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Reposted from Kerry Eleveld by 2thanks
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder
Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder
Michigan has found a way to make up for some of its budget shortfall after cutting corporate taxes to the bone—just tax people who smoke and drink more! Chad Livengood reports:
Revenue from so-called sin taxes on tobacco, beer, wine and liquor totaled $290.5 million in the 2014 fiscal year, more than twice the $137.6 million net income taxes paid by Michigan businesses after receiving $768.8 million in refunds from tax credits, a Detroit News analysis of tax data shows.

Since Gov. Rick Snyder and lawmakers delivered sweeping tax relief for businesses in 2011, net business income taxes dropped 90 percent, depleting the state's main operating fund of $1.33 billion, according to state revenue data.

GOP Gov. Snyder and his Republicans (who control both chambers) sure did "deliver." So much so that the data show tax receipts from business had dropped from accounting for 21 percent of the state's general fund to producing just two percent of it over the past decade.

GOP legislators are in a real bind now, after voters rebuffed an effort to raise more revenue through sales and gas tax revenue. But don't worry, the sin-tax trend shows no signs of abating in Michigan.

Taxes from the Michigan Business Tax and Corporate Income Tax are projected to total $244 million this year, while beer, liquor, wine and tobacco taxes will total about $280 million, according to Senate Fiscal Agency data.

For the 2016 fiscal year budget, which lawmakers are debating, sin taxes are projected to top $278 million, while business taxes will net $159 million after more than $800 million in tax credits, recent tax data show.

Reposted from Eclectablog - eclectic blogging for a better tomorrow by Eclectablog

Originally posted at

Republicans have successfully branded themselves as the party that worships "local governmental control". They want federal regulations repealed and the power given to the states on all sorts of things from the environment to the Affordable Care Act. But, when it comes to actual local control, where local municipalities set their own rules, the whole idea of "local governmental control" is simply a quaint notion to be dispensed with posthaste to maintain their own control over our state.

Republicans in Michigan are sick and tired of local governments having the audacity to do things like pass local minimum wage requirements or giving the LGBTQ community actual civil rights protections. That's why, on January 22nd, Republican Earl Poleski introduced H.B. 4052 which he calls the "Local Government Employer Mandate Prohibition Act".

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Reposted from Motor City Kossacks by peregrine kate

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Water Wars Ramp Up in Detroit
During NN14 in Detroit last July, Detroit water activists were able to take advantage of the pressure brought to bear by the presence and awareness of politically-progressive visitors to the city to stage a successful march and rally on behalf of a more just and humane resolution to the manufactured crisis over water access in Detroit.

Those modest gains seem distant and small now that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is gearing up for yet another round of draconian shutoffs to consumers within the DWSD service area, city and suburbs alike. Latest estimates publicized via the Detroit Free Press are for approximately 25,000 households (or approximately 75,000 people, over 10% of the current population of the city of Detroit) to lose their access to water starting next week. But even more shutoffs could happen over the next several months, since [per this article from 4/18/2015]

A city report obtained by the Free Press shows more than 73,000 active residential accounts with $47 million in bills at least two months late.

The documents show the city has been unable to move many customers into good standing. As of last June, there were more than 79,000 delinquent accounts owing $42 million.

These delinquent accounts represent approximately 25% of all residential accounts in the city of Detroit, according to figures stated here.

Detroit water activists continue to challenge the city administration's plans to promote an "assistance" plan, which may be funded up to $6 million as of this summer. That amount may sound like a lot of money, and indeed it is. Yet given arrearages of up to $2,000/household (in some cases), and in comparison with the total outstanding due of almost $50 million, that pot will soon be drained--without any substantial plan in place for preventing such a predicament to arise again soon.

Reminding authorities that "assistance is not affordability," activists with the People's Water Board, Food and Water Watch, Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management, the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Sierra Club and other organizations are attempting to enlist allies to back a version of the Water Affordability Plan, originally written in 2005 to address that stage of the crisis. [As one quickly realizes upon review of the water wars in Detroit, these crises relative to privatization of common resources have been unfolding for many years.]

Two long-time Detroit activists, Gloria House and Shea Howell, recently published a statement via the People's Water Board calling for adoption of the Water Affordability Plan. Some of the points they make:

The goal of the aggressive shutoffs is “changing the culture regarding the responsibility to pay for service.”

But the only way a sentence like that can make sense is if you believe there is a current culture where people are irresponsible and not willing to pay for their services.

This is the same belief that Detroiters are not paying water bills or property taxes because, as former Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr said, we are “dumb, lazy, happy and rich.” Bill Nowling, then Orr’s spokesman, tried to get him out of that comment by saying he believed the comments were “about the attitude of the body politic of the city of Detroit, not Detroiters themselves.”

Such nonsensical distinctions are offered to cover the deep-seated racism that characterizes the attitude of many people toward Detroiters.

This attitude pathologizes the people of Detroit. It casts us as deficient, ignores our history, denies our humanity, and disrespects and diminishes our lives. It functions to blind the public to both the pain and the strengths of the city.

Most Detroiters know that we not only work hard, but we often do the hardest work. With the disappearance of jobs and capital, we have been struggling to create new ways of living and working together....

In fact, we have willingly voted ourselves the highest taxes in the state in order to provide for our schools, parks, community colleges, museums, zoo and art programs.

Now with jobs gone, pay cuts, pension cuts, increasing medical bills, increasing heating bills, the highest water rates in the state, predatory lending, overinflated property taxes and auto insurance more than double that of the suburbs, people are scrambling to keep home and hearth together. [3/25/15]

The problem is not going away. Water is life. What will the city of Detroit look like with potentially 1/4 of its households--adding this year's shutoffs to last year's--without access to clean, safe water and sewage treatment?

If you're interested in offering a little bit of support, please consider signing this petition on sponsored by the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization: Don't Deny Detroit Families the Human Right to Water

For more information, I strongly recommend monitoring the People's Water Board blog, and tracking #WaterWednesday I'll continue to post updates, and I welcome input from other people closer to the action than I.

Please join me after the fleur-de-Kos for more.

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Reposted from Inflection by peregrine kate Editor's Note: I'm happy to see this diary in support of Prop 1, even more because I didn't write it. ;) If you're in favor of it, then you'll find some arguments here to support your position. If you're opposed, then perhaps you'll find some here to change your mind. -- peregrine kate

This diary is pretty straightforward: I'm asking DKos Michiganians to make their way to the polls tomorrow and vote yes in our special election to alter various tax rates in Michigan and increase road funding.  Since I'm talking to progressives, I'll try to address the most common concerns I hear from fellow Democrats about the proposal.

If you live in Michigan and read a site like DKos you're probably plugged in enough to know the basics of this already: the short of it is "sales tax increase from 6% to 7% for road funding." You also probably know that the longer version is "a package of laws that shifts some taxes around, increases road funding, ensures warranties for road work, increases the Earned Income Tax Credit, fiddles with the School Aid Fund, and does a couple of other things."  And finally, you probably know that long, complicated ballot proposals start off with a strike against them because people don't like long, complicated ballot proposals.

The polling for Prop 1 is lousy right now, but special elections on proposals are notorious for being hard to poll and dependent on turnout, which is why a motivated group of supporters can really make a difference here.  What I mainly hear is that progressives might support the proposal but they're leery.  Follow me below the orange pothole for a few comments addressing progressive concerns about Prop 1.

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Reposted from Inflection by 2thanks

Silly GOPcritter.  Don't you know the Internet plugged up the memory hole ages ago?

Below the cut (where I've posted some screen grabs) are two versions of an anti-Obamacare rant by one of our state "legislators" here in Michigan that was published as an op-ed in the Detroit News.  You expect a GOP op-ed to be full of errors and fabrications, of course, but this one started off with a bang, confusing the $1.35 trillion 10-year figure (that's the one that doesn't make any net accounting, which lowers the bottom-line figure substantially) with an annual cost, resulting in an order-of-magnitude error in policy costs.  There are plenty of other errors -- it's a veritable Gish Gallop in that second paragraph -- but that one was so big it could even get through to a Republican.

Thus, the News either made or let Sen. Colbeck make a major overhaul of the article; after the order of magnitude drop made the Obamacare costs look better compared to the kind of plan a healthy young private citizen could get, he also lost 5 million enrollees to make the denominator smaller, and changed his comparison to a cheap catastrophic plan.  After doing all this, they scrubbed the comments page and failed to note any corrections or edits to the article.

You'd think at some point in this process the necessity of doing all this would make some idealistic young staffer reconsider their choice of team.  Plain sad all around.

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Reposted from Eclectablog - eclectic blogging for a better tomorrow by Eclectablog

Originally posted at

Shoot 'em?

Teana Walsh, an assistant Wayne County, Michigan prosecutor posted this on her Facebook page after watching images of protesters and rioters in Baltimore following the homicide of Freddie Gray:

So I am watching the news in Baltimore and see large swarms of people throwing bricks, etc at police who are fleeing from their assaults ... 15 in the hospital already. Solution. Simple. Shoot em. Period. End of discussion. I don’t care what causes the protestors to turn violent...what the “they did it because” reason way is this acceptable. Flipping disgusting.
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Reposted from Eclectablog - eclectic blogging for a better tomorrow by Eclectablog

Originally posted at Eclectablog.

On Monday of this week U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officer Mitchell Quinn shot and killed 20-year old Detroiter Terrance Kellom. The killing took place during a raid conducted by a multi-jurisdictional task force with Detroit police called the Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team to serve an arrest warrant on Kellom who had violated his parole. The warrant was issued after he fled last August while on probation for a 2010 concealed weapons violation. He was also wanted on a four-count warrant as a suspect in the armed robbery of a pizza driver and has a long history of run-ins with law enforcement.

Police say they went to Kellom's home, presented an arrest warrant and were let in by his father Kevin. Inside, they say, they found Kellom brandishing a hammer and Quinn, who is also black, shot and killed him.

Kevin Kellom tells a far different story. "They brought my son down the stairs and executed him in my face," he said today during his first public comments. "My son died with a clenched fist, no hammer. My son reached for me and was shot twice in the chest. [After that], eight more shots rang out."

Kellom's father also claims he never saw an arrest warrant until he returned from the hospital where his son was pronounced dead. When he arrived at his home, he found an arrest warrant left by police and time-stamped three hours after his son was shot to death.

Sorta makes you wonder why they even have tasers, doesn't it?

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Reposted from Eclectablog - eclectic blogging for a better tomorrow by Eclectablog

Originally posted at

There is a great deal of speculation on how the Supreme Court will decide the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that will likely decide once and for all whether or not same-sex marriage bans at the state level are constitutional or not. Yesterday, they heard two and half hours of oral arguments, an unusually long session (most are only an hour.) It's often difficult to read how the justices are leaning, particularly with justices like Justice Anthony Kennedy - generally considered the swing vote on this case - who is known for asking hard questions to attorneys on both sides. So, we'll just have to wait until late June to find out.

What interested me most about yesterday's arguments was the performance of the team that was arguing on behalf of the state of Michigan. As I wrote about earlier this month, despite having over 100 attorneys on his staff, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette went out and hired a private attorney to do his dirty work for him in front of the Supreme Court justices. Many have speculated that, if the SCOTUS rules against him, he didn't want that loss on HIS hands.

Yesterday, that attorney, John Bursch of Schuette’s former employer Warner Norcross & Judd, presented essentially one argument and that is that the state's compelling interest in marriage is to create a bond between children and their biological parents. His justification that this argument compels states to ban same-sex marriage is that by not doing so, the state would create a situation where marriage is so devalued that it will result in more children being born out of wedlock.

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Reposted from Support the Dream Defenders by 2thanks
BFSkinner in 2010
As you may know from his last two diaries, BFSkinner had abdominal surgery on Wednesday. The surgeons removed a mass that was apparently not cancerous, and they also reduced a hernia. I talked to him this morning by phone.

BFSkinner is now recovering in the ICU from his laparoscopic surgery. He went immediately to the ICU after surgery because his CO2 was elevated. He is only in pain when he begins any movements that use his abdominal muscles, including talking.

He is expecting to be allowed to sit up later today and walk tomorrow. He will possibly leave the hospital in two or three more days, but you know how that goes. Some doctors say one thing, and some say another. His nurses have been very good.

He started on a clear-liquid diet this morning, and he said it felt good to eat again after two days of not eating. His spirits are good.

He will have access to the Internet when he gets home.

You are welcome to leave a comment for him, and I will take it to him sometime tomorrow. I hope to be able to visit him then.

Please continue to hold him in your thoughts and prayers,


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Reposted from Motor City Kossacks by peregrine kate

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Hey hey! For once, I actually have photos to post from a demo I attended! I hope you're as impressed as I am. ;)

Simple and to the point
The "Fight for $15" Demo last Wednesday, Tax Day, was very impressive and well-attended. Special thanks go to one of our own Motor City Kossacks, gregsullmich, who was very involved with the organizing for the event.
gregsullmich, clearly in his element
This demonstration was part of a nationwide effort to draw attention to the need for a higher minimum wage--an idea whose time has come.

I was happy to run into many of my union brothers and sisters at the event, including a local AFT activist who I met at Netroots Nation 14, of all things. Unfortunately, I did not ever find mideedah, who was there with many of her SEIU colleagues, though we traded texts afterwards. That's a good indication of how many people were there, not being able to find each other in the crowd.

The basic message is straightforward. With higher wages, we all do better. It was encouraging and uplifting to see so many people gather for the sake of promoting solidarity and economic justice.

Because it matters and we are worth it.
That's one part of the "good" in the diary title. I don't have a "bad" to mention at the moment. I do, however, have an "ugly" to reference briefly. That would be the preposterous plan by the city leaders, including Mayor Duggan, to recommence water shutoffs throughout Detroit beginning in May.

Curt Guyette, one of the best and most reliable reporters covering this story now for many months, has a recent update: "With Detroit's Water Payment Plan a Massive Failure Mayor Duggan Plans Changes."

From that report:

According to the most recent numbers provided by Detroit’s Department of Water and Sewerage, 24,743 residential customers are enrolled in a payment plan. Of that number, 24,450 are at least 60 days past due on their payments—meaning that their homes are in danger of losing water service once the city resumes shutoffs.

Stated another way, only 300 of the 24,743 customers put on the mayor’s payment plan were able to keep up with their payments and ensure their water will keep flowing.

“You didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out what the outcome would be,” said Maureen Taylor, chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization. “If people are already unable to pay their bills, how could you expect them to keep up if you add past-due payments on top of that? The plan was fundamentally flawed from the beginning, and we said that.”

Despite all evidence from the beginning pointing to just this sort of failure, the mayor persists in rejecting an affordability plan. This position is reflected in a recent Detroit Free Press article about the issue:
Mayor Mike Duggan has remained adamant that water service cannot be provided for free without raising rates for all, and that the city has no way to create a system that charges for water based on household income, an idea advocates and some city officials have urged his administration to consider.

The city has tried to make it easier for residents to get on payment plans to get out of shutoff status. Water customers can do so by paying as little as 10% of their overdue bill on top of their regular monthly bill.

But that model of assistance is flawed....

"These assistance plans are Band-Aids. They are not a solution," said Lynna Kaucheck, a senior organizer with Food & Water Watch who has closely monitored shutoffs in Detroit. "If you can't afford to be on the assistance plan, it doesn't matter if you know about it."

There's much more to be said about this looming disaster, on top of many others (the collapse of Detroit Public Schools and the boom in foreclosures expected this year, to name only two). But I can tolerate posting only so much at a time. Please feel free to post your own input on this crisis in the comments, and let me know as well if you'd like to cover some aspect of the subject in an upcoming diary.

Below the orange wave, please join me for a brief review of our plan for a group outing to the DIA to see the Diego Rivera/Frida Kahlo exhibit.

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Reposted from Eclectablog - eclectic blogging for a better tomorrow by Eclectablog

Originally posted at Eclectablog.

After the owner of Indiana pizzeria Memories publicly declared she wouldn't make her pies for same-sex weddings, she raked in well over $800,000 from a fundraiser. Eager to get in on the action, or at least to share the limelight and maybe be interviewed on Fox News, Michigan bigots are now oozing out from the rocks under which they live to be larger-than-life idiots in front of cameras.

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Mon Apr 20, 2015 at 01:46 PM PDT

BFSkinner about to leave the hospital.

by 2thanks

Reposted from Support the Dream Defenders by 2thanks
BFSkinner in 2010
BFSkinner's discharge paperwork is done.

His brother is about to drive him home.

BF expects to rest for a while. Once he recovers from the trip home, he will post a diary.


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