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INTERVIEW: Rep. Dan Kildee on gamesmanship in Congress and leveling the playing field

Why the current Congress isn’t working for the people — and how Democrats can change that.

Do you miss “Schoolhouse Rock”? Me, too. And there’s no question that many members of the current U.S. House of Representatives, particularly Republicans, could benefit from a re-run, a refresher course on how legislating is actually supposed to work.

During the Netroots Nation conference in Detroit, Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) participated on a panel with Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) and Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41). The title was “A Fresh Perspective: Lessons From a Crazy Congress” and the three representatives shared their take on why Congress is so dysfunctional right now — and what Democrats are doing to drive positive change.…

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INTERVIEW: Pam Byrnes, Democrat for Michigan’s Congressional 7th District – “There’s a clear path to victory here”

All photos by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog

In August of last year, I sat down with Pam Byrnes, the sole Democratic candidate for Michigan’s hotly contested 7th Congressional District. In 2008, Democrat Mark Schauer defeated incumbent Republican Tim Walberg but, in 2010, Walberg won the seat back. Walberg, a former pastor and bible salesman is one of the more conservative members of Congress. He’s also one of the most hypocritical. While he complains bitterly about government spending and sneers at entitlement programs, he himself benefits handsomely from taxpayer-funded healthcare, a healthy federal salary, and he receives a monthly paycheck from the state of Michigan from his pension he earned as a state legislator.…

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REPOST – INTERVIEW: Lizz Winstead on her new book, politics, and douchebags ruining everything

“When you let creatives be creatives, magic can happen.”

Our 10-year Blogaversary party is coming up next week (details HERE), and my friend Lizz Winstead will be on hand to make us laugh and to tell about her exciting new project Lady Parts Justice. I thought it would be good to repost an interview I did with her in June of last year so that those of you who are unfamiliar with Lizz and her amazing work could get to know her.

I finished reading Lizz Winstead’s book Lizz Free or Die (purchase it HERE) a couple of months ago and, via Twitter, she agreed to an interview.…

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INTERVIEW – Former EAA teacher: “I really think that they are being dishonest with the public, teachers, and parents”

One of the recurring themes in the conversations that I have had with various teachers and administrators who work or have worked for the Education Achievement Authority is that when financial benefactors or members of our state government came to visit, the entire school transformed. Schedules were altered, often on the fly, to accommodate the visitors’ schedules. Kids ate lunch very early or very late, and as you’ll learn in this interview, teachers were reassigned from their normal classrooms to pose as teacher’s assistants for other teachers to give the appearance that large classrooms had multiple adults in them even though that was not normally the case.…

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INTERVIEW: Catching up with Tony Trupiano

“I truly believe that this is my destiny.”

Photo by Anne C. Savage

I first met Tony Trupiano shortly after he returned to the radio airwaves after an unsuccessful run to unseat Thad McCotter in Congress. Tony’s morning radio show, First Shift with Tony Trupiano was a progressive breath of fresh air amidst the plethora of right wing radio hosts. The show later changed to an evening radio program, Night Shift with Tony Trupiano until it ended several months ago when Tony threw his hat in the ring to run for the state House of Representatives in the 13th House District.…

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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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INTERVIEW: A former EAA administrator who was fired without being told why speaks out (UPDATED)

Today’s interview is with a former EAA administrator who was fired by Chancellor Covington (though she was allowed to “resign”) but never given a reason why. In fact, after she collected unemployment for over a month, the EAA challenged her unemployment on the basis of “misconduct”. However, their accusation was found to be unsubstantiated and their claim was denied.

But this is more than just a story about an unwarranted firing. It shows how pressure is put on school administrators to perform without the needed resources, how some schools are shown distinct favoritism, and how the “dog and pony show” that is put on for visitors like Governor Rick Snyder and wealthy benefactors/investors is well-known and repudiated by the administrators at some schools.…

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REPOST INTERVIEW: Jayne Rowse & April DeBoer – taking on Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban to protect their family

The ban on same-sex marriage in Michigan can tear families apart

[left to right: April, Nolan, Jacob, Jayne, and Ryanne]

Tomorrow the trial of April DeBoer vs. Rick Sndyer begins. This trial has implications not on for our state but for the entire country. Although it started as a suit to give same-sex parents the same sorts of adoption rights as opposite-sex parents enjoy, it has become so much more than that. However, as April points out in her op-ed in the Detroit Free Press today, it is still, at its core, about two parents who wish to protect their children.…

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EAA teacher experienced retribution after reporting abuse of a student

Today’s interview is with a former EAA teacher named Chris Turkaly. Chris taught at Nolan Elementary-Middle School in the EAA for awhile before moving to Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary-Middle School. During his time there, Chris struggled. He had already spent several years teaching in challenged schools in California but coming to the EAA was a completely different experience. Instead getting the support and training that he needed to do his job and instead of working in an environment where students and teachers were treated with respect and dignity, Chris found a situation where teachers were expected to maintain order and discipline in their classes by modeling what Chris describes as “aggressive” behavior by administrators.…

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Fired without cause or notification, a former EAA teacher speaks out – “What they are doing is hurting kids in Detroit”

NOTE: My reporting on the Education Achievement Authority involves multiple posts. You can read all of my coverage of the EAA by clicking HERE.

In the aftermath of the explosive allegations that have arisen in the course of my reporting on the situation in the Education Achievement Authority, the EAA has gone on the attack, writing them off as “anonymous” allegations on a “political blog” as if to suggest that I am making these stories up in an elaborate ruse for political reasons or, worse yet, that the teachers themselves are all lying. It would be an amazing coincidence for the now 15 different teachers with whom I have communicated to all be independently corroborating each other’s stories in order to concoct a false illusion about Governor Snyder’s failed experiment at educating children in our most challenged school districts on the cheap.…

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