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Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I watched the State of the State address on TV this year.  Following it, when the legislators were interviewed by the news media, I heard the same story from all Republican legislators.

“We finally solved Michigan’s problems,” they said over and over again. “Our budget problems have been resolved.”

It didn’t ring true to me.  I knew the situation too well to think they just waved a magic wand and funding magically appeared.

The real truth about what they did is slowly emerging.

We have known for a while now that our schools are in a desperate situation, but now it’s the Veteran’s Home in Grand Rapids, too.

To save money  our legislature privatized its staff.  Out with the highly-qualified, well-trained union workers and in with barely-trained $10-an-hour staff.  These Vets, the ones that risked their lives for us, are fragile; they need excellent care.  With the advent of the privatized workers, a few of our Vets were handled incorrectly, including one  who ended up with a broken neck.

This is what they mean by solving the budget problem?  Get rid of good solid care for our Vets and replace it with cheap care.  Shameful.  The case ended up in court, which put the highly-qualified union workers back on the job, while the case works its way through the legal system.

And because our legislature only appropriated enough for the cheap workers, there is not enough money to keep all four floors of the Vet’s home open.  The fourth floor is now closed.   Vets have now been cleared out of their safe home, having to find new places to be housed.

Thank you Governor Snyder and the Republican legislature.  What else did you do to save money at the expense of those you represent?

Sunday, March 11, 2012


This is the story of our Mothers and Grandmothers who lived only 90 years ago.
Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.
The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.
And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'

(Lucy Burns)
They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.
(Dora Lewis)
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.
(Alice Paul)
When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

Mrs. Pauline Adams in the prison garb she wore while serving a 60 day sentence.
Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.
Miss Edith Ainge, of Jamestown , New York
All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

(Berthe Arnold, CSU graduate)
My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco/Bingo night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.
Conferring over ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution at National Woman's Party headquarters, Jackson Place , Washington , D.C.
Left to right: Mrs. Lawrence Lewis, Mrs. Abby Scott Baker, Anita Pollitzer, Alice Paul, Florence Boeckel, Mabel Vernon (standing, right))

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

Helena Hill Weed, Norwalk , Conn. Serving 3 day sentence in D.C. prison for carrying banner, 'Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.'
So, refresh MY memory. Some women won't vote this year because - Why, exactly?

We have carpool duties?

We have to get to work?
Our vote doesn't matter?
It's raining?
I'm so busy...I've got so much on my plate!
Read again what these women went through for you!

We can't let all their suffering be for nothing.
· · · · 14 minutes ago

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Make 250 calls a day.  That was my mission last week.  There were two special elections, and we wanted to contact as many people as possible to let them know  why our candidates were best for Michigan.

For the most part, people were polite.  They asked about the candidate, became informed about how this process would work with a closed primary occurring on the same day.  I felt good about doing the work of a democracy:  educating voters.

But, oh, there were some grouchy people.
“Would you people stop calling me?”

“What’s wrong with you people?”

“You politicians are all crooks anyway, why should I vote for any of you?”

Now, I know it is frustrating for people to receive so many phone calls.  Elections can become tiring and there are times we just want them to go away.

But let’s look at this from a different angle today.  

First, we all want good, honest, truth-speaking people to represent us in the halls of government.  And let’s face it.  Seeing who that person really is can be a tough job. For that reason, good politicians meet as many people as they can.  That way the voter is better equipped to make a good decision on Election Day.    When a politician knocks on your door or talks personally to you on the phone, or at an event, it is your opportunity to gauge whether you want that person to represent you.  

But let’s face it; it is not possible for any one candidate to talk to every person in any electoral district.  So clearly, that person needs surrogates to go out and talk to voters for him or her.  Those surrogates, in order to make personal contact with voters, have a limited number of options.  They can make phone calls or knock on peoples’ doors to talk with them.  Each of these options is somewhat intrusive.

But voters, here is my rant for the day.  Instead of looking at phone calls and visits from politicians or their surrogates as an intrusion, let’s look at those moments as opportunities to get to know the people we choose to represent us in Lansing or in Washington.
I am only asking you to have patience for the political process for a few weeks before an election.  It is the price we pay for living in a democracy.  There are people who have done so much more to keep our democracy strong.  They have gone to war, become wounded, or even given their lives so we have this precious right to self-govern.

So the next time you receive a call, even if it is annoying or intrusive, please have patience with the phone caller.  Take the opportunity to find out more about the candidate, or Election Day, or where to vote, or what the important issues are.  Instead of being grouchy, thank the person calling for his or her service.  It is a teeny-tiny price we pay to live in our representative democracy. Enjoy it.

Better yet, after you have looked deeply into the issues, take the time to make some calls yourself, knock on a few doors or come on down and see how you can help out at the candidates’ headquarters.  On Election Day, get others out to vote.  The election process is more important than anything else you are doing.

Maybe you’ll even join me in making 250 phone calls a day.  And maybe – just maybe – we can have legislators who will represent us in Lansing, instead of the gas, oil and big drug companies.