Using 35 roll call votes selected from the MichiganVotes.org website, the MIRS Capitol Capsule newsletter (www.mirsnews.com — subscription required) ranked members of the Michigan House of Representatives according to what MIRS characterizes as "most conservative" to "most liberal." Claiming the top conservative slot for 2007 was Rep. Brian Palmer, R-Romeo, who voted on what MIRS considered the conservative side 97.06 percent of the time. The most liberal tag went to Rep. Steve Lindberg, D-Marquette, whose conservative score was just 2.86 percent.
A wide variety of issues were covered, such as tax increases, banning smoking in private businesses and privatization of prison mental health services.
MIRS judged Rep. Ed Gaffney, R-Grosse Pointe, as having cast the most liberal votes of any member of the Republican caucus based on a conservative vote percentage of 31.43. Rep. Martin Griffin, D-Jackson, with a score of 33.33, sided with the conservative opinion more often than any of his fellow Democrats.
Dept. of Discrimination?
Advocates for a Women’s Studies instructor at the University of Michigan are charging the school’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts with "discrimination against women of color." The instructor, Andrea Smith, is of Cherokee descent and also teaches in the college’s American Culture department. She was denied tenure by an LS&A panel on Feb. 22, 2008, according to the Michigan Daily, the campus’ student newspaper.
The denial followed a letter to the LS&A college, signed by 30 faculty members in the Women’s Studies department, which alleged a "concerning pattern" of "negative decisions" by LS&A regarding tenure cases involving women of color. But ironically, it was members of the Women’s Studies department who declined to offer tenure to Smith. The panel deciding her case was a mixture of the two departments where she teaches, and the American Culture representatives voted in her favor.
Smith’s proponents point to her strong record as an academic and to her "feminist activism" as points in her favor. The newspaper notes that this is not the first instance of trouble over tenure at the Women’s Studies department, saying that "third party organizational consultants" were brought in this January to "alleviate the hostility."
Taxpayers for Common Sense (www.taxpayer.net), a national budget watchdog organization in Washington, D.C., reports that 12,881 earmarks worth $18.3 billion were inserted into the fiscal 2008 federal budget. According to TCS, $14.8 billion of this total carried the name of the sponsors requesting the earmarks.
Asserting that earmarks are an "element of pay-to-play corruption in Washington," TCS has created online spreadsheets detailing the dollar amount of earmarks that each federal lawmaker is known to have requested alone or with other lawmakers. Then-U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker, R-MS, led the pack in the House of Representatives with earmark requests of nearly $178 million. Wicker has since become a member of the U.S. Senate. The earmark champion from that chamber was also a Mississippi Republican: Sen. Thad Cochran, whose special spending requests totaled more than $837 million.
Not all federal legislators asked for earmarks in the fiscal 2008 budget. A bipartisan list of at least eight representatives and five senators — including one presidential candidate — requested no earmarks at all.
Below is a listing of the fiscal 2008 earmark requests that TCS credits to each member of the Michigan congressional delegation and also for each of the members of Congress who ran as presidential candidates in 2008.
Michigan Members of Congress
Rep. Dave Camp (R) – $6,269,970
Rep. John Conyers (D) – $25,686,900
Rep. John Dingell (D) – $33,039,100
Rep. Vern Ehlers (R) – $9,099,300
Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R) — $10,786,500
Rep. Dale Kildee (R) – $15,813,750
Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D) – $13,174,740
Rep. Sander Levin (D) – $16,394,420
Sen. Carl Levin (D) – $324,128,580
Rep. Thad McCotter (R) – $2,763,000
Rep. Candice Miller (R) – $5,470,500
Rep. Mike Rogers (R) – $22,532,140
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) – $302,988,080
Rep. Bart Stupak (D) – $33,746,900
Rep. Fred Upton (R) – $15,822,600
Rep Tim Walberg (R) – $16,645,000
2008 Presidential Candidates from Congress
Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) – $85,597,205
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) – $87,133,151
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) – $342,403,455
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) – $172,481,242
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) – $27,074,500
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) – $8,102,560
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) – $0
Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) – $98,648,720
Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) – $27,066,000
Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) – $17,558,700
For additional information regarding this issue, please see www.mackinac.org/9448.