Sexual Assault in Holland


This story deals with a sexual assault case in Holland. After the opening comments from the news readers the reporter frames the story early on by quoting the police who said “what they should’ve done is run. Get away from Saul Salas as fast as they could.” Does making this statement put the blame or the focus on the behavior of the 3 girls? The police repeat this by saying “This is a huge reminder to our parents that we need to reiterate with our children to be safe and act diligently and to say no, run away.” The story then turns attention to the possible whereabouts of the perpetrator, with an invitation for viewers to call police if they know anything. In addition to focusing on the girls behavior this story does not put into context the realities of sexual assault, what the profile of perpetrators are, what the incidents of sexual assault in Holland are, nor information on prevention of sexual assault, resources in the community or where victims can get help.


Lee Van Ameyde: Michigan State Police want to find this man tonight.

Juliet Dragos: They say he lured 3 teenage girls, on their way to school, into his car and sexually assaulted them. Good evening I’m Juliet Dragos.

And Im Lee Van Ameyde, police said it happened 2 weeks ago when a Holland man asked the girls if they wanted to party, the girls jumped into his car and then drove off.

Juliet Dragos: Police say 33year old Saul Salas gave the teenagers beer and marijuana before sexually assaulting them. WZZM Phil Dawson joins us now from our news room with more.

Reporter: Investigators say they don’t know what the girls were expecting when they got into the mans car instead of continuing on to Holland High School, but police say what they should’ve done is run. Get away from Saul Salas as fast as they could. The 3 girls, 2 age 15 and 1, 16, were almost to Holland High School when police say a 33year old man drove up with an offer they did not refuse.

Police: Asking these 3 young ladies if they wanted to party.

Reporter: Investigators believe that 33year old Saul Salas of Holland drove the girls to a house in Saugatuck, gave them beer and marijuana and sexually assaulted all 3.

Police: This is a huge reminder to our parents that we need to reiterate with our children to be safe and act diligently and to say no, run away

Reporter: Holland police believe 33year old Saul Salas may have tried to lure school girls into his car before, 3 to 5 times since last fall, always with a similar sales pitch.

Police: Basically approaching saying do you want a ride is what some of these young victims would state. That he offered them a ride or asked if they needed to go somewhere.

Reporter: Police believe Salas may now be hiding in Mexico, but they say its also possible he’s cruising around looking for new victims.

Police: I hope not, but we have been stepping up our patrols and watching for the suspect.

Reporter: It took 2 weeks for police to get a warrant for Saul Salas and he may have used the time to leave the area, if not the country. Police would like a phone call from anyone who knows where he is. In the news room, Phil Dawson, WZZM 13 News.

FBI Apology?


This story is based upon new revelations regarding the FBI’s involvement with domestic spying. The story has a brief comment from the FBI director, three Senators and Attorney General Gonzalez. Do these sources provide a wide range of perspectives. Why are there no non-governmental sources cited? How would that change the way the public read this story?


Reporter: It’s the way the FBI handled access to phone company records to personal emails even to financial information at banks that has the director of the FBI apologizing.

FBI Director: I am the person responsible, I am the person accountable.

Reporter: An audit from the justice department’s inspector general found the FBI misusing and possibly abusing a provision of the patriot act, the one that lets the FBI without a judges approval, demand customer records from private companies by merely issuing a subpoena of sorts called a national security letter.

Senator Arlen Spector: The inspector general’s report shows a massive misuse by the FBI of the national security letters.

Reporter: The audit says, quote, “We believe the improper or illegal uses we found involve serious misuses of National Security Letters authorities.”

Senator John Sununu: They undermine the publics confidence in our law enforcement in investigation capacity.

Senator Richard Durbin: We have repeatedly on a partisan basis said to this administration, don’t go too far. Don’t violate the privacy of America’s innocent people in an effort to keep us safe.

Reporter: Attorney General Gonzales calls the misuses mistakes that he doesn’t think should jeopardize an essential crime-fighting tool against terrorism.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales: There’s no excuse for the mistakes that have been made and we are going to make things right as quickly as possible.

Reporter: Congress claims to call both Gonzales and Mueller to answer what went wrong. Chris Clackum, NBC News.

factory leaves town


This story tells viewers the basic fact that Yamaha is closing down 2 regional factories and moving them to Asia, but provides no information about why the company is moving. The only voice heard in this story is that of an employee, but the way that the story is framed puts the focus on what this woman is doing to learn new skills or find another job. In contrast there is no real information on Yamaha such as, whether or not Yamaha has received subsidies from the City of Kentwood in recent years. According to Yamaha’s corporate site, profits are up for the first quarter of 2007. There is one statement at the end of the story that appears to be from a press release by Yamaha, but no specifics are given for the decision to close the factories.


WOOD TV 8 news reader – From your cash to your jobs, jobs that are now going over seas, another blow for west Michigan’s workforce. Two Yamaha facilities will be shutting down for good in Kentwood, 24hour News 8s, Rachael Ruiz is at the studio with that story.

Reporter – Why Yamaha will close two local facilities, in its musical products division affecting 190 workers. The buildings are expected to close in April and Yamaha says the work done there will move to Asia. Workers say they got word at a 9:00am meeting here at the building on East Paris Ave where musical instruments are made, a similar notification happening at Yamahas warehouse on Breton. But Yamaha not just closing shop in West Michigan, also at a plant in Thomaston, Georgia, 280 people soon without jobs in both states.

Employee: I’m at Davenport, University. I’m going there for Medical Coding.

Reporter – Christina Sowa, Wyoming, also works at Yamaha. She started at the musical products division 7 years ago, but had gone back to school hoping to jumpstart a different career. The news of the closing she says, leaving many in tears. Christina says some of her co-workers have worked nowhere else but Yamaha. Like others she wonders if she could even get a job that paid as well and whether she’ll have the skills it takes.

Employee: …And everything now revolves around computers and technology and if you don’t have any knowledge of that, you know, where do you go and um, who’s going to hire you.

Reporter – Yamaha says they will provide workers with a separation package.

Internet Addiction


This story is longer than most local TV news stories,so it does provide more information than normal. There are multiple sources used in this story, but is it clear what the expertise is of each person cited? The only group that is cited in terms of helping men overcome internet porn addiction is the Triple X Church, but the story does not give much background on this organization or its methodology other than it is faith based. The story ends by saying you can go to their website to take a quiz, which is a link to another faith-based organization. On the WZZM 13 site there are also links to other resources,most of which are links to the Triple X Church. Only one local resource is provided.


WZZM 13 Reporter – Well that’s right, there is no doubt that pornography is a controversial issue. Some can use small amounts of porn and will never have a problem with it. Others can quickly become addicted and for those people its ruining lives, relationships and jobs. A word of warning, some of the images might not be suitable for our younger viewers.

Justin Antwerp: “It felt like a high, you know, it felt like, just kind of an uncontrollable urge.”

WZZM 13 Reporter – Pornography is one of those dirty little secrets and people are logging on to look at it more than ever. They’re doing it at home and at work. For some it’s an obsession.

Antwerp: “I felt like I couldn’t, I couldn’t sop myself from just continuing on.”

WZZM 13 Reporter – On the outside, Justin Antwerp appeared to have a great life. He was a minister, a husband and has 2 little girls. No one knew he was addicted to porn. It all started when he looked at a playboy magazine when he was a teenager.

Antwerp: “And you know, then that wouldn’t satisfy me you know, and then I found a whole new world of videos, you know and web cams and you know, all sorts of things.”

WZZM 13 Reporter – Justin is among the growing number of men and women who are dealing with pornography addiction. You used to have to go to your local adult video store to get it, now you can see it all online.

Dr. Paul Clitella (PhD): “Its far easier to obtain than any drug.”

WZZM 13 Reporter – Dr. Paul Critelli sees patients who have all kinds of addictions. He’s not surprised that pornography is becoming more common. He says Americans have a different view of sex compared to people in other countries.

Critelli: “If it weren’t so dirty then we wouldn’t use it to sell everything.”

WZZM 13 Reporter – Pornography specifically on the Internet is a 57billion dollar industry; it’s larger than all professional sports. There are 4.2 million pornographic websites and those who view it are mostly men.

Antwerp: “I never got caught, I became really good at just covering things up.”

WZZM 13 Reporter – Justin was looking at pornography at home and on his computer at work. Looking at it while on the job is becoming a problem we’ve been hearing a lot about lately. There have been a few different high profile cases right here in West Michigan. In 2006 a Kentwood deputy fire chief pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. The images were found on his computer at work. At the Cutlerville Fire Department pornographic images were discovered on a laptop. The computer company that was hired to find those images says these days businesses need to take a proactive approach to the problem.

Richard Reiffer (Chief Technical Officer): “In other words, what could we do to stop that from even happening to begin with. So we implement things like content filtering.”

WZZM 13 Reporter – Psychologists say viewing porn at work is a sign that you have a problem, other questions to ask yourself include frequency, are you logging on more often. Intensity, are the pictures becoming more graphic. Duration, are the sessions on line becoming longer.

Dr. Critelli: “And if those things are increasing wither by jumps or rather steadily, then I would say you certainly have a problem and by the way, I would think those 3 attributes are a good measure of any kind of problem behavior.”

WZZM 13 Reporter – Dr. Critelli believes there are cases where people can view porn and not have a problem. He says some people view it once and a while and have healthy sex lives. He doesn’t think small amounts are morally wrong. Psychologist Tom Karel disagrees.

Tom Karel: “It creates unrealistic expectations and unrealistic ideas as to what normal really looks like.”

WZZM 13 Reporter – In Justin’s case, pornography ruined his relationship with his wife. He says he hit rock bottom when he picked up a female hitchhiker.

Antwerp: “Nothing happened, but had the opportunity risen, I would have cheated on my wife that day and, um, that was a scary place to be.”

WZZM 13 Reporter – A few months later, Justin told his wife about his addiction.

Antwerp: “She was completely devastated and, um, she left the following weekend. The next morning I met with the elders in the church and resigned the position.”

WZZM 13 Reporter – Justin went into therapy and is now involved with the local anti-pornography group called Triple X Church. Justin hopes by coming out about his problem, he could show others that they can overcome their addiction.

Antwerp: “You know, I think by Gods grace, by everybody surrounding me, helping me to lift up, I’ve been able to get a hold on it”

WZZM 13 Reporter – And there is software you can get that blocks adult content on your computer at home. There is also accountability software for porn addicts. It actually notifies the software company when a pornographic site is accessed. For more information and to take a quiz about pornography addiction, go to our website at

Black “leaders” repond to more violence


This story is based upon a media release sent out by a newly formed group in Grand Rapids, Black Elected Officials. From the information provided in the channel 8 story do you think viewers understand what the causes of the violence are and what this group plans to do about it? There is a summary of what the group plans on doing and it doesmention that a website is coming. What about the language that is used in framing this story? Half way through the story the reporter says “Vaughn realizes the winter months have chilled the summer’s flight on violence, examples seen in our July series highlighting the problem. One night, picked at random, that saw a stabbing, a shooting, a family birthday party turned brawl with knives.” The reporter doesn’t clarify what the July series that they did was about other than “random violence.” The story finishes with comments from the GR Police Department, but why weren’t other community-based violence prevention groups cited?


WOOD TV newsreader – They’re in it for the long hall. A group calling themselves Black Elected Officials, sent out a message today saying violence on Grand Rapids South East side is out of control. Now the group is launching an attack of its own. Brad Edwards is live in the news room, he spoke with one of the leaders today, Brad.

Reporter – Sick and tired of being sick and tired of singing the song of too much violence? A loose alliance now of leaders vows to fight the fight for the long hall citing staggering stats like 33 shootings on the South East side in 3 months last year. Now they say they’re launching a war on apathy. Christopher James Vaughn is one of the leaders signed on to the initiative in the fight, he says, for the long run.

James Vaughn – “we got to reach out to help them and we got ot solve the problem. Were not going to win on the system solving this problem. We got to get out there and roll up our sleeves and we gonna help solve this problem.”

Unidentified person – “But you realize you’re not going to solve anything by a press release?”

James Vaughn – “No, now a press release is to get everybody aware of what’s going on…”

Reporter – Vaughn realizes the winter months have chilled the summer’s flight on violence, examples seen in our July series highlighting the problem. One night, picked at random, that saw a stabbing, a shooting, a family birthday party turned brawl with knives. The biggest challenge, says Vaughn, is apathy. Kids who just don’t care.

James Vaughn – “…when youre looking at eyes and looking at face you realize that there is no hope and no purpose and no direction. They don’t, you know, tomorrow, they don’t care if tomorrow don’t come…”

Reporter – They’ve rallied community agencies in hopes of connecting troubled kids with the right help. They’re setting up a website, a phone line, working with ministers and parents. One example, getting the undereducated the needed training at places like M-TEC career development, education of course a key. Really you’ve heard it before but now they say…

James Vaughn – “yeah this is, we just said enough is enough. You know when you get sick and tired of being sick and tired of seeing the same thing happen over and over again…”

Reporter – We spoke with a lieutenant at the Grand Rapids Police Department, he says they support any effort to get more involvement. The biggest battle, the commissioner says, is making violence unacceptable, no longer tolerable in the community. Reporting live in the news room, Brad Edwards, 24 hour News 8.

Timing is right for Rumsfeld to leave, locals say


This Grand Rapids Press story ran the day after the White House announced that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was stepping down. The only sources cited in the story are Representatives Hoekstra and Ehlers, and Senator Carl Levin. Hoekstra and Ehlers respond directly to the resignation, with no commentary about Rumsfeld’s tenure at the DoD. Why did the Press omit any commentary from an independent sources? There is reference in Hoekstra’s comments that if Rumsfeld had resigned earlier the Republicans would have done better in the election. Is Hoekstra implying that voters were unhappy about the war in Iraq? If so, what about Rumsfeld’s position would voters have disagreed with? There is mention that Levin “sees no reason not to move forward with the process of confirming Gates as the next secretary of defense during the lame-duck congressional session.” This is the only comment about Gates, therefore the Press provides no background on the nominee to succeed Rumsfeld.


If Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld resigned six months ago, it might have cushioned electoral losses among Republicans, said U.S. Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Holland.

But Hoekstra is glad President Bush didn’t oust the controversial architect of his Iraq war policy — a man who is “not very open to criticism,” Hoekstra said — immediately before Tuesday’s midterm election.

“Doing it shortly before an election, I think would have been inappropriate,” said Hoekstra, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee until a new Democratic majority takes control of that chamber in January.

“I’ve met with our men and women overseas. The last thing you want to do is give them any indication they’re part of a political football.”

Bush announced Wednesday he would accept Rumsfeld’s resignation and nominate former CIA Director Robert Gates to the post. Rumsfeld has held the job six years. The announcement came after Republicans lost control of the U.S. House and Senate.

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin said Wednesday that as long as all the “groundwork has been laid,” he sees no reason not to move forward with the process of confirming Gates as the next secretary of defense during the lame-duck congressional session.

Levin is the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, which will conduct Gates’ confirmation hearing. If the committee approves Gates, the final confirmation vote would go to the full Senate.

Rumsfeld’s resignation signals a retreat from Bush’s position — restated just a week before the election — that the defense secretary was a “smart, tough, capable administrator” and would remain. Rumsfeld has been criticized by Democrats and some Republicans for mistakes in handling the Iraq war, especially for not sending in enough troops to quell a growing insurgency.

U.S. Rep. Vernon Ehlers believes “it’s time for a change” in the important post.

“It was more than time to get new perspectives in there,” said Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids. “That’s not saying anything against Rumsfeld. He’s a very capable guy. Six years is a long time in a job like that and it really can wear on you.”

Ehlers said he doesn’t know much about Gates, but would be surprised “if Gates did not take a different direction. I think clearly he will come forward with some new ideas.”

The resignation took Republicans by surprise, said Hoekstra, especially since the president had so recently affirmed his support for Rumsfeld.

“A lot of members weren’t all that excited” to hear the president support Rumsfeld, Hoekstra said.

“Why are you injecting Donald Rumsfeld into the campaign five to 10 days before an election?”

Clinton urges Democrats to fight


This article is based upon a visit to Taylor Michigan by former President Clinton to rally Democrats to support the re-election of Gov. Granholm and Senator Stabenow. Clinton is cited in the story and uses words like “opportunity,” “responsible” and “go forward together.” What do you think he meant by those terms? The only issue raised was jobs, but no qualifiers were presented other than a statement by Senator Stabenow when she “told the crowd that she and fellow Democrats will continue to fight for the middle class.” Does that mean the Democrats are not going to fight for the poor? The only other source cited in the story was Michigan GOP chair Saul Anuzis who made claims about jobs and the economy being bad under Granholm. The reporter provides no verification of these claims.


TAYLOR, Mich. – Former President Clinton told a crowd of Democrats on Tuesday that they must fight to re-elect Gov. Jennifer Granholm to keep efforts to turn around the state’s troubled economy on track.

Clinton headlined a rally outside City Hall in this Detroit suburb with Granholm and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, fellow Democrats who face tough challenges from Republicans in the November election.

“If you believe that Michigan ought to be a place where everybody has an opportunity, where everybody’s expected to be responsible, where we go forward together, you need to vote for the governor and senator,” Clinton told the crowd, which a Michigan Democratic Party spokesman estimated at about 1,000 people.

Clinton has proved popular with Michigan voters, winning the state in 1992 and 1996. After the rally in Taylor, he planned to attend a fundraiser for Stabenow in Romulus and energize Democratic activists to work hard to re-elect her and Granholm.

Although Michigan was the only state in the country not hit by a hurricane to lose jobs last year, Clinton told the audience that Granholm and Stabenow are fighting hard to keep jobs in Michigan and noted that a turnaround takes time – especially with a Republican controlled government in Washington and GOP led House and Senate in Michigan.

“These women have done a good job under exceedingly difficult circumstances,” Clinton said. “They have carried the burden of deficits they did not create, they showed responsibility that others didn’t show to point a path to a future that’s better.”

But Republicans say that if Michigan wants a better economy, it needs to replace the first-term governor and senator.

Polls have shown Stabenow with a double-digit lead over her Republican challenger, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard. But the National Republican Senatorial Committee considers her to be one of the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbents.

Stabenow told the crowd that she and fellow Democrats will continue to fight for the middle class.

“We’re in a fight for a way of life and it’s a fight we’ve got to win,” Stabenow said.

The committee says she has been ineffective and is trying to make up for that by appearing with Clinton.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos, a businessman from of Ada in western Michigan, has stressed the need to turn around Michigan’s struggling economy and begin adding jobs rather than continuing to lose them.

“Stabenow and Granholm have put Michigan first in every category where we want to be last,” Michigan Republican Chairman Saul Anuzis said. “We are first in unemployment, people moving out of the state, and personal bankruptcies.

Granholm points to successes such as new ethanol plants and Google Inc.’s decision to move 1,000 jobs to the Ann Arbor area.

Ads Coming to Texbooks


This story is about a new business venture by a company called Freeload Press who sells ad space in college text books in order to provide them at low cost or no cost to students. The story frames the issue as such “Selling ad space keeps newspapers, magazines, Web sites and television either cheap or free. But so far, the model hasn’t spread to college textbooks.” Making the issue as just another natural market response to a need, the article never questions the commercialization of education. The article cites the CEO of Freeload Press and a professor who helped found the company. The quotes attributed to them all have to do with concern for the cost of college textbooks that students have to pay. The article states that the average cost for students for textbooks is now about $900 a year, according to “various studies,” even though none of the studies are cited.

There is one statement by the Freeload Press CEO Tom Doran who says ‘Current customers “are primarily business instructors, so they understand there’s a quid pro quo here. When we walk over to the social sciences and humanities, I expect there will be more push back.’” Beyond that no other critical comments are provided in the GR Press version of this AP story. There are other comments provided in the original AP story, but these are also from Doran. There is substantial concern that exists around this issue, since advertising in school curriculum and textbooks is not new in the K-12 level. Some schools have even adopted policies about advertising at any level, whether in the education materials or the school facility itself.


Textbook prices are soaring into the hundreds of dollars, but in some courses this fall, students won’t pay a dime. The catch: Their textbooks will have ads for companies including FedEx Kinko’s and Pura Vida coffee.

Selling ad space keeps newspapers, magazines, Web sites and television either cheap or free. But so far, the model hasn’t spread to college textbooks — partly for fear that faculty would consider ads undignified. The upshot is that textbooks now cost students, according to various studies, about $900 per year.

Now, a small Minnesota startup is trying to shake up the status quo in the $6 billion college textbook industry. Freeload Press will offer more than 100 titles this fall — mostly for business courses — completely free. Students, or anyone else who fills out a five-minute survey, can download a PDF file of the book, which they can store on their hard drive and print.

The model faces big obstacles. Freeload doesn’t yet have a stable of well-known textbook authors across a range of subjects, and it lacks the editorial and marketing muscle of the “Big 3” textbook publishers (Thomson, Pearson, and McGraw-Hill). Its textbooks don’t come with bells and whistles such as online study guides that bigger publishers have spent millions developing in order to lure professors — who assign textbooks and are the industry’s real customers.

St. Paul-based Freeload’s numbers are modest so far: 25,000 users have registered and 50,000 books have been downloaded, for courses at schools ranging from community colleges to the University of Michigan. But the company says it is rapidly adding titles and will have 250,000 textbooks and study aids in circulation by next year. It has also signed agreements with three small, specialty publishers to make their textbooks available the same way, and is in negotiations with others.

What Freeload has going for it is its arrival on the scene at a time when textbook publishers are under immense pressure to moderate prices. A recent government study found prices have risen at twice the rate of inflation since 1986.

A new Connecticut law requires that textbook sellers tell professors what their books will cost students, and other states are considering similar measures. Cost complaints come not just from students and parents but also teachers. A 2005 study by the National Association of College Stores Foundation found 65 percent of students don’t buy all the required course materials — which means many probably aren’t learning the material, either.

Students “are saying, ‘to heck with it, we’ll try to wing it,'” said Jack Ivancevich, a longtime University of Houston professor who helped found Freeload.

Publishers answer criticism by saying textbooks are expensive to produce, and note they are clobbered by the rapidly expanding secondary market for re-sales in bookstores and on the Internet. Publishers get nothing from those sales, so they essentially have to recoup their investment in one year’s worth of sales.

The industry also is exploring ways to use technology to cut distribution costs and prices. Thomson, for instance, is making “ichapters” of textbooks available, similar to the iTunes model for music. But so far, publishers have resisted selling ads.

A Canadian subsidiary of McGraw-Hill briefly rolled out an ad-based model, but dropped the plan last year. Susan Badger, CEO of Thomson Higher Education, said her company tested the idea with focus groups, in biology, but the professors were adamantly opposed.

Tom Doran, Freeload’s CEO, says McGraw-Hill’s experiment failed because it didn’t use the ad revenue to reduce prices enough to get students’ attention. As for faculty, Doran says he realizes not everyone will go for it.

Current customers “are primarily business instructors, so they understand there’s a quid pro quo here,” Doran said. “When we walk over to the social sciences and humanities, I expect there will be more push back.”

Text from the original article ommitted from the Grand Rapids Press version:

As to objections that textbooks shouldn’t have ads, Doran notes ads already appear in academic journals. He says Freeload’s ads won’t be distracting; they will be placed only at natural breaks in the material, and won’t push products like alcohol or tobacco. Schools with other concerns could customize their standards; for instance Brigham Young University, founded by Mormons, could nix ads for caffeine products.

Ultimately, whether Freeload changes the industry or fades away will likely depend on its ability to attract popular textbook authors. Fordham University professors Frank Werner and James Stoner had each written several finance textbooks for traditional publishers, but after their latest was dropped by one company following a merger, they took it to Freeload.

“I was pretty disgusted with the basic textbook model,” Werner said. Textbook authors, he says, often waste time making pointless revisions just so publishers can justify putting out new editions.

“That didn’t seem like an ethical thing to do and it seemed like a hell of a waste of time,” he said, adding there’s no need to do that with Freeload.

The professors assigned the Freeload book to their class last year and said it was a hit. The students include “lots of working-class kids trying to get through college,” Werner said. “To ask them to go to the bookstore and spend $150 is pretty wasteful.”

Shannon Langston, a rising sophomore at Georgia Tech taking classes this summer while also juggling two jobs, said she often won’t buy textbooks unless she hears from other students that it’s absolutely essential.

But when her accounting professor assigned a Freeload book, she was glad not to have to make that call — and worry that she wouldn’t be able to sell back a new book because the publisher had already rushed out a new edition.

“I definitely don’t mind ads,” she said, “if it helps with the price.”

DeVos names running mate for governor's race


This article is basically an announcement of Dick DeVos’ choice for Attorney General in his race for Governor of Michigan. The article does provide some information on Ruth Johnson, that she was a former state legislator, and worked on education reforms. There is no real assessment of her voting record while in office from 1998 to 2004, nor any mention that she was a County Commissioner prior to that. There are no opposition or independent perspectives provided, even though the state Democrats sent out their own media release on the announcement.


LANSING — Republican candidate for governor Dick DeVos today chose Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson as his running mate.

The pick provides DeVos, an Ada businessman, with gender and geographical balance on the ticket. Oakland County is filled with moderate Republicans, who the conservative DeVos must persuade if he is to win.

Johnson will be formally nominated for lieutenant governor at the Republican convention in Novi Aug. 25-26.

Johnson, 52, spent six years the state House of Representatives. She left in 2004 because of term limits.

During her time in the Legislature, Johnson spearheaded a series of reforms aimed at intermediate school districts after financial abuses at the Oakland Intermediate School District were revealed, including extensive travel and the construction of a lavish headquarters.

Gov. Granholm signed a series of laws in 2004 that required districts to make public information about travel expenses, contracts of more than $100,000 — less than $25,000 if not competitively bid — and salaries of top employees.

Will Dems take power?


This article is based upon the possibility that the Democratic Party could take control of the State House and Senate depending on the outcome of the November 7 election. The focus is on the 75th District House seat beat Robert Dean and Tim Doyle. Both candidates are cited, but no platforms or issues are mentioned. The language that is used at the beginning is interesting in terms of how this story is framed, with comments like “battle” and “bloodier fight.” What would make this election a bloodier fight?

The only other sources that are cited is current 75th District Rep. Jerry Kooiman and former 75th District Rep. John Otterbacher. There is one other source cited, Bill Ballenger. The sentence before his comment is “More impartial observers aren’t sure a sea change is on the horizon.” Does this mean that Ballenger is a “more impartial observer?” Ballenger runs the Lansing based website/newsletter Inside Michigan Politics. Ballenger himself is a former Republican legislator.


Most West Michigan Republicans can breathe a sigh of relief following Tuesday’s primary elections, secure the battle is over in heavily GOP districts.

Tim Doyle has to take a deep breath and gird for the next, bloodier fight — and the stakes are high. At risk is a state House seat held by Republicans for decades, which Democrats believe could upset the balance of power in Lansing.

Doyle, an assistant prosecutor, is in the race to replace state Rep. Jerry Kooiman, R-Grand Rapids. Last week, he bested two contenders in a hard-fought election.

Now, he faces Democrat Robert Dean, a former Grand Rapids city commissioner and school board president. Located on Grand Rapids’ East Side, the 75th state House District has shifted toward Democrats in recent years, and the race is expected to be one of the most closely watched in the state.

“If you want to measure how each party is going to do statewide, watch that district,” said John Otterbacher, a former lawmaker and current Dean advisor.

Power in the Legislature is presently tilted toward Republicans, who have a six-seat majority in each chamber: 58-52 in the House, and 22-16 in the Senate. Democrats figure to loosen that grip.

Nine House seats are considered toss-ups in this fall’s elections. Three are open, due mostly to term limits, including the Kooiman seat.

The other six feature Republicans seeking re-election in toss-up districts, as rated by Inside Michigan Politics editor Bill Ballenger.

In the Senate, four seats are considered toss-ups. Two are open; the others are held by Republicans, including Sen. Gerald VanWoerkom, from the Muskegon area.

Given the dynamics, Democrats think this could be their year. A three-seat swing in either chamber ties it up.

More impartial observers aren’t sure a sea change is on the horizon.

“The expectation of almost every political observer is it’s going to be very difficult for the Democrats to get a majority in either (chamber),” said Ballenger. “I would be included in that assessment.”

The most likely to flip is the Senate, Ballenger said. If Democrats grab three seats, they’ve got a 19-19 tie. That makes the governor’s race critical: The lieutenant governor becomes the swing vote.

The House is less likely to go to Democratic control. But the 75th District — the Dean-Doyle match-up — has the biggest bull’s-eye.

That’s the one “on paper, the Democrats would have the best chance to win,” Ballenger said. The state House district on Grand Rapids’ West Side long has been solidly Democratic. But the East Side has a Republican heritage, at least in the past few decades.

Before Kooiman, it was held by Bill Byl, the new Republican nominee for county drain commissioner, Richard Bandstra, now a Michigan Court of Appeal judge, and Vernon Ehlers, the area’s congressman.

You have to reach back to the 1970s and early 1980s — when district lines were different — to find a Democrat on the job. That was when John Otterbacher, a young psychotherapist, held the seat.

Redistricting put the area out of reach of Democrats. But Otterbacher and others have seen the demographics shift. He pegs the change on suburban flight and discontent with President Bush.

“The president’s policies have clarified for a lot of people their party affiliation, and in some instances reclarified,” Otterbacher said.

Is Democratic control coming?

Whatever the reason, recent elections provide evidence of a Democratic tilt.

In 2004, all-but-unknown Democrat Chris Vogt put little money or effort into the race, but came within 1,800 votes of ousting Kooiman, then a two-term veteran.

That same year, Democratic challenger Brandon Dillon fell short by only 100 votes against Republican county commissioner Dan Koorndyk in a seat that falls within the House district. Dillon is taking another run at Koorndyk this year.

Even presidential votes on Grand Rapids’ East Side have shifted. U.S. Sen. John Kerry outpolled President Bush by 4,000 votes two years ago. By contrast, Vice President Al Gore lost to President Bush there in 2000. The district’s term-limited lawmaker is well aware of such figures.

“Let’s face it. It’s increasingly more Democratic. Granholm nearly won my district against West Michigan’s Dick Posthumus,” Kooiman said.

In fact, Posthumus bested Granholm in the district by a slim 600 votes in 2002.

That, in particular, is a wake-up call for Republicans and Democrats as the Dean-Doyle matchup picks up steam.

The district holds the city’s largest concentration of black voters, where Dean, who is black, could make inroads. Doyle, with an Irish Catholic background, will appeal to the Catholic neighborhoods to the north.

And on the Southeast Side, both will battle over a heavy dose of Christian Reformed voters — voters who for decades went reliably to candidates with that heritage and are now up for grabs.

Does the governor help?

Dean knows he has to appeal to the middle to win.

“I really felt as far as myself personally, I will be viewed more as a moderate and I’ll be able to pull voters from both sides, and not just Democrats,” Dean said. “I’m viewed more as a fiscal conservative.”

Doyle all but depleted the more than $100,000 he raised in the primary, and now has to start from scratch in the fund-raising game. Political action committee checks already have been pouring in. Dean will see the same largesse from Democratic-leaning causes.

Doyle knows the challenge. “The Republican Party sees the numbers, they see the district is trending Democratic,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work cut out for us.”

One thing Democrats can’t count on, Ballenger said: coat tails.

In Michigan, where voters are notorious ticket-splitters, pull from the top doesn’t amount to much. Even when former Republican Gov. John Engler was winning big in the 1990s, he couldn’t create huge legislative majorities for his party.

Ballenger’s no-coat-tails rule will be especially true this year, when Granholm is in the political fight of her life, facing a hard-charging, well-funded challenge from Ada businessman Dick DeVos.

“If the Democrats were counting a year ago on Jennifer Granholm winning some landslide re-election, and that could conceivably yield some dividends down the ticket, that expectation or hope is gone,” Ballenger said.

“She’s going to be lucky to even eke out a narrow victory, and she’s certainly not going to have coat tails.”