The Kalkaska Village Council will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, July 19, 2017, to discuss the economic impact of Village President Jeff Sieting’s social media hate speech on area businesses.

Sieting’s support of Trump and his calls for genocide against a religious faith are not the first time racist speech or actions came to light in Kalkaska. In 2007 a Ku Klux Klan/Confederate flag was raised over a picnic held in Rapid City. The man responsible for raising that flag is currently the chair of the Kalkaska County Board of Commissioners.

Concerned Kalkaska residents are ready to face Sieting, demand he resign from his office and put the economic survival of the town before his irrational racist statements.

Recently, Up North Progressive visited the fine town of Kalkaska, Michigan, home of the really big fish – a welcome sign from childhood years signaling we were almost to Grandma’s house. The residents work hard to maintain a positive reputation as a community where people will want to visit as they travel up north. After the demonstrations that happened on June, 23, 2017, many residents of Kalkaska decided something had to be done to save their town from the negative exposure. They’ve organized to demand Jeff Sieting apologize for his hateful rhetoric against Muslims, resign from his office as Village President, and also asked the Village Council to put out an official statement that Sieting’s hate speech is not shared by the rest of the people of Kalkaska. So far, none of those things has happened.

In fact, Sieting defended the hate speech on his social media pages, claiming it was his first amendment right to share his opinions with the world. He’s right, except his hate speech has drawn so much negative attention, it’s reached state and national news. It’s also drawn public attention to Kalkaska from all over the country. Some are asking rude questions and leaving hateful comments on the social media pages of local businesses and village organizations.

A group of residents are now in the process of getting Sieting out of office. If he refuses to resign, a recall petition to remove him could happen in the future. Efforts to elect a new Village President in 2018 are also ongoing. There are efforts underway by the organizers of the Love Not Hate demonstration held in June to organize a boycott of the village.

Like many “up north” towns, Kalkaska relies on tourism to keep their economic base healthy. The village has many events taking place all year welcoming people to visit. It would be a shame to see businesses and residents suffer from negative publicity and attention because one self-centered bigot who insists his personal right to spout hate speech is more important than the wishes and concerns of the people he was elected to represent

The problem in Kalkaska has grown much bigger than one man’s right to display a sign supporting someone even more bigoted than he is, or using social media to share his irrational hate for anyone who isn’t white, male, or Christian to the detriment of an entire town. It’s time for Jeff Sieting to resign. Kalkaska deserves to repair and restore it’s reputation as an up north community with lots to offer.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports a new parent organization to help for-profit charter school Grand Traverse Academy formed recently with the mission statement:

To establish and develop a closer connection between school and home by encouraging parental involvement, as well as grow and nurture a close relationship between parents, teachers, and students to support the achievement of excellence in character and academics while ensuring all students are safe, loved, and learning.

The last part of the above run-on sentence contains Dr. Steve Ingersoll’s old catchphrase about “safe, loved, and learning.”

It’s fine that parents want to be more involved with the school their children attend, there’s just one little problem with this new parent organization. They’re asking for donations from the public.

This statement makes it seem like the new family council with their weebly website have been around for years, when in fact they’ve only been active for a couple of weeks. The last part should be read with a great big CAVEAT.

All donations made in cash/check will be tax deductible!

Will be. As in not yet. Grand Traverse Academy Family Council currently has no record of:

  • An EIN.
  • Registry with the state of Michigan as a domestic nonprofit.
  • No filing with the state Attorney General’s Charitable Trust Section.
  • No Grand Traverse County DBA filing.
  • And most of all, no filing with the IRS for 501 (c) (3) status (Spoiler – this is the really important one!).

Is it illegal to accept donations from the public and businesses without these things? No, but the organization must disclose to the donors that their donations are NOT tax-deductible. Sorry, Grand Traverse Pie Company.

On July 3rd, days after the Record-Eagle article, someone finally pointed out to GTA Family Council there was one little problem with their cunning donation plan:

Most of the required filings and registrations with various government agencies to be an actual nonprofit organization don’t take long at all. However, the one that’s difficult and time consuming is the one that makes you an actual nonprofit organization – the 501(c)(3).

Good luck with that.

Spokesperson for the new group, Danielle Mulholland, says it best in this Record-Eagle quote:

“Everyone is facing budget cuts. Public schools in general are having a hard time. This is a way for parents to have some control over our kids and to help make up for where public funding might be lacking.”

Mulholland is right. Public schools are facing huge budget cuts, but keeping failing for-profit charter schools open does not help public schools in any way. Public funding is lacking because malignant tumors like for-profit charter school GTA continues to divert public school funds away from real public schools. If Mulholland and the rest of the parents of GTA want to help public education, they need to enroll their children into a real public school.

The public school districts in your community would appreciate having your children attend their schools. The increased funding would provide for hiring staff, buying books and supplies, and everything else our public schools struggle to provide with the increasing onslaught of for-profit “education” companies opening more schools and diverting more of our tax dollars into their private bank accounts.

Maybe the parents of GTA will read this and go to the meeting on July 10 with some important questions to ask this new parent council.

The Michigan DNR confirmed there are cougars in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan today, releasing a photograph of the large cat strolling through a Clinton County neighborhood. This is not the first sighting of cougars in the Lower Peninsula, but it is the first time the DNR admitted it.

The Michigan DNR to date confirmed 35 sightings of cougars in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The DNR insist the animals are just visitors and there are no breeding cougars anywhere in Michigan. All reports of cougars in the Lower Peninsula until today were denied, including a report near Howell last year, where a home owner shot a video of the cat. The DNR told the 28 year old woman the animal in the video was a house pet.

Last year Up North Progressive spoke with an orchard grower near Grand Traverse County who said they put a trail camera on the property when workers saw a large cat walking around near the creek that runs past the orchard. The camera caught a picture of what appeared to be a cougar with cubs. According to the orchard grower, the DNR admitted it was a cougar ‘off the record’. Other sightings in the Traverse City region, as well as sightings around the Lower Peninsula have all been denied until now.

The DNR offers these tips if you see a cougar:

  • Face the animal and do not act submissive.
  • Stand tall, wave your arms and talk in a loud voice.
  • Never run from a cougar or other large carnivore.
  • If children are present, pick them up so they cannot run.
  • Do not crouch and get on all fours.
  • If attacked, fight back with whatever is available.
  • DO NOT play dead.
  • Report the encounter to local authorities and the DNR as soon as possible.

So far, the DNR insists cougars do not live in Michigan. They’re only visiting and not breeding anywhere in the state. It seems the DNR believes cougars prefer to go elsewhere to raise their young, despite the state obviously having enough food for them to visit. Another thing the orchard owner claimed the DNR told them ‘off the record’ – the cougars in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan were secretly introduced here by the DNR. Thank goodness that can’t possibly be true, since it’s official that the cougars in Michigan are tourists, not residents.

The DNR has a link to a page on their website for reporting a cougar sighting. For more information, contact Kevin Swanson at 906-458-1889.

This is Jeff Sieting. He’s the Village President of Kalkaska, Michigan. This pure up north town is known for trout fishing. They celebrate the sport with a giant trout fountain on Main Street.

Jeff Sieting owns the Hotel Sieting across the street from the fountain. He’s worked hard for the village making things better, and the townspeople do appreciate his hard work. Sieting also works hard making things out of wood, like these old timey-styled gumball machines.

Jeff Sieting turned the first floor of the Hotel Sieting into a shop to sell his homemade old timey artesianal gumball machines and antiques. Being on Main Street and right across the road from the giant fish fountain seemed like the ideal location.

Except it hasn’t worked out that way for Jeff Sieting. Most tourists who come to Kalkaska don’t stop to buy homemade gumball machines, no matter how well made or nice looking they are. People stop in Kalkaska to fuel up, eat, and head to the cottage or cabin to do what everyone from downstate comes up north to do – enjoy being up north. Sure, people stop to take a picture of the giant trout fountain because that’s cool. Then they might notice the bar or ice cream shop across the street and head over for some refreshment. Gumball machines? Where are the fudgies supposed to stash those in their boats and campers – toss out the beer and Koegel Viennas?

Needless to say, when your big plan to sell your overpriced handmade gumball machines doesn’t work out, you’re going to get grumpy about it.

There’s another issue that very likely has something to do with people avoiding the Hotel Sieting. Since last fall, a large sign urging people to vote for Trump has hung prominently over the front door of the gumball machine store/hotel. Sieting’s hotel was covered with Republican campaign signs during the election. He removed most of them afterward, but the Trump sign remains. When people in town pointed out he was violating the law, he changed the word “vote” on the sign to “pray 4”.

People still didn’t buy his gumball machines, and the fact the sign wasn’t taken down and people weren’t happy about it grew from local grumbling to regional and statewide notice. A radio personality in Flint who used to live in Kalkaska made Sieting’s social media page’s content aware to the public, including an anti-Muslim rant that suggested “kill them all.”

More out of towners got involved. A woman named Phoebe Hopps who was involved in the Women’s March on Washington organized a “no hate” protest against Sieting for the rhetoric he shared on Facebook to take place in front of the giant trout fountain on June 23, 2017 at seven o’clock in the afternoon. Not to be outdone, more out of towners called Your Defending Fathers announced a 2nd amendment demonstration in support of Sieting and Trump to take place in front of the Hotel Sieting on the same day beginning at six thirty. Bikers welcome and pizza for all.

The residents of Kalkaska? They looked on and wondered what on earth they did to deserve all of the attention.

People arrived for both demonstrations. This is what it looked like on the giant trout fountain side of the street:

And this is what it looked like on the Hotel Sieting side:

There were flags and placards with messages being carried on the sidewalk. Some nice folks brought extra flags for people to hold. On the Hotel side, people shouted things like, “Get a job! Have any of you served?” And in on more than one occasion, when they chanted “USA USA USA,” the no hate demonstrators joined in with them. One man shouted, “Just like the Muslims, you’re a bunch of f****** dumbasses!” This prompted the no hate demonstrators to chant, “love not hate!” The heckler’s answer? “At least we have God on our side!”

It wasn’t enough for the Sieting supporters to stay on their side of the street. Many came over to the no hate side and argued with demonstrators about why all Muslims deserved to die, that they were all going to hell for supporting LGBT rights and not accepting Trump as their personal lord and savior. One debate turned into a shouting match and prompted the police to move in.

People carrying firearms and wearing MAGA hats did the best they could to intimidate the no hate demonstrators. Trucks and motorcycles drove back and forth making as much noise as possible and flipping off the peaceful no hate side of the road. Coal rollers billowed black smoke, and some made sure to honk their horns when they drove on the Hotel Sieting side.

As the afternoon became evening, the police presence on the street grew more obvious. Most of the no hate demonstrators moved further down the street to get away from the Sieting demonstrators who were also patronizing the Kal Ho Lounge. They occasionally walked out onto the sidewalk, shouted insults and profanity before going back into the bar.

Kalkaska locals who talked to the Up North Progressive commented on the fact that most of the people demonstrating on both sides were not residents of the village. What especially bothered them was the purpose of the demonstration and the negative publicity their town received from the public and the press. The local TV stations were there to take pictures and interview demonstrators. Most people walked away afterward assuming this all started over a Trump sign that’s still violating the law, free speech rights, the 2nd amendment, hate speech … and they’re all wrong.

This is about Village President Jeff Sieting getting mad at a town because no one wants to buy his gumball machines. The Trump sign still violates the law, but Sieting refuses to take it down, especially now when it’s getting people to notice his hotel. Maybe they’ll notice his gumball machines next.

After last week’s revelation that former Grand Traverse Academy Principal Brooke Capser accepted a position with Lowell School in Missoula, Montana, and tried to cover it up for weeks before the end of the school year, Up North Progressive received a challenge that perhaps not all of the facts in evidence were considered before publishing the article. Once more details about the situation came to light, the solution became clear as day. The following is offered not to scold, bully, or make light of the situation, but to offer sincere advice on how to fix the problem at GTA, and every other for-profit charter school in Michigan.

One of the main functions of third party management that operate charter schools is human resources. It’s up to the manager to hire staff for the school. Brooke Capser was hired by Full Spectrum LLC, not Grand Traverse Academy. Mark Noss owns Full Spectrum LLC and is the business partner of convicted felon Steve Ingersoll, who managed GTA through his for-profit company, Smart Schools LLC. The parents of children attending GTA have no choice how teachers and principals are hired.

The process for hiring teachers and principals at a real public school is quite different. There is no third party manager trying to eke a profit out of taxpayer money that’s supposed to be spent educating children. Interviewing new teachers and principals is conducted by school district administration. Candidates go through a rigorous interview process by a team of teachers, administrators, and even parents and students in some cases. The successful candidate’s name is then submitted by the building principal to the school board, who vote to approve the new hire.

The school board at a real public school are not cronies, friends, family, spouses or business partners of the third party manager. School board members are elected by the community of the school district. What does this mean? Community members and parents of children attending that district choose who sits on the school board; not Steve Ingersoll, and not Mark Noss. There are people on the GTA school board who have been there since the school opened and they have never been elected to that position.

With all of the talk of school choice and charter schools supposedly offering more choice to parents and students, doesn’t it seem odd that these for-profit corporations really don’t offer the parents or students much choice in how their school is operated or who makes the decisions or who hires the staff or who decides to just shrug their shoulders and say “C’est la vie” when the third party manager makes off with millions of dollars the state handed to that charter school to educate the students? Who in their right mind continues to send their children to a school run by people they didn’t choose, and obviously educating children is not their first and only priority?

Any parent fed up with the useless cronies running a school where the primary goal is real estate deals, selling snake oil vision therapy your health insurance vision plan won’t cover for good reason, and the corporate-appointed school board rubber stamping the third party manager’s federal felony fraud needs to realize the whole organization is a corrupted failure. For-profit charter schools only offer an illusion of choice. There is no fixing this. It’s not management company verses school board – they’re all in on the corruption together.

If you want the power to make real choices for your children’s education, enroll them in a real public school where one hundred percent of your tax dollars pay for education and you get to choose the school board running it. No more unscrupulous douche bags. No more useless cronies. Up North Progressive challenges you to consider your options for your children and enroll them in a school that offers real choice.

If you’re a big fan of the Sunday Morning news shows you just got your first big dose of a man named Jay Sekulow. Never heard of him? Unless you’re a regular viewer of the 700 Club and CBN “News” you probably haven’t had much exposure to this legal titan of religious liberty, or the organizations he represents.

For decades, Jay Sekulow has enjoyed a close business relationship with Marion Gordon “Pat” Robertson, the last bastion of 70s and 80s TV evangelism everyone who survived the Reagan administration remembers. Sekulow is a regular on Robertson’s 700 Club and CBN News, where he’s talked about leading the charge against satanic LGBT people, satanic religions other than dominion Christianity, satanic women who think they should choose their own health care and force poor, victimized employer insurance pay for it, and all of the other satanic stuff happening in God’s America.

Pat Robertson and Jay Sekulow opened a law school in 1986 because Virginia certainly didn’t have plenty of law schools educating law students capable of passing the Bar Exam. RegenTTTT University School of Law is one of the lowest rated schools in the country, and if it weren’t for President Bush, job numbers out of school would be much lower. Jay Sekulow also runs an organization called the American Center for Law and Justice, a <>law firm that functions something like the American Civil Liberties Union, except instead of protecting people’s civil liberties, the ACLJ helps God-loving business owners discriminate by claiming their first amendment rights are being violated, and school children using the bathroom based on their gender identity are actually scary men preying on defenseless little girls. You get the idea.

Sekulow has a radio show, several non-profit charities that afford him a very lavish lifestyle, and acts as a shadowy figure behind the throne in Washington DC, be it helping President Bush pick Supreme Court Justices, backing the Russian ban on gay propaganda, or joining Trump’s legal team. Today was possibly Sekulow’s first time being interviewed by the mainstream media over a truly high-profile case, and it was glorious.

Nice to see Chris Wallace remember who his dad is on Father’s Day and actually interview someone.

Trump has the best legal minds working for him. Jay Sekulow is famous for stating inspiring rock solid legal statements like:

The Pledge clearly acknowledges the fact that our freedoms in this country come from God, not government.

Which means the Pledge of Allegiance, written by a Socialist and didn’t mention God until the 1950’s, supersedes the US Constitution on religion in this country.

Those of us counting down the seconds until the end of Trump can take heart he’s hiring only the best legal minds to defend him and we can look forward to more Sunday Morning comedy.

Since Monday, Up North Progressive has enjoyed a large number of visitors due to the bizarre behavior of Grand Traverse Academy concealing Principal Brooke Capser’s leaving the for-profit charter school for a new job in Big Sky Country. Today the Traverse City Record-Eagle tapped in to run pass interference for GTA:

Officials at Missoula County Public Schools confirmed GTA elementary principal Brooke Capser has been hired to serve as principal beginning in July at Lowell School in Montana. But GTA officials said they were unaware of her new position and have not started a replacement process.

MCPS’ board of education approved Capser’s hire at a board meeting Tuesday. The district’s Director of Human Resources David Rott said Casper will begin serving in her new role next month.

Capser refused to confirm information related to her move. GTA Superintendent Susan Dameron said she was unaware of Capser’s new job offer and has no immediate plans to find a replacement before next school year

“That’s news to me,” Dameron added.

What, Capser’s leaving? WE HAD NO IDEA.

Here’s the facts.

The Principals Message page was updated in late may to reflect Brook Capser was the new principal of Lowell School.

Once discovered, rumors started that GTA would be looking for a new principal soon.

Susan “that’s news to me” Dameron and GTA board member Leslie Werth denied this happening. The Principals Message page changed after May 27, 2017, with the outgoing principal’s name.

That Capser found a job with a new school isn’t the story here, the story is that GTA administration and board made efforts to cover up Capser’s new job with staff, parents, and students, and now with the help of local press the cover up continues. If you’re associated with GTA, you should be asking what is the purpose of a so-called “public” school covering up staff changes.

To Brooke Capser, good luck with your new job in Montana. Lowell School will be better because you’re there.

If there’s one thing schools hate, it’s scandal. They will do anything possible to avoid their name in the paper involving any wrong doing, real or perceived; which is why the staff and parents of GTA are probably living a total nightmare right now (and lets face it, have been for years). The Traverse City Record-Eagle has done a good job so far printing softball articles that the Michigan Department of Education nor the Attorney General’s office is not investigating GTA about the millions of dollars of tax payer money Ingersoll and Friends stole and this is just a case of mean people screaming fire at a tiny wisp of smoke. The only guilty party’s in prison now. Nothing to see here, every thing’s fine.

Can you imagine the front page headlines if this three-ring circus of a financial scandal happened with Traverse City Area Public Schools?

One GTA-related story the Record-Eagle hasn’t printed is the already-happened-but-no-one’s-supposed-to-know-about-it-yet resignation of Brooke Capser, former Principal of GTA. She has a new job in her home state of Montana as Principal of Lowell School in Missoula. You can see her name here on the Principals Message page on the school website:

And here she is listed in the staff directory on the same website:

By now you’ve probably mashed that link and seen this:

And you’re about to say, “Hey, wait a minute – according to the school’s website, this Brian Bessette guy is the principal, not Brooke Capser! Brooke Capser is even listed on GTA’s Leaders website right now!”

And you would be right. So let’s do some internet detective work. Open up your favorite search engine and type in, “Brooke Capser Lowell School

The top two search hits are the Lowell School Principals Message page and the school directory, both showing Brooke Capser’s name in bold. Click on the little green arrow next to the link and you will see a cached archive of the page. On May 27th, 2017, Those pages with Brooke Capser’s name were live on the Lowell School website.

So what happened? Grand Traverse Academy happened. They don’t want anyone to know Brooke Capser no longer works for them because some rats know when it’s time to flee the sinking ship. Of course, all the smoke and mirrors surrounding Brooke Capser’s change of career leads to the next question – why is it so important for GTA to conceal that Brooke Capser has a new job?

Remember staff, parents, and students of Grand Traverse Academy, make sure to wish your former principal good luck at her new school in Montana. Tomorrow is your last day with Mrs Capser and you will have a new principal next fall. Won’t that be exciting!