Wednesday briefing and open thread (April 18, 2012)

Filling in for Christine today, and since it was an enormously busy day and evening yesterday running a bit late, but that’s a good thing. Means things are happening. Sooooo right on with some news….

In the News:
Protest at Scott Walker Republican Fund Raiser in Troy, MI
Yesterday, hundreds of protesters jeered at Michigan Republicans as they drove into a fundraiser for the controversial Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker. The action had been call for a long list of Michigan organizations including Metro AFL-CIO, 99% Spring, UAW, Good Jobs Now, 99% Pastors, Michigan Welfare Rights, Jobs With Justice, AFSCME Council 25, Michigan Rising, National Action Network, a grooup from Occupy Flint & Occupy Detroit, and any number of others organizations as well. Numbers range from 1,000 – 2,000 (hard to count when folks are spread hundreds of yards along a street), in any case, there was a far higher turnout than was expected for a Tuesday night Tax Day.

Some of the coverage this morning includes:
Protesters greet Wisconsin Gov. Walker at GOP fundraiser (DetNews)
1,000 Protest Wisconsin Governor’s Appearance In Troy (Troy Patch Pics)

(Will POST more as they become available)

As Eclectablog points out, this was the second protest for Walker on the same day, the other was in Springfield, Illinois. Many are saying that these fund raisers are to gather funds for the Koch Brothers supported embattled governor to fight his recall.

Later today…

On BloggingforMichigan bunch more pictures of the Protest of Scott Walker will be posted.

Blue Cross Blue Shield was the first Michigan-based corporate member to withdrawal from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) or “not renew” its member to the right-wing ‘service provider” that has been the source for “model legislation” being introduced in multiple US States for decades, including Michigan. In the statement by BCBS, they declared covered by a story in The Hill:

“The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association’s decision not to renew our membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was made in February 2012 as part of our budgeting process, and was independent of any outreach or campaign by another organization.”

In a stunning statement, ALEC announced that ALEC was shutting down its “Public Safety and Elections Task Force” one of ten working groups where State Legislators and Corporations meet to write legislation or ALEC Models that are then voted on and approved by the “Private Sector” members, nearly a dozen of which have dropped ALEC membership recently fearing ‘brand damage’ to their products and services.

From one of a blizzard of stories on the announcement this one by Paul Abowd at the Center for Public Integrity (@iWatch):

ALEC spun its announcement by declaring that it was “refocusing our commitment to free-market, limited government and pro-growth principles.” The statement from ALEC national chair David Frizzell, an Indiana state representative, said the group was eliminating its Public Safety and Elections Task Force and “reinvesting these resources in the task forces that focus on the economy.” (break) “While we recognize there are other critical, non-economic issues that are vitally important to millions of Americans, we believe we must concentrate on initiatives that spur competitiveness and innovation and put more Americans back to work.”

Sounds familiar right? Because its exactly the same stuff Snyder is using.

By the way, watch out for Paul Abowd, a native Michigander, has done other stories on Michigan issues including a piece in Mother Jones “Michigan’s Hostile Takeover” that focused on Emergency Manager issues in Pontiac and he shows the connections between Lou Schimmel, the writings and forming of PA 4 legislation or Emergency Manager Law, and his denial of connections to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, proponents of the privatization of Michigan’s public assets. Schimmel literally wrote the book on EM.

A list of identified Michigan ALEC Corporation Members was posted earlier on BFM and also an interesting piece with a bunch of ALEC related links on Snyder and ALEC in Michigan on a fairly new blog in the progressive Michigan blogosphere was getting a lot of hits yesterday as well.

Seeming oblivious to all the fuss about ALEC, which has been stretched for weeks across the headlines of other US States, Michigan’s press remains largely quiet, or continues ALEC “business as usual”. This example from the Detroit Free Press, doing a cut and paste (just like the bills are made law by the way – not kidding) on the ALEC “Rich States, Poor States” used by Rick Snyder and Michigan Republicans to justify their overwhelming business over people legislation:

The state placed 17th in an economic outlook ranking that is part of the 2012 American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index. That’s up from No. 25 last year and the highest level since 2008, when Michigan also ranked 17th. (break) Last year, Michigan’s Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder overhauled the state’s tax system, reducing or eliminating taxes for many businesses in an effort to spur job growth.

Another top (so-called “rich”) state is that of Utah, from which Snyder’s Budget Director John Nixon was drafted (pun intended). Utah is a state with a history of ALEC legislation and use of the “ALEC State Budget Toolkit” elements of which are in the Snyder budgets.

Groups around the country are starting to debunk the ALEC report, here is an example from a critic from the Idaho Statesman in ALEC ranked #6 Idaho:

Among the top 10 states, eight have GOP governors. Republicans control the House in all 10 states and hold the Senate in eight states. Looking at the bottom 10, seven have Democratic governors, and Democrats control the Senate in seven states and the House in seven states. The outlier is Maine, a Republican state that ranked No. 47 in the study.

(break)

My problem with the ALEC study is in its labeling. If this were called a scorecard on tax rates or even “the cost of doing business,” I wouldn’t have any heartburn. But this study suggests that the lone true path to prosperity comes by low-balling the cost of state government. That’s political spin, pure and simple. And it helps explain why ALEC, despite its claims of non-partisanship, is viewed with such suspicion.

Not only are the ALEC rankings spurious, they are unreliable. Consistently conservative Idaho has ranked in ALEC’s Top 10 three of the four previous years. If we’re so poised for economic recovery, wouldn’t we be doing better?

Occupy Detroit has another rally today, just one in growing list of actions focused on fighting foreclosures in SE Michigan.

Rally at Court to Keep Paraplegic in his Inkster Home
Date, time, location:
April 18, 2012, 1:30 p.m.
Inkster, 27331 S. River St.
(One block north of Michigan, one block east of Inkster Road, 2 miles west of Telegraph)

The event is also sponsor by Moratorium Now and People Before Banks. The last one was attended by US Rep. Hanson Clarke who made it a national news, but not a Michigan media story (must be like the PA4 petition “font problem” nobody dares cover).

BTW Occupy Detroit celebrated its six month anniversary this past Saturday. They also are planning with a long list of other groups activities for May Day. If you need a positive charge, you might just think about stopping by a local Occupy Michigan event, if nothing else you might be surprised how good it makes you feel about how future generations are seeking to make a difference.

Now for a Twist at the end of the news round up…
Paul Singer, a hedge fund manager on Wall Street, the fourth highest contributor to the Michigan Republican Party, made national news yesterday, and you will not be able to guess why. Was it his support of Mitt Romney? Nope. Was it his fight against Wall Street reforms (Dodd / Frank)? Nope. Was it his well-funded and organized smear campaign against the Occupy Wall Street movement? Nope. Guess again.

Top 15 Contributors to the Michigan Republican Party (four from out-of-state) are listed in the Michigan Campaign Finance Network’s “Citizen’s Guide to Michigan Campaign Finance 2010” (Page 94):

Snyder, Richard & Sue (to buy "CEO of Mich" title) $5,943,702
DeVos, Richard, Sr. & Helen (FL) (Rich) $1,199,904
Lynas, Robert & Joyce $1,007,000
Perry, Bob (TX) $1,000,000
Koch, David (NY) $988,604
Singer, Paul (NY) $783,400
Cohen, Steven (CT) $482,604
Jandernoa, Michael & Susan $416,655
Weiser, Ron & Eileen $418,247
Johnson, Ruth (for Campaign) $354,834
Mills, Ted $339,500
Meijer, Frederick & Lena $339,000
DeVos, Richard, Jr. & Elisabeth (Dick & Betsy) $334,754
Moroun, M.J. & Nora $333,225
Nicholson, James & Ann $302,704

It was his $8.5 million support of gay marriage. That’s right – same-sex benefits and same-sex marriage, the whole shooting match that Michigan Republicans are fighting so hard against. There is a long Singer story on NPR that you can listen to and you can decide if you are to cheer or jeer.

That’s it, and don’t forget to #dumpALEC #beer this Friday’s happy hour.

It is a crime for a citizen to shrink from service to one's society. Contact thru Kos or DU messaging.
Hector Solon
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