Two candidates will run in the August 2, 2016 Democratic primary election for State House District 97: Robert Townsend of Clare, and Robert Corbett of Gladwin. The Counties making up the 97th district include Arenac, Clare, Gladwin, and the eastern townships of Osceola County.

Robert Townsend, or Dr. Bob, graduated from Gobles High School and attended Michigan State University. He interned in South Carolina and Alaska before returning to Michigan. In 2010 he opened his own medical practice, Denali Healthcare, and expanded to ten clinics in Northern Michigan. He is married with six children.

Townsend’s medical practice focuses on pain management and addiction. His primary campaign issue is taking medical care out of the hands of politicians and lobbyists and putting it back into the hands of doctors and patients. Townsend supports alternative medical treatment. He was active with the effort to adopt the Medical Marijuana Law.

I am passionate for my causes. I’ve been very involved in the new Medical Marijuana Law, helping to forge the Bonafide Dr/Pt Relationship bill that defined the standard of care.

Robert Townsend is endorsed by former mayor of Cadillac William Barnett. He received a B- score with the National Rifle Association. Robert Townsend has a campaign website and Facebook page for more information.

Robert Corbett is the other Democratic candidate running for the 97th State House District on August 2nd. Corbett lives in Gladwin with his wife and two daughters. He graduated from the University of Michigan College of Engineering and attended Indiana University School of Law, where he earned his law degree. He has worked as a patent and trademark attorney, and he and his wife, Rebecca Corbett, practice law together in Gladwin.

The issues Corbett feels strongest about are education, jobs, and personal freedoms. Corbett believes better funding for our schools will improve them. He also wants to fight for jobs that pay a living wage. Minimum wage increases don’t help people get out of poverty. Finally, Corbett believes Lansing needs a legislature that responds to the people, so they can better hold it accountable. For more information, you can visit Robert Corbett’s website and Facebook page.

Make sure to get out and vote on August 2nd. Support our Democratic Party candidates.


Folks heading out to Potter Road Raspberry Farm in Traverse City this weekend will be in for an unpleasant surprise. The farm is closed all weekend long, and after they reopen on Monday, July 18, u-pick will no longer be available. The change is due to an unpleasant situation that happened on Thursday, July 14, when people arrived not to pick berries, but to play Pokemon Go, the new game that encourages people to get out of the house to find characters. Game players were not using the best judgment while out playing the game, and became a nightmare for owners Brenda and Mike Mahn.

The game was released only a week ago, but already there are stories all over the country about criminal activity and people getting hurt because they were too engrossed in the game to pay attention to their surroundings. A girl in Pennsylvania stepped into traffic while playing the game and was hit by a car. A man in New York hit a tree playing Pokemon Go while driving. There was the man who was stabbed in California, the girls in San Diego who found a dead body, and two grown men went over a bluff and had to be rescued because playing the game was more important than watching where they were going. In Quebec, Canada, two police officers were injured in their vehicle when a person playing Pokemon Go while driving crashed into them. There are reports of people being robbed while playing too.

And now, vandalism forced a raspberry farm to close to the public during the raspberry picking season.

Brenda Mahn, the owner of the Potter Road Raspberry Farm, told Up North Progressive on Friday that she had to close her farm after the damage done by the game players on Thursday. “They ran all over, throwing handfuls of berries at each other. They went through my zucchini patch and threw zucchini at each other. They threw the pails at each other and broke them. In twenty four years, I have never seen anything like this. They had their phones out and said they were playing a game.” Mahn had never heard of the game before, “I’m don’t use the computer, I don’t watch TV. I spend my days outside working.”

And adding insult to injury, people tried to drive away with the berries they picked without paying for them.

Potter Road Raspberry Farm is more than just a local u-pick berry patch. This is a major raspberry grower in the Traverse City area supplying local wineries and Cherry Capital Foods with fruit.

On Monday, when Potter Road Raspberries reopens, picked berries will be available and people can place orders. U-pick however is finished for the season. Brenda said after what happened on July 14, she can’t have more people coming to her farm to destroy property and produce just to play a game. Pokemon Go is becoming the definition of, “this is why we can’t have nice things.”

Jan Geht is an attorney living in Traverse City, Michigan. He practices law for Bowerman, Bowden, Ford, Clulo & Luyt, P.C., and used to work for the Tax Division of the United States Justice Department as a trial attorney. Geht recently announced his candidacy for Traverse City Area Public Schools Board. His campaign website depicts him as a leader of the community and loving, attentive family man.

Sounds so perfect and idyllic, right? This man couldn’t possibly have any skeletons in his closet. On his website, he states his purpose for wanting to be on the board:

We all know that TCAPS faces a number of external pressures (you don’t say!?), the most publicized of which is inadequate funding from the State. Providing high-quality education to all of our students in the face of this funding shortage is a very difficult problem.  We may not be able to change the per-pupil funding, but with strong elected local leadership, our schools can not only survive but thrive.  This will require Board members with a proven track record of working with others to successfully solve complex problems.

The glaring irony of this statement, and the one thing you never see mentioned on Jan Geht’s shiny website is that Geht currently has the pleasure and privilege of representing for the defense in THE for-profit charter school felony fraud scandal in the state of Michigan – United States v. Ingersoll. If you’ve never heard of this case before, that’s not an accident. The Traverse City Record Eagle bends over backwards to avoid wasting a millimeter of space in their pristine print daily about Steve Ingersoll, Grand Traverse Academy, and the millions of dollars in tax payer funds embezzled by the convicted felon Jan Geht has for a client.

Every parent of a child attending TCAPS needs to ask Jan Geht one question: “How will you work to ensure there is no conflict of interest with doing what’s best as a board member for Traverse City Area Public Schools, while you defend a convicted felon responsible for embezzlement and tax fraud of millions of dollars from a charter school that is in direct competition with TCAPS and responsible in part for creating the underfunding problem you claim you want to solve?”

Because it’s a sure bet TCAPS could have put $3.5 million to good use educating Traverse City’s children rather than being embezzled by Steve Ingersoll.

People who run campaigns to be elected to school boards usually do so because they’re motivated to change something with the school district they oversee. That motivation unfortunately isn’t always to the benefit of the school district or the children who attend the schools in that district. Jan Geht has spent the past two years representing Steve Ingersoll in a federal tax fraud case that should be national news, but somehow isn’t. If it were, Geht would probably reconsider running for the school board. He’s only doing his job that he maybe will get paid to do defending Ingersoll, but one has to wonder what is Jan Geht’s agenda for running for TCAPS school board. As Miss Fortune says, Chutzpah indeed.

Earth First! held a weekend gathering in the Manistee National Forest near Free Soil over the 4th of July Weekend. They concluded that gathering by holding a protest in front of Attorney General Bill Schuette’s Midland home on the afternoon of July 6, 2016; demonstrating against the Embridge Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

If you have never heard of Earth First!, here is a brief description of what they do:

Earth First! formed in 1979, in response to an increasingly corporate, compromising and ineffective environmental community. It is not an organization, but a movement. There are no “members” of EF!, only Earth First!ers. We believe in using all of the tools in the toolbox, from grassroots and legal organizing to civil disobedience and monkeywrenching. When the law won’t fix the problem, we put our bodies on the line to stop the destruction. Earth First!’s direct-action approach draws attention to the crises facing the natural world, and it saves lives.

According to a story posted today on the Fen Valley Earth First! blog, the demonstration made up of 60 people hung banners between trees in the Schuette’s front lawn and staged a mock funeral. There is no mention of banging on windows and doors of the home, as reported in the Detroit News, and this photo shows some protesters on the sidewalk in front of the house playing drums. The blog promises a video is coming soon.

One protester, called Frida, was quoted in the Earth First blog:

“If public officials continue to threaten our safety, then we will continue to threaten their security.

AG Schuette’s wife was the only one at home at the time, and she says the protesters were banging on doors and windows so hard she thought they were going to break in.

Enbridge Line 5 is 63 years old. Despite Enbridge’s claims the pipeline is monitored constantly, the people of Michigan want it shut down after the rupture of Line 6B in 2010. That disaster dumped nearly a million gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River causing the worst inland oil disaster in the United States. If a similar rupture were to happen to Line 5, it would spill millions of gallons of oil into the Straits of Michigan, affecting Lakes Huron and Michigan, and all of the rivers and tributaries that feed into the lakes. The Sierra Club, World Wildlife Federation, local tribal groups and many other Michiganians demand that Enbridge Line 5 be shut down immediately.

Earth First!’s methods are confrontational and designed to create a physical presence with law enforcement when they believe the environment is threatened. Protesting is acceptable, banging on the doors and windows of a private home and making the people inside feel threatened is not. There will likely be more about this story as information becomes available, and the truth about what happened at the Schuette house in Midland will be known.

Eagle Mine today announced a Preliminary Economic Assessment on an area about a mile east of the location currently mined as a potential newly discovered deposit of nickel and copper ore estimated at 1.18 million metric tons. While a feasibility study won’t be completed until the end of the year, Lundin Mining will begin building an access ramp to the deposit in July of 2016.

Exploration of Eagle East began a year ago and was classified as an Inferred Mineral Resource. The ramp must be built now to benefit the business. Building a new tunnel to reach the mineral deposit will take three years. Eagle Mine also says they need the ramp to give them access to the mineral deposit to collect data. Lundin Mining anticipates the new mine will require changes to their mining permit and the air permit.

Eagle Mine states they will not need to build a new tailings facility, put more trucks on the road, change the trucking route or need more milling facilities to mine this new deposit, as they don’t anticipate this extended mining activity will have any environmental impact on the region. Many people living in the area have voiced complaints and concerns about the mining activity going on there, and the negative environmental impact mining and milling mineral ore has on the local watersheds. A year ago the MDEQ permitted Humboldt Mill to install two more outfalls for wastewater from the mill.

So what this all means is Eagle Mine will start constructing a new ramp to gain access to a potential mineral deposit a mile east of the current mine so they can collect data to support the changes they will want made to their permit with the MDEQ months before the feasibility study will determine if there’s enough minerals to make the new mine economically viable – and most importantly – determine what environmental impact this new mine will have. Eagle Mine is confident enough to get started now and invest $95 million into Eagle East.

If the feasibility report at the end of the year gives Eagle Mine the green light ( and no one at this point expects this report to say no), it means Lundin Mining will be in Marquette until the year 2023.

US House District 4 will have a Democratic Party candidate to vote for on August 2, 2016, and it’s very important that everyone living in the district get out and vote. Debra Wirth of Clinton County will run as the Democratic write-in candidate.

Write-in candidates are required to file paperwork with the county clerk and Secretary of State declaring their intention to run in the primary no later than 4:00 pm the Friday before the primary, and they need to win the most votes of all other write-in candidates running for the same seat to win their spot on the November ballot.

Debra Wirth grew up in Eaton County. She graduated from Waverly High School in 1970, and Michigan State University in 1974. In 1977 she began practicing law and worked as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Ingham County. After living in Missouri from 1983 to 2009, Wirth returned to Michigan and married her husband, Steve Wirth in 2011. They live in Clinton County.

Debra Wirth ran against Dave Camp in 2012.

If you would like to meet Debra Wirth and join her in her campaign kickoff, she will be at two locations on June 29, 2016. At 11:00 AM she will be at the Vietnam Veteran Memorial at Island Park in Mount Pleasant, MI. At 4:00 PM she will be at the Clinton County Courthouse in St. Johns. Make sure to register to vote by July 5, 2016 and write in Debra Wirth on August 2 for US House District 4.

The August 2 primary will be here soon, and in Michigan’s first congressional district two candidates from Kalkaska will appear on the Democratic Party primary ballot: Lon Johnson and Jerry Cannon. Michigan’s first US House District is the largest district in the state.

Lon Johnson is the former chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. In 2012 he ran for state house in the 103rd district. He has over 20 years experience working in the Democratic National Committee, including Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign. He lives with his wife, Julianna Smoot. Smoot was President Obama’s Deputy Campaign Manager for his 2012 re-election campaign.

Johnson’s campaign issues focus on the environment, providing better mass transit and high-speed internet to Northern Michigan. He also wants to end tax breaks for corporations who don’t keep their money and jobs in Michigan, stop the TPP, and repeal Citizens United. Lon Johnson knows that Enbridge Line 5 needs to be shut down before the aging pipeline causes an environmental catastrophe in the Straits of Mackinac.

The list of companies, organizations and individuals endorsing Johnson’s candidacy are too many to include here, but notable names include state legislators Scott Dianda and John Kivela, Senator Gary Peters, Congressmen John Conyers, Sander Levin, Dan Kildee, Debbie Dingell and Brenda Lawrence. Groups endorsing Johnson include the UAW, Human Rights Campaign, United Steelworkers, the AFT, MEA, Sierra Club, the Teamsters, and the Humane Society.

Lon Johnson has been busy meeting with people concerned about Enbridge Line 5, and attending many community events throughout Michigan’s first district.

Retired Kalkaska County Sheriff and Army Major General Jerry Cannon ran for Michigan’s US House District 1 in 2014. Cannon is a veteran of Vietnam, where he served as a Marine. He joined the US Army National Guard in 1977 and retired in 2012. Jerry and Elizabeth Cannon live in Fife Lake. They have four children and seven grandchildren.

Jerry Cannon sees his campaign as a call to service. If elected, he will work on improving the economy, life for the people living in District 1, and the middle class. Cannon wants to ensure jobs stay in Northern Michigan and small businesses will have the resources to succeed. Jerry Cannon supports equal pay and opportunities for women, and making sure the safety net for seniors remains strong to support a quickly growing demographic in Northern Michigan. Jerry Cannon will also be a strong, sincere voice for Northern Michigan veterans in Washington. The environment must be protected, and that protection includes shutting down Enbridge Line 5.

Jerry Cannon has been busy campaigning at many communities and events throughout Northern Michigan.

Two candidates running for Michigan’s largest district will be an important primary election, and these candidates will need every vote. Please register to vote by July 5, 2016 and vote in Michigan’s primary election on August 2.

Just like every other state in the country that passed a ‘test welfare recipients for illegal drugs’ law, Michigan successfully wasted taxpayer money testing 303 welfare recipients and found 0 positive tests. This is consistent with other states that also passed drug test people on welfare laws, and successfully wasted taxpayer money testing people who don’t use drugs.

Michigan’s law was passed in 2014. It was a pilot program designed to screen people receiving assistance benefits from the state to find all those lazy blood suckers reaping the benefit from everyone else’s hard-earned income stolen by the dirty, no-good liberal revenuers. This bill, and others, like the ‘make unemployed bums pee for the money they paid into unemployment insurance from their own paychecks’ bill some states have considered are designed to shame or scare people too lazy to get a job morans from taking money from the government. That’ll learn em!

Except, states that pass these laws find very few people receiving assistance test positive for drugs. This means the vast majority of people who receive food or cash benefits use that money to buy food or pay bills. What Republicans like to gloss over are the millions of dollars paid to privately owned drug test companies selling the drug tests to the state. Florida governor Rick Scott owned shares in the company that won the contract for that state – shares he quickly transferred over to his wife’s stock portfolio to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest. Florida spent millions on testing welfare recipients with nothing to show for it but increasing Governor Mrs. Scott’s dividend checks.

So far, Rick Snyder hasn’t said anything about the results, and the $300,000 of taxpayers’ money allocated to spend on collecting poor people’s pee hasn’t been completely spent. We will have to wait until this fall when the pilot program is complete before confirming what we already know – people willing to apply for assistance aren’t doing it to make a score, they need to provide for their families.

Shoreline Media continues to provide free advertising to John Wilson’s new for-profit charter school, Gateway To Success Academy. The school that his wife, Anita, promised would “never be for alternative ed” has a new facade to hide the old grocery store while they hire staff and recruit students from cash-strapped real public schools. Jamie Bandstra gushes about how wonderful everything is, with 60 students currently enrolled for the inaugural year this fall.

The district, also known as G2S, has changed its cap on the number of students who will be accepted in the coming school year, from 135 to 125.

The academy, a charter school being designed especially for students who struggle in a traditional school environment, will draw from the area covered by eight local school districts, Baldwin, Mason County Eastern, Mason County Central, Ludington, Pentwater, Hart, Shelby and Walkerville.

There is a limited pool of students from which to draw, Bandstra said, so the districts were more comfortable with a 125 number, knowing all of the public schools earn money to operate based on the number of students enrolled. The more enrolled at one district, the less at another, and the battle over limited dollars ensues.

Bandstra and the neighboring/existing districts aren’t at battle; instead, he said, they’re working together.

Working together until it becomes obvious you can’t run a for-profit charter school without competing with real public schools, because that’s the whole purpose of charter schools in Michigan. Another reason G2S will need more student enrollment is stated by Bandstra:

“Anything given will help reduce our mortgage and will be huge for the success of the program,” Bandstra said.

Gateway To Success will be starting their first school year in debt. The only way they will pay off that mortgage is through donations and recruiting enough students. That means tax dollars going toward paying a bank note and not educating children. Schools are not supposed to be in debt. In fact, the Michigan Department of Education requires schools that are in debt to submit debt reduction plans showing they have some way to pay off their debt. This becomes increasingly difficult to do when you have to educate children while making a profit. Just ask Grand Traverse Academy or Bay City Academy.

Jamie Bandstra is busy hiring new staff too. Journey Junior Senior High School had a full staff who lost their jobs when their school was closed down to make way for G2S. I wonder how many of those teachers were offered a job at the charter school?

It’s gone now from the G2S website, but here is their hiring notice:

Very few certified teaching positions offered, and the most curious of all are the lack of endorsement codes for the special ed teacher/technology coach they want to hire (Do they really expect one person to do both jobs?). This staff G2S wants to hire is very lean on certified teachers, and relying mostly on people with what appears to be no education background. The state of Michigan does require building trades and auto engineering instructors to be certified. One candidate expressed their delight at being interviewed.

Matthew Miller used his facebook account to reply to this blog. Social media can be an open window that either sinks or floats a candidate seeking a job offer.

Wonder if he wore that to the interview.

So why did John Wilson and Jamie Bandstra do this? Bandstra was already principal of a successful alternative education program that had an enrollment of 125 students and helped young people graduate. The Ludington Daily News article provides another clue:

A graduation rate below 80 percent in Lake, Oceana and Mason counties is just too low, those who made plans for the school decided, and G2S is designed to give kids another option rather than dropping out.

Except for the fact that there already was an option for students in those counties – Journey Junior Senior High School.
This quote comes from John Wilson, who informed Up North Progressive back in February that an 80 percent graduation rate is shameful. What Wilson likes to forget, or is completely ignorant of because he’s not an educator is the national average currently is at 82 percent, and never in the history of the United States has that statistic ever been higher. The schools in the three counties G2S wants to siphon students from actually do remarkably well. Most of them, including Ludington, are above the national average. Ludington in fact exceeded the goal the US Department of Education has set for the year 2020 with a 91 percent graduation rate. . Baldwin is the lowest at 60 percent, but keep in mind 88 percent of the students attending that school live in economically disadvantaged homes and Lake County is the poorest county in the state. There are other factors besides assuming failing schools are the reason kids don’t graduate.

For-profit charter school Gateway To Success is not a solution. They lowered enrollment levels in an effort to be supportive of the public schools they claim they’re not competing with, and it’s uncertain they will even make it to 125 students in time for the 2016-2017 school year. Include that problem with start up costs, a mortgage, and paying a staff that according to their website many will not be certified teachers. Things are not looking good for Gateway To Success Academy.

The local school districts losing students to G2S already had an alternative education program that gave students another chance to earn their diploma. That school had to be shut down for this untested and untried debt-ridden experiment that has a very slim chance of making the difference John Wilson and Jamie Bandstra think it will. These are facts you won’t find in the Ludington Daily News.