Friday, July 25, 2008

Report on Argus Candidate Forum for State House candidates

I was at the 47th and 66th District candidate forum put on by the Argus. All candidates in the 47th PRIMARY were there. Scott Lucas and Phillip Johnson were not there. Lucas is the only democrat running and Phillip Johnson is the US Taxpayers (Constitution Party in most states) candidate. In the 66th District, both the democrats and the Republicans had a primary. All of the Republicans show up. That wasn’t true with the democrats. Donna Anderson was there, but one of the first notable things there was an empty chair to the right on the 66th side. Tom Crawford, a candidate, no showed. I talked to one of the prominent democrats in the county and asked her “Who’s Tom Crawford?” She didn’t know. That’s the great mystery of this campaign right now. I never heard of him, and on his website’s guestbook, it’s clear other democrats didn’t know either. That primary should be a route, and I expect to see Donna Anderson as the democrat’s nominee.

Like the other event, I tried to keep things as verbatim as possible, limited by my typing speed. The Argus has most of this on video at their website –

One thing I was most impressed with was that Bill Rogers mentioned a five year plan. He talked to me about that on several occasions before one on one, but it is the first time I heard him really mention that in public. Lansing doesn’t budget property. I think the stem cell question was dumb since it is out of the legislature’s hands. The smoking question shows who supports the right of property owners and those who supported bigger government. The rest were the economy related for the most part as that's the big issue. There isn’t a LOT of differences (mostly emphasis over ideology) , except with Donna Anderson, which you’d expect since she’s a democrat.

(Seated left to right)
47th – Charlie Aberstauri, Cindy Denby, Carl Konopaska, Frank Portelli (GOP primary)
Winner faces Scott Lucas (Dem) and Phillip Johnson (US Taxpayers/Constitution) who weren’t there because they do not have a primary.
66th – Donna Anderson, Jason Corosanite, Bill Rogers, empty seat (Tom Crawford is not here). (Both party primaries)

Opening Statement.

Charlie – Married 19 years, children attend Hartland. God has been good to me, and I’ve attempted to give back to the community. Lansing needs leg with experience to solve problems and education to understand them. 33 years experience TRW, EMU MBA and facalty. 11 years hartland school board. CCD teacher. Tells TRW Story about being one of 7 to walk into an empty building and how that is one of the largest employers in the county. He wants to apply what he learned so more people have jobs.

Cindy – Pro-life conservative republican. Lifelong county resident. Married 32 years. Legislative aid for Joe Hune. Handled constituent matters, worked with other reps. immediately can address concerns while others find way around Lansing. Takes a conservative approach to budgets. Can work with neighboring municipalities. Economic climate is issue number one. Taxes and fees not answers. Endorsed by Hune, Ward, Green. Website is

Carl – Grad of Howell High 99, married 3 years, 2 degrees at LCC (General assoc, lib arts), pursuing education at EMU. Put himself through college 2 years as carpenter, 5 years heating/cooling. Roots in community. Good leader in Lansing. Youth will help be able to work with younger people. Sub teacher and what he sees is disheartening. The future is kids. Look at website to see ideas to help economic problems.

Frank – Resident of Hartland/Deerfield/tyrone 12 years. Married 16 years. Hartland School. Builder, Small time farmer. 20 years in ops management. Do things better, faster, cheaper. 6 years in auto industry. Launched plants and hired a lot of people. 41 yrs old. Mix of public/private experience. Dealt with municipalities. Lansing is not dealing with priority issues. Endorsed by Right to Life and Citizens for Traditional Values.

Donna – Running because I love state of Michigan, children, grandchildren. Good paying jobs, best education possible, clean environment, affordable health care. 7 years experience as teacher, 25 years business - Overture. Have integrity and not out to build prosperous career. Michigan first.

Jason – Values, faith, politics. First and foremost a Christrian. Life begins with conception. Parents need to educate the way they see fit among private, public, home school. Fiscal Conservative and return to Reagans low takes, less government, less spending. Started two businesses. Experience in biotech and IT field. Lansing experience as well. Had to deal with lobbyists there. Challenges everyone not to accept PAC money.

Bill Rogers – Leadership and Experience puts me above rest. Graduated from Howell and Michigan State. Owns building company. 10 years experience as Board of Commissioners, current chair. Vote August 5.

Q1. – Economy in trouble. What can state do to improve economy?

Cindy - Economy number one agenda. Would like to bring back 1980’s program. Marketing state/local companies – share information with sites ready for development. Discretionary funds. No taxing businesses, and encourage to keep states here. Tax incentives – Abatement works well.

Carl – Invest in 21st century ides people are skeptical about. Factory knowedge to geothermal plants, wind turbines, 2nd best in country for that, give a little incentive to employers. Middle class forgotten. Keep them here, and bring more people here for more tax revenue. No need to raise taxes or think way outside box. These are easy ideas.

Frank – Economy number one on most agenda. Problem is legislature divided unable to move agenda forward. Partisanship problem. Restructure the legislature. Structural problems. Fire – but noone saying get out of the house. Getting things done priority. 3000 tool/die shops. Manufacturing good future in Michigan, but state needs to get out of the way. Small businesses are the main economy. Amazing what happens with Tax breaks (look at movie filming). Cut spending/taxes.

Donna – True we lost jobs, but had some success bringing jobs to Michigan. Glad someone talking about alternative fues. Solar/wind. Bill in House passed, stalled in senate to address that. Cleaning up environment and educating kids, and tax credits, but encourageing – low cost loans. Microloans help in 3rd world as example. Health care off back of employers will help – attractive to entrepreneurs.

Jason – New jobs. Low taxes, less government. Highest unenmployment. 14th highest tax burden in country. Do something about it. MBT and surcharge – need to repeal 22% surcharge. High regulatory – costs and red tape with permits. Streamline. Hostile labor environment. VW to Tennessee, and GM losing job. Right to Work needed. 22 other states have it. Cost of living lower on other states.

Bill – Economy and jobs. Entitlement state and need to get over it. Manufacturing thriving in South, but tax abatement for movie. 13 new movings. Not asking for handout but why am I lowly business in state (referring to tax rates and regulations outside the state). Do have problems with MBT, regulation and govt spending. Spending problem. Government needs to get out of the way. Structural problem in Michigan that other states don’t have. Best signs on borders (Indiana/Ohio). Welcoming small business town. South – larger business. Why can’t we see that. Manufacuting won’t come back if we don’t wake up.
Charlie – State must learn from my TRW experience. Reduce burdensome regulation. Govt must walk side by side or follow, not lead business. Govt does not know what business needs. Government ideas usually don’t help outside of enriching PAC donors. Govt Must learn to be bi-partisan. Must work with rep/dem together. Think out of box. Work to come up with new solutions. Livingston donor county. Bring state funding to schools/roads.

Q2 – Petition drive easy stem cell research. Support/Oppose.

Carl – As pro-life, against stem cell research through embryos. Treatments possible out of embilical cords and spinal embryos. Can not support this.

Frank – ESCR contrary to life begins at conception. 13wks Can not arbitrary make that . Decision. Slippery slope. Unfortunately legislature wrestles with this question as wedge issue. Political hot potato and does not get job done.

Donna – It will go forward and must go forward. Can do certain research with adult and embilitcal. People need to understand where they come from. IV clinics. 40 embroyos created there. Couble may use 3-456. What to do? May give over to research. If not that, medical waste. Would you like to help juvi diabeties, and parkinsons. Losing jobs because of this. We need to go on with this at research at UM.

Jason – Pro-life Christian. All life needs to be protected at any state. Proponents say that it is a great hope. Truth is that 0 procedures created because of this. 0 procedures. BUT 70 in effect with adult stem cells. Numbers don’t add up. Not as much hope as might believe. UM ALREADY using them with existing lines. Core blood stem cell bank used. MI can be leader by promoting this.

Bill – Answer is no. Research is conducted, and has been conducted and defer to comments my opponent (Jason) has made. Talking to researches and medical folks, they are necessary supportive of this research. Unnecessary and will vote no.

Charlie – No surprise I’m against this also. Adult stem cell proven to find cures. No reason to kill person to guess that we may have cure. In 40’s, concentration camps. History will look at this same way. Life doesn’t begin at conception, then when? If conception, we are killing them.

Cindy – I’m also opposed. Unfortunate issue brought up time and time again.

Q3 – Reforms for legislature proposed over years. Do you support any?

Frank – Supported term limits, but proven ineffective. Broken legislature crippled state. Unable to move forward. Part time good idea. Less time focuses legislature on agenda. Can’t be kicked around. Budget in May – set in May, not October with haggling. Pay reduction good idea – small drop though. Part time reduced hundreds of laws and saves millions of dollars.

Donna – Term limits did not serve state well. Reduces knowledge. We have term limits. They are called elections. Part time? Not sure. Might be good, but part-time or not will work. Reduce pay? No problem. Will give 5% to state with defecits. Legislature gets a lot of bennies that we don’t have at regular people. Lifetime health care at 55+= nice package.

Jason – Extend term limits, not sure with abolishing. Time frame does not allow experience for relationships. Start cutting budget – cut pay 5% if not more. Work towards part-time. 39 states have it. Addicted to full time. Uses doctor strike/example in Europe. Ridiculous lifetime benefits with 6 years. Should get nothing, make it 20/more.

Bill – Term limits – I admit making a mistake (voting for it). Tactical error. Part time – do not believe in. Voting is part time legislative body. People need to do their job (vote). Only way to consider is have to be cautious of special interest – could eliminate businessmen. Look at Right to work. Staffers will still be there. Toss out the bad ones and don’t throw others out of the bus.

Charlie – Part time just reduces those who can participate. Only felxicable, wealthy, and retired could be on legislature. 9-5 can not participate. I couldn’t do it since I’m not wealthy. Reduce pay for no-shows. Term limits abolished. Legislation brought in to reduce benefits – they should be similar to others. Legacy costs. (GM example get rid of) Current AND past legislators.

Cindy – Understand the support of them then. Now, doesn’t work well. Should be 14 years, and apply to bost house/senate. Can support part-time, bt what does part time mean? Still staff full time? Needs place to call to get assistance. As far as pay – adjusted several times. Have made some reductions.

Carl – Last summer intern for Hune. Some insight on how it worked. Blown away. Right now we have part time since they work fewer as school teacher (not against that as I am). Michigan 2nd highest pay behind California and with the cost of living difference, could be number one - Michigan too high. Reduce staff in offices. As far as that goes, leaning towards it. Show people Lansing will cut selves.

Q4 – Will you support workplace smoking including bars, rest, casinos.

Donna – Yes, I support ban in all public places including those. Reason – We have a lot of laws that protect health. I expect dishes washed at proper temp. Expect fresh food, no poison. In casino – like to be able to spend $25 on slots without health. Why do we have right to these laws and not clean air in these places? Ok, just let owners decide, if not patronize business. If like me, I don’t patronize. No reason why any public buildings or others. We aren’t doing it? I don’t know.

Jason – As doctor, health important to us, and smoking is bad. We have strict regulations, and it is up to business/public to decide. Don’t have to force people. Against te ban.

Bill – As SBO, opposed to adding another unfunded mandate. I do have office with non smoking sign. my prerogative, your prerogative to attend these functions. If enough of you decided, people change. Many play converted to non-smoking. How does state balance budget? Tobacco fund! (pointing out hypocracy) Don’t play around. Go after culprit. Instead, we balance budget with it.

Charlie – Everyone’s lungs important. Personal.. 7 weeks in respiratory unit from legionaries disease. Smoking should be banned where people are forced to attend. Government, education, and job reasons. Opposed in businesses. Govt needs to stay out of regulations. Let businesses decide.

Cindy – Businesses in Michigan pay taxes and follow regulations. This is just one more. Biz owners should decide smoke free. I’m not smoker, but don’t impose on those who own business.

Carl – Agree with most of what I’m hearing. Red tape bureaucracy and telling business. McDonalds with kids, yes. Bennigans/Applebees no. Choice of biz owner.

Frank – Clean air and health important. Smoking is bad. It says on package. People do it by choice. For state to tell business is mistake. Market should decide. Ban fries, music, planes, and other things not good for public health. Must draw line where govt. People choose to go to bar, restaurant, casinos Windsor/Detroit. Patronizing business is choice. Mandates – mistake. Always loophole.
Q5 – Last Question – School Funding.

Jason – My kids are in Howell schools so it is important. Our district not funded equal. Up to legislature to make sure we get same amount as others. 2x funding not far enough. Need parity. Apart from that, it’s tough right now. 1% increase. Schools need to better job consolidating, reducing costs, etc. They need to tighten up. Do they need more money? More in our district to bring up to statewide level. Last thing that should be cut, but need to live within means.

Bill – Equitable funding critical. Tragic kids are inferior dollar/cents to other. 2x is start. Work towards stabling funding. We need to come up with new ideas. Funds need to go to classrooms. 8k-12k – I don’t have magic number. Not 12K, and never will believe it, but disparency needs to be tightened up. Can’t answer specific number, but equitable funding.

Charlie – Been on board 11 years, and paper highlights fiscal policy in positive lights. New contract with less turmoil. Somehow our district figured it out. State says with finding that we are 7/8 of a person. Legislature let us down and it is not fair. We need to stand up and push to make sure we get our fair share.

Cindy – Need to work towards equitable funding. Limited funds. 2x step in right direction, but bandaid. Bill introduced to funds from charter school students who take class or two at public. Reform funding. Not good enough right now. Use money wisely, work towards equal funding, econ development, state aid fund. Approved by house. $110 more per student. Big issue for several years.

Carl – Difference between County and eastern district. $7200-12K. Money out there, but need to look at district and what it needs. Howell 130 Sq miles and 7,000 students, and bus them everywhere compared to City with fewer area, fewer busses, and more money. Need to plan before throwing money at problem and fixing it. 2x, not going to show how each district on money. Band-aid

Frank – Is funding enough? Not sure. Need to line item. Can’t do that unless FOIA we right now. Transparency will help as we will know how it is being spent. Educational is a profitable business for a lot of suppliers. $7800 a lot, not compared to other district. Hard to say what gets to classroom. We have failure districts, state needs to take action. State Prison budget is where to look at education dollars. $10000 per inmate more than other state.s

Donna – Equitable funding important. Unfortunately Prop A – richer districts had head start and maintained by held harmless. More money at same time does not ever catch up. 2x – 10 years to catch up. Like to see more money go for education one way or the other. Agree with Portelli is to look at prison budget. $30-35k to lock someone up, but can’t fund schools.

Closing Statements.

Bill – Honesty, integrity, common sense, safety welfare residents, fiscal responsibility, balance budget, come from county government as chair that has accomplished the above. Taught to be part of the solution, not problem. Strong desire to bring this to state level which needs help. Top 5 bond rating in state. Only AAA is Oakland, we’ll get them. Lowest millage rate – here – and proud of it. We reduced budget by 5%. Reduction in dept – because we have a five year plan, a novel approach. Detroit schools is the example of what not to be like.

Charlie – Lead manager which got 1000 jobs in Livco. Worked with billion dollar budgets. Earned MBA. Finance gut on Hartland board. Supported youth as coach. In church, served 3 pastors. 15 years CCD. Skills to help Livingston county get fair share. Succeeded in business, education, politics, serving youth, and church.

Cindy – Experience and Knowledge. Worked on legislative issues. Localgovernment experience. Economic development.

Carl – Christrian, conservative, pro-life, and working class. Education system must be best. Someone paid for me/you to go to school. Why should future be less? Issues not mentioned. Veterans. They do not get enough recognition and need help funding jobs.

Frank – People say all pols are crooked. Not at all the case. Most are good people. Not fun campaigning, but legislature becomes ineffective. Structural problems holding people back. Moved to Livingston County since it is a great place to raise family. Hartland schools great district. State level – floundering. Needs to set agenda, and sticking to it. Revolving door at term limits. No personal relationships to reach out to other areas. Common sense. Strength is continue to plow forward against brick walls until plowed over.

Donna – Hope today and bright tomorrow. People resources to fulfill needs. Stop Canadian trash. Stop polluting. Fund early child education. Provide health care. Tired of Michigan critics. MI will turn on lights city on hill. Glittering diamond in lakes.

Jason – Addressed a lot of issues. Promise to be more available and accountable elected official. I do believe we need to change atmosphere in Lansing. 6 years for life benefits is ridiculous (life benefits) Pay for actual days work. Shows who committed to the state.

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