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    News from Michigan, the Nation's First Dictator State


    It could be that with all that's going on in the world you might have missed what's happening closer to home, in the sovereign state of Michigan.  In just over two years, since businessman and venture capitalist Rick Snyder became governor, bringing along with him a Republican majority in the legislature and in most courts (including the Supreme one), with a push from the Tea Party, the Koch Brothers and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, our beautiful state has suffered under the country's first duly elected dictatorship.

    In March of 2011, two months after his inauguration, Snyder pushed through a draconian Emergency Financial Manager law, essentially giving him the authority to appoint one person to take over the governing of any municipality or school system deemed failing by Our Man Snyder. 

    In November, 2012 the voters, finally coming to their senses, soundly voted down that outrageously unconstitutional law.  A few weeks later Snyder's minions, ignoring the wishes of the voters, not only reinstated the law, they added wording that would keep the voters from ever voting it down again.

    This slid by just days after the Republicans stuck it to the already bruised and bleeding unions by making Michigan, the home of the labor movement, a Right-to-Work state

    Just last week, the Republican legislature was back working on a bill that would allow health care providers to refuse services to patients/customers for religious or moral reasons.  It's a transparent smackdown of abortion and contraception, but it could also affect anybody from gays to Muslims to blacks to liberal Democrats.

    And two days ago, DemocracyTree reported this:

    Today the Michigan House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee passed a bill that will punish any university that negotiates with its union for an extended contract prior to the Right-to-Work law going into effect on March 28th. If this bill becomes law, universities stand to lose 15 percent of their funding for any contract negotiated between the Dec. 10th lame-duck RTW law and the March 28th enactment.
    The Associated Press reports that Wayne State University could lose $27 million if they follow through with renegotiating their contract. Among universities rumored to be in contract talks are Michigan State University, Lansing Community College, and Western Michigan University.  

    And this dispatch from Eclectablog yesterday.  It appears the GOP is caving to Tea Party interests in Michigan again. Medicaid expansion and the state-run Obamacare health exchange will be dead in the water unless they either grow hearts or come to their senses. (I won't hold my breath.)

    And it goes on.  Because that's how it works in Michigan now.  The goal is to stop all democratic processes, including governing, in order to allow private profiteers to take over and make bundles off of us.  Roads?  Bridges?  Schools?  Health?  Human services? Out of our hands and going to the highest bidder. (They'll still collect taxes, of course, because. . .why not?)

    Now they're working at making life even harder for old and disabled veterans.  The Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, one of two state vets homes, has been turned over to private contractors and, as predicted, it's a mess.  (I'm still trying to figure out how a state-run veteran's home, partially funded by the Feds, can just willy-nilly decide to privatize, but apparently it's one of those loopholes none of us ever has access to.)

    From the Free Press this morning:

    The contract employees are paid about half as much as the state employees, who made a little more than $20 an hour at the top of their pay rate.
    The state workers, who belong to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, say the lower wage results in inexperienced and inadequately trained workers and high turnover.
    Tammy Porter, a licensed practical nurse who still works at the home, cited examples of inadequate and negligent care she said she had witnessed. She also read a letter from Andrea Rossman of Saginaw, who works as a nursing director at a health facility and whose father, Joe Vela, lives at the Grand Rapids Home.
    On Saturday and Sunday, the home was understaffed and Vela wasn't given a chance to go to the restroom, eat breakfast, or take his medications in a timely manner, Rossman said in the letter. The delayed medication meant "my father's life was put in peril," she said.

    There's more.  There's always more.  I can barely keep up, but thankfully there are others who do.
    Chris Savage at Eclectablog works tirelessly to get this information out.

    Democracy Tree keeps Michigan political news out there, too, as do many others.
    Scroll down to the bottom of my "Michigan Under Siege" page for the growing list.

    If you want to pass any of this on, we would appreciate it.  We need all the help we can get. (And we're worth it.)

    Lower Tahquamenon Falls - Upper Peninsula (Photo: Ramona Grigg)


    (Cross-posted at Ramona's Voices)




    /That is all

    Wow is right.  But some good news today:  Washtenaw County (Ann Arbor) voted to protect its unions from RTW for 10 years.  This should be fun!


    Ya got that right about the Vets home. Its not just Ricky boy and his minions. The current administrator of the Veterans home was previously the head of Kitchens! Under the law, they had 6 months to find a replacement for the former Admin, but instead they let this person go for 2 years as a temporary administer, while they attended college to get the necessary degree to qualify to be top administrator.

    What does that tell you about the place? The top Admin is good at counting beans, but lousy at member relations. Most of the guys there will tell you, the quality of life has fallen since she took over as Administrator.

    And now they have Care givers that are under qualified, over worked, and just are not doing the job they are supposed to be doing.

    Mind you, some of those folks are doing their best, and are trying to give our vets the best, but for a majority of them its just a job with a (low) paycheck. 

    And the veterans will and are, paying the price.


    Thanks for commenting, AC.  Interesting about the current administrator.  Somehow I'm not surprised, though.  We owe our vets far more than this, and it's shameful that our state allowed this to happen.  It wasn't so much to save money as to give their cronies a chance to make money.

    We need to keep this alive.  I can't stand the thought of even one vet not getting the care he or she requires because our government let them down.  That should never happen.  This should never have happened.  And if it goes on for even one more day, shame on us.

    Jeez, and I thought Detroit was the only city under Marshall Law!

    These state repubs are so damnably dangerous!

    It seems unbelievable when you put it all out there, but it's happening and you wouldn't believe the number of Michiganders who think they're doing what needs to be done to "straighten us out".  Even after all this there's still a danger of a second term for those jerks.

    I've been following what's going on there as best I can, (the national media, other than MSNBC has pretty much ignored this story), and it sickens me.  How is it possible in America?  If the Repubs manage to crush the opposition in the next election, I fear this will spread to other GOP controlled states like wildfire.  Our hopes lie with rousing the voters and throwing the bastards out of office and restoring Michigan to democracy.



    It's just astonishing that this could be going on in America and the mainstream media ignores it.  Rachel Maddow and sometimes Ed Schultz and Rev Al talk about it, but unless you're watching MSNBC (which, by the way, isn't available everywhere) you won't see it.

    You're right that this could spread like wildfire, and it will, considering the power and money behind those Republican governors who are willing to go along with ALEC and the Koch Brothers in their efforts to privatize the country.

    It's all in the hands of the voters, and so far no amount of evidence has swayed them.  Half of them will defend to the death the right of dictators to dictate.  To hell with the constitution.  It's just a piece of paper long past its shelf date.

    Which is what perplexes me ... Shouldn't the regular-Joe tea-party types be up in arms about this shredding of the Constitution?  That's been their mantra since they started, but now that it's giving Repubs the upper hand, they're silent about this un-Constitutional power-grab.  That should be pointed out by Democrats at every opportunity.

    I'm curious to know how reapportionment (gerrymandering) has affected the Tea Party GOP ability to maintain control in Michigan. I know here in Wisconsin, all it took was two sessions of redrawing the districts (2000 and again in 2010, with Repubs in control of all three houses of government at the time) to gerrymander the state into their own little fiefdom.

    What does this mean? Well, for example, in the most recent elections in 2012 over 170,000 more votes were cast statewide for Democrats to the Assembly than Repubs. But due to the manner in which those votes were apportioned, the Repubs acquired Assembly seats in a two-for-one landslide.

    This gerrymandering neatly closes the circle on the illegitimacy of a government that now feels it is inured to ignore any kind of democratic influence in favor of their own dictates.

    The correct response, it would seem, would be to engage in massive non-violent civil "disobedience." I place quotes around the disobedience only because I believe the argument can be made that there is in fact no compelling argument to be made why anyone should feel obligated to obey the mandates of an illegitimate regime. 

    Here in Florida we were able to pass by ballot a constitutional amendment for fair district reapportionment.  That put an end to some of the long snake like districts that was gerrymandered.  It made a difference in 2012 election.  We picked up four US House seats and the republicans lost their super majority in Tallahassee. There was a battle in the courts to make the Republican held state house stick to the new rules. That was why Grayson didn't know really who was going to be in his district.  It wasn't settled until August 2012.  We have had extreme gerrymandering going on for a long time in Florida and people got tired of it. The ballot passed by a super majority of votes to put it on the constitution.  That is also what removed Allen West from office.  It takes time to break their strangle hold and we still have more work to do here in Florida.

    This recent article sums it up pretty well, Sleepin.

    Well, for example, in the most recent elections in 2012 over 170,000 more votes were cast statewide for Democrats to the Assembly than Repubs. But due to the manner in which those votes were apportioned, the Repubs acquired Assembly seats in a two-for-one landslide.

    Same thing happened in Michigan. There were far more votes for Democrats than for Republicans, yet the Republicans took the majority of state seats because the Dems were shoved into fewer voting districts.

    A fer instance:  I live in a four county voting district. Before 2010 we were a swing district...going dem as easily as going rep. It was usually this one county that would swing us dem. (Unfortunately, not my county of residence.)

    Then came the redistricting shenanigans. The dem county was stripped off and added to the district south of us (reliably dem) and another county (reliably rep) to the west was added to take its place.

    Ta-da. No more swing district.

    This same redistricting also assured that my U.S. Rep will be a Republican. Forever. Or at least until 2020.

    There are attempts, like in momoe's Florida, to bring fair districting to the state. But of course, all attempts are shot down by the Repubs in power.

    Right now, things in Michigan look desperate and disheartening.

    Honestly? I don't think there's enough heart left in the people here to raise a good holler about it.

    Yes, Flower, gerrymandering has just about done us in, but I hope you're wrong that people are about to give up.  That's what they want and that's what we have to fight against.  This battle will not end until and unless we lay down and die, and I am so not ready to do that yet!

    You will get some relief after the 2014 election.  I have been reading how weak the republican bench is for state wide elections in Michigan. There is a few Republicans considering to poke their noses out of their safe gerrymandered seats for a state wide run. Peterson's name is floating around for either Gov. or open senate seat. The behavior of the Republicans are setting themselves up for a backlash in Michigan. A Democratic Gov will put a check on the State House.  There are several others being talked about for Gov. and Senate but the names did not stick because I am and outsider.

    I hope you're right, Momoe.  The problem with Michigan is that the outstate votes are so unpredictable.  And now with the gerrymandering, it's even more unpredictable.  The upper peninsula was historically securely Democratic, but that has changed for no apparent reason.  Retired auto workers, still loyal to the unions, moved up north and kept the Dems going for decades.  We thought it would go on forever.  Silly us.

    Gov. Snyder is only popular with his base out side of that he is as popular as the black plague.  Mark Schauer's name is being floated to run against him.  At least he is being courted by the Democrats.  You won't have a repeat of the Mayor of Lansing running this time.  In the open Senate seat Amash from Grand Rapids is making noises about running and he is a screwball teabagger and only popular with wing nuts.  That will leave his house seat open.  It is early so there will be more.  If the new city manager in Detroit gets mean then you will see a big turn out of Democrats.  When school starts in the fall and the kids have to take toilet paper and paper towels to school as their supplies, that eats away at republican support. 

    I'm not so sure about Snyder's popularity.  We used to say the same thing about John Engler--that he couldn't possibly get re-elected given all the damage he had done (Including, on a personal note, taking away state grants from me and many others who foolishly chose not to take the entire amount at the time we received them).

    I don't know anything about Mark Schauer, but I believe Virg Bernero would have made a great governor.  He had the passion for it, he understood budgets, and he would have worked well with the activists who were ready to move the state along.  He would have given hell to the Republican legislators, which might have energized the fence-sitters.  Sadly, he never had a chance against Snyder's propaganda and money machines.

    I'll miss Carl Levin and can only hope a Dem will fill his seat. 

    Detroit's new financial manager just reinstated the pay of the mayor and the council, so they're warily giving him some luv in Deetroit City.  (Who had the authority to take away their pay in the first place?  Questions, questions, always questions when you live in a dictator state.)

    Michigan's schools are another matter entirely.  They're in trouble and it's going to take a massive effort to keep them from going private.

    Civil disobedience is probably a better idea than the one I suggested just after the 2010 elections ... although I think my idea would be a lot more fun and bring more immediate satisfaction.   wink

    Ha ha. Where you went wrong way back in 2010, Mr. Smith, is that you forgot they have no shame.  None.  They don't care what we think.  So, yes, they gerrymandered because they could win no other way, but they don't care.  Winning is winning.  And they turned out to be right.  Winning IS winning.  And when you win you get to make the rules.  And when you get to make the rules you win.

    See how easy that is?


    (Sigh) Yes, that was the one flaw in my plan.  Oh well, back to the drawing board.

    The myth of efficient dictatorship again. All we need to solve the problems is to skip due process.

    The real question is who they scapegoat after the dictator has dictated and things have not worked.

    You are so right and I really caught it in your last blog.

    And Michigan is a real example of this.

    Oligarchy or dictatorship; I am sure Plato would approve but damn!

    No citizen has a hand in any of this.


    Ramona, why can't the Feds muscle Michigan to meet required guidelines for the care of Veterans?

    Nothing gets the attention of the Directors of State Government; faster, than stopping the Federal paycheck.

    If your links already addressed the matter, forgive me, but if I don't know or trust the site, I won't link to it. There are way too may cyber attacks going on.

    Resistance, I haven't found any sign of Fed intervention yet, but I'll keep looking.  They're in hot water already with the nationwide revelations of VA negligence, so this is just one more episode in the long sad tale of veteran abuse.

    It's a disgrace what our Government is doing.

    If this is how our government treats the all volunteer army, imagine if our government could force us to serve ?  

    Like Michigan taxing it's citizens and not delivering; taxation without representation? 

    I have given up on treating any Republican as being Rational. Colin Powell speaks out against the crazy in the GOP. Powell's former aide, Lawrence Wilkerson, speaks about the racism in the GOP. Both Powell and Wilkerson voted for Obama.

    The MSM uses the nonsense that "both parties do it" to try to explain why they are not  constantly pointing out the craziness of the GOP. The GOP is in favor of dictatorships. The GOP is in favor of vaginal probes in women seeking an abortion. The GOP is in favor of voter suppression. The GOP is against Gay marriage or even civil unions for Gays.

    There is no large scale protest against the crazy by Republicans. Republicans are silent on dictatorship. Republicans are silent on vaginal probes. Republicans are silent on voter suppression. By there silence, Republicans are agreeing with the crazy in the GOP.

    The only way out of the situation is to try to rid the Congress of every GOP member via the vote. There are no moderate Republicans. 2014 should be viewed as the first step in removing Republicans from elected office. You cannot negotiate with Republican crazy.

    You cannot negotiate with Republican crazy.

    We tried to tell that to Obama immediately after his first election.

    We should have seen it coming.



    Now that the levels of Lake Michigan and Huron are at record lows, and harbors are heading to being high and dry, how can Michigan survive without the recreational boaters? Republicans plan for everyone to just move into the ubiquitous low wage/no benefit Michigan staple, basket weaving/clay pottery, while Koch runs everything else in union busted shops?

    We depend on tourism and shipping here on the great lakes so the record low lake levels could be a disaster.  There will be some state and fed funded dredging, but the small communities like mine will probably not get that kind of help.  The dredging permits are being expedited but the small marina and resort owners will have to pay for the dredging themselves.

    These pictures show the shoreline in front of my house. (Where Lake Huron and the St. Mary's River converge)  The lowest level was taken last fall.  The other picture, from a few years ago, still shows a lower level than when we moved there 18 years ago. 

    We still have a foot of snow on the ground so the snow melt will help a little, but obviously it would take a lot of water to fill those basins high enough to make a difference..

    To give a real life example of how Michigan universities are being tea-partied by our state government:  There is a group of Phd. candidates at MSU I know and all of them had some kind of position lined up for the summer...making a few bucks, ya know, while working in their chosen field...all of them funded through the university. They thought they were set, then, boom. Every single one of those jobs were axed by the university because of the threat by the state to take away their funding.

    Within 24 hours two of the positions were reinstated, but the remaining students are left scrambling after having the rug pulled out from beneath their feet.

    If the GOP lawmakers wanted to control the outcome between the unions and the universities, they should have run for the Board of Regents instead of state reps.

    Instead they are gonna pass one stupid law after another until we implode.

    Help us. Michigan is drowning in the stupid.


    What always gets me about the GOP is how sure they are that they can get away with anything.  They've had decades of success at getting away with anything, so they don't ever feel they have to hide what they're doing.  Hate, fear, racism, sexism, anti-intellectualism. . .it works for them.

    Michigan is indeed drowning in stupid.  Still looking for the lifesaver.  We don't seem to have many heroes anymore.  And the press in Michigan has been all but silent up to now.


    What we already know about how the republicans are operating now is that when they are successful with their obsessive destruction and usurping of power in one place they will attempt to do the same things everywhere it is possible to get away with it.

    We all should care about Michigan because this will spread...

    It seems the republicans are determined to find a way to shape the country according to their designs by hook or by crook... lots of crooks...

    We need to get the press to pay more attention to ALEC and the Koch Brothers (and the state groups like The Mackinac Center in Michigan) and their influence on those GOP-led state governments.  The GOP in Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida and who knows how many others follow the exact same scripts and don't care who knows it. 

    It's an open, blatant takeover with an astonishing success rate.  Why wouldn't they keep on going?  There's nobody with any power who can stop them.

    Now our Secretary of State is working to change our electoral votes so that Republicans won't be left out in the cold when it comes to national elections. 

    We're under attack only because so many people still want to believe anything that goes against the Democrats has to be good for the country.  How do we change that?  Beats me.  Nothing we've done so far has worked.  In fact, it only gets worse.   I'm past trying to work with or even like Republicans.  They're the enemy to my people and I'm obliged to treat them that way.

    The latest:  Art, music, and gym teachers get the ax in Lansing.

    It's doubtful this will be only on Bernero's turf. I can foresee this happening in all the larger city schools to save the money that the state took away so business could have their tax cut.

    This isn't austerity anymore. This is death to education.

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