Week of 8.14.17

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Meadow Brook Concert & Cuisine

More than 350 ($85 - $125 tickets) convened at Oakland University for the annual summer fundraiser for MBT - “Michigan’s answer to Broadway.” Before the food stations opened, folks lollygagged outside sipping beer and wine from the Rochester Tap Room and bid $9,000 for the silent auction items Colleen Brnabic and Maryann Foxlee had set up in the hallway. Generous local restaurants (see photo gallery) served savory fare for dining on the stroll before the theatre doors opened. Artistic director Travis Walter conducted a live auction with his trademark good humor. He got $500 from two bidders for two Dickens packages that included a walk-on role in MBT’s “A Christmas Carol”  and $900 for a Fender Squire Guitar signed by The Grass Roots Band.
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This weeks social light photos…

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oakland confidential

August 2017

HORSE RACES: Democratic aspirations of taking a majority hold on Congress after the 2018 General Election will hinge on the party’s ability to take two dozen congressional seats, which may include upsets in Michigan’s 8th and 11th Districts, according to recent rankings of 82 districts by The New York Times. The piece split the districts into eight groups to watch, based on competitiveness ...more»
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07/26/2017 - During the course of last year I devoted one of my monthly columns on the effort in Lansing to begin applying the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to both chambers of the state legislature and the office of governor, asking readers to contact both their state representatives and senators to help push the bill through the Michigan House.

In the weeks following that column, I received emails from a number of residents in both the Birmingham-Bloomfield and Rochester-Rochester Hills areas informing me that they actually took my suggestion and emailed their Lansing lawmakers. To a person, there appeared to be solid support of increased public access to what many of us have always considered to be public documents that have been shielded from Michigan residents thanks to an exemption lawmakers wrote for themselves and the governor when the FOIA was first adopted in 1976.

This month I am asking once again for everyone's help in bringing that same legislation providing more transparency in the state capitol building to a vote in the Michigan Senate, where the multiple-bill package of legislation is stalled once again by Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive).

Here's the back story on Meekhof and his continuing effort to block increased citizen access to public records in the legislature and governor's office.

Meekhoff has served two terms in the state House and will be wrapping up his second – and last – term in the Senate next year. He is currently Senate Majority Leader. His district includes all of Ottawa County in the western portion of Michigan – the part of the state that wields an unusual influence (think big political money) on what has happened in Lansing in recent years.

As for Meekhof, his tenure as a lawmaker is best described as a never-ending appeasement for the far-right when it comes to the litmus test issues that political crowd supports. And this is not the first time Meekhof has shown his true colors when it comes issues of transparency, which is why Michigan still remains mired in 50th place when the Center for Public Integrity ranked the 50 states in terms of public accountability and transparency. We are one of two states that do not apply the FOIA to the governor's office and we are one of a small number of states that still exempt their legislators.

The Michigan House of Representatives, on a near unanimous basis, passed this legislation in 2016 and sent it to the Senate where Meekhof refused to bring it to a vote before the session ended. So this spring the House, on a unanimous vote, passed the package of bills again and shipped it off to the Senate. Meekhof sent the bills to the Committee on Government Operations, which he conveniently chairs.

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