Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Rest in peace, Mr. President: Gerald R. Ford, 1913-2006

As someone who lives not far from Gerald Ford's longtime hometown of Grand Rapids, I was saddened to learn of the passing of President Ford last night.

Ford was a very decent Republican who took office when the nation yearned for his leadership after the resignation of Richard Nixon. His brand of honesty and humility is very rare in today's Republican Party.

Here is what some prominent figures have to say about our 38th President:

"A man of highest integrity, his life-long dedication to helping others touched the lives of countless people. An outstanding statesman, he wisely chose the path of healing during a deeply divisive time in our nation's history. He frequently rose above politics by emphasizing the need for bipartisanship and seeking common ground on issues critical to our nation. I will always cherish the personal friendship we shared. Rosalynn and I extend our heartfelt sympathy to Betty and the entire Ford family during this time of grief." -President Jimmy Carter

"Gerald Ford brought Americans together during a difficult chapter in our history with strength, integrity, and humility. All Americans should be grateful for his life of service; he served our nation well. To his great credit, he was the same hard-working, down-to-earth person the day he left the White House as he was when he first entered Congress almost 30 years earlier." -President and Senator Bill and Hillary Clinton

"Gerald Ford and I came from different sides of the aisle, but we forged a wonderful friendship as we served Michigan together in the House of Representatives. When his nation called on him to serve this country in the most difficult of times, he rose up and held the country together. It will certainly be his legacy." -Representative John Dingell of Dearborn

"Gerald Ford was deeply respected on both sides of the political aisle for his fairness, his bipartisanship, and his integrity. He helped smooth out the rough edges of politics. Over time, we will honor his memory in many ways, but one immediate way is to return the Gerald Ford quality of civility to the nation’s capital." -Senator Carl Levin

"The nation has lost a president, but Michigan has lost a native son who honored us with his service to our state and the nation. President Ford's leadership and decency were exhibited throughout his life, from the University of Michigan where he was a championship athlete, to the halls of Congress where he served with great distinction, and later to the presidency where he helped heal the nation during one of the most difficult periods of our history. Those of us in the Great Lakes State mourn his loss, and we extend our heartfelt sympathy to Mrs. Ford, his children, and his entire family." -Governor Jennifer Granholm

Monday, December 11, 2006

Levin's Early Message on 2008 Election Sends Signal to State Party

Sen. Carl Levin didn't waste any time announcing he would be running again in 2008. It really does make it easier for the Michigan Democratic Party to concentrate its efforts at the top of the ticket and anyone with pretensions for the Senator's spot can now direct their attention elsewhere.

Democratic activists locally are long time supporters of Michan's senior senator. Even though they are very unhappy with Sen. Stabenow about her vote on the torture bill, they are still very confident that Sen. Levin will do an exceptional job as he helps to lead the Democrats in the Senate in holding the Bush administration accountable. Levin is pictured here at a local gathering with the Senator at Max and Emily's in downtown Mount Pleasant. Posted by Picasa

New Officers at ICDP

They are younger, better looking and ready to take on their new leadership roles at the Isabella County Democratic Party.
Pictured here are (left to right) Al Gaunt, correspondence secretary; Shary Gaunt, Chair; Mary Barker, 2nd Vice Chair and Tim Caldwell, Recording Secretary and in back row, Andy Leavitt, vice chair and Rob Boden, treasurer. The new group has already met to begin planning some new directions for our local party. The new leaders were just elected to two-year terms to lead the ICDP through the 2008 election. Just click on the picture for a better view.Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 08, 2006

Our Holiday Gift to Mid-Michigan (Clare, Gratiot and Isabella Counties)

Five Hours Each Week of “Democracy Now” - Live from New York

Beginning Monday, Dec. 11 our 3-county area of Michigan will finally have something to counter Fox-TV and Rush Limbaugh. Those of you who subscribe to Charter Cable in Gratiot, Isabella and Clare Counties need to tune in Monday through Friday every week to Channel 3 at 8 a.m. or set your TIVO or VCR to record it for you. We promise you will see things on Democracy Now you will not see or hear on what passes for media in America today. Enjoy!!!

The hour-long daily program will be coming to you live from New York thanks to the Isabella County Democratic Party and MAC3-TV. It was Charles Novitski’s involvement and frustration with our area’s right wing media that got us to this point. City Commissioner Jim Moreno donated the satellite dish for the live feed and the ICDP paid much of the cost to install the satellite tower and Free Speech TV donated the final equipment to make it all happen.

This is a holiday gift that will keep giving since it is a permanent fixture on public access television as long as that lasts. If you’ve seen our other Updates you know our lame duck legislature could eliminate that. Please see our earlier posts if you haven’t called to register your voice in opposition to HB6456.

What is Democracy Now?

Democracy Now! is a national independent news program, hosted by award-winning journalists Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez and produced out of the Downtown Community Television Center, a community media center in New York City’s Chinatown.

The show is committed to covering issues the conventional media avoid and bringing the voices of the marginalized to the airwaves. Goodman and Gonzalez’s engaging reports feature interviews with activists, muckrakers, visionaries, artists, academics, and "ordinary folks" who share a commitment to truth, justice, diversity, and peace.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Net Neutrality

“Net neutrality“ and the attempts by AT&T and others to take over Michigan’s cable system were discussed at the ICDP meeting tonight. There are a couple of interesting posts on the Michigan Liberal blog about the surprising new allies who have joined the fight to prevent the changes. You can go to that blog by clicking on the title of this post. Enjoy.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Public Access TV Threatened by HB 6456

The ICDP has been an avid user of and supporter of the services provided by our local public access TV folks, the Mid-Michigan Area Cable Consortium (MAC3-TV) that operates our public, educational and governmental channels in Gratiot, Clare and Isabella Counties. But a new telecommunications law now being discussed by the lame-duck legislature could eliminate all funding for public access television as early as Tuesday. We need you to call our legislators ASAP. Here’s the rest of the story.

How could this happen? The big telecoms and their Republican friends are claiming that more TV choices will be available if local franchising is eliminated for cable TV and that consumers will be better served with more choices. They want to take regulatory authority away from local governments with HB 6456 (aka The Uniform Video Services Local Franchise Act) and hand it over to the state government. Public access, educational and local government (PEG) channels are part of the current deal to allow cable TV to operate locally. Currently, no taxpayer money pays for PEG TV. The money comes from a portion of the franchise fees paid to local governments. In our area 12 communities in our 3 counties have a deal with Charter Communications.

By pooling their money, the local public officials have actually created a rather vibrant public access channel and educational and governmental programming that includes TV produced by many community groups, college students, schools and organizations including local churches, libraries, animal shelters and, of course, the ICDP. We’ve been working with the MAC3-TV folks to bring Amy Goodman’s famous Democracy Now program to Channel 3. As soon as a new satellite receiver is in place the program will be on the air, probably before Christmas.

But all that good stuff could come to a screeching halt if HB 6456 moves through the legislature as written. The Michigan Municipal League has recommended a series of changes that would allow additional competition without relinquishing local control and avoids creating a new state agency for franchising and saves public access. Hundreds of local governments including the City of Mt. Pleasant have passed resolutions opposed to HB 6456. More info is available here.

Your phone calls or e-mails tonight or tomorrow morning to our local legislators can make a difference. Let them know that you want to keep public access TV and protect our local governments from further loss of revenues. State Senator’s contact info is available here under Find Your Senator. House of Representatives members information is available here under Find a Representative. Do it now and leave a message!! Or do it in the morning.