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.