Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Best of The Western Right: 2013

This blog was less busy this year but still covered many topics. We had 115 posts this year. Here are some of the best posts of 2013.

2014 Michigan Primary Election Preview
2014 Michigan Congressional Races
2014 Michigan State Senate Elections
2014 Kalamazoo County Commission Election Preview
2013 Kalamazoo Election Preview

Conservative of the Year: Jeff Sessions
Recall the Alamo?
Portage Council Split
2012-2013 ACU Michigan Legislature Ratings
Wenke Running for Senate
No War for ???
Sean McCann Wants Unaccountable Redistricting
Fools for Trayvon
9-4 Michigan Congressional Map in 2020
My Immigration Plan
Gary Peters' Corrupt Bargain
How to Destroy the GOP in One Easy Step
Michigan Republicans did not lose 62% of Partisan Races
Carl Levin Out, Many Interested
Upton Wants to Give Illegal Aliens "Legitimacy"
Jeffrey Getting: Flip-flopper or Lying Weasel?

The Best of The Western Right: 2012
The Best of The Western Right: 2011
The Best of The Western Right: 2010
The Best of The Western Right: 2009
The Best of The Western Right: 2008
The Best of The Western Right: 2007
The Best of The Western Right: 2006

2013: The Year at Western

2013 was a fairly quiet year at Western, though there were a few significant controversies. Progress continued toward establishing a new medical school in downtown Kalamazoo.

Jack McHugh argued that Western could be damaged by the bursting of the college bubble.

One major battle was over Right to Work.  The Mackinac Center exposed an effort by WMU-AAUP to thwart right to work. The WMU-AAUP went forward with this effort. However, the administration didn't go along with it. They did approve a contract with part-timers to avoid Right to Work for three years.

The Western Herald sought subsidies through mandatory student fees. There was also an effort to raise fees for an aviation shuttle. Both were approved by small absolute numbers of students.

Governor Snyder appointed two new trustees, one of whom had never even been to Kalamazoo. There was controversy over a plan for a new Valley dining hall, which was eventually scrapped. This blog noted a likely reason that minority enrollment grew at WMU.

There was a major controversy over a supposed pay gap between male and female faculty. This led to wailing and gnashing of teeth. Eventually, WMU-AAUP voted to censure the Provost. Recalculated salary adjustments were eventually issued.

The Gazette discussed whether affiliation with Cooley Law School would be good for Western. Western voted to ban all smoking on campus.

2012: The Year at Western
2011: The Year at Western
2010: The Year at Western
2009: The Year at Western
2008: The Year at Western
2007: The Year at Western
2006: The Year at Western

Unz on Race amd Crime

Perhaps the most interesting article of the year was by Ron Unz.  His massive article on race and crime is packed with data and has plenty of interesting contentions.

Race and Crime in America 
The unspoken statistical reality of urban crime over the last quarter century.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Michigan GOP on Christmas

The last couple years, this blog has cataloged what greetings local Republicans use at Christmas.

GOP Leaders: Merry Christmas Happy Holidays!
GOP War on Christmas?

This year's results seem slightly better than last year's.

Rick Snyder: "Happy Holidays"
Brian Calley: "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays"
Bobby Schotak: "Happy Holidays"
Saul Anuzis: "Merry Christmas"
Bill Scheutte: "Merry Christmas"
Senator Tonya Schuitmaker: "May the joy of the Holiday Season and the blessings of Christmas..."
Speaker Jase Bolger: "Merry Christmas"
Aric Nesbitt: "Merry Christmas"
Kalamazoo GOP: "Merry Christmas"
Todd Courser: "Merry Christmas"
Ron Weiser: "Merry Christmas"

Please post any additional data you have in the comments.

Conservative of the Year: Jeff Sessions

2013 was a year for conservatives to push back against the left.  After the depression following Obama's reelection, the left foolishly pushed for gun control.  Conservatives led by Ted Cruz and Rand Paul led the resistance to the plan, which quickly died in the senate.  Some bills did pass in individual states, but recalls in Colorado pushed back strongly against this.

Senator Cruz also led the resistance to Obamacare.  He led a filibuster in the Senate and encouraged demands for its repeal which led to a temporary government shutdown whose merits are still being debated.  But no conservative can claim credit for the spectacular failure of Obamacare, whose failure has been more dramatic than conservatives dared hope.

But conservatives' biggest defensive victory was the failure of amnesty (comprehensive immigration reform) in Congress despite much hype and pressure by the left.  The chief opponent of amnesty in the Senate was Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama.  He fought tirelessly against the awful Senate bill, while many other conservative lawmakers preferred to avoid the issue.  Sessions deserves our thanks for leading the fight against this terrible bill.  That makes him this blog's conservative of the year.

Previous winners (including retroactive):
2012: Ted Cruz
2011: Scott Walker
2010: Jim DeMint
2009: Glenn Beck
2008: Sarah Palin
2007: Ron Paul
2006: Jerome Corsi
2005: Tom Tancredo
2004: John O'Neill
2003: Roy Moore
2002: John Ashcroft
2001: George W. Bush
2000: William Rehnquist

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Recall the Alamo?

Alamo Township has been the site of a power struggle for several years now.

5 of 6 recall petitions against Alamo Township supervisor, trustee approved by election commission

Longtime Supervisor Bob Vlietstra was unopposed in 2004.  He narrowly survived in the Republican primary in 2008.  He easily survived a recall attempt in 2009.  He finally lost the 2012 Republican primary to Lou Conti.  Most of his allies, except the treasurer, also lost to Conti's "We Care" slate.

The recall attempt had something to do with a new gravel pit that the township didn't really have much choice in accepting.  Beyond that, there didn't seem to be any major issues at stake.

Now the county election commission has approved petitions to recall Conti and longtime Trustee Dawn Potter-Williams.  The allegations are that Conti made lewd gestures toward one of his critics following a board meeting.  He denies this; it seems to be a case of he-said/she-said.  After critics were rowdy at a subsequent board meeting, he abruptly adjourned the meeting with the support of Potter-Williams.

As far as I can tell, there don't seem to be any more substantive issues at stake.  If opponents get the signatures, which seems likely, there will be a recall election in May, unless they resign.  Conti seems eager to fight, but I wouldn't be too surprised if Potter-Williams resigned and let Conti put one of his allies on the board.

All those involved are nominally Republican, but only Potter-Williams has been involved in the local GOP.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Portage Council Split

The Portage City Council is divided.

Richard Ford wins drawing to become newest member of Portage City Council; Jim Pearson named mayor pro-tem

For years, the Portage Council has been fairly harmonious, run by moderate, "good government" types, many affiliates with the Rotary Club.  There was some minor controversy when Margaret O'Brien was elected, criticizing how road assessments were funded, but that eventually died down.

In 2009, Patricia Randall was elected to a two-year term on a platform criticizing the Portage assessor's office.  She got some investigation of the office, but it did not find the problems she believes exist.  This led to conflict with some of the other council members.

In 2011, Randall's absence at several board meetings was attacked by councilman Ed Sackley, but this backfired when she revealed that she was being treated for breast cancer.  She was reelected, and her ally Jim Pearson was elected to an open seat, defeating Cory Bailes, who is an ally of the other board members.

Before the 2013 election, council member Elizabeth Campbell had resigned after she was caught embezzling from the Portage Rotary Club.  The council again appointed Cory Bailes to fill the vacancy until the November election.

Also in 2013, Sackley retired, and Nasim Ansari won the open seat, with Richard Ford finishing fourth.  Ansari was a county commissioner 2002-2012 and city council member before that. Ford is a political newcomer.

After the election, the council had to appoint a new mayor pro-tem, a largely ceremonial position.  The council split 3-3, with Mayor Peter Strazdas and council members Terry Urban and Claudette Reid voting for Urban, and Randall, Pearson, and Ansari supporting Pearson.  The same split was repeated over several votes in multiple meetings.

The council then had to fill Campbell's seat for the next two years.  They again split 3-3, with Randall's group supporting Ford, and the others supporting former Mayor Betty Ongley.  They eventually agreed to pull a name out of a hat, and Ford was selected.  He then broke the tie for vice-mayor 4-3 in favor of Pearson.

It isn't clear whether there are any larger political implications.  None of those involved are democrats.  Only Ansari and Strazdas have had any significant involvement with the Republican party.  Aside from the assessment issue, it isn't clear whether there are any other issues dividing the council.

Time will tell.

Parchment Chickens Out

What's new in Parchment?

Chicken ordinance debate in Parchment heads to zoning board
Parchment city commissioners, sharply divided on whether to keep abreast of a trend toward allowing city dwellers to keep chickens as pets, sent the debate winging its way to the Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday for the next leg of the hen habitation hubbub.
I see what you did there.
Meanwhile, the Posts, of Parchment, whose peccant poultry provoked the predicament, were able to breathe a sigh of relief, being pretty much assured by the commission that no matter what is decided, they will be able to keep their feathered friends.

The article goes on to divide Parchment city commissioners into "pro-chicken" and "anti-chicken".  Read the whole thing.

Friday, December 06, 2013

WMU Goes Smokeless

Western has adopted a no-smoking policy for the entire campus starting next August.  This is an issue that can reasonably be decided by what the majority of those on campus want.  Nonetheless, it is curious that Western is doing this despite the fact that they didn't enforce their previous policy of no smoking within 25 feet of buildings.

Western Michigan University Board of Trustees approves new tobacco-free policy

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Congratulations, Judge Pierangeli

Congratulations to Scott Pierangeli, who was appointed to the Kalamazoo County Probate Court.

Scott Pierangeli, former Kalamazoo County assistant prosecutor, appointed probate court judge

Pierangeli lost a tough race for Kalamazoo County Prosecutor in 2012 to Jeffrey Getting, who fired Pierangeli after winning the election.  Pierangeli was previously secretary of the Kalamazoo GOP 2008-2012.

Another State Senate Candidate

There is another Republican candidate for state senate.

Kalamazoo resident Ron Zuiderveen Jr. announces he will seek state Senate seat
Zuiderveen Jr., who hasn't previously held public office, said in a statement announcing his release that he intends to run as "the people's candidate" because he believes in limited government and personal responsibility.  
Zuiderveen Jr., 46, said a few years ago he was divorced, lost his home to foreclosure and his car was repossessed. He said his handicapped son, Steven, also died around this time.  
But, in the past year, Zuiderveen Jr. says he has rededicated his life to Christianity and felt compelled to run for public office.
His platform isn't too specific, although he sounds fairly conservative.  A first-time candidate is unlikely to beat established politicians such as O'Brien and Wenke, but he could hurt O'Brien if he attracts conservatives upset at her votes on Medicaid expansion and Common Core.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

2014 Kalamazoo County Commission Election Preview

This post was last updated October 22, 2014.

Republicans won a 6-5 majority on the Kalamazoo County Commission in 2010. The map is likely to maintain a Republican majority, but several districts will have competitive races. Six incumbents will retire, four to run for state representative.  Only two of the remaining commissioners were in office before 2010.  These are Republican Jeff Heppler and democrat John Taylor, who were both elected in 2002.  They are probably the favorites to be the leaders of the commission next year.

Incumbents are marked below with asterisks. The following post has detailed descriptions of the districts and their political leanings. The numbers given are the percentage the Republican county commission candidate got in 2012, Mitt Romney's 2-party percentage in 2012, and Ruth Johnson's percentage in 2010.

Kalamazoo County Commission Districts.

List of Kalamazoo County Candidates

District 1 [N Kalamazoo] Safe Democrat
R% 2012: 13.9 Romney: 13.5 Johnson: 20.3
Democrat: Stephanie Moore
Republican: none
Carolyn Alford, who has held office since 2006, is retiring. She defeated fellow incumbent Robert Barnard in this minority-majority district in 2012.  Moore is a Kalamazoo city commissioner who has been convicted of several crimes over the years.  She won the primary with 55% over Barnard (21%), Vicki Cohn (13%), and Rico White (11%).

District 2 [SE Kalamazoo] Safe Democrat
R% 2012: 0 Romney: 28.1 Johnson: 33.4
Democrat: Kevin Wordelman
Republican: David Lee
Incumbent David Buskirk, who is the board vice-chairman and has held this seat since 1992, retired to run for the democrat nomination in the 60th state house district, which he lost. Wordelman, a union organizer at WMU, defeated Jeremy Orr 68-32 in the primary.

District 3 [SW Kalamazoo] Safe Democrat
R% 2012: 31.1 Romney: 30.1 Johnson: 37.2
Democrat: John Taylor*
Republican: Sonjalita Hulbert
Taylor, who was first elected in 2002 by 13 votes, is safe here.  He was recently elected chair of the Kalamazoo democrat party.  Hulbert is a black conservative.

District 4 [Kalamazoo Twp, Parchment] Safe Democrat
R% 2012: 32.2 Romney: 31.7 Johnson: 41.8
Democrat: Michael Seals*
Republican: none
Seals, who defeated fellow democrat Franklin Thompson in 2010, is unopposed.

District 5 [Alamo, N Oshtemo, NW Kalamazoo Twp] Likely Democrat
R% 2012: 44.3 Romney: 47.2 Johnson: 56.9
Democrat: Julie Rogers*
Republican: Chuck Ybema
Rogers defeated David Worthams in 2012 to win this swingy open seat.  Ybema was the Republican nominee for state rep in the 60th district in 2008 before moving here.

District 6 [Cooper, Richland, Ross] Safe Republican
R% 2012: 54 Romney: 54.7 Johnson: 62.9
Democrat: none
Republican: Jeff Heppler*
Heppler has been on the board since 2002. In 2012, he defeated Tom Novak, who had applied for an open seat claiming to be an independent and received the votes of all the democrats. Heppler won the 2014 primary with 53% over Linda Winters (29%) and Neal Turluck (17%), who finished third in the 2012 primary.

District 7 [Comstock, Galesburg, Charleston, Climax, Wakeshma] Lean Republican
R% 2012: 50.9 Romney: 50.6 Johnson: 59.3
Democrat: David Burgess
Republican: Roger Tuinier*
Tuinier, who is a greenhouse owner, barely defeated Leroy Crabtree in 2012.  Crabtree defeated Republican incumbent Joe VanBruggen 50.7-49.3 in 2006. He was defeated by Ann Nieuwenhuis in 2008 54.5-45.5, and lost a rematch in 2010 61.9-38.1.  Burgess is a Comstock Township Trustee who finished fourth of eight candidates in 2012.

District 8 [Pavillion, Brady, Schoolcraft, Prairie Ronde] Safe Republican
R% 2012: 100 Romney: 55.1 Johnson: 63.5
Democrat: Bret Willis
Republican: John Gisler
Moderate Republican board chairman David Maturen, who has been on the board since 2002, is running for state house in the 63rd district.  Former commissioner John Gisler, who deferred to him in the 2012 Republican primary, is running this year.

District 9 [Texas, SE Oshtemo] Safe Republican
R% 2012: 53.9 Romney: 51.7 Johnson: 62.5
Democrat: Scott Spicer
Republican: Dale Shugars
Brandt Iden, who was elected in 2010, is running for state house in the 61st district.  Shugars is a conservative former state senator (1994-2002) and state rep (1990-1994).  He won 72% to moderate Brian Kovacik's 28%.  Spicer lost a dem primary for county commission in 2010.

District 10 [W Portage] Likely Republican
R% 2012: 52.8 Romney: 49.4 Johnson: 58.8
Democrat: Larry Provancher
Republican: Stan Runyon
Conservative Republican Phil Stinchcomb defeated democrat Michael Quinn 56.4-43.6 in 2010, and defeated Connor Farrell in 2012.  Stinchcomb lost a bid for state house in the 61st district.  Runyon is the Kalamazoo GOP Treasurer.  Provancher, who is 78, was a democrat county commissioner representing central Portage 1995-2002.  He defeated Mary Roscoe 61-39 in the primary.

District 11 [E Portage] Likely Republican
R% 2012: 52.5 Romney: 47.5 Johnson: 56.5
Democrat: Jamie Jager
Republican: Scott McGraw
John Zull, who has been on the board since 2000, is retiring. In 2012, he defeated Jamie Jager, who was nominated as a write-in.  McGraw formerly worked for the Kalamazoo Homebuilders Association and now runs the Kalamazoo Business Alliance.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Spending in Oshtemo

Oshtemo will be taxing more and spending more.

Oshtemo Township board approves 1 percent pay hike for officials, increases meeting pay for trustees
The board voted Tuesday to raise the salaries for the supervisor, clerk and treasurer 1 percent to $64,653 each.  
The trustees’ annual salary of $2,400 was approved unchanged.

Their per-meeting pay for township board meetings will go from $50 to $100, while their committee meeting pay will stay at $50 per meeting.
Oshtemo Township raises assessments for police protection, looks to put more deputies on patrol
The township board voted unanimously Tuesday to set the rates at 1.25 mills for the residential, agricultural and industrial properties in district 2009-1 and 3.25 for the commercial, multi-family and high-density residential properties in district 2003-1.

Currently, district 2009-1 pays 0.5 mills and district 2003-1 pays 2.5 mills.

With the change in rates, the owner of a home with a market value of $144,000 -- the average in Oshtemo Township – will pay $90 a year, up from $36 currently, starting in 2014.

For a commercial property with a market value of $736,086 -- the average in Oshtemo -- the change means a tax increase from $954 to $1,240 annually. For a multi-family property with a market value of $2,471,784 -- the average in Oshtemo -- the change means an increase from $3,089 to $4,016.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Another candidate in 63

Marshall school board president Vic Potter is the second candidate to run for the Republican nomination in the 63rd district after Dave Maturen.

Marshall school board president files for 63rd District seat

UPDATE: Marshall school board president Victor Potter announces run for 63rd District state House seat

Thursday, November 07, 2013

David Maturen Running for State House District 63

Kalamazoo County commission chairman David Maturen is running for state house in the district of term-limited House Speaker Jase Bolger.

Kalamazoo County Board Chair David Maturen announces candidacy for state House
“My number one priority is building on the efforts of Gov. Snyder and the Republican legislative delegation to once again make Michigan a magnet for job creation” Maturen said. “Requiring sensible regulatory reforms, ensuring efficient and effective delivery of governmental services and keeping taxes low to allow businesses to reinvest in equipment and technology and families to keep more of their had earned dollars to spend on their priorities, will all aid in achieving that goal.”
This is little surpirising, but maybe it shouldn't be. Maturen was interested in running in 2008, but deferred to Bolger.  He was elected to the county commission in 2002 and hasn't had a competitive race since then.

Maturen represents about 23000 people in county commission district 8, which includes Prairie Ronde, Schoolcraft, Brady, Pavilion, and Portage 2.  However, only Brady and Pavilion are in the 63rd. They together have about 10,500 people.  Furthermore, Maturen has only had Pavilion for one term, leaving Brady (pop 4200) as his core base.  That's only about 5% of the district.

There are several other possible candidates.  Former Calhoun GOP chairman and former Calhoun County Commissioner Greg Moore have both been mentioned as candidates, but neither seem to have announced yet.  Moore lost the 62nd district 38-62 in 2008, and Mobley lost it 45-55 in 2010.  Both are now in the 63rd due to redistricting.

Election Results

All the incumbents were reelected in Kalamazoo.  Bobby Hopewell won a fourth term as Mayor and sixth on the commission.  David Andersen will be vice-mayor, succeeding Hannah McKinney, who retired.  The other incumbents in descending order were Don Cooney, Barb Miller, Robert Cinabro, and Stephanie Moore.  The seventh seat will go to former democrat county commissioner Jack Urban.  The runners up were Tracy Hall, Jeff Weisman, Nicholas Boyd, Rico White, Mike Perrin, E Allen Hayes, Birletta Bean-Hardeman, Fred Lawrence. Republicans remain shut out here.

In Portage, Pete Strazdas was reelected Mayor unopposed.  Incumbents Claudette Reid and Terry Urban finished first an third.  Republican former county commissioner Nasim Ansari finished second; he will fill the seat of Ed Sackley.  Richard Ford finished fourth. This could be important, as there is an open seat following the resignation of Elizabeth Campbell, and the runner up is commonly appointed to an open seat in Portage. Unqualified 25-year-old democrat Connor Farrell finished a disappointing fifth.  Kevin Park was sixth.

There were a bunch of other elections scattered across the country. See this excellent roundup from RedRacingHorses:

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Goodacre Running in 60

The 60th district race already has David Buskirk and Jon Hoadley, and it's getting more crowded.

Kalamazoo Township Trustee Pamela Goodacre announces 2014 state House run
"Earlier this year members of our local and state community approached me to discuss the need for my candidacy to run for the Michigan 60th District House of Representatives," said Goodacre, who revealed in September that she was considering a run. "After much consideration and prayer, I am very excited to announce my decision to step up to the challenge."

Goodacre currently works as an intermittent lecturer for the University of Michigan and has served as a Kalamazoo Township Trustee since 2012. She said her work as an educator has made her want to be a voice for education in the state.

"As an educator, I believe in the necessity for not only job creation but also training, education and job preparation," Goodacre said. "I stand firmly for social justices, education and job creation."

Goodacre said she is trying to step up to provide more Democratic voice in Lansing for those she believes are underrepresented.

"In the past, I have been a strong advocate for families, women and children’s rights, public education, sensible gun laws, a living wage, and issues of equality, diversity and inclusion," she said. "These 21st Century issues warrant different actions and a different dedication."

Monday, November 04, 2013

Phil's In

County commissioner Phil Stinchcomb is officially running for state rep in the 61st district.

Kalamazoo County Commissioner Phil Stinchcomb announces 2014 state House bid
"I am motivated by three reasons -- 1) Valerie, 2) Tyler, 3) Michael -- My three children," Stinchcomb said in a press release. "I cannot stand back and watch progressives of Lansing or Washington D.C. steal our posterity's future."
What could that be a reference to?


Previous: Phil Stinchcomb for State House

Upton for Amnesty, Again

The stupid party strikes again.

Congressman Fred Upton says he will be part of 'bipartisan effort' to pass immigration reform this fall
A bipartisan approach has more chance of success than trying to persuade hard-liners in the Republican caucus, he said.  
"There are people that will never be a yes vote," he said. "There are some that want to send all 11 million home. That doesn't happen ... Let's just take that off the table."
Let's not.  Bipartisanship is when democrats and Republicans get together to screw the public.
Upton, however, stopped short of calling for a pathway to citizenship, saying, "We need somewhat of a pathway to legal status."
No citizenship would protect Republican politicians (for a while, anyways), but would leave illegals free to take your jobs.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Kalamazoo City Commission Fundraising Reports

The Gazette reports on the fundraising for Kalamazoo City Commission candidates.

Mayor Bobby Hopewell leads fundraising for Kalamazoo City Commission campaigns; incumbents outraising challengers by nearly 2-to-1 margin
  • Incumbent Mayor Booby Hopewell raised $16,697 so far in his bid for re-election. Hopewell had $7,652.34 left as carryover from his last campaign, and has spent a total of $11,935.44
  • Incumbent Bob Cinabro has raised $11,950.77 and spent $11,144.41.
  • Incumbent David Anderson has raised $9,805 and spent $8,153.
  • Newcomer Jeff Weisman has raised $9,645 and spent $3,852.
  • Incumbent Barb Miller has raised $8,130 and spent $6,279.
  • Newcomer Tracy Hall has raised $7,135 and spent $5,195.
  • Newcomer Jack Urban has raised $6,785 and spent $5,368.
  • Incumbent Don Cooney has raised $4,735 and spent $4,692.
  • Newcomer Nick Boyd has raised $1,340 and spent $1,286.
  • Newcomer E. Allen Hayes has raised $3,305 and spent $3,189.
Based on these figures, it would seem that Weisman, Hall, Urban, or Hayes are the most likely to win the open seat.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Dordt v. Sebelius

Two Christian colleges, Dordt College in Iowa and Cornerstone in Grand Rapids, are suing the federal government over the contraception mandate in Obamacare.

Iowa college sues over health care contraception mandate
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A Christian school in West Michigan has joined a college in Iowa in a lawsuit opposing the federal health care law's contraception provision.

Grand Rapids-based Cornerstone University and Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, filed the suit Wednesday in federal court in Iowa.

They're challenging requirements that employee and student health insurance plans provide free coverage of contraceptive services, including contraceptives that cause early abortions.

The schools say that as a matter of religious conviction "it would be sinful and immoral" to intentionally support access to abortion "which destroys human life."

Cornerstone and Dordt could face fines for non-compliance.

Criminals Demand Amnesty

Another rally for amnesty by illegal aliens.

Immigration reform march draws 300 activists to the Kalamazoo Mall

The article contains the usual sob stories.
Esteban Reaser, 11, used a megaphone to tell the crowd the story of how his father was deported in June. 

"I was devastated, sad and angry," Reaser said. "My little sister Bella still cries for him almost every night. We were just getting to spend more time with my dad."

Reaser has a 10-year-old brother and a 7-year-old sister.

"I'm out here for all the kids like me," he said. "We need the law fixed so that other people don't lose their dads too."

Events like these help neighbors and friends "step out of the shadows," he said.

"If my dad were here, he'd be really proud of me," Reaser said.
Having children is not an excuse to break the law.  Families can always reunite in their home counties.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Brandt Iden Running for State House

Kalamazoo County Commissioner Brandt Iden is running for State House in the 61st district.

Kalamazoo County Commissioner Brandt Iden announces run for state representative
"I want to commend Representative O'Brien for her leadership and her service to the constituents in our 61st district," said Iden, a Republican commissioner, in a statement. "I wish her the best of luck and want to support her in her candidacy for state Senate."
Iden is probably correct that supporting Margaret helps more than ticking off Lorence Wenke hurts.
Iden said he plans to make job growth in Michigan a priority. He said other key issues include: property tax reform, fiscal responsibility and finding creative, responsible solutions for Michigan's aging infrastructure.

"We need thoughtful, progressive leadership on these issues. I believe with my track record of service to the community, and my experience as a small business owner, I will be the right public servant for the people of the 61st District and the state of Michigan," said Iden.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

2012-2013 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 second ratings of the Michigan state legislature.

ACU State Ratings 2013--MI

Their PDF is hard to read, so I will summarize the relevant information here.

ACU rated 20 house votes and 16 senate votes from 2012 and 2013.  Their timing is curious, since this overlaps distinct legislative sessions.  This isn't a big deal for the state senate, which wasn't up for election in 2012, but the composition of the state house changed significantly.  Thus some state reps are rated only for 2012 (12 votes) or 2013 (8 votes)  Fourteen of the bills are the same for both halves of the legislature. The most common topics for the state house votes were taxes (4 votes), gun rights and hunting (4), and education (3).  The most common topic for the state senate votes was gun rights and hunting (5 votes).

ACU Michigan state senate ratings 2012/2013:

100%: Brandenberg, Hune
93-94%: Colbeck, Green, Robertson
88%: Meekhof, Moolenaar, Pavlov, Schuitmaker
81%: Booher, Hildenbrand, Jansen, Pappageorge, Proos, Rocca
75-77%: Caswell, Emmons, Jones, Kowall, Marleau, Richardville, Walker
69%: Hansen, Kahn, Nofs
56%: Casperson
30%: Gleason
13%: Andersen, Bieda, Hunter
6%: Gregory, Hood, Hopgood, Johnson, Smith, Whitmer, Young
0%: Warren

The average for the Republicans was 78%.  The average for the democrats was 9%.  The overall average was 59%, which was down slightly from 62% in the previous ratings.

The biggest changes from 2012 were Richardville (-14), Jansen (-13), Green (+17), Walker (-19), Casperson (-16).

Joe Hune repeated his perfect score from before, and was joined by Jack Brandenberg.  The lowest-scoring Republican was again Tom Casperson, who put up a pathetic 56%.  Next-lowest were Geoff Hansen (tough district), Roger Kahn (tough district, term-limited), and Mike Nofs, who has no excuses.  The highest-scoring democrat was John Gleason, who resigned after being elected Genesee County Clerk.  He was replaced by the more liberal Jim Ananich (25%).

Notably, the democrats are almost all solidly liberal, while the Republican scores are more spread out.  Nonetheless, there is a clear partisan divide.

Here are the 2012 scores for comparison.

100%: Hune
94%: Brandenberg, Jansen, Pavlov, Robertson, Walker
89%: Colbeck, Emmons, Hildenbrand, Kowall, Meekhof, Richardville
83%: Booher, Jones, Marleau, Moolenaar, Pappageorge, Rocca, Schuitmaker
76-78%: Caswell, Green, Hansen, Kahn, Proos
72%: Casperson, Nofs
28%: Gleason
22%: Hunter
17%: Bieda
11-13%: Andersen, Johnson, Smith, Young
6%: Gregory, Hood, Hopgood, Warren, Whitmer

ACU Michigan state house ratings 2012/2013 (rounded to nearest 5%):

100%: Agema**
90%: Dianda*, Kelly*, Leonard*, Lund, Olson**, Roy Schmidt**
85%: Franz, Genetski, Goike, Hooker, Huuki**, Knollenberg**, Lafontaine, McMillin, Opsommer**, Somerville
80%: Bumstead, Cotter, Farrington, Haines, Heise, MacGregor, MacMaster
75%: Daley, Damrow**, Gilbert**, Graves, Jenkins, Lauwers*, Moss**, Muxlow, Nesbitt, Ouimet**, Price,  Rendon, Schaughnessy**, Shirkey, Verheulen**, Victory**, Yonker
70%: Bolger, Crawford, Haveman, Jacobsen, Johnson, Kowall, Kurtz, O'Brien, Outman, Pettalia, Poleski, Potvin, Pscholka, Rogers, Wayne Schmidt, Stamas, Tyler**, Walsh
65%: Callton, Cochran*, Denby, Foster, Glardon, Howrylak*, Kesto*, Lyons, Pagel*
60%: Forlini, Horn**, Hughes**, McBroom, Zorn
50%: Abed*, Brinks*, Driskell*, Lamonte*, Lavoy*, McCready*, Yanez*
45%: Brunner, Lori, Oakes, Smiley
40%: Faris*, Kivela*, LeBlanc*, Olumba
35%: Dillon, Lane, Stapleton**
30%: Brown, McCann, Nathan, Santana, Segal
25%: Ananich, Banks*, Cavanaugh, Geiss, Greimel, Knezek*, Kosowski, Liss**, Slavens, Zemke*
20%: Clemente, Durhal, Haugh, Hobbs, Lindberg**, Stallworth, Stanley, Talabi
15%: Barnett, Byrun**, Constan**, Hovey-Wright, Irwin, Kandrevas, Lipton, Roberts*, Robinson*, Rutledge, Schor*, Singh*, Tlaib
10%: Bauer**, Bledsoe**, Darany, Hammel**, Howze**, Meadows**, Switalski
5%: Townsend
0%: Jackson**, Womack**

* assumed office in 2013
** left office after 2012

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

In the state house, Dave Agema was again the only member to score 100%.  He was term-limited in 2012, and elected Republican National Committeeman that year. Pete Lund scored 90%, along with retiring Rick Olson, and party-switcher Roy Schmidt.  The lowest-scoring Republican was Matt Lori (45%).  Next-lowest were five scoring 60%.

Democrat Scott Dianda scored a surprising 88% (7/8), after topping a Tea Party scorecard earlier.  He scored better than Matt Huuki, the Republican he beat in 2012.  Several other newly-elected democrats scored perhaps unreasonably high scores on the eight votes in 2013.  Tom Cochran got 63%, and all eight with 50% are democrats.

The largest positive changes were Talabi (+14), Olumba (+38), Stallworth (+16), Nathan (+13), Santana (+24), Cavanaugh (+13), Geiss (+12), Lipton (+15), Greimel (+12), Stanley (+12), Hobbs (+14), Barnett (+15), Smiley (+27), McCann (+12), Segal (+12), Oakes (+27), Brunner (+20). All are democrats.

The largest negative changes were Walsh (-24), Forlini (-22), Townsend (-14), Crawford (-18), Rogers (-18), Kowall (-18), Jacobsen (-18), Denby (-23), Zorn (-22), Jenkins (-13), Lori (-43), O'Brien (-18), Bolger (-18), Poleski (-18), Shirkey (-19), Nesbitt (-13), Outman (-18), Yonker (-13), MacGregor (-14), Pscholka (-18), Daley (-13), Lyons (-23), Callton (-23), Price (-19), Haveman (-24), Johnson (-12), Stamas (-18), Potvin (-18), Schmidt (-18), Pettalia (-12), Foster (-23), McBroom (-23). All except Townsend are Republicans.

Notably, Republican scores consistently fell and democrat scores rose from the previous ratings. While one might think that representatives were positioning themselves for the 2012 election, all but two votes took place after that election. It could be that ACU chose less polarizing votes to score this time, though this was not obviously the case on the senate side. The partisan divide was much less clear in the house.

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 heading into the 2014 primary and general elections.

Previous: 2012 ACU Michigan Legislature Ratings

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Tom Barrett for State House

Here is Tom Barrett's announcement that he is running for state house in the 71st district.

Previous: Tom Barrett for State Representative

Phil Stinchcomb for State House

Kalamazoo County Commissioner Phil Stinchcomb made an unofficial announcement that he intends to run for state house in the 61st district.

Margaret Runs for Senate

Margaret O'Brien has made it official.

State Rep. Margaret O'Brien to run for state Senate
O'Brien will join state Rep. Sean McCann, D-Kalamazoo, and former Republican state Rep. Lorence Wenke as candidates seeking to replace state Senator Tonya Schuitmaker in the 20th District, which includes all of Kalamazoo County.

Schuitmaker announced last month that she intends to run in the new 26th District, which now includes her hometown of Lawton after district lines were redrawn.
Here is the press release:


Dear Friends,

I am very excited to announce that I am seeking election to the Michigan State Senate in the 20th District, which includes all of Kalamazoo County.

As a lifelong Kalamazoo County resident, I am committed to this community. Southwest Michigan deserves a leader who demands accountability in government and has a strong track record of providing solutions.

I was first elected in 2010 to the State House, having first served on the Portage City Council from 2003-2010. During my time as a City Council member, I was a champion of transparency, fiscal responsibility and customer service.

As a mom of two, I share the same concerns of other parents in our community. It is important that we do more to create jobs in Michigan, and implement common sense solutions to Michigan problems. Our state is making a comeback. We balanced the State budget on time without gimmicks. Housing prices are rebounding, population is growing again, and we can't go back to the old days of taxing and spending.

During my time in office, I have sponsored legislation improving public education, lowering taxes, protecting our most vulnerable and removing regulations that hurt small businesses, particularly in Southwest Michigan.

I have lived in Portage for the last 22 years with my husband and two teenaged children. As a former social worker with Catholic Family Services and REALTOR® for the last 10 years with RE/MAX Advantage, I believe I have the skills, compassion, and work ethic to be your next State Senator.

I sincerely appreciate your support and would love to get you involved in my campaign. For more information on how to volunteer or donate, please contact me at margaret@margaretobrien.com or by phone at 269-324-9626.

Thank you so much for allowing me to serve you. We have a lot of work ahead but I look forward to making our community an even better place to live and work for years to come.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Kalamazoo Income Tax?

The new Kalamazoo city manager is proposing an income tax in Kalamazoo.  Of course, this would only encourage productive people to move to Portage or the townships.

Battle Creek's Jim Ritsema picked as next Kalamazoo city manager by commissioners
When it comes to budgeting, Ritsema said he likes to budget for the long term, not one-time fixes. When asked how he would enhance city revenue, Ritsema proposed an income tax, which Battle Creek has. Even though it is hard to sell, he said, Kalamazoo could band together with Portage and neighboring townships and could identify a service and tie a revenue stream to it that could be voted on, such as an income tax.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Armed Self-Defense

Looks like another case of self-defense with a gun, this time in the Edison neighborhood.

Man shot while trying to break into home in Edison neighborhood, police say
Kalamazoo man, who told police he shot intruder in his Edison neighborhood home, not in custody

Another Candidate in 60?

The democrat primary in the 60th district may be even more contested.

Kalamazoo Township Trustee Pamela Goodacre considering 2014 state House run
Goodacre, who works as an intermittent lecturer for the University of Michigan, said she has spent much of her life campaigning for different social issues as a citizen. When she was elected to the township board last year, she saw the need for more elected officials like her.
People who run for office usually do.
"We need a very strong woman and person of color with a voice," Goodacre said.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Primary for Buskirk

Dave Buskirk may not have a free ride after all.

Jon Hoadley announces state House bid; will face Buskirk in primary
Hoadley, a Democrat, first moved to Kalamazoo in 2009 when he was recruited by United Way to lead the campaign for local human rights ordinances. However, this will be his first campaign as a candidate.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Check Again

The crisis at Western continues...

Western Michigan University delays issuing gender equity adjustments to female faculty
"Hundreds of faculty women campus-wide, who were eligible for equity increases, have seen no adjustments, even though the adjustments were to have been made by the beginning of their Sept. 10 paychecks. They received no warning that they should not expect the promised adjustments. They just opened their checks and were disappointed once again," Bill Warren, secretary of the WMU's chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said at the WMU Board of Trustees meeting this week.
At Western, employees get paid via direct deposit, so there are no paychecks to open.  So this didn't happen once, much less hundreds of times.
The union pointed out in a letter to its membership dated Sept. 18 that the signed 2011 contract requires that the administration take action. In the letter, Minnick also took issue with the fact that faculty were not notified directly about the delay. 
"Of course the administration should have communicated this to the faculty (along with an explanation) in advance of the first Fall 2013 paychecks, rather than just leaving everyone wondering, not to mention leaving a lot of significantly underpaid colleagues devastated when they saw no adjustment in their September 10 paychecks and believed they'd been passed over," the letter reads. "The good news in all this is that there is still hope for these colleagues, but I wish they could have been spared the unnecessary hurt in the meantime."
They were devastated! They were hurt!  But there's still hope!


Previous: Western Pay Gap?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Wenke Running for Senate

Oh, Great.

Former state Rep. Lorence Wenke announces state Senate bid

Wenke is a good example that being more moderate doesn't necessarily make you more electable.  Let's review his recent electoral track record.

Wenke ran for state senate in 2010, losing to Tonya in the primary.
Incredibly, Wenke did not win a single precinct of his former district. He didn't get as much as 40% in any of them. Perhaps this shouldn't be so surprising though, as Wenke lost the Kalamazoo County portion of his old district in 2004 and 2006, the last two times he ran for election. Both times he was saved by the Calhoun County portion of the district. He survived by fewer than 100 votes in 2004 after voting against an initiative to correctly define marriage, and won by a few points in 2006. In both cases he beat former Rep. Jerry VanderRoest, outspending him by huge margins. Evidently he remains unpopular in his own district, and was overwhelmed by a candidate who could match him dollar-for-dollar.

Wenke did win six precincts (K Twp 1, Kalamazoo City 3, 8, 14, 17, 23) in the 60 district. He tied Tonya in four others, Cooper 5, K Twp 2, Kalamazoo City 5, 19.
Was his problem just in the primary?  Wenke then ran for Gull Lake School Board in 2011. The results:

Laura Burr: 39.4%
Loyal Eldridge: 36.8%
Lorence Wenke: 13.7%
Paul Foust: 10.0%

The candidate Wenke beat was a college student.

A year later, Wenke ran for school board again.

Lin Marklin: 58.4%
Lorence Wenke: 41.6%

The voters don't like Lorence Wenke.  They haven't since at least 2006.

But now he's running for state senate again.  If he can't beat obscure school board members, how is he going to beat Margaret O'Brien or Sean McCann?  He won't.  But he will waste another couple hundred grand in the process.  If he runs a negative campaign like he did in 2010, he could hurt Margaret's chances in the general.

Money On Fire Update!
Analysis of the 20th Senate Primary
Gazette on Wenke
Wenke for Senate in Kalamazoo
Wenke for Senate?
The Latest from Lorence
Wenke Supports Hate Crimes Law

Tax Increases Aren't Fair

Internet Sales Tax One Step Closer to Reality in Michigan
Rep. O'Brien said the bills are reasonable.

"The conservative policies guiding taxation are based on [the] simplest, broadest and fairest tax," Rep. O'Brien said. "Enforcing existing laws supports Michigan job creators and ensures a competitive playing field for all businesses.

"Anyone saying this is a tax increase, expansion, or new tax is in reality supporting the non-compliance of existing tax laws and is being dishonest about the issue," she continued. "The evasion of taxes is never a platform I will promote and I'm shocked by some who have suggested it is good policy."
You can argue whether this is technically a tax increase, but it isn't arguable that the result of this bill would be to take more money away from taxpayers.  That is not a goal that any conservative should support.  This bill is being sold in the name of fairness, but there is nothing fair about taking more of people's money from them.

Aside from that, the politics of this bill are just terrible.  Does anyone other than a few big retailers support this?  Hopefully the legislature has the sense to kill this.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tonya Makes Her Move

The long-anticipated announcement is finally here.


Senator Tonya Schuitmaker running for re-election in new 26th District

Paw Paw, MI -State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker announced today she will be seeking re-election to the Michigan State Senate in the 26th District, which includes Van Buren County, Allegan County, and Kentwood and Gaines Township in Kent County.

“I am a lifelong resident of Van Buren County and I am not going to move for political purposes. It isn’t right for my family and it isn’t right for the citizens of Michigan,” Schuitmaker said. “The people of West Michigan have created a great place to live, work and vacation here along the beautiful lakeshore and I look forward to representing such a wonderful community.”

“Michigan is on the road to recovery, but we’re not there yet,” she said. “Lower taxes and less regulation have driven our recovery. We cannot go back to the failed tax-and-spend policies of the past. Hard work and innovation-not government-will continue to lead Michigan to renewed prosperity and a brighter future.”

Schuitmaker currently represents the 20th Senate District, which includes all of Kalamazoo County, as well as Paw Paw and Antwerp Townships in Van Buren County. After the 2010 census, district lines were redrawn and Schuitmaker’s family home in Lawton is now included in the 26th District.
Schuitmaker was first elected to the Michigan Senate in 2010. She is the current President Pro Tempore of the Senate as well as Chairperson of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education.

During her first term Schuitmaker sponsored legislation improving government transparency, increasing penalties for elder abuse, holding universities accountable for the tax dollars they receive and requiring prisoners to provide DNA samples, which led to numerous cold cases being solved.
Prior to serving in the Senate, Schuitmaker served six years in the state House of Representatives and as an attorney in her family’s practice in Paw Paw. She lives in Lawton with her husband and two children.

A campaign website is now up and running. Voters can find more information about Tonya and the campaign by visiting www.votetonya.com.


The announcement was expected around this time.  Sean McCann's announcement may have sped things up.  Now we'll see how long until Margaret O'Brien runs for state senate and causes more dominoes to fall.

UPDATE: This blog beat the Gazette to the story by two hours.

McCann Running
Schuitmaker Starts the Dominoes

Primary Challenger to Upton

There will be a contested primary for Congress in 2014.

Dowagiac's Jim Bussler to challenge U.S. Rep. Fred Upton in Republican Primary

He seems to be a Tea Party/Ron Paul type candidate.

About 30% of the Republican primary electorate in the 6th district is anti-Upton, and has been since he was first elected.  Getting much above that has been the challenge for Upton's various primary challengers over the years.

Minority Enrollment Grows at WMU

Some interesting tidbits in a report on enrollment at WMU:

Western Michigan University sees new freshman enrollment climb 5.1 percent
Minority student enrollment also continues to grow, Dunn told the trustees. Minority student enrollment now stands at 19.5 percent of WMU's total student body, according to the fall count, compared with 11 percent in fall 2007. The total number of minority students has increased by nearly 2,000 over the past six years.


A 2 percent overall increase in minority student enrollment was led by a 5.7 percent increase in the number of Hispanic students and a 1.8 percent increase in the number of African-American students, WMU said.
Hmmm.  What happened around six years ago?  The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) was passed in 2006.  One of the criticisms of racial preferences is that they misdistribute college applicants, so minorities end up at schools that are too tough, and many fail.  Thus minority enrollment at top schools (UM and MSU) is down, but at second-tier schools like Western is up.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

McCann Running

In the least surprising news of the year...

State Rep. Sean McCann announces he will run for state Senate
“With a toddler and a three-month-old child at home, it wasn’t an easy decision to run for the State Senate," said McCann, D-Kalamazoo, in a press release.
Sure it wasn't. That's why you spent the last year planning to run.
"But, I am convinced we need a healthy dose of bipartisanship at all levels of government. Commonsense problem-solving is sorely missing in the legislature and I believe my moderate, thoughtful, pragmatic style will be successful in getting results for families in Kalamazoo County and around the state."
This stunt was hardly bipartisan: Sean McCann's Smear Campaign
“Kalamazoo County is a leader for Michigan," McCann said. "Our commitment locally to equal access to high quality education for our young people and innovative economic development ideas that drive job creation are a recipe for the entire state. Billions in cuts to education, new taxes on seniors and giveaways for corporations aren’t moving our state in the right direction. As our next state senator, I will put the people in our community over special interests.”
Have you never voted for 'giveaways for corporations'?  Sounds like a research project!

We'll see how long Tonya drags things out before making an official announcement.

Sean McCann Wants Unaccountable Redistricting
Sean McCann's Smear Campaign
The Struggle for Sixty

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

No War for ???

America should stay out of the Syrian civil war.

Some people seem unable to comprehend that just because one side in a war is bad, it doesn't mean the other side is good.  In this case, Assad, the secular dictator, is bad.  The rebels, including various Islamic terrorist groups, are worse.

It is now alleged that Assad used chemical weapons.  But while it seems to be generally agreed that chemical weapons were used, what is the evidence that Assad was the one to do so?  What reason did he have to do so, when he had already killed plenty of people without them?  In contrast, the rebels, or someone supporting them, would have had every reason to use them if they could provoke an American attack on Assad.

The arguments for war have been all too typical of democrat-led campaigns.  Illogically limited, with no clear objective or plan.  Even if striking Assad would be a good idea in principle, Obama and Kerry can't be trusted to pull it off right.

It would be different if there were a real chance of getting a better government in Syria.  But there isn't.  The slaughter in Syria is terrible.  But the sad fact is that nothing is going to stop it.  Stay the hell out.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Racial Profiling in Kalamazoo?

A 'study' has found that blacks are twice as likely as whites to be stopped by police in Kalamazoo.

Kalamazoo Public Safety officers target black drivers in traffic stops, racial profiling study concludes
Racial profiling study results not a surprise but still 'troubling,' Kalamazoo city commissioners say Chief Jeff Hadley: Public safety officers have 'mixed emotions' to racial profiling study

Does anyone ever stop to consider the possibility that there may be a legitimate reason for the disparity before jumping to the conclusion that police are 'targeting' blacks?  Blacks commit crime at significantly higher rates than whites, so it wouldn't be surprising if they did more things to justify being stopped by police.

The commenters on the articles raise many valid questions about the 'study'.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Medicaid Expansion passes the Senate

Medicaid expansion passed the state senate yesterday with a bare minimum 20-18 vote.  All twelve democrats and only eight of 24 Republicans supported it.  Majority leader Randy Richardville violated the "Hastert Rule" by pushing a bill that did not have majority Republican support.

Of the eight supporters, Richardville and Roger Khan are term-limited, and Howard Walker is retiring.  The other five, Tory Rocca, Jim Marleau, Mike Kowall, Geoff Hansen, and Tom Casperson, may face Tea Party-backed primary challenges.  Casperson switched his vote after initially voting against the bill.  He got an amendment to the bill which will require that it go back to the House.

The bill was sold free due to money from the federal government, but this comes at the cost of adding to the national debt.  Its fiscal liabilities are already unsustainable; this will only a little more to the national debt.


David Buskirk is running for the democrat nomination in the 60th state house district, and he didn't bother to wait for current Rep. Sean McCann to announce whether he will seek another term.  Awkward!

Kalamazoo County Commissioner David Buskirk announces 2014 state House run

Monday, August 26, 2013

Armed Self-Defense in Iowa

This except from A Zeal for Christian Education: The Memoirs of BJ Hann relates a story of armed self-defense at a Christian school in Sully, Iowa during Woodrow Wilson's war socialism:
During World War I, a strong anti-German, anti-Dutch feeling prevailed.  Church services were only allowed in the American language, and the Christian school was threatened because it was a so-called "Dutch school".  The supporters of the school were accused of being anti-American, unpatriotic, and even subversive.

One night the Christian school in Peoria, only each night with guns.  One night the guards decided to go home early.  The enemies of the school, who were constantly waiting for the right opportunity, quickly a few miles from Sully, was destroyed by fire.  For a long time after the incident, members of the school society, by turns, guarded the Sully Christian School moved in and set the building on fire.  Fortunately the minister, Rev J Haverman, had arisen early to study for a funeral sermon since it was difficult for him to preach in English.  He could see the school from his study.  Looking out, he saw the fire in the basement of the school.  At once he and his wife aroused my parents.  Together, with the help of my oldest brother, Enno, they formed a relay team, pumping water and passing the buckets along.  The school was saved.
Notably, it was average citizens who guarded the school, not police or professional guards.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sean McCann Wants Unaccountable Redistricting

Democrat state rep Sean McCann has a new hobby horse as he plans his run for state senate.

State Rep. Sean McCann proposes independent commission to draw state's legislative districts
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Saying that voters should pick their politicians, not politicians their voters, state Rep. Sean McCann, D-Kalamazoo, introduced legislation Thursday that would change the way Michigan draws legislative boundaries.

McCann proposed creating an independent commission that would be charged with drawing legislative districts in the state. Under his plan, the commission would be comprised of citizens rather than elected politicians, party officers or lobbyists. He said it would help eliminate the issue of gerrymandering, in which district lines are redrawn to favor a particular political party or candidate.
"Independent" commissions gerrymander just as much as legislatures.
"Michigan voters deserve political districts that are contiguous and competitive, not districts that are drawn to ensure one party always has a political edge on Election Day," McCann said. "When voters head to the polls, they should be picking their politicians. Unfortunately, we now have a system where politicians pick their voters."
All the districts are already required to be contiguous.  Most natural geographic districts will not be competitive.  If you want a lot of competitive districts, you have to gerrymander to get them.  I explained this in my criticism of the Center for Michigan report on redistricting.

Analysis and Rebuttal of the Center for Michigan Redistricting Study
Gerrymandering -- aside from being a perennial on spelling bee lists -- exacerbates partisan gridlock in both Washington and Lansing, McCann and supporters of the measure said at a press conference in Kalamazoo Thursday morning.

When districts are drawn to create "safe" seats, the real election happens in the primary, catering to the fringes of both parties, he said. McCann argued that gerrymandering also discourages lawmakers from working across the aisle on legislation, creating gridlock and "a cycle of broken relationships."
Quoting the CFM report:
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."
Continuing the Gazette article...
While the term may be somewhat arcane, it's something voters know when they see, McCann said, showing maps of five of what he called "the most egregious examples" of gerrymandering in the state. These included what he dubbed "The Roy Schmidt special," Grand Rapids House District 76, which was created during the last cycle.
District 76 is a competitive district (won by a democrat), which McCann was just claiming to want.  If you want a competitive district in Grand Rapids, it has to be drawn this way.  The other district in Grand Rapids (75) is minority-majority.  Does McCann want to change this?
McCann's plan would establish a pool of applicants overseen by the state auditor general. It employs what he described as a system of filters to exclude people who, within the past 10 years, have held elected office, been appointed to a party committee position, worked as a lobbyist or donated more than $2,000 to a campaign. Each party would have a right to veto potential commission members -- in a manner similar to jury strikes employed by prosecutors and defense attorneys, he said.
So basically both parties would put their effort into recruiting stealth members pretending to be independent.
The two highest vote-getting parties would each have five members on the 14-member commission, with four seats set aside for nonpartisan members, McCann said.

Creating the commission would require first amending the state's constitution and then a vote by the legislature.

Other states -- Washington, Iowa, Arizona and California -- have set up similar commissions, he said.
Let's review these.

Washington: This is a bipartisan commission, not an independent commission.  The rules require both parties to agree to a plan.  This leads to a bipartisan gerrymander, where each side protects its own incumbents.  This is the opposite of what McCann claims to want.

Iowa: This is not a commission at all, it is a nonpartisan state agency.  The legislature has veto power over the maps it produces.  This is nothing like what McCann proposes.

Arizona:  Here we have a commission with an independent tie-breaker, similar to what McCann wants.  So how did this work out in practice?  The democrats recruited a stealth candidate, Colleen Mathis, who was the wife of a democrat donor, to be the tie-breaker.  She voted for the democrat gerrymander, which had 'competitive' districts designed to elect democrats.  The state legislature impeached her from office for violating the rules, but this was overturned by the state supreme court.  The gerrymander resulted in a democrat majority in the Arizona congressional delegation, despite the Republican lean of the state.

California:  This is a citizens' commission which tries to screen out partisan candidates, similar to what McCann wants.  Democrats worked heavily to influence the commission by creating bogus independent groups that would lobby to skew the map in their favor.  This resulted in a map that favored democrats, and Republicans lost four congressional seats in 2012.

Independent commissions can gerrymander just like politicians, as they have in Arizona, New Jersey, and elsewhere.  Courts can also gerrymander.  There is no particular reason to believe that they will produce 'competitive' districts, either (which is difficult to define, anyhow).  The difference is that elected legislators are accountable to their constituents, which 'independent' commissions are accountable no nobody.  What McCann proposes wouldn't fix redistricting, it would slant the process to his side.
Now may be the best possible time for the state to tackle the issue, since district lines won't be redrawn until 2020, after the next Census, Clark said. Most of the current legislators would be term-limited out at that point, so they would personally be unaffected by any changes. However, people don't tend to pay serious attention to the issue until right before it's time to redraw district lines, he added.
Anyone who pays attention to redistricting knows that the public never pays attention to redistricting.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Oshtemo Board Supports Discrimination Ordinance

The Oshtemo Township Board voted 5-2 to support a discrimination ordinance, with Republicans Dave Bushouse and Nancy Carr dissenting.

Non-discrimination ordinance supported by Oshtemo Township board, set for final vote Aug. 27

UPDATE (8/28):  The ordinance passed 6-1 with Bushouse dissenting.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Local Filing Deadline Passes

The filing deadline for November elections has passed.  Here is a list of the candidates, which also appears on the updated 2013 Kalamazoo Election Preview.

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), Vice-mayor Hannah McKinney (1997), Don Cooney (1997), David Anderson (2005), Barb Miller (2005), Stephanie [Bell] Moore (2007), and Robert Cinabro (2010). Moore changed her name back from Bell after her husband was convicted of sex crimes.  All were elected in 2011, Cinabro to his first full term.

All the incumbents are seeking reelection except for McKinney, who is not.  Nine candidates are seeking the open seat:

Mike Perrin: beer salesman and Republican nominee for state house in 2012
Birletta Bean-Hardeman: unlikely to be competitive
Nicholas Boyd: unsuccessful candidate in 2009 and 2011
Tracy Hall: democrat pastor
E. Allen Hayes: leftist democrat lesbian WMU instructor--running with Cooney and Moore
Fred Lawrence II: unlikely to be competitive
Jack Urban: democrat former Kalamazoo County Commissioner
Jeff Weisman: founder of downtown neighborhood association
Rico White: member of Kalamazoo Planning Commission

Nov. 5 election: 6 incumbents, 9 challengers make up Kalamazoo City Commission field

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 Claudette Reid (2005), Ed Sackley (2005), and Terry Urban (2001). All three were reelected in 2009.  Sackley will not seek reelection.  Urban and Reid are running for reelection.

Four candidates will compete for the open seat.
Nasim Ansari: Republican former county commissioner
Connor Farrell: 26-year-old democrat with no particular accomplishments
Richard Ford: attorney, politics unknown
Kevin Park: stay-at-home dad, politics unknown

Six candidates seeking 3 seats on the Portage City Council; Strazdas unopposed for mayor

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Tom Barrett for State Representative

Tom Barrett, former chairman of the WMU College Republicans, is running for state representative.  He is running in the 71st district (Eaton County).  This district usually elects Republicans, but democrat Theresa Abed defeated incumbent Deb Shaughnessy in 2012.  I would consider the race a tossup.  Tom is a solid conservative and strong candidate who deserves our support.



2014 Michigan Congressional Races

Cross-posted at The Western Right, Right Michigan, and Red Racing Horses. This post was last updated on October 23, 2014.

Michigan will see several interesting congressional races in 2014, with four open seats and several 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) Likely Republican.
CD 2012: 48.1-47.6 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.  Benishek has generally voted with the leadership, displeasing some of his former Tea Party supporters.  He beat Tea Partyer Alan Arcand 70-30 in the primary. Democrats are touting former general Jerry Cannon, who commanded Gitmo and was Kalakaska County Sheriff in the 1980's.  Being from the Lower Peninsula may hamper Cannon.

District 2 (Ottowa, Muskegon) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 61-34 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. Since then he has generally voted a fairly conservative line. This remains the most Republican district in Michigan.  Democrat Dean VanderStelt is running.

District 3 (Kent, Calhoun) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 52.6-44.1 Romney: 53.1 McCain: 48.6
Republican state rep. Justin Amash won the primary to replace moderate Republican Vern Ehlers, in 2010. He won 60-37 in 2010 and 53-44 in 2012 over former state rep Steve Pestka. 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 primary.   Democrat Bob Goodrich is running.

District 4 (central Michigan) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 63-34 Romney: 53.4 McCain: 48.6
Republican Dave Camp, who has been winning big margins in this district since 1990, is retiring.  He is termed out of the Ways and Means Committee chairmanship, and had briefly considered running for senate.  Conservative state senator John Moolenaar of Midland defeated self-funding businessman Paul Mitchell and Tea Partyer Peter Konetchy.  Moolenaar won 52-36-11.  Democrat Jeffrey Holmes is running.

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

District 6 (SW Michigan) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 55-43 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.  He defeated primary challenges from former state rep. Jack Hoogendyk, who won 43% in 2010 and 33% in 2012. He beat libertarian Jim Bussler 71-29 in the 2014 primary.  Upton defeated democrat Mike O'Brien 55-43 in 2010, the closest margin of his career.  This time, he is being challenged by Western Michigan University professor Paul Clements, who has raised a substantial amount of money.

District 7 (south-central Michigan) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 53-43 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 53-43.  Walberg is being challenged by former state rep. (2004-2010) Pam Byrnes of Washtenaw County. She represented about 68000 people in the 7th district (9% of the district), which portion voted 45% for McCain.  Walberg will likely settle in to win with 55% or so.

District 8 (Ingham, Livingston, N Oakland) Likely Republican.
CD 2012: 59-37 Romney: 51.1 McCain: 46.4
Republican Mike Rogers, who has won big margins since 2000, announced his retirement late in the cycle.  Former state senator Mike Bishop of NE Oakland beat Tea Party favorite state rep. Tom McMillin 60-40.  Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing won with 43% in the democrat primary.

District 9 (S Macomb, Royal Oak, Bloomfield) Safe democrat.
CD 2012: 34-62 Romney: 41.8 McCain: 40.4
Democrat Sander Levin has represented this district since 1982.  His younger brother Carl is retiring from the Senate, but Sander hasn't shown any inclination to follow.  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.  Republican George Brikho is running.

District 10 (N Macomb, the Thumb) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 69-30 Romney: 55.2 McCain: 50
Republican Candice Miller is highly popular in Macomb County and statewide, and that isn't going to change. Democrat Chuck Stadler is running.

District 11 (NW Wayne, SW Oakland, Troy) Safe Republican.
CD 2012: 50.8-44.4 Romney: 52.2 McCain: 48.4
Tea Party Republican Kerry Bentivolio became an "accidental congressman" in 2012 after incumbent Thad McCotter was disqualified in a petition fraud scandal. A coalition of establishment Republicans endorsed a write-in campaign by former state senator Nancy Cassis, but Bentivolio won 65-35.  He defeated democrat Canton Township Trustee Taj Syed 50.8-44.4.  Since then, Bentivolio has mostly kept his head down and voted a conservative line.  He was defeated 66-34 in the primary by foreclosure lawyer David Trott, who has the support of the Oakland County establishment, after running a weak campaign.  Bentivolio is running a hopeless write-in campaign in the general.  Democrat Bobby McKenzie got 34% in the democrat primary, narrowly defeating three other candidates.

District 12 (Downriver, Ann Arbor) Safe democrat.
CD 2012: 29-68 Romney: 32.7 McCain: 31.2
Democrat John Dingell, in Congress for over 58 years since Eisenhower's first term, is finally retiring.  Dingell's wife Debbie Dingell is running to succeed him.  She defeated attorney Ray Mullins 78-22 in the primary.  Republican Terry Bowman, a leader of the Michigan Right to Work movement, is running.

District 13 (W Detroit, Westland) Safe democrat.
CD 2012: 14-82 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 was challenged in the 2012 democrat primary by state senator Glenn Anderson, whose base in the mostly white suburbs of Westland and Redford was moved from the 11th district into the 13th; Senator Bert Johnson, and State Rep. Shanelle Jackson. Conyers won 55% to 18% for Anderson, 13% for Jackson, and 10% for Johnson.  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.  Republican Jeff Gorman is running.

District 14 (E Detroit, Southfield, Farmington, Pontiac) Safe democrat.
CD 2012: 16-82 Romney: 18 McCain: 18
This district had an interesting primary in 2012.  Congressman Gary Peters, first elected in 2008, ran here after his old 9th district was split into four pieces.  Peters did very well in endorsements and fundraising, and he won this majority black district 47-35-13 over fellow Congressman Hansen Clarke and Southfield mayor Brenda Lawrence.  Peters is now running for Senate, so the district is open.  Lawrence, state rep. Rudy Hobbs, Clarke, and Burgess Foster ran.  Lawrence won the 2014 democrat primary 36-32-31.  Republican Christina Conyers is running.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Composting 101 at KVCC

KVCC will build a new campus downtown, focusing on "sustainability and wellness".

New downtown KVCC campus to be paid for by three partners, grants and gifts
The new focus is part of the college's efforts to increase community understanding of and access to healthy food and nutrition. Urban gardening, composting, recycling and sourcing and preparing locally grown, organic food are all expected to be part of the curriculum.
People need to take a class to learn to compost or recycle?  Are students really going to sign up for this?