Tom Casperson (R – Hates Nature and Kids) made good on his promise to be the biggest school bully in the state and introduced a bill to discriminate against transgender school children. Senate Bill 993, a bill much like the North Carolina law that’s turned that state into a pariah in the nation would require transgender students to use the school bathroom of their biological sex established at birth. How will the school know which students are transgender? Tom Casperson provided for that in his bill too – force children to come out.

If a pupil enrolled in a school district, intermediate school district, or public school academy asserts that the pupil’s gender is different from the pupil’s biological sex, and if the pupil’s parent or legal guardian consents to that assertion in writing to a public school administrator, or if the pupil is at least age 18 or an emancipated minor and makes the assertion in writing to a public school administrator, the school district intermediate school district, or public school academy shall provide the pupil with a reasonable accommodation.

Not only does this bill force a trans student to come out to their school, in writing, but if they are under 18, they have to come out to their parents too. Many young people keep their gender identity secret for their own safety. If they live in an unsupportive home with homophobic family members, coming out could mean punishment, or even being forced out of their home. Tom Casperson feels children deserve to be made homeless, bullied, and face violence from peers or even their parents. Equality Michigan explains how the bill violates Federal Civil Rights as well as Title IX Regulations.

Trans students will be made targets for abuse and discrimination at school. School districts will be forced to choose between complying with Casperson’s bathroom inspection law and federal civil rights law. Billions in federal education funding will be placed at risk. Billions more in economic activity will be lost as companies choose to do business in more welcoming and inclusive states.

Bullying LGBTQ students at school, despite programs to put an end to all forms of bullying still happen frequently. Prejudices reinforced at home follow children to school. Casperson’s school bullying bill not only allows people to attack transgender students, it would require school districts to attack children based on their gender identity, putting them at risk.

The national transgender suicide rate is largely due to fear of being rejected, harassed or physically assaulted. Transgender people struggle to maintain a home, jobs, stay in school, and provide basic needs. Being accepted at school for all children is a daily struggle, students who identify as LGBTQ deal with the added prejudices promoted by hate groups and religious bigots.

Dan Kildee issued a statement yesterday in response to Casperson’s callous and thoughtless bill. Casperson wants children to fear for their lives at school; forcing them to publicly declare their true gender identity before they feel safe doing so, and then forcing them to conform to binary sex bathrooms.

Equality Michigan urges everyone who cares about this issue to sign their petition. Michigan Republicans like Tom Casperson insist on legislating hate, costing the state money, and making sure businesses will go elsewhere, just like what’s happening in North Carolina now. Sign the petition and contact your state legislator and senator. Let them know you refuse to support state-mandated bullying of school children in Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources invites everyone to enjoy a weekend of free fishing on June 11 and 12, 2016 on all of the state’s lakes and rivers. Residents of the state and nonresidents may fish without purchasing a fishing license that weekend. Other fishing regulations are still enforced.

The state has offered free fishing weekends for 30 years. Michigan’s 11,000 inland lakes, Great Lakes and numerous rivers allow millions of people to enjoy a tradition that many believe makes Michigan special.

According to Michigan DNR Director Bill Moritz, “Every year since 1986 we’ve offered these free fishing weekends as a fun affordable way for people to learn about one of our state’s best outdoor traditions – and the many places there are to enjoy it.”

Schools, local and state parks, and organizations will offer activities in many locations throughout the state during the Free Fishing Weekend. Fees to access state or local parks will still apply.

To learn more about Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend, plan an activity or find out if an event is happening near you, contact Elyse Walter at 517-284-5839 or visit on the web.

The Up North Progressive is far too busy this weekend frolicking in the Northern Michigan forests to care much about politics, but we must be ever vigilant when The Donald once again contradicts himself.

How do you know you need to do a better job checking credentials at caucuses this election year? Because the first time you do, you discover the rampant fraud exercised by Bernie Sanders supporters last Saturday in Nevada. People wanting to caucus for Bernie Sanders turned into a violent mob when their tactics went against Nevada Democratic Party caucusing rules.

What are those rules? You have to be a registered member of the Democratic Party and be able to prove you live in your precinct to vote. 57 out of 64 people wanting to caucus for Bernie Sanders were tossed out because they failed verifying who they were. Any time these pathetic crybabies don’t get their way, they scream fraud and it’s the Democratic Party’s corruption keeping them out.

Wrong, they didn’t get to vote because they didn’t read the rules. Sanders supporters erupted into a fit of violence that would make any Trump supporter proud. They leaked the personal phone number of state party Chairwoman Roberta Lange, and left thousands of death threats. and text messages. She had to be escorted everywhere on Saturday in the Paris Las Vegas Hotel – even to the bathroom – by security because of the violence and threats coming from Sanders supporters was so severe.

Then Bernie Sanders supporters defaced the party headquarters:

And there was plenty of complaining online, like this ignoramus here:

That’s right, he was a Democrat, switched to independent convinced the Democratic Party is corrupt, and now crying big crocodile tears because he can no longer vote in a Democratic Party caucus. If there’s one thing this election is doing, it’s weeding out the stupid.

What this confirms is that other state Democratic parties weren’t checking credentials carefully before allowing people to vote in closed caucus in their states. It had worked enough times the Sandernistas thought they could get away with it in Nevada too, and when it didn’t work this time, they became a belligerent mob.

The Nevada Democratic Party refuses to lie down and take this abuse from the Sanders campaign. They filed a complaint with the Democratic National Committee against Bernie Sanders.

We believe, unfortunately, that the tactics and behavior on display here in Nevada are harbingers of things to come as Democrats gather in Philadelphia in July for our National Convention. We write to alert you to what we perceive as the Sander Campaign’s penchant for extra-parliamentary behavior—indeed, actual violence—in place of democratic conduct in a convention setting, and furthermore what we can only describe as their encouragement of, and complicity in, a very dangerous atmosphere that ended in chaos and physical threats to fellow Democrats.

The Nevada State Democratic Party is right. This is what we can expect Sanders supporters to do in July when the national convention takes place in Philadelphia. What we saw on Saturday was a rehearsal for what will happen if they don’t get their way. Today is the next primary election in Kentucky and Oregon. Keep in mind Hillary Clinton only needs 143 more delegates to have the nomination, and her chances of winning are at this point assured no matter how violent and criminal Sanders supporters become.

Anyone who still considers themselves a Bernie Sanders supporter after what happened Saturday in Nevada needs to think long and deep about what they’re really supporting this election. The more Democrats – and independents that support Sanders – fight, the better chances we have of dealing with a Trump presidency come November. Sara Palin could win the veepstakes, and John Miller will be press secretary. Is this what we want? With the way Sanders is running his campaign, and as of this writing has yet to answer to what his supporters did on Saturday, The Democratic Party needs to unify, tell the Bernie or Bust faction to bust on out, and get to work to make sure Hillary Clinton wins the White House in November.

The Up North Progressive, currently gearing up for another election season of meet the candidate posts noticed something when cruising through the Secretary of State’s unofficial candidate list.

Understandably, this is the unofficial list, but the list won’t be made official until after the results of the August 3rd primary and Michigan moves on to the state general election. The deadline for candidates to file passed, and it appears John Moolenaar already won this cycle.

Did the MDP really concede the 4th district to the Republicans before the election even gets started?

In 2014, Dr. Jeffrey Holmes of Alma ran against John Moolenaar after Paul Mitchell lost in the primary. Moolenar outspent Dr. Holmes 15 to 1 in a congressional district containing the most conservative community in the state. How conservative? In 2015 McBain Rural Agricultural School district had to revise their requirements for a new superintendent when the ACLU challenged one item on the list: The successful candidate must have a strong Christian background to work for a public school district.

Whether a Democratic candidate has a chance to win against a Republican in district four is not the issue. To allow any Republican candidate to run unopposed in any Michigan race is unacceptable. Will the MDP run a write-in candidate here? Do they have a plan to deal with this? Allowing Moolenaar to coast into another two years in the US Congress unchallenged can’t happen.

Come on Dems, are we even trying?

Nestled in Battle Creek, Michigan, on the grounds of Fort Custer live the cadets of Michigan Youth ChalleNGe Academy. At-risk teens ages 16 to 18 volunteer to attend this program to improve their lives and learn skills to stay out of trouble as they transition to adult life. Operated by the Michigan National Guard, the cadets are provided with training, education through Marshall Public Schools, and help with finding a job after they leave the academy. Some graduates of the program go on to join the military. The program is free due to funding from the federal government and the state of Michigan. 75% and 25% respectively.

The cadets have the opportunity to participate in many activities, including volunteer work and community service. They travel all over the state and volunteer for different organizations, emergency relief, and food pantries. In fact, recently there was a city in need in Michigan they offered to come and work, but the Snyder administration told them no. That city is Flint.

MYCA offered to come to Flint and help pass out and deliver water to Flint residents, but the Snyder administration told them no.

Now this is odd, because it seems like a perfect fit for MYCA. Rick Snyder activated the National Guard to help in Flint, and MYCA is run by the Michigan National Guard. It’s not like Flint had too many helping hands, and having MYCA cadets passing out water could only be a benefit. The interesting thing is, the National Guard who run the program have no idea why MYCA were told not to come to Flint, just that Snyder told them stay home.

It is possible because a quarter of MYCA’s funding comes from the state that the state government can tell MYCA where they’re allowed to volunteer. But, three quarters of the program’s funding comes from the federal government. Perhaps President Obama can override the Snyder administration’s decision and allow MYCA volunteer in Flint after all when he comes to Flint for his visit next week.

But Todd Courser is running for Lapeer County Prosecutor so …

I bet Todd was a blast at parties in High School!

And to be fair, here’s a picture of Cindy Gamrat swag at a Kalamazoo tea party military memorabilia event in 2014, complete with clip board of nominating petitions.

Good job, Republicans! You know how to pick em!

Once again the Republicans in Lansing are working to privatize more of Michigan’s state-run prison operation. This time the plan is to close down two prisons in the state and relocate the prisoners to privately-owned North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Michigan. Before the state legislature votes on this issue, they need to take a closer look at where this prison is located, and some of the problems that currently exist.

Every day GEO Group keeps North Lake open, they’re losing money. Either the prison closes, or they need to find another client. Last May when GEO Group started mass-hiring staff for the soon to be activated prison, new and returning employees were told there would be about 700 prisoners from Vermont at the end of June, and 1000 prisoners coming from the state of Washington by October of 2015. It’s now April of 2016, the promised inmates from The Evergreen State still haven’t shown up, and the third out of state contract GEO Group had been in negotiations with last fall obviously didn’t materialize. Now Michigan could be moving prisoners into North Lake and take over operating the entire facility.

Lake County has a permanent population of around 10,000. The largest town in the county, Baldwin, has about 1,200 people living there. The county has abundant state and federal forest land, and the region is famous for white water rafting, trout fishing, and jazz music festivals offered in historic Idlewild. While there are many positive things to enjoy in Lake County, there are also some deep problems. Lake County is the poorest county in the state with the highest child poverty rate. Affordable housing is an epidemic problem, and jobs are hard to come by. GEO Group promised opening the prison would bring money to Lake County. That has yet to happen.

The Michigan Department of Corrections taking over North Lake to house up to 1700 prisoners means relocating required staff to operate the prison. In June of 2015 GEO Group hired around 125 people to activate the prison for Vermont and Washington. Some people were rehires, but many were new to Lake County and the state of Michigan. Local housing for these people didn’t exist, and some had to commute as far away as Big Rapids, Cadillac, and Ludington where housing was available. Employees had to live in motels for months until they could move into rentals or homes they bought. GEO Group certainly didn’t consider it their responsibility to help locate housing for their new employees, what will the state do when faced with the same problem?

What about the 240 prisoners currently at North Lake? Vermont Department of Corrections signed a contract with GEO Group in May of 2015 to house up to 675 prisoners. The first group of 290 arrived from Kentucky and Arizona at the end of June, and not one more prisoner has been sent to North Lake from Vermont since – while 50 have since been sent back. Does the Michigan Legislature intend for these 240 out of state prisoners to remain at North Lake, or will GEO Group need to ship them to a different facility if they get the Michigan contract? Local Vermont news is full of stories about how the prisoners currently at North Lake really don’t care for being at North Lake all that much.

Another problem for the state legislature to consider are the 70-odd non-union security officers, programming, maintenance, medical, and kitchen staff currently employed there. The job security GEO Group promised never happened. The anticipated boost to the local economy has been insignificant. People had to find housing in other communities and took their money with them. Another unpublished fact is there have been some layoffs at North Lake already. What happens to the people still working there if Michigan takes the prison over? GEO Group will likely relocate some higher-ranking employees to other prisons, just like they brought these people to Michigan last June. The rest will be job hunting in a region of the state that still suffers from double digit unemployment.

These are obviously things the subcommittee in Lansing never considered in their vote to lease North Lake Correctional Facility from GEO Group. The Republican-controlled state government once again only wants to cut expenses now, throw their hands up later when their actions create nothing but more problems for the people of Michigan. Another mess the taxpayers may be strapped to pay for in the future.

All of the articles written about the criminal enterprise known as Bay City Academy are worth it when someone comes forward and confirms what we know must be happening inside the walls of this for-profit charter school. A former teacher of BCA bravely commented tonight to share the harsh truth: Rep. Charles Brunner is right about Bay City Academy being a “sorry excuse for a school.”

I worked at that school and could not tell you what that means. Rep. Brunner was harsh but correct. It was hard to hear but it’s true. Teachers I know that are desperately trying to change it from the inside, for the sake of the kids, are fed up because the administration does not care. They’re faced with the dilemma of staying to protect the kids or leaving for our own mental health. Admin doesnt care. They only see dollar signs, not individual students-many of whom are disadvantaged. And I wholeheartedly believe that something like this would not happen in Farmington Hills, or another affluent area with well educated people. Steve and Brian know that most parents would not ask questions, or even know what to ask. Please keep reporting.

The best way these teachers could protect the kids is do whatever it takes to close Bay City Academy down for good. The most telling part of this comment is the statement “Steve and Brian know that most parents would not ask questions, or even know what to ask.” Meaning, Steve Ingersoll is ‘present tense’ still involved with BCA.

But anyone who’s been bothering to follow this story so far knows this already. For-profit charter schools in Michigan serve one purpose, and it has nothing to do with educating children. It’s like this teacher says, “they only see dollar signs.”

Hopefully continued reporting will compel more people to come forward with the truth about this “sorry excuse for a school.”