17 Nov / 2015
It is in our deepest sympathies to notify you that Robert Creedon has passed away. Funeral services are only 1 day. Please see below for details.
L.J. Griffin Funeral Home
8809 Wayne Road
Visitation Wednesday, November 18 @ 1pm, Wenesday, November 18 service @ 7pm
13 Nov / 2015
A voice from the past to lead us in the future:
John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the White House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time. He made this statement: “This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
“When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe .”
“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”
“It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.”
“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”
“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”
“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
“To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
Thomas Jefferson said in 1802:
“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.
If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property – until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers
LANSING, MI — Michigan voters would lose the ability to cast a straight-ticket ballot for candidates of a single political party under fast-tracked legislation approved Tuesday evening in the state Senate.
The Republican-backed bill advanced through committee earlier the same day before reaching the floor, where it was amended to include a $1 million appropriation that would make it immune to referendum.
Michigan voters overturned a similar law in 2002 after Democrats forced a ballot referendum via petition drive.
The new bill would provide funding to the Michigan Secretary of State to assess the impact of eliminating straight-ticket voting, assist in ongoing fraud prevention and “provide equipment to facilitate the integrity of the election process,” among other things.
Sen. Dave Robertson, R-Grand Blanc, called the appropriation “entirely legitimate,” but critics pointed out that most state spending decisions are made during the budget process, not within policy bills.
“Let’s not lie to each other, and let’s not lie to voters of this state. This appropriation is a $1 million insurance policy against the will of the people,” said Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., D-Meridian Township.
As for the policy itself, supporters say Senate Bill 13 would reduce partisanship in the elections process and encourage voters to conduct more research before heading to the polls. But critics say it could decrease convenience and lead to longer lines on Election Day.
All sides seem to agree the change would have the largest effect in down-ticket elections on the partisan section of the ballot, such as university regent or school board races, which tend to feature lesser-known candidates.
Sponsoring Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy, noted that Michigan is one of only 10 states that currently allows straight-ticket voting, which he called a holdover from the days of political machines and party bosses.
“Voting is one of our most fundamental rights, and the issue of choosing men and women who lead our local, state and federal government should never be taken for granted,” Knollenberg said.
“It is time that Michigan’s election process become more about the people, less about political parties, and even less about how long it takes to exercise one of our most fundamental rights.”
City and township clerks who administer elections are opposed to the bill because they say that straight-ticket voting helps keep down wait times. Even if it only takes each voter 30 additional seconds to fill out a full ballot, that extra time could add up to create bottlenecks, they said in committee.
Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, criticized Republicans for even taking up the bill, arguing it does not address real and pressing needs of Michigan families.
“You’re serving your own self-interest by making it harder to vote,” Ananich said.
The Michigan Bureau of Elections does not keep statewide statistics on straight-ticket voting, but county-level data suggests the practice has benefited Democratic candidates in some parts of the state, especially in presidential years.
Last year in Oakland County, for instance, 109,711 voters cast a straight-ticket ballot for Democrats, compared to 108,211 for Republicans. The gap was much wider in 2012, with 171,526 straight-ticket ballots for Democrats and 145,375 for Republicans.
“The only reason to do this is a perceived partisan advantage,” said Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren. “You could put this under the category of how to steal an election, but I don’t want to go that far.”
Democrats proposed a series of amendments to the bill that they suggested could alleviate the concern over long lines, including no-reason absentee or early voting, but Republicans shot down the proposals.
The Senate eventually approved the bill in a 23-13 vote. Two Republicans — Sen. Joe Hune, of Hamburg, and Tory Rocca, of Sterling Heights — joined all 11 Democrats in voting “no.”
The legislation now heads to the House, where Speaker Kevin Cotter has not yet had much time to review it.
“I’m going to spend some time with the bill they send over,” Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, said earlier Tuesday. “I want to get a better feel for exactly what’s there.”
State’s `F’ Grade on Gov’t Accountability A `National Embarrassment’
When it comes to state government transparency and accountability, Michigan fails.
That’s according to the nonprofits Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity, which released a nationwide report on how every state handles public access to information, political spending, lobbying disclosure and more.
Michigan received an F score overall, along with 10 other states. But based on the total score, derived from 245 questions that reporters in each state researched, Michigan actually scored the lowest of all states, garnering 51 points out of a possible 100.
Each state was graded on 13 different categories. Michigan received an F grade for 10 of the 13 categories.
The categories Michigan failed in were public access to information, political financing, lobbying disclosure, procurement, state civil service management, ethics enforcement agencies and state pension fund management, as well as the categories of executive, legislative and judicial accountability.
The state did receive a C+ for its internal auditing, a B+ for its state budget processes and a B- for its electoral oversight.
Located within each category were the various questions Michigan was graded on, with some being yes or no questions and others scored on a point scale. The questions were designed not only to see if certain laws exist, but if they’re being implemented and enforced.
The report spurred some groups to call for changes to Michigan laws, including expanding the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the Governor’s Office and the Legislature, which are currently exempt from disclosure.
“This report proves that our FOIA system, along with other accountability mechanisms for our state, are woefully inadequate,” said Lonnie SCOTT, executive director of Progress Michigan, in a statement. “Rick [SNYDER] promised to govern Michigan like a CEO, but in reality he’s governed more like Richard NIXON.”
Others joining the call for reform included Common Cause of Michigan and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN).
Rich ROBINSON, executive director of the MCFN, called the report a “national embarrassment” for Michigan, and Melanie McELROY, executive director of Common Cause Michigan, called the results “appalling.”
“This report is proof that our current laws fail the people of Michigan when it comes to open and honest government,” Robinson said in a statement. “Our open records laws need to be updated to ensure the public can see how this administration and legislature are working for them and we need to better track financial disclosures and ensure that lobbyists and the well-connected do not have undue influence on our elected officials.”
Robinson said on a press call today the state lacks any sort of law requiring personal financial disclosure for officeholders and top administration officials, which he says hinders people from knowing if a public servant is serving his or her own financial interest.
Robinson also noted there’s no “cooling off period” for folks moving from elected office or a top administration position to lobbying.
Snyder’s campaign platform included ideas to change how government works. In an interview last year, Snyder even backed the idea of a “cooling off period” for those moving to lobbying (See “Ethics Reform/Financial Disclosure Still On Snyder Agenda,” 5/30/14).
Snyder’s office did not return a request for comment today on the report.
An article summarizing Michigan’s findings was written for the Center for Public Integrity by Chad SELWESKI, the former Macomb Daily reporter.
The article used a few recent incidents in Lansing to explain Michigan’s ranking, including the 2013 passage of legislation that doubled campaign contribution limits but shielded issue ad donors from disclosure (See “Campaign Finance Bills Fly Through Senate,” 11/14/13).
Selweski also describes the Secretary of State as a “record-keeping agency, not an enforcement unit,” and the State Ethics Board as “an obscure, toothless agency that does not investigate wrongdoing and, when it does find a violation, merely recommends a punishment to the guilty employee’s department.”
Prevailing Wage Repealers Starting From Scratch On Ballot Initiative
The group pushing for a prevailing wage repeal ballot initiative, Protecting Michigan Taxpayers (PMT), announced today it’s starting over on gathering signatures.
This comes after an opposition group challenged PMT’s 390,000 signatures it turned in and said it found 43 percent of the signatures were duplicates or were otherwise bad (See “Union-Backed Group Calls Foul On Prevailing Wage Petition,” 10/26/15).
PMT announced today it asked the state not to certify the submitted signatures and instead submitted new ballot language to restart the process.
“Hundreds of thousands of Michigan voters demanded that Lansing spend their tax dollars more wisely, and that work isn’t finished,” Chris FISHER, vice president of PMT, said in a statement. “Out of respect for the integrity of the petition process, Protecting Michigan Taxpayers has filed new petition language and looks forward to collecting signatures again to ensure voters’ voices will be heard.”
Fisher said that Silver Bullet Group, the firm charged with collecting petitions for PMT, did an initial validation process of the signatures prior to handing them over to the Board of State Canvassers (BSC) for review (See “Prevailing Wage Repeal Group Turn In 390K Signatures To State,” 9/14/15).
But after that, Fisher said “questions arose” and that led to another round of validation, which found that the first validation process didn’t work out so well.
“Protecting Michigan Taxpayers is disappointed and perplexed that the validation process prior to the submission of the petitions didn’t properly remove duplicate signatures,” Fisher said.
PMT spent about $1 million on Silver Bullet Group. Fisher said today that PMT would be going with a different firm to collect its petitions again, but didn’t say who.
A call to Las Vegas-based Silver Bullet Group was not returned today.
Not mentioned by Fisher was the challenge filed this week against PMT’s signatures by Protect Michigan Jobs (PMJ), the union-backed ballot committee working to preserve prevailing wage.
PMJ hired Practical Political Consulting to scrub the PMT signatures and the results did not appear to bode well for PMT’s chances at getting final sign-off from the BSC.
Despite having to start anew, Fisher said PMT has the support, resources and time to get the repeal measure either before the Legislature or on the ballot.
The deadline to submit a ballot initiative for consideration for a potential appearance on the 2016 ballot is June 1, 2016, and 252,523 signatures must be collected within a 180-day window. It would first go to the Legislature for approval if the BSC gives the all-clear on the signatures.
As for resources, PMT has benefited from plenty of campaign cash, mostly from the Michigan Freedom Fund and the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Michigan.
PMT had $139,452 in the bank as of its most recent campaign finance filing. It had collected $601,715 this quarter and spent $918,541 (See “MILegalize’s Fundraising Outpaces Cannabis Coalition This Quarter,” 10/26/15).
PMJ spokesperson Dave WAYMIRE lashed out against PMT’s restart today, echoing the group’s call from earlier this week to have the Attorney General further investigate the practices of PMT before allowing it to proceed with another campaign.
Waymire also said in a statement today that ABC is now “taking orders” from the “millionaires and billionaires of the far right Michigan Freedom Fund, who have as their goal fostering a race to the bottom in the pay of working men and women in state.”
Asked if this meant the end of the prevailing wage repeal campaign, Waymire said the Michigan Freedom Fund owners have “so much money” that “this is pocket change for them.” Waymire said PMJ would fight PMT “tooth and nail” to “protect the rights of middle class families.”
PMT will now be heading into the dreaded winter months to collect its signatures again. Asked if this was an issue, Fisher said, “We believe that we have plenty of time on our side. It’s not unusual to collect signatures at any time of year.”
As for PMJ, that group spent $113,500 to scrub the PMT signatures, after bringing in $219,500 this quarter and spending $170,705. PMJ was left with $48,794 in the bank at the end of the filing period.
29 Oct / 2015
Local 80’s apprentice school has filmed a commercial and it will be airing on Channel 7! Look out for the commercial Monday November 2, @ 6:17pm and Tuesday November 3, @ 7:11pm.
The group looking to repeal the state’s prevailing wage law announced they turned in 390,000 signatures to the state today.
Protecting Michigan Taxpayers made the announcement via a press release. Its legislative initiative petition to take prevailing wage off the books was approved to form back in May (See “Prevailing Wage Repeal Initiative Approved For Signature Collecting,” 5/26/15).
To be approved by the Board of State Canvassers and sent to the Legislature first for action, the petition needs to have 252,523 valid signatures.
It’ll take a few months for the Secretary of State’s (SOS) Bureau of Elections to sift through the signatures and make a recommendation to the canvassers, said SOS spokesperson Fred WOODHAMS, who confirmed the group turned in 390,959 signatures today.
“Nearly 400,000 voters have signed their names on the dotted line to demand that government spend their tax dollars more wisely,” said Chris FISHER, vice president of Protecting Michigan Taxpayers and president of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Michigan, in a statement. “Taxpayers’ message couldn’t be clearer — it’s time to repeal the prevailing wage law costing our schools and communities millions.”
A coalition that supports prevailing wage — known as Protect Michigan Jobs and made up of unions — has also formed, but so far has been watching the other side “very carefully,” said coalition spokesperson Dave WAYMIRE.
Waymire alleged that petition gatherers for Protecting Michigan Taxpayers were misleading people signing the petitions, saying they were told, “this proposal would lower the cost of education in Michigan. They were told it would raise the minimum wage.”
Asked if he’s heard these stories, Fisher said he’s heard Protect Michigan Jobs “complaining” about this and said it’s “ludicrous” that “somehow 400,000 Michigan citizens don’t know what they’re signing.”
On the cost of education piece, Fisher did mention that an “economic benefit” of repealing prevailing wage is that it makes education construction more affordable.
Waymire’s outfit sent out a press release later in the day, saying it has “evidence” that signers were “lied to by collectors.”
“That has been a hallmark of this campaign to lower construction worker pay and benefits in Michigan from the start,” the statement read. “We know from survey research that Michigan voters are strongly opposed to this campaign to reduce working men and women’s pay. We also know that the groups ABC claims to be helping are opposed to this proposal. The Michigan Association of School Boards and Michigan Association of School Administrators have both passed resolutions to oppose elimination of prevailing wage policies.”
Fisher made sure to mention that his group has filed a complaint with the SOS Bureau of Elections concerning Protect Michigan Jobs’ campaign finance filings (See “Pro-Prevailing Wage Repeal Campaign Files SOS Complaint,” 8/27/15).
Woodhams’ only update today was that the Bureau of Elections is investigating the complaint.
Protect Michigan Jobs’ quarterly report didn’t show any funds raised or spent. Protecting Michigan Taxpayers had $457,278 in the bank for its July quarterly report, having raised a cumulative $1 million this election cycle, primarily coming from ABC and the Michigan Freedom Fund.
A good chunk of Protecting Michigan Taxpayers’ expenditures went to Silver Bullet Group, listed as a signature-gathering firm on the group’s filings.
With regards to whether Protect Michigan Jobs will file its own petition to counter the prevailing wage repealers, Waymire said all options are still on the table.
But Waymire didn’t express concern over the possibility that the prevailing wage repeal could go to the ballot.
“If they do have enough signatures, we welcome the chance to discuss this on the ballot,” Waymire said.
Waymire added that he believes the Legislature won’t act on the petition, saying he doesn’t think the votes are there.
09 Sep / 2015
A state labor leader is reporting for the first time that a dialogue between business and labor has commenced with the goal of avoiding a battle over the prevailing wage repeal and the proposed boost in the Corporate Income Tax (CIT).
When three unions announced a petition drive to boost the CIT from six to 11 percent, and when the corporate world loudly protested, Pat Devlin from the Building Trades Union delivered a missive to all sides calling for a truce in the harsh rhetoric and a call for all sides to sit down and find some common ground.
Devlin reported the dialogue has commenced with the Business Leaders for Michigan and possibly other labor groups and he reported all sides plan to “get together after Labor Day” to continue the talks.
“We are trying to make sense of these issues,” he told MIRS, but there is no agreement on how to handle this at the moment.
Ultimately, he said the ideal solution would be for both sides to drop their current petition drives, thus maintaining the status quo.
CIT organizer Mike JACKSON, executive secretary treasurer of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, recently indicated that he would be willing to meet with business and everything would be on the table, including slapping a hold on the CIT petition drive.
Chris FISHER, president of the Associated Business and Contractors (ABC), who is pushing the repeal of prevailing wage, said Thursday there is “no way” he’d sign off on dropping his petition in exchange for the deep-freeze of the CIT proposal.
“These are completely separate issues,” Fisher said. “Michigan citizens deserve safe and reliable and dependable roads and trying to hold up good, solid road funding legislation by tying it in with other issues is irresponsible and a disservice to Michigan citizens.”
Left to their own devices, Devlin said he feels unions and business have a record of working together, but it’s the current legislature, he said, that has complicated the relationship between the two sides.
On the issue of having both sides drop the petition drives, which are in mid-stream, he optimistically observes, “anything is possible.”
Senate Majority Leader Arlan MEEKHOF (R-West Olive) and House Speaker Kevin COTTER (R-Mt. Pleasant) took a road trip to Missouri on Thursday to talk to lawmakers about Michigan’s experience since passing Right to Work in 2012.
The trip was put together by former House Speaker Jase BOLGER from the West Michigan Policy Forum, who received a call from former Missouri House Speaker Tim JONES about the possibility of putting something together.
Bolger and Sen. Margaret O’BRIEN (R-Portage) joined Meekhof and Cotter on the road trip, which included an event at which the foursome talked to about 15-20 Missouri lawmakers one-on-one, Bolger said.
The Missouri legislature sent a Right to Work bill to Democratic Gov. Jay NIXON, which he promptly vetoed. Now Republican leaders are trying to override Nixon’s veto on Sept. 16 during a special session.
Bolger said it would be a “big hill to climb,” but the former speaker said he thought it might be helpful if Missouri legislators learned how a “pro-worker” Right to Work law in Michigan made unions more accountable to its members.
“There is nothing wrong with sharing the story of freedom and why Right to Work is good and empowers Michigan workers,” he said.
AFL-CIO President Ron BIEBER didn’t see things that way during today’s recording of the MIRS Monday podcast, saying “What do our legislative leaders care about in Missouri more than fixing the problems that we have in Michigan?”
“This is the problem with our legislative process today,” Bieber said. “The legislative leadership is out in Missouri right now, trying to help those Republicans and others in the legislature on their Right to Work effort instead of being in Michigan working on a road package that’s fair and we can pass through this Legislature.
“There’s something inherently wrong when that kind of stuff is going on.”
To those comments, Meekhof responded, “How does Mr. Bieber know we weren’t working on a road package.”
Without getting into specifics, Meekhof said “roads did come up” during the car ride to and from Missouri and that we “continue to make progress.”
However, Meekhof said spreading the message of the economic and worker freedom for everyone in the United States that comes from Right to Work is an important one to share.
“It’s been a good thing in Michigan,” he said. “We’ve seen more union membership than we had before Right to Work. It didn’t destroy the unions. It made them more accountable to the people they serve. It’s made a positive environment for job creation.”
Bolger tweeted a picture of Cotter, Meekhof, O’Brien and himself from the car on Thursday, which generated some reaction from Progress Michigan Executive Director Lonnie SCOTT and Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon DILLON.
“How were the roads in Missouri?” Dillon tweeted in response to Bolger’s picture.
“Because the Republican Legislature has been so productive this year . . . #goodgrief,” Dillon wrote in another.
Scott asked who was paying for the trip, which Bolger later responded was not anyone from Michigan.
Bolger called the shots “petty.” Republicans didn’t make hay about House Minority Leader Tim GREIMEL (D-Auburn Hills) or U.S. Rep. Gary PETERS (D-Bloomfield Twp.) going on separate overseas trips (See “13 Lawmakers Off To Israel,” 7/31/15) (See “Peters Headed To Middle East, Remains Mum On Iran Deal,” 9/3/15).
“This is the type of petty politics that people don’t need and don’t benefit anything,” Bolger told MIRS.
Bieber said the Right to Work attacks unions have experienced from large national corporate interests “haven’t taken a toll on us, yet.”
“We’ll see what the long-term effects of Right to Work and other bad legislation is on us, but so far we’re standing strong.”
Bieber said his member unions haven’t brought up dips in membership to him. The law doesn’t take effect until contracts expire and so “time will tell.” However, from what he’s seen, Right to Work hasn’t had the desired impact that supporters thought it would so “it’s not really at the top of our priority list.
“People who are fortunate enough to be covered by a collective bargaining agreement see the value in that. It’s the people on the outside who want to tear that down,” he said.
02 Sep / 2015
RE-REGISTRATION is happening NOW.
From September 1-20th, members must re-register for the Out of Work List. If you are currently on the Out of Work List, you need to re-register in order to hold your spot.
Directions on how to register:
email: email@example.com your name, member number, address & current cell phone/phone number
fax: 248-557-0297 your name, member number, address & current cell phone/phone number
come to the hall & sign the book!