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Mark Brewer's presentation on Gerrymandering and Other Election Related Legal Action

NMC SCHOLAR'S HALL Just when we needed a shot of positive energy, Atty. Mark Brewer gave us both hope and a dose of reality. Mark Brewer was the chair of the Michigan Democratic Party for many years. Currently, he is working on the gerrymandering case that was supported by the Federal Court. This week the 3-judge panel ruled that 34 districts need to be redrawn before the 2020 election. They unanimously supported all the evidence that League of Women Voters MI vs. Benson presented and ordered that by August 1st, the legislature must redraw lines fairly and have Governor Whitmer sign the bill. The story of this suit starts in 2011 when the Republican legislature and governor redrew the feder

Harm Reduction Syringe Service Grant

I was at the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners meeting on April 18, 2019, when three Commissioners voted against the Harm Reduction Syringe Service grant (grant information starts on page 132 of the meeting packet). The grant would provide funding, at no cost to the County, for staffing, HIV/Hepatitis C testing, gas, travel, mobile units, supplies and testing kits, education, syringe disposal service and outreach. The County funding cannot be used for needles, syringes or injection equipment, although groups that are not part of the Grand Traverse County Health Department would provide sterile needles and syringes in exchange for used ones. The three Commissioners that voted again

County Commission Meeting Notes April 17, 2019

Call to Order: Opening ceremonies included an invocation and pledge of allegiance to the flag. Roll Call: one commissioner absent. First Public Comment: Approximately 10 people came to the podium to comment. Comments were equally divided between citizens making their disapproval known regarding changing time of these meetings from the evenings to 8:00 in the morning--making it hard to attend and the clear cutting of trees at the Traverse City Airport. CONSENT CALENDAR Two items were requested to be removed from consent calendar: one by Betsy Coffia (Department of Health & Human Services) and the other by Gordie LaPointe (Budget Amendments). SPECIAL ORDERS OF BUSINESS The Building code effect

TC Central High School Senior Projects Showcase Future Leaders

Report on Traverse City High School Project Hagerty Center, Thursday April 16, 2019 On Thursday, April 16, 2019, I and a group of four other members of Indivisible TC and the GT Dems, acted as facilitators for groups of students participating in Traverse City Central High School’s Senior Project. Sean Jones, one of the Faculty Advisors for the Project, spoke to our group explaining that the project was begun about ten years ago to answer student questions: "What do we want to come away with by the time we graduate?” "What does it mean to be educated?" Sean explained that students often think reading, writing, and math skills are all that are necessary. He said the Project hopes to teach

The Governor Visits

Governor Whitmer held a town hall at Traverse City High School to deliver her goals and intentions for budget, education, and taxes. She sees serious shortfalls in education, roads, and safe water. She proposed major increases in spending on education and roads. To meet the shortfalls she sees the need for an increase in the tax on gasoline. In the town hall, Whitmer was hosted by Traverse City Area Public Schools Superintendent Paul Soma. In this blog I will attempt to walk the reader through Whitmer's presentation using some of her slides. She began by explaining that of the $60B budget in Michigan only $10.7B is discretionary. So the rest of her talk centered around this $10.7B "Gener

Coffee with Rep. Larry Inman

This morning Rep. Larry Inman met with concerned citizens Berta Meserve, Lynne VanNess, Kathleen Steeves and myself. Rep. Inman was cordial, pleasant and evasive. We spent an hour discussing various issues. A member of our group was curious about why the Representative will not complete the 2018 Political Courage Test despite repeated requests from Votesmart.org. Inman said he receives so many surveys that many end up in a box in his office. He said he is unfamiliar with the survey. Ms. Steeves, who is very knowledgeable about education issues, tried to get his views on how to fund our schools. There was a long, winding answer from Rep. Inman about Michigan losing and gaining population. T

Letter to City and County Board of Commissioners RE: Airport Tree Cutting

Dear City (County) Commissioners, Based on my experience when I was a JAG attorney for the US Air Force, when the government gives orders and makes decisions, it does so in writing, and it makes a record of its decision-making. I expect the FAA, Airport Commission, and City make decisions the same way. The record supporting the Airport’s decision to clear 40-acres, and exempt it from zoning, is slim. When the Airport and FAA decided to cut trees west of Cherry Capital Airport in 2018, those decisions were made in writing. When the FAA decided 63.4 acres east of the terminal (including the 20 acres where Costco sits) could be used for commercial/industrial development rather than aeronautical

Coffee Hour with Sen. Wayne Schmidt

Mayor Jim Carruthers started the session off by saying that SB 853 and SB 389 were passed with the Senator’s support to stop Michigan municipalities from banning plastic bags. The Mayor said that plastics are a real issue for us here in the Traverse area. There is plastic trash all over the beaches, parks and woodlands. While we are doing a good job recycling, it is not enough to solve the problem. We need to make changes and we need laws banning plastic bags. Senator Schmidt said he wanted to avoid piling on to actual existing laws. He thinks bag laws should be modeled after bottle laws that promote recycling. Jim said it will take boots on the ground to insist that laws get passed ba

Goodbye Trees, Hello Confusion

April 3rd Grand Traverse County Board Meeting With weeks of animosity seemingly behind us, the board seems to be getting along much better for now. There seems to be some confusion on the airport cutting down so many trees. Whether the FAA has mandated the clear cutting or not seems to be a debate that some paperwork would clear up instantly. Some on the board look forward to the chance to see this mandate in writing. Outside of that, this meeting moved along briskly and unanimously passed along every motion. The opening public statements touched on some of the same issues we have seen time and time again. The meeting start time and the invocation policy still seem to be upsetting to th

REPORT ON MEETING WITH SEC. OF STATE, JOCELYN BENSON

The Secretary announced that she is on a tour to visit every Sec. of State office in Michigan. She feels that we are in great place in Michigan right now. We have a great Governor, a great Attorney General, and new bold leadership at the top. She thanked everyone who worked so hard here on the ground, the volunteers for Voters Not Politicians door knocking campaign, the volunteers getting petitions signed that ultimately got Propositions 2 and 3 on the ballot and passed. Regarding the changes in voting rights, we can now register to vote up to and on election day. Everyone can vote absentee ballot without a reason. Elections now have the right to be audited to insure elections are secur

WHAT ARE THE REAL ISSUES IN MEDICARE FOR ALL?

In a general sense, Medicare For All, or MFA, isn’t a radically new concept. Every highly developed country has universal health insurance, except us. Some of those insurance systems — not all — are single payer. What’s radical is that America, the richest country on earth, doesn’t have some form of universal coverage. Potential government intrusion into our choice of doctors or our medical decisions isn’t the threat it might seem; current Medicare recipients actually have a broader selection of healthcare providers than they did when dealing with private insurers’ networks. Medicare does sometimes deny coverage, but that happens in private insurance as well. At least in a government-run

REPORT ON MARK BREWER PRESENTATION

Benzie Dem Headquarters Saturday March 16th Mark Brewer, former Michigan Democratic Party Chairman, gave the group an update on recently passed Proposition 2 (Non-political Gerrymandering), and Proposition 3 (Voting Rights Expansion). Mark has been involved in the anti-gerrymandering trial that will be decided soon. Major Points: Every Democratic vote in Michigan is just as important as any other. Macomb County votes are not more important than Benzie County votes. There was a record number of votes cast in 2018, 4.3 million. This is almost as many as in a presidential year. Gretchen Whitmer received more votes than Hillary Clinton did in Macomb county. Mark thinks Gretchen Whitmer is off t

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