Friday, March 27, 2015

Snyder Reverses Course, Will Lower Flags To Honor Fallen Marines

Left to right: Andrew Seif, Marcus Bawol, and Trevor Blaylock. (Photos courtesy of Dept. of Defense and WDIV-TV)

Left to right: Andrew Seif, Marcus Bawol, and Trevor Blaylock. (Photos courtesy of WOOD TV via Dept. of Defense and WDIV-TV)


By Brandon Hall
(Email him at

Controversy raged this week after Gov. Snyder did not order flags in Michigan to be lowered to half-staff to honor three Michigan Marines killed in a recent tragedy, with thousands of Michiganders calling, emailing, and taking to social media sitesto blast the Governor.

Snyder, however, has changed his mind, announcing Friday evening that he is ordering flags lowered on Monday.

Marcus Bawol of Warren, Trevor Blaylock of Lake Orion and Andrew Seif of Holland were among seven Marines and four U.S. Army soldiers killed after their helicopter crashed during a training accident in Florida March 10th.

In a statement Friday evening, Snyder praised the fallen Marines and asked for a review of the language that dictates when flags should be lowered. Previously, The Michigan Department of Military and Veteran Affairs claimed only service members killed in the line of duty overseas could receive the honor.

Snyder spokesman Dave Murray, defending his boss, had said yesterday that “The current Michigan flag protocols were developed with the Michigan Department of Military Affairs and call for flags to be lowered across the state when members of the armed forces are lost in combat."

Also complicating the situation is that at least one family member asked the Governor not to lower the flags...Every other state with Marines on board however, did lower flags.

Below is the full statement released tonight by Snyder's office:

"U.S. flags within the state Capitol Complex and on all state buildings will be lowered to half-staff on Monday, March 30, 2015, to honor the service and sacrifice of service members killed during a training exercise earlier this month, including three Marines from Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder said.

Snyder said the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of the Marines, including Staff Sergeants Marcus Bawol of Warren, Trevor Blaylock of Lake Orion and Andrew Seif of Holland, is a tragic loss for our country and our state.

“The crash is a reminder that the men and women serving our country make tremendous sacrifices and put themselves in harm’s way every day to keep us safe and protect our freedoms,” Snyder said. “We join their families and communities in mourning their loss and also recognizing with pride their bravery and dedication to our country. They are, unquestionably, heroes.”

The Marines were killed in a crash off the Florida coast on March 10, with their funerals or memorials services held on different dates. 

Snyder said he wants to review long-standing flag protocols to determine if there should be changes. Existing flag protocols were developed with input from the Michigan Department of Military & Veterans Affairs and call for flags to be lowered across the state when members of the armed forces are lost in combat.

When flown at half-staff or half-mast, the U. S. flag should be hoisted first to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff or half-mast position. The flag should again be raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. Flags should be returned to full-staff on Tuesday, March 31"


Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
Email him at
Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Just Say NO: Paul Mitchell Plans Anti Road Tax Rally In Lansing April 15th

April 15, 2015 Legislative Tax Day and Call to Action

By Brandon Hall
(Email him at

With the vote on the controversial road tax package just over a month away, Paul Mitchell's "Say No To Higher Taxes and Special Interest Deals" continues to fight against what will be known on the ballot as Proposal 1. The proposal will cost Michiganders $2 billion annually, with 40% going to projects other than roads.

Mitchell is a regular on local news stations and radio, the group released their second TV ad recently, and a rally in Lansing on "Tax Day" has been announced.

He also acquired AFP's Scott Hagerstrom, and former Ottawa County GOP Executive Director Faith Steketee.

The April 15 rally will include a training session before hand, allowing interested  participants to learn how to effectively advocate against Prop 1.

Those interested in attending are encouraged to register, though that is not required.

The event website says that:

"On May 5th Michigan voters have been asked by legislators to vote on what will be the largest tax increase in nearly 50 years, if passed.  This "Transportation" tax will raise $2 billion and once fully implemented in 2018 nearly 40% ($700 million plus) won't go to fix a single pothole/road.   

Noon - 2 pm - Citizen Lobbyist Training and visit your legislator
2 pm - 3 pm - Call to Action/Road Rally

Come help us send a message to Lansing that we will not pay ransom to Lansing Special Interests to get our roads fixed. Michigan families can't afford a $800 per year, every year tax increase so that 40% can be siphoned off to non-road projects."

Efforts by other groups are also extremely helpful. Groups started by former State Rep. Tom McMillin and political consultant John Yob, among others, are a valuable resource for Mitchell's campaign, and for all who oppose Prop 1.

>>>Read the WMP interview with Paul Mitchell HERE:


STREET FIGHT: Paul Mitchell Pulls No Punches Battling Road Tax Package In WMP Interview


Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
Email him at
Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson


D.C. News Outlets Blast Huizenga and Schock For House Rules Violation

Rep. Bill Huizenga

By Brandon Hall  
(Email him at

Today, multiple Washington D.C. news outlets blasted Rep. Bill Huizenga for inappropriate behavior after Rep. Aaron Schock's farewell speech, with one even wondering if the House Ethics Committee would look at the matter. 

Huizenga, a third term Republican from Zeeland, took a picture of Schock with some legislator friends on the House floor, which is against House rules. Rep. Mike Bishop, a freshman, violated the rule earlier this year and immediately apologized. Huizenga, in his fifth year as a Representative, undoubtedly knew about the rule and snapped the pic anyway.

Roll Call writes:

"In another violation of House rules, Schock also took a pic with his congressional buds Kristi Noem, R-S.D., and Jason Smith, R-Mo., — or, rather, Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., took it for him.
But what did it matter? Was anyone going to raise the issue with the Ethics Committee? Was the House sergeant-at-arms anywhere in sight?"

The Hill also weighed in. They wrote:

"Then Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) snapped a group photo on his cellphone of Schock and a group of colleagues on the House floor, in violation of chamber decorum."

According to the House Committee on Rules:

"the use of personal electronic equipment, including cellular phones and laptop computers, is banned on the floor of the House."

As Roll Call asks, will anyone raise the issue with the Ethics Committee?

It wouldn't be Huizenga's first time dealing with them.

According to reports filed with the United States House of Representatives Ethics Committee, Huizenga failed to provide adequate information on more than one occasion.

It's unclear if Huizenga was the subject of a complaint for an ethics violation.

 Huizenga has also come under fire for campaign finance report issues over ten years old, and a secret trip to Japan paid for by a group with ties to a disgusting forced sterilization scandal in Peru.

Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
Email him at
Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson

Monday, March 23, 2015

State Rep. Gary Glenn Posts "Alert" Because New MDN News Editor Is Gay

By Brandon Hall
(Email him at

State Rep. Gary Glenn (R-Midland) has decided it is worth his time to "alert" constituents about the sexuality of new Midland Daily News News Editor Tony Lascari.

Glenn is known to have made many controversial comments over the years on gay marriage and similar issues, so this controversy is no surprise, it's just par for the course in Glennville.

Glenn, in a Facebook post Sunday, draws attention to Lascari having a husband, blasting him via an "alert" while quoting the article announcing his promotion.

Here is the full post:

Lascari promoted at Daily News
"Agenda Alert -- Midland Daily News' new news editor: political science major who "lives in Midland with (his) husband"

MIDLAND DAILY NEWS -- "The Midland Daily News has announced the promotion of Tony Lascari to the position of news editor. ...In his new role, Lascari will manage the full-time news writers, news clerk and freelancers. 'I’ll be able to focus on assigning out stories to the right writers, editing articles, and handling story ideas from the public,' Lascari said. 'I’ll be doing a lot more copy editing and hopefully some coaching with writers to improve writing and our stories.'

...That path started in 2005 when the Daily News offered Lascari a position. 'I was interested in the position because it was the city government beat,' he said. 'Since I had a major in political science, it fit with my interests.'

...Family and nature are also important to Lascari. 'I enjoy spending time with my nieces and my nephew, I’m an occasional runner, and I love spending time in Midland’s parks,' Lascari said. 'I live in Midland with my husband, Mark.'"

Lascari, in a statement he released, replied to Glenn's post:

"I am aware that Michigan Rep. Glenn has issued an 'agenda alert' on Facebook and Twitter to let his supporters know about my marital status. I welcome him to contact me to speak about any topic at any time. In my new role as news editor at the Midland Daily News I look forward to helping my team produce quality stories that are accurate, interesting and important.”

Glenn is immensely popular in the party's social conservative wing. He is in his first term as State Rep, and he seems like a nice guy. He should probably spend more time on the recent alternative to the May 5th road tax proposal he introduced in the House-it's far more important. And productive.

State Rep. Gary Glenn

Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
Email him at
Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson

2nd District Dem Chair Dean Vanderstelt Blasts Secret Huizenga Japan Trip

Huizenga, left, Vanderstelt, right (graphic by MLive)

By Brandon Hall
(Email him at
In a statement to West Michigan Politics, Dean Vanderstelt, the new Chairman for the Second Congressional District Democrats, blasted Rep. Bill Huizenga for his recent secret trip to Japan. The trip was funded by a group with connections to a shady forced sterilization scandal where hundreds of thousands of women and young girls were sterilized against their will in Peru. 

Huizenga hid the trip from constituents on all his social media accounts, did not issue a press release, nor did he or talk to any media. Instead, Huizenga made it seem like he was in D.C. or back home in his district, posting random stories.

Vanderstelt called Huizenga "disconnected" from the West Michigan residents he is supposed to represent.

>>>Breaking: Huizenga Concealed Recent Trip To Japan Paid For By Group With Ties To Disgusting Forced Sterilization Scandal
Vanderstelt believes the trip was inappropriate and notes that the overwhelming majority of Huizenga's constituents couldn't afford the nearly $20,000 in first class airfare Huizenga and his wife spent on the luxurious trip, which Huizenga calls "official government business."
 Vanderstelt wrote:
 "During our 2014 campaign we noted that while Representative Huizenga's constituents struggle in this rough economy to make ends meet, the representative seems to enjoy fine dining at expensive restaurants, travel (i.e. his trip to a Disney resort with his family), golf outings at exclusive resorts...and travelling first class on airlines.  In this, and many other ways, he seems to be very disconnected from the people in West Michigan he represents.

In your March 18th article "Huizenga Concealed Recent Trip to Japan..."  you show an air fare of $9,768.38 for the representative and $9,992.98 for his wife*.   The coach air fare (per kayak,com) from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Tokyo, Japan is $1,145.00

In review of his FEC reports you will note that the majority of his air travel seems to be at first class cost, surely something that few of his West Michigan constituents have been able to afford."
Huizenga defeated Vanderstelt in November 2014, giving Huizenga his third term in Congress.
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
Email him at
Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Updated:Huizenga Concealed Trip To Japan Paid For By Group With Ties To Disgusting Forced Sterilization Scandal In Peru

By Brandon Hall
(Email him at

The Peruvian government is reopening an expansive criminal investigation into a shocking forced sterilization scandal involving a high-profile donor to Congressman Bill Huizenga. Many questions still remain about the secret trip Huizenga took to Japan, paid for a group associated with Ryoichi Sasakawa, a key figure in the scandal who dubs himself "the world's richest facist."

It was reported Saturday that "Peruvian judicial authorities have ordered the reopening and expansion of a criminal probe into the mass forced sterilization of an estimated 350,000 women and 25,000 men during the 1990s."

Congressman Bill Huizenga recently took a one week trip to Japan with his wife- they left on Valentine's Day and returned a week later.

This was not personal, rather, official Congressional business, of course. According to documents filed with the House Ethics Committee and available at Legistorm, Huizenga "Attended foreign policy meetings, met with Japanese and U.S. officials."

However, not a single word was mentioned via press release, nor anywhere on Huizenga's Facebook or Twitter for the whole week. Huizenga concealed the trip from Constituents, who were basically led to believe Huizenga was in the district, or in D.C.

Instead, Huizenga was thousands of miles away, enjoying a luxurious trip to Japan that cost over $20,000.

It's quite strange Huizenga would omit this fact and make it look like he was back home in the U.S... As I ruminated as to why Huizenga did this, the reason soon became crystal clear.

Documents filed with the House Ethics Committee show the trip was paid for by two entities, the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress, and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.

The first organization is what it sounds like. The second, however, is far more interesting. And the guy who founded it has a disturbing history.

Ryoichi Sasakawa, a Japanese millionaire supportive of the controversial "Unification Church," once said of himself, "I am the world's richest fascist."

The Sasakawa Peace Foundation, which bears his name and co-sponsored Huizenga's trip, is one of many organizations he founded or was an integral part of. 

Another very prominent group is the Nippon Foundation. That group came under fire a few years ago for its ABHORRENT involvement in the forced sterilization of hundreds of thousands of Peruvian woman. 

RyoichiSasakawa face.jpg
Sasakawa (Wikipedia)

According to Wikipedia, "The Nippon Foundation, alongside the United Nations, USAID, and other international aid agencies, supported a massive family planning campaign in Peru, known as Voluntary Surgical Contraception. It was later revealed that under the campaign, undertaken by Alberto Fujimori's administration in Peru from 1996 to 2000, nearly 300,000, mostly indigenous, women were forcibly sterilized."

Sasakawa's group donated millions to fund the sterilizations and provided equipment for"sterilization festivals," among other things. Here's an excerpt of an article from Catholic Culture:


A few days after becoming the new Minister of Health, Dr. Luis Solari de la Puente—a noted surgeon and pro-life leader—was surprised to notice the generous donations that had been made by a Japanese non-profit organization called The Nippon Foundation to promote "health initiatives" in Peru's rural areas. 

After reviewing the support provided by the foundation, Solari de la Puente found out that 100 percent of the money, equipment, and material donated by the organization was related to birth-control programs. Moreover, most of the equipment used for the controversial "sterilization festivals" held by health workers in rural Andean areas during the Fujimori years came from the same organization. 

Solari eventually discovered that the Nippon Foundation...had also donated $2 million for a "reproductive health campaign" in the lightly populated Amazon basin." 

Rep. Bill Huizenga

It's absurd to think Congressman Huizenga simply neglected to mention he was in Japan. He knew his constituents wouldn't like the fact that as our Country (which is $18 trillion in debt) faces a number of issues and families continue to struggle, Huizenga was trotting around Japan for a week.

It's like when Obama constantly plays golf as the world goes to hell-it doesn't sell well in West Michigan.

Even worse for Huizenga: his trip was partially funded by a group with an extremely controversial founder who was part of a deplorable assault on women and girls in Peru. Talk about a "War on Women," jeez. He knew damn well that wouldn't be popular, either.

>>>Huizenga should immediately refund the portion of the money this group spent on his trip.
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
Email him at
Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson