Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for the ‘Michigan’ Category

The Koch’s coke

Posted by Charles II on May 17, 2013

A belated tip of the hat to Quentin Compson at Eschaton.

What is wrong with this picture? A major American city is becoming a dumping ground for toxic waste. Ian Austen, NYT:

WINDSOR, Ontario — Assumption Park gives residents of this city lovely views of the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit skyline. Lately they’ve been treated to another sight: a three-story pile of petroleum coke covering an entire city block on the other side of the Detroit River.

Detroit’s ever-growing black mountain is the unloved, unwanted and long overlooked byproduct of Canada’s oil sands boom.

And no one knows quite what to do about it, except Koch Carbon, which owns it.

Coke, which is mainly carbon, is an essential ingredient in steelmaking as well as producing the electrical anodes used to make aluminum.

While there is high demand from both those industries, the small grains and high sulfur content of this petroleum coke make it largely unusable for those purposes, said Kerry Satterthwaite, a petroleum coke analyst at Roskill Information Services, a commodities analysis company based in London.

“It is worse than a byproduct,” Ms. Satterthwaite said.“It’s a waste byproduct that is costly and inconvenient to store, but effectively costs nothing to produce.”

and coincidentally, Detroit has been deprived of its municipal government by the emergency manager.

Posted in environment, koch brothers, Michigan, Oil | 4 Comments »

Coming soon to your community: corporate (or criminal) rule

Posted by Charles II on July 27, 2011

Adrienne (via Brother John) links this on Honduras’ “Charter Cities,” in which Hondurans cede control over their own territory to… whoever! It’s not out of the question to have a “Charter City” for each of the narcotics cartels.

But in many ways, Honduras’ “Charter Cities” is done under better controls than Michigan’s takeovers of localities by “Emergency Managers.” The Michigan law is (in my layman’s opinion) written very vaguely, such that towns could be signed over to…whoever…with even less oversight. A preliminary review can be triggered by an alphabet soup of conditions, including this gem:

The existence of other facts or circumstances that in the state treasurer’s sole discretion for a municipal government are indicative of municipal financial stress, or, that in the superintendent of public instruction’s sole discretion for a school district are indicative of school district financial stress.

Then a fundamentally political process proceeds:

the governor shall appoint a review team for that municipal government consisting of the state treasurer or his or her designee, the director of the department of technology, management, and budget or his or her designee, a nominee of the senate majority leader, and a nominee of the speaker of the house of representatives. The governor may appoint other state officials or other persons with relevant professional experience to serve on a review team to undertake a municipal financial management review.[and a similar process for schools]

And then? An Emergency Manager is appointed and basically, the law ceases to exist in that jurisdiction. Elected representatives no longer have any power, since they serve at the pleasure of the Emergency Manager. Unions? Forget about them! Have a contract with the city? Too bad! All of the civil mechanisms that serve as brakes on bad governance are stripped away, with the sole power to the will of the Governor residing in the courts… which are notoriously conservative and unwilling to engage the other branches of government. Your “Emergency Manager” could even, in theory, be Corporation Corrections of America(*). The law is just that vague!

It’s true that the way the law is written, it can only turn truly foul if all branches of government are in the hands of one party. But that’s where Michigan is, God help ’em. At least Honduras thinks it has to give some measure of deference to international norms, even if it’s only window dressing.

Only comedians can get the situation correct:

The law stipulates that:

(a) The emergency manager shall have a minimum of 5 years’ experience and demonstrable expertise in business, financial, or local or state budgetary matters.

(b) The emergency manager may but need not be a resident of the local government.

(c) The emergency manager shall be an individual.

(d) Except as otherwise provided in this subdivision, the emergency manager shall serve at the pleasure of the governor. An emergency manager is subject to impeachment and conviction by the legislature as if he or she were a civil officer under section 7 of article XI of the state constitution of 1963. A vacancy in the office of emergency manager shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment.

(e) The emergency manager’s compensation and reimbursement for actual and necessary expenses shall be paid by the local government and shall be set forth in a contract approved by the state treasurer. The contract shall be posted on the department of treasury’s website within 7 days after the contract is approved by the state treasurer.

The provision that the emergency manager shall be “an individual” might seem to exclude corporations. However, (a) a contractor or employee of a corporation would certainly qualify, and (b) US law increasingly recognizes corporations as individuals, possessing for example free speech rights.

Posted in corporatists, corruption, Honduras, Michigan | Comments Off on Coming soon to your community: corporate (or criminal) rule

Hope for Michigan

Posted by MEC on June 8, 2009

Every time another state legalizes same-sex marriage, I cheer, but I also feel ashamed all over again that same-sex marriage is prohibited in Michigan not just by law but by a constitutional amendment passed in 2004.

Today, I have hope that we’ll be able to change that. A new poll shows that support for same-sex marriage has doubled since 2004. Although it hasn’t [yet] exceeded 50%, nearly two-thirds of poll respondents support civil unions, and that’s a small step toward full equality.

The poll found high support for related rights:

adoption rights (57.5%), same-sex partner benefits for government employees (65.5%), inheritance rights for gay and lesbian partners (70.9%) and recognition of same-sex marriages from other states (53.5%)

These results certainly correlate with the higher number of poll respondents who said they know someone who is gay or lesbian. Reality overcomes fearmongering once again.

Posted in gay rights, Michigan | 2 Comments »

But That Was Then, This Is Now!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 27, 2008

The same people who (now that they work for Hillary) are sooooo in favor of MI and FL’s leaders not being punished for jumping the gun in 2008 sang a much different tune not so long ago:

We already had top Clinton supporter Harold Ickes, who voted to sanction Michigan at the DNC, then now complains about the sanctions he himself approved.

Now we have Terry McAuliffe himself, as DNC chairman, enforcing the very rules he now thinks should be broken.

Mark Nickolas digs out the relevant passages from Terry McAuliffe’s own book:

“I’m going outside the primary window,” [Michigan Sen. Carl Levin] told me definitively.

“If I allow you to do that, the whole system collapses,” I said. “We will have chaos. I let you make your case to the DNC, and we voted unanimously and you lost.”

He kept insisting that they were going to move up Michigan on their own, even though if they did that, they would lose half their delegates. By that point Carl and I were leaning toward each other over a table in the middle of the room, shouting and dropping the occasional expletive.

“You won’t deny us seats at the convention,” he said.

“Carl, take it to the bank,” I said. “They will not get a credential. The closest they’ll get to Boston will be watching it on television. I will not let you break this entire nominating process for one state. The rules are the rules. If you want to call my bluff, Carl, you go ahead and do it.”

We glared at each other some more, but there was nothing much left to say. I was holding all the cards and Levin knew it.

[Source: McAuliffe, Terry. What A Party!, p. 325.]


Terry McAuliffe: I’m saying they’ve already voted, let’s count the votes. I’m saying that the state parties in those states need to work with the national party and figure out how we count the votes that have already been voted.


Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 2008, Barack Obama, Florida (where magical things happen), Hillary Clinton, hypocrites, Michigan | 2 Comments »

Wednesday Morning News Roundup

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 30, 2008


— How bad are things in Haiti under the rule of Bush-approved warlord thugs that drove out the democratically-elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide nearly four years ago? People are reduced to literally eating dirt.

— Hillary, in pushing for the Michigan and Florida delegates to count so she can unfairly claim them, is pushing for the DNC to violate a judge’s order:

[US District Judge Robert] Hinkle was not convinced. He ruled that forcing the national party to break its own primary schedule rules by seating Florida delegates would violate the party’s First Amendment right to assemble.

“There can be a schedule, there need not be a free-for-all and the entity that can set the schedule is the national party,” said Hinkle while pronouncing his ruling. “Florida has to comply with the same rules and procedures as everybody else and does not get to have its own way.

— It looks like John Edwards is out of the 2008 race. This is bad, both because he’s the guy who did the best in head-to-head matchups against McCain, and because even though he was the most progressive of the three major Democratic candidates, enough low-information conservative Democratic white voters thought otherwise to siphon off support that would have otherwise gone to Hillary.

Posted in 2008, Barack Obama, Democrats, Florida (where magical things happen), Haiti, Hillary Clinton, Michigan | 2 Comments »

Another Case of ‘Okay for Me But Not for Thee’

Posted by MEC on August 3, 2007


Michigan Republican Leon Drolet has been going around the state preaching his “taxes are bad” message under the aegis of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, “an alliance of Michigan citizens who believe the state government of Michigan is hurting citizens and our economy by taking too much money from citizens and redistributing it through ever-increasing spending”.

Apparently, Mr. Drolet’s objection to state spending stops where his own bank account begins.

During his six years as a State Representative, Drolet cost Michigan taxpayers $1.1 million, including more than $91,000 for mileage reimbursements and $72,000 for his “expense allowance” – in addition to the $477,900 spent on his salary.

Drolet currently serves on the Macomb County Commission, earning $34,069 a year.

Besides this income, as a retired State Representative (he was in the lege for six years), Mr. Drolet receives a lifetime of health care paid for by the Michigan taxpayers.

Mark Brewer, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, has called for Leon Drolet to practice what he preaches and give up the perks he receives on the taxpayer dime. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that Mr. Drolet ignores him. It’s only a waste of money when tax revenue goes to useless things like health care for children and road repairs. When it goes into the pockets of Republicans and their corporate cronies, why, that’s where all money should go, after all.

Posted in hypocrites, Michigan, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples, taxes | 1 Comment »

Republican Youth Organization a “Hate Group”

Posted by MEC on May 3, 2007

The Southern Poverty Law Center has listed the Michigan State University chapter of Young Americans for Freedom as hate group.

The chapter earned this distinction “because of their ’13 point agenda’ that includes the elimination of minority student organizations, the creation of a white council, promoting anti-gay beliefs and hunting down and deporting illegal immigrants in the Lansing area.”

Attorney General Mike Cox, Secretary of State Terri Land, Rep. Candice Miller, Rep. Mike Rogers, GOP chair Saul Anuzis, and failed gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos are among Michigan’s notable Republicans who have ties to the group or to its leader, Kyle Bristow.

It’s official. The Republican Party is the party of hate.

Posted in Michigan, Republicans, Republicans acting badly | 2 Comments »

Another Case of Political Prosecution?

Posted by MEC on May 2, 2007

Former Macomb County (Michigan) Prosecutor Carl Marlinga wants to know whether the federal government’s unsuccessful prosecution of him on corruption charges was politically motivated.

U.S. Attorney Stephen Murphy, who prosecuted the case, says that politics were not a consideration. Of course he does. However:

Susan Kramer of Rochester Hills, one of four Marlinga jurors who were so impressed with his innocence they invited him to dinner after the trial, said the government’s case was so weak she does not know why it proceeded.

Kramer said she was disturbed to learn after the trial that the Marlinga investigation was prompted by complaints from Michigan Republican Party official Rusty Hills and U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, who at the time was Marlinga’s Republican opponent for a seat in Congress.

Candice Miller has close political ties to BushRove. I’m just sayin’.

Posted in Michigan, US Attorney scandal | Comments Off on Another Case of Political Prosecution?

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid

Posted by MEC on March 20, 2007

Somebody vandalized the Lansing office of Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) apparently to express opposition to the Iraq War.

Vandals splattered red paint on the front of lawmaker Mike Rogers’ Lansing office Monday night and plastered a sign in the front window claiming the Brighton Republican has “blood on his hands” for the war in Iraq, which marked the fourth anniversary this week.
A “Support Our Troops” sign was defaced with red paint as well as the front door of the building on Michigan Avenue being glued shut.

Rarely do I agree with a Republican spokesperson, but I fully endorse this statement:

“There are a lot of opinions about the Iraq war but that doesn’t give anyone the right to vandalize property or threaten anyone,” said Sylvia Warner, press secretary for Rogers. “This is the taxpayer’s money. It’s classified as federal property. It belongs to the people of 8th District so basically these people are attacking the people of 8th District.”

Committing a crime is not the appropriate way to protest.

(It’s also really stupid to give the rightwing ammunition to use against the antiwar movement.)

 [Added March 21]: In a comment, Doran Williams points out that it wasn’t necessarily an antiwar protester who vandalized the office. That’s a good point. We have enough verified reports of “infiltrators” in demonstrations acting as provocateurs (like this one and this one).

Posted in antiwar movement, Michigan, Mike Rogers, wrong way to go about it | 5 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: