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 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.