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    Tag: lobbying

    Stabenow toxic waste wells under fire (again) in Romulus

    By Nick, Section News
    Posted on Mon Mar 30, 2009 at 07:43:43 AM EST
    Tags: Stabenow, Athans, lobbying, toxic waste, Papas, illegal, law breaking, felony (all tags)

    It was just last month that the world learned how Tom "Jonathan" Athans, a former (and failed) liberal radio talk show host and the husband of Michigan's junior US Senator, Debbie Stabenow, was being employed illegally as a lobbyist for a scandal plagued Detroit casino baron.  

    After the initial reports of Athans' most recent illegality both he and his boss sort of faded into the ether.  It didn't help that what the man was actively lobbying for (again, in violation of federal law) and his family profiting from had been specifically and explicitly opposed by Senator Stabenow during her re-election bid in 2006.  

    At issue were, and are, hazardous waste wells in the city of Romulus.  Athans' boss wants to dump a bunch of highly toxic foreign waste into sites that were closed years ago and he figured there was no one better to take his case to lawmakers in Lansing and DC than the husband of a United States Senator with a record of saying very "green" things.  

    By way of recap:

    In 2006 the Senator ran for reelection on a platform that included an elimination of the importation of Canadian garbage.  Her campaign website still reads:

    Continue the Fight to Stop the Importation of Canadian Trash

    Continue to work with EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt to enforce an existing treaty to stop the importation of Canadian Trash, and restrict the importation of trash through stronger enforcement measures at the Northern Border.

    Meanwhile, she and her husband were profiting from efforts to do exactly the opposite. The Ivory Tower reported last month:

    Athans, working on behalf of Detroit businessman Dimitrios (Jim) Papas, spent months urging public officials to reopen the wells, despite not being registered as a lobbyist in Michigan.  He finally registered Jan. 29...

    Stabenow has declined to comment this entire time, leaving taxpayers, residents and potential criminal investigators with more questions than answers.  Like, how long did she know her husband was breaking the law?  How much of Papas's money was deposited into her bank account?  (In other words, how much did she profit, financially, from her husband's criminal enterprise?)  How does she reconcile her public statements with her families actual activities?  Why doesn't her walk match her talk?

    With the EPA set to meet the middle of next month to discuss the Stabenow / Athans / Papas Toxic Waste Importation Plan, the city of Romulus itself is getting a jump on the action and giving residents a venue to voice their displeasure.  According to this morning's Detroit News:

    "Some people believe once it was shut down that they had been shut down for good ... and there was going to be nothing there," said Timothy Keyes, the city's economic development director.

    "Everybody's really uncomfortable with this potentially reopening again."

    In 2006, the facility was shuttered after federal inspectors found more than 20 violations at the site near Interstate 94 and Middle Belt.

    Emphasis mine.

    This is what the Stabenow family was profiting illegally from promoting... a toxic waste injection program with a history of over 20 violations that already caused it once to be shuttered.

    And we still get neither a peep from Senator Stabenow, her husband or a newspaper or TV reporter willing to ask them a tough question.

    Well if the press won't bother to get a piece of Senator Stabenow's mind, something tells me folks in Romulus will be offering HER a large and angry piece of theirs.

    Comments >>

    Drinks are on you! You're paying to lobby against yourself!

    By leondrolet, Section News
    Posted on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 12:59:32 PM EST
    Tags: Granholm, taxes, budget, lobbying (all tags)

    When you think of Lansing lobbyists spending money on gifts, trips, meals and drinks for state lawmakers, who comes to mind? Big corporations like IBM, Toyota, Comerica Bank, Meijer, and Anheuser Busch? Big interest groups like the ACLU, Realtors, and the Life Insurance Association of Michigan?

    Guess what? Governor Granholm's administration spends more to lobby than all the groups listed above. Believe it or not, the Office of the Governor uses your tax dollars to lobby state legislators - and spends more on lobbying than Chrysler Corporation, Compuware, or the Detroit Auto Dealers Association.

    According to research by the MI Campaign Finance Network (http://mcfn.org/pdfs/reports/Top200MILobbyists_2008.pdf ), last year the Governor's Office used $63,672 of your tax dollars to wine and dine other state politicians. Governor Granholm's administration didn't stop there; her Department of Education increased its' lobbying budget by 49% last year. The Department of Environmental Quality upped its' lobbying by 12%, and the Governor's MI Economic Development Corporation - a failure at expanding our state's economy - succeeded at expanding its' own lobbying budget by 106%. Even the MI Department of Treasury (the bureaucrats in charge of taking your income) used your money to lobby politicians - and increased its' lobby budget by 2% last year to $92,532.

    What do Granholm's departments use your tax dollars to lobby for? They lobby for even more of your tax dollars. Guess who's paying to lobby legislators for a graduated state income tax, higher fees, and more spending on bigger budgets? You are! The money taken from your paycheck is being used by the Governor and her bureaucrats to lobby for more money from your paycheck.

    (447 words in story) Full Story

    A Message To Our Legislators - Beware False Choices

    What price a Senator's integrity?

    By Nick, Section News
    Posted on Wed Feb 18, 2009 at 11:21:44 AM EST
    Tags: Stabenow, Athens, corruption, lobbying, lobbyists, hazardous waste, canadian garbage, illegal, Jim Papas, Detroit (all tags)

    I'm a generous guy.  Alas, I'm also chronically cynical.  So it takes a concerted effort for me, at times, to give people the benefit of the doubt.  

    Maybe it started in college, working at Fulton Heights Foods where it turned out that everyone who instinct said was going to write a bad check or try to sneak out with steaks tucked under their shirts turned out to be every bit the crook you figured.  

    Maybe it was all of those group-projects in school... burned too many times after convincing myself the under-achievers the teacher always seemed to assign my squad would actually show up the next day with their share of the work completed.

    Heck, it was probably that fourth grade class Christmas party when my "Secret Santa," Carla Parker, wrapped and gave me used ChapStick (I wish I was making that up) while my friends were opening GI Joes and Transformers.  Freaking Carla Parker.

    Lets be honest, though... what do raw steak thieves, lazy students and gift-wrapped garbage have on your average politician.  Did I mention that I'm a generous guy?

    I am, though.  Or I try to be.  So when Michigan and Congressional Democrats prattle on and on about the need for lobbyist reform, for a new era of ethics and for transparency I want to take them at their word.  I trust the Democratic Party about as far as I can log-toss Mark Brewer but individually, I do the best I can.

    Still, there comes a time when even the most gracious observer is left scratching his head.  How can someone like Michigan's Senator Debbie Stabenow, for instance, say the things she says and vote the way she votes (remember, this is a woman who voted to create a "Senate Office of Public Integrity") and then sit by while the husband who shares her home, and bank account, presumably, rakes in a half-year's income by working illegally as a lobbyist for a scandal-prone Detroit area developer?  And lobbying in favor of a project she made a point of opposing during her last bid for office?

    Something just doesn't sit right.  Red flags pop out of every corner of this thing, as much as the bulk of the mainstream media would like to ignore them.  Bells and whistles, too.  It is obvious that the Senator understood what her husband was doing these past six months, so I'll ask the obvious question... what would motivate a twice-elected member of the United States Senate to cast aside all of her best rhetoric and surrender her moral high ground?

    If it weren't for a lifetime spent watching Law and Order re-runs I wouldn't know where to start but the embarrassingly large number of hours spent watching the procedural has taught me one thing about detective work... follow the money.

    Read on...

    (8 comments, 733 words in story) Full Story

    Husband Busted... Again: What did Senator Stabenow (D-Michigan) know and when?

    By Nick, Section News
    Posted on Mon Feb 16, 2009 at 01:44:55 PM EST
    Tags: Stabenow, Athens, corruption, lobbying, lobbyists, hazardous waste, canadian garbage, illegal, Jim Papas, Detroit (all tags)

    United States Senators are busy people with demanding schedules.  Its understandable if one of the most powerful members of the most powerful legislative body in the nation doesn't know where her husband is and what he is doing twenty-four hours of every day.  Still, you'd think better than a half-a-year employed by one of your major campaign donors as an illegally unregistered lobbyist... advocating a project you made a point of running against during your last statewide election... might raise a red flag or two.

    That's the reality Senator Debbie Stabenow has faced for the last six months as her husband, Tom Athens, made bank on the payroll of Democratic mega-donor and alleged lothario Jim Papas.  Unfortunately, despite the unending rhetoric about transparency and ethics in the Dem controlled Congress, the Senator who once voted to establish the Senate Office of Public Integrity chose to turn a blind eye to her husband's criminal actions, putting him, partisan election interests and the family bank account above Michigan residents and campaign promises.

    Meanwhile, voters and taxpayers are left with more questions than answers...

    How long has Senator Stabenow known her husband was breaking the law, making a living as an unregistered lobbyist?

    How much money did Stabenow and Athens deposit into their family bank account as a result of the illegal lobbying?

    Records indicate that Athens publicly lobbied Michigan lawmakers and at least one member of Michigan's Congressional delegation because he understood they were firmly opposed to green-lighting a hazardous waste well.  There are no records of official lobbying of the Stabenow Senate office.

    Is that because Stabenow supports her husband's efforts to re-open the dump site despite her campaign pledges to the contrary?

    Read on...

    (6 comments, 837 words in story) Full Story

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