Thursday, November 05, 2015

2015 Election Results

Nationally, the election results were pretty good for conservatives, headlined by Matt Bevin's election as governor of Kentucky.  Michigan results were less good.

State house:
District 80: Mary Whiteford 52%, Jim Storey 24%, Cindy Gamrat 9%, Bill Sage 8%
District 82: Gary Howell 26%, Jan Peabody 21%, Chris Tuski 21%, Ian Kempf 21%, Sharna Smith 5%, Todd Courser 4%
Gamrat and Courser were unsurprisingly crushed in their comeback attempt after being kicked out of the legislature.  They put themselves above the cause and damaged the conservative movement across the state.  They will be replaced by two establishment-friendly candidates.  Notably, the state legislature finally passed a gas tax hike the night of the election.

Kalamazoo Homeless Tax: Passed 56-44
This passed thanks substantially to being placed on the ballot when Kalamazoo and Portage had other elections and most townships did not.  The democrats who control the county commission will probably put more millages up in the future.

Kalamazoo Mayor: Hopewell 88%, Mbah 12%
Kalamazoo City Commission:
Elected: Cooney 62%, Anderson 61%, Sykes 51%, Knott 47%, Urban 39%, Milcarek 38.3%
Not elected: Cunningham 37.5%, Carter 27%, Dekker 14%, Hulbert 14%, Fletcher 14%, VanSweden 14%, Youngs 12%, Staten 9%, Milan 7%
Don Cooney finally made it to vice-mayor, bumping down David Anderson.  The commission will lurch even further to the left, as relatively moderate Barb Miller and Bob Cinabro will be replaced by Shannon Sykes, social justice consultant, and Erin Knott, Obamacare enrollment organizer.  Jack Urban was reelected, and Matt Milcarek bumped appointed commissioner Eric Cunningham out of office.  With this group running the show, Kalamazoo will probably have an emergency manager in a few years.  Mitt Romney got 7280 votes in Kalamazoo, but Republicans Hulbert and Youngs didn't find a way to turn them out to vote.  VanSweden got 1073 votes despite dropping out.

Portage City Council:
Elected: Randall 59%, Pearson 52%, Ford 48%
Not elected: Bright 32%, Earl 25%
The status quo won in Portage, as the Randall faction reelected all three incumbents up this time.  Turnout was very high (31%) due to the school millages. Those millages passed with 64% and 56%, so Portage taxpayers will be supporting new schools and football stadiums for years to come.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Vote NO on the Homeless Tax

The following opinion piece appears on the Kalamazoo GOP website.


On November 3, voters will be asked to support yet another tax increase, this time claiming to address the issue of homelessness.  The Kalamazoo GOP urges votes to oppose this measure.

Voters in Kalamazoo County are being subjected to more and more taxes.  Just in the last year, tax increases for buses and KRESA passed in most of Kalamazoo County.  In addition, the legislature passed the “Amazon tax”, and following the defeat of Proposal 1, it is considering a substantial gas tax increase.  A city income tax is being discussed in Kalamazoo.  We have been taxed enough.

The homeless tax was passed by a 6-5 party-line vote by the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners.  It would increase taxes by .1 mills, generating $800,000 per year.  Doubtless most of those supporting the millage have good intentions and sincerely want to address the issue of homelessness in Kalamazoo County.  But good intentions are not enough to ensure good policy outcomes.  Many policy disasters have been caused by people with the best of intentions.

Thus we should ask what the actual effects of this tax increase would be.  Recall the basic economic principle of incentives:  If you punish something, you will get less of it, and if you reward something, you will get more of it.  Thus if people are given money on the condition that they are homeless, you will end up with more homelessness.  This may seem counterintuitive to some, but decades of trying to fight poverty with handouts has only served to lock people into poverty.

In addition, increasing property taxes, and hence apartment rents, will make life worse for people who are not homeless.  Some people on the margin who are just getting by may actually be pushed into homelessness thanks to this tax.

We should not forget that there is already an institution in this county fighting homelessness—the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission.  It recognizes that to end homelessness requires not just a handout, but a “hand up”, addressing the behaviors and conditions that lead to homelessness.  Creating a new government bureaucracy to compete with the Gospel Mission could undermine its effectiveness.  Government is usually more wasteful and less effective than the private sector.

This tax proposal was timed to coincide with city elections in Kalamazoo and Portage, when townships don’t have anything else on the ballot.  Please remember to vote on November 3.  We urge you to oppose this tax increase.

Kalamazoo GOP Executive Committee

The Welfare State Explained

This profound little speech occurs in the middle of the action movie Fast Five.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Ted Cruz in Kalamazoo

Texas senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz visited Kalamazoo on Monday morning.  He spoke at a rally to an audience of about 600.  He gave a stump speech, covering Obamacare, Iran, immigration, Planned Parenthood, his plans for his first day as president, and his family's biography.

Cruz' wife Heidi Cruz, campaign volunteer Wendy Day, and state rep Ray Franz spoke prior to Cruz.

Media coverage focused on Cruz' response to a question about Syrian refugees.  Cruz said that it would be crazy for America to accept Muslim refugees, who should instead be settled in Muslim countries.

Ted Cruz in Michigan: 'Nothing short of crazy' to take in Syrian Muslim refugees

The Mlive article also gives lavish attention to Lorence Wenke, one of two (!) protesters, who was there promoting his usual hobby horse.

Cruz is a true conservative hero and conservative voters should strongly consider giving him support.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Second Hoax at Kalamazoo College

Back in March, this blog covered a race hoax at Kalamazoo College.
Race Hoax at Kalamazoo College

There were actually two related hoaxes.  The first was a false accusation by a student government leader of racist threats by an advocate for open carry.  This was quickly debunked when the actual recording of the meeting showed nothing of the sort.

The second hoax was a threat anonymously posted to a student commission Google doc on March 4.
K-College officials learned early Wednesday that a "highly inflammatory entry" had been posted in the Student Commission Google Doc, an online collaboration tool that allows for group sharing and anonymous editing, according to an email to the campus community.

"The entry is racist, anti-Semitic, sexist and homophobic" and included a direct threat to K-College faculty, the email stated. 
 The post, which included "vitriol aimed at a wide range of campus members," included the following line, according to another email, this one from the president's staff to K-College faculty and staff: "At 900AM 3/5/15 I am going to start systematically executing faculty at Kalamazoo U, that will teach them the value of campus carry." Neither email repeated the entire posting.
Mlive reported this without any skepticism.  But there were several reasons to believe this was a hoax.  As this blog wrote in March:
At this point, we should note that virtually every racial 'hate crime' on a college campus has been proven to be a hoax.  As noted by National ReviewThe College FixMichelle Malkin and Ann Coulter
Instead, all the hair-on-fire college rape stories have been scams: the Duke lacrosse team’s gang-rape of a stripper; Lena Dunham’s rape by Oberlin College’s “resident Republican,” Barry; and Rolling Stone‘s fraternity gang-rape at UVA. Two of the three were foisted on the publicand disproved in publiconly in the last few weeks.
The only epidemic sweeping the nation seems to be Munchausen rape syndrome. What’s next, college noose hoaxes?
The portions of the message quoted in the Gazette article sound like they were written to implicate gun rights supporters.  Who would be most likely to know about the student commission Google doc?  Also, who benefits from the attention and sympathy the threat provokes?
The police launched an investigation.
That email said the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and K-College are taking the threat seriously, but KDPS officers believe it likely came from someone not connected to campus and that it is unlikely the person will follow through with the threat.
It turns out KDPS went one-for-two on the predictions.
Police and prosecutors declined to say who charges are being sought against in the case. However, police reports and search warrants obtained by the Kalamazoo Gazette under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act show that two K-College students quickly became the focus of the KDPS investigation of the online threat. 
The students, a woman who has since graduated and another woman who was a first-year student, came to the attention of detectives in the hours after the incident. 
The threat was part of a series of anti-Semitic, homophobic, racist and sexist posts that were entered on the Google Doc between 10:37 p.m. and 11:51 p.m. on March 3. The threat said, "AT 900 AM 3/5/15 I AM GOING TO START SYSTEMATICALLY EXECUTING FACULTY AT KALAMAZOO U, THAT WILL TEACH THEM THE VALUE OF CAMPUS CARRY."
So it now seems all but certain that the threat was a hoax by a K College student to revive the controversy that had been dying down.  The goal of all this controversy was the creation of an "Intercultural Center", whatever that is.  It worked.  In June, K College announced that it would create an Intercultural Center.

The student(s) behind this hoax should be fully prosecuted, and K College should cancel the Intercultural Center as the fruit of a poisoned tree.

UPDATE: Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting has refused to file charges in the case.  He claims that the identity of the perpetrator cannot be conclusively identified.  The police apparently thought otherwise, since they sought charges.  Is liberal democrat prosecutor Getting covering for a politically inconvenient perpetrator?

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Bus Tax Passes

The Kalamazoo Bus Tax passed 63%-37% on Tuesday.  While it passed in most precincts, it is worth examining where it failed.

The proposal lost in every Comstock precinct except precinct 6 (Gull Road).  It lost narrowly in 3 (River St.) and 8 (North Central) and lost handily everywhere else.  In Kalamazoo Township, it lost in precinct 2 (Northwood) and won everywhere else.  The proposal passed in all precincts in Kalamazoo, Oshtemo, and Parchment.  In Portage, the proposal failed in precincts 4/6 and 17 and narrowly passed in 5/10/12 and 7 in south Portage.

Thus areas with little or no bus service were the most likely to oppose the plan.  While the special district certainly makes most sense than taxing the entire county for buses, it still is unfair to people who are miles away from the nearest bus stop.  A better plan would be to allow major institutions like Meijer, WalMart, KVCC, and large apartment complexes to pay for their own bus service--and see how much is really necessary.

Pay for Your Own Buses!
Bus Tax Plan
Bus Tax Never Dies
Bus Tax Zone
More Bus Taxes
Taxes on the Ballot
Tax Hike Plans
Future Tax Hikes?
They Won't Take NO for an Answer
Tax Eaters Are Never Full
The bus routes have been saved
Ax the bus tax
Tax increase for busing?

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

2016 Michigan Congressional Races

Cross-posted at The Western RightRight Michigan, and Red Racing Horses. This post was last updated on October 6, 2015.

Michigan will see several interesting congressional races in 2016, with one open seat and possible competitive primary challenges.  Michigan now has 14 congressional seats.

There are several articles that analyze the general political leanings of the districts.
Michigan Redistricting: Congressional Map Passed
Republican Michigander Congressional District Profiles (Sidebar at right)

District 1 (Upper Peninsula, Northern Lower Peninsula) Lean Republican.
CD 2012: 48.1-47.6 CD 2014: 52-45 Romney: 53.5 McCain: 48.5
In 2010, Dr. Dan Benishek won an open seat vacated by democrat Rep. Bart Stupak against democrat state Rep. Gary McDowell 52-41 and won the rematch 48.1-47.6 in 2012.  He beat former general Jerry Cannon in 2014.  Benishek pledged to serve only three terms, but announced that he would run again before changing his mind and retiring.  Potential candidates include state senators Tom Casperson and Wayne Schmidt, former senator Jason Allen, and state reps Lee Chatfield and Peter Pettalia.  Democrats are touting former Michigan democrat chairman Lon Johnson, a liberal who bought a small house in Kalkaska County.  Cannon will also run again.

District 2 (Ottowa, Muskegon) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 61-34 CD 2014: 64-33 Romney: 56 McCain: 50.4
Republican former state rep. Bill Huizinga won a close primary in 2010 to replace Pete Hoekstra, and was easily reelected in 2012 and 2014. Since then he has generally voted a fairly conservative line. This remains the most Republican district in Michigan.

District 3 (Kent, Calhoun) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 52.6-44.1 CD 2014: 58-39 Romney: 53.1 McCain: 48.6
Republican state rep. Justin Amash won the primary to replace moderate Republican Vern Ehlers, in 2010. Amash is a libertarian in the mold of Rep. Ron Paul. He has made some enemies in Washington, and ticked off Right to Life and the NRA.  He defeated moderate businessman Brian Ellis, who had significant self-funding, 57-43 in the 2014 primary.

District 4 (central Michigan) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 63-34 CD 2014: 56-39 Romney: 53.4 McCain: 48.6
Republican state senator John Moolenaar of Midland defeated self-funding businessman Paul Mitchell and Tea Partyer Peter Konetchy 52-36-11 in the 2014 primary to replace retiring congressman Dave Camp.

District 5 (Genesee, Saginaw, Bay) Safe democrat.
CD 2012: 31-65 CD 2014: 31-67 Romney: 38.4 McCain: 35.4
Former Genesee Treasurer Dan Kildee succeeded his uncle Dale Kildee in 2012.

District 6 (SW Michigan) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 55-43 CD 2014: 56-40 Romney: 50 McCain: 45
Moderate Republican Fred Upton has won by wide margins since defeating conservative Mark Siljander in 1986. Upton became Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2010.  Upton defeated democrat Mike O'Brien 2010, and Western Michigan University professor Paul Clements in 2014.  These races were closer than Upton's previous 20-40 point margins.  Clements is running again in 2016.

District 7 (south-central Michigan) Likely Republican.
CD 2012: 53-43 CD 2014: 53-41 Romney: 50.9 McCain: 47.4
Republican Tim Walberg defeated liberal democrat Mark Schauer in a hard-fought race in 2010. This followed Schauer's defeat of Walberg in 2008, Walberg's defeat of RINO Joe Schwarz in 2006, and Schwarz's winning a divided Republican primary to replace Nick Smith in 2004. Walberg defeated democrat attorney Kurt Haskell in 2012 and former state rep. Pam Byrnes of Washtenaw County in 2014. He is being challenged by democrat state rep (2012-present) Gretchen Driskell, who won 53% and 56% in her Washtenaw district.

District 8 (Ingham, Livingston, N Oakland) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 59-37 CD 2014: 55-42 Romney: 51.1 McCain: 46.4
Former state senator Mike Bishop of NE Oakland beat state rep. Tom McMillin 60-40 in the 2014 Republican primary to replace retiring congressman Mike Rogers.  Bishop defeated Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing in the general.  Actress Melissa Gilbert, who recently moved to the district, is running as a democrat.

District 9 (S Macomb, Royal Oak, Bloomfield) Safe democrat.
CD 2012: 34-62 CD 2014: 36-60 Romney: 41.8 McCain: 40.4
Democrat Sander Levin has represented this district since 1982.  Levin is more liberal than the district, but he is popular enough to win here as long as he wants. He may be succeeded by a less liberal Macomb county democrat.

District 10 (N Macomb, the Thumb) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 69-30 CD 2014: 69-29 Romney: 55.2 McCain: 50
Republican Candice Miller is retiring.  Republicans running to replace her include conservative state senator (2010-present) Phil Pavlov, who has represented most of the Thumb portion of the district, conservative former senator (2002-2010) Alan Sanborn of northern Macomb County, and Shelby Township (Macomb) Treasurer Michael Flynn.  Also running is rich self-funding businessman Paul Mitchell, who lost the Republican primary in district 4 in 2014 and led the fight to defeat proposal 1, a large tax increase.  Also considering running is solid conservative state senator (2010-present) Jack Brandenberg.

District 11 (NW Wayne, SW Oakland, Troy) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 50.8-44.4 CD 2014: 56-41 Romney: 52.2 McCain: 48.4
Establishment Republican David Trott defeated Tea Party Republican Kerry Bentivolio 66-34 in the 2014 Republican primary.  Bentivolio became an "accidental congressman" in 2012 after incumbent Thad McCotter was disqualified in a petition fraud scandal.  Trott defeated former diplomat Bobby McKenzie in the general.

District 12 (Downriver, Ann Arbor) Safe democrat.
CD 2012: 29-68 CD 2014: 31-65 Romney: 32.7 McCain: 31.2
In 2014, democrat Debbie Dingell easily replaced her husband John Dingell in Congress after his 58 years (!) in office.

District 13 (W Detroit, Westland) Safe democrat.
CD 2012: 14-82 CD 2014: 16-80 Romney: 14 McCain: 14
This district has been represented by democrat John Conyers since 1964. Conyers' image has been tarnished since his wife Monica, formerly Detroit city council president, pled guilty to bribery and served time in federal prison. He won only 55% in the 2012 primary.  In 2014, Conyers was nearly disqualified due to having signature gatherers who were not registered to vote, but a judge ordered him back on the ballot.  He defeated pastor Horace Sheffield 74-26 in the democrat primary.  Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey is challenging Conyers in the primary.

District 14 (E Detroit, Southfield, Farmington, Pontiac) Safe democrat.
CD 2012: 16-82 CD 2014: 20-78 Romney: 18 McCain: 18
In 2014, Southfield mayor Brenda Lawrence defeated state rep. Rudy Hobbs, and former Congressman Hansen Clarke 36-32-31 in the democrat primary for the seat held by Gary Peters, who was elected to the US Senate.  This district has had four different representatives (Lawrence, Peters, Clarke, and Carolyn Kilpatrick) in the last four cycles.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

2014 ACU Michigan Legislature Ratings

The American Conservative Union has long been the premier organization rating members of Congress on how conservative their voting records are.  Recently, ACU began rating state legislators on their voting records, and it just released its third ratings of the Michigan state legislature.  I will summarize the relevant information here.

ACU State Ratings 2014--MI

ACU rated 12 house votes and 13 senate votes from 2013 and 2014.  Ten of the bills are the same for both halves of the legislature. The most common topics for the state house votes were taxes (3 votes), spending (3), and regulation (3).  The most common topic for the state senate votes were taxes (4 votes) and spending (4).

ACU Michigan state senate ratings 2013/2014:

100%: Pavlov, Emmons, Moolenaar
92%: Colbeck, Brandenberg, Rocca, Robertson, Proos, Jones, Schuitmaker, Green, Booher
85%: Marleau, Hune, Jansen, Hildenbrand, Meekhof
77%: Pappageorge, Kowall, Caswell, Richardville, Nofs, Kahn, Hansen, Walker, Casperson
62%: Hunter
31-33%: Hopgood, Andersen, Ananich
23%: Bieda
15-17%: Young, Johnson, Gregory, Warren, Whitmer
8-9%: Hood, Smith

The average for the Republicans was 86%, up from 78%.  The average for the democrats was 23%, up from 9%.  The overall average was 66%, up from 59%.

The biggest changes from 2012/13 were Hunter (+49), Hopgood (+25), and Casperson (+21).

The improvement probably has more to do with more generous vote selection by ACU than any substantial swing to the right in the Michigan legislature.  Tupak Hunter does seem to have genuinely swung to the right.

The previous years' scores are available at the links at the bottom.

ACU Michigan state house ratings 2013/2014 (rounded to nearest 8%):

100%: Lund, Nesbitt
92%: Howrylak, Zorn, O'Brien, MacGregor, Hooker, Pscholka, Genetski, Kelly, Johnson, Franz, Rendon, Foster
83%: Forlini, Farrington, Lafontaine, Goike, Kesto, McCready, Kurtz, Shirkey, Outman, Yonker, Pagel, Lauwers, Daley, Callton, Victory, Leonard, Bumstead, MacMaster, McBroom
75%: Walsh, Heise, Somerville, Crawford, Rogers, Haines, Kowall, McMillin, Jacobsen, Denby, Graves, Jenkins, Lori, Bolger, Poleski, Verhuelen, Brown, Glardon, Lyons, Price, Haveman, Stamas, Cotter, Potvin, Schmidt, Dianda
67%: Clemente, Haugh, Muxlow, Lamonte, Brunner, Pettalia, Kivela
58%: Kosowski, Lavoy, Greimel, Smiley, Driskell, Cochran, Oakes
50%: Nathan, Darany, Slavens, Phelps, McCann, Abed, Brinks
42%: Knezek, Kandrevas, Lane, Rutledge, Segal, Dillon
33%: Olumba, Cavanaugh, Yanez, Stanley,
25%: Robinson, Durhal, Stallworth, Geiss, Townsend, Lipton, Irwin, Zemke, Schor
17%: Tlaib, Santana, Hobbs, Barnett, Faris, Singh, Hovey-Wright
8%: Roberts, Switalski
0%: Banks, Talabi

The house average was 62%, up from 53%.  The average for (current) house Republicans was 82%, up from 75%. The average for current house democrats was 39%, up from 29%.  Both caucuses were closer to the center that their senate counterparts, particularly the democrats.

The members who scored 100% are (term-limited) Pete Lund and Aric Nesbitt.  The lowest-scoring Republicans were Paul Muxlow and Peter Pettalia at 67%.  The top-scoring democrats were Terry Brown (term-limited, lost a state senate race) and Scott Dianda at 75%.

The largest positive changes were Clemente (+47), Haugh (+46), Brown (+45), Darany (+40), Kosowski (+33), McCready (+33), Zorn (+32), Lori (+30), Kivela (+29), Kandrevas (+27), Howrylak (+27), Rutledge (+27), Foster (+27), Slavens (+25), Nesbitt (+25), Forlini (+23), McBroom (+23), O'Brien (+22), Pscholka (+22), Brunner (+22), Johnson (+22).  Several of them faced competitive primary or general elections.

The largest negative change was Faris (-21).

As with the senate scores, the improvement probably has more to do with more generous vote selection by ACU than any substantial swing to the right in the Michigan legislature.

Of course, the usual caveats apply to any legislative ratings system. Legislators' scores will vary from year to year, so it will be interesting to compare these scores to future years' scores. Also, ratings only cover issues that were actually voted upon, so controversial issues that never made it to a vote can't be scored.

Nonetheless, ratings such as this are a valuable tool for voters in future elections.

2012-2013 ACU Michigan Legislature Ratings
2012 ACU Michigan Legislature Ratings

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

2015 Kalamazoo Election Preview

This article was last updated August 20, 2015.

Michigan will see several elections in 2015. This is a preview of elections in Kalamazoo County.   The November election will have Kalamazoo and Portage city elections.

February 24: Kalamazoo Township passed a road millage.

May 5: Proposal 1 would have raised Michigan taxes by 2 billion per year to pay for road improvements and many other things.  It was defeated 20%-80%.  There was a KRESA millage that narrowly passed.

August 4: There will be a bus tax millage on the ballot in much of Kalamazoo County.
Pay for Your Own Buses!

November 3: This is the day for local city elections.

Kalamazoo City Commission

All seven seats on the Kalamazoo City Commission are up for election. The seven commissioners are Mayor Bobby Hopewell (on since 2003), Don Cooney (1997), David Anderson (2005), Barb Miller (2005), Robert Cinabro (2010), Jack Urban (2013), and Eric Cunningham (2015). Cunningham was appointed to replace Stephanie Moore, who was elected to the Kalamazoo County Commission.

In 2014, Kalamazoo voters passed a charter amendment changing the charter by electing the mayor separately and implementing staggered four-year terms for the other seats (similar to the system Portage uses).  This year, all six commissioners will be elected together, with the top three winning four-year terms, and the next three winning two-year terms.

Hopewell, who has been mayor since 2007, is running again.  He is being challenged by Kris Mbah.  Both are black liberal democrats.

Cooney, Anderson, Urban, and Cunningham are seeking reelection as commissioners, while Miller and Cinabro are not.  Eleven other candidates are running:

Leona Carter: travel trainer/outreach specialist for Disability Network of Southwest Michigan
Cody Dekker: community organizer
Grant Fletcher: director food and nutrition and retail services for Bronson Methodist Hospital
Sonjalita Hulbert: supervisor with Coventry Cares health services, mainstream Republican
Erin Knott: Obamacare enrollment organizer
Jason Milan: small business owner
Matthew Milcarek: construction manager and frequent Mlive commenter
Kevin Staten: politics unknown
Shannon Sykes: social justice consultant
Daniel VanSweden: Withdrew from the race
Reid Youngs: politics unknown

16 candidates file Kalamazoo City Commission, 2 for mayor

Portage City Council

The mayor of Portage, Peter Strazdas (mayor since 2005), is running unopposed for reelection. Three of the six seats on the commission were also up for election. Those seats are held by Patricia Randall (2009), Jim Pearson (2011), and Richard Ford (2013), who are all running for reelection.  Ford was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Elizabeth Campbell.

In recent years, a divide has developed on the council between two factions.  One faction consists of Strazdas and councilmembers Claudette Reid and Terry Urban.  The other consists of councilmembers Randall, Pearson, Ford, and Nasim Ansari. Strazdas is a moderate Republican, while the others do not strongly identify with a party.

There are two other candidates for council:
Jeff Bright: financial advisor
Tim Earl: fire safety consultant

Five file for three four-year terms on Portage City Council; Strazdas unopposed for mayor

There will be a proposal on the ballot to decriminalize marijuana in Portage.

Marijuana decriminalization will be on November ballot in Portage

Homeless Tax

There will be a tax increase on the ballot countywide to support homeless families.

Tax to assist homeless Kalamazoo County families headed to Nov. 3 ballot

Upton 56% Conservative in 2014

Congressman Fred Upton scored a 56% rating from the American Conservative Union (ACU) in 2014.  These are the votes rated by ACU where he voted the wrong way.


1. HR 3547 (Roll Call 21) Omnibus Appropriations. This $1.1 trillion spending bill for Fiscal Year 2014 increased spending by $45 billion over the Budget Control Act of 2011 with a massive increase of 25-29% for Obama Administration programs in the Interior-Environment, Labor-HHS-Education and State Department sections. It also included bills that have nothing to do with appropriations, such as an extension of flood insurance subsidies. ACU opposes these bills that are written in secret and passed with no amendments allowed. The House passed the bill on January 15, 2014 by a vote of 359-67.

3. HR 2642 (Roll Call 31) Farm Bill. This bill is the final version of the farm bill that replaces direct payments to farmers with a more expensive increase in crop insurance subsidies with no caps on subsidies for wealthy farm corporations. ACU has long opposed these Depressionera programs and opposed this bill. The House passed the bill on January 29, 2014 by a vote of 251-166.

6. H Con Res 96 (Roll Call 175) Conservative Budget. The Woodall amendment to the budget bill presented a conservative alternative that would have balanced the budget in four years by freezing domestic spending at $60 billion below current levels, reformed entitlement programs, and eliminated wasteful programs that ACU has long opposed. ACU supported this alternative as a reasonable attempt to stop increases in our national debt which reached $18 trillion in 2014.The House defeated the amendment on April 10, 2014 by a vote of 133-291.

11. HR 4660 (Roll Call 243) Wasteful Spending. The Pompeo amendment to the Commerce, Science, Justice Appropriations bill would have eliminated the Economic Development Administration and used the funds to reduce the deficit. ACU has long opposed this agency that uses taxpayer money for pork barrel projects that serve as monuments to politicians, such as the Harry Reid Research and Technology Park in Las Vegas, and so supported this amendment. The House defeated the amendment on May 29, 2014 by a vote of 129-280.

13. HR 4660 (Roll Call 253) Legal Services Corporation. The Austin Scott amendment to the Commerce, Science, Justice Appropriations bill would have eliminated funding for the Legal Services Corporation. ACU has long opposed funding for this agency that has not been authorized by Congress for the last 34 years and is filled with waste and fraud and so supported this amendment. The House defeated the amendment on May 29, 2014 by a vote of 116-290.

15. HR 4745 (Roll Call 274) Government Housing Programs. The Chabot amendment to the Transportation and Housing Appropriations bill would have reduced the Section 8 housing voucher program by 10 percent and apply the funds to deficit reduction. ACU opposes welfare programs that have no time limits or work requirements and supported this amendment. The House defeated the amendment on June 9, 2014 by a vote of 127-279.

20. HR 4870 Roll Call 334) Biofuel Mandates. The Gosar amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill would prohibit the Defense Department from using biofuels instead of far less expensive petroleum based fuels. ACU opposes diverting funds that should go for national security purposes to politically-motivated global warming programs and supported this amendment. The House defeated the amendment on June 20, 2014 by a vote of 205-208.

21. HR 4923 (Roll Call 377) Energy Subsidies. The McClintock amendment to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill eliminates $3 billion in energy subsidies. ACU opposes these programs that pick winners and losers in the marketplace and supported this amendment. The House defeated the amendment on July 9, 2014 by a vote of 97-321.

22. HR 4923 (Roll Call 388) Labor Law. The Steve King amendment to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill would have barred the use of funds to enforce the DavisBacon Act. ACU has long opposed this act’s requirement to pay “prevailing wages” on federal projects, thus driving up their cost, and supported this amendment. The House defeated the amendment on July 10, 2014 by a vote of 181-239.

24. HR 5272 (Roll Call 479) Immigration. This bill reverses President Obama’s Executive order deferring action on some illegal immigrants but not others. ACU opposes this type of executive action that allows the president to change existing law without legislation and supported this bill. The House passed the bill on August 1, 2014 by a vote of 216-192.

25. HR 83 (Roll Call 563) Omnibus Appropriations. This 1,600 page bill uses $19 billion in budget gimmicks to comply with spending caps, increases funding for pork barrel programs such as Community Development Block Grants and includes hundreds of pages of bills that have nothing to do with appropriations and that have not been voted on by either the House or Senate. ACU opposes these bills that are written in secret with no amendments allowed and opposed this bill. The House passed the bill on December 11, 2014 by a vote of 219-206.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Schuitmaker Repeats 'One in Five' Myth

Senator Tonya Schuitmaker is co-hosting "Michigan First Lady Sue Snyder's inaugural sexual assault prevention summit".
Schuitmaker said one in five women is sexually assaulted on campus, and out of those women, only 12 percent actually report a sexual assault. She said the culture has to improve so that victims feel they are taken seriously and feel comfortable reporting sexual assaults, in order to improve the accuracy of reporting statistics.
One way to improve the accuracy of statistics is to stop repeating debunked ones.  The claim that "one in five women is sexually assaulted on campus" is false. The actual number is 6.1 per 1000, or about 1 in 164, according to a Justice Department study.
The rate of rape and sexual assault was 1.2 times higher for nonstudents (7.6 per 1,000) than for students (6.1 per 1,000).
This myth originated with a fake feminist 'study' that intentionally misclassified non-rape as rape. This myth has been used to create hysteria on campuses and support false rape accusations, such as at University of Virginia. Hopefully, Senator Schuitmaker will avoid repeating this false statistic in the future.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Is Fred Upton More Conservative?

One of the arguments used by conservative supporters of Congressman Fred Upton is that Upton is more conservative now than he used to be.  Is there any merit to this argument?

To analyze this claim, we consider ratings issued by conservative groups over the years.  This will make it easy to spot any trend.

Of course, the usual caveats apply.  These ratings are calculated based on a selection of votes.  The votes rated each year are different, but these groups use fairly consistent standards that allow comparison over time.

First up is American Conservative Union (ACU), which has been rating Congress since the 1970s.  Their ratings for Upton's entire tenure are graphed below.

A linear regression line is graphed along with the data.  As you can see, the line is virtually flat, indicating no substantial change.  There is actually a very slight decrease over time.

Upton's two best ratings occurred in 2002 and 2010, both of which were years when Upton received serious primary challenges from the right.

Many conservatives consider ACU's ratings too generous.  More recently, several other organizations have begun their own ratings of Congress.  FreedomWorks is a libertarian-leaning organization that has rated Congress since 2005.

Once again, the regression line is essentially flat.  Upton's best year is also 2010.

Club for Growth is a free market organization that has also rated Congress since 2005.

Here we do see an upward trend, but Upton 2014 rating ties for his worst, so there isn't much reason to expect the trend to continue.

Some supporters of Upton will cite his endorsements by Right to Life in 2012 and 2014, after not having been endorsed in any previous years, as evidence of improvement.  But this blog has documented Upton's long pro-abortion voting record in the past.  He has not publicly renounced these votes, which leads to the suspicion that Right to Life's endorsement was based on political considerations.

In fairness, there is one major issue on which Upton's record actually has gotten better.  Upton once had a very weak record on gun rights, with a 42% rating from the NRA in 2000.  Since then, his ratings have improved.  Upton usually votes the party line, but is not a leader on the issue.

Overall, though, Upton has not gotten any more conservative over the years.  The claim to the contrary is false.

Upton Votes for Illegal Aliens in the Military

Congressman Fred Upton was one of just twenty Republicans to vote for letting illegal aliens join the military.  The vote would have actually put illegals ahead of Americans.  Upton was the only Republican from Michigan to vote this way.

More Memorial Day Meditations: Electing a New, Illegal Alien Military—With RINO Support


Despite 20 Republicans defecting to join Democrats, Republicans and conservatives won big on Thursday evening: An amendment from Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) passed onto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) stripping amnesty for illegal aliens from the defense bill.

Brooks’ amendment, which stripped from the NDAA language that was inserted during the Armed Services Committee markup by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) —a freshman liberal Democrat who wants to amnesty all the illegal aliens in America—passed the House of Representatives 221-202 on Thursday evening.

“Today is a great victory for Americans and lawful immigrants who wish to serve America in our Armed Forces,” Brooks said in a statement after the vote. “I asked my colleagues to consider how much American families are struggling in an anemic job and wage market and how much the Gallego amendment makes job and income prospects for Americans even worse. It makes no sense to me that, at the same time the Army is downsizing and issuing pink slips to American soldiers serving in Afghanistan, there are Congressmen who seek to help illegal aliens deprive American citizens and lawful immigrants of military service opportunities. I’m pleased the House chose to stand up for American citizens and protect the Constitutional duty of Congress to set immigration law. Today’s vote was the fourth rejection of the President’s unconstitutional DACA program, with Republicans overwhelming standing up for the will of the American people and the citizens and lawful immigrants who want to serve our country.”

Gallego’s amendment would have allowed illegal aliens who have received President Obama’s first executive amnesty—the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which some 800,000 or so illegal aliens have received—to enlist in the United States military. It would have come with an NDAA that reduces America’s force size—meaning the NDAA would have, if it weren’t for the Brooks amendment bolstered by conservatives like Reps. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Dave Brat (R-VA) among others, put illegal aliens ahead of Americans. What’s more, it would have used a defense bill—rather than an immigration bill—to do it.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Senate Passes Prevailing Wage Repeal

The state senate passed a repeal of the prevailing wage law, which forces the government to overpay for construction projects.  The bill passed 22-15, with five Republicans voting no.
Five Republicans - Sens. Mike Kowall of White Lake, Tom Casperson of Escanaba, Mike Nofs of Battle Creek, Tory Rocca of Sterling Heights and Dale Zorn of Ida - joined all the Democrats in opposing the three bills.
Many of them previously opposed Right to Work.

Kowall - supported Right to Work - term-limited in 2018
Casperson - opposed Right to Work - term-limited in 2018
Nofs - opposed Right to Work - term-limited in 2018
Rocca - opposed Right to Work - term-limited in 2018
Zorn - opposed Right to Work (in the state house) - up for re-election in 2018

Notably, Mike Green and Ken Horn, who voted against Right to Work, voted for this bill.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Vote NO on Proposal 1!

Proposal 1 is on the ballot statewide on May 5. It would increase sales taxes from 6% to 7%, and also increase gas taxes and other fees. This would total two billion dollars each year. Of that, 40% goes to non-transportation spending, and some of the transportation spending does not go to roads. The proposal would also activate ten laws that were passed by the legislature. You can find more information at

There will also be a KRESA tax increase on the ballot in school districts based in Kalamazoo County. It would be passed through to the districts to increase their budgets.

Please vote NO on both of these tax increases.

UPDATE:  Proposal 1 was destroyed with 80% voting against.  It lost every county and every major city except Ann Arbor, East Lansing, and Kalamazoo (which all contain major universities).  Now the dems are telling us that this was a rejection of Republicans (so why did dem legislators vote for it?)  Meanwhile, the major media (which endorsed it) says that this was not a rejection of tax increases.  Conservatives need to watch the legislature carefully and push for spending cuts, not tax increases, to provide additional money for road repair.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Race Hoax at Kalamazoo College

What's going on at Kalamazoo College?  K College is a far left elite private college just west of downtown Kalamazoo.  It was originally founded as a Baptist college, but that influence is long gone, replaces by progressivism, social justice, gay rights, anti-racism, and all the trendy cultural Marxism common on campus.

Kalamazoo College students start #UnsafeAtK social media campaign, say they feel threatened
Meeting about minority student safety at Kalamazoo College draws more than 100 students
Kalamazoo College officials address #UnsafeAtK social media campaign in campus-wide email
Security increased at Kalamazoo College after online threat to 'start systematically executing faculty'
'Don't let them win': Solidarity sought at Kalamazoo College in aftermath of online shooting threat
Kalamazoo College threats: Investigators hope Internet trail will lead them to suspect
Despite threat, Kalamazoo College students who have experienced racism push for intercultural center
Kalamazoo College students rally over concerns about racism and marginalization, push for intercultural center

The current controversy involves a student who is a gun rights activist.  He has advocated for open carry on K's campus, a noble but hopeless cause at an extremely left-wing private college.  In late February, he asked the student government for support for this cause.  They predictably declined, and launched a flurry of insults, as reported by Campus Reform.

What the student said was
If you have a problem with me, please come talk to me.  This is disgraceful.
Or, as student government official Rian Brown recalled it,
When the student government declined to support the group, the student "basically flashed his empty holster at the entire commission and directly threatened all the people of color in the room," Brown said.
As recorded in the audio, Brown then launched a flurry of insults at the gun rights advocate, calling him racist, sexist, and homophobic, despite the fact that he never mentioned any of those issues.  She even accused him of wanting to murder her.

It doesn't seem a stretch to call her insane.

Brown resigned her position in the student government soon after, claiming that "black and brown bodies" didn't feel safe on campus.  She then started the hashtag #unsafeatK on twitter, which attracted the attention of the Kalamazoo Gazette (Mlive).  They reported her allegations without much skepticism.

This resulted in an emotional meeting between students and administration, and a campus-wide email from the administration.

There are certainly real concerns about security around Kalamazoo College, as these articles indicate.  None of the articles indicate the race of the attackers, though several commenters indicate that they are black.

The controversy seemed to be dying down, until an anonymous threat was posted on the student commission Google doc on March 4:
K-College officials learned early Wednesday that a "highly inflammatory entry" had been posted in the Student Commission Google Doc, an online collaboration tool that allows for group sharing and anonymous editing, according to an email to the campus community.

"The entry is racist, anti-Semitic, sexist and homophobic" and included a direct threat to K-College faculty, the email stated. 
 The post, which included "vitriol aimed at a wide range of campus members," included the following line, according to another email, this one from the president's staff to K-College faculty and staff: "At 900AM 3/5/15 I am going to start systematically executing faculty at Kalamazoo U, that will teach them the value of campus carry." Neither email repeated the entire posting.
Police are investigating the threat, but have not yet identified a suspect.

At this point, we should note that virtually every racial 'hate crime' on a college campus has been proven to be a hoax.  As noted by National Review, The College FixMichelle Malkin and Ann Coulter:
Instead, all the hair-on-fire college rape stories have been scams: the Duke lacrosse team’s gang-rape of a stripper; Lena Dunham’s rape by Oberlin College’s “resident Republican,” Barry; and Rolling Stone‘s fraternity gang-rape at UVA. Two of the three were foisted on the publicand disproved in publiconly in the last few weeks.

The only epidemic sweeping the nation seems to be Munchausen rape syndrome. What’s next, college noose hoaxes?
The portions of the message quoted in the Gazette article sound like they were written to implicate gun rights supporters.  Who would be most likely to know about the student commission Google doc?  Also, who benefits from the attention and sympathy the threat provokes?

Leftists on Kalamazoo College's campus are campaigning for an "intercultual center".  It's hard to determine what exactly that means.  Brown describes it as
a safe place for students of color to go to on campus
So would white people be banned from the center?  Or just discouraged?  Will the students be demanding separate bathrooms and drinking fountains next?
The group's list of demands include having an interim intercultural center by the start of the 2015-16 school year, increased transparency from the college regarding intercultural and diversity research and planning, and that the college require all faculty, staff administrators and student leaders to participate in anti-racism training.
One student recounts her horrifying experience with racism:
"I've had professors ask what am I, as opposed to where am I from," Solis said. "Replying to them 'student' or 'a woman' is not sufficient for them. When they ask me, 'Where are you from' and I say 'Chicago,' I receive, 'Where are you really from?'"
So basically, they were racist for caring too much about diversity.

So far, the administration hasn't given in to the students' demands, but I wouldn't bet that they won't.  Do parents know what education their children are getting for over $40,000 per year?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Where Did Lorence Wenke’s Votes Come From?

The closest state legislative race in Michigan in 2014 was in state senate district 20, which is coterminous with Kalamazoo County. The district was vacated by Republican senator Tonya Schuitmaker, who ran for reelection in a neighboring district due to redistricting.

The Republican candidate was 61st district state rep Margaret O’Brien of Portage. The democrat candidate was 60th district state rep Sean McCann of Kalamazoo. Both are fairly typical representatives of their parties.

Aside from the closeness of the race, there was another complicating factor. Former state rep Lorence Wenke ran as a Libertarian after having originally filed to run in the Republican primary. Wenke was a moderate Republican state rep 2002-2008. He had an eclectic platform emphasizing support for gay rights and support for cutting government employee benefits. In the course of the campaign, he announced support for several tax increases and other un-libertarian policies.

The election results, after a recount, were

O’Brien 36645 (45.6%)
McCann 36584 (45.5%)
Wenke 7171 (8.9%)

The following map shows the average Republican performance by precinct for five 2014 election (Governor, SOS, AG, US Senate, US House). Each darker shade of red represents a 5% PVI range. (For example, the darkest shade of red represents precincts 15-20% more Republican than the county as a whole.) Each darker shade of blue represents a 5% PVI range, except that black represents 35-50% more democrat than the county as a whole.

The city of Kalamazoo is heavily democrat, with minority areas particularly so. The most Republican areas are rural townships and some upscale lake areas. Among closer suburbs, Portage leans Republican and Oshtemo and Comstock are close to even.

Here is a map of the results in the state senate race by precinct.

Superficially, the results appear very similar to the other countywide elections.

We can measure candidates’ performance in precincts relative to the GOP average and their overall performance. Break down the precincts into four categories relative to the partisan average:

less than 95% (orange)
95-100% (yellow)
100-105% (light green)
more than 105% (green)

Here is O’Brien’s relative performance.

O’Brien overperfomed in Alamo, Brady, Charleston, Climax, Prairie Ronde, Texas, Wakeshma, and Portage

Here is McCann’s relative performance.

McCann overperfomed in the city of Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo Township.

Where did Wenke do best? His top precinct was the city of Galesburg (18.8%). Most of Wenke’s top precincts are in his old district (the eastern half of the county).

Wenke got 11.6% in the 63rd state house district.
Wenke got 8.4% in the 61st district.
Wenke got 7.6% in the 60th district.
Wenke got 9.1% in the 66th district.

Break his precincts in four categories:
less than 7% (orange)
7-9% (yellow)
9-11% (light green)
more than 11% (dark green)

The narrow result naturally raises the question of what effect Wenke had on the election. Short of asking all of Wenke’s voters, we can’t know for sure who they would have supported in a two-way race.

The conventional wisdom is that Wenke took votes from O’Brien. This is because Wenke used to be a Republican, he represented a mostly Republican area, and libertarians are usually closer to Republicans on the issues.

I examined the results precinct-by-precinct to see what could be learned. I calculated a GOP average by precinct based on the other five countywide races. Scaling this by the total votes O’Brien and McCann received, I projected how their votes should have been distributed. I compared this with Wenke’s performance in each precinct.

Consider Galesburg, Wenke’s top precinct (18.8%). O’Brien got 99.7% of her projected total. McCann got 85.9% of his projected total. This strongly implies that Wenke’s voters would have supported McCann.

There were 20 precincts where Wenke got more than 11%. O’Brien overperformed in 6 of them and underperformed in 12 of them (2 with less than 95% of her projected total.) McCann overperformed in 1 of them and underperformed in 19 of them (12 with less than 95% of his projected total.)

There were 20 precincts where Wenke got less than 7%. O’Brien overperformed in 7 of them and underperformed in 13 of them (9 with less than 95% of her projected total.) McCann overperformed in 18 of them (8 with more than 105% of his projected total.) and underperformed in 2 of them.

McCann underperformed in most precincts where Wenke got more than 11%, and overperformed in most precincts where Wenke got less than 7%. The same is not true for O’Brien. This strongly implies that Wenke took significantly more votes from McCann. Since O’Brien won by only 61 votes, Wenke cost McCann the election. Wenke appears to have done best with democrats in his former state house district.

Wenke absolute performance versus McCann relative performance

An analysis by Gongwer reached the same conclusion using poor reasoning. They correctly noted that McCann did worse than democrat state house candidates. But this does not prove that Wenke’s votes came from McCann, since he could just have been a weaker candidate (or O’Brien stronger). Using different races in different parts of the county is bad methodology, especially when two (60, 63) were uncompetitive and one (61) had a substantial Libertarian vote.

In the 61st state house district, the results were 48.4% Iden, 42.7% Fisher, 8.9% Stampfler. Notably, the correlation between Wenke and Stampfler in the 61st was only r=.032, implying that their supporters voted for them as individuals, not libertarians.