Making The Democratic Process In Michigan Just A Little Bit Less Democratic With A 21st Century Poll Tax
Representatives have just introduced six bills, HB 4745 to HB 4750, to increase filing fees for various down ballot political offices across the State of Michigan by 50% to 300%. These are the fees prospective candidates can pay to get on the ballot in lieu of filing nominating petitions.
As you might expect, the highest (300%) filing fee increase proposed applies to candidates for State Representative (and Senator).
The kicker here? The filing fee is also no longer refunded to the runner up. So running for political office in Michigan just became more
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Oakland Macomb Sewer Interceptor Costs Now At $ 335 Million And Climbing, Cue The Lawsuits
The City of Sterling Heights announced on their FakeBook page Monday that they have filed a lawsuit against Macomb County over their $ 22.2 million portion of the cost for reconstructing the collapsed Oakland Macomb sewer interceptor (OMI), as apportioned by the Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage District (MIDDD). Sterling Heights believes that the Macomb County Wastewater Disposal District (MCWDD) “did nothing to abate the conditions that likely caused the December [24th] 2016 collapse”. Sterling Heights believes their contract with the MCWDD covers the operation and maintenance of the OMI interceptor. This may be a little tricky to prove, since the OMI is actually run by the Oakland Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage District (OMIDDD), an entity independent of and superior to the MCWDD.
Sterling Heights’ contention is that proper maintenance on the OMI by the MCWDD would have prevented its collapse. Maybe. The OMIDDD has already spent $ 170 million on rehabilitation of the OMI since they bought it in 2009. Supposedly the entire 21 mile length was examined and rehabilitated. That rehabilitation effort ended just months before its December 2016 collapse. That collapse suggests that the OMIDDD rehabilitation didn’t do much good. Anyone care to speculate why? Your choices are corruption or incompetence, or both.
This is now a Michigan wide story because our state government will be providing at least $ 5 million of the $ 75 million repair costs for the December OMI collapse. The much debated $ 3 million legislative grant and another $ 2 million from MDEQ. That $ 75 million is just the current estimate, for the currently acknowledged deterioration of the OMI. Given the Granholm Administration’s role in suckering Oakland and Macomb counties into the OMI purchase, the State of Michigan probably has a lot more responsibility.
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Weaver/McCormick Flint-GLWA Deal Transforms Water From Obscene Tax To Outright Theft
Flint Mayor Karen I Love Rizzo Weaver and Great Lakes Water Authority CEO Sue McCormick have reached a 30 year deal for Flint to purchase water from the Great Lakes Water Authority. The City of Flint had signed up to purchase its water from the nascent Karegnondi Water Authority in March 2013 and the State of Michigan concurred in April. Everyone in Flint City government, save one councilman, has agreed to source Flint’s water from the KWA. Even Mayor Weaver. Until this week.
The Weaver/McCormick deal has GLWA paying Flint at least $ 7 million a year to cover Flint’s share of the bonds issued to finance the KWA. A total of $ 210 million over the 30 year contact period.
Where will that $ 210 million come from? GLWA is not the Federal Reserve, they cannot just create money out of thin air. GLWA will extract the money from the
victims ratepayers in the other communities it ‘serves’.
Mayor Weaver and CEO McCormick will transform GLWA water rates into yet another exaction imposed upon most of Southeastern Michigan to subsidize Flint. Without any input from those
victims ratepayers. A blatant fee as tax evasion of Headlee. Governor Snyder, of course, approves wholeheartedly.
This is government theft, Headlee evasion, and a rich fount of future corruption.
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Big Brother Is Watching
There has been an interesting development in the case of two individuals who were arrested for open carry in the anteroom of the Dearborn, Michigan Police Department Headquarters. Two men from central Michigan were arrested for entering the anteroom of the Dearborn Police Department Headquarters building while carrying, and filming themselves while doing so. They were reportedly using open carry to protest what they believed was a bogus traffic stop which they were subjected to earlier in Dearborn.
James Baker and Brandon Vreeland have been abandoned by Michigan’s open carry movement, probably due to the allegation that they were using open carry to protest something entirely unrelated to Second Amendment rights, but it does not appear that their actions actually violated any Michigan law. At least one of the two was wearing ‘body armor’, which added to the provocative nature of their actions. Carry in police stations is actually not prohibited by Michigan law, and it is a violation of Michigan law to prohibit firearms in a police station outside of secured areas.
Fun side note: When I was a kid in the 1960’s, I used to shoot small bore rifle matches in the basement shooting range of this very building, which was even then the DPD police station. How times have changed!
Now we have a remarkable discovery from Nicholas Somberg (P80416), the defense attorney for Brandon Vreeland of Jackson: The Dearborn Police secretly monitored the two ‘Second Amendment activists’ and essentially ambushed both men as they were filming themselves walking into the Dearborn Police headquarters.
Here is the interesting development, as reported by the Detroit Free Press:
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Very Bad Judgment Is Not A Bar To Judicial Tenure In The Peoples Republic Of Ann Arbor
A Washtenaw County 22nd Circuit Court judge is demonstrating the supreme
impunity immunity enjoyed by the liberal elites in a modern one party state: Ann Arbor. Washtenaw County Trial Judge Carol A. Kuhnke has just dodged all legal consequences for possessing prescription narcotics not prescribed to her; narcotics which were used by her adopted son in his fatal overdose last year.
At this point, you probably have some sympathy for Judge Kuhnke. Opioid addiction is sweeping our country and there are a lot of tragedies occurring which parents simply cannot prevent. But there are twists to Judge Kuhnke’s story which sets it far apart from the typical overdose tragedy.
Judge Kuhnke’s curious story began on November 25th of last year when her son was found dead from oxycodone toxicity, but only got its first airing in the press yesterday. Young John Kuhnke allegedly broke into a locked tool chest where Judge Kuhnke was storing both drugs and alcohol. The drugs included oxycodone, hydrocodone, trazodone, dexmethylphenidate, and tramadol. All nasty items. These drugs were originally prescribed to John Kuhnke, Judge Kuhnke, her wife Elizabeth Janovic, Janovic’s parents, and the Kuhnke/Janovic’s next door neighbor. John Kuhnke is alleged to have stolen ten prescription pill vials from the broken tool chest and taken some of the next door neighbor’s oxycodone pills to a friend’s house where he overdosed and died.
Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office Detective Craig Raisanen requested warrant for Judge Kuhnke and her wife Elizabeth Janovic from the Washtenaw Prosecutor’s Office for possession of up to 25 grams of Schedule II narcotics prescribed in another person’s name [MCL 333.7403(2)(a)(v)]. The Washtenaw County Prosecutor asked AG Schuette to appoint a special prosecutor and that special prosecutor then decided that charges “would not be appropriate”. The Special Prosecutor appointed was Livingston County Prosecutor William Vailliencourt, who happens to serve in the county immediately north of Washtenaw. He fobbed the case off on the Judicial Tenure Commission, and it now appears that they too will take no action.
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The Detroit News launched a hit piece on Michael G. Ford, the CEO of the Regional Transportation Authority of Southeastern Michigan this morning. Reporters Robert Snell and Christine MacDonald breathlessly review Mr. Ford’s expense accounting and employment contract details over the 33 months since he was appointed CEO of the RTA.
The closest they get to finding any real improprieties is Mr. Ford’s car allowance and mileage reimbursement, but that does not stop them from reporting salacious details of hotel room charges and his very generous employment contract. No illegality or budget overruns are found, but the tone of the article is supremely negative. Mr. Ford’s contract happens to be up for renewal and the RTA Board tabled a $ 16,300 raise for him two weeks ago.
A special meeting of the RTA Board of Directors was held this morning, including a closed session. Public bodies operating under the Open Meetings Act are only allowed to close meetings when deliberating personnel matters and contracts. It is not much of a leap to speculate that Mr. Ford is today’s main course at the RTA Board meeting.
The Detroit News duo filed an FOIA request for Mr. Ford’s contract details and expense reimbursements shortly after Paul Hillegonds, Governor Rick Snyder’s appointee to the RTA Board, began reviewing Mr. Ford’s expenses. Coincidence? Hardly.
What is going on here?
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No Michigan Tax Deal Is Ever Worth The Paper It Is Written On
Since our devious Governor and his RINO caucus pulled out all the stops to quash the HB 4001 decrements in the state income tax last Thursday, it has dawned on Michigan politicians that the optics of the SB 111 – 115 Dan Gilbertville tax breaks just got real ugly. You can’t hand $ 1.8 billion of state revenue over to politically connected developers after stiffing the public at large without gruesome consequences. This is going to decrement some Senators’ campaign finance committee balances.
No one should fault Speaker Leonard for putting HB 4001 up for a losing vote. Bottling up and fiddling legislation behind closed doors until a winning margin is assured is not an exemplar of government transparency. Brits and Europeans may regard such shifty back room shenanigans as the hallmark of sophisticated political process, but here in America constituents want to know exactly how they are being represented. Thursday’s vote told us more about the RINOs in the Michigan House than years of deceitful political media articles and reports.
Thank you Speaker Leonard for fostering genuine political transparency. Long overdue in Michigan.
It now appears that killing both tax reductions was the plan all along. Bridge Magazine and the Michigan Municipal League just launched a trial balloon to gut the Proposal A constitutional amendment of 1994. Proposal A limited the tax depredations of government employees acting through their local units of government, a popular activity in Michigan’s more leftward big cities and counties. The sales tax was increased 50%, but property owners got some constitutionally protected tax relief in return.
Local government employees and their Democratic political puppets want to renege on the 1994 Proposal A tax deal. Well, not entirely. Just the constitutionally protected property tax relief. No one is offering to restore the 4% sales tax rate. What was it JFK said about negotiating with the Soviets? “We cannot negotiate with people who say what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.” Public employees and their subservient Democratic politicians have a lot of gall claiming that President Trump is a Russian stooge and a neo communist tyrant to boot.
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The Administrative State or the People?
The titanic political struggle unfolding in Washington is sucking the oxygen out of Michigan politics, but is analogous to the central political struggle which has been playing out here in Michigan for 48 years. Political media breathlessly report on a struggle between liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans. This struggle is not between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, nor RINOs and true believers. The Democrats, liberals, and RINOs are completely discredited in Michigan, as they are across most of the United States. All that remains of them is jammed into the Hillary archipelago.
The present political struggle is between the people and the administrative state. Call it bureaucracy, deep state, or administrative state: they are unelected government employees, their agents in the media, and the select beneficiaries of government largess. Their opponents in this struggle are the majority of Americans and Michiganders who pay the price for the administrative state; a now seething mass whose ascendancy was a rude surprise to the administrative state.
The outcome of the struggle in Washington is yet to be determined, but in Michigan the administrative state is clearly winning despite its total responsibility for the Flint water fiasco. The administrative state owns Governor Snyder body and soul. The administrative state will stop at nothing to manipulate the Michigan Legislature when the chips are down. Refractory (but innocent) legislators are expelled before legal process while cooperative (but guilty) legislators sit unfettered until legal process is completed.
How else can you explain the PA 177 of 2015 road tax package, indistinguishable from the soundly trounced Proposal 2015-01? Or the bogus Detroit bankruptcy which somehow neglected a $ 491 million financial hole which will haunt the city with a vengeance in 2024? Half the city’s annual budget. Or the refusal of Michigan government units at all levels to even consider tax reductions due to the simmering public employee pension catastrophe? Those pensions enjoyed by members of the administrative state are but a distant memory to the Michiganders who pay them. Indeed, all of Michigan’s units of government are jacking up fees to get around Headlee Amendment taxation limits.
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Flint Lead Remediation Effort Morphs Into An Attack On Hunting, Target Shooting, Fishing, And Even Churches
Michigan’s elites have clearly not absorbed the lesson of November 8th, yet.
The Michigan’s Child Lead Poisoning Elimination Board issued their final report last week. Chairman Brian Calley and his team of 14
politicians experts were empanelled by Executive Order 2016-09 to demonstrate that Governor Snyder actually cared about the Flint children exposed to lead, by his previously empanelled team of professional incompetents experts. The CLPEB’s recommendations are a liberal wish list of expensive dreams mostly unrelated to the underlying cause of the Flint water fiasco: government incompetence.
But the CLPEB did put forth the effort to launch an attack on hunting, target shooting, sport fishing, and even religion. Recommended on page 22 of their final report:
Prohibit lead in fishing tackle, establish a fishing tackle trade-in program to encourage consumers and industries to transition away from lead-based tackle, and encourage further study of lead in fishing tackle.
Establish regulations to protect against lead exposures through the use of firearms by:
o Establishing an ammunition trade-in program.
o Establishing a wild game meat testing program for donated products.
o Developing a health education program and public education materials for lead exposures in hunting and wild game consumption.
Recommended on page 26 of their final report:
In post-1978 homes, dust, soil, and water testing should be conducted at the time of transfer of the property or upon the occurrence of some other reliable event, or whenever there are indications of a high-risk activity, such as stained-glass window work or ammunition reloading, being done in the home.
Here we have the elites punishing their subjects for the mistakes of the elites. Michigan government at its finest.
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When The RTA Property Tax Passes, It Will Be Imposed On All Four Counties - Even Those Which Reject It
The 20 year Regional Transit Authority, 1.2 mil property tax plan is on the ballot in four Southeastern Michigan counties, on November 8th. The public doesn’t seem to realize that this property tax will be imposed on all four counties, even if one or more of the counties reject it. A big change from past millage requests specifically designed to shove this tax down anti tax Macomb County’s throat. Michigan’s tax-and-spend establishment really wants this tax to pass.
The RTA master plan is $ 1.22 billion in new fare revenue, $ 3.1 to $ 3.3 billion in new property taxes, and $ 1.7 billion in new Federal & State subsidies. A grand total of $ 6 billion, more or less. Let’s say that the relatively modest increase in vehicle revenue miles provided by the RTA master plan – 32% – doubles their ridership. That $ 6 billion cost, divided by 78,327 new passengers, equals $ 76,602 per passenger over the 20 year period. You could buy every one of those 78,327 new riders a new car and pay for their fuel and insurance as well. Instead, RTA will treat them to the urban mass transit experience.
Urban buses and other mass transit vehicles have a special ambiance with their diverse ridership and high level of maintenance. This experience is enhanced by the faint aroma of pepper spray, plus the full array of odors you would encounter in a hospital emergency room during an overwhelming disaster – except for disinfectant. Bus scheduling allows those too poor to visit a casino the opportunity to gamble daily on punctuality at their workplaces.
Why riders are unwilling to pay 20% of the cost of mass transit, and why mass transit funding has to be extracted from taxpayers using the threat of foreclosure. On top of this, mass transit advocates have to raid road funding and vehicle registration fees to deliver their ‘service’. No free market economics here, despite strong support from the Chamber of Commerce types.
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