Sunday, February 27, 2011

Republican Michigander on the CFM Redistricting 'Study'

Republican Michigander takes a look at the Center for Michigan redistricting 'study' that this blog previously dismantled.

Michigan Redistricting 2011-2012 (and a close look at Center For Michigan/Argus claims)

He shows that Michigan's legislative districts are far more competitive than the 'study' claims due to its misleading definition.

Analysis and Rebuttal of the Center for Michigan Redistricting Study
The Center for Michigan Redistricting 'Study' Has Data Errors, Too

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hooray for Comstock

Congratulations to Comstock voters for once again defeating a millage renewal.

Comstock school district voters reject 2.5-mill tax renewal, 633-689

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Are You Offended Yet?

It has been five years since the WMU College Republicans brought Ann Coulter to speak on campus. The speech had over 2000 people in attendance. Our flyers asking "Ann Coulter is coming to WMU... Are you offended yet?" seemed to really bug liberals.

Check out the February 2006 Archives for our posts about the event both before and after.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


This update focuses on the economy.

Gary North: I'm So Glad I Was Fired – Twice
Gary North: The Fed vs. Widows
Gary North: The End of the Nation State
Phyllis Schlafly: Obama's Plan to Admit Mexican Trucks
Gary North: The Nation State Is Doomed
Gary North: I'm Thankful for Shopping Malls

See also:
Gary North series: What is Money?
The Recession Reader
The Bailout Reader

The Center for Michigan Redistricting 'Study' Has Data Errors, Too

This blog previously deconstructed the Center for Michigan study.

Analysis and Rebuttal of the Center for Michigan Redistricting Study

I was looking over the data used to construct this report and noticed several errors. Two state house districts are classified as safe when they in fact changed parties. Three others are listed as changing parties once, when they in fact switched twice.

The specific errors are:

District Error .. Truth
24 Usually GOP Swing
32 Usually GOP Swing
70 Safe GOP .. Swing
108 Usually GOP Swing
110 Safe DEM .. Usually DEM

Curiously, all of the errors favor less competitiveness.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


This update focuses on immigration.

Washington Watcher: CPAC: Conservatives Pandering—Aliens (Still) Coming
Steve Sailer: Byron Roth’s The Perils Of Diversity: Apologies To The Grandchildren
Phyllis Schlafly: Detaching the Anchor from Anchor Babies
Victor Davis Hanson: Two Californias
James Fulford: The Fulford File: Dubya Memoir Shows He Never Understood Immigration (Although His Nanny May Have)
Roger Hedgecock: DREAM Act: An Amnesty Nightmare

For more on immigration, see

2011 Election Preview

This article was last updated November 20, 2012.

Michigan will saw several elections in 2011. This was a preview of elections in Michigan and Kalamazoo County. Elections earlier this year are summarized below.

Kalamazoo-area Election Guide 2011

November 8

This is the day for local city elections.

Kalamazoo City Commission

All seven seats on the Kalamazoo County Commission were up for election. The seven commissioners are Mayor Bobby Hopewell, Vice-mayor Hannah McKinney, Don Cooney, David Anderson, Barb Miller, Stephanie [Moore] Bell, and Robert Cinabro. Cinabro was appointed to replace Terry Kuseske, who died mid-term.

Cinabro ran for a full term, and all the other incumbents sought reelection. Challengers Nicholas Boyd, Antwon Hunter, Robert Patterson, Michael Perrin, Nicholas Wikar, and Andrew Worden also ran. Perrin and Worden ran as fiscal conservatives. Boyd was an unsucessful candidate in 2009. Boyd and Wikar were endorsed by the Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce over Cooney and Moore/Bell. All of the incumbents were reelected.
See who filed Tuesday to run in the Nov. 8, 2011 election for local government positions in Southwest Michigan

There was a proposal on the ballot to decriminalize marijuana by making it the "lowest possible enforcement priority". This would not have much practical effect, though. The ordinance passed overwhelmingly, winning every precinct.

Portage City Council

The mayor of Portage, Peter Strazdas, ran for reelection. Three of the six seats on the commission were also up for election. Those seats are held by Cory Bailes, Patricia Randall, and Elizabeth Campbell. Cory Bailes was appointed to replace Margaret O'Brien, who was elected state representative. Randall was elected to a two year term, succeeding Ted Vliek, who was appointed to fill the vacancy left when Larry DeShazor was elected state representative.

Reed ran for reelection and Bailes and Randall ran for full terms. Jim Pearson, a planning committee member who lost to Randall in 2009, sought a seat. The Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce endorsed everyone except Randall. Campbell, Pearson, and Randall won the three seats.

Mattawan School District

The district voted on a 59 million dollar bond measure after voting down an 88 million dollar tax increase in May. The millage was defeated for a second time.
Mattawan going back to voters for $59M for new elementary schools

February 22

This is one of four yearly election days in Michigan. The only jurisdiction with an election locally was Comstock Schools, which sought a millage renewal. It was rejected.

Comstock voters to decide 2.5-mill tax renewal

May 3

This is the date for school board elections. Kalamazoo, Portage, and Gull Lake all have contested races. There are also various millages on the ballot.
Election Results

Tax questions appearing on the May ballot include new library in Paw Paw, renovating South Haven high school, township millage renewals
7 candidates running for school board in Kalamazoo; 5 in Portage
Complete list of area school board candidates.
Complete list of library board candidates.

KRESA Millage. This is a renewal of a "temporary" millage that affects all the Kalamazoo County-based school districts. It is funnelled through KRESA to the districts to avoid limitations on the amount of taxes that districts can levy. It was billed in 2005 as a "one-time tax". In 2008, it was sold as a renewal of an existing tax. This passed roughly 2:1.

Stop the KRESA Tax

Kalamazoo. There were five candidates for two seats. Incumbent trustees Liz Henderson and Eric Breisach are retiring. The candidates are Demarra D. Gardner, Jennie Hill, Lissette Mira-Amaya, Jennifer Pollard, and Mark Totten. Totten is the best-known, having spent a small fortune in a losing bid for the democrat nomination for state senate in 2010. Totten and Hill won the two seats.

Portage. There were five candidates for two seats. Board President Kevin Hollenbeck and Vice-President Melanie Kurdys are running for full terms. Hollenbeck was appointed to a partial term following a resignation. Also running are Tom Eddy, Ted Hartridge, and Kevin Hoffer. The board has been divided over the issue of the status of Superintendent Marcia Wells. According to the Gazette, "Eddy is a former school trustee who was on the board that hired Wells; Hoffer is a Portage parent who has been critical of administration, and Hartridge attended a recent board meeting in support of Wells." Eddy and Hartridge were elected.

Kurdys and Hollenbeck for Portage School Board

Gull Lake. There are four candidates for two seats. They are Laura Burr, Loyal Eldridge II, Paul J. Foust, and Lorence R. Wenke. The best-known is Wenke, who was a three-term Republican state representative who lost a 2010 primary for state senate. Burr and Eldridge were elected.

The Kalamazoo library board race is uncontested, while there are six candidates for four spots in Portage. Betty Ongley, who held many positions in Portage over the years is the best known.

August 2

There was nothing on the ballot in Kalamazoo County for this election.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


It has been five years since this blog began. We have had 1844 posts. This began as a group blog for the Western Michigan University College Republicans and has since transitioned to an individual blog by one of Western's graduates.

The highlights of five years' of content can be found on the sidebar at right.

Analysis and Rebuttal of the Center for Michigan Redistricting Study

The Center for Michigan, a liberal, pseudo-centrist think tank in Ann Arbor, recently published a 'study' attacking the redistricting process in Michigan.

How redistricting predetermines many election results and often leaves voters without competitive choices at the polls

The report is cowritten by Susan Demas and John Bebow. Demas is a liberal reporter and blogger.

The 'study' argues that
1. Michigan legislative elections are uncompetitive.
2. This is due to redistricting, particularly the 2001 plan passed by Republicans.
3. This lack of competitiveness 'disenfranchises' Michigan voters.
4. Michigan's legislative districts should be drawn to create more 'competitive' districts.


3. The third point is the easiest to deal with. The authors are misusing the word disenfranchise, which means to take away the ability to vote. Losing an election does not mean you were disenfranchised.

Note however that if we were to accept this false definition of disenfranchisement, that competitive districts would 'disenfranchise' more voters than noncompetitive ones, since in a competitive district, almost half the voters will see their candidate lose each time. Most voters get their way when districts are not competitive.

1. Are Michigan legislative elections competitive? It depends what you mean by competitive. It is certainly true that in many elections, the outcome is not really in doubt. However, the standard used by the 'study' is dubious. They switch between competitive, by which they seem to mean 'has switched parties in the last decade' and 'swing district', meaning 'they either regularly changed hands between the parties or averaged a 3-percent margin or less over the past decade'.

They point out that 25 of 110 state house seats switched parties in the past decade. That sounds pretty competitive to me, given the relatively small number of voters who switch parties even between wave elections. How many districts should have switched? 50? 100? The 'study' doesn't say. If the map is so gerrymandered, why did any seats switch?

Their standard is flawed because it does not account for the fact that which districts are competitive changes from election to election. A seat that may be perfectly competitive on paper may not be so in a given year when it has a popular incumbent running for reelection. Which seats are competitive also depends on swings in public sentiment.

For example, the 61st house district had highly competitive elections in 2006 and 2008, narrowly won by Republicans. In 2010, the public swung to the right and the Republican won by 25 points. In the 20th senate district, there have been three hotly contested elections with the last two seeing a million dollars or so spent. All three were won by the Republican (2006 very narrowly). Both districts are listed as not competitive by CFM. Someone should have told the candidates.

The report doesn't make clear whether their standard for swing districts averages margins or vote percentages. For example, if a district swings from 55%R-45%D to 45%R-55%D, is the average 10% or 0%?

2. Is the lack of competitiveness, such as it is, due to redistricting? If voters were randomly distributed geographically, we would expect to see most areas nearly even in political preferences. But voters are not randomly distributed, they choose where they live. People tend to live near people who are demographically similar to themselves. This is true for income, class, race, and to a lesser extent age. Political preferences are correlated with all these factors to some extent. Thus the distribution of voters is not random. Evenly divided areas are the exception, not the rule.

It is true that gerrymandering can exacerbate lack of competitiveness due to geography. For example, only one of California's 53 congressional districts switched parties in the past decade. This is due to an extreme gerrymandering plan. But this is nothing like what exists in Michigan. The number of swing districts is hardly out of line with geography in Michigan.

2001 State House Districts - MICHIGAN S 110 HOUSE DISTRICTS

Consider the state house. Does the map appear gerrymandered? (No.) The districts are compact and follow county and city lines when possible. If the map were so heavily gerrymandered, why did democrats win the state house in 2006 and 2008? Now, there is a slight Republican lean to the map, but it would take a political expert to demonstrate this.

There were five state house elections over the past decade, so even in the era of term limits, most districts had two or three representatives. Since incumbents rarely lose, there weren't that many chances for districts to flip.

2001 State Senate Districts -

The state senate districts also are compact and follow county and city lines as much as possible. The strangely shaped districts are in Detroit, which are designed to create black-majority districts, not for partisan advantage. The map leans more Republican than the state house map, but again the effect is subtle.

There were only three state senate elections over the past decade and each district has had two senators over that time. Republicans had good years when there were many open seats in 2002 and 2010, and were fortunate to have many incumbents in the bad year of 2006.

In support of their argument, the authors cite the fact that the percentage of seats won by Republicans exceeds the percentage of the aggregate vote that they receive. They blame this on redistricting. But there is a simple geographic explanation for this: Detroit. Most districts in Detroit are 95% democrat. This has the effect of concentrating many democrats in these districts and diluting them elsewhere. There is no comparable concentration of Republicans in the state. The most Republican district in the state (Holland area) is probably around 80% Republican, and few are more than 70% Republican.

There is a simple test for the authors' claim that redistricting causes lack of competitiveness. Seats that cannot be redrawn ought to be significantly more competitive. Consider statewide elections.

President. Michigan has gone democrat each of the last five presidential elections (it went Republican each of the five before that). Most of these elections were not close.

Governor. The governorship changed parties in 2002 and 2010. The 2002 election was fairly close (4%) while 2006 and 2010 were blowouts for opposite parties. (The 1994 and 1998 elections were also blowouts.)

Senate. Carl Levin has been elected to six consecutive terms (36 years), usually by large margins. Debbie Stabenow has been elected to two terms (12 years), succeeding a Republican.

Secretary of State. Republicans have won the last five elections by significant margins. Democrat Richard Austin held the seat for the preceding 24 years.

Attorney General. Republicans have won the last three elections (2002 was close). Before democrat Jennifer Granholm's one term, the seat was held by 'Eternal General' Frank Kelley for 38 years.

None of these seats, except possibly the governorship, would be considered competitive by the standard employed by the Center for Michigan. Apparently the state of Michigan is simultaneously safe for both democrats and Republicans depending on the seat in question!

Similar results hold on the county level. For example, Kalamazoo County is usually considered to be a swing area. But democrats have won the last five presidential races in the county. Democrats won governorship in the county in 2002 and 2006 and lost in 2010. Republicans won the last five secretary of state races and last three attorney general races in the county. The state senate district including Kalamazoo County has voted Republican for 50+ years. The prosecutor, clerk, treasurer, and surveyor have similarly been held by the GOP for many decades. A similar string in the Sheriff's office was broken in 2008. Only the drain commissioner could be considered competitive by the CFM's standard, switching parties each of the last three elections.

Obviously gerrymandering cannot account for this. Incumbency and the particular nature of these offices provide better explanations.

4. The report is somewhat vague with regard to recommendations. It suggests that there be more transparency. But as the report correctly notes, average voters don't care about redistricting, so this is unlikely to have much impact.

The report also speaks favorably of an 'independent commission' to draw districts. But such commissions cannot remove politics from an inherently political process. Such commissions have sometimes produced highly partisan gerrymandered maps, as in New Jersey. Others consistently deadlock and send the issue to the courts. Such commissions are accountable to absolutely nobody for their decisions.

The report also seems to suggest drawing a map to create more competitive seats. But as we have seen, geography guarantees that most areas are not politically evenly divided. To artificially create more 'competitive' seats would require extreme gerrymandering, ignoring county and city boundaries.

And why should 'competitive' districts be favored, anyways? Are substantive outcomes better for Michigan citizens. The report includes one quote that basically undermines its entire premise.

Brittany Galisdorfer, Earhart fellow with the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council, notes that academic research has been inconclusive about the effects of more competitive seats.

"The general theory is that competitive districts mean less extreme political candidates, less political partisanship and ensure basic fairness," she said. "But there’s no consensus that those things actually occur."

There is no question that redistricting is an inherently political process and that the sausage-making process is not always a pretty sight. But the Center for Michigan's critique of the redistricting process is fatally flawed. It uses a skewed standard for competitiveness for that virtually guarantees its conclusion. This standard leads to the absurd result that different seats in the same jurisdiction can simultaneously be considered 'safe' for opposite parties.

It incorrectly blames lack of competitiveness on redistricting. Instead, geography is the biggest explanation for lack of inherent competitiveness and the role of redistricting is exaggerated. The biggest reason for lack of competitiveness in specific elections is incumbency. Most seats that flip do so when they are open, and this most often happens due to term limits. Ironically, the Center for Michigan opposes current term limits.

It blatantly misuses the term 'disenfranchise' to sensationalize the issue. The 'reforms' that it favorable recommends would not help and could easily make things worse.

Whether the Center for Michigan's report is sincere or merely an attempt to impede Republicans in the redistricting process, its poor reasoning and misleading use of statistics do not deserve to influence public debate.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Upton Votes Conservative--Thanks, Jack!

The American Conservative Union released its ratings of Congress in 2010. Congressman Fred Upton scored 92% conservative. His only negative votes were supporting extension of unemployment benefits.

What could have caused Upton's right turn, just two years after his anemic 44% conservative record? Could it be the primary challenge from Jack Hoogendyk, who won an impressive 43% of the vote against Upton on a shoestring budget?

Upton's 2002 rating ties his 2002 rating for his best ever. What happened in 2002? Upton's last primary challenge.

2010 House Ratings
Fred Upton's Conservative Ratings

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Reagan Forever

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ronald Reagan. Reagan was the greatest President of the 20th century, and possibly ever.

His accomplishments speak for themselves.
  • He liberated 300 million or so people from communist tyranny and ended the Cold War without firing a shot.
  • He ended the disastrous stagflation of the 1970s and set the stage for 25 years of economic growth.
  • He pushed through a major tax cut, rolled back regulations, and cut government spending as a proportion of GDP.
  • He rebuilt the American military.
  • He revived the American spirit.
Reagan was a committed conservative and leader of the conservative movement in the 1970s and 80s. He did what he could to advance conservatism from appointing Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court to ending the fairness doctrine, leading to the rise of talk radio.

Liberals hated him then and try to misrepresent him now. He was right and they were wrong.

Those of us too young to remember much of his presidency got a taste of Reagan's America in 2004 upon his death when for one glorious week liberals had to shut up while we celebrated Reagan and what he stood for.

Reagan remains incredibly applicable today. Listening to his classic A Time for Choosing speech from 1964, for example, is amazingly prescient about the issues we still face.

A Time for Choosing

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Democrat Supervisor Doesn't Pay Taxes

What's democrat Kalamazoo Township Supervisor Terri Mellinger been up to?

Kalamazoo Township supervisor hasn't paid property taxes since 2007; but Terri Mellinger pledges to catch up

KALAMAZOO TOWNSHIP — A Kalamazoo Township home belonging to the township supervisor and her husband could be one of hundreds that become property of Kalamazoo County by the end of March.

Terri Mellinger’s property in the Westwood neighborhood is among more than 850 properties that owe 2008 property taxes and will be foreclosed on by the county treasurer after March 31. A list of all the properties owing 2008 property taxes was published in the Kalamazoo Gazette this month.

But Mellinger, who was elected Kalamazoo Township supervisor in 2008 and makes about $72,000 a year, said she has every intention of paying the back taxes, which with fees and interest totals $5,426.07 for 2008.
At least she was up front about it...

She said she’s informed several township officials about the delinquent taxes. She also informed the Kalamazoo County Democratic Party when she filed to run for township supervisor.

“It's not something that I've hidden,” she said.
Did she inform the voters?

Commenter 'kzooresident' points out some relevant facts.

Please keep in mind that this is the same lady that had the township illegally collect a millage renewal that it was not supposed to. When I confronted her on the legality of collecting the taxes (that had expired and were not renewed when the collected), her response was simple...."go ahead and sue us for it....we've already spent the money, and there's no way we can pay everyone back. Sorry for the problem".

Wow what a statement and example of leadership. Amazing how politicians and bureaucrats have no problem collecting YOUR money, but when it comes to them they always feel that they are above the law. Seriously blaming this on the mortgage provider? Are you kidding me? Trust me the one thing mortgage servicers do is pay the taxes/insurance. They have to. I'm not buying that for one second.

I for one hope that she loses her house because of this. Kharma is a bitch, and it always comes back to bite you.
Mellinger was the handpicked candidate of the local democrat party in 2008.

And Mellinger said she hopes her constituency — some of whom may be struggling with job loss, home foreclosure, mounting medical bills — will be understanding.
Mellinger should read Matthew 18.

Snyder Appoints Democrat WMU Trustee

Who did our new governor Rick Snyder appoint to the WMU Board of Trustees?

Gov. Rick Snyder re-appoints Ken Miller to Western Michigan University's board, also appoints Dana Debel

KALAMAZOO — Gov. Rick Snyder re-appointed Western Michigan University Trustee Ken Miller on Tuesday to another eight-year term on the university’s governing board.
Miller is the businessman who is behind the push for a downtown arena financed by taxpayers, supposedly for 'economic development'. It's no shock that Snyder would like him.

No Arena, for Now
Dome of Deceit
Arena of Conflict
Forum of Discontent

Who else did Snyder appoint?

Snyder also appointed Dana Debel of Ann Arbor.

Debel, 33, replaces William Martin, who served a single eight-year term.

Debel is the director of state and local government affairs for Delta Air Lines and holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Michigan State University. She once worked as a policy adviser to former Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Debel named WMU trustee, Miller reappointed

Director of state and local government affairs for Delta Air Lines, Debel previously served as a policy director for former Gov. Jennifer Granholm from 2003 to 2007, primarily in the areas of environmental and energy policy. She earned both a bachelor's degree in environmental studies and a Master of Business Administration from Michigan State University.
So Debel is a lobbyist who didn't go to Western and isn't a Republican. She also lives in Ann Arbor, not Kalamazoo. So why exactly did Snyder appoint her?

It's one thing for Snyder to appoint democrats like Andy Dillon to positions in the executive branch, where they can be told what to do and replaced if necessary. Appointing a democrat to an eight-year term on a university board is quite another. Western's board desperately needs some local Republicans after eight years of Granholm appointees. Debel's appointment is inexcusable.