an opinion column by my former boss, News Herald managing editor Karl Ziomek, on a bogus poll Steele has been pushing and other things. In response, Steele not only clings to the lie that Dingell is ducking debates, but he doubles down on the lie, saying:

“Note to Karl: I've asked for three debates. It (sic) getting late in the game for more than the one Dingell has consented to participate in (sic) He has ignored requests from other organizations to sponsor debates, including the Southern Wayne Regional Chamber of Commerce,” Steele wrote.

Steele, you are a bold face liar. If you want to debate, simply show up at candidate forums like the one sponsored by your peers. There is no sin in being afraid to debate Dingell; after all, he is smarter and much more knowledge on the issues than Steele. But Steele continues to lie and say that it is the Congressman ducking debates when the only one who did duck a debate was Steele.

Oct 15, 2010

Bernero accepts debate invitations, the outsourcer chickens out

Despite calls from media all over the state and undecided and independent voters for more debates after last week’s gubernatorial debate, GOP nominee Rick “Chief Executive Outsourcer” Snyder is sticking to his guns and staying away from voters as much as possible and letting his millions do his talking.

But that’s not stopping Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero, and he’s going to debate the outsourcer even if it’s an empty chair instead of just an empty suit. Bernero has accepted an offer from a group of Detroit clergy to debate on Oct. 21 at Renaissance High School, located at 6565 W. Outer Drive in Detroit, sponsored by “Clergy United for a Detroit Gubernatorial Debate.”

The group of 100 clergy that represents half a million people said that they want to make a clear choice, one that they say will, among other things, “lend to small business that create jobs in the community, fight against foreclosure and support the health care bill that President Obama has fought to deliver to the people.”

The group consists of some well known clergy, such as Bishop Charles Ellis III, Horace Sheffield and Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony

Predictably the outsourcer's mouthpiece Bill Nowling said no more debates; not now or ever, and the Outsourcer will continue to hold invitation only “townhall” meetings and pay for 30-second TV ads to push the false image of him. In the debate last Sunday the Outsourcer claimed a healthy Michigan needs a healthy Detroit, but he refuses to even go there and engage its citizens or their leaders.

“Any candidate that is not willing to speak directly to the citizens of Detroit in an open and unfiltered debate with minority journalists and the community they are to serve is not worthy of the vote from its people,” the group said in a statement.

I think that should include the entire state, and that’s why people should vote for Virg Bernero on Nov. 2.

Steele wimps out

There was an empty seat next to U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, last night at a candidate forum hosted by the Washtenaw County Medical Society; that of his opponent, teabagger Republican Rob Steele.

This after months of public posturing by Steele that Dingell was afraid to debate him, and he even used that lie in a fundraising letter the very day Steele finally accepted a debate offer set for October 20 at the La-Z-Boy Center Meyer Theater on the campus of Monroe County Community College.

Steele is an outrageous liar, and he has been silent as to why he chickened out, even though he said he would attend. What really makes it ironic is that Steele has been lying about the historic health care reform bill passed last March and hammering Dingell about it with false attacks, and that’s what the forum was about. But Steele could not defend his lies, so he chickened out.

Dingell spoke to the medical professionals from the community about his successful fight to improve the doctor-patient relationship and remove insurance companies from the decision making process.
“I guess my opponent didn’t want to talk about his backward agenda of taking away the protections patients now have with the Patients’ Bill of Rights,” Dingell said. “His right-wing agenda would increase the federal deficit, put control of health decisions back in the hands of insurance companies and increase the number of people without health care.”

Steele is an out of touch doctor who has gotten rich from a broken health care system he does not want fixed. No wonder be blew off his colleagues.

“With an out-of-touch agenda like that, I guess I’m not surprised he doesn’t want to talk about it with his colleagues in the medical field – they certainly don’t support him on that,” Dingell said.

Oct 14, 2010

Another case of mismanagement by the GOP Board of Commissioners

The all Republican Livingston County Board of Commissioners has mishandled the home foreclosure crisis in Livingston County, which has the highest rate of property tax foreclosures in the region, Democratic candidates for county commission stressed on Thursday.

By choosing to rely on the state government in Lansing to handle foreclosure sales, the county has received lower sale prices for the properties relative to the prices received from other counties which handle their own foreclosure sales. At the same time, the county has failed to do anything to stop the foreclosures by not setting up foreclosure-prevention programs.

A recent state auction for tax foreclosed properties yielded only $307,311 in sale prices on properties with minimum required bids totaling $5.2 million. Livingston County Treasurer Dianne Hardy reported those figures to the Commission’s Debt Management subcommittee at its meeting on Tuesday.

With one of every 39 properties in foreclosure in the county, Livingston County should be handling its own tax foreclosure auctions, said Keith Tianen of Putnam Township , Democratic candidate for County Commissioner in District 6. Data from the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) said Livingston County ’s foreclosure rate was second only to Wayne County ’s in southeast Michigan. Tianen said Livingston is one of only 12 counties in the state that does not handle its own tax-foreclosed property auctions.

“When a county handles its own tax foreclosures, it takes extra care to market and prepare the properties,” Tianen said. “A county can get, and does get, a better price than the state does. Further, a strong foreclosure preventive program will greatly reduce the number of foreclosures.

“These programs have been shown to be cost-effective for both homeowners and county government,” he said “When the county handles its own tax foreclosures, if the tax auction generates revenue above taxes owed, the county keeps the money to use for local needs, instead of it going to the state.

Unfortunately, Tianen said, Livingston County missed the boat. Up until a few years ago, Michigan law allowed counties to choose to handle their own foreclosures, but that window is now closed. As a commissioner, Tianen said he would push Livingston County ’s legislative delegation for a measure that would reopen the opportunity for counties to handle their own tax-foreclosed property auctions.

Democratic State Representative candidate Garry Post running in the 47th District, said that he would introduce such a measure in Lansing when elected, so that Livingston County could handle its own tax foreclosures if requested to do so by the board. Democrat James Delcamp, candidate for the 66th State House seat, said he would join in co-sponsoring such a measure.

In the meantime, Tianen said, the county should at least set up foreclosure prevention and assistance programs. Currently, Tianen said, Livingston County residents facing foreclosure are referred to the Oakland-Livingston Human Service Agency’s (OLSHA) program forcing residents to travel to Pontiac.

“A high foreclosure rate, coupled with no local initiatives, results in excessive revenue losses for the county,” Tianen said.

The Livingston County Daily Press and Argus reported in September that Livingston County had 195 properties up for tax foreclosure auction in Lansing , far more than Clinton , Branch, Eaton, and Shiawassee counties combined. Patricia Simon of the Treasury Department’s Property Services Division, was quoted by the Press and Argus as saying Livingston County had the greatest rate of property foreclosures in the Michigan Dept. of Treasury’s southern region.

Michigan Radio reported today, that Michigan has 25 percent more foreclosures today than this time last year, while the national average went down. Because Livingston County has the second highest foreclosure rate in southeast Michigan and the highest tax foreclosures in the south central region, and because this worsening crisis has been mishandled and ignored by Republican County Commissioners for years, the time is overdue for effective new leadership at the County Board of Commissioners.

Steele fund raising letter full of lies and discrimination

We already know teabgger Republican Rob Steele – the next victim of the Dean of the U.S. House, U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D - is an outrageous liar, but now we know he apparently hates senior citizens.

A friend of mine from Monroe, my hometown, gave me a copy of Steele’s Oct. 4 fundraising letter, and in it, Steele continues to go after Dingell because of his age, saying “the 84-year-old incumbent has been a Washington insider for 55 years…Longer than I’ve been alive,” Steele wrote.

When you combine that with the fact that Steele wants to kill Social Security, it’s clear he hates senior citizens.

Then the dishonest Steele doubles down on the lies when he falsely claims Dingell will not debate him.

“True to form, incumbent Dingell says he’s too busy to debate me (sic) but I’m thinking that someone like you, who is fed up with the Dingell-Pelosi Status Que (sic), might not be too busy to make a difference in this all important race,” Steel wrote.

That’s an outrageous lie. Perhaps Steele forgot about the debate set for 6:30 p.m. October 20 at the La-Z-Boy Center Meyer Theater on the campus of Monroe County Community College. Steele accepted the offer the very day he sent this letter out, so he knew he was lying.

In fact Dingell sent a letter to Steele right after he won the August primary election congratulating him and asking for debates, but all Steele did was lie and cry that Dingell was avoiding him. After a month of blustering from Steele, Dingell finally sent a letter on Sept. 14 asking that Steele commit to as many debates as possible, and Dingell says he looks forward to appearing at voters forums put on by various groups like the AARP and others. Dingell accepted the invitation from Monroe Community College to debate weeks before Steele finally accepted.

Steele continues to falsely claim that Dingell is out of touch and is not accessible. Steele is actually describing himself, and it simply does not apply to Dingell. I don’t think you will find a more accessible Congressman.

The fact is, and anyone living in the15th District knows this, Dingell is home every weekend as well as whenever Congress is out. In fact, it has been Steele and his teabagger supporters that have gone out their way to restrict the voter’s access to Dingell, and they have done it by staging protests, rude badgering and total disruptions at any public event they know he will be at.

I personally got a taste of Steele trying to provoke a confrontation.

Steele and his hard core teabagger supporters have make it impossible for people to have the traditional townhall meetings Dingell is famous for. The most recent examples were in Flat Rock and at Pte. Mouillee. Who can forget the townhall meeting in Romulus back in August of 2009 that teabggers disrupted, yet Dingell held a second one to accommodate all the people waiting outside who could not get in, despite the abuse he was taking.

In a letter filled with so many lies, it’s hard to single them all out, but this one caught my eye, “…a mere 37 percent of Congressman Dingell’s constituents believe he deserves re-election,” he wrote.

Like all of the other Steele lies, he pulled that one out of his ass because the best independent poll gives Dingell a double digit 19 point lead at a 49-30 percent.

Oct 13, 2010

MIRS launches new political podcast

There is a new political talk show in town, and for a political junkie like me that’s a great thing.

MIRS (Michigan Information & Research Service), the subscription only newsletter that covers the Capitol, launched an hour long podcast focusing on Michigan politics on Monday, and it will run weekly on Monday. The podcast is hosted by MIRS’ Editor Kyle Melinn. Panelists include MIRS’ Publisher John T. Reurink and Correspondent Susan Demas, who also writes for the Michigan Truth Squad.

It features discussion and interviews, and the best part is that even though MIRS is subscription only, the podcast is free.

I love podcasts, which are kind of like audio blogs. They are excellent for a slow day in the office because you can listen anytime you want and pause them anytime you want. Some podcasts are just recordings of radio shows, like the Stephanie Miller Podcast I subscribe to, but there are some great local ones, too.

One of my favorites that comes from a broadcast radio show comes from the Lansing City Pulse. The hour long show is broadcast on Wednesday evenings on 89 FM, the Michigan Sate University radio station, but its podcasts are archived on the City Pulse web site. The shows go all the way back to October of 2008, and they have filled some slow afternoons at the office. The show was, until last week, also hosted by Melinn and City Pulse Publisher Berl Schwartz. The show has guests that generally cover three areas: politics, the arts and the local Lansing area.

My favorite non-radio podcast is called “Two Guys Named Joe” put out about one a week by political consultants Joe DiSano and Joe Munem. One is a Democrat and one is a Republican, and they offer up lots of great inside information.

One of the newer but really good podcasts on Talk Lansing is “The Back Room: Michigan Politics” hosted by veteran journalist and radio host Walt Sorg. The show features a weekly rotating roundtable of mid-Michigan political activists that has included Ari Adler, former press secretary to the Republican leader of the Michigan Senate; Mark Grebner, Democratic political consultant and longtime Ingham County Commissioner; and Kathie Dunbar, Lansing city councilperson and head of the South Lansing Community Development Association.