Political Round Up


Saugatuck passes Human Rights Ordinance

SAUGATUCK - The City of Saugatuck, long a destination for the LBGT community of the midwest, voted to approved a new comprehensive human rights ordinance at its Aug. 27 City Council meeting.

The new ordinance prohibits discrimination on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

"I am so proud of my fellow city leaders and of my community," said Mayor Tony Vettori. "Today Saugatuck joins the ranks of hundreds of other jurisdictions and companies across our country that understand and value diversity. Saugatuck is a place people come to relax, have fun and enjoy themselves and it is no place for legal discrimination."

"Saugatuck is a very special place for the gay and lesbian community," said Sean Kosofsky, Director of Policy for Triangle Foundation. "It is only fitting that a community with such a strong GLBT community and an international reputation for hospitality do all it can to protect people who live, shop and work there. The state legislature has failed to act on a statewide ban on anti-GLBT discrimination, so each move to protect our community by a municipality is a welcomed step."

Saugatuck is a small city with a large GLBT community. The community has approximately 1,065 year-round residents and the number grows substantially in the summer. Last month Saugatuck Township passed a similar ordinance.

The passage of the ordinance makes Saugatuck the sixteenth municipality in Michigan to pass such a local law.

State leaders back from New Mexico conference

MICHIGAN - Michigan LBGT leaders Sean Kosofsky, director of policy for Triangle Foundation, and Derek Smeirtka, executive director of Michigan Equality, are both back from the Equality Federation conference in New Mexico.

This was the 10-year anniversary of the organization's conference. The goal is to bring state and local LBGT organizers together under one roof and help them forge connections, conversations and strategies to continue the fight for LBGT rights.

For Smeirtka it was his first time at the conference. "It was a very, very positive opportunity to meet other executive directors from the country," said Smeirtka.

He said he was most impressed with workshops on board development, fundraising tips and a media training by Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Kosofsky has been attending the conference for the ninth time and was re-elected as vice chair of the federation. He said two important things came out of the conference this year.

"We approved a 5-year strategic plan which has taken almost a year to create," he said. "It will continue to grow the movement and allow it to continue to offer excellent service around the country."

The second thing he took away from the conference was the sense of camaraderie. "This is one of the best anti-burn out things in the movement," he said. "These are all the frontline activists in the country and when they are together something magical happens."

Drolet's Michigan Taxpayer's Alliance forms recall committees

MACOMB TWP-- Former State Representation Leon Drolet today announced Michigan Taxpayer Alliance activists around the state of Michigan had filed the formation paperwork for recall committees against state representative and senators. The recalls target those who might support tax increases in upcoming state budget votes.

The filings mean that the groups can begin soliciting, accepting and spending funds on a recall effort and the statement of committee organization is the first step in a recall effort.

"The filing of organizing paperwork does not mean that a recall effort against these lawmakers is certain," MTA Executive Director Leon Drolet stated. "First, a legislator would have to vote 'yes' on a tax increase."

Drolet added that paperwork would soon be filed against other lawmakers that MTA activists consider "vulnerable Democrats or possible RINO Republicans." RINO is an acronym for 'Republicans In Name Only.' Paperwork is expected to be filed against Senator Valde Garcia (R- Howell) later this week.

"Using the recall feature is a radical act. It is irresponsible and sets a bad precedence," said Triangle Foundation Director of Policy Sean Kosofosky. "There is plenty of time for voters to take out their frustrations in the next election. It is obstructionist and defeatist."

MTA claims paperwork was filed with the Secretary of State and various county clerks against the following legislators:

Sen. Gerald Van Woerkom (R-Norton Shores)

Sen. Dennis Olshove (D-Warren)

Sen. Glenn Anderson (D-Westland)

Rep. Andy Dillon (D-Redford)

Rep. Mary Valentine (D-Muskegon)

Rep. Ed Gaffney (R-Grosse Pointe Farms)

Rep. Gino Polidori (D-Dearborn)

Rep. Marc Corriveau (D-Northville)

Rep. Dick Ball (R-Laingsburg)

Sen. Anderson, Rep. Dillon and Rep Polidori are among the strongest supporters of LBGT rights in the current state legislature.

"Quite a few more recall committees will be formed in the coming weeks. Filing against a wide array of possible tax-raisers is a tactical move," Drolet said. "It's one less thing that will have to be done after a tax increase vote. At least some of the required paperwork will already be done."

Only the filing against Rep. Ball could be immediately verified. The new committee is called Taxpayers for Recalling Rep. Ball, and is being run by conservative gay activist Tyler Whitney. The campaign filing can be viewed on line at

http://miboecfr.nicusa.com/cgi-bin/cfr/com_det.cgi?com_id=513510.

Progressives to gather and strategize

LANSING--On Saturday Sept. 8, progressive leaders and activists from all over the state will descend upon the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing with one goal in mind--setting an agenda for Michigan's future.

The event will run from 9 am until 4:30 p.m. and will feature a keynote speech by Donna Brazil, the former campaign manager of Al Gore's 2000 Presidential bid. Cost for the event is $30 per person, and some scholarships are available. For more information visit

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/17806. For more information visit http://www.michiganprospect.org/michigan_policy_summit/index.html.

"We hope this is going to be the first step in fundamentally changing the way politics are done in Michigan," said Pete Woidode, summit and issues director for the Michigan Prospect. Michigan Prospect is a progressive think tank created by former state representative and former democratic gubernatorial candidate Lyn Johndahl.

To accomplish this goal, Woidode and other progressives, including Sean Kosofsky director of policy for the Triangle Foundation, have been meeting for some time. They have outlined three key areas of policy focus they believe are necessary.

The key policy issues are affordable, accessible health care, education and clean energy.

"These are the hot, important issues in our state," said Kosofsky.

Woidode and Kosofsky both point out that if health care were readily available and affordable in the state there would not be a battle over domestic partner benefits in the state.

"If we are looking at a more responsive and stronger education system, the safe schools legislation would be moved on more quickly," Woidode said.

Both activists agree that restructuring Michigan into cleaner energy sources and creating a stronger high tech infrastructure is in the best interest of Michigan because they will ultimately lead to economic revitalization and growth.

"We have to start taking action, not just gripe," said Kosofsky. "If LBGT leaders are not in the room , they won't have input."

Ingham County Commissioner to hold fundraiser

EAST LANSING--Ingham County Democratic Commissioner Curtis Hertel, Jr. will hold a fundraiser for his re-election campaign on September 27 from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the home his father, former speaker of the state house Curtis Hertel.

The event will be held at the former speaker's lake front home, 5926 Round Lake Road, Laingsburgh, MI 48848. Cost for the event is $50 per person. Checks should be made payable to Ingham County Residents for Curtis Hertel Jr.

Hertel has been a leading voice on the County Commission for LBGT rights, helping to shepard in a domestic partner policy for county employees several years ago. He is also overseeing the Boards response to the controversy of the HIV document at the Ingham County Health Department.

MSU announces new emergency text messaging system

EAST LANSING - Michigan State University has announced it will implement a new emergency contact system to inform MSU students, faculty and staff of emergencies on campus. The new system will send text messages to all those who sign up.

Such a message will include a brief description of the emergency and any immediate action people should take. President Lou Anna K. Simon said in an email letter to the community. She said the new system would only be used in limited emergency situations. The letter did not elaborate on what those situations might be.

Follow up communications will be issued via the media, MSU's website, police, reverse 9-1-1 calls and other options available to the university.

Students, faculty and staff may enroll up to four wireless devices, including those of family members, by visiting the MSU police website at

http://www.police.msu.edu.

Old Town Lansing finalist for $50,000 IKEA make-over

LANSING--Old Town Lansing, a hub of cultural activities and businesses and two of the cities three gay bars, is a finalist in the IKEA Small Business Big Dreams contest. The Old Town Commercial Association was formally notified Monday by IKEA that they were in the running for the grand prize. An announcement about the winner is expected on or about Sept. 5 according to a press release from OTCA. To find out more, visit

http://www.oldtownmainstreet.org.

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