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?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fools for Trayvon

Here's a report on the left's latest rally.

'Justice for Trayvon' rally held in downtown Kalamazoo to oppose gun violence
KALAMAZOO, MI -- A large group gathered in front of the federal courthouse on West Michigan Avenue in Kalamazoo Saturday for a "Justice for Trayvon" vigil.

More than 70 people attended the vigil that was held in solidarity with the National Action Network to “urge the federal government to investigate the Zimmerman trial further and to raise awareness about violence towards youth of color and the impacts of the Stand Your Ground laws across the country and in Michigan,” according to a press release issued on the event.
Investigate the trial?  Investigate what?

The National Action Network is Al Sharpton's group. Sharpton rose to fame by falsely accusing an innocent man of rape and sparking a race riot that killed a man.
The vigil, organized by Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy & Action in the Community, Eliminating Racism and Claiming/Celebrating Equality, and staff of the Kalamazoo College Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, began at noon and lasted for about one hour.
Ah, the Arcus Center.  This illustrates that "social justice" is the enemy of real justice.
“This was a wonderful rally,” said Gwen Harper, of Kalamazoo. “You would think in this country that guns are like free candy. Everyone has one. It’s crazy.”
Where do I go to get the free guns?
Harper said she braved the heat to participate in the vigil Saturday because she fears silence against gun violence and social injustice will lead to a society where life is no longer valued.
I wonder what her position on abortion is?
Attendees were urged to contact their elected officials and oppose the Stand Your Ground Law in Michigan as well as the George Zimmerman's verdict of not guilty in relation to the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
Stand Your Ground had nothing to do with the Zimmerman case.  In Michigan, the passed overwhelmingly (90-16 in the state house) and was signed by Governor Granholm in 2006.  They want people to contact their elected officials about a jury verdict?  Do they not understand how the jury system works?
Charles Warfield, president of the Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch of the NAACP, said the message of the event was important because the verdict for George Zimmerman has implications on how life, law and liberty is viewed.

“It’s an important message in this kind of meeting because an organized minority becomes a political majority,” Warfield said. “So any organization of this type puts in motion a system for justice done for Trayvon Martin.”
Elder Douglas King of Grace Covenant Ministries and President of ISSAC gave the closing remarks for the vigil before leading the group in prayer.

“We gather today not because we hate Mr. Zimmerman,” King said. “We gather because love is more powerful than hate.”
Stupidity is more powerful than both.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

2014 Michigan Primary Election Preview

This post was last updated August 25, 2014.

Michigan's top constitutional offices, congressional seats, and the entire state legislature will be up for election November 2014.

List of Michigan candidates
List of Kalamazoo County Candidates

US Senate: Tossup
Democrat Senator Carl Levin is retiring after 36 years in Washington.  The democrat nominee will be Congressman Gary PetersPeters defeated Republican incumbent Joe Knollenberg in 2008, was narrowly reelected in 2010, and defeated fellow democrat incumbent Hansen Clarke in the 2012 democrat primary in the majority-black 14th district after his district was carved up in redistricting.  He was previously a state senator and lottery commissioner.  Peters is a standard liberal.

The Republican nominee will be former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.  She was easily elected statewide in 2002 (55%) and 2006 (56%).  She was previously Kent County Clerk.  She is generally conservative, but her positions are not known on some issues.  Several other Republicans considered running, but declined.

Governor: Lean Republican
Moderate Republican Governor Rick Snyder is seeking reelection.  The former businessman easily defeated Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero 58-40 in 2010.  Snyder's approval ratings have recovered since controversies over Right-to-Work, Detroit emergency managers, and other issues.  He will be tough to beat.

The democrat nominee will be former congressman (2008-2010) Mark Schauer, who lost reelection in 2010 to Tim Walberg 50-45.  Schauer was previously a state senator (2002-2008) and state rep (1996-2002).  He is a standard liberal with no real experience outside of politics.

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley will run with Snyder again.  Tea Party leader Wes Nakagiri challenged Calley at the Michigan Republican convention in August.  The democrat nominee is Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown.

Attorney General: Lean Republican
Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette will seek reelection. He is a conservative who defeated democrat David Leyton 53-44 in 2010 and has championed conservative causes since then.  The democrat nominee is law professor Mark Totten.

Secretary of State: Likely Republican
Conservative Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson will seek reelection. She defeated democrat Joscelyn Benson 51-45 in 2010.   The democrat nominee is Detroit attorney Godfrey Dillard, who is black.

Michigan Supreme Court Likely Republican/Lean democrat/Safe Republican
Republicans currently hold a 5-2 majority on the court.  There are two full-term seats up for election on the Michigan Supreme Court. They are those of conservative Republican Brian Zahra and democrat Michael Cavanagh. Zahra was elected to a partial term 50-42 in 2012 and will seek reelection.  Cavanagh is age-limited and his seat will be open.  Republicans nominated Kent County judge James Robert Redford for the open seat.  Democrats nominated rich trial lawyer Mark Bernstein and Court of Appeals Judge William Murphy, who is pro-life.
In addition, the two-year seat will be up due to the appointment of Republican David Viviano to fill the vacancy following the resignation of disgraced democrat Diane Hathaway following her conviction for tax fraud.  Democrats nominated Deborah Thomas for the seat.

Other Statewide Offices
Two seats on the state Board of Education and boards of trustees of U of M, MSU, and WSU will be up for election. All eight seats up are held by democrats. Democrats have swept these elections in 2006, 2008, and 2012, while Republicans swept in 2010.  The candidates are
State Board of Education:
Republicans: Maria Carl, Jonathan Williams
Democrats: Cassandra Ulbrich (i), Pamela Smith
UM Board of Regents:
Republicans: Ron Weiser, Rob Steele
Democrats: Katherine White (i), Mike Behm
MSU Board of Trustees:
Republicans: Melanie Foster, Jeff Sakwa
Democrats: Faylene Owens (i), George Perles (i)
WSU Board of Governors:
Republicans: Michael Busuito, Satish Jasti
Democrats: Dana Thompson, Marilyn Kelly

Ballot Propositions
There will be several ballot propositions. 
Proposal 1 was voted on in August, and passed easily.  It repeals the "Personal Property Tax", which is a tax on business equipment, and replaces it with expiring business tax credits.  It had support across the political spectrum and no organized opposition.
There will be two referenda on bills to allow a wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula, which will be voted on in November.
A minimum wage initiative was disqualified from the ballot.

Michigan Congressional Seats
Republicans hold a 9-5 majority in Michigan's congressional delegation, which was unchanged in the 2012 election. Four districts (4, 8, 12, and 14) are open.  Democrats will target districts 1, 7, 8, and 11, though all favor Republicans.

2014 Michigan Congressional Races

Michigan Senate
All 38 seats in the Michigan state senate are up for election, and 9 have no incumbent due to term limits and retirements. Republicans currently hold a 26-12 supermajority after winning a landslide in 2010. Democrats will likely target Republican-held open seats in Kalamazoo County (20), Saginaw (32), and Monroe (17). Republicans will defend incumbents in several other competitive districts (7, 34).  The post below examines these races in detail.

2014 Michigan State Senate Elections

20th District (Kalamazoo County) Tossup
Republican Senator Tonya Schuitmaker will seek reelection in the new 26th district due to redistricting.  State rep Sean McCann of the 60th district is the democrat nominee.  State rep Margaret O'Brien of the 61st district is the Republican nominee.  Former state rep. Lorence Wenke, who represented about 55,000 people in the 21st district on the east side of Kalamazoo county 2002-2008, will also run, despite having lost his last three races by large margins. Wenke dropped out the Republican primary and is running as a libertarian.

Michigan House
All 110 seats in the Michigan House of Representatives are up for election. Republicans hold a 59-51 majority.  There will be 40 open seats due to term limits and candidates running for state senate.  Both parties have potential targets to pickup. 

2014 Michigan State House Races

60th District (Kalamazoo City) Safe democrat
Democrat state rep Sean McCann is running for state senate.  The democrats' candidate is political consultant Jon Hoadley, who defeated county commissioner David Buskirk of SE Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo Township Trustee Pamela Goodacre in the primary.  The Republican nominee is Mike Perrin, who lost in 2012.
61st District (Portage, Oshtemo) Safe Republican
Republican state rep Margaret O'Brien is running for state senate.  County commissioner Brandt Iden defeated fellow commissioner Phil Stinchcomb in the primary.  The democrat candidate is Pastor John Fisher.
63rd District (E Kalamazoo, S Calhoun) Safe Republican
Republican Speaker Jase Bolger is term-limited.  The Republican nominee is moderate Kalamazoo county commissioner David Maturen, who defeated conservative Marshall school board president Vic Potter.  The democrat candidate will be Bill Farmer, who narrowly lost to Bolger in 2012.

Kalamazoo County Commission
All 11 seats on the Kalamazoo County Commission will be up for election. Republicans hold a 6-5 majority. Republicans will target democrat Julie Rogers (district 5). Democrats will target districts 7, 10, and 11.  There will be six open seats due to four candidates running for state representative and two retiring.

2014 Kalamazoo County Commission Election Preview

Kalamazoo County Probate Court
Trial lawyers Tiffany Ankley and Namita Sharma are running for an open seat on the county probate court.  Sharma is apparently a liberal.

Oshtemo Township Trustee
There is a special election for this seat due to the fact that democrat Coleman Lutz, who was elected in 2012, resigned shortly after the election.  Moderate Republican Dave Bushouse, who was a trustee for 16 years before being defeated in 2012, was appointed to fill the vacancy.  He is running for a partial term.  He defeated Tea Party leader Jim Lefler in the Republican primary.  Democrat Grant Taylor, who narrowly lost a race for Oshtemo Treasurer in 2012, defeated Zak Ford in the primary.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Schuitmaker Starts the Dominoes

This article in the Gazette summarizes the conventional wisdom (among those of us in the know) about the state of local politics.

Who will run? Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker's decision key to Kalamazoo County's state politics in 2014

Senator Tonya Schuitmaker is expected to run for reelection, but has not yet announced in which district.  She represents the (old) 20th district, which entirely contains the new 20th district.  However, her home is in the new 26th district, which also contains her old state house district.

It isn't really a secret where she is going to run.  A commenter points out
Another crack reporting job by the Kalamazoo Gazette. Where's Tonya having most of her fundraisers? South Kent county, the south side of Holland (Allegan County), Allegan & Van Buren counties. This is the worst kept secret in the local political area. She's running in the 26th. McCann & O'Brien will face off in the 20th. The players are shaking out in O'Brien's old district in regards to who will replace her.

The best hope for the GOP in the 20th was for Tonya to run. Taking her out of the mix makes the district more of a toss-up.
Tonya will likely face a contested primary against state rep. Bob Genetski of Allegan County.
  • The democrat nominee for the 20th district will be state rep Sean McCann, who has represented the 60th district in the state house for four years.  It is unlikely that he will face a serious primary challenge.
  • The Republican nominee will be state rep. Margaret O'Brien, who has represented the 61st district.  It is unclear whether she will face a serious primary.  It is possible that former state rep. Lorence Wenke, who has last his three races by large margins, will run again.
  • The democrats' anointed candidate for the 60th state house district is county commissioner David Buskirk.  It remains to be seen whether they can clear the field or whether he will face a serious challenge in the primary.
  • There will likely be a contested primary for the Republican nomination in the 61st district.  County commissioners Phil Stinchcomb and Brandt Iden are the most likely candidates.
  • The 63rd state house district is open, as Speaker Jase Bolger is term-limited.  There will likely be several candidates.
  • The various open county commission seats may see contested races as well.
There will be plenty of races to keep local political junkies busy.

Detroit Backrupt

It's been coming for a long time.  Bankruptcy will allow wiping out Detroit's debts and unsustainable pension obligations and putting its finances on sound footing.  However, the long-term outlook for Detroit remains grim due to low human capital and the repeated election of incompetent leadership.

Detroit files for bankruptcy, setting off battles with creditors, pensions, unions

Marriage Declines in Kalamazoo County

Julie Mack writes in the Gazette that marriage is in decline in Kalamazoo County.

Julie Mack: 42% of new moms in Kalamazoo County are unmarried. Should we care?
"Births outside of marriage are often associated with disadvantage for both children and their parents," said the Census report released May 1. "Women and men who have children outside of marriage are younger on average, have less education, and have lower income than married parents. Children who are born to unmarried parents are more likely to live in poverty and to have poor developmental outcomes.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Buskirk for State House?

County Commissioner David Buskirk has formed a committee to run for state house in the 60th district.  State rep. Sean McCann is widely expected to run for state senate in 2014, opening the 60th district.

Kalamazoo County Commissioner David Buskirk considering 2014 State House run

The local democrats usually have a "pecking order" that determines who their next nominee will be.  They actively discourage contested primaries, even for safe seats, by rallying around one candidate early.  The 60th district has gone from Mary Brown to Ed LaForge, Alexander Lipsey, Robert Jones, and Sean McCann without any seriously contested primaries.  Buskirk, a 20-year county commissioner representing SE Kalamazoo, appears to be their choice this time.  It will be interesting to see whether he has any serious primary competition this time.

Texas Gun Ban?

Texas Township is considering an ordinance to ban target shooting.  This needs to be shot down fast.

Woman hit by stray bullet in Texas Township prompts work group to explore firearms regulation

Congratulations, Illinois!

Illinois finally passed a shall-issue concealed carry law today.  A federal appeals court panel had ruled their ban on concealed carry unconstitutional.  The legislature overrode the veto of the governor, who had inserted gun control measures into the bill.  Illinois was the last state to completely ban concealed carry, though eight states still have "may issue" laws.

General Assembly overrides governor's veto of concealed carry bill

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Good Luck, Jack

Jack Hoogendyk has moved to Wisconsin to run a crisis pregnancy center.  Jack has done so much to fight for freedom in Michigan.  He will still be involved via the internet, but his physical presence will be missed.

Former Michigan State Rep. Jack Hoogendyk plans to maintain local presence despite move to Wisconsin

Western Pay Gap?

Here's the latest crisis to hit Western.

Salary inequity by gender still an issue at Western Michigan University; pay adjustments coming
Western Michigan University's gender pay gap reflective of larger issue (Kalamazoo Gazette Editorial)
KALAMAZOO, MI – Female professors at Western Michigan University earn 4 percent less on average than their male colleagues. By the end of summer, the pay of as many as 300 of the women will be going up.
Four percent doesn't sound like much. The author of the article elaborates that
the study isolated that four percent as being based on gender -- there are definitely other factors influencing faculty pay and it is a complex subject.
Controlling for other variables is good, but how do we know that they controlled for all the relevant variables?
There are a number of reasons female professors tend to earn less than their male counterparts, said John Curtis, director of research and public policy at the American Association of University Professors in Washington, which does an annual survey of faculty pay.

Women are less likely to be in senior positions, such as dean or chair of a department, and are less likely to be full professors. Society still expects women to take on more of a family's caregiving duties, which means more women tend to be in non-tenure track positions, said Curtis.

There also are fewer women in disciplines such as math, computers and engineering, which pay the most, and more in the less-well-paying humanities departments.

And some of the pay disparity, he added, hinges on the fact that women historically were offered less money than men and tend to be uncomfortable negotiating for more.
Statistics that claim that women make 76% of what men make (or whatever) fail to take account of all these relevant variables.
A stipulation that professors must be shown to have merit to receive an adjustment has raised the most hackles, those interviewed said -- in essence making the women prove they are worthy of being treated fairly.

"It's presuming that some people were discriminated against deservingly," said Susan Freeman, chair of the Gender and Women's Studies department.
I can understand why members of the Gender and Women's Studies would not want to discuss their merit.

There's lots more handwringing in the full article.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Upton Hedges on Immigration

Congressman Fred Upton continues to pander to advocates of amnesty, but without making specific commitments.  It is possible that he will change his tune if immigration patriots apply enough pressure.

Congressman Fred Upton says he's awaiting House version of immigration reform

DOWAGIAC, MI – Congressman Fred Upton, R-St.Joseph, said he looks forward to supporting a bipartisan bill that would allow for comprehensive immigration reform, but it most likely will not be the one U.S. senators passed last week.

“We are waiting to see what the House Judiciary committee will do,” Upton said after touring The Business Center of Southwestern Michigan in Dowagiac on Monday. “It’s possible they may move some elements before the end of July. Most often, the House and Senate bills usually differ on every issue. When that happens, we have a conference to iron out the differences to get a final package and I expect that to happen.”


Upton vowed to support bipartisan legislation fixing the broken immigration system in front of more than 150 local people, mostly Hispanics, in Kalamazoo in January.


Upton did not specify whether he would support a pathway to citizenship, saying it was still unclear what direction the House version of the bill would take. He noted that he is not a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

Upton commended the Senate for passing a strong bill. He also said a House bill that moved through the Homeland Security Committee on a unanimous vote back in May potentially could be used in House revisions, in terms of border security.

Like many of his GOP colleagues, Upton said border security would remain a key focus of his concern.

“A workable immigration system must begin by establishing control of our own borders and preventing illegal crossings,” Upton said. “Our local business people have told me they need a system that gives them peace of mind along with a reliable, legal workforce.”

Upton said he expects the House to take up immigration reform by the end of the month or in early September and he looks forward to voting on that bill.

Monday, July 01, 2013

O'Brien on Medicare Expansion


Eight More House Republicans Who Backed Obamacare's Medicaid Expansion

"When discussing policies impacting Michigan citizens, I focus on the issue at hand and how it affects Michigan as a whole," Rep. O'Brien said. "Whether the president likes a particular viewpoint is not a policy consideration. Debating policy does not include how others around the nation might view the legislature's actions to seriously reform Michigan's Medicaid system.

“Yes, there will likely be those who will choose to associate any consideration of reforming Medicaid as a caving in to and support of Obamacare," Rep. O'Brien continued. "However, we have an obligation to engage with philosophical opposition and support because this discussion is complex, and it is important to have a robust, passionate, and challenging debate."

Rep. O’Brien said she weighed the consequences of her vote.

"Voting 'no' might contribute to the accelerated demise of Obamacare . . . but this is far from a sure thing, especially as Michigan tax dollars would subsidize other states health care," she said. "However, voting 'no' would definitely have resulted in many negative consequences for Michigan. It would have ignored hardworking taxpayers with low incomes and missed an opportunity to secure real reforms in a system in much need of improvement for the taxpayers who support it.

"Simplifying this issue into a verdict regarding President Obama's health care plan ignores the challenges of increasing health care costs, the highly regulated health care system and the hardworking families without health insurance," she said.

Rep. O'Brien represents House District 61, which is located in part (Portage and Texas Township) of Kalamazoo County. She is serving her second term in the House. The 61st House District has a 54.2 percent Republican base.