McCain says no new taxes


This Associated Press story is based upon statements that Presidential candidate John McCain made during an interview that was taped for ABC’s “This Week.” McCain is the only source in the story and he makes several claims about the US economy and tax policies. The only issue that the reporter attempted to clarify was McCain’s position on a new new tax pledge that he had to defend in light of the position put forth by the “conservative Americans for Tax Reform.” However, the reporter provides no information or background on Americans for Tax Reform nor its founder Grover Norquist.

The AP reporter does not verify McCain’s claims about taxes by checking the candidate’s online positions nor his voting record while in the US Senate.


Republican John McCain says there will be no new taxes during his administration if he is elected president.

“No new taxes,” the likely GOP presidential nominee said during a taped interview broadcast Sunday.

McCain told ABC’s “This Week” that under no circumstances would he increase taxes, and added that he could “see an argument, if our economy continues to deteriorate, for lower interest rates, lower tax rates, and certainly decreasing corporate tax rates,” as well as giving people the ability to write off depreciation and eliminating the alternative minimum tax.

McCain was defending his support for an extension of tax cuts sought by President Bush, which McCain voted against. The Arizona senator now says allowing the tax breaks to expire would amount to an unacceptable tax increase.

McCain’s “no new taxes” statement marked a turnaround. Last September, he was forced to defend his refusal to sign a no-new tax pledge offered by the conservative Americans for Tax Reform.

“I stand on my record,” he said during a televised debate in Durham, N.H. “I don’t have to sign pledges.”

The leading contender for his party’s presidential nomination, McCain blamed out-of-control spending for a lack of enthusiasm among Republican voters.

“Spending restraint is why our base is not energized,” he said. “I think it’s very important that we send a signal to the American people we’re going to stop the earmark pork-barrel spending.”

McCain said the $35 billion worth of spending on special projects that Bush signed into law in the last two years amounts to a $1,000 tax credit for every child in America, and would have been better for the economy if spent that way.

McCain also said he was open to the idea of helping homeowners facing foreclosure, provided they were “legitimate borrowers” and not “engaged in speculation.”

Obama and Edwards meet in NC


This Associated Press story that ran in the Grand Rapids Press could be described as a typical horse-race story. What is the value of the story to potential voters? Is the story based on facts and information that could assist people in making an informed vote? The AP story tells readers that a local TV station was “tipped off” by an anonymous source that Senator Obama went to the home of former Presidential candidate John Edwards. The TV Station has footage taken from a helicopter of Obama leaving the Edwards’ home. How does this qualitfy as journalism?

The only source cited in the story is Bill Burton, an Obama spokesperson. The article goes on to say, “People close to the Edwardses, speaking privately, say they have been torn about whom to support.” How seriously should readers take the comments of anonymous sources? What does it mean “people close to the Edwardses?” Then it says that Edwards was highly critical of Clinton, “her policies, her ties to special interests and her character,” but the story offers no evidence or examples to support these claims. The story goes on to use comments from anonymous sources and then uses an excerpt froma speech Senator Obama gave in Wisconsin, even though we could find no evidence of these comments on Obama’s website. The story ends with a speculation that the Democratic Party is divided, but offers no real evidence to support such a claim.


Barack Obama sneaked down to North Carolina Sunday and met with former rival John Edwards, who has yet to make an endorsement in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Officials at North Carolina television station WTVD said they have video taken from a helicopter of Obama leaving Edwards’ home in Chapel Hill. A producer said the station was “tipped off” about the meeting, but said the source was confidential.

The Obama campaign confirmed the meeting. Although reporters normally travel everywhere with Obama, he left them behind to fly down in secret from his hometown.

“Senator Obama visited this morning with John and Elizabeth Edwards at their home in Chapel Hill to discuss the state of the campaign and the pressing issues facing American families,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton. He wouldn’t comment on the possibility of an endorsement.

People close to the Edwardses, speaking privately, say they have been torn about whom to support. The former North Carolina senator is concerned that Obama may not be ready for the presidency and that his health care plan is inferior. But Edwards was highly critical of Clinton — her policies, her ties to special interests and her character — during his campaign, making it more difficult to support her now.

The couple has been impressed with Clinton, who has more effectively courted them since the 2004 vice presidential nominee dropped out, people who talk to the Edwardses say. Obama has been less attentive, they say, and some of those close to the Edwardses have been annoyed that Obama has continued to ridicule him for once saying his biggest weakness is that he has a powerful response to seeing pain in others.

Still, since Edwards has left the race, Obama often praises him in public. This week he told Wisconsin voters that Edwards will “be a major voice in the Democratic party for years to come, and I want him involved and partnering with me in moving this country forward.”

None of the other former Democratic presidential candidates — Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson or Dennis Kucinich — have endorsed Obama or Clinton, reflecting the party’s split over who would be the best president.

Senate OKs spy powers


This New York Times story that ran in the Grand Rapids Press is about the Senate vote on whether or not phone companies can legally be held accountable for their cooperation in the government program of monitoring phone calls. The GR Press version of the story is considerably shorter than the original New York Times version and leaves out the comments from legislators and a “former Justice Department intelligence lawyer who represents several telecommunication companies.” The story says that the vote was 68-29, but does not provide a break down along party lines. The article does mention some partisan positions by saying, “Republicans hailed the reworking of the surveillance law as essential to protecting national security, but some Democrats and many liberal advocacy groups saw the outcome as another example of the Democrats’ fears of being branded weak on terrorism.” Unfortunately, none of the “liberal advocacy groups” were identified.

The story does mention that GOP Presidential candidate John McCain did vote for this bill. Both Democratic Presidential candidates, Senator’s Obama and Clinton did not vote on the matter, but the story does mention “Obama did oppose immunity on a key earlier motion to end debate. Mrs. Clinton, campaigning in Texas, issued a statement saying she would have voted to oppose the final measure.” The story ends by saying, “AT&T and other major phone companies are facing some 40 lawsuits from customers who claim their actions were illegal,” although no details of these lawsuits are provided, nor whether or not this legislation will impact the outcome of those lawsuits. One other omission worth mentioning is the role that the TeleCom industry plays in both lobbying and campaign contributions in the this year’s election, information that might have some bearing on the Senate decision.


After more than a year of wrangling, the Senate handed the White House a major victory on Tuesday by voting to broaden the government’s spy powers and to give legal protection to phone companies that cooperated in President Bush’s program of eavesdropping without warrants.

One by one, the Senate rejected amendments that would have imposed greater civil liberties checks on the government’s surveillance powers. Finally, the Senate voted 68 to 29 to approve legislation that the White House had been pushing for months. Mr. Bush hailed the vote and urged the House to move quickly in following the Senate’s lead.

The outcome in the Senate amounted, in effect, to a broader proxy vote in support of Mr. Bush’s wiretapping program. The wide-ranging debate before the final vote presaged discussion that will play out this year in the presidential and Congressional elections on other issues testing the president’s wartime authority, including secret detentions, torture and Iraq war financing.

Republicans hailed the reworking of the surveillance law as essential to protecting national security, but some Democrats and many liberal advocacy groups saw the outcome as another example of the Democrats’ fears of being branded weak on terrorism.

“Some people around here get cold feet when threatened by the administration,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who leads the Judiciary Committee and who had unsuccessfully pushed a much more restrictive set of surveillance measures.

Among the presidential contenders, Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, voted in favor of the final measure, while the two Democrats, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, did not vote. Mr. Obama did oppose immunity on a key earlier motion to end debate. Mrs. Clinton, campaigning in Texas, issued a statement saying she would have voted to oppose the final measure.

The measure extends, for at least six years, many of the broad new surveillance powers that Congress hastily approved last August just before its summer recess. Intelligence officials said court rulings had left dangerous gaps in their ability to intercept terrorist communications.

The bill, which had the strong backing of the White House, allows the government to eavesdrop on large bundles of foreign-based communications on its own authority so long as Americans are not the targets.

The Senate plan also adds one provision considered critical by the White House: shielding phone companies from any legal liability for their roles in the eavesdropping program approved by Mr. Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks. The program allowed the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without warrants on the international communications of Americans suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda.

AT&T and other major phone companies are facing some 40 lawsuits from customers who claim their actions were illegal.

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

A secret intelligence court, which traditionally has issued individual warrants before wiretapping began, would review the procedures set up by the executive branch only after the fact to determine whether there were abuses involving Americans.

“This is a dramatic restructuring” of surveillance law, said Michael Sussmann, a former Justice Department intelligence lawyer who represents several telecommunication companies. “And the thing that’s so dramatic about this is that you’ve removed the court review. There may be some checks after the fact, but the administration is picking the targets.”

The Bush administration maintains that if the suits are allowed to continue in court, they could bankrupt the companies and discourage them from cooperating in future intelligence operations.

The House approved a surveillance bill in November that intentionally left out immunity for the phone companies, and leaders from the two chambers will now have to find a way to work out significant differences between their two bills.

Democratic opponents, led by Senators Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, argued that the plan effectively rewarded phone companies by providing them with legal insulation for actions that violated longstanding law and their own privacy obligations to their customers. But immunity supporters said the phone carriers acted out of patriotism after the Sept. 11 attacks in complying with what they believed in good faith was a legally binding order from the president.

“This, I believe, is the right way to go for the security of the nation,” said Senator John D. Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat who leads the intelligence committee. His support for the plan, after intense negotiations with the White House and his Republican colleagues, was considered critical to its passage but drew criticism from civil liberties groups because of $42,000 in contributions that Mr. Rockefeller received last year from AT&T and Verizon executives.

Senator Olympia J. Snowe, a Maine Republican on the intelligence panel, said the bill struck the right balance between protecting the rights of Americans and protecting the country “from terrorism and other foreign threats.”

Democratic opponents, who six months ago vowed to undo the results of the August surveillance vote, said they were deeply disappointed by the defection of 19 Democrats who backed the bill.

Mr. Dodd, who spoke on the floor for more than 20 hours in recent weeks in an effort to stall the bill, said future generations would view the vote as a test of whether the country heeds “the rule of law or the rule of men.”

But with Democrats splintered, Mr. Dodd acknowledged that the national security argument had won the day. “Unfortunately, those who are advocating this notion that you have to give up liberties to be more secure are apparently prevailing,” he said. “They’re convincing people that we’re at risk either politically, or at risk as a nation.”

There was a measure of frustration in the voice of Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, as he told reporters during a break in the daylong debate, “Holding all the Democrats together on this, we’ve learned a long time ago, is not something that’s doable.”

Senate Republicans predict that they will be able to persuade the House to include immunity in the final bill, especially now that the White House has agreed to give House lawmakers access to internal documents on the wiretapping program. But House Democrats vowed Tuesday to continue opposing immunity.

Congress faces a Saturday deadline for extending the current law, but Democrats want to extend the deadline for two weeks to allow more time for talks. The White House has said it opposes a further extension.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats hope to put some pressure on Republicans on Wednesday over another security-related issue by bringing up an intelligence measure that would apply Army field manual prohibitions against torture to civilian agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency.

Republicans plan to try to eliminate that provision, a vote that Democrats say will force Republicans to declare whether they condone torture. Democrats also say it could show the gap between Mr. McCain, who has opposed torture, and the administration on the issue.

“We know how we would feel if a member of the armed services captured by the enemy were, for example, waterboarded,” Mr. Reid said. “So I think that we’re headed in the right direction, and I hope that we’ll get Republican support on this.”

WOOD radio and WOOD TV announce they will “share” news


This story appeared on the back page of the “Your Life” section of the Grand Rapids Press. One would think that the announcement of this “news partnership” between two area broadcasters would appear in the regional or business section of the Press, not right above the movie listings. The article reads much like a Media Release, with the announcement of the partnership up front, followed by bullet points for the “viewers and listeners,” and then comments from representatives from both stations.

Phil Tower, former WOOD radio staffer and now program consultant had some interesting things to say in the story. First, he says “it’s a good way to just further enhance each of our respective brands as places to find local news.” So, it’s about branding,not doing better local news. If the stations are “sharing” news resources an expected outcome is using fewer journalists since they will no doubt be streamlining news stories between themsleves. Tower then responds to the issue of whether or not this decision to collaborate has anything to do with recent job cuts at WOOD radio. “Whether it’s radio or television, everybody’s dealing with tightened budgets; that’s a reality of corporate America that’s been around for decades,” Tower said. Unfortunately for readers of the Press there are no other perspectives to question such a comment, but recent broadcast history can certainly tell us something about this move between the two broadcasters.

There is an excellant report done by Cornell University on the downsizing impact of Clear Channel’s radio ownership since the 1996 TeleCom Act was passed. Clear Channel is also on the verge of being bought out, so this could be a move in preparation to possible downsizing under the new owner. WOOD TV is also no stranger to downsizing of their staff. A few years ago the Battle Creek affiliate, WOTV, which had a full staff in Battle Creek was downsized so that what viewers got in Battle Creek is what viewers get in West Michigan. For the Grand Rapids Press to not seek out an independent voice on this issue does a disservice to the community. One could certainly ask the question, “does the partnership between WOOD TV 8 and the GR Press have any bearing on how the Press reports on the business affairs of WOOD radio?”


Two longtime West Michigan news organizations are reuniting after 36 years in an effort to provide news, weather and other coverage.

WOOD-TV (Channel 8) and Clear Channel’s Newsradio WOOD-AM (1300) are sharing resources, effective immediately, in a full-content partnership involving news, weather, sports and traffic.

Representatives of both stations said viewers and listeners will notice:

WOOD-TV reporters giving daily news updates on WOOD-AM.

WOOD-TV being incorporated onto, providing daily news feeds of top headlines as well as Storm Team 8 Doppler radar.

TV8 meteorologists providing expanded weather forecasts for WOOD-AM and all seven local Clear Channel stations.

Kevin Richards reporting real-time traffic conditions on both stations.

“All of our stations will be taking on whatever elements they want to use from WOOD-TV. And WOOD-TV will have access to our news-gathering sources and traffic sources,” said Tim Feagan, vice president and West Michigan marketing manager for Clear Channel.

“From my standpoint, having been in this marketplace before, (I) could never understand why WOOD-TV8 and WOOD radio, especially, didn’t have a full-content partnership. Certainly, we both have resources that the other could use to our advantage … and certainly do not see ourselves necessarily in a competitive battle.”

Grandwood Broadcasting owned the two organizations for 22 years. LIN TV now owns WOOD-TV, WOTV (Channel 4) and WXSP (Channel 15).

Diane Kniowski, president and general manager of WOOD, WOTV and WXSP, said she sees the partnership as a return to roots.

“What (the partnership) provides for us is our information and our message gets out to the public through their distribution,” Kniowski said. “And then what they give us in addition to more ears and listeners and a distribution point for our brand of news is they also give us a partnership for covering stories.”

A change in management helped facilitate the partnership, which had been in discussion for many years, Feagan and Kniowski said.

“The initial reason is Clear Channel has a new chief (Tim Feagan),” Kniowski said. “That’s the new element that opened that door. He’s the one that came to us and said, ‘Let’s do this.’

“I mean, we’ve always had a partnership, (but) it’s never been this expanded.”

Both outlets have been combining for decades due to a shared office or close proximity, said Phil Tower, WOOD-AM’s programming and operating consultant and new general manager of the Atlanta-based Allen Hunt Show.

“What it says about the two entities today, I think they realize that it’s a good way to just further enhance each of our respective brands as places to find local news,” Tower said.

Recent staff reductions at WOOD radio had nothing to do with the partnership, he said.

“Whether it’s radio or television, everybody’s dealing with tightened budgets; that’s a reality of corporate America that’s been around for decades,” Tower said.

Making new appearances — after laying dormant in closets at WOOD radio — is Woody the Woodpecker.

The mascot will frequent parades, but Kniowski said she is unsure if the image will return to letterheads, packaging or other promotions.

“The woodpecker is going to be making appearances everywhere with us to kind of bring the reminiscence of the brand back.”

Debate turns into boxing match


This Associated Press story is typical of how the debates have been reported on so far. The headline is a good indication of what the GR Press considers news worthy, by calling it a “boxing match.” The third paragraph also continues this type of language by saying “John Edwards played the role of referee, but many of his calls went against Obama.” The rest of the article has quotres from only Clinton and Obama but none of their comments have anything to do with issues or policies. The reporter doesn’t even investigate the claims and comments made first by Senator Obama when he says, “There’s a set of assertions made by Senator Clinton, as well as her husband, that are not factually accurate.” First, there is no mention of what the “assertions” are and no verification of said assertions.

Senator Clinton then says,” Your record and what you say does matter. And when it comes to a lot of the issues that are important in this race, it is sometimes difficult to understand what Senator Obama has said, because as soon as he is confronted on it, he says that’s not what he meant.” Again, readers are left just wondering about what Senator Obama’s record is and what he has said about it since none of that information appears in the story. The three Democratic candidates did talk about issues, with the economy be the first addressed. In fact, the proposed tax-rebate by Bush was discussed and trade policies such as NAFTA and the recent Peru Free Trade Agreement. You can read an online transcript of the debate for more information.


Barack Obama wasn’t kidding when he said he would start speaking out more aggressively against the Clintons.

From his first answer at a highly acrimonious debate Monday night, the Illinois senator went after the first couple of Democratic politics with a tenacity he had not shown before in his campaign of hope. He drew quick return fire from Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is pointing her campaign toward Super Tuesday Feb. 5 when more than half the Democratic delegates are at stake.

John Edwards played the role of referee, but many of his calls went against Obama. That double-teaming with Clinton was a reflection of Obama’s strong standing in the South Carolina primary Saturday in which at least half of the voters are expected to be black. Obama needs to protect his standing with that group to win South Carolina and maintain his strong position against Clinton, who came back to defeat him in New Hampshire after a big Obama victory in Iowa.

He cannot afford to ignore the criticisms coming from the Clinton campaign _ most prominently and aggressively from the former president. Even though Bill Clinton is beloved by many black voters, Obama accused both Clintons of playing loose with the facts and being willing to do anything to get elected.

“There’s a set of assertions made by Senator Clinton, as well as her husband, that are not factually accurate,” Obama said. “And I think that part of what the people are looking for right now is somebody who’s going to solve problems and not resort to the same typical politics that we’ve seen in Washington.”

“Your record and what you say does matter,” Clinton retorted. “And when it comes to a lot of the issues that are important in this race, it is sometimes difficult to understand what Senator Obama has said, because as soon as he is confronted on it, he says that’s not what he meant.”

Their debate only intensified from there, with the two candidates shouting over one another, jabbing fingers in the air and glaring at one another while Edwards struggled to get a word in.

When Clinton criticized Obama for complimenting Republicans in a recent newspaper interview, Obama responded by defending his comments about Ronald Reagan. Clinton said she wasn’t talking about Reagan.

“Your husband did,” Obama said.

“Well, I’m here. He’s not,” she snapped.

“Well, I can’t tell who I’m running against sometimes,” Obama complained.

Obama said while he was working on the streets of Chicago, helping workers whose jobs were shipped overseas, Clinton was “a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart.”

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

Moments later the former first lady responded that she was fighting for workers while Obama was representing a now-indicted political patron “in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.”

He said her current opposition to a bankruptcy bill that she previously voted for meant voters can’t trust what she says. Clinton suggested Obama did the bidding of the insurance companies and refuses to take responsibility for his votes.

And on it went.

Clinton criticized Obama for voting “present” 130 times while he was in the Illinois state Senate, refusing to take a yes or no position on bills that would keep sex shops away from schools and limit the rights of victims of sexual abuse, among other things. Edwards chimed in to press Obama on the issue.

“What if I had just not shown up to vote on things that really mattered to this country?” Edwards said. “It would have been the careful and cautious thing to do, but I have a responsibility to take a position even when it has political consequences for me.”

“Don’t question, John, the fact that on issue after issue that is important to the American people, I haven’t simply followed, I have led,” Obama responded.

The second half of the debate was less personal, and Obama even allowed that former President Clinton had earned his enormous affinity in the black community when he was asked if Clinton deserved his title as the “first black president.”

“I have to say that, I would have to investigate more of Bill’s dancing abilities and some of this other stuff before I accurately judge whether he was in fact a brother,” Obama said.

“Well, I’m sure that can be arranged,” Clinton responded.

MLK’s dream trapped in past?


This story appears on the federally recognized holiday for the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The theme of the story is that the complexity of who Dr. King was is not well known. The Associated Press writer investigates this claim by speaking with several historians and university professors. The first source is Henry Louis Taylor Jr., at the University of Buffalo. The second source is Harvard Sitkoff, a professor of history at the University of New Hampshire, whom the article mentions is the author of a new book on King. Three other professors are mentioned, Richard Greenwald, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, and Glenn McNair. All of the sources provide brief comments on why they think King’s legacy has been forgotten.

The article does mention briefly that “King was working on anti-poverty and anti-war issues at the time of his death. He had spoken out against the Vietnam War and was in Memphis when he was killed in April 1968 in support of striking sanitation workers.” There are no details on what King’s position on poverty or the was in Vietnam were, even though his speeches and writings are readily available at sources like the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute. A good example of his stance against the war in Vietnam was his sppech entitled Beyond Vietnam, where he calls the US government the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.

The article ends with some references to how King has become part of the 2008 Presidential Election because Obama could be the first Black President and Clinton supposedly made a comment that credited former President Johnson with making the Civil Rights Act a reality. For a good analysis of Clinton’s comment and how Obama compares to Dr. King, see a recent article by radical historian Paul Street.


Nearly 40 years after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., some say his legacy is being frozen in a moment in time that ignores the full complexity of the man and his message.

“Everyone knows — even the smallest kid knows about Martin Luther King — can say his most famous moment was that ‘I have a dream’ speech,” said Henry Louis Taylor Jr., professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Buffalo. “No one can go further than one sentence. All we know is that this guy had a dream. We don’t know what that dream was.”

King was working on anti-poverty and anti-war issues at the time of his death. He had spoken out against the Vietnam War and was in Memphis when he was killed in April 1968 in support of striking sanitation workers.

King had come a long way from the crowds who cheered him at the 1963 March on Washington, when he was introduced as “the moral leader of our nation” — and when he pronounced “I have a dream” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

By taking on issues outside segregation, he had lost the support of many newspapers and magazines, and his relationship with the White House had suffered, said Harvard Sitkoff, a professor of history at the University of New Hampshire who has written a recently published book on King.

“He was considered by many to be a pariah,” Sitkoff said.

But he took on issues of poverty and militarism because he considered them vital “to make equality something real and not just racial brotherhood but equality in fact,” Sitkoff said.

Scholarly study of King hasn’t translated into the popular perception of him and the civil rights movement, said Richard Greenwald, professor of history at Drew University.

“We’re living increasingly in a culture of top 10 lists, of celebrity biopics which simplify the past as entertainment or mythology,” he said. “We lose a view on what real leadership is by compressing him down to one window.”

That does a disservice to both King and society, said Melissa Harris-Lacewell, professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University.

By freezing him at that point, by putting him on a pedestal of perfection that doesn’t acknowledge his complex views, “it makes it impossible both for us to find new leaders and for us to aspire to leadership,” Harris-Lacewell said.

She believes it’s important for Americans in 2008 to remember how disliked King was before his death in April 1968.

“If we forget that, then it seems like the only people we can get behind must be popular,” Harris-Lacewell said. “Following King meant following the unpopular road, not the popular one.”

In becoming an icon, King’s legacy has been used by people all over the political spectrum, said Glenn McNair, associate professor of history at Kenyon College.

He’s been part of the 2008 presidential race, in which Barack Obama could be the country’s first black president. Obama has invoked King, and Sen. John Kerry endorsed Obama by saying “Martin Luther King said that the time is always right to do what is right.”

Not all the references have been received well. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton came under fire when she was quoted as saying King’s dream of racial equality was realized only when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

King has “slipped into the realm of symbol that people use and manipulate for their own purposes,” McNair said.

Harris-Lacewell said that is something people need to push back against.

“It’s not OK to slip into flat memory of who Dr. King was, it does no justice to us and makes him to easy to appropriate,” she said. “Every time he gets appropriated, we have to come out and say that’s not OK. We do have the ability to speak back.”

Illegal immigrants a financial burden on Michigan


This guest column by State Representative Agema is just days after he held a public hearing. Agema makes similar claims in this column that he did at that public hearing, such as “taxpayer dollars are being used to subsidize illegal aliens” and other Midwest states have gone to a system where a Medicaid applicant must prove citizenship before receiving assistance.” In both cases Agema does not provide any sources to verify his claims. The final section of the guest column piece provides a summary of the speakers at the public hearing and says “We were successful in our mission to conduct a frank discussion in ways that we can end the unnecessary burden of illegal immigrants on our state.” Unfortunately, Agema’s column does not provide any background on any of the speakers, nor the fact that most people who attended were pro-immigrant and were only given the final 10 minutes of the hearing to speak.


By Rep. David Agema

Special To The Press

For several months now, alarm bells in Lansing have been ringing uncontrollably as we are warned of the state’s impending financial collapse should we fail to balance our budget and keep the cost of doing state business down.

Unfortunately, many in Lansing are only willing to pay lip service to the problem rather than finding solutions to it. I choose to focus on the concerns of the taxpayers from the 74th district and their agenda, rather than the Lansing agenda of raising taxes and partisan bickering.

For this reason, I am happy to join other Republicans in support of the Taxpayer’s Agenda. An important part of this Taxpayer’s Agenda is the creation of several task forces to address the issues that many in Lansing choose to neglect.

I am excited to be a member of the Border Security and Immigration Reform, which focuses on homeland security and seeks ways to limit the negative impact that illegal immigration has on Michigan’s economy.

Taxpayer dollars are being used to subsidize illegal aliens in this state, and state programs are the vehicle that allows this. Medicaid costs have been increasing by millions annually, and the last thing we need is the added cost of care for people who should not be here in the first place.

Other Midwest states have gone to a system where a Medicaid applicant must prove their citizenship before receiving assistance. After doing so, those states have seen a 5 percent reduction in Medicaid expenditures. If Michigan were to implement a similar program and achieve similar results, we could see a drastic decrease in Medicaid spending totaling roughly $125 million.

Illegal immigrants who go to hospitals for emergency care rarely have the means to pay for their care. However, due to current laws, hospitals are not allowed to deny treatment based on inability to pay. As a result, the hospitals must count this “free” care as a loss, therefore passing the cost of this care onto other paying customers.

Spectrum Health incurred charges of more than $700,000 last year alone on illegal immigrant health care, and they expect that figure to increase this year.

Michigan’s employment environment is also polluted with illegal immigrants. In fact, there have been several instances in which new projects have been hijacked by illegal immigrant workers. In the Thumb area of Michigan, the Harvest Wind Farm project so highly touted by Gov. Jennifer Granholm was being staffed by a contractor who hires not only out of state workers, but employs illegal immigrants as well.

After first chiding the Republicans for forming the Immigration and Homeland Security Task Force, the Democrats have recently introduced legislation embracing some of our ideas. However, their half-hearted attempts don’t stand up under scrutiny.

Although they say they want to punish employers who hire illegals, they would only do so by canceling state contracts with these companies and requiring them to pay back incentives. No other punitive action would be taken. This is unacceptable.

The latest task force hearing held in Jenison focused on homeland security threats that Michigan is now plagued with because of illegal immigration. Testimony included representatives from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Ottawa County Sheriffs, 9/11 families for a more secure America; and Jon DeWitte from Congressman Peter Hoekstra’s office.

The discussion centered on of law enforcement personnel, security officials and other concerned community members. We were successful in our mission to conduct a frank discussion in ways that we can end the unnecessary burden of illegal immigrants on our state.

As my colleagues and I travel the state we look forward to hearing ideas from a diverse background.

— Rep. David Agema represents the 74th House District. He lives in Grandville.

Kalamazoo Rally Ends Peacefully


This story was based upon the actions of various White Supremacists who came to Kalamazoo for a “Rally Against Black Gang Terrorism” and a counter-demonstration organized by Michigan Against White Supremacy and people from Kalamazoo. What does channel 13 mean by the headline to their online story “Kalamazoo Rally Ends Peacefully?” The second senetence in the story then says “But, thanks to a heavy police presence, it ended peacefully.” Does the story imply that the police prevented any violence at the White Supremacist rally? The first person cited in the story is with the Kalamazoo police, who is also cited responded to a claim by the White Supremacist rally organizer Hal Turner. The story then cites a White Supremacist and someone who participated in the counter-demonstration, but provided no details on what the White Suprecemacists were calling for nor any background information on those groups. The story ends with the claim that the City of Kalamazoo did not support the position of the White Supremacists but because of the First Amendment had to grant them a permit. There was no mention in the story of police intimidation nor the arrests of three counter-demonstrators.


Protestors clashed with White Supremists at a rally held in Kalamazoo. But, thanks to a heavy police presence, it ended peacefully.

The Kalamazoo Public Safety Department says it learned from other cities like Toledo, Ohio, where riots broke out in 2005. That when a Neo-Nazi group clashed with neighbors in a predominately black neighborhood.

Kalamazoo Public Safety Department Captain Joseph Taylor says, “We’ve learned, as did Toledo from their experience. Lansing had a similar police presence.”

In Kalamazoo, the rally was held in the parking lot of the Public Safety Department. The White Supremist group was led by talk show host Hal Turner. The group says the demonstration is in response to recent assaults in the city. The group called them hate crimes.

“Several of them were Minorities assaulting Caucasians, it was a mix. They’ve taken that and blown it into being a racist, ethnic intimidation case, which we have no evidence of”, says Capt. Taylor.

Dan Hill, a White Supremist who was not part of the group holding the event says, “We’re just here to support the message that Kalamazoo, the city, and police force have to put a stop to these hate crimes.”

One of the protestors, Walter Jones says, “I went to Vietnam. I got shot three times. Then I’m going to let these guys come into town. Nah, it’s not right.”

The White Supremist group finished their rally and left the city without any major problems.

The City of Kalamazoo says it does not support the message the group was trying to send, but they did have to issue the group a permit based on the First Amendment. The Right to Assemble and The Freedom of Speech.

Low turnout at white supremacist rally


This story was based upon the actions of various White Supremacists who came to Kalamazoo for a “Rally Against Black Gang Terrorism” and a counter-demonstration organized by Michigan Against White Supremacy and people from Kalamazoo. The story begins with “Police say Saturday’s rally was quiet compared to past rallies,” but the reporter never clarifies what they mean by “quiet” nor how this rally compares to others. The first person who is cited in the story was someone who was watching from a distance, not the White Supremacists nor the people who organized or participated in the counter-demonstration. The story then shifts to say that rally organizer Hal Turner said “The city of Kalamazoo has a problem with black gangs.” No other information is provided about Hal Turner or what he and the other White Supremacist Groups who came to Kalamazoo actually advocate. One thing that Turner had called for in Kalamazoo was the “lynching of Black people.” Does this seem like relevant information for channel 8 viewers?

The story then turns to another gathering in Kalamazoo by African Americans offering an alternative to the White Supremacist gathering, but no information is provided on this group or what they are for except “unity.” The story then cited the Kalamazoo police and that some people were arrested, even though the reasons for the arrest conflict with other reports.


Police say Saturday’s rally was quiet compared to past rallies.

Around 200 people came out, mostly protesters. That number not comparing to over 400 officers on duty.

It helped, they say, to let the rally take place in the parking lot of Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety where they could easily take control of any situation.

The tapes and gates were in place early Saturday morning.

Police officers filed in to man their stations. Many more located at street corners all over Kalamazoo.

A white supremacist group was set to rally at 1:00 p.m. Saturday.

Bashun Bransn told 24 Hour News 8 he came out to see what it was all about.

“I just look at the stupidity and go back and get on the track. This is just disgusting to me,” Bransn said.

He says he’ll use what he hears to try and teach a message about peace through music as Bransn is a rapper.

While others looked on, the words of radio talk show host Hal Turner, the man leading the rally, rang through a vacant parking lot.

“Behavior is the reason this rally has to occur,” Turner said. “The city of Kalamazoo has a problem with black gangs.”

It’s a message Turner has sent e-mails about trying to get publicity.

Saturday his words were only heard for an hour.

Some people, however, ignored those words completely. Across town a peace rally where families came together.

“The ones for unity in the community are out here,” Yolanda Neals told 24 Hour News 8.

The numbers cut down on the numbers in town at the rally, something police are thankful for.

“It couldn’t have gone any better as far as the number of people that showed up an the control we’ve seen so far,” said Captain Joe Taylor of Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety.

Two people were arrested. One for Resisting & Obstructing an officer and another for Interfering with an officer, in the aftermath of the event.

While they’re pleased with the low turn-out, they say this is not over yet. They will be following up in town all evening to make sure there are no problems between the white supremacist group and protesters.

Mayor highlights goals, successes


The channel 8 story was incredibly short in length and did not touch on most of the areas that the Mayor mentioned in his speech, nor provide details of what the City would work on over the next year. Heartwell also mentioned the successes and accomplishments over the past year, but channel 8 did not verify those claims, nor did they seek out any reaction to the speech or provide an independent perspective.


Reporter – Grand Rapids Mayor, George Heartwell, filled with high hopes as he delivered his 4th State of the City Address. Speaking to a crowd of citizens and community leaders, Heartwell says while he’s accomplished several things, there are still many challenges ahead, on the forefront, fighting the passage of Proposal 2, which bans some forms of Affirmative Action. Heartwell also wants to see major improvements in the city’s public education system, like lower drop out rates and higher test scores.

Mayor Heartwell – “No city can hope to be completely successful in the knowledge economy that doesn’t have a great public education system.”

Heartwell also hopes to end homelessness by 2014. He would also like to see neighborhoods raise their own funds for services as the city tackles its financial challenges.