Monday, October 31, 2011

The WALLY Train to Nowhere hangs around like a skunk spray

Lately when I've been at my parents' house and leave at night, I have to keep my eyes open. On several occasions, I see one of the worst types of varmints around. A skunk. Another time, it sprayed a coyote or something outside, and some of that bad air drifted inside. Those damn things walk around like they own the property. They do. There's not much I can do about it except hope it goes away. I'm not going to chase it. Obvious reasons. I can't shoot it. I may miss or worse....hit it in the wrong spot spraying the entire area. I don't want to have to explain that one to ma and pa.

That smell doesn't go away. Neither seems to be this big government boondoggle called the "WALLY" train, also known as the train to nowhere. I've posted about this Train to Nowhere for four years. It's a waste of tax money. It's still being discussed, and there's still talk about this mess. New Geography does a good job debunking them in general and this one here is close to home.

From the Argus

Signs are emerging that the proposed Washtenaw and Livingston Line commuter train isn't running full-steam ahead — at least for the time being.

The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, which oversees planning for WALLY — proposed to stretch from Howell to Ann Arbor — has delayed spending more money on the project until local support is confirmed, Michael Benham, the authority's rail coordinator, said.

Benham on Nov. 17 is expected to update the authority's Board of Directors on public support for the project at the board's regular meeting.

He said past public surveys and input from local officials suggest most Washtenaw and Livingston residents at least support WALLY in concept......

In concept. A lot of things are good "in concept" until something called reality hits. There's more.

To date, only small amounts of money have been spent by the authority in planning the projected $32 million-plus project, Benham said. He said funding from grants and local contributions, including from Howell, is in place for the design work, however.

He said it's possible for the board to vote to eliminate the project, but not likely: WALLY is included in the authority's 30-year transit master plan.

"I think, long-term, there's no question of our support for that project," Benham said.

Support in Livingston County is less certain.

Hamburg Township officials have expressed interest in investing at least a nominal amount of money in the railway effort. The county government and Genoa Township officials have declined funding, however.

Howell officials continue to support the project, City Manager Shea Charles said. The city also contributed dollars to project planning when it was first being evaluated.

32 million. (forehead slap) Right now, Rick Snyder is pushing for increases in car registrations that doubles the costs of tags. He's also pushing for a gas tax increase. That's supposed for "transportation." Is that transportation going to be roads or trains to nowhere? At least County and my old home of Genoa Twp realizes this is a money pit.

Rich Perlberg had an aptly titled editorial. The Little Engine that Won't go Away. I don't usually agree with Rich, but that's a good editorial about the Train to Nowhere.

Now why do I oppose the train to nowhere? The number one reason is that it won't pay for itself.

I wrote this back in 2007. This is response to an estimated 4.9 million a year budget that was given at the time. I expect that number to be MUCH higher.

4.9 million will cover what? You have salaries, security, normal wear and tear, energy costs, and runs. 2.9 for startup? Between the trains, parking lot construction, training, etc? I'm skeptical. Even using that number, will you get a profit on that. 15,000 people (estimated number of commuters from Livingston to Ann Arbor at $225 a month (rumored price) will get you 3.37 Million a month - that's if EVERY commuter in the county uses it and pays that amount. I'm guessing most of the commuters to Ann Arbor are in Brighton, Hartland, and Hamburg. Hamburg has 20,000 people. I'll guess that 4000 of them commute to Ann Arbor, with 1000 in Howell (city has 10000 people) commuting. That'll give 5000 of the areas covered from the train. 5000 * 225 - 1.125 million a month - if all commute on the train. Anyone familiar with Hamburg knows how spread out it is. Part of it is "Brighton", most of it is "Pinckney", part of it is "Lakeland", and part of it is "Whitmore Lake". I'll be shocked if most of the commuters are going to drive a few miles to wait for the train. This area is spread out. Howell is denser, but has much less population - and it too is spread out a bit in its eastern and northern most areas near 59 - and forget about getting much help from Genoa (even with the Chilson stop - that area is flat out country), Marion, Howell Twp, and Oceola.

In order to cover the estimated operation costs from regular commuters - you need 408,334 a month - 1814 commuters a day (including weekends, so weekend warriors are very important). That leaves 2.9 million in debt from startup costs which can be paid for over a few years with good profit.

Can you get 15-20% of county's Ann Arbor commuters to use the train EVERY DAY - despite cutting out Brighton and Hartland from the route? If you can, then I'll cook up some fried crow.

Remember that this train does not go to Brighton or Hartland. The railroad tracks there a different line (CSX).

This is still a waste of money. If "light rail" is the right thing to use in this area, someone in the private sector would have created it and used it.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

State Senate Redistricting - District 36 (SD-36)

State Senate - District 36
Current Rep – John Moolenaar (R-Midland)

2010 Results - Old District (36th)
John Moolenaar - 56,634
Andy Neumann - 32,154

Don't let the numbers from 2010 fool anybody. The democrats got crushed among independents up north in 2010. In 2006, the GOP was hit hard in rural areas. This district is a swing district, and got tougher with redistricting. This is another district where Obama's numbers are not worst case scenario. Stupak's numbers are the worst case scenario, and he's always won this area BIG. Even though Obama did better and won in the new 35th district, the 36th district is more democrat downticket for state senate purposes. Andy Neumann in 2002 lost by about 2100 votes to Tony Stamas. It was down to the wire. That's the old district. This one I think is tougher with the loss of Crawford County. We lose Ogemaw which helps by leanings and more so Joel Sheltrown being in the other district, but picking up Arenac and Presque Isle Counties are not helpful to the GOP's defense.

The old district was Alcona, Alpena, Crawford (now in 35th), Gladwin, Iosco, Midland, Montmorency, Ogemaw (now in 35th), Oscoda, and Otsego counties. It drops GOP leaning Crawford and somewhat dem leaning Ogemaw counties and added somewhat democrat (downticket) leaning Presque Isle County and more solidly democrat leaning Arenac county. This defense will not be easy. The old district was won by GOP'er Tony Stamas by 2100 votes in 2002. Alpena and Arenac counties are usually solidly democrat. Presque Isle, Gladwin, Iosco, and sometimes Alcona are competitive. Midland and Montorency lean republican. Otsego and Oscoda are solidly republican.

I'm interested to see who runs for this spot. Former State Rep Matt Gillard could be a tough challenge. I think Neumann alienated some people by running to replace Gillard for one term, which is all he had left as he left his state rep spot for the 2002 run. I don't expect an easy challenge here in 2014 at all.

McCain Obama Total Diff GOP DEM Diff
Alcona 3404 2896 6300 508 54.03% 45.97% 8.06%
Alpena 7125 7705 14830 -580 48.04% 51.96% -3.91%
Arenac 3807 4155 7962 -348 47.81% 52.19% -4.37%
Gladwin 6391 6590 12981 -199 49.23% 50.77% -1.53%
Iosco 6593 7309 13902 -716 47.42% 52.58% -5.15%
Midland 22263 20701 42964 1562 51.82% 48.18% 3.64%
Montmorency 2841 2403 5244 438 54.18% 45.82% 8.35%
Oscoda 2320 1887 4207 433 55.15% 44.85% 10.29%
Otsego 6752 5634 12386 1118 54.51% 45.49% 9.03%
Presque Isle 3606 3722 7328 -116 49.21% 50.79% -1.58%

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Total 65102 63002 128104 2100 50.82% 49.18% 1.64%

Bush  Kerry Total Diff GOP DEM Diff
Alcona 3592 2871 6463 721 55.58% 44.42% 11.16%
Alpena 7665 7407 15072 258 50.86% 49.14% 1.71%
Arenac 4071 4076 8147 -5 49.97% 50.03% -0.06%
Gladwin 6770 6343 13113 427 51.63% 48.37% 3.26%
Iosco 7301 6557 13858 744 52.68% 47.32% 5.37%
Midland 24369 18355 42724 6014 57.04% 42.96% 14.08%
Montmorency 3300 2196 5496 1104 60.04% 39.96% 20.09%
Oscoda 2570 1792 4362 778 58.92% 41.08% 17.84%
Otsego 7470 4674 12144 2796 61.51% 38.49% 23.02%
Presque Isle 3982 3432 7414 550 53.71% 46.29% 7.42%

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Total 71090 57703 128793 13387 55.20% 44.80% 10.39%

Last St Sen race GOP DEM Total Diff GOP DEM Diff
Alcona 2767 1744 4511 1023 61.34% 38.66% 22.68%
Alpena 5259 4750 10009 509 52.54% 47.46% 5.09%

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Gladwin 5455 3326 8781 2129 62.12% 37.88% 24.25%
Iosco 5641 3847 9488 1794 59.45% 40.55% 18.91%
Midland 20245 8301 28546 11944 70.92% 29.08% 41.84%
Montmorency 2356 1457 3813 899 61.79% 38.21% 23.58%
Oscoda 1894 1140 3034 754 62.43% 37.57% 24.85%
Otsego 5659 2854 8513 2805 66.47% 33.53% 32.95%
Presque Isle

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Total 49276 27419 76695 21857 64.25% 35.75% 28.50%

State Senate Redistricting - District 35 (SD-35)

State Senate - District 35
Current Rep – Darwin Booher (R-Evart)

2010 Results - Old District (35th)
Darwin Booher - 56,318
Roger Dunigan - 30,819

This is by area one of the largest districts in the state. The old district covered 11 counties, and the new one has twelve.

The old district has Benzie, Clare, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mecosta, Missaukee, Osceola, Roscommon, and Wexford Counties. The new district drops Clare and Mecosta Counties to the 33rd. It picks up Ogemaw and Crawford Counties from the 35th, and Mason County from the 34th. Partisanship remains close. This is a slightly republican leaning district at the top of the ticket, more so downticket. It's still one I wouldn't take for granted. Up North is extremely independent.

Benzie, Manistee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, and sometime Mason Counties are all very competitive. Lake County leans democrat. Missaukee, Wexford, and Osceola counties are solidly republican. Crawford, and Kalkaska lean republican but are occasionally competitive when a Stupak type runs. Missaukee County is the 2nd most Republican area in the state behind Ottawa County. Like Ottawa and Northern Allegan County, it's a Dutch area.

Overall, I'd usually consider Obama numbers a worst case scenario. That is not true in North Michigan. Stupak numbers are the worst case scenario. Inland areas and sunrise coast areas Up North are very open to voting for perceived social conservative democrats. Joel Sheltrown won Missaukee County. On paper, that's less likely than a democrat winning in Livingston County (hasn't been done since 1986 or 1990). Certain candidates can make this competitive. That's why I only slightly rate this republican leaning. The question is whether the Chicago retirees and independents out west who voted for a "Dan Scripps" would be acceptable with a Joel Sheltrown. Dan Scripps was defeated in a close re-election, but won big in 08. He sold well on the Lake Michigan Coast, but labor friendly Roscommon and Ogemaw Counties are different. Those five competitive counties I mentioned are different. If the dems find the right medium, I'd keep an eye on this as a darkhorse district.

Overall, redistricting I think made this district more difficult, not by partisan numbers, but by putting Joel Sheltrown in this district. That's better than keeping his district in the Alpena district, but he's a strong candidate if he runs.

I'd call this slightly GOP leaning overall if open. Booher makes it a strong lean. Sheltrown makes this a darkhorse.

McCain Obama Total Diff GOP DEM Diff
Benzie 4687 5451 10138 -764 46.23% 53.77% -7.54%
Crawford 3561 3441 7002 120 50.86% 49.14% 1.71%
Kalkaska 4527 3780 8307 747 54.50% 45.50% 8.99%
Lake 2269 2919 5188 -650 43.74% 56.26% -12.53%
Leelanau 6938 7355 14293 -417 48.54% 51.46% -2.92%
Manistee 5510 7235 12745 -1725 43.23% 56.77% -13.53%
Mason 7147 7817 14964 -670 47.76% 52.24% -4.48%
Missaukee 4469 2898 7367 1571 60.66% 39.34% 21.32%
Ogemaw 5133 5391 10524 -258 48.77% 51.23% -2.45%
Osceola 5973 4855 10828 1118 55.16% 44.84% 10.33%
Roscommon 6727 7082 13809 -355 48.71% 51.29% -2.57%
Wexford 8044 7379 15423 665 52.16% 47.84% 4.31%
Total 64985 65603 130588 -618 49.76% 50.24% -0.47%

Bush  Kerry Total Diff GOP DEM Diff
Benzie 5284 4343 9627 941 54.89% 45.11% 9.77%
Crawford 4017 3126 7143 891 56.24% 43.76% 12.47%
Kalkaska 5084 3189 8273 1895 61.45% 38.55% 22.91%
Lake 2503 2675 5178 -172 48.34% 51.66% -3.32%
Leelanau 7733 6048 13781 1685 56.11% 43.89% 12.23%
Manistee 6295 6272 12567 23 50.09% 49.91% 0.18%
Mason 8124 6333 14457 1791 56.19% 43.81% 12.39%
Missaukee 5055 2319 7374 2736 68.55% 31.45% 37.10%
Ogemaw 5454 5215 10669 239 51.12% 48.88% 2.24%
Osceola 6599 4467 11066 2132 59.63% 40.37% 19.27%
Roscommon 7364 6810 14174 554 51.95% 48.05% 3.91%
Wexford 8966 6034 15000 2932 59.77% 40.23% 19.55%
Total 72478 56831 129309 15647 56.05% 43.95% 12.10%

Last St Sen race GOP DEM Total Diff GOP DEM Diff
Benzie 4185 2942 7127 1243 58.72% 41.28% 17.44%

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Kalkaska 3700 1699 5399 2001 68.53% 31.47% 37.06%
Lake 1982 1489 3471 493 57.10% 42.90% 14.20%
Leelanau 6323 4580 10903 1743 57.99% 42.01% 15.99%
Manistee 4901 3692 8593 1209 57.03% 42.97% 14.07%

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Missaukee 3889 1175 5064 2714 76.80% 23.20% 53.59%

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Osceola 5422 1949 7371 3473 73.56% 26.44% 47.12%
Roscommon 5673 3570 9243 2103 61.38% 38.62% 22.75%
Wexford 6928 2910 9838 4018 70.42% 29.58% 40.84%
Total 43003 24006 67009 18997 64.17% 35.83% 28.35%

Friday, October 28, 2011

Glenn Anderson announces and MI-13 updates

Things just got real interesting. According to the Michigan Liberal website, term limited State Senator Glenn Anderson is announcing a congressional run. I've heard two potential districts. The 11th district (MI-11) and the 13th District (MI-13) I think it will likely be the 13th district, and will assume that in this post. Anderson lived in the 11th until redistricting placed most of his state senate district in the 13th.

Anderson currently represents the old 6th district in the state senate. The old 6th was Garden City, Livonia, Redford, and Westland. All of it used to be in the 11th. Redistricting kept Livonia in the 11th and placed Garden City, Redford, and Westland in the 13th. Anderson lost Livonia, but won the rest of the district. That's why I think he won't run in the new 11th against Thad McCotter (or Mike Kowall).

The 13th is currently represented by Hansen Clarke, who is running in the 14th. John Conyers in the 14th, is running in the 13th. It is a Voting Rights Act black majority district. However, it's not 60% black anymore, but about 55-56% I believe. It's still designed to elect a black representative, but much of the white portion of this district is democrat (more so than the 14th), including locally. Conyers won't have to deal with Oakland County now, but he's got some areas which don't care for him personally (or more so his wife Monica) - and they will vote in primaries. In addition, Anderson is the only candidate running from outside the city of Detroit (or Highland Park). Bert Johnson and Shanelle Jackson (the only woman running in the primary) are also running.

Anderson knows how to win tough races. He defeated an incumbent in 2006 and defeated a former state rep in 2010 in a race that some thought would be closer.

Conyers has two Achilles heels. One is Monica Conyers. The other is Suburbs. He lost to a "sacrificial lamb" Republican in Trenton, Southgate, Riverview, Grosse Ile, Gibralter, and Allen Park. He also came close to losing in Melvindale and underperformed in East Dearborn (the Muslim part). Only Grosse Ile usually goes Republican. For comparison, Hansen Clarke won Wyandotte, Lincoln Park, and even competitive Grosse Pointe Park. This was after Carolyn Kilpatrick lost 2-1 in GP Park and Wyandotte in the Obama year of 2008. She did win Lincoln Park. Clarke had some goodwill because he was the guy who beat Kwame Kilpatrick's mom. This isn't about race at all. Clarke is minority (Black and Bangladeshi) as is Kilpatrick, and Clarke in a GOP year ran better than Kilpatrick in a democrat year. Conyers has an unpopular wife who was on city council. Carolyn Kilpatrick has an unpopular son as mayor.

Most of those areas aren't in the district, but Westland, Redford, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, and Wayne are all areas similar to Downriver in their attitudes. Mostly white, more moderate socially, pro-labor, blue collar and working class. Romulus and Inkster are also in the district and are heavily black - but represented by neither Conyers nor Anderson. Westland and Redford are increasingly black, but Anderson already represents those areas, and Westland is his home.

Those areas all lean democrat, sometimes 60% plus. They are locally democrat as well. They will likely be voting in the primary. They most likely won't be voting for Conyers, and at least three of those areas are very familiar with Anderson. If it is still a four way race, I think he has a decent good shot to win (as does Jackson). If Johnson or especially Jackson (the only woman running) drops out, it will be much a tougher road for Anderson.

The district about has 705,000 people. Anderson's portion of the district has 156,784. The portion Detroit reps do not represent total about 275,000. That includes Inkster, the Dearborn Heights portion, Romulus, and Wayne. Ecorse, River Rouge (Monica Conyers is originally from there), and Melvindale are represented currently by Detroit Reps, as is Highland Park (obviously). Anderson will have to win big in the non-Detroit portion to have a shot. I also think Jackson (being the only woman running, and being much younger than Conyers or Anderson) has a shot at winning some of those areas, particularly Inkster and Romulus. Those two areas were near Anderson's district, but not part of it. On the other hand, one united factor in that area besides the UAW is the airport. Anderson's district doesn't have the airport, but is right near it, and I'm sure Westland has a lot of airport commuters.

The bulk of this district is Detroit, mostly the West Side, which is the home base of Conyers. That doesn't mean they will all vote for him. Monica Conyers really damaged that last name. Primaries are also common in Detroit. Conyers isn't the only Detroiter running. Bert Johnson (Highland Park, but grew up in Detroit and represents part of it) and Shanelle Jackson are also running. Anderson has his work cut out for him here. He'll get a few votes by default, but he's been in Westland for 33 years. The split will help him with whites, but it will hurt him with blacks who refuse to vote for Mr. Monica Conyers (but would help with those open to alternative, but not to non-city residents).

I'd like to have seen a precinct area of the Kwame Kilpatrick vs Freeman Hendrix areas. I think this area is where this primary will be decided. The Hendrix areas are mostly likely to vote for a challenger to Conyers, especially with Monica being in the news so often.

Bert Johnson currently lives in Highland Park which is in the new district. Most of his senate district is in the 14th, although his home is in the 13th. Geography hurts him some, but he'll get some votes.

Old Redford/Rosedale Park is Shanelle Jackson's state rep district. I have family that used to live there years ago. Last time I was down near there (Old Redford) was back in the Hendrix/Kilpatrick race. Most of the signs I saw were for Hendrix. I still have family in the district just south of there. Warrendale/Parkland. That area was dominated by city workers, and there's still a number of them still there. They wern't Kwame fans, and I don't think they care for Conyers either with Monica on that city council. Jackson has an opening there with proximity, and so does Anderson with some of the whites still there.

While downtown isn't in this district, most of Southwest Detroit, including a lot of the Mexican areas. They could be a major swing vote in this race, and I have no idea who they would support.

Conyers has his toughest election in years, and could very well be defeated, either by Jackson or Anderson. It'll be interesting to see how this race goes in August of 2012.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rick Snyder wants a gas tax and registration increase

Just when I was about to ease up on Snyder after he signed the partial birth abortion ban, he goes leftist again. Apparently the new money from the income taxes and pension taxes are not enough for technocrat Rick Michigan.

From the Detroit news

Lansing— Michigan would fundamentally alter the way it raises money to pay for repairs to the state's roads and bridges under a sweeping proposal expected to be unveiled today by Gov. Rick Snyder.

He's expected to suggest getting rid of the 19-cent gas tax motorists pay at the pump in favor of a tax on the wholesale price of fuel — a move expected to bring in more funds to fix roads and bridges as inflation pushes up the price of gasoline and diesel fuel.

First off, we don't have a 19 cent gas tax. If you want to see me get red in the face, keep repeating that lie, damn lie, and statistic. I've covered it before, but here's how it works. Right now, the Michigan Gas Tax in Hamburg Township, Michigan is 37 cents. The final price when I was last at the gas station is $3.45. Of that $3.45 cents, 56 cents in gas taxes goes to the government. 37 cents goes to the State of Michigan. Multiply that by 20 gallons, and the state gets $7.40 cents every time I fill up. When gas prices are at $4.10, the Michigan gas tax is 41 cents.

There's three things wrong with the wholesale taxes.

1. Taxes go up even more when gas prices increase. That encourages higher gas prices to be even higher. We're almost $3.50 a gallon. That's damaging to any supposed recovery.

2. This does not address the 6% sales tax on gasoline - that does not go to roads. This will affect things more with a wholesale tax.

3. It continues the false assumption that the gas tax, and only the gas tax, goes to fix the roads.

4. While the non-sales tax portion of the gas tax goes to transportation, that does not necessarily equal roads.

I've covered this issue more times than Matt Millen has lost games as a GM. This is the worst tax in the country, outside of possibly the self-employment tax.

There's more.

Also as part of his plan, the governor will ask the Legislature to allow counties and regional authorities to levy a vehicle registration fee to raise money for local road projects, sources close to the governor confirmed. The local levy would have to be approved by voters.

More millages. Regional authorities for those that don't know are when a group of municipal governments create a new quasi-governmental body around a governmental function. These can range from parking, fire, library, parks, and other things associated with municipalities.

The two proposals are expected to be part of Snyder's Special Message to the Legislature on Infrastructure at 3 p.m. at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield. The plan will lay out Snyder's vision for improving roads and bridges, regional transit, water and sewer lines and Internet access.

Regional transit. New taxes to pay for this..INSTEAD of the roads?

It gets worse. Today's Detroit News has this. This clown thinks I'm made of money

Southfield— Michigan needs another $1.4 billion for roads annually and Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday suggested hiking vehicle registration fees to help come up with the money.

In an address on infrastructure at Lawrence Technological University, the Republican governor said an extra $120 a year — $10 a month — on each registration would raise $1 billion a year. More money could be raised if voters approve allowing counties and regions to assess their own vehicle registration levies of up to $40 annually.

$10 a month. You make it sound like it's not a lot of money, and that pisses me off even more than the push for this. You big government folks are nickle and diming us. Between the pension taxes, this, and Obamacare and debt on the feds, we're getting our asses kicked. I can't afford a $240 annual tags bill - IN ADDITION to all this, and I drive a 10 year old vehicle. Hey, Rick. I don't have the millions you do. That's a lot of money to me.

Among his ideas:

Rapid transit that would connect Detroit with its suburbs, Ann Arbor and Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

I thought the ROADS were a problem. You want to RAISE TAXES for that?

A new fiber optic cable across the Mackinac Bridge to increase Internet access in the Upper Peninsula.

I thought the ROADS were a problem. You want to RAISE TAXES for that?

Competitively bidding out maintenance services, engineering or construction of roads.

I can agree with that.

Accessing federal money for dredging ports around the state.
More federal spending of our tax money we don't have.

Helping communities maintain or improve water quality.
That isn't done already?

Giving counties the option to take over their road commissions, or consolidating local commissions. Snyder noted Michigan has 617 independent road agencies and 79 independent transit agencies.

I agree with this.

Here's another danger, and Jace Bolger and Randy Richardville need to get the pressure on them for this in a BIG way. Snyder knows the taxes are unpopular. Just as the pension tax was unpopular. He also knows there are favorite projects of many reps who will pick that poison over the others. All the reps hated the MBT. Many who otherwise would not vote for the pension tax increase, voted for it because it was the price to get rid of the MBT. Few, like Joe Hune said the price wasn't worth it and thought the MBT should be gone period without a replacement. I agreed with Joe.

Snyder is going to want this to be an all or nothing package. However, Snyder can't do that on his own. Jace Bolger and Randy Richardville deserve just as much blame and scorn as Snyder for that pension tax monstrosity. We can not let them do the same thing again. Snyder is governor. He's not prime minister. Hell, I don't think he's even a republican. Why the Hell are you following this guy? His title? We need to make sure that transportation provisions are sent PIECEMEAL to the governor and not as an all or nothing type of scam as the pension tax was.

Worst of all, government hasn't earned the money. Government has shown it can not spend what it has properly. It wants us to bail them out. Again. It's like Granholm never left office.

No new gas taxes. Get rid of the sales tax on gasoline. No new registration fees. No transportation spending on anything but roads.

Don't blame me. I voted for Mike Cox.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Michigan and cities

This piece rambles a bit.

Craig Ruff at Dome Magazine has an interesting series of stories on cities in Michigan. I agree and disagree with parts of it, but it is worth a read. The first one is Does Michigan Need Cities and the second one is The race factor.

Ruff and I have our biases. He says Michiganian for one. I have yet to know what a Michiganian is, but I know what a Michigander is. He's a Saginaw guy and grew up there. I'm from Livingston County before it became considered a exurban or suburb area. I was here pre-sprawl. Across the street from the house where I grew up used to be nothing but woods on two sides. Most of the subdivisions that propped up within 2 miles of the place were from the time I was in High School or afterward. The road is still gravel, and I hope it stays that way. I prefer the country or small towns.

One thing that we do agree on is that what happens in Michigan cities do effect the entire state, directly or indirectly.

From Ruff's article:
Do cities still matter? They surely do. They headquarter corporations, jobs, government, cultural legacies, and entertainment. Because of so many producers and retailers, consumers benefit from relatively low prices for higher quality goods and a plethora of choices. Talent thrives when confronted by a critical mass of other talent.

I'll give you the HQ for government (Lansing), cultural legacies, and entertainment, although the biggest museum in the Detroit area is Dearborn. Cultural legacies are in both cities and suburbs. Entertainment is mostly in the suburbs outside of Downtown. Corporations are in both in cities and suburbs. Most of the jobs are in the suburbs. Technically, the suburbs are cities and incorporated as such outside of occasional urban townships like Redford. Low prices? I can get lower prices at Meijers than I could in Detroit.

Young people flock to cities. They ditch their cars and ride public transit. They shop and play within walking distance of their apartments. Tourists, too, love cities because of their cultural and entertainment vitality and their historical treasures.

Cities are gritty and not simple. We put up with the often ill-tempered mood of frenzied residents and with jam-packed, sweat-laden buses and trains and horrific traffic. High prices. Dinky dwellings. Tons more concrete than greenery. Crime. Often poor schools. But for at least half of human history, the more people who live in a place, the more people who want to live there.

I never ditched my truck, even in college. In fact the fact I had my truck made me popular with many classmates who didn't have it, especially on those nights where I decided not to get hammered. There's benefits and drawbacks to cities. The entertainment is much better in East Lansing compared to here, but Livingston County is home. As far as tourism goes, where do Michiganders usually go on vacation? Up North.

Against the grain of history and in contrast to most populous states, the last couple of generations of Michiganians have eschewed cities. Of our 20 most populous cities, 15 lost people between 2000 and 2010. The gainers (Sterling Heights, Dearborn, Troy, Wyoming, and Rochester Hills) lie outside the central cities of their regions (Detroit and Grand Rapids). In these 10 years, some cities lost astounding percentages of residents: Detroit (25 percent), Flint (18 percent), Pontiac (10.3 percent), and Southfield (8.4 percent).

Michigan’s population declined by 54,852 between 2000 and 2010. Detroit lost 237,493 people and the remaining 19 largest cities recorded a net loss of another 66,000 souls. Were it not for the outflow from our largest cities, the state would have shown a gain of a quarter million people during the aughts.

A lot of ex-city dwellers prefer many things about small towns and country compared to the city. Better schools, less crime, less taxes, land, nature. Detroit's taxes are higher than even the Grosse Pointes. 62 mills. Plus the income tax.

That's not unique to Michigan though. It's not against the grain. It's typical of older cities in the Midwest, ultra-hyped Chicago has lost 1 million people since 1950. Milwaukee 150,000 since 1960. Toledo 100,000 since 1970. Cincinnati 207,000 since 1960. Cleveland 520,000 since 1950. Minneapolis 130,000 since 1950. St Paul 18000 since 1960. St Louis 540,000 since 1950. Gary 100,000 since 1960. South Bend 30,000 since 1960.

The exceptions. Kansas City rebounded to 489000. It's down from 507,000 in 1970 but is higher than 1990 numbers of 435,000. Same with Des Moines at 203,000. Down from 208,000 but higher than 193,000. At their peak currently, Indianapolis is at 839,489 and has passed Detroit. Columbus is at 787,033. Madison is at 233,000. Omaha at 409,000. Sioux Falls 153,888. Fargo 105,549. Wichita at 382,368. The major manufacturing areas lost population. The heavy democrat areas outside of Madison and Kansas City lost population. So did Cincinnati, which leans but isn't overwhelmingly democrat (German population more republican, blacks vote democrat). Indianapolis and Columbus lean dem, but are competitive. It's difficult, but not unheard of for republicans to win there despite high minority populations (around 40%). The other areas are all competitive. I think politics are a major factor in the city declines across the region.

I recognize that our metropolitan areas, which include core cities, are holding their own. Indeed, they represent nearly 90 percent of all jobs and gross domestic product of Michigan. We may need to expand our thinking about what is urban — what is a city — to include the areas and people living places nearby cities.

Why Michiganians fled cities, in defiance of a long global and current national experience, unsettles me greatly. It is terribly destructive economically. You cannot explain cities’ depopulation simply because a downturn of this or that industry, important as that often is. Abandoning cities is damn near unique to Michigan (although one easily can point to other once-powerful cities, such as Cleveland, that share our cities’ distress) and requires you to suspend economic logic and the historical record.

It's not unique to Michigan, and is common in the Midwest and parts of the Northeast as well, particularly Pennsylvania and upstate New York. Philly, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Rochester. Oftentimes, Race is pointed to as the factor. It is to an extent in some areas, although doubtful in Scranton, Minneapolis-St Paul, and Wilkes-Barre, all of which are still largely white. That's likely due to the steel industry in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. I'm not as familiar with the Twin Cities. Pittsburgh still has a large white majority. In other cities, it may be a bigger issue as those cities are at least 40% minority.

The questions are this:

Is core city abandonment a good, bad, or neutral thing?

Should metro areas follow the Louisville or Nashville model of consolidating city-county? Grand Rapids considered and rejected it.

Is the destructiveness the abandonment of the city, or what pushed people out in the first place?

I'll get to those later.

Decitification in Michigan is a pressing matter. State public policy has not been on the side of cities. The State must take the lead in bolstering them. Our attitudes and behavior, too, are way out of synch with global societies. We have an attitude (I go so far as to call it a sickness) that begs for analysis. Our cities have characteristics, like woeful public transit and few outlets for groceries, that cling to a car-frenzied industrial age.

Cities do not appeal to a lot of people in Michigan. A couple of hundred years from now, historians may say that by letting cities wither we were, as Heath Ledger (The Joker) so creepily uttered, “just ahead of the curve.” That’s a bit like betting on the longest of long shots.

Michigan today, with nearly 10 million residents, has but one city, Detroit, that houses more people than Ephesus in the 1st century B.C. or Cordoba in the year 1000. From Ephesus, Cordoba, and Rome, we are unlikely to learn much about the reasons for Detroit’s evacuation and the decline (possibly fall) of less populated cities of Michigan. We learn far more from Chicago, New York, Boston, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Denver, and a host of American cities that attract people in the modern era.

Minneapolis and Chicago are dropping population. They are hyped. Reality is different than the hype. I'm not familiar with Minny outside of its weather, but Chicago's "growth" is a couple of areas. Much of the rest of that city is hung out to dry. Kind of like Detroit. It's downtown or bust.

Atlanta is also hyped heavily, but is like a Kansas City in size and rebounding effect. It has 420,000 people today, up from 390,000 in 1990, but down from 496,000 in 1970. Same with Boston. 617,000 now. Was 560,000 in 1980, but 800,000 in 1950.
Denver and Phoenix are growing. I wouldn't look to Chicago for learning. I'd look first to Indianapolis and Columbus, followed by many of the plains cities. They are Midwestern. They are closer culturally to Michigan.

Public transport is also very overrated. Light rail and Wally trains to nowhere doesn't make a city. There's a bus system and the people mover. Chicago has a well known public transport. It still doesn't change the fact that they dropped a million people and still drop population. We like our cars in Michigan, but that's not unique here.

Grocery outlets. That's a chicken and egg question. Occasionally a big name grocery store opens up shop in Detroit. Usually it closes quickly. Meijer is supposed to open up one on 8 mile. Currently there is no Meijer, Walmart, or Kroger. There are a bunch of Spartan Stores (Think Glens Up North) locations here. There isn't a big selection, and the question is why in a city of still 700,000+ people is there no big selection.

Back to these.

A. Is core city abandonment a good, bad, or neutral thing?

I'd say it's bad IF the people living like a city environment and want to live in cities as opposed to small towns or rural areas. If people don't like a city environment, move out. Just please don't bring the city with you when you move to the country, particularly its nasty politics that caused a lot of the problems to begin with.

To those who like a city environment, why did they move out? In Detroit's case, it was largely schools, crime, high taxes, and bad services for the high taxes. That largely started when liberals took over the city. Jerome P Cavanagh. If Detroiters want those people to move back, they need to address those issues. I think Bing might be the best mayor the city has had in over 50 years, but he's got a tough road ahead of him with the council.

Should metro areas follow the Louisville or Nashville model of consolidating city-county?

Grand Rapids considered and rejected it. If there was any place in the state where that would occur, it would be there. It wouldn't work in Detroit's case, because the Detroit area is three counties. A Detroit-Wayne County government would never form. The suburbs would never vote for it, and that would be across racial lines. Same for a Tri-County incorporation. I think more likely, but probably wouldn't happen would be "City-County" governments formed with Oakland County or Macomb County. If that happened, you'd have a "city" with over 1 million people. Local control is strong in Michigan. That's why most counties have 16 townships, some villages, some cities, and several school districts, all with different administrations. That's a legacy from the horse and buggy era. In some cases that is good. In others, probably not.

Is the destructiveness the abandonment of the city, or what pushed people out in the first place?

I'd argue the latter. Cities are in competition. They compete with other cities, suburbs, and rural areas. The factors are jobs, cost of living (housing, insurance, land), taxes, regulations, services, schools, crime, property values and the community. If one city fails to do a good job in those areas, people will vote with their feet. Detroiters have voted with their feet. It's not just white folks anymore either. Blacks and Mexicans have also left the area. If Detroit wants to make a comeback, it will have to address those things. Stadiums, theaters, and casinos are good for visitors. Visitors. They visit, and go home.

Coach Tom Izzo of Michigan State used this quote to describe his national title winning 2000 team. ""We've got to drop the pretty-boy attitude and adopt a meat-and-potatoes attitude." I have no idea what Izzo's politics are, but that's the right attitude that can apply to cities, counties, townships, and government in general. If you want stable cities, they need to be built on foundations of families. If they will raise their kids there, they will often stay. It takes meat and potatoes issues for people and especially families to stay. Crime, costs, jobs, schools. Those are the big four. How many people if they had the choice would send their kids to Detroit Public Schools? School and crime. Property and income taxes in Detroit are outrageous. 62 mills and an income tax. That's plus insurance costs. The cost of living is cheaper even in Grosse Pointe outside of possibly initial housing costs. Costs. Unemployment rates are high. Jobs. Those are the big issues. The rest comes after the big four. Detroit can be fixed to a large part, if Detroiters want to fix Detroit and are winning to fix Detroit. That is a choice to be made. Detroiters must fix Detroit. Can they do it? Yes, if they choose to do it. It will require a change in their thinking. That doesn't apply just to Detroit, but all cities and municipal governments.

The second piece from Ruff on race states a lot of truth and discusses Ruff's experiences with his city of Saginaw. It's conclusion.

Michigan has had, for a half century, a pernicious walking-away epidemic among whites from cities with growing black populations. I rationalize, in part, our cities’ declines to an ugly racial history. While increasing numbers of middle-class blacks have been leaving our cities to avoid crime, find better jobs, and get better schools, even greater numbers of whites flee or have fled not only for the same objectives, but also to avoid blacks. It boils down, in large part, to voluntary racial segregation.

That's true. Michigan is a largely segregated state, especially in the Detroit area. It used to be segregated due to housing codes, redlining, restricted covenants, and in some cases the Klan. Quasi De jure, little different than the Jim Crow South. Today it is because Michiganders largely choose to live in segregated areas. De Facto. I'm not saying that as an insult. It just is what it is, and it is as part of Michigan as the automobile. While the black population has migrated out some, the vast majority are clustered in cities, or even neighborhoods. Even in "integrated" areas, the cities are still often segregated.

White city/suburban folk move away when areas - especially schools - become increasingly black. The pattern is whites move to new area. Black middle class and professionals move there. No problem. Black population gets to about 25% or so, whites start moving out before or when the inner city starts moves in. Property values drop. Black professionals follow white suburbanites out to escape the new "inner city." Repeat. The other scenario is schools of choice accept a large number of Detroiters. Home district whites move out then too. Often times it's these "tolerant white progressives" that start moving out. They love "diversity" and sneer from their high horse until "diversity" moves to their school. I get a real laugh out of redistricting where more and more of democrat portions in Oakland County get placed into a Detroit based congressional district. I wish Pleasant Ridge and Ferndale and that area were added as well. They asked for it.

That's part of the reasons of city "abandonment", but there's another cultural factor as well. The culture factor is the big one.

Personally I don't care about color, but if you leave the city - or suburbs - and come to my area, leave the city behind. That goes for all colors. It's not the colors that destroyed Detroit and increasingly some of the suburbs. It's the attitudes of the majority of people in the city who kept electing the same people there over and over again and enact the same policies you had at your own home. Democrats destroyed Detroit. Progressives destroyed Detroit. Democrats of all colors destroyed Detroit. White Jerome Cavanagh democrats and black Coleman Young democrats.

My personal bias is stronger against white progressives. They are the threat to me. They want to control people's lives. Black inner city democrats are not a threat to me. While they enable white progressives, they don't want to control people's lives. In addition, moderates are less apt to vote for an inner city candidate. (Obama aside, and he's from Hawaii and Cambridge before he moved to Chicago)

Where race does factor in is that blacks in Michigan vote over 90% democrat (and I have all the respect in the world for that 10% with the pressure put on them). If my area starts going from moderate republican to liberal democrat on a consistent basis, then it's time for me to go. That is no longer my home. Is that racial flight, or is it cultural flight? I'd argue the latter. I don't want Ann Arbor leftism here either, and that's prominently white. One problem is those who move from one area and keep their voting habits, policy values, and change the area they move to if it is different to the same area they left with more regulations and more taxes. I happen to know a lot of ex-Farmington Hills residents here. They aren't liberal like much of current Farmington Hills is today either. They haven't tried to change Brighton. However, Farmington Hills has changed from 1990 and even 2000. Even Rocky (who won 3 times there) didn't win there in 2010, a good GOP year. Neither did Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson who made it close, but no cigar. It's pretty much gone outside of a landslide year. Demographics. What I don't want to see is the same thing coming to Livingston County that is happening more and more in Oakland County.

Under status quo, white liberals will move further and further away from core cities (and closer to this area) as more and more blacks move into their current homes, away from the core cities. That's a problem. Those white liberals if they stay that way want to change the new area to their old area. That is the bad part about urban sprawl, and it creates more of it. One of my favorite sayings from a tavern is "Be good or be gone." Those who move into an area need to respect the believes of the community of the area. It doesn't mean agree 100%, but it does mean that you shouldn't go into the area and try and change it to the same thing you left. If your goal is to change the community to what you left, you need to be gone - or preferably fix your own city.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Local Developments

Over in the City of Howell mayoral race, my State Senator Joe Hune (who represents the area in the senate) endorsed challenger Phil Campbell. A lot of times in down ticket races, people ask me "Who is the conservative?" Interestingly, they ask about the "conservative", not the "republican." (the incumbent is neither) I know Joe's been asked that question several times from residents, as I have. Hence, Joe's endorsement. Campbell is the conservative running.

Campbell would get my vote if I still lived there. His positions on issues are available on his site, and he's opposed to a lot of the streetscape projects (and the tax increase to pay for them) that have wasted taxpayer funds. He also goes into details about other issues and the attitudes elected officials should have towards the voters.

Here in Green Oak Township, we have another millage election. I get a bit dismayed when local officials don't get the message from the public the first time and try again next election. I'm not impressed. I'm voting no for that reason alone. I was actually quite on the fence for one of the proposals last time, but not at all this time. No way. Don't take pages out of the Charles Breiner Howell Schools playbook. If you lose, don't ask right away again.

For Brighton Schools, I support Greg Rassell for one position and am undecided on the other. Minert is MEA/Barry Goode. I need to find more information on Nick Fiani and Bill Trombley to make a decision. I have a gut feeling on that race, but that's not good enough for me to say anything publicly yet.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bullshit Tea Party (BSTP) leader pleads no contest to perjury and forgery

Remember the Bullshit Tea Party (BSTP) from 2010? Now as Obama's pastor Jeremiah Wright says, "The chickens are coming home to roost."

From the Free Press
Michael McGuinness, former chairman of the Oakland County Democratic Party, pleaded no contest last week to charges associated with a fake Tea Party scheme hatched for the 2010 elections.

McGuinness, 27, was facing a trial this week on perjury and forgery charges linked to putting unwitting people on the ballot as candidates of the tea party.

No contest for sentencing purposes means the same thing as a guilty plea. Jason Bauer, his political director is up on trial December 8th.

These jagoffs need to be taught a lesson that vote fraud is no longer tolerated in Michigan.

I've first caught wind of the BSTP back in July of 2010. Here's some background on this:

BSTP releases list of candidates. Several are Democrats

Michigan Capitol Confidential - Democratic Party Political Director Linked to Mysterious Tea Party Political Party

Right Michigan - Breaking - Fake Tea Party candidate not running

More from Right Michigan

Even more from Right Michigan

Sunday, October 16, 2011

State Senate Redistricting - District 34 (SD-34)

State Senate - District 34
Current Rep – Goeff Hansen (R-Hart)

2010 Results - Old District (34st)
Goeff Hansen - 49,065
Mary Valentine - 33,261

This district got tougher due to population growth. It dropped competitive but somewhat leaning Mason County and otherwise stays the same. Muskegon County tilts heavily Democrat and is the base of the district. Goeff Hansen and Gerald Van Woerkom won the district that includes this and Mason County. In Van Woerkom's case, it was 1400 votes in 2006, and 950 votes in 2002. This will be one of our toughest defenses in 2014. 2010 was an aberration, even with Hansen showing himself to be an excellent candidate.

Newaygo County is heavily GOP. Oceana County leans GOP slightly (and is the home of Hansen) but is competitive with the Mexican population there. Muskegon County is heavily union with a sizable black population, although many of the white areas have some democrat leanings there as well.

Obama won this district easily with a 24,000 vote spread. Kerry won it with 3100 vote spread. If this district didn't go GOP three straight times downticket (old district was much different), than I'd say it leans democrat. It does at the top, but is winnable downticket. It's a swing district.

McCain Obama Total Diff GOP DEM Diff
Muskegon County 29145 53821 82966 -24676 35.13% 64.87% -29.74%
Newaygo County 11862 10790 22652 1072 52.37% 47.63% 4.73%
Oceana County 5860 6405 12265 -545 47.78% 52.22% -4.44%

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Total 46867 71016 117883 -24149 39.76% 60.24% -20.49%

Bush Kerry Total Diff GOP DEM Diff
Muskegon County 35302 44282 79584 -8980 44.36% 55.64% -11.28%
Newaygo County 13608 9057 22665 4551 60.04% 39.96% 20.08%
Oceana County 6677 5441 12118 1236 55.10% 44.90% 10.20%

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Total 55587 58780 114367 -3193 48.60% 51.40% -2.79%

Last St Senate GOP Dem Total Diff GOP DEM Diff
Muskegon County 25749 23859 49608 1890 51.90% 48.10% 3.81%
Newaygo County 10493 3969 14462 6524 72.56% 27.44% 45.11%
Oceana County 6030 2230 8260 3800 73.00% 27.00% 46.00%

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Total 42272 30058 72330 12214 58.44% 41.56% 16.89%

State Senate Redistricting - District 33 (SD-33)

State Senate - District 33
Current Rep – Judy Emmons (R-Sheridan)

2010 Results - Old District (33rd)
Judy Emmons - 50,222
James Hoisington - 25,206

This district was cleaned up a bit geographically. It drops Clinton County to Rick Jones in the 24th district and Ionia County to the 19th. Clinton County has become more competitive and Ionia County was solidly Republican.

Slightly GOP leaning Mecosta County and Competitive Clare County are picked up from the 35th District, and slightly GOP leaning (most years) Gratiot County is picked up from the 32nd District. Overall, there isn't a lot of change in the partisanship level (due to Bath Township changing Clinton County). This district is GOP leaning, but can be competitive with a big turnout in Isabella County, which is democrat at the top of the ticket, but winnable downticket. Emmons won easily in a GOP year.

The old district went for incumbent Alan Cropsey by 9,000 votes in 2006 after he won by 19000 in 02. Obama and Bush both won this district, so I can't quite call it safe after Cropsey's relatively close call in the old district. Bath Township is gone, but Clare County isn't safe, and Montcalm County has a populist streak thanks to Greenville. Mt Pleasant is the home of CMU and usually votes democrat.

McCain Obama Total Diff GOP DEM Diff
Clare County 6793 7496 14289 -703 47.54% 52.46% -4.92%
Gratiot County 8322 9105 17427 -783 47.75% 52.25% -4.49%
Isabella County 11220 16679 27899 -5459 40.22% 59.78% -19.57%
Mecosta County 9238 9101 18339 137 50.37% 49.63% 0.75%
Montcalm County 13291 13208 26499 83 50.16% 49.84% 0.31%

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Total 48864 55589 104453 -6725 46.78% 53.22% -6.44%

Bush Kerry Total Diff GOP DEM Diff
Clare County 7088 6984 14072 104 50.37% 49.63% 0.74%
Gratiot County 9834 7377 17211 2457 57.14% 42.86% 14.28%
Isabella County 11754 12334 24088 -580 48.80% 51.20% -2.41%
Mecosta County 9710 7730 17440 1980 55.68% 44.32% 11.35%
Montcalm County 14968 11471 26439 3497 56.61% 43.39% 13.23%

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Total 53354 45896 99250 7458 53.76% 46.24% 7.51%

Last State Senate GOP DEM Total Diff GOP DEM Diff
Clare County

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Gratiot County

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Isabella County 9057 5837 14894 3220 60.81% 39.19% 21.62%
Mecosta County

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Montcalm County 11890 5227 17117 6663 69.46% 30.54% 38.93%

0 0 #DIV/0! #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
Total 20947 11064 32011 9883 65.44% 34.56% 30.87%

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sold down the river with the new "Free" trade agreements

Bipartisanship isn't always a good thing. Oftentimes it is a very bad thing. Bipartisanship is usually when both political parties get together to kick America's ass. NAFTA and GATT were bipartisan disasters, especially in Michigan. So was Most Favored Nation Trade Status with China. I have a strong libertarian streak on a lot of things, but when it comes to foreign policy and trade policy, I lean paleoconservative more than anything else. Nowhere I do lean that way more than with trade.

Free trade agreements work with countries similar to ours. Countries that are not protectionist, have wages close to our level, and have regulations close to our level. Unfortunately, free trade agreements aren't free. They are thousands of pages of regulations. Also, when we outsource our skilled labor, it's a problem. In Michigan, this strongly affects our auto industry, tool and die, and our furnature industry. In the 1990's, computers were the wave of the future. Silicon Valley. Today, Silicon Valley lost a lot of their jobs to India. 15 years.

From the AP

"WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress approved free trade agreements Wednesday with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, ending a four-year drought in the forming of new trade partnerships and giving the White House and Capitol Hill the opportunity to show they can work together to stimulate the economy and put people back to work.

In rapid succession, the House and Senate voted on the three trade pacts, which the administration says could boost exports by $13 billion and support tens of thousands of American jobs. None of the votes were close, despite opposition from labor groups and other critics of free trade agreements who say they result in job losses and ignore labor rights problems in the partner countries.

"We don't do much around here that's bipartisan these days," said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who was U.S. Trade Representative during the George W. Bush administration. "This is an example of where we can come together as Republicans and Democrats realizing that with 14 million Americans out of work, we need to do things to move our economy forward."

President Barack Obama said passage of the agreements was "a major win for American workers and businesses."

"Tonight's vote, with bipartisan support, will significantly boost exports that bear the proud label 'Made in America,' support tens of thousands of good-paying American jobs and protect labor rights, the environment and intellectual property. ... I look forward to signing these agreements.""

What a coincidence. Korea.

GM then has this

After enduring years of Chevy Volt hype, we now get a new "new best thing" from General Motors in the form of an electric version of the Chevy Spark. And I have it on good authority that the Spark will be made in Korea.
Another very important question regarding the electric Chevy Spark production is, "where will it be built?" Will the technology be shared with China by SAIC so that GM can benefit from the huge Chinese subsidies? Will the taxpayer money that was used to bail out GM and then develop electric cars go towards creating green jobs in other countries while neglecting the American public that paid for the job creation? According to GM North America Director of Communications, Greg Martin, both conventional and electric versions will be built in Korea.

Why the hell are we bailing out companies with US tax money who are building new products outside of America? There's plenty of blame to go around here too, from Republicans like Portman, Corker, and Bush to Democrats like Feinstein, Obama and Reid. Bipartisanship sold us and our sovereignty down the river. Again.