Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mackinac Center on the Arena

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy analyzes the proposed Kalamazoo Arena.


K-zoo Taxpayers May Ante Up for New Sports Arena

On Nov. 11, 2009, the Lansing State Journal reported that the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners was exploring the possibility of creating a hotel and restaurant tax to finance construction of a 6,800-seat sports arena to be built in the city of Kalamazoo for an estimated cost of $81.2 million. Five days later, the Pontiac Silverdome — also constructed with taxpayer subsidies — was auctioned off to a Canadian firm for just $583,000. Despite having almost 12 times the seating capacity and still being in good condition, the Silverdome was sold for less than 1 percent of the proposed cost for building the Kalamazoo arena.

The taxes proposed to finance the Kalamazoo facility were made possible by a new state law approved at the end of last year and signed by the governor. The assumption behind this expanded taxing power, and the impetus that also led to the Silverdome being built with public dollars, is that publicly subsidized sports facilities create economic growth. However, both economic research and the real-world experiences of the Silverdome and other similar venues cast this assumption into considerable doubt.

The consensus of economists regarding taxpayer-subsidized sports stadium construction was summed up in 2006 by College of the Holy Cross economist Victor A. Matheson, who noted that, "...academic economists are nearly universal in their criticism that specialized sports infrastructure does little to promote economic growth..."

Similarly, in a July 2007 article, Reason Public Policy Institute researchers Samuel Staley and Leonard Gilroy wrote that, "More than 20 years of academic research has failed to find a significant relationship between an investment in a sports stadium and significant job or income growth." The authors also mentioned researchers from Smith College and Vanderbilt University who produced a 2000 report which noted that, "independent work on the economic impact of stadiums and arenas has uniformly found that there is no correlation between sports facility construction and economic development."

Even if there were significant economic benefits from taxpayer-subsidized stadiums, the impact would often wear out fast as teams have a habit of quickly discarding the buildings and moving on. In 1975, the Silverdome was completed for $55.7 million, or more than $220 million at 2009 prices. So the "investment" in the Silverdome — when benchmarked against inflation — depreciated by 99.7 percent in less than 35 years. This happened despite the building still being in good enough condition that the new owner plans to use it for a soccer stadium.

Compared to similar venues paid for and owned by taxpayers, it is perhaps remarkable that the Silverdome is still standing at all. The Kingdome in Seattle was finished one year after the Silverdome, yet never even made it to its 24th anniversary and was demolished in 2000.

The Metrodome in Minneapolis, home of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings and Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins, is already the NFL's ninth oldest home field, despite being just 27 years of age. This year, the University of Minnesota's Big Ten football team moved out, and the Vikings and Twins are making plans to pack their bags very soon.

The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers football team is on its third home since 1981. The school abandoned an on-campus stadium and moved to the brand new Metrodome for the 1982 football season, partially due to an assumption that the indoor facility would boost attendance because it offered protection from the weather. However, removed from the on-campus atmosphere, the much larger crowds barely materialized. Gopher football's latest home, TCF Bank Stadium, is again on campus — and open-air. It cost $288 million to build, nearly half of which is being subsidized by Minnesota taxpayers due to a vote of the Minnesota Legislature to approve construction of the building.

Like the Metrodome, the proposed arena for Kalamazoo is intended to initially house a mixture of professional and college teams. It was announced that the Western Michigan University basketball and hockey teams will share the space with the Kalamazoo Wings, a minor league professional hockey team. The Wings currently play in Wings Stadium, constructed in 1974, one year before the Silverdome. The WMU Broncos hockey team now plays home games at the on-campus Lawson Ice Arena, also completed in 1974; and the WMU basketball team plays at University Arena, which was built in 1957 and renovated in 1994.

As with the new stadium for the University of Minnesota, a taxpayer subsidy for the new Kalamazoo arena was facilitated by a vote of the Michigan Legislature. According to, 2008 House Bill 6515 expanded "the scope of the law that authorizes local hotel, restaurant and rental car excise taxes to pay for municipal stadiums." Furthermore, it also lowers "a certain population standard, allowing Kalamazoo County and Kalamazoo to levy these taxes."

Thirty-six of 38 members of the Michigan Senate voted to approve this enhanced taxing power on Dec. 18, 2008. That same day, 54 Democrats were joined by 14 Republicans in the House of Representatives to approve the bill. It became Public Act 532 of 2008 when Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed it on Jan. 12, 2009.


Kenneth M. Braun is a policy analyst and managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the Center are properly cited.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Chinese Propaganda Ministry Opens Branch Office at WMU

Just to be clear, this is communist China, which murdered 70 million of its own people and fought against America in the Korean War. Would WMU open a center for the study of German culture funded by Nazis?


Institute on Chinese culture, language to debut at Western Michigan University Monday

With music and dance, Western Michigan University will celebrate Monday the creation of its new WMU Confucius Institute, a program backed by the Chinese ministry of education to promote understanding of Chinese language and culture in the world.

The grand opening, free and open to the public, begins at 3 p.m. in WMU’s Dalton Center Recital Hall, featuring a photo exhibit, a choral performance, an ensemble of Chinese instruments and a Lion dance performance.

WMU’s Confucius Institute is intended to ramp up Chinese studies at WMU as well as bring language instruction and cultural knowledge to area K-12 schools through mostly extracurricular education.

Institute’s goals
The goals of Western Michigan University’s new Confucius Institute include:
Teaching Chinese language and culture to WMU students and members of the greater community.
Promoting international cooperation and exchange of students.

Collaborating with local schools and community businesses to train teachers and offer language and culture workshops, summer camps, fine arts events and travel opportunities. As part of helping WMU develop the institute, six language instructors from the Beijing Language and Culture University are here for a two-year immersion experience.

WMU’s institute is one of four in the state. The others are at Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State University. But there are several hundred Confucius Institutes worldwide.

“The idea through all of them, through different means, is basically to further understanding of Chinese history, Chinese language and Chinese culture,” said Donald McCloud, dean of WMU’s Diether H. Haenicke Institute for Global Education.

In July, McCloud, WMU President John M. Dunn, WMU Confucius Institute Director Xioaojun Wang were in China finalizing agreements to establish the institute and a related partnership between WMU and the Beijing Language and Culture University. WMU officials say the effort is sponsored by the Office of Chinese Language Council International of China’s Ministry of Education.

“This is a Chinese initiative,” McCloud said, likening it to the U.S. Department of State’s Fulbright program, which offers international exchange opportunities for U.S. educators and students to study, research and teach elsewhere in the world.

“It’s (China’s) effort to spread knowledge of their culture and language,” he said.

McCloud, who recently met with Kalamazoo County school superintendents to discuss the institute, said the Chinese instructors will help develop educational programs with local schools that want to take part.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


This update focuses on the economy. Unemployment remains over 10% nationally and over 15% in Michigan. Government debt continues to expand, imperiling the dollar. The economy is not recovering, despite government claims to the contrary.

Gary North: Decide How (Not If) the Government Will Default
Charles Scaliger: The Diminishing Dollar
William Campenni: Financial Bust Connected to Illegal Alien Mortgages
Don Devine: Phony Economic Recovery
Charles Scaliger: A Review of "End the Fed" by Ron Paul
Lila Ravija: Green Shoots and White Lies

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

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Granholm at WMU

Governor Granholm spoke at Western on Thursday, arguing that the state legislature should raise taxes to fund the Michigan Promise scholarship program.

Governor rallies students: Hold lawmakers to Promise, Granholm tells Western Michigan University crowd
Student Reactions to Granholm’s Visit
Gov. Granholm speaks about Michigan Promise at WMU
Gov. Granholm to speak about Michigan Promise scholarship Thursday at Western Michigan University
A broken Promise: local perspectives

Actually, the articles above don't make it clear whether she mentioned raising taxes. But that's what it would take to bring back the scholarship. After many months of putting off passing a budget, and a month-long extension when they couldn't pass one on time, Granholm finally signed a budget that doesn't raise taxes.

Now, she wants to bring the scholarship back, so that all her liberal supporters in academia will be fully employed, er, for the children.

The scholarship was inspired by the Kalamazoo Promise, which whether or not it is effective, is privately funded. This program was not only funded by taxpayers, but discriminates against Christians school students and homeschoolers, who are not eligible.

One of the arguments that Granholm made was that 'this scholarship was a promise' and 'the legislature needs to keep that promise' (paraphrase). Gullible college students should learn the sooner the better that politicians break promises. Worse, they make promises that they know they can't keep. In particular, they promise benefits they can't pay for, and let later politicians worry about how to pay for them.

Everyone likes getting free money, but if the state raises taxes again, where are college graduates going to get jobs? Not in Michigan, that's for sure. We'll just be educating the future workers of Florida and Texas.

Democrats versus Christians
Free College for All?

Local News

Local news around Kalamazoo.

Rep. Larry DeShazor fifth to seek George's Michigan Senate seat
Speed-limit technicality doesn't overturn Stadium Drive ticket
Some debate safety of Tasers in wake of East Grand Rapids death; police say stun guns are valuable tool
County Treasurer Mary Balkema's claims off-base, Portage City Council says
Broader vision of Downtown Kalamazoo arena urged by leading proponent Ken Miller
Portage school board President Jennifer Whistler resigns
Video: Michigan Militia featured on CNN as example of growing distrust of Obama, federal government
Meet the next Portage City Council
Western Michigan University gently enforces class attendance

Friday, November 20, 2009

DeShazor for Senate?

From Gongwer:

An all-star Republican primary is shaping up in the 20th Senate District in 2010 with Rep. Larry DeShazor of Portage announcing Thursday he will run, joining Rep. Tonya Schuitmaker of Lawton and former Rep. Lorence Wenke of Richland in the field.

Coulter on Diversity

Of Course, Ann Coulter is right once again.



November 18, 2009

It cannot be said often enough that the chief of staff of the United States Army, Gen. George Casey, responded to a massacre of 13 Americans in which the suspect is a Muslim by saying: "Our diversity ... is a strength."

As long as the general has brought it up: Never in recorded history has diversity been anything but a problem. Look at Ireland with its Protestant and Catholic populations, Canada with its French and English populations, Israel with its Jewish and Palestinian populations.

Or consider the warring factions in India, Sri Lanka, China, Iraq, Czechoslovakia (until it happily split up), the Balkans and Chechnya. Also look at the festering hotbeds of tribal warfare -- I mean the beautiful mosaics -- in Third World hellholes like Afghanistan, Rwanda and South Central, L.A.

"Diversity" is a difficulty to be overcome, not an advantage to be sought. True, America does a better job than most at accommodating a diverse population. We also do a better job at curing cancer and containing pollution. But no one goes around mindlessly exclaiming: "Cancer is a strength!" "Pollution is our greatest asset!"

By contrast, the canard "diversity is a strength" has now replaced "at the end of the day," "skin in the game," "blood and treasure," "jumped the shark," "boots on the ground," "horrific" (whatever happened to the perfectly good word "horrible"?), "not so much," "I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here," and "that went well," as America's most irritating cliche.

We should start making up other nonsense mantras along the lines of "diversity is a strength" and mindlessly repeating them until they catch on, too.


See also:
What Diversity Really Means
The Diversity Shibboleth
Diversity in Education
Why the culture war matters

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Local News

Local news around Kalamazoo.

Downtown arena proposal gets mixed reaction from Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners

WSA throws their support behind aviation busing route

Kalamazoo downtown arena plan the subject of special meeting tonight

Looking to the East: East Hall faces uncertain future

Haenicke honored with memorial garden

Kalamazoo works on process for filing grievances as new anti-discrimination law takes effect

NRA Alert

Parking Lot Bills Marching Forward in Michigan! 11/13/2009

On Thursday, November 12, the Michigan Senate Committee on Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor Recreation passed Senate Bill 792 and Senate Bill 793. These bills will be heard on the Senate floor in the coming weeks.

SB792, introduced by State Senator Roger Kahn (R-32), and SB793, authored by State Senator Jim Barcia (D-31), would prohibit employers from firing employees who safely and lawfully store their firearms in locked vehicles.

Also, the House versions of these bills, House Bill 5302 by State Representative Paul Opsommer (R-93), and House Bill 5303 by State Representative Joel Sheltrown (D-103), could be heard on the House floor any day.

Please contact your State Senator TODAY and respectfully encourage them to support SB792 and SB793. To find your Senator and their contact information, please click here. Also don’t forget to contact your State Representative and politely urge them to vote in favor of HB5302 and HB5303 when it comes before them on the House floor. To find your Representative and their contact information, please click here.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Discrimination Ordinance Passes

The Kalamazoo discrimination ordinance was passed 62%-38%.

This is less than the 74% won in Kalamazoo by Barack Obama in 2008, the 72% won by Governor Granholm in 2006, or the 70% won by State Rep. Robert Jones in 2006. This shows that such ordinances remain a minority position nationwide. Nonetheless, it is disappointing that a majority of Kalamazoo voters voted to discriminate against those who disagree with them on 'gay rights'.

Just getting the ordinance on the ballot was a victory. The opponents were outspent more than 10-1. The supporters likely spent more than half a million dollars on their campaign.

Support for the ordinance was unsurprisingly heaviest around Western Michigan University, topping 80% in several precincts. The ordinance lost in three precincts. These are 10 (Spring Valley area), a largely white middle class area, 17 (Milwood), a largely white working class area, and 11 (Eastside), a largely minority precinct. Aside from being on the east side of Kalamazoo, they don't have much in common.
Map of Discrimination Ordinance Vote

The ordinance got 60-70% in the Northside precincts. Were voters confused by the ballot language?
Discrimination News
The ballot language of the ordinance itself is misleading. It makes it sound like the ordinance would ban 'discrimination' based on all manner of factors, including race, gender, and religion. But this is in the existing law. What is new is 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity'. Will voters be confused by this?

2009 Election Results

The 2009 elections were generally good for conservatives.

In Virginia, Republican Bob McDonnell won by 18 point over Creigh Deeds, who Barack Obama campaigned for. Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli won by similar margins. Cuccinelli in particular is a very staunch conservative. Republicans picked up several seats in the Virginia House of Delegates.

In New Jersey, Republican Chris Christie won 49-44 over incumbent democrat Jon Corzine, who Obama campaigned heavily for. Christie is the most conservative candidate elected governor of New Jersey in many decades.

In Maine, voters rejected 'gay marriage' 53-47 after the legislature passed a bill purporting to create such a thing. In Texas, voters overwhelmingly passed a measure protecting property rights from eminent domain abuse. In Pennsylvania, a Republican was elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, giving the GOP the majority.

There was a tough loss in the special election in New York's 23rd district, where democrat Bill Owens won 49-46 over Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman. Yet the fact that a conservative third party challenger got 46% of the vote after driving a liberal Republican out of the race is still unprecedented.

Elsewhere in New York, liberal independent mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg was reelected by a surprisingly narrow margin after spending at least $112 million of his own money. Republicans picked up a couple seats on the city council in northern Queens. A Republican defeated the democrat incumbent Westchester County executive.

In California, a democrat won the special election for a democrat-held seat by a closer-than-usual margin.

In Michigan, Dave Bing was reelected Mayor of Detroit. A majority of the dysfunctional city council will be new, though there are reasons to be pessimistic about the new council.
New Detroit City Council Members Have Financial Problems, Debt, Tax Evasion Record

In the special election for the 19th state senate district covering Calhoun and most of Jackson counties, former state rep. Mike Nofs overwhelmingly defeated state rep. Marty Griffin 61-34. It's surprising that the democrats didn't try harder for this seat.

In Kalamazoo, the results were about as good for the left as they could have hoped.

The discrimination ordinance was passed 62-38. See this post for details and analysis:
Discrimination Ordinance Passes

The Metro Transit ordinance passed overwhelmingly, to nobody's surprise.

The incumbent city commissioners were all reelected in the same order as they achieved in 2007. This includes criminal Stephanie Moore. The seventh spot was won by 'gay rights' advocate Terry Kuseske. The runner-up was Don Cooney ally Mike Kilbourne.

In Portage, the incumbents were reelected, and Patricia Randall was elected to the partial term.

In Battle Creek, Republican Elizabeth Fulton was elected to the city council.

POLITICAL UPDATE--News from Abroad

This update focuses on news from abroad. Russia remains dominated by the KGB, which is still involved in terrorism and crime. The European Union continues to expand its power.

William Jasper: Dangerous Connections: NBA and the KGB
William Jasper: KGB/FSB: The “Game” Remains the Same
Patrick Krey: Lords of Chaos: The Kremlin’s Arms Merchants
Thomas Eddlem: The Soviet Roots of Terrorism
William Jasper: No State Sponsors, No Terror

Alex Newman: Holdout Signs Lisbon Treaty Creating EU Super-State
Kevin Grace: What Canada’s Free Speech Victory Says About America’s Matthew Shepard “Hate Crimes” Bill

POLITICAL UPDATES are archived here.

The Awful Wilson Administration

The years 1913-1918, under president Woodrow Wilson and a democrat Congress, were a disastrous time for America.

In 1913, Congress passed the 16th amendment to create the income tax. It was promised that this tax would only apply to the very rich and would be at most a few percent. Instead, it has grown to consume a significant minority of all income produced in America. The tax code is thousands of pages long and full of loopholes created by special interest lobbying.

Also in 1913, Congress passed the 17th amendment to eliminate the representation of state governments in the US Senate. This amendment served to eliminate a significant check on the growth of the federal government. Government taxes, spending, and regulation skyrocketed in the years that followed.

Still in 1913, Congress created the Federal Reserve System at the behest of a coalition of powerful banking interests. The Fed created a banking cartel for the supposed purposes of preventing recessions and fighting inflation. Since then, there have been numerous recessions and the Great Depression, which even current Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke admits was largely caused by Fed policy. As for inflation, the dollar has lost over 95% of its value since 1913. This amounts to a huge tax on the wealth of all Americans.

After being reelected on the platform "he kept us out of war", President Woodrow Wilson immediately entered World War I. The prolonged war led to the collapse of the government in Russia and the rise of communists who slaughtered 70 million people in Russia and exported communism elsewhere in the world. Communists would slaughter about 250 million people in the twentieth century.

The punitive terms of the Versailles Treaty led to inflation and economic collapse in Germany, creating the political conditions that led to the rise of Hitler. Similar reasons led to the rise of Mussolini in Italy shortly after the end of the war.

During the war, Wilson imposed his 'war socialism', regimenting the economy under government control. Wilson also cracked down on civil liberties, imprisoning thousands of Americans critical of his policies on both the left and right. Wilson tried to get Congress to ratify the League of Nations treaty, which would have given that organization a veto over American military action. The treaty was defeated by the Senate.

See also: Liberal Fascism

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Walberg, Schauer, Nofs

From CQ Politics:

Could State Senate Race Spell Trouble for Rep. Schauer?

Michigan's 19th District state Senate race received some extra attention on election night from national Republicans, who hope a big win by GOP state Rep. Mike Nofs, is a harbinger for the area's 2010 House race. Nofs defeated Democratic state Rep. Marty Griffin, by double digits to win the open seat previously held by Democratic Rep. Mark Schauer.

Republicans say their win in the Democratic-leaning state district, which encompasses the key counties of Calhoun and Jackson, shows that Schauer is in trouble in his first re-election bid.

Local News

Election results and more around Kalamazoo.

Election results:
Terry Kuseske to hit treadmill running
Kalamazoo voter approval of anti-discrimination ordinance shows 'tides are changing'
Tuesday turnout was highest since '93 for Kalamazoo city-only election
'Huge turnout' keeps Robert Vlietstra as Alamo Township Supervisor
Patricia Randall wins Portage City Council seat
Metro Transit tax wins with 76 percent of vote
Kalamazoo voters go for status quo: Hopewell remains mayor; Kuseske lone commission newcomer
Kalamazoo voters approve anti-discrimination ordinance by a wide margin
Map of Discrimination Ordinance Vote

Pre-election news:
Western Herald Voting Guide
On the ballot: Metro Transit
Voters have final say on Ordinance 1856 on Nov. 3
Meet the Candidates
Election brims with choices on buses, gays, bonds and more
Candidates and proposals on Tuesday's ballot

Other news:
Board of Trustees discuss medical school plans
Kalamazoo City Commission votes on Social Gathering Ordinance
WMU medical-school idea raises questions, not funds
Portage task force calls for independent audit of assessments

Monday, November 02, 2009

Gazette Endorsements

The Gazette is out with its endorsements in local races.

Editorial: Kalamazoo should stand for equality
Editorial: Recommendations For Kalamazoo City Commission
Editorial: Recommendations For Portage City Council

To no one's surprise, the Gazette endorsed the discrimination ordinance.

For the city commission, it's no surprise that the Gazette endorsed incumbents Hopewell, McKinney, Cooney, Andersen, and Miller. I'm shocked that they endorsed ethically challenged, ACORN-employed, convicted embezzler and community organizer Stephanie Moore. They also endorsed ordinance opponent Nicholas Boyd, while praising recent college graduate Anna Schmitt.

In Portage, it's no surprise that they endorsed the incumbents, and mildly surprising that they endorsed Jim Pearson for the open seat.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Gazette's Poor Guide

The Kalamazoo Gazette's election guide is curiously lacking when it comes to informing readers of the opinions of city commission candidates opposed to the Kalamazoo discrimination ordinance.

First of all, here is the link to the Gazette's online election guide.
Kalamazoo City Commission: Questions and answers

The link to question 3, on the ordinance, originally directed readers to another question, but this has since been fixed.

Perusing the responses of the candidates, we find the following.

Kai Phillips: The candidate’s answer could not be published as submitted.
It's anyone's guess what this somewhat cryptic statement means. This is the only answer from any candidate to any question to have such a disclaimer.

It was reported in the Western Herald that candidate Nicholas Boyd opposes the ordinance.
Kalamazoo City Commission stumps at WMU

Aaron Davis, Nicholas Boyd and Kai Phillips oppose it.

“I’ll be voting no, even though I’m happy that it is on the ballot,” Boyd said. “It’s more important to focus on the budget and try and stem the job loss.”Davis was even more adamant about the ordinance.

“I don’t think men should be able to go in the women’s bathroom,” Davis said, adding even more questions about the ordinance.

“Nobody’s ever been pulled over for being gay in Kalamazoo.”
But what does the Gazette guide report?

Nicholas Boyd: I fully support this ordinance and am actively helping the One Kalamazoo campaign. One side of the issue that is often neglected is the effect on youth. I personally know gay, lesbian, and transgender teenagers — right here in Kalamazoo — who have been kicked out of their homes by their parents. This ordinance would help to keep them from becoming homeless.
This is the exact same answer given for Kyle Boyer, the candidate directly below, strongly suggesting that the Gazette simply copied his answer into the wrong position.

The Gazette did manage to report Aaron Davis' answer opposing the ordinance.

Was this just the usual sloppiness, or is is something more?