Fore! GVSU Charter Office Spends Your School Tax Dollars on Golf Outings

English: Golf balls. Français : Des balles de ...

Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Michigan charter schools are required by law to have an authorizer.  According to the law, “the authorizing body is responsible for overseeing compliance by the board of directors with the contract and all applicable law.”  To provide this oversight, the authorizer captures three percent of  per pupil funding for each student.  According to Bill DiSessa, a spokesman with the Department of Education, there are “few restrictions on how authorizers may use their 3% administrative fee.”  Without restrictions like most public school bodies have, authorizers apparently don’t mind spending your tax money on just about anything.

 

Case in point: Grand Valley State Charter Office puts on two golf outings each year, one on each side of the state.  Each charter school it authorizes can have four board members attend.  When I contacted GVSU about the golf outings, I was pleased to get a prompt response from Tim Wood who runs the GVSU Charter School Office (CSO). Wood said, “The GVSU CSO pays for the golf outing.  The outing is really an opportunity to thank volunteer board members, charter school administrators, and the profs that assist with our summer camp and campus visits for all their work throughout the school year.” When I inquired how they pay for the golf outing, Wood replied “The overwhelming majority of the GVSU Charter School Office (CSO) budget comes from the 3% administration fee.” 

 

GVSU authorizes 47 charter schools.  They have a staff of 22 people to oversee those schools.  Tim Wood ,who made $137,700 a year the last time it was reported, oversees the overseers.  Yet, GVSU and ten other authorizers were put on notice by the state of Michigan for “deficiencies in key factors of oversight.”  If GVSU’s football coach had performed as poorly as Wood has, surely he would have been fired and it would have been front-page news.

 

Recently, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers said Michigan only follows three of their 27 best practices!  When a charter advocacy group gives Michigan charter schools an 11 percent score, you know we have a “Wild West” type system.  I believe the state should pull the plug on all authorizers and create its own authorizing body.  The opposition to that plan would be strong because authorizers are making a lot of money off our pupils.  If charter authorizers have taught anyone anything, it is that Tom Brokow’s famous statement is true: It is easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.

 

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Mackinac Center Criticizes MEA Raises After Giving Their President An 18% Raise

Freep

The Free Press article that fails to mention the Mackinac Center’s President’s pay.

The conservative “think tank” Mackinac Center For Public Policy just issued a new report called “MEA Executives Take Big Pay Raises While Liabilities Continue to Grow.”  The Detroit Free Press liked it so much they made it into an article of their own and ran it on the third page.  Not surprisingly, there is more to the story than what appears in the Mackinac Center report or in the Free Press article.

The Mackinac Center uses the MEA Labor Organization Annual Report to highlight the pay increases of four of the Michigan Education Association’s (MEA) leaders.  Their report notes that Secretary-Treasurer Rick Trainor’s salary increased 44 percent, Vice President Nancy Strachan’s salary increased 16 percent, President Steve Cook’s salary increased 11 percent, and Executive Director Gretchen Dziadosz’s salary increased 6 percent.  The average raise of these four individuals is 19%.  Dziadosz was the highest paid MEA leader last year making $224,858.  I am told, but don’t have proof, that these salaries include reimbursements and therefore do not paint an accurate picture of these employee’s compensation.  However, let’s just assume that the Mackinac Center’s numbers are correct, and then let’s turn the spotlight onto the Mackinac Center itself.

According to the Mackinac Center’s 2012 and 2013 990 forms (they are a non-profit too), Mackinac Center President Joseph Lehman received an 18% pay hike.  Lehman was compensated a total of $233,401! So Lehman makes more than anyone in the MEA, and his percentage raise was greater than the raise received by three of the four MEA members that the Mackinac Center targeted. Unlike the MEA’s report, the Mackinac Center’s report leaves off some of their top staff members.  For instance, Audrey Spalding, their Director of Education Policy, is not listed on the report.  I was particularly interested in her compensation since I recently uncovered what I believe to be a major conflict of interest regarding Ms. Spalding’s service on a charter school board in Taylor.

Another reason that the Mackinac Center lacks credibility in this debate is that they don’t disclose their funding. We know the MEA’s executives are being compensated by 144,000 members who voluntarily pay their dues.  Meanwhile, the Mackinac Center operates via so-called “dark money.”  I’m sure if they would release their donor list we would find the names of some of Michigan’s billionaires, whose own wealth increased 22% last year.

Sure, executive pay is out of control everywhere, including in the non-profit sector.  Last year we learned that the President of the Susan G. Komen Foundation received a 64% raise and made $684,000!  Closer to home, I recently learned that Michigan High School Athletic Association President John “Jack” Roberts makes $251,109 from educational athletics!  Clearly, we need to reform what it means to be “non-profit.”

If, I say if, Michigan Education Association Executives took home big raises last year, then I’m disappointed in their leadership.  Yet, I’m wise enough to know better than to take the Mackinac Center’s word for it.  Since their inception, they have taken to undermining public schools, teachers, and workers of all kinds.  They are a propaganda machine for conservative millionaires and billionaires whose main goals are to profitize everything, pay as little tax as possible, and to destroy any organized opposition to their way of life (i.e. unions).  As long as our “free press” does as bad a job of reporting as the Free Press did in this instance, the Mackinac Center will continue to make progress for the millionaires and billionaires behind the dark money curtain.

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How One of Governor Snyder’s 51 Executive Orders Hampered Charities

Governor Snyder

Governor Snyder

Oh how conservatives have taken to bashing President Obama for taking executive action on immigration.  Even Saturday Night Live poked fun at Obama for using an executive order instead of waiting for Congress to pass a bill, which many believe would never have happened.  Yet, conservatives are pretty quiet on the 51 executive orders signed by Governor Snyder.  One of these executive orders caused serious problems for charities, even delaying much needed fundraisers for one charity by nearly two years!  What follows is just one example of executive action gone wrong.

Early in 2012, a 501(c)3 non-profit that I am a member of began the qualifying process to hold charitable gaming fundraisers.  We went through all the steps required by the state including being recognized by the local township.  By winter, we received a notice from the Charitable Gaming Division that we were approved to conduct charitable gaming under PA 382 of 1972.  It turned out that notice was only good for making paper airplanes.  At about the same time we were approved, the Governor bypassed the legislature and issued an executive order that transferred charitable gaming licensing like poker, but not bingo or raffles, to the Gaming Control Board.  When I contacted the Gaming Control Board about an event we were planning, they refused to recognize us as an approved organization despite our approval letter.  A call the the Charitable Gaming Division hoping they would clear up the matter didn’t help.  I was told they were just as confused about the process as I was.  So, we were back to square one.

Actually, we were back to square negative one.  The Gaming Control Board’s Executive Director decided he should also throw around some executive authority and he created a moratorium on new locations.  We were told we could only host an event at our own venue, which wasn’t possible, or at an already approved venue.  No venues in our rural county, or any neighboring county, were approved that I was aware of, and the Gaming Control Board told me they couldn’t supply a list of approved venues to help us out!  So we began looking for a new home location that would work for holding a poker tournament. We found a location, submitted all the change of address forms to the State and Federal Government, and then resubmitted our application.  Now a year had passed.

Several weeks later, instead of receiving an approval, we received an additional list of questions to answer, many of which could have been put on the original application.  We submitted that information and waited the six weeks we were told it would take to get approved.  Six weeks passed and nothing happened.  When I called to complain, I was given some surprising news.  Charitable Gaming Board Executive Director Richard Kalm used the power under Governor Snyder’s executive order to issue a whole list of “emergency rules.”  When I called and asked to talk directly to Kalm to explain our situation, I was told he didn’t have time to talk to me.  Come to find out, I wasn’t alone in my frustration with Snyder and Kalm’s overreach.  A lawsuit was filed on behalf of charities and the Senate passed a bill to try to prevent the rules from being implemented. Neither were successful.  Republican Rick Jones called the regulations “extremely unfair.” So once again the rules for approval were changed on us mid-game and without notice. Now a year and a half had passed.

Once again we took to filling out more paperwork. This time we had to submit detailed information on our dealers, and even more information on our location despite the fact that a Gaming Control Board official had visited the location and met with the owners of the building!  After all of that, and more twists and turns that I won’t bore you with, we were finally approved nearly two years after starting the process!  Had we have known it would have taken that long, we probably would have opted for a bake sale.

One of Governor Snyder’s main weaknesses is his inconsistency.  He repealed the motorcycle helmet law causing as many as 12 more deaths a year, but then he acts unilaterally to complicate fundraising for all charities because of a few bad apples.  He passes right-to-work for most public employees, but he exempts policemen and firemen. He says he will make government more efficient, then he issues executive orders that confuse the people they effect and the people who are supposed to implement the rules. He says that Washington D.C. should be more like Lansing, then he uses the sameWashington D.C. tactics to get his way regardless of what anyone else thinks.  I’d be wiling to bet that Governor Snyder will continue to struggle with consistency and fairness over the next four years.  Then again, to make that bet I might have to file paperwork with the state, and I don’t have an extra two years on my hands!

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Five Great Contemporary Economic Justice Songs

If you’re like me, you are still seeing too much red from the recent mid-term elections to think clearly.  So, let’s talk about music instead of elections.   In the past few years, I have stumbled on five great songs with economic justice themes.  Three of the five artists are from Michigan, and one is from Wisconsin and plays shows in Michigan each year.  If you enjoy these songs, you might be interested in knowing that the progressive conference known as Netroots Nation has kicked off a fundraising effort to bring “today’s protest bands and artists into the national spotlight again.”  You can help them reach their goal by going to their Indeigogo page and contributing to the cause.  Thanks for listening.  Now take a listen.  

Artist: Mute Flutes
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Song: American Dream
Best Line: “Some say the government has come to save us.  Some say the government is here to steal.  Well then I just keep on working and paying all these bills: I am a cog within this corporation’s wheel.”

Artist: Willy Porter
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Song: How to Rob a Bank
Best Line: “Some say I’ll need a driver, a Nixon mask and gun,
but let me tell you brothers and sisters that’s not how you get a bank job done.
You can’t walk in there brazen with an Uzi like Patty Hearst.
I’m gonna secure myself a seat on the board of directors first.
That’s how you rob a bank.”

Artist: Drew Nelson
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Song: Promise Land
Best Line: “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa that’s how it is.  Just gettin’ by is the plan. Welcome to the world of the working poor.  Here in the promise land.”

Artist: Keb Mo
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Song: More for Your Money
Best Line: “Way back then daddy had his own business.  He was a self made man; he was independent.  Then they opened a store that took a city block.  What ever you need you know they got. It was a high price to pay to get more for your money today.”

Artist: Joshua Davis
Location: Traverse City, Michigan
Song: Working Man’s Hymn
Best Line: “Some people hungry for the green back bill, some folks hunger for the top of the hill, some people just trying to get a decent meal. I know that we can turn it around.”

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MLive Gets Lambasted by Readers for Making Endorsements

There was a time that newspapers were purposefully partisan.  People chose their newspaper based on their political leanings, like one might chosoe Fox News or MSNBC for their T.V. news today.  I can only assume that newspaper endorsements that occur today are left over from that bygone era.  These days it seems like bad form to claim to be objective and then endorse any politician.  I guess I’m not alone in that opinion.  Yesterday, MLive endorsed our controversial Attorney General Bill Schuette.  That was enough to send their readers into a conniption fit.  Here are a few of my favorite comments against MLive’s endorsement.

Tyler wrote “Media shouldn’t be endorsing anyone.  Any respectable mass media outlet is supposed to be politically impartial.”

Dan wrote “Mlive’s credibility is in question with this revelation.” 

Meeko wrote “Yet again what a shame.  Mlive . . . should stick to bringing us the news. Just pathetic.”

Donna wrote “‘Over the next four years, we hope to see Schuette’s priorities more in line with those of Michigan’s general population. We would advise him to follow his own words and receive instead of broadcast.’ The editorial board can write that claptrap and still endorse Schuette?”

Matt wrote “Why doesn’t MLive just come out as being partisan? Most people know this is the case.”

Jake says “This is why I only read the comments (not your articles) for entertainment.”

Matt says “Dear MLive: The moment you post YOUR editorial board’s endorsements as an article, it becomes YOUR endorsement, regardless of how you try to spin it. Also, just because something is long-standing or traditional doesn’t make it right. Every time you post an editorial board endorsement, you get major backlash from almost every commenter. Perhaps you should take a moment and actually listen and pay attention to your readers–they don’t want you publishing the editorial boards endorsements, so perhaps it’s time to stop this practice.”

MLive responded to several of these complaints stating “Editorial board opinion pieces and endorsements are a long-standing component of journalism.”  There are a lot of longstanding traditions that should be killed off.  Newspaper endorsements should be at the top of the list.

Note: Several other papers across the state released their endorsements and they were met with similar ire from their readers.  Kudos to smaller papers like the Traverse City Record Eagle who did not endorse either candidate, and the Cadillac News who does not endorse any candidates.

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State Rep Uses the Pledge of Allegiance to Justify Discrimination Against LGBT People

Potvinface

Phil Potvin in his Phil Potvin hat.

Phil Potvin, Republican Representative of the 102nd District, is a “fortunate son” of a successful businessman.  To further borrow from the lyrics of the Credence Clearwater Revival hit, Potvin seems “born to wave the flag.”  In fact, Potvin likes the flag so much that it covers the bill of his Phil Potvin hat.  Anyone who loves the flag that much surely loves the Pledge of Allegiance too.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with that as long as you don’t use it to, say, defend your homophobic views.

When Potvin was asked by the Northern Express Newsweekly if he supported expansion of Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to protect Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) individuals from discrimination, his entire response was “No. We are one nation under God, indivisible, with freedom and justice for all.” 

Let’s set aside for the moment that he actually got the pledge wrong.  In my book, freedom would mean that you are free to love who you want, and justice would mean that an employer shouldn’t legally be able to fire you from your job because of who you love.  I guess Potvin and I read different books.  I imagine he doesn’t share my appreciation for Credence Clearwater Revival either.

Posted in Equality, Phil Potvin | Leave a comment

Governor Candidate’s Lack of Presence “Up North” Could Prove Costly

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Perhaps the only Mark Schauer sign in Wexford County.

If you live in a strong Republican or Democratic area, or in a gerrymandered district, you are probably used to your vote not meaning much.  However, your vote for Governor and Senator will matter come November 4th.  While Gary Peters has a pretty comfortable lead, and will likely be our next U.S. Senator, the Governor’s race is a toss up.  Mark Schauer is slightly behind Governor Snyder in the polls, but the race is within the margin of error.

Considering the tightness of the Governor’s race, you would think that the candidates would be crisscrossing the state looking for votes.  While that may be true, neither the criss nor the cross are occurring in Northern Michigan.  For instance, I live in Wexford County. Mark Schauer made one campaign stop here.  That occurred over a year ago and was held during the work week at 2:30 in the afternoon.  Governor Snyder hasn’t made any campaign stops here to my knowledge.  When it comes to getting supporters yard signs, the Snyder campaign has made them available at a local Republican campaign office.  To get a Mark Schauer sign I was told I would have to drive 44 miles to Clare.  In fact, in the 21 most Northern Counties in the Lower Peninsula only 3 have locations where Mark Schaur’s yard signs can be can be obtained.  I know yard signs don’t vote, but a total lack of presence by the Schauer campaign cannot be beneficial.

When Lon Johnson became the chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, he said the Democrats would “fight everywhere.” Since Johnson had just attempted to win election as a state representative “up north” in the 103rd district, I was convinced. However, I haven’t seen any change between this election and the last one in the Democratic Party.  I also haven’t seen any change in the Republican Party who count on votes “up north” without actually working for them.  If Schauer or Snyder lose by a few percent or less, you have to wonder if  their general disregard for pretty much all of Northern Michigan didn’t contribute to the loss.  It’s never wise to take voters, or votes, for granted.

Posted in 2014 Election, Richard Snyder, Wexford County | Leave a comment

Moolenaar Disses Voters in Favor of Special Interest Meeting

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Moolenaar speaking with a Chamber of Commerce supporter.

Republican John Moolenaar is acting like a congressman even before he finds out if will become one.  That’s right, he is already putting special interest before his constituents.  Moolenaar had agreed to debate Dr. Jeff Holmes at Alma College on Monday, October 20th.  Both men are running for the right to represent the 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.  The Holmes campaign expected hundreds of people to show up to the event.  A week before the debate was to occur, Moolenaar got an offer he couldn’t refuse.  He was invited to meet with a handful of Chamber of Commerce members in Cadillac.  So Moolenar contacted Alma college last Tuesday to cancel.  Holmes was left to attend the debate alone.

Dr. Holmes' supporters greet John Moolenaar.

Dr. Holmes’ supporters greet John Moolenaar.

Supporters of the Holmes campaign greeted Moolenaar in Cadillac holding sings reading “We Demand a Debate” and “Public Discourse=Democracy.”  One person asked Moolenaar why he was afraid to debate.  Moolenaar only said he wasn’t afraid and walked into the meeting where a half dozen people awaited his arrival.  If Moolenaar is not afraid to debate, then he must be afraid to tell the Chamber of Commerce no.  For that reason, and many more, he will probably fit right into a dysfunctional Congress should he win the seat on November 4th.  The constituents on the other hand, will be the ones who will lose.

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Representative Potvin’s Business Claims are Misleading at Best

PotvinfaceAnyone remember when Notre Dame hired George O’Leary as their football coach and then fired him five days later for falsifying his resume?  Well, State Representative Phil Potvin and O’Leary seem to have more in common than just being Catholic.  Phil Potvin’s official GOP house website states “Potvin retired as Chief Executive Officer of Western Concrete in 2006 and continues as a consultant to the company for property management in Big Rapids and Cadillac.”  In a recent candidate questionnaire that appeared in the Cadillac News Potvin said “I joined my dad at Western Concrete in 1971 until 2006 when the business sold.”  Not only do these statements seem to conflict with each other, they also conflict with reports filed with the State of Michigan. If Western Concrete Products was sold, or Potvin retired, why did he continue to sign off as president on the company’s corporate entity documents until 2011?  Why was he the one that disbanded the company when he filed a form that amended the articles of incorporation to read “the term of this corporation shall expire effective as of March 31st, 2011?”

Also at issue is his work as a “consultant for Wexford Concrete Properties.”  Potvin organized that company in 2007 according to the corporate entity documents.   Potvin listed his home address on Petrie Road in Cadillac as the initial office, and that address is where the yearly annual reports are sent.  Potvin’s name is the only one that shows up in the seven filings for Western Concrete Properties.  He is listed as “organizer,” “manager,” “managing member,” “member manager,” and “managing partner” depending on the year.  Nowhere is he listed as a consultant.  One is left wondering who he would be consulting anyhow.
It appears that Wexford Concrete Properties exists to sell or rent out the defunct Western Concrete Concrete Products properties.  A 2011 article in the Traversce City Record Eagle highlighted problems Potvin was having renting one of the closed Western Concrete Products sites in Traverse City.  According to the article, a Vietnam veteran was renting space from Potvin for his hot dog stand but didn’t have the proper permits to sell food.  The Vietnam veteran was evicted by Potvin and he told the Record Eagle “they got to me through him.  Being a high-profile individual, he didn’t want to fight my battles.”

All along Potvin has touted his business experience to convince voters that he could work the same wonders for our government that he worked for Western Concrete Products.  However, it appears he has misrepresented the level of success that he had with the company.  On top of that, we know his company received a $162,500 fine from the Department of Environmental Quality when they buried hazardous waste about a half of a mile from Cadillac’s well field.

George O’Leary was fired after five days in office.  In a few short weeks voters will decide if they should send Potvin back to Lansing for a third term.  He hopes to do for our State what he did for Western Concrete Products.  That is a scary thought.

Posted in 2014 Election, Phil Potvin | Leave a comment

Educators Looking to Become Legislators in 2014

Public school teachers have taken a shellacking these past four years.  This fall a handful of educators are looking to turn the tables and unseat some of Michigan’s worst legislators. At least eleven teachers, or retired teachers, ran in the primary, and at least nine won the right to be on the general election ballot in November.  Although all six are running as Democrats, they have some pretty diverse views.  One thing they have in common though is that they will all be champions for public school children at the Capitol.  If you consider yourself a champion for public schools yourself, read up on these candidates and choose one to help by donating your time or money. Just click on the candidate’s name for more information.

masonsitsmLynn Mason is running for the State House of Representatives in 86th District.  Lynn is running against Lisa Pothumus Lyons, who we crowed as Michigan’s least ethical legislator.  Lyons chairs the House Education Committee despite calling teachers “Hogs” who need to be “slaughtered.”  Even one of her former teachers called her out for her poor behavior.  Mason brings experience as a teacher, an apple farmer, and a county commissioner.  Surprisingly, she has out-raised the well connected career politician Posthumus Lyons.  Mason and her supporters have also knocked on over 20,000 doors.  This is the most important race in the House in 2014.

Dawn Levy is running for State Senate in the 24th District.  The seat is held by Senator Rick Jones.  Thankfully, Jones is being shown the door due to term limits.  His most memorable moment came when he compared Lansing public relations executive Kelly Rossman-McKinney to a hooker for working with people in both parties.  Levy is not likely to launch such attacks as she has spent her life helping people rather than tearing them down.  She has spent more than two decades as a teacher and as a volunteer paramedic.  She also is a strong proponent of the second amendment and was the former President of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs.  That should play well in the 24th Senate district that is home to a lot of sportsmen and sportswomen.  Levy would bring a strong female voice to a Senate that has far too few women and is losing Senate Majority Leader Gretchen Whitmer to term limits.

balcolm

Mark Balcolm is running for the State House of Representatives in the 100th district.  He
is trying to upset the two term incumbent Jon Bumstead.  Bumstead called cutting funding to schools while cutting taxes on businesses, some of which were already making record profits, “hard choices.”  Balcom is probably the most fiscally conservative of the group of educators running in 2014.  In fact, it wasn’t long ago that Balcom was a Republican.  He is also a pro-life candidate which should help him out in the rural 100th district.  Balcolm currently teaches instrumental music in Hesperia.  If Balcom were elected, he would like to get people in Lansing working together again to solve our issues with funding for schools and roads.  He would also would like to work with businesses to grow the economy.

Ron Mindykowski is running for the State Senate in the 31st District.  The Bay City native, and 29 year teaching veteran, hopes to defeat Senator Mike Green.  Green authored a bill that would expanded concealed carrying into schools.  Governor Snyder vetoed it because it would not allow schools to opt out if they felt it was in the best interest of their students’ safety.  If voters elect Mindykowski, he plans to restore funding to public schools and cut taxes on middle class families.  He would restore common sense to the 31st District.

Robert Kennedy is running for the State House in the 106th District.  Kennedy is the dean of the group with his 38 years of classroom experience.  He also served in the Michigan Army National Guard.  Kennedy is running against incumbent Peter Pettalia.  Pettalia made news when he and two other GOP Representatives had their picture taken with a women’s fashion magazine and Pettalia remarked “don’t say we don’t understand women.” Kennedy is pretty much the complete opposite of Pettalia.  If elected, Kennedy plans to fight for marriage equality and the protection of reproductive rights for women.  Where Pettalia buckled and voted to cut school funding in his first term in the legislature, Kennedy would fight to restore school funding in his first term if elected.

Bette Pierman is running for the State Senate in the 21st District.  Bette is a retired teacher and has also volunteered for several worthy causes.  Pierman is running against John Proos who has been serving in either the State Senate or the House since 2005.  Proos, a political science major, has spent most of his adult life in politics.  He said in an interview that he has no problem taking money out of the school aid fund to balance the general fund budget.  Pierman would better represent the people of the 21st District because she is more like them.  She told M-Live “I know what it is like to struggle to make ends meet. I know what it is like to be unemployed. I know first-hand what it is like to experience age discrimination while searching for a job.”  She also knows how important education is and has made it clear that she would put students first, unlike John Proos.

Tom Stobie is running for the State House in the 101st District.  Stobie has a great deal of experience in education having served as a teacher, coach, principal, and superintendent.  He also served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.  If elected, Stobie plans to be an advocate for kids, veterans, small businesses, and he plans to fight to protect our environment.  Stobie is running against incumbent business owner Ray Franz.  Franz called nuclear energy “environmentally sound” and authored a law to ban offshore wind turbines.  It’s clear if you care about our future, namely our children and our environment, Stobie is the best choice for the 101st district.

Fred Sprague is running for the State Senate in the 33rd District.  Sprague served as a science teacher, a coach, and as a guidance counselor before he retired.  Sprague plans to focus his energy on education, economic development, and protecting the environment.  Sprague is running against incumbent Judy Emmons.  Believe it or not, Emmons was a school board president yet voted for the emergency manager bill and for the pension tax.  She was the target of an unsuccessful recall in 2011.  Hopefully residents of the 33rd District will penalize Emmons for turning her back on public school children and send Sprague to Lansing instead.

Cyndi Peltonen is running for State Senate in the 13th District.  Peltonen spent over a decade in the classroom.  Peltonon lists the environment, education, infrastructure, jobs, LGBTQ equality, and women’s issues as her top priorities if elected.  She is running against Marty Knollenberg who is currently serving in the State House.  Knollenberg was the original sponsor of Michigan’s right-to-work (for less) law.  He also authored a law that prevents teachers from getting raises based on experience (steps) when they are working without a contract.  This law creates a situation where the employer actually benefits from not settling a contract.  Knollenberg is one of the most anti-worker legislators in Lansing.  He doesn’t deserve a promotion to the State Senate.  Voters in the 13th District would be wise to choose Peltonen instead.

Note: This post is being updated as I hear of additional candidates.  Robert Kennedy, Bette Pierman, Tom Stobie, Fred Sprague, and Cyndi Peltonen did not appear in the original posting.

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