Michigan’s Gay Marriage Fight Could Still Cost Taxpayers

Gay Marriage

It’s an interesting question: Should a state be required to pick-up the cost of a lawsuit it fought, and ultimately, lost?

Lawyers who took-on and defeated the state of Michigan’s gay marriage ban in the Supreme Court, believes it does:

Six lawyers who represented the Hazel Park couple whose case was at the heart of the landmark Supreme Court gay marriage decision last month, are asking a federal judge to make the state of Michigan pay them nearly $2 million in legal fees.

The lawyers filed the request Saturday, detailing the hardships they endured the past four years while representing April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse. The couple’s legal team is asking for $1,927,450 in fees, according to court records. The lawyers, who each billed $350 per hour, worked thousands of hours on the case and examined tens of thousands of documents necessary to the litigation.

Representatives for Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney Bill Schuette, could not be immediately be reached for comment Sunday by the Free Press. DeBoer and Rowse’s lawyers could not be reached for comment.

Until I read this story, I had never given this question much of a thought. Should the state be on-the-hook if it loses a court battle? It’s a multi-layered question that could have consequences in years to come once decided by a judge.

The lawyers for DeBoer and Rowse say their case is unique in that they defended a couple who were part “of an historically unpopular minority.” Basically, the lawyers defended civil rights violations perpetrated by the state of Michigan.

It’s a compelling argument, especially when the lawyers point-out that Schuette was the one who pressed the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Instead of accepting early defeats, Schuette spent time and manpower on preventing the Michigan’s gay marriage ban on becoming obsolete.

As MLive’s Susan Demas writes today:

And let’s not forget: The state of Michigan didn’t have to take its gay-marriage ban to the Supreme Court. Republican Govs. Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Chris Christie of New Jersey (who’s running for president, for God’s sake) decided not to waste taxpayer dollars on a losing battle.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette could have nixed the fight and saved the state lots of money — and embarrassment.

They didn’t.

And now we all might have to pay. While that’s unfortunate, it’s not as wrenching as it was for loving couples to be denied basic rights for years.

Schuette was fighting an uphill battle, but still kept fighting for political reasons. He gambled and lost, and now his misreading of the law could cost taxpayers $2 million.

For a different take, click on Charlie Rood’s reaction to this story by clicking on the WSGW’s Morning Team podcast from this morning. His remarks begin around the 16:40 mark.

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Can’t Ignore These Numbers

Bernie Sanders Trump

For all of Donald Trump’s bluster, and media hysteria surrounding him, a new CNN Poll shows the barely covered Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders is not only beating Trump, but he’s beating Trump badly (pgs. 84-85 of the survey):

Sanders: 58%

Trump: 38%

or…

Sanders: 48%

Walker: 43%

That’s a rather astounding finding, considering how Sanders apparently has no chance of winning. The same poll shows Hillary Clinton enjoying a healthy lead over Sanders among Democratic Party primary voters.

I don’t believe Sanders would win a general election, but similar to how Trump is firing up the conservative base, Sanders has sparked a fire on the Left. Perhaps this just shows millions of Americans aren’t ready for another Clinton-Bush election.

While I think Jeb Bush is going to be tough for any Republican primary challenger, I’m still of the belief that he doesn’t win the primary. Does that mean Trump will end up the winner? One can only hope. But I believe the longer Trump stays in the race and neutralizes Bush, the better it can be for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who’s got the backing of Koch money. And it’s that sup

Still, these numbers show that at least part of the country is open to Bernie’s ideas regarding minimum wage, foreign affairs, corporate welfare, and the struggles of the poor and middle class.

Telling Americans to be in constant fear of “the other” may work in primaries, but I’m not sold it works outside the conservative bubble.

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Why So Angry Over Iranian Nuke Deal?

Reagan's conservative allies attacked him for dealing with Soviets.

Reagan’s conservative allies attacked him for dealing with Soviets.

Listen to my take on the Iranian nuclear deal from Sunday’s First Day show on WSGW.


*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************

“Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”  We could use JFK right now!

Here’s the Peter Beinart article for your enjoyment.

Here’s the E.J. Dionne article I cited, too.

If you’d like to read a decent debate over the nuclear deal at The Atlantic, here are Beinart, Jeffrey Goldberg, and former George W. Bush speechwriter, David Frum.

I’ll post reactions to my rant on future posts.

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Trump’s Using GOP Playbook Against Itself

Trump

At first, I thought Donald Trump’s hilarious bid for the GOP presidential nomination would finally implode after he made this statement last weekend regarding Republican Senator–and former Prisoner Of War–John McCain:

I told my conservative friend, Art Lews (from WSGW’s The Art Lewis Show) on Monday that Trump can’t attack a former POW, and expect to win the nomination. However, right after I said that, I recalled reading various comment sections on Twitter, Facebook, and conservative websites, defending Trump.

And then it hit me!

Of course, conservatives aren’t going to immediately dump Trump for his statements on McCain! Attacking the military service records of specific political foes has been part of the conservative playbook for years.

Not to defend Trump, but it’s hilarious to see the GOP establishment shed crocodile tears over his statement, considering how they treated McCain in the past, and the relentless attacks they levied on then-Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.

In order to discredit Kerry’s service in Vietnam, conservative groups launched numerous attacks on Kerry’s service record. These groups, which included the now-thoroughly discredited “Swift Boaters For Truth,” claimed Kerry lied about his war record, including his injuries.

Do you remember delegates mocking Kerry’s service by wearing these Purple Heart band aids at the GOP Convention?

From 2004 GOP Convention

From 2004 GOP Convention

Kerry was a rich kid who still went to–and got wounded in–Vietnam. Having served, Kerry was within his right to call-out our failed national leaders and our failed national policy pertaining to Vietnam. And naturally, conservative groups supported by former Governor Jeb Bush, attacked and mocked John Kerry for her service.

When I say Jeb Bush supported these heavily discredited anti-Kerry groups, I mean we have actual evidence of Bush’s praising of said groups. Here’s a post-2004 letter Bush wrote the Swift Boat, thanking them for helping get his brother barely reelected.

Jeb Bush is defending the letter, while his campaign says the Trump’s attacks on McCain and the Swift Boaters are apples and oranges. Sure they are. Trump outrageously attacked a Republican, and the Swifties patriotically attacked a Democrat.

Bush called Trump’s remarks “ugly” and “mean-spirited.” Right, the Swifties’ attacks were simply kind-hearted, truthful disagreements, right?

The hypocrisy also funnels to former Texas Governor Rick Perry, and the Republican Party as a whole. They quickly denounced Trump’s words, but tacitly backed the Swift Boaters.

Trump is going to survive this latest incendiary comment because unlike the rest of the GOP, he’s just going all-out and saying it. Whereas the GOP count on secondary groups to do the dirty work, Trump just says it. Instead of hiring a surrogate to insult veterans, he’ll do it himself.

And he’s being rewarded with strong polling numbers.

Trump has struck a chord with many conservatives, and that’s why he’s not going away anytime soon. He’s utilizing the Republican/conservative playbook against the establishment, and the establishment is stuck in wet cement, unable to put-up a powerful attack on Trump.

Besides, he’s a billionaire. He’s not going anywhere soon, and I’m hoping for Hillary’s sake, he sticks around as long as possible.

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patpop2

First Day Playlist From July 19, 2015

Melody Gardot

Melody Gardot

These are the “Music Minutes” artists we featured on this past week’s First Day on WSGW.

Cruel Summer”  Bananarama–Bananarama–(1984)

  • Picked a song from 1984 to commemorate summer, of course, and the anniversary of when Geraldine Ferraro was nominated to be the Democratic Party’s candidate for vice president.

It’s No Secret”  Joann Garrett–No Album. Just a single.–(1969)

  • Ran across this intriguing psychedelic soul track. Had to play it.

Preacher Man”  Melody Gardot–Currency Of Man–(2015)

  • From Melody’s brand new album. Quite a change in style for her. Love it!

Beatles Minute:

Sexy Sadie”  The Beatles–Beatles Anthology 3–(1968)

Beatles Yogi

  • Recorded on this date in 1968. John’s derisive ode to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Pat’s Indie Pick Of The Week:

Photobooth”  Death Cab For Cutie–Forbidden Love EP–(2000)

  • Drummer Jason McGerr’s 41st birthday

Michael Percha’s Song Of The Week:

The Who's Roger Daltrey & Keith Moon.

The Who’s Roger Daltrey & Keith Moon.

Under a Raging Moon”  Roger Daltrey–Under a Raging Moon–(1985)

  • In recognition of the moon landing anniversary

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The Extortion Game Played By Pro Sports Owners

Artist rendition of $650 million Detroit Red Wings/Entertainment Center.

Artist rendition of $650 million Detroit Red Wings/Entertainment Center.

OK, I don’t have a poster of The Mackinac Center For Public Policy’s Jarrett Skorup above my bed (as far as you know), seeing this is the second time I’ve mentioned him on my blog today. Yes, it is strange for a liberal like me to find agreement with someone from a conservative think-tank, but it can happen from time-to-time.

Skorup once wrote about how public subsidizing of sports stadiums doesn’t provide the economic boon many sports owners claim:

The conclusion of a 2000 report from the Cato Institute says, “Despite the beliefs of local officials and their hired consultants about the economic benefits of publicly subsidized stadium construction, the consensus of academic economists has been that such policies do not raise incomes. The results that we describe in this article are even more pessimistic. Subsidies of sports facilities may actually reduce the incomes of the alleged beneficiaries.”

Numerous other studies have examined the question of stadium construction projects and found that “in virtually every case” there was no statistically significant positive correlation between construction and economic development. 

Skorup uses the now decaying Pontiac Silverdome to prove his point. Despite hundreds of millions of tax breaks and public subsidies, the team still moved back to Detroit, leaving the citizens of Pontiac with an empty stadium and dwindling budget coffers.

Studies upon studies have proven there is little to no economic boon for cities with sports venues. One particular study from the University Of Illinois revealed how sports venues lead to declining revenue and job losses. Plus, restaurant and bar employees experience a loss in wages, probably since many patrons choose to stay away from those establishments on game days. The study says the presence of a local sports team may provide happiness and escapism for citizens of that town, but that doesn’t justify municipalities spending millions in public funds to billionaire owners!

HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver covered this topic a week ago, and used the Detroit Red Wings’ new arena to hammer home the point. Even though the city of Detroit was in the middle of a bankruptcy fight, civic leaders bent over backwards to give ownership what it demanded. If the city didn’t give-in, Red Wings owner Mike Illich could threaten to move the team elsewhere.

Here’s how The Nation’s Dave Zirin described “the deal” back in 2013:

They don’t have money to keep the art on the walls. They do have $283 million to subsidize a new arena for Red Wings owner and founder of America’s worst pizza-pizza chain, Little Caesar’s, Mike Ilitch, whose family is worth $2.7 billion dollars. (“Friends! Romans! Countrymen! Lend me your pensions!”)

How did Governor Snyder possibly summon the shamelessness to justify this?

Here’s how. He said, “This is part of investing in Detroit’s future, That’s the message we need to get across.… As we stabilize the city government’s finances, as we address those issues and improve services, Detroit moves from a place where people might have had a negative impression…to being a place that will be recognized across the world as a place of great value and a place to invest.”

Where, oh where have we heard this argument before? What city has heard the false promise that stadium construction on the public dime would be a postindustrial life raft? There are actually many, but none have heard it more and paid the cost quite like Detroit. A new Red Wings arena would be the city’s third publicly funded major sports stadium, joining the Tigers’ Comerica Stadium and the Lions’ Ford Field. Each of these was billed as a “remedy” to save the city. Each of these has obviously failed. Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us. Try to fool us three times? Go to hell.

In the end, the Red Wings got their arena. Citizens are left paying a healthy sum of the cost, and aren’t even guaranteed they will receive employment at this venue.

I’m an avid sports fan, and love my Pittsburgh Steelers football, Detroit Tigers baseball, and Detroit Red Wings hockey. Many memories have been made in my life due to sports.

That being said, demanding citizens who are scratching and clawing in a time of near-stagnant wages to subsidize billionaire owners’ stadium ventures is plain sick.

John Oliver’s segment is awesome:

And for a quick trip down Amnesia Lane, read this L.A. Times story when Major League Baseball owners complained about losing a half-billion dollars in revenue back in 2001. What then-commissioner Bud Selig failed to explain was that teams received major tax breaks, and so the losses weren’t as dire as they claimed. But what the heck? When you’ve been getting away with fleecing the peasants for so long, you’re not going to stop! You keep going!

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