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EVENT: Activists work to stop oil exploration and drilling in Washtenaw County

A new group has formed called Citizens for Oil-free Backyards (COFBY)to oppose oil and gas exploration, drilling, and extraction in Scio Township, just outside Ann Arbor, Michigan, and in other parts of Michigan. Their efforts are in response to an effort by Traverse City-based West Bay Exploration to begin exploring for oil in Scio Township. More than 300 people attended the first hearing (more on that HERE.)

Tomorrow, COFBY is holding an informational session in at the Scio Township Hall from 7:30-9:30. The speaker will be environmental consultant and former Department of Environomental Quality official Dr. Christopher Grobbel. Click the image below for a PDF flyer for the event:

The group’s efforts are gaining widespread support.…

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Univ. of Michigan law prof Steven Croley confirmed by Senate as general counsel for U.S. Energy Dept.

University of Michigan law professor Steven Croley was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as general counsel for the U.S. Energy Department this week. Croley, the husband of State Supreme Court Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, has been working for the White House as deputy assistant and deputy counsel to President Obama and spends his weeks working at the White House. He is currently on leave from his position as professor at the University of Michigan law school.

A University of Michigan law professor will become the top attorney at the U.S. Department of Energy after the U.S. Senate voted Monday to confirm his appointment.…
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Ann Arbor fundraiser for Mark Schauer/Lisa Brown – May 15th, 4:30-6:30p. Please join us!

Anne and I are pleased to be part of the host committee for an upcoming fundraiser for the gubernatorial campaign of Mark Schauer and his running mate Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown. The fundraiser is being sponsored by our amazing friends at Citizens Against Government Overreach (CAGO) and the Michigan Education Association PAC.

The reception is from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 15th at the Arbor Brewing Company in Ann Arbor (114 East Washington Street) and will feature music by David Roof. Mark will join us at 5:00 p.m. to discuss their campaign and his plan to lead Michigan out of the corporatist morass we find ourselves in today.…

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Ann Arbor and Ypsi: Vote YES for More & Better Buses on May 6

Better transportation choices will be better for all of us.

If you live in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti or Ypsi Township, please join me, and a lot of other people, in voting YES on the transit millage tomorrow.... In Washtenaw County, even the opposition to the millage acknowledges the desire for better public transportation and is calling the "no" campaign "Better Transit Now." Not that they are very clear on how a "no" vote will lead to better transit, but never mind that – they agree, at least in theory, with the goal, even if they don’t want to pay for it. And it’s hard to argue with the benefits of improving public transit, even for those (like me) who rarely use the bus. Even if you don’t take the bus, making it convenient for other people to leave their cars at home means traffic is better and we have less need to build more parking. Using less gas means less pollution, which is better for our health. And it’s better for our economy, creating jobs and economic development downtown and letting low wage workers get to work. (More details about the specifics of tomorrow’s millage are here.)
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UPDATED: Scio Township residents turn out in force to oppose new oil drilling in their community


Oil well in Saline, Michigan. CC image credit: Dwight Burdette | Wikimedia Commons

A standing room-only crowd of more than 300 Scio Township residents packed a recent hearing at the Washtenaw Intermediate School District headquarters last Thursday to speak out about a proposal to drill for oil near the border with Ann Arbor. The hearing was hosted and moderated by State House Rep. Gretchen Driskell, former mayor of Saline.

West Bay Exploration out of Traverse City has already had several landowners signed contracts turning over drilling rights to the company. Attendees were nearly unanimous in their opposition to the drilling which many fear will lead to increased industrial traffic, noise, pollution, and contamination of wells and the nearby Huron River.…

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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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