Monday, January 30, 2012

Voting in Michigan’s Primary

Michigan’s Presidential Primary is Tuesday, February 28. What is different this year? First of all, it’s a closed primary and Michigan rarely holds closed primaries. A closed primary means only Democrats can vote for Democrats and only Republicans can vote for Republicans. Voters will get different ballots based on your party affiliation.

An open primary would offer one ballot with both parties choices on it and it’s up to the voter to vote in only one party’s election. Those who attempt to vote in both parties’ elections would not have their ballot count at all.

Secondly, the political party you choose will become a matter of public record. It does not register you as a member of that party, however.

Last year, the Republican-dominated state legislature passed a law to make public the voters’ party affiliations in the Presidential Primary. One can assume this is to deter Democrats from voting in the Republican primary. Democrats will have only one name on their ballot, and a vote on Feb. 28 will be largely symbolic because Michigan’s Democratic Party decided to hold their presidential caucus on May 5. That’s when they will officially select Barack Obama as their candidate.

What’s on the February 28 ballot? For Democrats, only the name of Barack Obama. For Republicans, the names of 11 Republican candidates. The list of Republicans was finalized in December and will not reflect the fact that some candidates may have dropped out of the race. The names in alphabetical order are: Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Fred Karger, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Buddy Roemer, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum.

Voter ID requirements have not changed in the last 2 years. Voters must show picture identification. Preferred are your Michigan driver’s license or personal ID card. If a voter doesn’t have either, a current picture ID from another state, federal or state government-issued photo ID, a U.S. passport, military ID with photo, student ID with photo from a high school or an accredited institution of higher education, or a tribal ID card with photo may substitute.

If a voter does not have picture ID, they may vote after signing an affidavit.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Youth Registration - Fordson

The team working on the youth registration project has visited Fordson and met with the principal, Mr. Yousseff Mosallam. Principal Mosallam offered a warm welcome and support for our project.
While some specifics await the next semester's schedule (begins Jan 31), we expect to hold registration events in mid-February. The school has enrollment of 2,500 students. There are ten sections of government classes so we will have to cover several hours. Student groups will also be encouraged to participate, such as F-COPS: Fordson - Club of Political Science.

If you would like to be involved in this important outreach, please send an email to or call our local president, Mary Bugeia, 313-278-6476.

Friday, January 6, 2012

It Happens Here – Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation

Theresa Flores was 15, living in Birmingham, MI when she became trapped in a sex-slave operation for two years. “It happens here,” Flores says, “to white, middle-class teens who live in the suburbs. It’s easy to think that because you live in a nice neighborhood, you’re safe.1

Flores was on the track team, had a nice house and seemed like an ordinary suburban girl, but at night, she was subjected to horrendous abuse. Compelled to keep her secrets to protect her family from a scandal, she snuck out of the house - in compliance but against her will. This started with a crush in high school. Taking advantage of her affection, a 16 year old boy brought her to his house and raped her while others photographed the incident. The photos were used to blackmail her into cooperating, coerced into becoming a sex slave for the benefit of a criminal enterprise. She was finally free when her family moved, still unaware of her trauma.

Theresa Flores’ story is typical of sex-trafficking victims that Nicole McGee, Special Victims Agent, FBI-Michigan deals with daily.

Read more about Theresa Flores at her website:

Agent McGee spoke on October 17 for the LWVOA about the worldwide problem of human trafficking, including its prevalence within the United States. She works with human trafficking victims to advise them of their rights and assure that they get the help with short-term and long-term needs-like legal and repatriation services, immigration relief, housing, employment, education, job training, and child care. Human trafficking is about forced labor in general, but sexual exploitation is the most common.

Officer McGee shared some statistics about human trafficking in Michigan and beyond. Human trafficking affects virtually every region of the world, including metro Detroit. Sex trafficking accounts for at least 40% of all forced labor-human trafficking. Some experts estimate that it is more like 80%.2

Women and girls are the most vulnerable; trafficking victims tend to be the poorest and most vulnerable people coming from poor cities and countries.

Ms. McGee told us exploiters and pimps look for girls in malls, cinemas, even at high school events - anywhere teens gather with stragglers on the perimeter.

Kathy Gapa reported on the LWV Oakland Area Event for this article. Sexual exploitation of young girls in our community isn’t going away. Learn to identify and help those trapped in the sex trade with facts and resources from this Fact Sheet for Schools, “Human Trafficking of Children in the United States

[1] Terri Finch Hamilton, “Human Trafficking, exploitation is on the rise in Michigan”. The Grand Rapids Press <>. 10-27-2011

2Sexual Trafficking: the facts trafficking for sexual exploitation have become an epidemic in the past decade”. New Internationalist, <> 10-27-2011

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Opinion - Privatization

Opinion by Joe Borrajo – Privatization
The cachet of "privatizing services" is it saves money. Not necessarily true. In the mid 1990s, the City of Dearborn sought to save money by not using city employees to erect Yule-tide decorations on city hall grounds; the city hired a contractor to do the job for $50,000.00. As it turned out, the contractor sent a single worker who supervised the same city employees that weren't suppose to be used for the task of decorating the grounds. The task took a matter of a few days, but $50,000.00 could pay the salary of an employee for a year.

Besides the money proposition, "privatization" also raises the question of the quality of services rendered. The process of out-sourcing responsibilities can lead to the problem of inferior work requiring remedial effort that translates into cost-overruns, left for the taxpayer to cover. Likewise, communities can be expected to accommodate "privatization's" development with a costly infrastructure and upgrading that explicitly serves the recipient of the community's asset with little return to the taxpayer.

Furthermore, the subject of "privatization" rarely broaches the matter of community/taxpayer "assets". Putting valuable assets, a measure of the wealth and value of a community, into the hands of corporation developers and speculators is a forfeiture that weakens the very foundation of a community, leaving it open to having the quality of life negatively impacted. "Privatization" can leave a mark comparable to what the problematic issue of "eminent domain" has done to injure stable residential communities.