Saturday, December 31, 2005

Does Mt. Pleasant Need More Low Wage Jobs?

When the first bulldozers begin churning up ground in a few weeks off of Bluegrass Road behind the Indian Hills Mall, a nagging question comes up about the hundreds of thousands of new square feet of shopping coming to Mt. Pleasant and the hundreds of jobs expected to come from the new big box stores. Does Mt. Pleasant really need them?

Most area shoppers know that Mt. Pleasant doesn't have the best shopping in the state and most go over to Midland or Saginaw or down to Lansing for "serious" shopping or even down to Alma or up to Clare or Traverse City for "niche" shopping.

With unemployment in Isabella County at just about 3% while our neighbors to the north and south suffer from rates twice as high, there is obviously a need for more jobs in the region, but not necessarily here. The advocates of the "market is everything" approach to economics would say we don't have much choice.

But here in Isabella County where decisions on development especially in the Republican controlled Union Township are made under the radar, there is little opportunity for community awareness before developments are a done deal. Now that we know that the Wal-Mart Supercenter and Sam's Club are on the way, what can or should we do about it.

At the ICDP we feel the first thing we need to understand is how did it happen and what does it mean. What will be the positive and negative impacts on our community. We will begin that discussion on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Isabella County Office Building in the County Commsisioners Meeting Room. The topic is "The Impact of the Walmartization of Mt. Pleasant."
It's another one of those gatherings sponsored by the local Democratic Party to bring awareness to issues that affect your life.

Friday, December 30, 2005

What Difference Does Politics Make in Isabella County?

Anyone who has spent time going door to door in Isabella County or even spoken with neighbors has run into the person who feels politics doesn't matter -- that it has no impact on their very busy lives.

But over the past 25 years political decisions in Washington, Lansing and Mount Pleasant have all had impacts on how people in Isabella County go about their daily lives and how they and their families live out their futures.

It often seems that what happens here doesn't matter because so many larger factors are in play that we have no control over. The evidence is overwhelming that politics in Washington and Lansing has rearranged the order of things so the average American has lost ground, while the rich and powerful have gained ground. The Walmartization of America characterized by lower wages and less worker benefits and outsourcing of jobs to lower wage countries is happening at the same time the richest have never been richer.

Journalist and author Holly Sklar sums up the situation both in her co-authored book, "Raise the Floor," and in her latest article as seen in the Providence Journal, "American Road Leads Off a Cliff."

The Michigan Democratic Party is pushing back hard against the Republican tidal wave in an effort to increase Michigan's minimum wage. It is not just a symbolic effort either since tens of thousands of lives will be immediately affected. The Isabella County Democratic Party is solidly behind the effort to increase Michigan's mimimum wage and we will be working hard to gather the needed signatures to place the issue on the ballot in 2006.

Politics does matter and reversing the decline of America begins right here at home -- one political battle at a time.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

ICDP's Friends Celebrating Tonight in Midland and Saginaw Counties

When we invited the leaders of the Lone Tree Council to Mount Pleasant in October to explain their battle to clean up the Tittabawassee River from years of dixoin contamination, we had no idea that Republican legislators would be working closely with the state's largest polluters to water down Michigan pollution enforcement.

Just like the Bush adminstration diluted federal efforts on controlling air pollution by calling it the "Clear Skies Initiative," cynical state Republican legislators labeled HB 4617, "The Homeowner Fairness Act." The Lone Tree Council asked for our help and we responded with e-mails and phone calls to the governor, reminding her we wanted her to continue to be a champion of the environment.

We were not alone in asking the governor to veto HB 4617. The Detroit Free Press ran an editorial in this morning's paper supporting our position and the position of the Lone Tree Council in opposition to the HB 4617 that squeaked through the Republican controlled House and Senate.

Today the governor vetoed the bill. Meanwhile Republicans in Washington are seeking new measures to gut federal water pollution regulations. We should take a moment to celebrate and thank the governor for her part. Then let's get to work in 2006. Another battle is coming.

Who Will Keep an Eye On Lawbreakers involved in the New Mt. Pleasant Menards and Wal-Mart Supercenter?

Union Township officials have approved the site plans for big box stores on the south side of Mt. Pleasant and two of the major companies involved have been involved in major pollution and other violations in other states.

Apparently for companies like Menards and Wal-Mart it is cheaper to pay fines than to comply with the laws. Wisconsin-based Menards, a Home Depot competitor, was fined $2 million by Wisconsin officials for wantonly dumping contaminants into storm sewers.

But the nation’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, is a lawbreaker of epic proportions. Last year they got a slap on the wrist and only paid a $3.1 million fine for violating federal water pollution requirements and promised not to do it again, despite the fact that they had been repeat violators.

But the pollution law violations are just the tip of the iceberg. Wal-Mart has been cited for violations of child labor laws, violations of consumer safety laws, violations of immigration laws and even violating local water restrictions during droughts.

But it doesn’t end there. Wal-Mart is currently appealing a California decision in a class action suit that awarded $172 million because Wal-Mart violated California wage and hour laws.

Union Township is a very small local government entity with only one local zoning official who handles site approvals. Local officials have to rely on federal and state regulators to handle all other matters including compliance with pollution and other regulations.

A recent documentary shown at the CMU Democracy Film Series,“Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” details Wal-Mart’s methods of doing business.

On January 5, the ICDP’s main topic of the monthly meeting will be “The Impact of the Walmartization of Mount Pleasant.”

Why Should Taxpayers Foot The Bill for Roads The New Mt. Pleasant Wal-Mart Super Center Needs?

Now it looks like those secret talks the developers of the proposed Mt. Pleasant Wal-Mart Super Center/ Sam's Club project held with Union Township many months ago may wind up costing taxpayers some big bucks.

Which raises the question again, why should local businesses, which are already going to lose more business to Wal-Mart, be forced to subsidize their own demise? They don't get any tax breaks or subsidized new infrastructure for their businesses.

According to the Dec. 16 Morning Sun, a new expensive road will need to be built to handle the huge amounts of additional traffic on business US-127 aka South Mission, a road already jammed at the Bluegrass Road intersection which is also a main artery onto CMU's campus. They didn't mention that Bluegrass Road would also have to be widened to four lanes to accommodate the increased traffic flow with local taxpayers contributing to that project.

In Maryland most developers are forced to pick up the full tab for roads needed for their projects along with the cost of extending utilities. If other developments come along later that also take advantage of those roads and improvements then they are required to reimburse the first developer for a fair share of the cost of those public improvements. That way taxpayers do not subsidize development. Development pays for improvements and also subsidizes the local tax base.

Wal-Mart's lower prices come at a cost with most communities subsidizing them in one way or another. Taxpayers across America are already subsidizing Wal-Mart's failure to provide health care coverage for all of its employees. Now they want us to subsidize more of their project.

Before the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe opened the Soaring Eagle Casino an extensive study was done on the economic and social impact and the tribe identified the impacts on traffic, policing and roads. The Tribe has also done a pretty good job of offsetting those impacts too as signs around our community can attest with many local infrastructure improvements funded by 2% grants. The tribe also pays for the special joint traffic task force. They've been responsible neighbors and have picked up the tab for needed improvements to integrate their projects into the community.

Sam's Club and the Wal-Mart Super Center will also have a huge impact on Mt. Pleasant, not unlike the impact of the casino. Those impacts will directly affect the livelihoods of many of our local businesses. Anyone care to guess what kind of impact study the developer-friendly Union Township officials ordered up to assess the impact of the new development? Stay tuned.Guess what the topic at the January ICDP meeting will be.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Why Bush is Wrong on Wiretaps

He says he can break the law because he is the president. That is essentially the new argument the Bush administration has put forward to defend against the revelation by the New York Times that warrantless spying was done on American citizens. The president feels the Times needs to be investigated along with the leakers who helped get out the story. Others believe that hearings are needed to find out what the Bush administration actually did.

Now we find ourselves in a Constitutional crisis of historic proportions and Americans are seeking clarity while administration supporters in the media insist the president was simply doing a good job of defending America from terrorists.

Analysts and scholars are lending their talents to the task of sorting out the excuses and fabrications and among the best written pieces we've seen on the subject comes out of the Atlanta Journal Constitution's editorial page. Deputy editorial page editor Jay Bookman argues that for the good of the country the Congress and the people must challenge this latest presidential usurpation of power. The outcome could well determine what kind of country we will be.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Pennsylvania Paper Calls Intelligent Design Advocates Liars

It is refreshing to read the story behind the story in the case of the religious nuts in Dover, Pennsylvania, who sought to push God into biology classes. It turns out the local newspapers played a major role in bringing attention to the fanatics and in getting the school board members ousted who supported the inclusion of "intelligent design" in the local high school curriculum.

Today the newspaper came out strongly against the religious zealots who turned out to be more zealous than truthful. Editor and Publisher, the newspaper industry's leading trade publication published a background article about the situation that includes the entire editorial from the York, Pa, Daily Record, that begins with the words, "They lied."

The editorial goes on to mention the federal court decision that threw out the local school board decision dictating the teaching of intelligent design because it violated the separation of church and state.

Officials of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State are hailing the federal court decision as a major victory against the religious right.

If You Believe in Democracy - Stand With Conyers

Our president has crossed the line many times. Now he is not denying he broke the law when he authorized spying on American citizens. It is time for all good Democrats and Republicans too to demand an end. Michigan's Congressman John Conyers needs you to stand with him in his demand to end the abuses of power by the Bush administration.

Please take a few seconds to add your name to the list of thousands of others calling for censure of the Bush administration and begin the first steps towards impeachment of this president. The time to act is now.

If you need more information before you step forward see the Daily Kos publishing of a new report from Conyers about the crisis facing our democracy. You can also find more information at the Raw Story blog too.

If you feel you can do nothing about what is going on in our country, you are wrong. If you feel you must be part of the needed change to move our country away from the dangerous direction it is headed, give your country a holiday present.

It is time for all good Democrats to stand up and speak clearly and let your voices be heard. Add your name to the list.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Expect to See Some Great Stuff on Public Access Next Year

Several more ICDP members have completed training at MAC3TV and we expect some interesting new things to see on Cable Access Channel 3 next year. Many more of our gatherings will be seen there and we also hope to produce some original local programming that could be quite interesting.

We have also contacted the Democracy Now folks about showing Amy Goodman's show on our local cable access channel. Amy can already be seen on many other cable access channels across the state, but not here yet. We hope to change that soon. Stay tuned.

Camp helps impose martial law on house...


They changed the rules to get the budget bill passed.

You can read the mcjoan Kos post here.

Here's how Ed Kilgore explained it:

Thanks to martial law, the incredibly convoluted series of decisions made totally behind close doors on the budget bill, turned into a simple loyalty test for partisans. There was a grand total of 40 minutes of debate, which was probably about right since nobody had the chance to read the bill in the first place.

What did your congressman have to with this?

Here's what Dave Camp had to say about the bill:

“The Deficit Reduction Act is good for taxpayers, good for those who rely on government programs to get by, and good for our economy. After expanding unchecked for eight consecutive years, this bill reforms mandatory government programs so they do not grow at an unsustainable rate and further push this country into debt. By ending practices such as double-dipping and the overcharging of government programs, this bill allows us to continue critical social services for those most in need. The alternative to this bill is bigger deficits and higher taxes; neither of which are acceptable. American workers and employers already pay too much in taxes; so, we must get smarter about providing quality services at lower costs. This bill is a step in that direction.”
Republican's had to make sweeping rule changes and give forty minutes to debate the draconian budget measures they wanted to take. Here's a synapsis of what happened from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

As predicted in this statement, the House Republican leadership did use the “martial law” gambit to rush the House to a vote on the spending cut reconciliation bill before Members (much less the press or the public) had a reasonable chance to examine the legislation and understand what it would do.

* Just before midnight on Sunday, December 18, the House adopted the “martial law rule” that allowed the leadership to bring up the conference report on the reconciliation bill shortly after the conference report was finalized, without waiting until the next legislative day as required by House rules.

* At 1:12 a.m. on Monday, December 19, the 774 page conference report on the reconciliation spending cut bill was filed in the House.

* At 5:43 a.m. Monday morning, after less than 40 minutes of debate on the measure, the House began the final vote on the reconciliation spending cut bill.

UPDATE 8:56am: Just spoke to Sara at Dave Camp's office. She took my message, asking for an explanation of why this happened, and gave her my phone number. I will follow up later this morning. PLEASE CALL (202) 225-3561.

Monday, December 19, 2005

So How Many High Crimes and Misdemeanors is Enough to Impeach?

Many of us thought that the Downing Street Memo was the smoking gun, that a president knowingly and with malice aforethought violated both national and international law to lead us into a unnecessary war.

There have been numerous smoking guns since then without any effect. Now after the New York Times uncovers another high crime -- George Bush almost dares the Congress to do something about. He seems to be saying, "I did it -- what are you going to do about it? Let the terrorists have their way?"

Former Nixon advisor John Dean says it is the first time in American history a president has actually admitted he broke the law. Now, finally, even a few Republicans are among those wondering if a president can do anything he wants in the so-called war on terrorism.

Assume that there are people actively plotting to kill Americans. Few us would argue they should not be placed under surveillance. Our laws already provided the mechanism to do exactly that by getting secret warrants from a secret court. But Bush wanted to do it his way regardless of what the law said. The law was written specifically to avoid having innocent people swept up in a wave of hysteria.

But now comes a bunch of Democratic Party heroes who are willing to stand up, some more strongly than others, to denounce the latest outrage of the Bush administration. Count among them Michigan's two U.S. Senators who voted against a tainted Patriot Act which also fails to distinguish between probable suspects and fishing expeditions.

Now, today, Monday Dec. 19, 2005, comes the white-maned dean of constitutional law, the conscience of the Senate, the fiddle-playing, Shakespeare-quoting Senator from the great state of West Virginia, Robert Byrd, in what may well be seen as the old man's finest hour he tells the president he is not above the law:

I continue to be shocked and astounded by the breadth with which the Administration undermines the constitutional protections afforded to the people, and the arrogance with which it rebukes the powers held by the Legislative and Judicial Branches. The President has cast off federal law, enacted by Congress, often bearing his own signature, as mere formality. He has rebuffed the rule of law, and he has trivialized and trampled upon the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizures guaranteed to Americans by the United States Constitution.

We are supposed to accept these dirty little secrets. We are told that it is irresponsible to draw attention to President Bush’s gross abuse of power and Constitutional violations. But what is truly irresponsible is to neglect to uphold the rule of law. We listened to the President speak last night on the potential for democracy in Iraq. He claims to want to instill in the Iraqi people a tangible freedom and a working democracy, at the same time he violates our own U.S. laws and checks and balances? President Bush called the recent Iraqi election “a landmark day in the history of liberty.” I dare say in this country we may have reached our own sort of landmark. Never have the promises and protections of Liberty seemed so illusory. Never have the freedoms we cherish seemed so imperiled.

These renegade assaults on the Constitution and our system of laws strike at the very core of our values, and foster a sense of mistrust and apprehension about the reach of government.

I am reminded of Thomas Payne’s famous words, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”

These astounding revelations about the bending and contorting of the Constitution to justify a grasping, irresponsible Administration under the banner of “national security” are an outrage. Congress can no longer sit on the sidelines. It is time to ask hard questions of the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the Director of the CIA. The White House should not be allowed to exempt itself from answering the same questions simply because it might assert some kind of “executive privilege” in order to avoid further embarrassment.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Young, Bright, Clean-Cut and Thinking About Taking on Bill Caul in the 99th

Among the 27 folks attending last night's Granholm Gathering was a young man who is considering running for office for the first time. He is two years older than John Engler was when he first ran for the state legislature in Isabella County and twice as photogenic.

At 23 years of age, Eric Welsby, will pursue a graduate degree after he graduates from CMU in May. But he has no plans to go anywhere other than CMU. When he stood up to declare his intentions last night, his soft-spoken remarks accompanied by a charming smile was a reminder that the Democratic Party has a bright future.

It will be interesting to see if Eric takes the plunge and even more interesting to see an old white-haired unhandsome listless Republican up on the same platform with an energetic, creative clean-cut young Democrat. The Republicans may have gerrymandered the district, but something very interesting could happen in the 99th legislative district in 2006. Stay tuned.

Dems Turn Out in Snow Storm in Mt. Pleasant for Granholm

It wasn't the worst snow storm to hit Mt. Pleasant - but it wasn't the nicest night to be out on the slippery roads either. No matter -- Democrats in Mt. Pleasant wanted to see and hear Michigan's first woman governor talk about her plans for 2006. Almost 40 folks turned out at two locations in Mt. Pleasant on Wednesday night to hear the Governor tell them she needed their help to win re-election next year.

Although the streaming video technology wasn't the greatest, the creative ideas to diversify Michigan's economy and get Michigan's economy on the right track struck a welcome cord. Granhom took a decimated state budget under John Engler and made the tough choices the Republicans refused to make. It would have been easy to spend the first four years in office pointing fingers at the mess the Republicans had gotten us into. Instead she surrounded herself with creative and energetic folks who have constructed an effective set of programs that will make a world of difference both in the next few years and over the long haul.

The best the Republicans could come up with is the tired old bromide to cut taxes. While that might have been a good idea ten years ago, it is exactly the wrong thing to do now. The Mackinaw Center to Benefit the Rich hasn't come up with a new idea in years because it takes more than an ideology to move things forward. It takes a lot of REAL research and hard work (not phony BS) to come up with a plan to deal with the very complex set of factors facing Michigan today.

One of the difficulties of explaining complex plans, however, is they don't lend themselves to easy sound bites. Michigan's willingness to invest in laying the groundwork for a diverse economy could well decide if we can shake the Rust Belt moniker. The first Democratic Governor to lead us out of the Engler Dark Years faces a tough battle in 2006.

If Wednesday night is any indication, Granholm is off to a good start. She took a lemon and is making lemonade.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Charter School, MEA and a Union on Tribal Land Makes Volatile Political Mix Up North

Politics is, of course, the game that deterimines who gets what, when where and how. Put together an interesting mix of political players and you get an interesting political scene at the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

The fireworks began up north back in October when teachers at the Joseph K. Lumsden Bahweting Public School Academy voted 23-9 in favor of union representation by the Michigan Education Association (MEA). But tribal leaders reacted by threatening to close the school and forbid any unions on the reservation. But tribal officials apparently didn't understand what a charter school is other than they would get big bucks from the state.

The Nov. 1st edition of the tribal newspaper, The Sault Tribe News in a story by Cory Wilson quotes Tribal Chairman Aaron Payment, "This represents a very serious threat to the tribe because the school is located on our reservation. It also threatens our right to self-governance as it introduced a new governing body."

Although the school is a tribal school on tribal lands, when tribal leaders decided to make it a charter school it became a public school subject to all Michigan laws including Michigan labor laws. Now the tribe is facing an unfair labor complaint from the MEA and another blog has really picked up on the story and allowed both sides to air their complaints, most of them anonymous. It makes for some fascinating reading here at the Intercepts blog.

CMU Public Radio had a story about the situation up north this morning (Wed. Dec. 14). Our local Saginaw Chippewa Tribe in recent years had actually looked at the possibility of converting their Montessori school into a charter school, but decided against it. Perhaps, they had enough other things to keep them occupied.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Granholm Gatherings in Mt. Pleasant Wednesday Night

Democrats all over the state will be gathering together this Wednesday night, Dec. 14 in dozens of house parties and gatherings to hear about Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s plans for 2006. The ICDP is holding two Granholm Gatherings on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. one at the popular coffee Shop downtown, The Daily Grind and the other at the home of Charles and Peggy Novitski. The Governor will speak to us either over a webcast or via speakerphone and will talk about her 2006 campaign.

There will be refreshments at both sites, but you will also be able to gather with local Democrats one last time before the holidays. You will be asked to sign the governor’s nominating petitions and you will be able to find out more about how you can become involved in 2006. It’s a nice little short informal get-together.

Here’s the details:

Granholm Gathering at The Daily Grind is located at 112. N. Main St. a half block south of the County Office Building. Chair Alan Kilar is coordinating. Please RSVP to Alan at

Granholm Gathering at The Novitskis is located at 1208 East Preston across from the high school tennis courts Charles Novitski is coordinating. Please RSVP to Charles at or phone (989) 772-4273.

Do Liberals and Democrats Hate America?

One of the most irksome and annoying pronouncements from those other folks is that somehow because we are oppossed to an unjust, uneeded, wasteful war we are all unpatriotic or that we "hate America."

They obviously don't know us. We do hate things our country has done in our name, but we do not hate America. Liberals and Democrats (not all Democrats are liberals -- we don't have idealogical litmus tests in our party) are smart enough to know that flags are symbols, not religious relics. We are smart enough to know that no country is perfect and that when our country goes wrong, its citizens need to correct it.

Our founders engineered checks and balances into our government because they knew how rulers can go wrong. They understood that mixing politics and religion leads to disaster. They also understood that when government goes wrong, citizens have an obligation and responsibility to right those wrongs and provide for the common good, not just the priviledged few. We love that our country allows us to do that.

Too bad it will take until next year to do that.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Will Granholm Stand With the People or the Polluters?

The Republicans have pushed a bill through the legislature to let the Dow Chemical Co, and other polluters change the way our state regulators control pollution and HB 4617 AKA SB 3 is heading to Gov. Granholm's desk either for a signature or a veto. Will our Governor who has already had the courage to reject other Republican efforts to kowtow to the rich and powerful also stand her ground and veto this effort to set back Michigan pollution regulations?

Come on, Jennifer, we are heading to your house parties on Wednesday night. Veto this bill. You are are on the side of the people and the environment. Prove it!!

We won't need a Green Party in Michigan if Democrats do the right thing for the environment. Read the other posts below.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Now They REALLY need Our Help

Our October meeting speaker, Michelle Hurd-Riddick, just sent us an e-mail confirming that the only thing that can stop HB4617 from becoming law now is a a veto by Gov. Granholm. Forunately, our Governor knows how to use her veto when she knows she needs to.

But she needs to know you care about our new friends along the Tittabawassee River. This is Michelle's message to us:

Dear Friends:

Please help the Lone Tree Council continue our fight to cleanup the Tittabawassee River and Saginaw River.

As many of you know, yesterday, the Michigan House and Senate passed concurring legislation HB 4617 (S3). This legislation was supported by industry and business across the state because it will make cleanup by Dow Chemical along the Tittabawassee and Saginaw River nearly impossible.

Legislators trying to protect Dow Chemical are proposing to change the way the State manages our cleanup laws. HB 4617/SB1 would remove the state's ability to designate some property as a "facility" or potentially contaminated. An amendment would also allow the polluter to contest whether a property can receive the designation. The result will be more expensive cleanups, slower cleanups, and increased liability for individual property owners whose property may be contaminated. Residents may actually lose the ability to force polluters to pay. In addition, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" provisions of the bill would prevent property owners from knowing that their property is contaminated, would prevent future owners from being informed, and would prevent the DEQ from doing anything about it, even if the property owners wanted a clean-up. This bill actually diminishes the rights of owners and future owners of properties.

This is our home and our watershed and we need to act today! Please call Governor Granholm and ask her to veto HB 4617 (s3). Her number is 1-517-373-3400. Please do it soon. E-mail me and let me know if you did this so we can track the calls. Anyone else you can think of to have place a call please do.

Thanks so very much for all your support. I cannot tell you how important a veto is.

Warm regards,

Michelle Hurd Riddick

Lone Tree Council


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Our Mildand and Saginaw County Friends Need Help Now

When members of the Lone Tree Council came to our October meeting in Mt. Pleasant they gave us a memorable introduction into the power of Dow Chemical and introduced us to their long battle to hold the Fortune 100 company accountable for the dioxin mess it has created along the Tittabawassee River.

Republicans in the state legislature are working hard to push a particualrly odious law through the legislature, HB 4617, that would prevent the state from designating properties as potentially contaminated.

The bill cleverly attempts to divide property owners along the river and minimize or eliminate the need for Dow Chemical to pay for the mess it has made over many decades by contaminating the river with dioxins. Dow's lobbyists have been working behind the scenes to put a clever name on the bill and to get wording put in the law that would tie the hands of state clean water regulators and essentially postpone or eliminate what could be a liability that reaches into the tens of millions of dollars.

Taxpayers could well be stuck with the cost of cleaning up the mess.
Wall Street is watching this one closely and the outcome will have a direct impact on Dow's stock price that could drop like a rock if Dow has to clean up its own mess.

The Michigan Public Interest Research Group, has entered the fray and is asking us to sign up and let our legislators know of our opposition to HB 4617. You can sign up here to oppose HB 4617

For more details about the HB 4617 you can go to the Current News on the Tittabawassee River Watch web site where the latest details of the battle are there for your viewing. Take a few minutes and help our friends to the east. If the Chippewa River flowed the other way we would be dealing with the Dow dioxin mess ourselves.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Granholm Says No To Mt. Pleasant Wal-Mart Tax Break

Our first woman governor didn't make a big deal out of it. No big press conferences. No big announcements and no outcry from Republicans greeted a quiet little veto from Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Wal-Mart, which has demanded tax breaks from every community it has blessed with its presence, got snookered out of a sweatheart deal for its proposed distribution center in Union Township.

Details of the veto emerged in this morning's local newspaper in this article. Even though our state legislature's Republican majority passed the tax break, they obviously didn't have enough votes to over ride the Governor's veto.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Bush Failure Lists Becoming Familiar

Just a few days ago, Joel Welty, one of our panelists at the ICDP discussion on Politics and Morality, offered up a list of Bush administration actions that he felt were immoral. Many of the policies, actions and inactions that Joel cited are also in evidence in this article about why Bush could go down in history as America's worst president beating out James Buchanan.

Here is part of the list of Bush transgressions compiled in this op-ed piece from Richard Reeves:

  • He is bankrupting the country with a combination of aggressive military spending and reduced taxation of the rich;

  • He has deliberately and dangerously attacked separation of church and state;

  • He has repeatedly "misled," to use a kind word, the American people on affairs domestic and foreign;

  • He has proved to be incompetent in affairs domestic (New Orleans) and foreign (

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    and the battle against al-Qaida);

  • He has sacrificed American employment (including the toleration of pension and benefit elimination) to increase overall productivity;

  • He is ignorantly hostile to science and technological progress;

  • He has tolerated or ignored one of the republic's oldest problems, corporate cheating in supplying the military in wartime.

  • One could also cite the Bush Administration's efforts to make Wall Street richer at the expense of people on Social Security or his efforts to raid the public treasury on behalf of oil companies and drug companies. The historians could also cite numerous other transgressions against decency and humanity and hopefully they will all add up to a very strong case for impeachment when we elect a Democratic Congress next year.

    Saturday, December 03, 2005

    CMU Dem Responds to CMU Young Republican

    What can a young Democrat do when a college Republican blames "high" American wages on unions and factory workers in a letter to CM Life. Rob Boden, our liason with the College Dems responded with a letter to the editor

    Way to go, Rob!!

    Can Wal-Mart Destroy Montana and Mt. Pleasant

    For those of you who still feel that a Wal-mart Super Center and a Wal-Mart distribution center might just be good for Mt. Pleasant, perhaps you should hear what the Helena, Montana newspaper, The Independent Record, ran the other day in this local opinion piece entitled, "Can We Afford These Low Prices?"

    (from bob)

    Here's the money graf:

    Wal-Mart sucks money out of the community.

    Should We Change Meeting Day?

    Even though we had 35 folks attending our last monthly meeting we've heard a number of complaints about when we hold our monthly meetings. The first Thursday of the month apparently conflicts with many other things going on in the community although it has been a tradition to hold our meetings on that First Thursday. What do you think? should we change our monthly meeting dates and, if so, to what? The fourth Thursday, the second Monday, the third Sunday afternoon? Montcalm County has a potluck dinner meeting on a Sunday afternoon once a month. When do you think we should have our gatherings?

    Camp Denying $7500 Campaign Donation Influenced Him

    Dave Camp is denying that a $7,500 campaign donation had anything to do with his efforts to help the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe get a $3 million federal grant. The story is in the Midland News titled Camp, aide comment on gifts by lobbyist, tribe

    More Details About Politics and Morality From the Minutes

    John Lorand does an excellent job as our recording secretary and his summary of the discussion at our Thursday meeting was very enlightening. Here's how he summarized the discusssion in his meeting minutes:

    Business meeting was preceded by a panel discussion of Politics & Morality. Joel Welty began by presenting a litany of George W. Bush’s immoralities, adding that his list was incomplete.

    Rob Noggle, CMU Prof. of Philosophy, related morality to values issues: he said he is a Democrat because of values, and he gave examples. He urged us not to concede the values ground to Republicans, but work to attract values voters.

    Rev. Rob Barker said he values diversity in the Dem. party. He considered the morality of Jesus, who was not concerned with people’s private lives, but was concerned with the cruel treatment of the least, last, and lost by the ruling class. He contrasted this morality with the behavior of our ruling class. Morality is about much more than sex.

    Nancy White, CMU Business Prof., argued that The Law has not been about morality until very recently, but that now we realize that it must be. Law has been utilitarian, serving to guarantee distribution of food to non–farmers, and later to protect wealth. She discussed laws, asking how they probably arose, starting with what is known about the earliest farming societies. Even US democracy existed originally to conserve wealth; it was immoral to, among others, Indians and slaves, and it excluded non–landowners from participation. Morality is overdue.

    The presentations were followed by many good questions and observations from the audience.

    Friday, December 02, 2005

    Like a Deer in the Headlights

    State Legislator Bill Caul, the Republican who inherited his wife's 99th House District seat has been decribed as a person who is out of place in Lansing -- more like a deer in the headlights.

    This latest photo from CM Life shows Caul addressing Young Republicans at CMU and sure enough, according to CMU Dem, Rob Boden, that's what Caul looks like in this picture.

    This is the legislator whose claim to fame is that his wife Sandy was a very dynamic ambitious woman, but she got term limited and needed to keep the money in the family.

    The Young Republicans must have been thrilled with their dynamic speaker.

    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    Politics and Morality -- Great Discusssion

    For those of you who missed the Thursday ICDP meeting -- yes it was the best one of the year. But the good news is --- it has been videotaped for public access and as soon as we have some show times, we will let you know. For those of you without cable, we can try to have some of our friends tape it for you.

    Here's just a notion of what it was like. Each of our four panelists had their unique approach and had much to add. Dr. Rob Noggle approached his task in a very thorough and academic way, reminding Democrats that the opposition does not hold the high ground on moral issues. Our first speaker Joel Welty reminded us just how immoral the Bush administration has been and spelled out in detail each of the immoral acts. Rev. Rob Barker spoke from a Christian viewpoint that Jesus was more involved in the moral issues involving rich and poor and the powerful and the oppressed than issues involving sexuality. Dr. Nancy White in her initial remarks gave us another view -- that what we are dealing with today involving politics and morality is a relatively new phenomenon in world history and helped us to put the discusssion in perspective.

    Thanks to Dr. Charles Novitski, we will be able to see the entire session soon an Cable Channel 3. As soon as we have the times we will pass them along.

    What Do and Should Democrats Stand For?

    Perhaps it is time to quit talking about what is wrong with the Republicans and begin to talk more about what we as Democrats stand for. The 1994 Republican Contract with America changed the way Republicans were perceived. Of course, they had a lot of media help, but did indeed create their own hype and it was indeed hype. Now we know better.

    Despite what some Democrats may think, there are a lot of us working on and giving considerable thought to where we stand and/or should stand on things that matter to the voters. Clinton's brilliant labor secretary has an idea whose time may have come. Robert Reich has proposed a 10-point Covenant With America that gives us a starting point to focus on and it addresses all of the major issues including health care, education and the economy.

    First let me add I don't feel his health care proposal goes far enough. I feel America needs a national health care system that covers everyone and a single payer health insurance system is one way to achieve that. Please feel free to register and add your comments on the Reich 10-point covenant.

    United Methodist Bishops Come Out Against War

    It's nice to see that the United Methodist Bishops have taken a stand against the war in Iraq. They even have a place to allow Methodists and others to sign on and share their support for the resolution passed by the Council of Bishops. Here is where to go to sign on to support the bishop's stand against the war and their Statement of Conscience

    Time to CLEAN the House...

    Via MyDD we learn about the canidate to replace jail bound Rep Duke Cunningham (R-CA), Francine Busby, has a plan to clean the house.

    1. Ban All Outside Financial Relationships With Government Contractors

    The first proposal would ban any member of Congress from having any outside financial relationship with a government contractor. The shame that Duke Cunningham has brought on San Diego from his cozy relationship with Mitchell Wade revealed huge loopholes in our system. In the business world and local governments, it is a clear-cut conflict of interest for members of policy making and oversight boards to have outside financial relationships with business partners. Congress should be no different. A defense contractor should never be involved in a deal to buy or sell a house, boat, condo, buck-knife or anything else with a member of Congress. This has to stop. My proposal will end these sugar-daddy relationships once and for all.

    2. Ban Members Promoting Specific Businesses For Government Contracts of Regulatory Favors

    Secondly, my proposal would ban members of Congress from using their official position to give government contracts or regulatory favors to specific businesses. Representatives are elected to work for their districts and they should. However, their conduct crosses an ethical line when they lobby for specific companies to receive government contracts or gain regulatory favors. Government contracts and decisions need to be based on a real need and done by whomever can do the best job at the least cost to taxpayers, not on which business has the best connections in Washington. Recent allegations of profiteering by companies with strong connections to Congress that received no-bid contracts for services in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina recovery have highlighted the need for this reform.

    3. Eliminate Anonymous Appropriations

    My third proposal calls for a ban on anonymous appropriations earmarks to reform our out-of-control budget process. The exposure of Cunningham’s backroom wheeling and dealing gave us all a peak at just what goes on behind closed doors, away from microphones and television cameras. We saw how members of congress swap favors to payback big contributors. This wide-scale abuse of the public’s trust has resulted in the bloated budgets that have exploded in recent years and contributed to record levels of deficit spending.

    4. Ban All Privately Funded Congressional Travel

    I propose to eliminate all privately funded travel by members of Congress. If members want to go to Idaho to go hunting like Cunningham did, they can pay for it themselves just like ordinary Americans do. I understand that members of congress often must travel as part of their jobs. My proposal does not prevent any member of Congress from taking fact-finding trips. They can do this as they have for many years, through the established process for official congressional travel that requires reasonable proof that a trip is legitimately related to their job. This is not more or less than any business requires. Too often members of congress forget who they represent. Too often they are golfing at Pebble Beach courtesy of a big oil company when they should be in Washington working to lower gas prices.
    This is the type of thing that we can hammer Dave Camp on, this blog has already reported where Con. Camp sits with this issue.

    This is the type of thing that Huck '06 should be talking about. Real proposals about how to fix the problem.

    It's the type of thing to move this intrepid blogger from non-plussed to excited about a campaign.