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(PHOTOS) President Obama brings #minimumwage populism and campaign-style energy to Ann Arbor

President Obama came to Ann Arbor, Michigan yesterday to promote raising the national minimum wage to $10.10. His speach was full of energy and populism and had the crowd of around 1,400 on their feet and energized for the entire 35 minutes.

Chris and I were there to record it.

Before I came here today, I stopped at Zingerman’s, which is the right thing to do when you’re in Ann Arbor. I stopped for two reasons. The first is the Reuben is killer. So I ordered like the small and it didn’t look that small. So I gave half to Valerie Jarrett, who’s traveling with us.…
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Democrats running from President Obama and Obamacare? Not. Even.Close. (PHOTOS)

Please proceed.

Republicans want you to believe that even Democrats are jumping ship in their support for President Obama and the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, the truth is getting in the way of this convenient (for them) meme. There was solid proof it overnight in Ann Arbor.

The last time President Obama came to Ann Arbor in January 2012, demand for tickets was huge with students lining up for them overnight.

Last night, students began filling the Union at about 7:30 p.m. in hopes of being among the first in line to receive a ticket. At 1 a.m., students were asked to leave the building before it officially closed to the public at 2 a.m.…
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INTERVIEW: Josh Silver of Represent.Us, keynote speaker at next week’s Michigan Election Reform Conference

A week from today on Friday, April 4th, 2014 the Ann Arbor-based group Reclaim Our American Democracy (ROAD) is holding their 2014 Michigan Election Reform Conference at Cleary University in Ann Arbor. You can have a look at the brochure for this important event HERE (pdf). Registration is only $25, $10 for students and you may purchase a boxed lunch for $10 (deadline is Monday for ordering the lunch.) You may also register at the event for an additional $5. Click HERE to register.

The conference features an all-star cast of participants:

Yesterday I spoke with Josh Silver from Represent.Us about his organization and about his keynote speech.…

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More than just security for your family, a marriage license gives same-sex couples a feeling of legitimacy.

“We are changing the world today.”

“I feel like I can breath now,” Diane VanDorn told me on Sunday after being married to her partner Connie Greer on Saturday at the Washtenaw County Clerk’s office in Ann Arbor. Diane and Connie were one of the first of 300 same-sex couples that were married in Michigan that day.

Diane and Connie, both public school teachers in Ann Arbor, have been together for 17 years. They have four kids, Kaélan, 25, Nora, 8, and twins Hadden and Fletcher, 6, and live in Dexter with the three youngest children.

Diane left late from a conference on Friday night and drove past the Washtenaw County Clerk’s office prepared to get in line just in case one had started to form.…

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Ann Arbor school board votes to publicly oppose EAA, calls on Eastern Michigan Univ. to sever ties

Educators are speaking. Are lawmakers listening?

Last night the Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education unanimously voted to voice its opposition to HB 4369, the legislation that may likely be voted on in the state House today to expand the Education Achievement Authority.

“As an educational body, as a policy body, when we see the level of distress that programs are causing students…we have the moral obligation to step in and say something, particularly when it’s public education that’s we see under attack and is disturbing kids and students,” said Trustee Simone Lightfoot, author of the resolution. [...]

“The reason I’ve been urging my colleagues to speak out against it … this experiment has not proven to do what it stated it was going to do, which is to help those students come up out of the morass of low achievement that they had been subjected to,” Lightfoot said.

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EVENTS: Upcoming education forums, EAA Board meeting, and more

Education related events are popping up all over the southeast part of Michigan over the next week. Here is a run-down on those that I have learned about.


Today from noon to 2:00 at the Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, a wide variety of elected officials and candidates, including Democratic candidate for Governor Mark Schauer, will be in attendance at a public forum hosted by the Ann Arbor Education Association and the Michigan Education Association. Click the image below for a larger version of the flyer:

There are additional details HERE.…

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Ann Arbor Dems to host Annual Strolling Gala fundraiser – March 2nd, 2014

From my pals at the Ann Arbor Democratic Party:

Sunday, March 2, 2014 from 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM at Rush Street Lounge on 314 South Main Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104, next to The Ark, between Liberty Ave. and William Street.

Please join us for an evening fun featuring great hors d’oeuvres donated from local restaurants (lots of vegetarian and vegan options), desserts, drinks (wine/beer), live music by Shema, Daniel Feranandes, Leigh Daniels and more, guest speakers and other entertainment (Belly dancing). A local Judge will be on hand to renew wedding vows for married couples.

Tickets are $40 in advance, $75 for two in advance, $35 for students or $50 at the door.…

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BREAKING: Ann Arbor/Ypsi Chamber comes out against expansion of EAA

This afternoon the 1,300-member Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber issued the following statement regarding Governor Rick Snyder’s failed education experiment with Detroit students known as the Education Achievement Authority:

The A2Y Chamber’s Executive Board held a deliberation on HB 4369, legislation to expand the Education Achievement Authority (EAA). The A2Y Chamber encourages the Michigan Legislature to reject the current House version of the bill, which would effectively establish the EAA to operate all Priority Schools in Michigan (those where student achievement fall within the lowest 5% of Michigan schools). The EAA currently operates a number of Detroit schools under a contract with the state, however just this week State Superintendent Mike Flanagan cancelled that exclusive contract with the EAA.…
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Forum in Ann Arbor this week will explore the failure of Governor Snyder’s Education Achievement Authority

This week, the Ann Arbor Education Association will be sponsoring a forum on the Governor Snyder’s failed education experiment known as the Education Achievement Authority. I will be speaking at the event and participating in the panel discussion along with Wayne State University professor Thomas Pedroni, State House Rep. Jeff Irwin, Eastern Michigan University professor Christopher Robbins, and others.

The event takes place Tuesday, February 11th from 7:30 until 9:30 p.m. at Pioneer High School in the Little Theater.

From the AAEA’s press release:

From the onset, the EAA has been fraught by questions regarding its computer-focused curriculum, high teacher turnover, declining enrollment, its handling of students with special needs, conflicting progress reports, and its long-term financial viability.…
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Washtenaw Regional Organizing Coalition brings together labor, faith, & community leaders to get problems solved

They rock

[All photos by Isaac Epstein, used with permission]

In the spring of 2012, a handful of from various faith, labor, and community organizations began to meet to discuss building a local group to work on solving some of the intractable problem confronting their communities. Over time, that group swelled in size and became known as the Washtenaw Regional Organizing Coalition or “WeROC”.

This past Sunday, WeROC, in partnership with Detroit-based MOSES organization, held their first community meeting. WeROC has been focusing on three specific issues, issues chosen using the model best exemplified by MOSES’ parent organization, the Gamaliel Foundation.…

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