Practice What You Preach

aasealAt the end of the February 1, 2016 Ann Arbor City Council meeting, Councilmember Sabra Briere wanted to alert people to a couple of bills that are being introduced in Lansing.  She said that she was working to bring a resolution to address them at the next meeting.

The bills she is referring to are HB 5232 and SB 720  which attempt to amend the Historic Districts Act.

Below, is the legislative analysis that describes the changes the bill wants to make.

2015-HLA-5232-analysis

state sealAs written at this time (but subject to change at the whim of the legislature), this bill intends to:

Add

  • the requirement for a preliminary approval by 2/3 of homeowners within a proposed district (currently no requirement)
  • the requirement for the entire electorate of the city to approve the establishment of a new district (currently this is at the discretion of the city council)

Amend

  • the composition of commission
  • the process of final approval

There is also a stipulation regarding an expiration date for the historic districts.  All new and existing historic districts will expire after 10 years unless a vote by the electorate approved their continuation.

Renewal of historic district designation
Currently, there is no end date for an historic district’s designation as such. The bill would add a provision that current historic districts would cease to be considered so 10 years after the bill is enacted, unless that designation is approved by a popular vote at the election immediately preceding its dissolution as an historic district. Likewise, an historic district established under this bill would be dissolved after 10 years unless a popular vote at the election immediately preceding its dissolution approves its renewal as an historic district. A renewal approved under this subsection is effective on the date that the historic district would have otherwise dissolved.

 

The Issue

First off, I want to say that I am a supporter of historic districts and appreciate their value to the city.  However, I do not think that everything that is old is historic. I believe that historic districts are supposed to represent the past, not cause ‘no change’ to occur any place around them.  The east coast is full of cities, large and small, that integrate modern architecture in with their historical buildings in a way that respects the historic and the present.  I don’t want to live in the past. I want to respect the past.

At times I think that local historic preservationists take things too far and use historic districts to stop ALL development including in areas outside the edge of the district.  At times I think they just consider the age and shape of a house as criteria for a contributing structure in the district instead of the Secretary if the Interior’s guidelines for deciding if a property is historic.  This overreach can result in a negative impact on the city and actually demean the concept of historic districts.

With that said….

CM Briere made a statement in her description of the bill at the council meeting that was different than how I understand this bill to be written.

She said that “these bills if they were to pass as designed would damage or eliminate all historic districts in the state.”

I don’t believe that is what these bills say at all.  Maybe she is privy to something else that is going on, but I don’t see that. What the bills intend to do is transfer the power to establish or continue historic districts from the city council and local historians to the residents.  The residents will now get a say, when previously they did not.  They will get to vote on whether they want their  home to be in a historic district and the entire community can vote on whether the existence of historic districts is a good idea for the community.

They only way CM Briere’s statement would be true is if those who live in the historic districts truly don’t appreciate them. If allowing the residents a say in their inclusion in a historic district causes the destruction of the historic district because they are not wanted and unappreciated, is that wrong?

Now, I am not going to argue the merits of whether this is a good idea or not. While I don’t live in a historic district, I do appreciate them to a certain point, but do get upset when the historic commission gets in the way of progress and new development that is the best interest of the city.  I am  simply writing this piece to point out an ironic twist on a topic that I am passionate about.

The Library Lot

2013_0930ADI have spoken out many times at city council about building a large tax-paying building on the library lot underground parking garage.  I am passionate about this. I think it is what the majority of the residents truly want and that it is the best thing for the city overall.

There also is an anti-development group that does not want anything built and is pushing a park at this site.  They are currently collecting signatures to try to force a vote on whether a park should go on this site. They are demanding  that the residents have a say and claim it’s more democratic.

In response to this group, CMs Sabra Briere, Jack Eaton, and Sumi Kailasapathy  sponsored a resolution at the November 5, 2015 council meeting asking for the sale of the development rights on the library lot to go up for an advisory vote of the citizens of Ann Arbor to inform Council’s decision.  The vote failed ¹ with  CMs Briere, Eaton, Kailasapathy, Anglin, and Lumm voting for it.

I think that the issue is way too complicated to go up as a yes/no vote to the people and said as much to council.  There has been 10 years of public process involved with this site along with financing and revenue issues that need to be considered.  A question simply asking ‘do you want a park?’ does not do the situation justice.  I believe that we have a representative form of government and that these complicated decisions are better left to council.  Council would know all the details necessary regarding why large tax paying building on the library lot was the right decision for the city.

What none of you know is that when I was writing my speeches for my speaking time at council, I originally used historic districts as an example of a decision that a city council would make in the best interest of a city even though some residents might not realize the benefits.  I had to cut that out simply for lack of time.

Irony

irony-bird1_thumb[1]I think it is totally ironic now that CM Briere thinks a vote by the residents might ‘eliminate’ all historic districts.  I don’t know what she is going to write in her resolution next week, but I assume she is against HB 5232 and SB 720 because of how she introduced the issue.

When I spoke out against having the library lot park proposal put up for a vote, I wanted to leave the decision to our local elected officials because of the complexity of the issue.   The elected officials represent the residents and are ultimately accountable for their actions. However,  Briere, Eaton, Lumm, Kailasapathy, and Anglin (who has since left council) all have voted against the library lot development rights in the guise of waiting for more public input from a public vote on a park.  They want the residents to legislate the issue.  They have doubled down more than once saying more public input is necessary and they wouldn’t support selling the library lot development rights without a public vote on the issue. (even though we have had 10 years of public input!)

However this new issue to amend the Historic District Act in Michigan is different in one way.  It calls for the residents to have a say in addition to the the people who have the controlling power.  Currently, a non-elected body, the Historic District Commission (HDC), has the determination over what people can and can’t do with their privately owned homes that happen to be in a historic district.  There is no accountability. The historic district commission has complete power. I can see why some residents might want a say especially if they lived in a city with an overly strict HDC.  Does the new bills HB 5232 and SB 720 help alleviate this problem?  Or does the end justify the means?  This differs from because those who have the ultimate power aren’t elected and don’t have to be accountable in any way to anybody.

So what do you think Briere, Eaton, Lumm, and Kailasapathy will do now?  They want a resident advisory vote for the sale of the library lot, but will they insist on staying true to that stance for historic districts? Will they actually flip-flop and contradict themselves?  Will they now say that this is too important an issue for the residents to decide  and then send that up to Lansing in a resolution?  My bet is that Briere, Eaton, Lumm, and Kailasapathy come out against HB 5232 and SB 720 because historic districts are so vitally important to the city.  They will not want the residents to have a vote on the existence of the historic districts. Yet, they ignore how the Library Lot development is so vital for the city and want to punt their job on to the residents.

It will be interesting to see how they spin the facts. How will they say that ‘no resident input’ on the existence/creation of historic districts, a decision that has a DIRECT financial impact on the residence’s pocketbook is acceptable, but a huge revenue boost from the sale of the library lot development rights from the initial sale and future tax revenue which can help pay for city services requires resident approval? (I won’t go into all the other befits of a development on the library lot at this time)

If this is presented at the next council meeting, I would bet there will be little press about it and there won’t be a public hearing.  A resolution being sent to Lansing over a  House or Senate bill is not all that impactful, generally.  However, depending where the votes fall on this, it will show Briere, Eaton, Lumm, and Kailasapathy’s true colors on how they really feel about public input or the residents having a say.

Keep in mind, the decision on the Library lot is currently given to a group of elected officials who are accountable. The Historic District responsibilities are currently given to a non-elected group that is unaccountable to anyone, including the city council.  I could see some on council possibly thinking that it may be a good idea to allow those who live in historic districts to vote on whether they wanted to be in one.  It adds some accountability to the process.

Should the residents always have a say, or are there times that elected officials need to take tough stands in the best interest of the city?  Why is a public affirmation over a park on a public piece of land more important than a homeowners say about what happens to their own home?

If residents want to demand a say by a public vote in the development of the library lot and take that out of the purview of council (which is where I think it should be) then residents should definitely have a say in whether they live in a historic district. It’s the same concept.  I think both belong under the purview of council because they are complicated issues and not a simple yes/no question for the public.

We shall see who the hypocrites are.

Now don’t get me wrong.  My point of all this is not to support the bills to amend the Historic District Act.  My point is to point out the contradiction that at least Briere so far has implied on these issues.  I  think pigs would fly before she ever supported the residents having a say over whether they want to be included in a historic district. Maybe people can pressure her enough to be consistent and come through with support for selling the library lot development rights without hiding behind the false notion that the residents need to vote on it.

The Library Lot proposal is going to back to council in about 2 months for a final vote on the sale of the development rights. Although there were enough votes (7) to move the process along to start negotiations with the developer, we will need 8 votes to actually sell the development rights which means either Briere, Eaton, Lumm,  or Kailasapathy will have to vote yes on the final vote (as long as others don’t flip their votes).

If any  of them proves themselves to be a hypocrite in regards to residents having a say in issues, make sure to point it out to them.  The reality is that historic districts are used to stop development in cities and these councilmembers are simply pandering to the anti-development crowd.  They will flip their allegiance to listening to you, the resident, for the sole purpose of pandering to a vocal minority group who has their own private agenda against all development.   If they truly believed that residents should  have more of a say by allowing them to vote on issues, then they would not be against the changes to the Historic District Act. They need to practice what they preach.

We shall see who lays their cards on the table if a resolution is brought to council addressing this issue. Consistency or contradiction.

contradictio in terminis

-MOTL

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¹Ryan Stanton, “Council votes 6-5 against putting Library Lot development to public vote Mlive Nov 6, 2016

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Let Them Drink Champagne!

tapBy now you all have heard about the Flint, Michigan water crisis.  The outrage most of us feel can’t even be quantified.  If this was a proposed TV movie of the week, Hollywood probably would have ignored it because the premise would have been so unbelievable.  Zombies, aliens, the rapture,…all believable!  But a government purposely poisoning their residents in order to save $100 a day, not so much.  At least that’s how I think Hollywood would have responded.

The outrage is spreading.  Major new outlets have picked up the story and feel our statewide outrage.  There are now daily articles nationally about the water crisis.  But Rachel Maddow was first on the scene nationally and should get most of the credit for making this a national story.  Without her, none of us would probably know the details about what was going on.  I highly recommend her show.  It is my favorite political news show.  MSNBC 9pm Monday thru Friday!!

I typically don’t write about things that are all over the news for the simple reason there is no need to rehash things that others can say better than I.    Nonetheless, there was one news report that has stuck with me.  It might change the way you view things too and make you even more outraged….maybe a little bit outraged at yourself.

The Washington Post ran a story on January 20, 2016 entitled, “The awkward question about Flint that no one wants to answer”.  There is a quote in this article that really hits home.

“We have been crying about this for what will be two years in April, and that’s what we want to know: What took so long?” (Mayor )Weaver asked . “Because it didn’t take a scientist to tell us that brown water is not good.”

Cropped from a Freep.com photo

Tap water from Flint, Michigan. (Cropped from a Freep.com photo)

While everyone is outraged over the lead in the water, hardly anyone bothered to pay attention when the water was smelly, brown, and tasted funny within days of the switch over to river water.   Complaints about the color, smell, and taste were mocked by government employees as shown in the released emails from Governor Snyder.  That was considered acceptable for some reason? Why?

That is what bothers me the most.  Not necessarily the lead issue which is truly horrific on it’s own merits, but the fact that such awful water purity was considered acceptable at all.  It was considered acceptable in the name of austerity (attempts to significantly curtail government spending in an effort to control public-sector debt).

How could the Michigan state government, my state government, show such depraved indifference to the public pleas for help? How could the Michigan state government, specifically Governor Rick Snyder along with his appointees, show such a callous disregard for regulations and processes that exist to protect the public health?

MA1

Marie Antoinette

I am at a loss for words over the why.

Images of Marie Antoinette and her famous quote ” If the people have no bread, let them eat cake”  keep popping up in my head.  As most of you know, this quote is often used to show the indifference and disregard for the plight of the poor. It’s as if Governor Snyder and his administration were channeling her.

So, with no words to say, I leave you with this image.

 

MA1_RS1_final2

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder

 

Aqua Pura

-MOTL

MA1 MA1_RS1_final2

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Trumping the rights of the community as a whole

aasealHere we go again.  Ann Arbor is once again being sued over the footing drain disconnect program.  A small group of residents who hate their sump pumps are accusing the city of implementing an unconstitutional program that is an abuse of authority.  They have filed a class action suit against the city of Ann Arbor because of the mandate for footing drain disconnections that started back in 2001.   Per Ryan Stanton’s Mlive article from Novemebr 10, 2015,¹ the complaint alleges:

“The mandatory FDDs, and the resulting taking of plaintiffs’ private property and interference with their rights to the exclusive use and occupation of their homes, were initiated and completed without any steps taken by the city toward condemnation proceedings and/or payment of just compensation,” the suit states.
The complaint alleges the FDD work has been carried out with callous disregard for the health, safety and peace of mind of homeowners.
“The FDDs destroyed the foundation drainage system at houses that had been constructed and appeared to be functioning as designed and constructed decades ago and replaced it with a system that is burdensome, costly, unsafe and incompatible with the peace of mind and comfort the plaintiffs enjoyed,” the suit states.
“The FDDs were performed against the will of the plaintiffs, beginning in 2001. The city enforced its asserted right to require targeted residents to undergo FDDs by threatening financial penalties, potential liens and, possibly, the eventual loss of their homes. The plaintiffs herein seek an award of just compensation for such inverse condemnations, as hereinafter set forth, and any necessary injunctive and declaratory relief in connection with the implementation of such award.”

Now, this is not the first time that this group of residents has sued the city over the footing drain disconnect program.  Back In March 2014, a suit was filed on behalf of 2 sets of plaintiffs (not a class action case).²  That case is still pending, yet they filed the class action suit on top of it.  There was also another case previously that alleged that the city does not have enough infrastructure in place to handle rainstorms resulting in flooded basements but it was dismissed by a state court in December of 2014³ and ultimately was decided in  the City of Ann Arbor’s favor by the Michigan Supreme Court just last week (Nov 2015).4

The lead attorney on the class action suit is Irv Mermelstein, who says that the original case filed in March 2014 was a “test case”¹ and this class action case is a “case of a lifetime”.¹  He thinks that over 3000 people are due relief and that the city should have to pay out over $6.6 million per year in relief.

Really? $6.6 million PER YEAR that the city has to pay out.  That me and you have to pay out.  Remember the city is the governing structure for us the residents.  It is paid for by our taxes. When they get sued, we pay the bill.  This is not a large corporation with big pockets that are going to fork over a judgement, so if you are reading this thinking that the little guy is fighting the big, bad corporation, think again.  If Mermelstein wins his “case of a lifetime” all of us will pay.

Now, let’s review some information and facts on the background of the issue so you can decide if this sort of class action suit is justified in your mind.  My purpose in writing this post is so that others have the facts, so that they have the background information in which to analyze the issue.  The lawsuit insinuates things that I don’t think the facts support.

I am not going to go into the pros and cons of class action lawsuits in general.  Personally, I feel that this sort of class action lawsuit is frivolous, but would never want class action cases banned completely because they do have a function in society when a corporate entity has wronged a group of people for pure profit.

Background

Back in the day before 1980, houses were built with footing drains that captured rainwater near the foundation walls and directed it to the sanitary sewer system.  The city used a combined sewer for sanitary waste and rainwater which was standard and within code at that time.  Under current building code this is no longer allowed.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000s there were many Sanitary Sewer Overflows in the City of Ann Arbor (as well as in other municipalities) due to excessive rainfall overloading the sanitary sewer system.    Sewage backed up into basements along with sewage overflowing into the Huron River at times.

Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO)
A combined sewer is a sewer that is designed to carry both sanitary sewage and storm water runoff. A discharge from a combined sewer system, referred to as a combined sewer overflow (CSO), occurs in response to rainfall and/or snowmelt because the carrying capacity of the combined sewer system is exceeded. These discharges do not receive all treatment that is available and utilized under ordinary dry weather conditions (normally during dry weather conditions the wastewater is transported to a wastewater treatment facility where it receives appropriate treatment prior to discharge). Untreated CSOs are required to be controlled by either elimination (via sewer separation projects) or adequate treatment (see RTB). Currently all remaining untreated CSOs in Michigan are under schedules to be controlled. These schedules are included in permits, orders, or other enforceable documents issued by the DEQ or by court action.  Source

beforeFDDP

On July 10, 2000, an ongoing annual reporting requirement was part of a revision to the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA), PublicAct 451 of 1994, specifically Section 324.3112(c). The State would now be required to publish a report listing all the municipality that had sanitary sewer overflows.   Per the report:

These yearly reports are produced “as a means of providing the public with information regarding known discharge of untreated and partially treated sewage to land and waters of the state.”

The DEQ is concerned about releases of raw and partially treated sewage from municipal sewer systems, an environmental and public health problem that has plagued Michigan for decades. The State of Michigan took a more aggressive approach to address these discharges in 1988 by initiating an aggressive Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) control program and in the year 2000 by adopting a Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) control strategy. In addition to the state’s efforts, local units of government were called upon to step up to the plate to help protect Michigan’s waters.

Here is a link to the very first Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) & Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) Annual Report (July 2000 – December 2001)

Link to DEQ website for yearly CSO/SSO reports 2000-2013

The City of Ann Arbor was required to come up with a plan to address the Sanitary Sewer Overflow Problem.  The assembled a task force that looked into the issue and decided on using the footing drain disconnect method as a pilot to try and solve the problem.  Meanwhile during that process, the The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued an administrative order mandating that the city perform footing drain disconnects.  If the city failed to prevent the overflow problems their would be hefty fines.

Findings For: City of Ann Arbor
Document Number: ACO-SW03-003
Parties Involved: City of Ann Arbor
Date Entered: 9/4/2003
DEQ Findings:
The City of Ann Arbor (City) owns and operates a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). The city discharges treated municipal wastewater from its WWTP to the Huron River authorized by National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit Number MI0022217, issued by the DEQ on December 19, 2000. During heavy rain events, the City’s sanitary sewer system experiences heavy inflow and infiltration, resulting in Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO’s). The city experienced thirteen SSO’s and system bypasses between March 1997 and June 2002. From a completed Sanitary Sewer Trunk Line Study, completed in 1995 by the City, determinations of sewer system improvements and specific modifications were identified and the work is ongoing. The discharges to the Waters of the State are in violation of Part 31, Water Resources Protection, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended, (NREPA) MCL 324.3101 et seq.; and the rules promulgated under Part 31.
DEQ Order:
Footing Drain Disconnection Project: In order to reduce flow to the sanitary sewer system, footing drain connections at 155 locations will be removed from the City sanitary sewer system on or before June 30, 2004 and every year thereafter by June 30 through June 30, 2007 or until 620 footing drain connections are completed as required by this ACO. Certification of flow monitoring and hydraulic modeling shall be conducted system-wide to certify that the system meets or will meet criterion based on a corrective action plan. This certification shall be submitted to the DEQ on or before June 30, 2006. Offset Mitigation Program: The City shall implement an Offset-Mitigation Program that requires, for each new premises connected to the system, there shall be a reduction of 1,680 gallons per day in the City’s sanitary sewer system. An annual progress report detailing the number of footing drain locations disconnected and any additional flow removed to offset development from the City sanitary sewer system, shall be submitted to the DEQ on or before July 30 of each year beginning July 30, 2004 and ending July 30, 2007. Swift Run Trunk Project: On or before June 30, 2005, the City shall submit an approvable work plan and accompanying schedule for improvements that are to be made to the Swift Trunk sewer to work toward the elimination of SSO’s and to correct capacity issues.
DEQ Penalties:
The City agrees to pay to the State of Michigan (state) twenty-five hundred ($2,500) dollars as partial compensation for the cost of investigations and enforcement activities arising from the discharge of sanitary sewage to the waters of the state. Payment shall be made within thirty (30) days. The City agrees to pay a civil penalty of seventy five hundred ($7,500) dollars for the illegal discharge of sanitary sewage to the waters of the state. Payment shall be made within thirty (30) days. The City agrees to pay stipulated penalties of one thousand ($1,000) dollars per day for each failure to meet the requirements or dates of the corrective program set forth in this ACO. The City shall pay these accrued penalties to the State of Michigan no later than ten (10) days after the end of the month in which the violation occurred.
Source

The City of Ann Arbor Footing Drain Disconnection (FDD) Program installed a sump pump in the homeowners basement when the footing drain was disconnected.  The city paid for the pump and installation, but not the ongoing maintenance.  They provided a list of approved contractors for the homeowner to use if they so chose.  This was a mandated program for residents in certain neighborhoods with the option of a $100 fee/month in lieu of installing a sump pump.

beforeFDDP

Before FDD

afterFDDP

After FDD

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2012 the City suspended the program  and initiated a Sanitary Wet Weather Evaluation (SSWWE) project that found that FDDs were no longer needed.

The City of Ann Arbor has a great website pertaining to this issue.  They even have a very informative video that gives you a great overview of the Footing Drain Disconnect Project.  It is ~5 minutes but well worth watching.

 

The effect of new development

Some blame new development for adding too much new flow to our limited sanitary sewer lines.  That is simply not the case.   Regulations are in place to keep that from happening.  Each new development must contain their storm water runoff on site and must design their development for a no net impact on the sanitary sewer system typically using a footing drain disconnect program that is different from the city’s program described above.  New development is not the cause of why our sanitary sewer lines were above capacity resulting in storm water being diverted to the sump pump system.

The City has a great video that explains the difference between the FDD Program and the Developer Offset Mitigation Program (DOMP).  The FDD program is only one section of the city, but the DOMP  is throughout the city. When a new development is proposed, the developer must  find footing drains to disconnect to offset the sewage flows from the new development.  They must find enough FDDs to compensate for 120% of the predicted sewage flow so that there is no net impact to the sanitary system.  Watch the video for a thorough explanation.

The City of Ann Arbor Developer Offset Mitigation Program from Greg DeLiso on Vimeo.

My thoughts

So to sum up.  The city had a sanitary sewer overflow problem.  The studied the issue and came up with a plan where they selected FDD as their solution.  The  Michigan State DEQ ultimately mandated  that they do FDDs or be fined. FDDs were performed and sump pumps installed in many residents houses with a subsidy from the city.  Some residents hate the sump pumps, others like them.

So what do you think?  Do you think the Class action suit has any basis in truth?  Was the City negligent for implementing a state mandated program? Does the city have the right to insist that homeowners do something about their storm water burdening the sanitary sewage system? Of course they do. The City, in order to protect the environment and the health, safety and welfare of the ENTIRE community implements a FDD program that turns out to be…..effective!  According to the 2012 Sanitary Sewer evaluation report,  FDDs are no longer needed due to the success of the program.  (see report for data)  Should this program be considered unconstitutional after it accomplished its goal?

Now I want to mention here that the FDD program is not an Ann Arbor concept, the city did not create the FDD program.  It is not new, novel, or rare.  Disconnecting footing drains is common practice to fix sanitary sewer overflows.  Many cities in Michigan as well as outside Michigan have FDD programs, some identical to ours with the city paying/subsidizing the cost for the installation of the sump pump along with giving out a list of recommended contractors. ( eg. Detroit, Dundee, Grand Rapids, Canton, Auburn Hills, Grand Blanc, MonroeSchaumburg, IL, Montgomery County, OH)

sump-pumpCan a common practice that is implemented everywhere be considered unconstitutional because a few people are unhappy with having a sump pump?  Is the problem simply that it was a mandate by the city (and actually by the State) with an optional fee to get out of the program? What was the alternative to complying with the state administrative order??  Do these homeowners actually expect the city to dig up every street in the community to install bigger pipes so that they can keep their footing drains? The cost of that would be astronomical!  Their houses were built 50, 75 years ago or more.  Times change.  Regulations change.  Water usage in each house changes.  The City is not negligent because it did not predict the increase of rainfall or the increase in wastewater usage in every household.  We may have less people per household today, but our wastewater usage is probably greater per person than in the past (more laundry, more showers, etc).  One can’t expect the city to dig up and replace their pipes every-time water usage changes, rainfall increases, or there are new government regulations.  It just seems odd to me that some think that digging up every street to install new pipes is economically feasible or a realistic option considering there is a FDD program that could solve most of the problem.  Besides storm water has no business being processed through our sewage plant anyway.  Diverting storm water away from the sanitary storm system is the right thing to do.

A large part of the lawsuit is based on the idea that the sump pump interferes with the “health, safety and piece of mind of the home owner”.  It implies  (as I read it) that having a sump pump in their home is rare and burdensome.  Well, the fact is that  it is not rare  It is not rare in general or in Ann Arbor. I grew up in Macomb County and I can tell you that many, if not most, houses had sump pumps.  I have a sump pump now (in Ann Arbor) that services a row of 6 townhouses in my condo complex.  I hear it all the time…so what. When the power has gone out I do worry about flooding, but I never thought that it was a city issue, just a high water table issue.  when you read through the complaint, the plaintiffs make it sound like they are they only ones EVER to have to deal with a sump pump.

If you build neighborhoods on areas with a high water table, you get basement flooding.  Ann Arbor is built upon many creek-sheds and our water table is high in places.  Without a sump pump you would get flooding regardless of the sewer backups.  (But basement flooding from rain is always preferable to sewage backup)  Just because you did not have a wet basement years ago does not mean that it will always be dry.  Rainfall amounts change per storm and per season.  It is not static.  That the sewage backups in the basement have been stopped is the most important  issue.

So do you think this controversy is worth the city (and all of residents) paying  $6.6 million dollars a year to maintain the FDD program sump pumps because it is too much a burden for the impacted residents?  You decide.  Like I said earlier, my purpose is to get the facts to you so you have the background and to propose some questions for you to think about.

Specifically…..

Does the ‘health, safety and piece of mind of the individual” trump the “health, safety and welfare of the community as a whole”?  Especially when the burden on the individual is arguable.  I think not.

I wish I had more faith in the court system to do the right thing but honestly I don’t .  Maybe I still have just a little faith.  Maybe it is just hope.  But anything can happen.  If they win this case it will have detrimental effects not only on many local municipalities but also on future environmental polices.

 

Aside

It is rumored that Councilmember Jack Eaton was formerly involved with this group’s lawsuit before he was elected.  It is actually insinuated in the comments section underneath one of the Mlive articles I have linked below. (see article 4)  and I have heard it before.  Although CM Eaton denies any association with this group anymore, it irks me to no end that he is commenting on pending litigation before the city.  His commenting underneath the news articles gives me the impression of his support for this lawsuit. At the very least it has the appearance of impropriety, even if there is none. He has no business commenting on the plaintiff’s chances of success when the plaintiff is suing the city of which he is a public official.  It is just wrong.  It’s as if he is encouraging this lawsuit and rooting for its success.

water horseI realize that the plaintiffs live in the district he represents, however his job is not to encourage them and root for them.  His job is to point out the facts to them as a representative of the city AND a representative of ALL 4th ward residents.  He can’t control their actions after that.  It’s like the old saying, ‘you can a lead a horse to water,  but you can’t make it drink.’  However, CM Eaton appears to be standing next to the horse looking out into the horizon with the water behind them.  They are visualizing that the water is beyond the edge of the “flat” earth.  Maybe you should turn around for the good of all.

obliti privatorum, publica curate

-MOTL

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¹Ryan Stanton, “Ann Arbor faces another lawsuit over controversial city program“.  Mlive.com, November 11, 2015.

²Ryan Stanton, “Lawsuit filed against city of Ann Arbor over mandatory sump pump installations“.  Mlive.com, March 3, 2014.

³Ryan Stanton, “State court dismisses flooding lawsuit against city of Ann Arbor“.  Mlive.com, December 4 2014.

4Ryan Stanton, “City of Ann Arbor wins flooding lawsuit in Michigan Supreme Court“.  Mlive.com, November 10, 2015.

 

Posted in Ann Arbor City Council, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Trumping the rights of the community as a whole

Let the Theocracy begin!

I think that the Ann Arbor City Council has collectively lost their minds.  At the Tuesday September 8, 2015 council meeting¹ they considered and affirmed a resolution that mixes religion into our local politics.  The whole thing has me ticked off to no end.

db571-shocked-monkeyWhen reading over the agenda for the council meeting , I saw this item “Resolution to Declare Ann Arbor a Compassionate City”.  I thought nothing of it…after all we and others do declare our city many things all the time.  We win “best of” titles easily.  I thought it was nothing meaningful until I saw a Councilmember’s newsletter describing the upcoming issues at the council meeting.   In this newsletter there was a link to the Charter of Compassion which is a religious group is trying to teach morality to other religious groups. The Charter for Compassion  wants to partner with the city to teach compassion to the community.  I was stunned.  I asked myself, “How can this be an item on our city council agenda?  In Ann Arbor?  So I dug deeper.  First the background.

The Resolution

The resolution that was submitted for consideration is this:

Title
Resolution to Declare Ann Arbor a Compassionate Community
Body
Whereas, The City of Ann Arbor is comprised of citizens having diverse ideological racial, religious, national, social and economic backgrounds;
Whereas, We recognize that, while we have shown our desire to create a community where there is hope and promise for all of our citizens though support of such things as affordable housing/housing equity analyses, expansion of public transit resources and financial support for human services,  some of our neighbors continue to experience poverty, hunger, homelessness, racial bias and other debilitating problems;
Whereas, We believe that we can become more effective in dealing with these issues by intentionally creating a community wide context of compassion, as described in the attached “Charter For Compassion”, calling for meaningful activation of fair, just and caring principles relating to public policies and private actions on the part of all people while recognizing their religious, ideological, social and national differences; and
Whereas, Adopting the Charter is an active and visible affirmation of the City of Ann Arbor’s values and intent to demonstrate support for the principles of universal justice and respect, and will be instrumental in attracting a broad participation of diverse individuals and groups;
RESOLVED, That the City Council hereby affirms the goals of Charter for Compassion and declares the city of Ann Arbor to be a Compassionate Community; and
RESOLVED, That the city of Ann Arbor will be open to working with other regional units of government and with coalitions of non-governmental groups toward the development and implementation of  a program for action to pursue the goals of the Charter for Compassion in our community. 
Sponsored by: Council Members Warpehoski and Anglin

 

Here is a link to the Charter for Compassion website.

Here is the attached document that was referred to in the resolution.

Compassionate Communities proposal

I have so many issues with these 3 documents that it is hard for me to begin.  Lets begin with simple explanations of how I view each item and why I think the city partnering with this group is wrong.

Religious Freedom Act of Ann Arbor?

First off, the resolution is poorly written and can be read in many different contexts.  The third whereas clause  sure reads as if you are recognizing that personal religious views should be recognized (considered?) when making public policies.

Whereas, We believe that we can become more effective in dealing with these issues by intentionally creating a community wide context of compassion, as described in the attached “Charter For Compassion”, calling for meaningful activation of fair, just and caring principles relating to public policies and private actions on the part of all people while recognizing their religious, ideological, social and national differences;

Really?  That can’t be what the author intended. I sure hope not.

Many states have passed religious freedom bills over the years such as the very controversial bills  in Indiana and Arkansas along with our own State of Michigan passing a Religious Freedom adoption law. These religious freedom bills are used to discriminate against any group that a particular religion does not like, but typically against the LGBT community.  I never would have imagined that Ann Arbor, MI would pass such a resolution.  We are supposed to be a liberal town.  We are supposed to be the 25 square miles surrounded by reality. But now this?  Language passed in this resolution that can be easily skewed by some to defend their religious discriminatory actions is now in place.

Public policy has no business in recognizing religious differences because religion should play no part in government or in policy making.  This completely offends me that this phrase is included.  Our constitution specifies a separation of church and state.

Yes, I know, I know…..President Bush started the faith based initiative program during his presidency where the  government gives public finds to religious organizations to provide social services.

(I don’t think it’s constitutional, but the program is there and President Obama has done little to change that.  There is a very real criticism of the program in that these religious organizations might lecture or preach religion while performing the governmental contracted services.)

But this is not that.

Faith based initiative organizations are given grants to perform services that the government was already performing.  In a way the government is just contracting out the service that are already in their purview.  The Charter for Compassion is based on an objective set forth by the Charter for Compassion organization which is n0t in the purview of government.

jefferson on religious freedom

Charter for Compassion website

The charter of compassion is chock full of feel good language.  It wants to to restore compassion to the center of morality and religion.  Karen Armstrong  along with a group of leading inspirational thinkers from the three Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and based on the fundamental principles of universal justice and respect created this concept.  She thinks that every religion has a history of intolerance ( I think that too) but now wants to show people the compassionate side of religion.

That’s all well and good, but that is not the role of government to side with a “good” religion over a “bad” religion’.  It’s not the role of government to teach compassion or morality, its role is to make and enforce laws (including anti-discrimination laws).

It is actually the role of society to enforce proper conduct and morality.  Notice that I did not say that is the role of religion; religion is biased and controlling.  Society enforces what is acceptable behavior at a given time in history and is ever changing as ideas and views change.  Although I like the Charter for Compassion campaign in theory and what it stands for, government should not take part in encouraging or implementing it.  This is the United States of America were we have separation of church and state.  And by all accounts this organization is a religion, albeit a mix of many mainstream religions, but still a religion nonetheless.

This is a great community initiative; just not one the local government should be involved in.

headBut on the other hand, as I read through the details on the website, this initiative appears to be some kind of cross section of a religion, club, motivational self help coach and pyramid  scheme all rolled into one.   The Charter for Compassion pushes workshops and lectures and has books for specific readings on the topics available for purchase.  It encourages the signing up of “partners” and joining a global community.

Maybe it’s just me but this sure a lot like some sort of religious sect or cult for lack of a better word.  Scientology anyone?  Or maybe it’s more like a Tony Robbins motivational group (who I am a big fan of by the way).  I don’t know, it just seems so……mind controlling to me.

Maybe I am being too harsh.  You read through the website and see if you get the same vibe.

cropped-kennedy.jpg

 

The Compassionate Communities proposal that was handed into council

The proposal starts out with reference to the displaced homeless camps earlier in the year and tries to link that to compassion. They go on to describe why compassion is important and that they want to increase community awareness to realize a compassionate society. They say:

We must consider an extension to the Golden Rule such as; treat others the way both
you and they want to be treated, and influence social systems to treat all people as
they want to be treated, with fairness, justice and care.

All well and good.

Again I say…This is a great community initiative; just not one the local government should be involved in.

They go on to say that they want to partner with the CompassionLab at the Ross School of Business at the U of M to help them measure actual impacts of various strategies  they will use to teach compassion.

Again no problem.  Academics study religions and these topics all the time.

The problem is their goal in this proposal.

The goal of this phase of the initiative will be the adoption of resolutions presented to the City Councils of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, and to the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners to affirm the Charter for Compassion and to commit to help develop and implement a plan to increase levels of empathy and compassion in the respective communities.

So now we have a big problem.  This religion wants the city to dedicate resources for their cause.  Will this be funding, staff time, or maybe simply advertising?  All are unacceptable in my eyes.

What is more disconcerting is Appendix B which lays out the details in what the Charter for Compassion group wants to do.  They want Ann arbor, Ypsilanti and Washtenaw county to pass a resolution declaring the cities and county to be to be “just and compassionate communities”.  They don’t mean “just and compassionate’ as in the simple definition of the words.  They mean pass a resolution declaring that we are a partner with them in their religious cause.

Some of you might say that declaring our city “compassionate” is good and words are important.  I agree wholeheartedly that it is good for people and our government to be compassionate.  But we are not simply labeling our city “compassionate” in this resolution as described in their proposal.  We are joining in with their proselytizing.

Workshops will be developed for the general public along with community book reads to teach the community about compassion.  Will the local governments advertise or sanction these events without knowing any of the material that might be presented?  Will the local governments participate and force their employees to take these classes?

madison on religious freedom

 

My problem with this

Some of you might still say, ‘So what?  Compassion is good no matter how it is presented.  This is a good cause.’

But we have separation of church and state in this country.  A separation of church and state that is there to protect freedom of religion for all of is citizens so that the government does not impose a religion upon us…even if that religion is considered good for us.  Whose to say what is  “good” religion or “bad” religion.  The government should not choose a religion to partner with for a community project that is not in their purview.  Period.  All religions should be equal and separate in the governments eyes.  No one religion should take precedent over another because religion is supposed to be irrelevant to government policy.

Yes, compassion is good.

balance beamYes, compassion should be and actually is a part of government and politics (especially democratic ideology, teaparty and republican ideology eh…maybe not so much).

Yes, compassion is part of  most religions.

Yes, compassion can bring about a better society.

But those statements do not necessarily correlate, meaning that politics should justifiably  partner with religion  to obtain a better world.

Look I am not against religion or this sort of a initiative.  I like the concept of changing the world.   I just think it should be community based, not partnered with government.

This is a great community initiative; just not one the local government should be involved in.

reaganquote2

So how did we get here?

So exactly how did this get on the agenda for the Ann Arbor City Council?  Well it turns out that one of the sponsors of the resolution is Councilmember Chuck Warpehoski.  CM Warpehoski is the Director for the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (“ICPJ”) which is the local lead in this Charter for Compassion initiative.  Conflict of interest (COI) anyone? Is CM Warpehoski using his council seat to further his professional goals?

COI usually occurs when their is a financial interest involved for the person, and many people will say that since CM Warpehoski did not get paid directly for this initiative then there is no COI.  I beg to differ.  Of course there is a financial interest involved.  His salary is based on his job performance.  There can be undue influence. Passing of the Charter of Compassion resolution is a goal of his workplace and therefore will result in a better job performance and potential salary increases.

I was stunned that Mayor Taylor, the City Administrator, or the City Attorney did not pick up this.  This resolution should never have hit the agenda. If they truly think that this is not a conflict of interest then our COI policy needs to be updated.  We have had Councilmemebrs recuse themselves from votes for far less.  Most recently for having a membership to the Ann Arbor Racquet Club that was disputing sidewalks in their development plan.  If we had a councilmember who worked as…say… an admin assistant for a building developer in town, would we allow that CM to vote on the project?  I think not.

As an aside: Working at the University of Michigan  does not necessarily imply COI whenever the U-M has an issue before council.  The U-M is completely decentralized to the point that each departments runs differently than the others.  Hiring,firing, performance reviews budgets are all separate.  The university is similar to an office park of ‘small companies’ just sharing space.  There is no centralized administration for managing 25,000 employees so there really is no undue influence when the university has business with the city, unless of course it is their department that is presenting to council.

COI was discussed a little bit at the council meeting, but not with the vigor that the council usually has with this issue.  It sort of surprised me that most councilmembers were actually …..nice about the COI.  The church and state issue was discussed but not to the extent that I think was necessary.  Others asked what the purpose was and how much this would cost the city.  CM Warpehowski implied that it was just symbolic and there would be no city resources used (he added a ‘for now’ at the end of the sentence but I will ignore that …for now).  I think many on council may have drank the friendship Kool-Aid and never even read through the documents to see what this was about and took the symbolism at face value.

In the end, council removed the last resolved clause from the resolution before passing it, but they whereas clause that speaks to recognizing religious differences is still in there.

RESOLVED, That the city of Ann Arbor will be open to working with other regional units of government and with coalitions of non-governmental groups toward the development and implementation of  a program for action to pursue the goals of the Charter for Compassion in our community. 

Also, the first resolved clause declaring us a compassionate city while affirming the goals of the charter for compassion is still in there.  The resolution was watered down, but it is still exist and has been passed unanimously much to my chagrin.  And now we will have the city of Ypsilanti and the Washtenaw County Commission considering it soon.  I hope they are smart enough to not consider the resolution at all.

While again I applaud the concept of social justice and compassion, it gives me pause when this organization (Charter for Compassion or ICPJ) purposely tries to access our government using a councilmember.  There are many communities around the country who have signed on and affirmed the Charter of Compassion, but community does not imply government.  Yes, there are some local municipalities who have signed on, but from what I can find on the internet, the local governments were very vague in their resolutions by, for example, declaring a Day of Compassion.  Although I did not look them all up so I really can’t say what other local governments may or may not have done. Our resolution went too far with asking for help with implementation.  This sort of movement belongs in the community and not in a city council.

Jefferson_300

Why I am so bothered

Every day I turn on the news and their is another news story about how a religious group or person is trying to impose their version of morality on me.  Although, you may think this has nothing to do with religion, the international group is run by a minister and is based on religion.  You may think this is a good thing, but many of us (women) whose rights are being threatened on a daily basis in the cause of morality and religion may not think this is so simple. The crazy Kentucky clerk who is refusing to issue marriage licenses in the name of morality is not a good thing.  She is the government, and  the government should not be preaching morality but should instead be following the laws.

I realize that the country has gotten more conservative and almost seems more religious at times, while Ann Arbor has always been an oasis.  An oasis of liberal ideals that appear to be more open to secular viewpoints and ideals.  For those who know me well, you know that I am all about wanting to change the world and make it a better place, but I do that from a place of secularism.  And compassion is a part of it. I want the world to be better because it should be better and can be better. Not because a religion tells you what is right and what to believe.  In my opinion, if you need an organized religion to tell you what is moral and how to act then you aren’t really a moral person.  You should know what is moral from what values you hold as a person, inside yourself.

Can compassion be taught or is it innate?  I don’t know.   Maybe compassion is similar to the age old question ‘are leaders born or made?’ and we will never know.  What I do know is that teaching compassion is not under the purview of government.

I am very unhappy that this got slid by without anyone paying attention, without a public hearing, and without any news coverage beforehand..  This initiative can be accomplished without government, so I don’t understand why the ICPJ and the Charter for Compassion group went this route.  My hope is that Ypsilanti City Council and the Washtenaw County Commission pays attention and nips this in the bud before it goes any further.

People say that Ann Arbor is 25 square miles surrounded by reality.

I want my 25 square miles of secular bliss back.

Instrumentum regni

-MOTL

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¹Ryan Stanton, “City Council officially declares Ann Arbor a compassionate community.”  Mlive.com, September 9,2015.

balancebeam2

Posted in Ann Arbor City Council, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Let the Theocracy begin!

Pot Calling the Kettle Black

By know you have heard about all the ruckus that Donald Trump has brought to the Republican Party.  Most people believe that he will crash and burn sometime soon, but I don’t.  I think that if everyone continues to ignore him and does not question his policies that we might end up with him as the Republican nominee or Trump as an independent candidate.

04-17-2013bTrump likes to make outlandish statements, some of which are sexist, racist or downright nasty and inappropriate.  After each statement, the press and the Republican Party claim that this will be the remark that sinks Trump’s chances at running for President, but Trump always comes out unscathed.  Honestly, if claiming that John McCain was not a war hero didn’t bring Trump down I can’t imagine what controversial remark could.

Trump’s latest comment directed at Megyn Kelley, the FoxNews moderator of the Republican debate on August 6, is being played everywhere as the straw that broke the camels’ back.  He called Megyn ‘hormonal”.  Shocker! Yes, this is the word that everyone is using to describe the insult.

What Trump said on CNN on Friday Aug 7 was “She is a lightweight. I couldn’t care less about her. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.”

When I first heard it, I didn’t get what obviously some others got when they heard it.  My mind does not automatically turn to menstruation and periods when I think of blood.    Maybe it should, but it doesn’t.  The human body, both male and female is full of blood. Women are more than child bearing machines with periods.  You cut yourself anywhere on your body, you bleed.

Maybe my mind didn’t go there was because Megyn was out for blood during the debate.  It was obvious to anyone watching that Megyn and Fox News were hitting Trump with gotcha questions.

My point here is not to defend Trump,  I think he’s an ass, but rather to point out something that has gone unnoticed.

What is sexist?

hump-day-humor-vintage-ad-woman-serving-man-vote-republicanThere is something inherently sexist about the way the media and the Republican Party are defining this “hormonal” remark as the ultimate attack on women.  This is the remark that brings Trump down?  Really?  Referring to menstruation and hormones is the most sexist thing one can say about women?  The criticism of Trump’s remark is sexist in and of itself.  Of all the comments against women over the past few years, the “blood coming out of wherever” comment doesn’t even come close to the worst, in that it should get this sort of response.

I am not necessarily offended that a man might have made an off handed comment about PMS.  I am not offended that the comment may or may not of had to do with periods or menstruation.

But…..

I am offended that the Republican Party Platform  is sexist, racist and homophobic most of the time.

I am offended that the Republican Party is against equal pay for women.

I am offended that the Republican Party is trying to block access to contraception.

I am offended that the Republican Party wants to de-fund Planned Parenthood which provides much needed health care such as cancer screenings and annual exams for women.

I am offended that the Republican Party is against abortion in cases of rape and incest.

I am outraged that the Republican Party is against abortion when the Mother’s life is at risk.  The Mother’s life is meaningless even when the fetus is not viable, even when the Mother is miscarrying.

I am offended that the Republican Party Pundits say incredibly ridiculous, outrageous, sexist remarks on a regular basis that pertain to women and their rights.  Here is a sampling with links:

Young women lack the wisdom to vote as conservatives– Greg Gutfield, Fox News

“Do You Want Your Government Run By People Whose Favorite Show Is Say Yes [To The Dress]?”– Tucker Carlson, Fox News

Young women shouldn’t be on juries or bother voting– Kimberly Guilfoyle, Fox News

Women should be at home with their husband and kids-Gavin McGinness on Hannity, Fox News

“When you look at biology — when you look at the natural world — the roles of a male and a female in society and in other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complementary role,” adding that having females as the primary breadwinners in a family is “bad for kids and bad for marriage.”– Erick Ericson, with Megyn Kelley on FoxNews.

Women cannot get pregnant from legitimate rape– Todd Akin

Everything Rush Limbaugh says (see link for quotes)

 Those things offend me.  Those are the issues that are insulting, infuriating, and not deserving of  air time as legitimate ideas.  But they are out there, and have been for quite awhile

barefoot-and-pregnant

 Hypocrisy

What is infuriating is that Trump is not alone in his sexism .  The entire Republican Party Platform  is sexist, racist and homophobic most of the time.  If you can stomach it, just try watching Fox News for an entire week and you will see.

Eric Ericson dis-invited Donald Trump from his Red State Gathering where most of the Republican Candidates were slated to speak due to Trumps comments about Megyn Kelley.  Eric Ericson?  Really?  He is one of the most sexist conservative pundits out there.  For reference see his quote I listed in the section above.

Pot-calling-the-kettle-black-734818The idea that Erick Ericson, one of the most sexist pundits t0 appear on Fox News can publicly censure anyone for being sexist, let alone Trump, is downright hypocritical.  Pot meet kettle. That most of the main stream news stations did not report on this hypocrisy when reporting that Trump was dis-invited to the Red State Gathering is disappointing to say the least. (CNN, MSNBC).  The only place you read about the hypocrisy is on the blogs.

I guess conservatives (and the mainstream TV networks) only think sexism has to do with comments about menstruation because it infers that a  woman is not barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen…which is where she belongs…right?  All other issues be damned!  They would never dream of pointing out any of the real sexist issues.

The Bully is now being Bullied

bullyFor over a decade, the conservative media along with the Republican Party have created an atmosphere of disrespect, name calling, misrepresentation and falsifying facts, along with outright lying.  It has been acceptable for years in the conservative political world, to say anything they want with disregard to how one says it.  They not only allowed it, but encouraged it.

Just look at all the vitriol thrown at President Obama and Hillary Clinton.  From the birthers to Bengazi, everything has been thrown at the wall to see what can stick.

Conservatives have bullied their way into office using scare tactics along with the disrespectful rhetoric.  They are used to playing the bully, mostly because the other main stream news outlets, except for the Daily Show, allowed them to.  But now….

Trump is the new bully in town.

Trump can say and do whatever he wants.  He can’t be bullied.  The conservative establishment hates that he can affect their hand chosen candidate from getting the nomination.  The tables have turned and in away it is fun to watch.  The bully is finally seeing what it’s like to be picked on by the new bully in town.

Do I care that the bully is now being bullied?  NO.

I find it humorous.

Do I think there should be more pointed assertions of “pot calling the kettle black”?  YES

Now that Trump, who they can’t control with donor money, is in the race they want to discredit him by calling him inappropriate and sexist?  Almost all the conservative candidates are inappropriate and sexist at times while they ones who aren’t directly responsible for the remarks typically stand by and ignore them while reaping the benefits of playing along.  Should Trump be singularly blamed for doing what all the other candidates do?  I think not.  The Republican Party platform is sexist at its core.

 Could we end up with President Trump?

Decision-MakingThe voting public is not shocked by Trump because they are used to this sort of talk.  Like I said before, it has been going on for over a decade.  Sharp-cutting, insulting remarks will not bring down Trump’s candidacy because these remarks are not shocking, but expected.  They are expected because the conservatives have trained their base to hear the remarks as normal political speak.  Conservatives created this monster and now they can’t kill the new messenger

In actuality, Trump’s stances on the issues mirror the stances of most of the other conservative candidates.  Trump just uses more direct talk and hate words, but he is saying the exact same things as the other Republican candidates.  There really is not that much difference in the candidate’s extreme views on the current issues. The public sees that.  And as I said above, they don’t care about the directness.

If the mainstream media thinks it is going to bring down Trump because of his slip-ups and misstatements they are sorely mistaken.  A late poll today shows the Trump is still  in the lead after all the bad publicity over the past few days.  It will take something bigger, like actual reporting, to bring him down.

If they really want to take him down, they need to press him for the details about how  he can accomplish these great ideas of his.  How is he going to build that wall?  How is he going to force Mexico to pay for it? etc..  The details are where Trump is going to screw up.  Trump has no governmental experience to fallback on.  Trump has no detail plans on how to execute his ideas, but then again, neither does most of the candidates running for the Republican nomination.  None of them appear to have a real, solid understanding of what can be done legally, should be done, or even what is doable when running the government.

Most Dems I know aren’t paying attention right now.  They think the entire Trump fiasco is just that, a fiasco.  I on the other hand, see danger in everyone dismissing Trump.

Trump appeals to the non-religious conspiracy theorists, the libertarians, the anti-establishment type who hate the 2 party system, and the people who like to root for the underdog.  Some may disagree with me, but I even think he appeals to the millennials. He can get a lot of the fringe voters.

In any other primary race with only a few candidates, this type of support would be meaningless.  The establishment voters would select a candidate leaving the fringe candidate in the dust., But this race has 17 candidates all of who tend to have a crazy side and or baggage.  The field is too wide and splits up all the establishment voters, so that someone like Trump holds the lead in all the polls.

As the candidates get winnowed down, will Trump picks up any of what I am calling the establishment voters or will he be stuck at the same percentage of fringe voters (~25%)?  Will people jump on his bandwagon or see his inexperience?

Unless the press starts doing their job and asking ALL the candidates detailed questions about their stances on the issues as well as their plans, the public won’t be able to decipher between the candidates.  They are all sort of crazy and on the fringe on some issues. Fox News asked a lot of gotcha questions to the candidates during the debate, but no one answered with any real substance.  As long as that continues, Trump has as good a chance as the rest of them.

I find that scary.  But in the end, it will be good for our side.

 ab irato

-MOTL

sexism

 

 

 

 

Posted in Elections, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Pot Calling the Kettle Black