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

1 comment:

Practical Democrat said...

This is the the 1st of 4 email exchanges I had with Rich Perlberg.


You may call it dismissive, but it is factual. Democrats don’t win partisan countywide races in Livingston County. I’m not saying that’s good or bad, but it’s a fact. We’ve had a county board of commissioners for nearly a half century, the size ranging from five to nine members (currently eight). During that time there have been maybe four Democrats elected (although I can only remember three), and then for a short period of time. The current board is all Republican. Currently our two state reps, our state senator and our congressman are all Republicans. Yes, I was dismissive of the Democrat’s chance in the congressional race, but with good cause. The first candidate…the one actually nominated by voters in the primary … pulled out of the race because he saw no chance of winning and he got no support from the Democratic Party. The guy on the ballot now was placed there by party officials, not by voters. He may run a spirited race, but I (nor do many – any? – others) don’t think he has a chance. The Democratic Party has virtually ignored this race for 10 years. This year will be no different. You can get angry at that statement, but you can’t disprove it. It’s a fact. (In fact, it is the Democratic Party who is “dismissive” of their chances in this race.)

We are giving each of the state legislative candidates a chance to go head-to-head with their Republican opponent during what we hope will be informative and intense sessions. We will run stories about the forum. We will broadcast the forum live on our website, and we will run the full forums as well as highlights on our website through the election. All at no charge for candidates who don’t have much money to begin with. How is that being dismissive?

As my article said, we will continue to cover the county commissioner races. We have already given the Democrats front-page space to air their complaints against the Republican board and to publicize their platform. How is that dismissive? How is that biased?

Even if I wanted to discourage Democrats from voting (which I surely don’t), do you really think I have that power? Do you really have such low esteem for voters who are Democrats? (President Obama chided progressives for not being enthused about the election and for perhaps not voting…is the president dismissive of Democrats? Just asking.)

As with everyone, I am not free from bias. One example is that when I read an email like yours, I assume it is from someone who is trying to build an excuse for what he expects to be a bad election for Democrats. Unfortunately, you will look everywhere for an excuse except for what should be an obvious conclusion: Maybe voters don’t like what Democrats are offering.


Rich Perlberg


From: John Machowicz [mailto:johnmachowicz@charter.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 05, 2010 9:42 AM
To: Perlberg, Rich
Subject: Unbiased...Give me a Break!

Response to your article!


Your convenient dismissal of Democratic Candidates in the upcoming elections is another reason why I will never subscribe to your paper or purchase from any of your advertisers.

You try to sound like you are fair by mentioning the angry Republicans but the bottom line is that was in the past and your article can't change that but it can influence the upcoming election. I guess you want to discourage Democrats from voting...since Democratic Candidates do not have a chance.

That is some fine unbiased reporting here.....you should be so proud!