Thursday, March 21, 2013

News from Michigan, the Nation's First Dictator State

It could be that with all that's going on in the world you might have missed what's happening closer to home, in the sovereign state of Michigan.  In just over two years, since businessman and venture capitalist Rick Snyder became governor, bringing along with him a Republican majority in the legislature and in most courts (including the Supreme one), with a push from the Tea Party, the Koch Brothers and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, our beautiful state has suffered under the country's first duly elected dictatorship.

In March of 2011, two months after his inauguration, Snyder pushed through a draconian Emergency Financial Manager law, essentially giving him the authority to appoint one person to take over the governing of any municipality or school system deemed failing by Our Man Snyder.

In November, 2012 the voters, finally coming to their senses, soundly voted down that outrageously unconstitutional law.  A few weeks later Snyder's minions, ignoring the wishes of the voters, not only reinstated the law, they added wording that would keep the voters from ever voting it down again.

This slid by just days after the Republicans stuck it to the already bruised and bleeding unions by making Michigan, the home of the labor movement, a Right-to-Work state

Just last week, the Republican legislature was back working on a bill that would allow health care providers to refuse services to patients/customers for religious or moral reasons.  It's a transparent smackdown of abortion and contraception, but it could also affect anybody from gays to Muslims to blacks to liberal Democrats.

And two days ago, DemocracyTree reported this:
Today the Michigan House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee passed a bill that will punish any university that negotiates with its union for an extended contract prior to the Right-to-Work law going into effect on March 28th. If this bill becomes law, universities stand to lose 15 percent of their funding for any contract negotiated between the Dec. 10th lame-duck RTW law and the March 28th enactment.
The Associated Press reports that Wayne State University could lose $27 million if they follow through with renegotiating their contract. Among universities rumored to be in contract talks are Michigan State University, Lansing Community College, and Western Michigan University.  
And this dispatch from Eclectablog yesterday.  It appears the GOP is caving to Tea Party interests in Michigan again. Medicaid expansion and the state-run Obamacare health exchange will be dead in the water unless they either grow hearts or come to their senses. (I won't hold my breath.)

And it goes on.  Because that's how it works in Michigan now.  The goal is to stop all democratic processes, including governing, in order to allow private profiteers to take over and make bundles off of us.  Roads?  Bridges?  Schools?  Health?  Human services? Out of our hands and going to the highest bidder. (They'll still collect taxes, of course, because. . .why not?)

Now they're working at making life even harder for old and disabled veterans.  The Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, one of two state vets homes, has been turned over to private contractors and, as predicted, it's a mess.  (I'm still trying to figure out how a state-run veteran's home, partially funded by the Feds, can just willy-nilly decide to privatize, but apparently it's one of those loopholes none of us ever has access to.)

From the Free Press this morning:
The contract employees are paid about half as much as the state employees, who made a little more than $20 an hour at the top of their pay rate.
The state workers, who belong to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, say the lower wage results in inexperienced and inadequately trained workers and high turnover.
Tammy Porter, a licensed practical nurse who still works at the home, cited examples of inadequate and negligent care she said she had witnessed. She also read a letter from Andrea Rossman of Saginaw, who works as a nursing director at a health facility and whose father, Joe Vela, lives at the Grand Rapids Home.
On Saturday and Sunday, the home was understaffed and Vela wasn't given a chance to go to the restroom, eat breakfast, or take his medications in a timely manner, Rossman said in the letter. The delayed medication meant "my father's life was put in peril," she said.
There's more.  There's always more.  I can barely keep up, but thankfully there are others who do.

Chris Savage at Eclectablog works tirelessly to get this information out.

Democracy Tree keeps Michigan political news out there, too, as do many others.

Scroll down to the bottom of my "Michigan Under Siege" page for the growing list.

If you want to pass any of this on, we would appreciate it.  We need all the help we can get. (And, by the way, we're worth it.)

Lower Tahquamenon Falls - Upper Peninsula (Photo: Ramona Grigg)


  1. I heard about some of this from Ed Schultz, but not all of it.

    That's pretty shocking, and a sign of the crazy stuff that happens when an economy goes into freefall, I guess. Michigan's getting the worst of it, with horrible political results.

  2. Last November we voted out the tea-bagger in my district, now we need to get rid of the senator that recently came out as a birther. Or at the very least he was pandering to the birthers. One thing that caused the tea-bagger to lose was when he came out against the tribe building a gas station in Marquette (which isn't in his district, but most of the tribe is in the district), which would have lowered gas prices in the area that consistently has the highest prices in the state and the owners of the gas stations wouldn't like that, especially Krist Oil which is headquartered in the district and has a chain of Citco stations in the UP and Northern WI.

    1. Interesting, Kulkuri. Love it when Teabaggers lose to the First Nation. Something uniquely satisfying about that.

      There is a station on the reservation north of Baraga that consistently has much lower gas prices. I just assumed that because they were on the res they were immune from outside influences. Guess it doesn't work that way in Marquette?

  3. This is so depressing.


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