Monday, June 30, 2014

Mattawan v Taxpayers, Round Three

Mattawan School District is back for a third try at raising taxes.

Mattawan school board moves to put $75M-$80M in bond requests on November ballot
Proposal 1 would seek $59 to $62 million for new construction to replace Mattawan Early Elementary and Mattawan Later Elementary schools.

Proposal 2 would seek $16 to $18 million to build additions at the middle and high school, and upgrade building technology and security systems as well as the purchase of new school buses.

Proposal 1 would increase taxes by 2.4 to 2.7 mills, and Proposal 2 by 1.1 to 1.2 mills. On a home with a taxable value of $100,000 and a market value of $200,000, Proposal 1 would increase taxes by $240 to $270 and Proposal 2 by $110 to $120.
This is Mattawan's third try at a tax increase.
In May 2011, 55 percent of voters rejected a $88 million bond proposal that would have raised taxes by 3.88 mills and paid for construction of two new elementaries plus upgrades to the middle and high school.

Six months later, in November 2011, 55 percent of voters rejected a $60 million bond proposal to replace the two elementary schools.
Why are Mattawan's facilities 'overcrowded'?  Well, as of two years ago, Mattawan took in 469 students from outside the district.  Despite the supposedly terrible facilities, Mattawan is still considered to have 'good schools', since this is really a function of who the students are, not what the facilities are.

Yes means yes; no means try again.

Vote NO on the Mattawan Tax Hike
No Means Try Again
Mattawan Lies about Kindergarten Mandate
Mattawan Schools Enroll 469 Outside Students
Arlen Winther for Mattawan School Board

Vote YES on Proposal 1

The Detroit News explains proposal 1, which will appear on the August ballot.


Editorial: Vote yes on Prop 1

■Prop 1 would repeal Michigan’s Personal Property Tax, which is levied on business equipment.

■The Personal Property Tax, or PPT, is arcane and has been eliminated in all of our neighboring states. The fact that Michigan retains the tax makes it less competitive for jobs and investment.

■The PPT is a double tax that discourages businesses to add the equipment needed to create jobs. Employers must pay the sales tax on whatever they buy, and then pay the PPT every year the equipment is in use.

■Passing Prop 1 will not result in a tax increase for individuals.

■Tax revenue lost to local communities, which are the primary beneficiaries of the PPT, will be replaced by expiring business tax credits. There will also be a new special assessment on businesses to recoup some of the PPT dollars.

Alamo Recall is On

Alamo Supervisor Lou Conti and Trustee Dawn-Potter Williams will face a recall election is November.

Recall of Alamo Township supervisor, trustee headed to November ballot after petition signatures verified
The recall election will operate differently than in years past due to new laws instituted in 2012, according to Snow.

In prior years, a "yes or no" recall question accompanied by petition language would appear on the November ballot to determine whether or not a municipality supported the recall, according to Snow. If a recall was approved, then another election would be held to find a replacement for the remainder of the term.

Under the new law, Snow said, there will now be only one election. Democrats have until 5 p.m. July 7 to nominate an opponent to run against Conti and any other citizens seeking to run as nonaffiliated candidates must also file by that date. Snow said he has not received notification from the Kalamazoo County Democratic Party yet as to whether or not they plan to nominate a candidate.
Recall the Alamo?
Bad Idea

Saturday, June 14, 2014

New WMU Trustee

Jase Bolger's father has been appointed to the WMU Board of Trustees

James Bolger, father of House Speaker Jase Bolger, appointed to WMU Board of Trustees
James Bolger, a retired Michigan State Police official who lives in Whitehall, fills the seat vacated when Trustee Michelle Crumm resigned. Bolger will complete Crumm's eight-year term, which ends on Dec. 31, 2020.
Some people are upset that the appointee is Jase's father.  But he seems far more qualified than Crumm.  Recall:

Crumm's for Kalamazoo
Crumm said that she enjoyed her first tour of campus in the snowstorm.

"I didn't know a lot about Western and had never been to Kalamazoo," said Crumm, when she got the call about the appointment.

WMU graduates in Ann Arbor, where she lives, have been getting her up to speed, said Crumm, calling their "enthusiasm and passion" for the university infectious.
At least Bolger is (probably) a Republican, unlike Snyder's last few appointees.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Michigan Right to Life Endorsements

Michigan Right to Life has just issued its endorsements for the 2014 primary.  RTL swings a significant number of Michigan primary voters, so its endorsements will decide some races.

RTL will recommend all candidates if they are all pro-life, but if there is a serious non-pro-life candidate, they will pick one pro-life candidate to endorse.  Their noteworthy endorsements are listed below.

3. RTL endorsed Brian Ellis over Justin Amash.  They did not endorse Amash in 2012.  They apparently are still ticked over Amash not voting to defund Planned Parenthood (he opposed targeting a specific organization).  This may complicate Amash's reelection.
4. John Moolenaar.  Does this mean that self-funding businessman Paul Mitchell is not pro-life?  Tea partier Peter Konetchy is also running.
6. Fred Upton is again endorsed, despite his long pro-abortion record.
8. Both Mike Bishop and Tom McMillin
11. Kerry Bentivolio over Dave Trott

State Senate:
5. Democrat Shanelle Jackson in this Detroit-based VRA district
13. Four meet criteria (all but Al Gui)
17. Both Republican Dale Zorn and democrat Doug Spade
20. Margaret O'Brien over Ron Zuiderveen
28. Both Kevin Green and Peter MacGregor
31. Mike Green over Kevin Daley
37. Both Greg MacMaster and Wayne Schmidt

State House:
19. Both Cox and Crider meet criteria
30. No endorsement for Jeff Farrington
36. All meet criteria
38. Kathy Crawford over Dan Lauffer
42. Lana Thies.  Rich Perlberg is likely not pro-life.
43. All five meet criteria
44. Three meet criteria (all but Garlick)
45. All three meet criteria
47. Campbell, Day, Vaupell meet criteria
56. Jason Sheppard over Irma Kubiske
58. All seven meet criteria
59. John Bippus.  Who isn't pro-life in this  primary?
61. Stinchcomb and Iden both meet criteria.
62. Bizon and Kale both meet criteria.
63. Vic Potter over David Maturen, who is not pro-life.
65. Robert Sutherby.  Who isn't pro-life in this primary?
73. Six meet criteria (all but Downs)
76. All three meet criteria
80. All four meet criteria
82. All four meet criteria
84. Six meet criteria (all but Wassa)
90. All five meet criteria
91. All three meet criteria
95. Democrat Norman Braddock
98. Both Glenn and Ieuter meet criteria
104. Seven meet criteria (all but Hinton)
105. All three meet criteria
108. No endorsement for Ed McBroom

Monday, June 02, 2014

Lorence Wenke: DLTDHYOTWO

Lorence Wenke recently announced that he is leaving the Republican Party.

Citing GOP opposition to gay rights, state Senate candidate Lorence Wenke leaves Republican Party
KALAMAZOO, MI – Former state Rep. Lorence Wenke is leaving the Republican Party and will run for state Senate in November as a Libertarian.

In a statement dated April 25, the long-time Southwest Michigan Republican cited the party's "discrimination" against gay citizens and what he characterized as "taxpayer abuse," which he said has created "an elite class" of government employees, as the reasons behind his decision.
Let's look at Wenke's statement and see if it stands up to scrutiny.
I am leaving the Republican Party for two reasons:

1. The Republican Party leads the movement in Kalamazoo County, our state, and in our nation to discriminate against our gay family members, friends and neighbors.

I support the constitutional right of our gay family members to enjoy the same rights as our heterosexual family members.
They do.  Homosexuals have exactly the same rights as everyone else, including the right to marry on the same terms.  Nobody has the 'right' to marry someone of the same sex.
In 2004, I was one of two Republican legislators out of 63 to vote against the addition of the Marriage Protection Amendment to Michigan’s Constitution. I was the only legislator to call it what it is - discrimination against our gay brothers and sisters. At that time, three local Republican legislators with gay brothers never said a word in support of gay rights. I challenge them with this question: “If you will not stand up for your own family members, who will you stand up for?”
The constituents who elected them?
Governor Snyder and Lt. Gov. Calley are not willing to publically take a position for or against gay rights. I can only assume it is because they fear the political consequences.

Republicans have encouraged many of our churches to support political efforts to discriminate against gays by condemning them for what they perceive as a sinful lifestyle choice.
Huh?  I'm pretty sure that the churches' position on marriage preceded that of the Republicans.
These same people often ignore the clear teachings of Jesus and Paul stating that remarriage after divorce is committing adultery. If the church required divorced members to live a celibate, single life, there would be fewer divorces and presumably marriage would be protected and valued.

As majority floor leader in 2004, Republican Representative Chris Ward helped ensure the placement of the Marriage Protection Amendment on the ballot so that George W. Bush could be re-elected.
The marriage amendment was placed on the ballot by petition signatures, not the legislature.  The legislative vote didn't get the 2/3 needed.
Recently Mr. Ward wrote, “Looking back now, one of the things that bothers me the most about the whole episode was how dehumanizing it was. It was just politics. But it wasn’t politics. Those were people. We Republicans singled out a whole group of people, most of whom just wanted to be left alone, to forcefully discriminate against them for short-term political benefits. All around us were our friends, colleagues, family members, highly valued staff members and people we care about who this clearly was going to hurt. Nobody seemed to think a thing of it. My own particular purgatory is to be forever doomed to be on the wrong side of history.”
The marriage amendment maintained the status quo.  It defined marriage; it did not single anyone out.
2. The Republican Party has abused taxpayer financially for the benefit of government employees

Most government employees have become an elite class of workers in Kalamazoo County, our state and In our nation with compensation packages far exceeding the private sector. Although the statistics in support of this over-compensation are overwhelming, I will not go into detail except for one example.

The City of Kalamazoo and the County of Kalamazoo have very similar compensation plans for their employees. For decades, Kalamazoo city commissioners have been mostly Democrats and Kalamazoo County commissioners have been mostly Republicans with a few notable exceptions. Republicans John Vander Ploeg, Al Heilman and Mary Balkema were Kalamazoo city commissioners. They said almost nothing about the generous compensation of city employees.

Republican small business owner, John Vander Ploeg, former Republican Party chairman, Al Heilman, and current Kalamazoo County Treasurer, Mary Balkema talk about good government but they are silent because there is a price to pay in business and on Election Day for anyone who opposes generous benefits for so many.

Most city and county employees can retire with 75% of their last pay check for life, as well as health care that is nearly free. Recently, a city manager retired after 22 years of work with an annual pension of $110,000 for the rest of his life. An assistant retired with an annual pension of $87,000.
Wenke's concerns about public sector compensation are well-founded.  But what does he expect to be done about it?  As he notes, Republicans have not had more than one or two Kalamazoo city commissioners in decades.  So 'speaking out' about the issue wouldn't accomplish much.

As Wenke must surely know, the biggest factor responsible for over-generous public sector benefits is public sector unions.  Unions battle hard for these benefits, including trying to defeat or recall any politician who stands in their way.  For a long time, there wasn't much that could be done.  But since 2010, Republicans in Lansing have passed right to work, which limits the power of unions.  They have also passed a strengthened emergency manager law, which allows emergency managers to cancel union agreements when cities are on the verge of bankruptcy.  This encourages other cities to make more responsible agreements.

Maybe Republicans could have done more, but they have made real progress.  What else does Wenke expect them to do?

Republicans have made some progress on government employee benefits, and haven't changed (much) on marriage.  So why did Wenke really leave now?  Some Gazette commenters have a different theory.
Seems awfully convenient to pull this stunt on withdraw day. If he was so concerned with gay rights, he would have done this a month ago. To do this on Friday tells me that he knew he was getting no traction in the GOP primary (being in the race since last year). So Wenke decides the best course is to engage in Mutually Assured Destruction.

He can harp on his old refrains from six years ago, but this smacks of an act of petty self-centered desperation, not, as he would contend, principle.
I don't believe Mr. Wenke is leaving the Republican party because the majority of Republicans believe in "Traditional Marriage"; I do believe however, that Mr. Wenke is leaving the Republican party at this time because he knows he doesn't have a chance to win the State Senate race against Margaret O'Brien.

If Mr. Wenke were so concerned with the rights of American citizens, and was working to help American families, he wouldn't be so quick to support Amnesty for Illegal Aliens. During a discussion regarding a resolution to not give Illegal Aliens amnesty, Mr. Wenke said that Americans dont want to work, alluding that he must hire Illegals to get people to work in his businesses. I don't think Americans have issues working.

If Mr. Wenke wants to leave the Republican party because many Republicans believe in traditional marriage, and believe that American citizens and their families should come first, and be helped before those here illegally, then so be it.
It appears that Wenke finally realized that he wasn't going to win the Republican primary.   This blog has chronicled Wenke's terrible electoral record before.  Does he really thinks he can win as a libertarian, or just want to spite Republicans for not supporting him?

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.