The North Oakland Republican Club -April 2017 Newsletter
From NORC’s President Matt Marko
Our March Meeting was a big success. Despite bad weather, we had a good turn-out of members, public and elected officials to hear from Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson and Chairman of the Senate Elections Committee, Dave Robertson about what happened in the 2016 election. Senator Robertson also gave a heart felt endorsement of Ruth’s bid to take his senate seat next year.
It was also my pleasure to introduce our new Communications Director, Terry Whitney, who has updated and taken control of our website, mailings, and other IT functions. We are lucky to add Terry to our NORC team.
From the Communications Director Terry Whitney
We are proud to announce the redesign of our website. It is being crafted to reflect what our members told us they need now but also builds upon technology capable of addressing future needs.
You will notice streamlined menus, simple navigation and access to the information you need, any time of day. By providing an improved destination for news, media, membership resources and cross platform access, we are busy redesigning the new website as a resource for our community, with expanded capabilities for learning, sharing and interaction.
From the Membership Chair Mark DeGroff
We had a very good turnout for the March 30 with about around a hundred members and guests greeting our guest speakers. Of these, we had many new or renewed memberships.
For all who missed the membership announcement, we are now renewing all memberships on January 1st of each year. If you have joined or renewed your membership after October of last year you are good until the end of 2017. All others are due at this time.
NORC has been getting interest in Highland, Milford, Hartland and Novi and had guests and new members come from Dearborn Heights and Gross Pointe. Our geographic scope is not limited and will even move our events around.
We encourage new guests and members – everyone is welcome so please bring friends to our meetings.
Next Meeting is April 27th at 7PM the Fork’n Pint in Waterford
Our April 27th meeting, back at the Fork’n Pint in Waterford, is going to be excellent!
There is a serious effort to Completely Eliminate Michigan’s Income Tax, and we’ve got the top people coming to discuss it with you.
Senator Jack Brandenburg, Chairman of the Senate Tax Committee
Representative Jim Tedder, Chairman of the House Tax Committee
Charles Owens, Director of the National Federation of Independent Business
This is an effort to stop Michigan’s depopulation and attract people and business as eliminating the income tax did for the seven other states that did it..
May 25th Meeting Agenda
As a follow-up, our May 25th meeting, is about some creative ways Michigan can generate revenue to replace the income tax. Our guests will include Senator Mike Kowall who has introduced a bill that would legalize internet gambling, and Jamie Lowell, of MiLegalize, who is working to get a referendum on next year’s ballot to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Being controversial, it should make for some spirited discussion, so if you’re against it – come challenge our speakers!
NORC Political Liaison – Jim Runstead
Swift and sure penalties needed to end culture of corruption
School employees and people who work for our local, state and federal governments get paid to serve the public, and they have a duty to maintain the public’s trust. Unfortunately, too many people break that trust and receive insignificant punishments.
The most notable recent example of this in Michigan comes from the 12 principals from Detroit Public Schools charged last year with crimes for accepting bribes. Collectively, they helped cheat the struggling Detroit district out of $2.7 million in supplies that the schools never received. Most of the principals involved in the scheme took plea deals and received jail sentences ranging from six months to three years.
Corruption has plagued schools and communities across our state, and apathy to white-collar crime by those in prominent positions of responsibility has added to the distrust people have for the government. More needs to be done to increase penalties and end this ongoing culture of corruption.
Under current law, the courts may order the forfeiture of a public pension when a public employee is convicted of a felony resulting from the misuse of public funds, or from the receipt of a bribe as a public employee. This penalty must be sought by the court, separate from restitution, as a credit back to the local unit and as a means of protecting tax payer dollars and the public trust. In the case of the DPS principals, Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed a suit seeking forfeiture of the portion of the pension paid by the Detroit Public Schools and the state during the time of their crimes. This is something that should be done each and every time a public employee is convicted of such a felony. However, in a recent House committee hearing an expert from the Attorney General’s Detroit office said that this penalty is rarely pursued.
Last week, the House unanimously approved a bill I have been working on for two years to mandate the forfeiture penalty for every public employee who is convicted of felony embezzlement and similar crimes. The bill replaces the word “may” in the current law with “shall,” requiring courts to order forfeiture of a portion of the pension for public employees who are convicted of stealing more than $1000 and similar felony charges. Furthermore, the bill adds language to allow for forfeiture of the employer contribution to a 401K, which the current law does not address. Mandatory forfeiture of both pensions and employer contributions to 401Ks will save trial expense in seeking this penalty, reimbursing the local unit, and setting a firm disincentive to breaching the public trust.
The state should never be put in a position of financing corruption. Decades of mismanagement and deeply rooted problems do not change easily and institutionalized corruption does not redeem itself with the stroke of a pen. For small township libraries and mega municipalities alike, financial responsibility and stable administration are primary components of success. Public offices at every level and schools across our state need experienced leadership they can trust. For this reason we must have swift and sure penalties for those who breach the public trust, penalties that can’t be waived by politics or busy courtrooms.