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TARP loan thoughts and suppressing the vote (aka as alleged voter fraud)

Some thoughts on the TARP loans of 2008:

About two years ago, we were told  by then President Bush that our entire banking/financial system was about to fold like a house of cards and push us into a depression deeper ttthan anything previously experienced. Congress was put into emergency session and candidate McCain even suspended his presidential campaign to deal with the crisis.  The   original proposal was for loans without any conditions or strings to wall street.  The Dems insisted on an accounting and some conditions. The Republican leadership in both the House and Senate urged its passage and it was passed and signed into law by Bush. About $800 billion was made available to banks and financial institutions.  Later $55 billion was loaned to Chrysler and GM.  Those loans saved a million jobs and are being paid back.  Indeed it seems as if almost all the TARP loans will all be paid back.

However the tea party claims its hates the TARP bailouts and that the auto companies, and about a million auto industry related jobs, should have been permitted to go belly up.  One wonders what Michigan would be like now had that happened.

Why then has wall street now made its biggest contributions to tea party senate candidates?  Who are tea parties happy to accept their money?.  On the House side, the biggest recipients  of wall street money are republicans  john boehner and eric kantor. When Congress passed mild wall street reform last year over Republican opposition, why were the tea partiers silent?


here's another article on the myth of voter fraud: 


Right-wing voter fraud obsession leads to tens of criminal charges

Conservatives call for widespread intimidation of minority voters to solve a non-existent problem

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The commissioners meet today in the county building . The meeting went from 9:30 to almost 3 with a break for lunch and a closed meeting to discuss union negotiations.

In the morning session, we received reports from various department heads (Housing, Building Safety and Recycling).

The commissioners are considered closing the county housing department but maintaining the housing function by contracting with one of two outside agencies for rehab services for low income clients. Both potential bidders claim they would be able to do more housing rehabs at no cost to the county. Two county employee positions would be affected. However it is possible that the winning bidder would elect to hire one of the present county employees. Estimated savings would be about $75,000.The bidders will make presentations to the commissioners in november.

Building safety report that commercial permit applications are up while residential permits are down.The department is continuing efforts to close out old permit applirecations.

Recycling activity in terms of trips and tonnage continues to increase. Transportation costs are high given the trip activity. A proposal has been made to purchase a new truck and have the county do its own hauling. Payback is anticipated to take two or three years. Given this potential savings, the county administrator was directed to ask the current hauler to rebid the contract. (The recycling program is financed entirely by $20 annual fee per household in those townships that elected to participate)

The commissioners agreed to accept the drain commissioner's annual report. The commissioners also released the county attorney's opinion to the effect that the report did not provide and financial information for the 15 drain districts that the drain commissioners claims still exist. These 15 drains may have existed prior to WWII and have been abandoned. The commissioners expressed great concern over the drain commissioner's statement that he would start to perform a maintenance program on these drains with the costs to be assessed on the impacted land owners in these unidentified drain districts.

The afternoon was spent on detailed budget review with the county finance director and the county administrator. The county anticipates a revenue shortfall of at least a million dollars because of declining property values and taxes. The budget for 2011 should be completed in November.

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response to questions from the Tribune

1.   Experience and Background

Upon graduation from the University of Michigan with a Master of
Business Administration degree, I worked for five years in Personnel
at Ford Motor Co. I  graduated from Detroit College of Law and worked
for the United Auto Workers as Associate General Counsel in its Legal
Department. I spent 30 years representing  UAW members, retirees and
their families. In 1999, I was nominated by President Clinton to serve
as General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer of the National
Labor Relations Board in Washington D.C. This is the federal agency
that conducts union representation elections and prosecutes unfair
labor practices. It has almost 2000 employees and 33 offices. I was
responsible for preparing and securing Congressional approval of
budgets involving annual expenditures of more than $240 million. I
retired from full-time legal work in 2001 with the change of
administration. My wife of 45 years, Susan, and I live on property
near the Page family farm which my grandfather, Alva Page, carved out
of the woods in 1904.
We have a son and daughter, and six grandkids.

2. Political Description

I have demonstrated that I am a pragmatic Democrat. I was the first
Union attorney to hold the position of NLRB General Counsel. You don't
get this sort of consideration without support and respect from all
political parties. The Michigan State Bar has honored me with its
Distinguished Service Award in 2008. Both as General Counsel and as
County Commissioner, I have taken an oath of office to uphold the law
and work for everyone's best interests. I take such oaths very
seriously. I keep an open mind and always consider every available
option, without regard to political fallout.  I am neither shy nor do
I test the wind to see which way it is blowing before I take a

3. Why are you running?

I am running for re-election to continue on a good team that is making
county government work effectively here in Cheboygan.

We don't need partisan political posturing or bickering at the county
level. A deadlocked government, such as we see in Lansing and
Washington, is an ineffective government. By way of contrast, the
Cheboygan County Board of Commissioners and the County Administrator
have worked together effectively. If you have attended our meetings,
or even read the meeting minutes on the county website, you will see a
group that is doing its job.   We have our differences and sometimes
vigorously disagree; but we pull together to do what's best for
Cheboygan. Experience does matter, particularly when times are bad and
difficult decisions have to be made.

4. Challenges

The reality is that we are becoming an older resort community. This
means we must maintain environmentally-friendly planning and zoning
practices, and that  senior services and public transportation must
have priority. Every northern county is also desperate to create and
retain good jobs with good pay. Cheboygan has to make itself more
attractive; not just through its superior natural beauty, but because
of its good government and its good people. We must maintain our
reputation for effective public safety and law enforcement, wise
economic planning and development, and prudent infrastructure
improvements. We need good  schools,  medical services,  roads, and
high-speed internet access.  Since we face a future of declining
revenues, this a tough balancing act requiring doing more with less.

5. Solutions

Too many politicians are willing to promise almost anything or use
tired, vague catch-phrases. The honest answer is that your elected
leaders have to be willing to listen,  carefully evaluate all options,
work hard and  sometimes make unpopular choices. A big part of
listening is a willingness to hear all sides. At a Tea Party meeting
this month, I was asked about having Board meetings in the evening. I
think this is a good idea and deserves a try. We need more public
participation at all levels. If re-elected, I will ask that we try
some evening meetings for the fourth Tuesdays of each month -- to see
if the public responds favorably.

To reduce costs, we also have to consider more inter- or multi-county
cooperation on essential services. We have some good experiences with
neighboring counties on recycling, 911-emergency calls, health service
and public transportation. We can build on this experience. Perhaps we
could even find some private donations or grants for our own "Pure
Cheboygan" campaign to attract more resorters.

6. Why vote for me

The public needs information about all candidates' experience and
positions. It is sad that important election matters often depend on
who has the most lawn signs. If you attend County Board meetings, you
know that I am prepared and do my homework. I treat my fellow Board
members and everyone who comes before the Board with courtesy and
respect. I ask relevant questions on action items being considered. I
am also not afraid to cast lonely and even unpopular votes. I
routinely attend 12-16 meetings a month as a County Commissioner,
including township meetings, NEMCSA, (the Northeast Michigan Community
Service Agency oversees Head Start and other Federal assistance
programs), Cheboygan and Region 9 Councils on Aging, Humane Society,
Waterways Commission,  and Broadband.  Important issues are raised at
these meetings and deserve to be heard by someone in a position to
help and/or respond for Cheboygan.
I know that representing the people of Waverly, Grant, Koehler and
Aloha townships is a vital job. I have been privileged to be one of
seven commissioners for the last four years. If re-elected, I will
continue to honor that  trust to the best of my ability.

7. Top priorities

The Commissioners' top priority right now is to resolve the 2011
budget, and address the anticipated million-plus revenue shortfall.
(Declining property values mean declining property tax revenues). The
Commissioners asked the County Administrator to start preparations for
this budget crunch almost a year ago. He and the county’s Finance
Director have presented a draft budget which maintains essential
services and addresses the shortfall. The Board of Commissioners has
begun its review work, and I am confident we'll make the necessary
tough decisions. This is perhaps the most important part of our jobs
as Commissioners (I am well suited to this task, since I serve on the
audit committee of NEMCSA and, as noted above, I have experience with
large-budget issues.). We also have to acknowledge that this is not a
one-year revenue blip. We are not going to be bailed out by the State
or anyone else. There must be some permanent long-term adjustments. A
continuing decline in property values means another shortfall
(fortunately smaller) for 2012. Work on that budget must also start as
soon as the 2011 budget is finalized.
Fortunately, there are some bright spots on the horizon: The Federal
Stimulus has provided for fiber optic internet cable to be laid from
Onaway to Indian River and then North to Cheboygan and  Mackinaw City.
High-speed broadband for the entire county is crucial to our future on
so  many levels: emergency services, public education, home business
opportunities, attracting business development, etc. I have been
working as a Board member of Northern Michigan Broadband Cooperative
for over three years to bring high-speed internet service to all of
Cheboygan. Fiber is a big step; but we still have much to do before
affordable service becomes available to everyone.
Exploratory drilling for natural gas is currently underway in Koehler
Township. (I recently visited the well site and have made a public
report which is available on my blog at Cheboygancountydems. com).
This fracking process is controversial, and is currently exempt from
federal EPA oversight. This could be a much-needed financial boon for
the county. However, we also have to continue to press the state DNRE
to monitor this drilling to make sure our woods and waters are
protected. This is a critical for our county’s  future health; both
physical and economic. We need to find a way to take advantage of this
opportunity without sacrificing our environment.

Your vote permits me to continue to work on these and other important
issues for the next two years.

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Page goes to a tea party

The Cheboygan tea party invited me to their October 19 meeting at the high school.  Susan and I went and I was given the opportunity to discuss my role as a county commissioner with about 20 attendees.  As the meeting started, two interesting things occurred.  First the tea party leadership went to great lengths to emphasize that they were non-partisan.  Second, one of the leaders discussed the upcoming election and stressed that, as usual, the Democrats would try to steal the election by "voting" the deceased and those who have moved out of state.  As their guest, i chose not to rise to the bait, particulary on the second item.   However this is an old canard with almost no factual support.  Here's an excerpt from a recent response (MEDIA MATTERS) to this old lie: 

Extremely rare for illegal ballots to be cast

Justice Department report shows very few prosecutions for illegally casting ballots. According to a report by the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department, from October 2002 through September 2005, the Justice Department charged 95 people with "election fraud" and convicted 55. Among those, however, just 17 individuals were convicted for casting fraudulent ballots; cases against three other individuals were pending at the time of the report. In addition, the Justice Department convicted one election official of submitting fraudulent ballots and convicted five individuals of registration fraud, with cases against 12 individuals pending at the time of the report. Thirty-two individuals were convicted of other "election fraud" issues, including Republicans convicted of offenses arising from "a scheme to block the phone lines used by two Manchester [New Hampshire] organizations to arrange drives to the polls during the 2002 general election" -- in other words, these convictions were connected to voter suppression efforts, not voter fraud. Several other people listed in the report were convicted of vote-buying.

NYU's Brennan Center: Allegations of voter fraud "simply do not pan out" and distract from "real [election] problems that need real solutions." From a 2007 report by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice:

Perhaps because these stories are dramatic, voter fraud makes a popular scapegoat. In the aftermath of a close election, losing candidates are often quick to blame voter fraud for the results. Legislators cite voter fraud as justification for various new restrictions on the exercise of the franchise. And pundits trot out the same few anecdotes time and again as proof that a wave of fraud is imminent.

Allegations of widespread voter fraud, however, often prove greatly exaggerated. It is easy to grab headlines with a lurid claim ("Tens of thousands may be voting illegally!"); the follow-up -- when any exists -- is not usually deemed newsworthy. Yet on closer examination, many of the claims of voter fraud amount to a great deal of smoke without much fire. The allegations simply do not pan out.

These inflated claims are not harmless. Crying "wolf" when the allegations are unsubstantiated distracts attention from real problems that need real solutions. If we can move beyond the fixation on voter fraud, we will be able to focus on the real changes our elections need, from universal registration all the way down to sufficient parking at the poll site. Moreover, these claims of voter fraud are frequently used to justify policies that do not solve the alleged wrongs, but that could well disenfranchise legitimate voters. Overly restrictive identification requirements for voters at the polls -- which address a sort of voter fraud more rare than death by lightning -- is only the most prominent example."


For the most part, I was treated with courtesy and respect with only a few negative remarks.  The group seems be consumed with "privatizing " .  One person even suggested that the county fair grounds be privatized!  Many questions followed my announcement that the county was hoping to reduce employee health care costs by converting to a HMO plan. Some indicated that family health coverage was an unnecessary luxury for full-time county employees. (New county employees must wait five years for family coverage.)

Most surprising was their reaction to my concerns that broadband internet access be county-wide and extend to those in more remote rural areas.  The group seems to think that those who lived in rural areas "chose to live there" or could simply purchase more expensive satellite broadband access.  Under this approach, my grandfather Alva Page would should never have experienced the "luxury" of electrical power unde the Rural Electrification Act back in the 30's and phone service in the 40's. After all he "chose" to live in the woods  on Page Road. What's wrong with kerosene lamps and windmills anyway?

They also were negative to any efforts by Northern Michigan Broadband Coop (I am on the Coop Board) to extend such coverage to rural areas. The criticism did not relent until  i advised them that like other consumer coops that have been around for many years ( i.e. Presque Isle Electric)--this was not a government corporation--but a non-profit coalition of users and providers.  

I have been working for rural broadband access for more than three years and have spoken to dozens of groups about the obvious need for full rural coverage.   This is the first time I have ever had a group respond this way.  I presume this strange reaction was an outgrowth of their apparent belief that  if the "free market" can't solve or deal with the problem--it's not a real problem for the "government" and anyone else to worry about or try to fix.  Its the price we paid for their "government is the enemy" mantra. 

Of course i wonder how many of them have received  government benefits: unemployment, food stamps, social security or medicare.  Somehow that's different?  It's like --well i deserve and need "my" government benefits--everyone else is a parasite.   

We did not have time to discuss philosophy. I was waiting for the opportunity to tell them that  i had no problems with their vigorous review of deficits and tax revenues and  federal expenditures.  I wanted to tell them that their focus should not be one time, emergency expenditures like TARP and Stimulus (which worked by the way) but rather the more permanent  revenue and expense items--like permanent tax cuts for the rich which will add almost 800 billion to the defict in the next decade.  Or how about a pentagon budget which takes almost one third of every tax dollar at a time when we have no military rival? Do we really  need 800 overseas military bases?  Could that money be put to better use on education health and infrastructure?

Cheboygan county has spent almost $60 million of its residents' tax dollars for our two mideast wars in the last nine years.  Could those dollars have been better spent here on Cheboygan problems or even to pay the taxpayer's personal bills?  Sooner or later they are bound to find the real elephant residing in the outhouse with them.


I complimented them for being the only group in Cheboygan trying to reach out to candidates and interview them.They did give me a round of applause when i finished my 40 or so minute presentation.   Still i am not sure about getting their endorsement!

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encana well site visit october 8


site visit of October 8, 2010 (Leonard Page)

Encana Gas has been drilling an exploratory well in Koehler Township, just East of Indian River for the past six weeks. Trish Woollcott, chair of the Burt Lake Preservation Association's Environment and Land Use Committee contacted Encana and put together a group representing representing various water and environmental interests (Little Sturgeon Trout Club, Mullet Lake Association, Sturgeons for Tomorrow, ) to visit the site on October 8. Including in the group were Grenetta Thomassey and Jen McKay with Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, Scott Swanson, of the Straitsland Resorter, Hank Jankoviak , Cheboygan County soil and sedimentation officer, Sue Topp a Gaylord environmental attorney and myself. Andy Stempky, a geologist from the Michigan DNRE also attended to explain how the state was monitoring the site.

Joel Fox, Encarta's chief engineer, advised that all residential wells within a half mile of the wellhead have been tested and are monitored. Encana says it is also monitoring both the flow rate and the water quality of nearby Crumley Creek. The major concern is that the fracking fluids and the gas might pollute the surface glacial level which supplies our drinking water or seep into nearby streams or lakes. The state inspectors and Encana emphatically assured us that the well was properly drilled and the shaft encased to minimize that risk.

Both the property owner, Jay Kendell and the County's Hank Jankoviak stated that the driller had gone beyond any concerns they had expressed. The group was at the site for almost two hours and asked many questions. The DNRE said they had someone at the site almost daily during the drilling.

The site covered about four acres and held many large pump trucks and tankers. A lined, acre-size pond held water to be used in the fracking process. (The injection of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure down the well to “stimulate” or fracture the shale and release the gas). The sand and chemicals mixed with water and used in the fracking process are trucked and stored at the site. Contaminated fracking fluid that comes back up the well shaft is trucked to deep injection wells in the area. While spillage or accidents can always occur during storage or transport, Encana said it was closely monitoring for such mishaps.

The state is still developing regulations for a water withdrawal assessment tool to monitor water usage and whether to require a lower density well dispersal of 640 acres per well pad rather than the current standard of 40-80 acres. The state must be pushed to the environmental side of these issues.

While I am only a “tree hugger” and not a geologist or gas expert, I left the site satisfied that the drilling and monitoring process should be adequate to protect our woods and waters. My research indicates that Encana is a leader both in terms of fracking production and their environmental and safety records. Encana is to be commended for opening up their site to us. However, not all oil and gas companies in the area have Encana's credentials.

I still have concerns about the large volumes of water used for each well – ranging from 2-4 million gallons on up. Contaminated water which ends up in deep injection wells is virtually removed for the biosphere cycle. If a large number of these fracking wells go into production in our area there will be an extensive grid of gas pipelines and a huge perhaps permanent drain on our precious water supply. If there is a natural gas production boom in Cheboygan County it will change many things. Cheboygan will become more like the Kalkaska oil field area These are some of the concerns and social trade-offs that we may have to consider.

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Upcoming Events

  • Annual Straits of Mackinac Sunset Crruise
    Aug 16,2012

    Annual Straits of Mackinac Sunset Cruise - Thursday August 16, 2012 7:30 to 9:30

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