HOEKSTRA NAMED NEW CHAIR OF ANTI-KARAMO MICHIGAN GOP FACTION
Since Karamo’s removal vote, her Co-Chair Malinda PEGO was acting as interim chair and scheduled today’s vote.
Karamo holds that her removal vote and any business not conducted by her since then has not been legitimate.
Hoekstra was elected in the second round of run-off voting, getting 50 votes to Lena Epstein’s 22.
Vance Patrick, the chair of the Oakland County Republican Party didn’t make it to the second round of voting. He announced during the second round that he received a call from Mar-a-Lago endorsing Hoekstra.
During last year’s election in which Karamo took over as chair, Epstein had also run but later endorsed Karamo after the first round of voting.
The divergent faction, including Pego and administrative vice chair Ali Hossein, coalitions vice chair Hassan Nehme, Anne Delisle, Jessica Barefield, Norm Shinkle and Oakland County businessman Warren Carpenter are named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Karamo to recognize their vote to remove her on Jan. 6 in Commerce Township.
That used proxies to establish a quorum, but only state committee members could vote on issues such as the bylaw amendment that lowered the required number of votes to remove an officer from 75% of the whole committee (regardless of attendance at that meeting) to 60% of those present.
Karamo’s administration also issued three cease and desist letters this week to various state committee and district committee members: Anne Delisle, Matt Deperno, JD Glaser, Dan Lawless, Bree Moeggenberg, Pego, Tim Ross and Andy Sebolt, though Sabot’s name was spelled incorrectly.
Eighty-eight percent of the state committee members that were present voted to remove Karamo.
The following Saturday, Karamo put several issues up for a vote at her own meeting: her removal, which failed; Pego’s removal, which passed; and the removal of several state committee members, which passed.
On Thursday, Karamo’s faction said they were issuing cease and desist letters to the three candidates and members of the party that voted on Jan. 6 to remove her.
Bree Moeggenberg, Second Congressional District state committee member, said she still has not received the letter, nor a formal notice that she had been removed from the state committee. She added that the vote to remove her on Jan. 13 didn’t follow bylaws.
The candidate forum did not conduct any official business of the MRP. State committee members were invited and a list of questions were given to candidates and they gave their answers under a time constraint of a few minutes each. The forum lasted just under an hour and a half, Moeggenberg said.
At a First Congressional District meeting Thursday night, Chair Sue Allor was removed, which would potentially impact the appointment of proxies for the first district since Article III, Section I of the party laws state that a member’s district chairman may select a registered voter from that district as a proxy in voting.
Moeggenberg said Allor’s removal will be disputed.
On Karamo’s Friday Lunch with Chair Karamo podcast, she questioned why (If the faction that allegedly removed her was so confident that they removed her, hadn’t legal paperwork to force her to hand the keys of the party over been filed?) That lawsuit came later in the day (see related story).
It’s a reasonable assessment to say when one faction conducts business they say is in accordance with the bylaws, the other faction argues that it is illegitimate.
BENSON SOUNDING INCREASINGLY INTERESTED IN ’26 GOVERNOR BID
Benson, appearing on this week’s episode of "MichMash," a podcast co-hosted by Gongwer News Service and WDET Detroit Public Radio, was asked about her plans once her term as secretary of state expires after 2026. Term limits prevent both Benson and Governor Gretchen Whitmer from seeking reelection to their current positions.
Benson said it’s hard to think about 2026 when she’s in the middle over overseeing the 2024 election with the presidential primary in five weeks, the statewide primary in August and general election in November – all with taking place for the first time with new election rules allowing for early voting and other access changes. And she said she loves her job.
But she spoke of successes at the Department of State and said she would like to bring those kinds of changes to all of state government.
"We have completely transformed this agency and made it one that touches every single citizen and resident in this state and ensures they’re getting the type of customer service and efficient government services they deserve," she said. "My vision for state government is that that is what we should be seeing across the board, in DHHS, in the delivery of unemployment benefits and so many different ways, helping businesses get started. Government should work well, it should be efficient and then it should get out of the way."
Benson said the Department of State has embodied that way of thinking. She said she has had constituents approach her across the state, complimenting the ease of renewing tabs or their driver’s license.
"That’s what we’ve demonstrated is possible with the changes we’ve made in our department and so that’s certainly on my mind as we look to how can I continue to serve and what can I continue to help improve for our state," she said. "I love the idea of continuing to do that more throughout our state and throughout all of state government."
A wide array of Democrats are likely considering the governor’s race in 2026, among them Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist.
Looking ahead to the February 27 presidential primary, Benson said she has no issues with the election mechanics needed with the earlier primary, which was moved up by two weeks.
"It’s the Legislature’s prerogative to set the date," she said. "Our job as election administrators is to build the infrastructure to make it happen. And so, we looked at it, other than wanting clarity as to what the date was going to be, because that’s also what we have to provide for voters, my audience are the voters in this state. And so my goal is to give them as much clarity as I can about how to cast their vote and when to do it."
The big change is the presidential primary will mark the first statewide election with nine days of early voting as required under Proposal 2022-2, Benson said.
"The date of the election, frankly, is the least of our worries," she said. "The bigger challenges are making sure we are doing everything our clerks need and our voters need to implement all of these new election laws as well as the older ones like no-reason absentee voting and election day registration smoothly."
Another feature of Proposal 2022-2 is the requirement for the state to prepay for postage so when voters return an absentee ballot, they do not need to pay for a stamp.
Benson said the state has set up prepaid accounts with the U.S. Postal Service so every city and township clerk’s office just needs to let the postal service know how many stamps are needed and then the postal service charges that cost to the state.
Benson acknowledged having three statewide elections this year plus two special legislative elections is a challenge for election administrators.
"Challenge is our middle name in the election industry. We embrace these challenges," she said. "We define ourselves by our ability to meet these challenges."
REPORT: HOUSING, INFRASTRUCTURE, WORKFORCE KEY TO REVIVING RURAL MICHIGAN
Improving resident health and wellbeing, improvements in the delivery of services and enhancing regional economic development efforts were also highlighted in the findings of a Michigan Roadmap to Rural Prosperity report issued Friday by the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Rural Prosperity.
Data in the report was gathered from meetings across the state in 2022, a 2023 survey with feedback from all 83 counties in the state as well as roundtables and discussions between office staff and stakeholders.
"Rural communities have experienced sustained and gradual shifts in their populations and economies for decades," the report stated. "Rural Michigan generally lacks a sustainable or balanced population – a population that is diverse in age, experience, and backgrounds – making it more challenging to meet current and evolving needs of rural residents, businesses and communities."
It was pointed out that many of the challenges facing rural Michigan are not that different than those facing urban areas. However, their challenges involve smaller populations spread throughout much larger spaces.
"Solutions must account for those geographic, economic, and demographic realities as well as the specific assets and resources available – or not available – to different communities and regions," the report stated.
Demographic challenges are significant in rural areas, with those age 65 and older being the largest part of the population, with racial and ethnic diversity also being lacking as more than 80 percent of rural county residents are white.
Other barriers in rural areas include low incomes and poverty as well as lower rates of degree achievement at the college level. It was found that in 2021, more than 45 percent of working residents’ earnings were too low to afford the minimal cost of household necessities in 24 Michigan counties. All 24 counties, except for Wayne County, were rural counties. Rates of college degree attainment among rural residents are lower than urban residents.
Survey results from those working in rural areas showed housing is the biggest challenge in their communities over the next 10 years. The second largest challenge among those surveyed was the ability to attract a larger working-age population to their communities.
Local leaders in rural areas told the Office of Rural Prosperity of concerns over their ability to deliver services and plan for projects that can help preserve and grow their communities.
To address the workforce shortage, it will take efforts to expand the workforce pool in multiple sectors including healthcare, construction trades, education, service workers and in public service.
"These occupations are critical lynchpins in any thriving rural economy and rapid, targeted talent attraction and development strategies are needed to address these shortages," the report stated.
Lowering barriers for joining the rural Michigan workforce will be needed, including funding rural K-12 education, expanding child care opportunities as well as spending more on rural residency programs. Increased collaboration between higher education institutions and employers and boosting regional planning efforts to help schools, employers and workforce development partners is also needed, the report said.
In addressing health and economic wellbeing, the report listed several items to consider.
Prioritizing the growth of the workforce connected to provide quality healthcare and education services, spending on improving housing opportunities and the expansion of high-speed internet access in rural areas was recommended.
Working to improve access to child care services was recommended, as was strengthening the ability for organizations to provide community services including behavioral health, emergency response and food access.
Efforts to continue statewide efforts to increase school funding for rural districts was recommended along with prioritizing post-secondary training opportunities.
To address the capacity for rural communities to deliver services, the report stated one option is to make policy changes to increase or sustain revenue and more efficiently distribute resources for local governments and counties.
Recommendations also included the development of grant program requirements that accommodate the realities on the ground in rural areas, pushing for additional technical assistance for planning and building in rural communities and pushing for private sector and philanthropist matching of funds in rural areas for projects.
Pushing for spending on rural housing, the report stated, is critical. Access to additional funding for programs including for regional housing partnerships and gap financing are necessary, as is the providing of technical assistance to communities and the attraction of housing developers to rural areas.
Infrastructure improvements can be attained through funding for high-speed internet and supporting local efforts to develop high-speed internet plans. Strengthening state and local coordination of transportation and infrastructure planning is also important, the report stated.
For regional economic development, recommendations included funding for the development of areas such as commercial corridors, workforce development, revitalization efforts and supports for agricultural or small business ownership.
DCD CELEBRATES THE HONOR RESIDENCY PROGRAM!!
Last Friday Senator Mat Dunaskiss and Jake German were in attendance for the celebration of Honor Health’s new Residency Program. Mat, Jake, and the DCD Team were instrumental in securing $3 million dollars in the State budget for this new pilot program, which will train and graduate six new residents each and every year who are committed to working and practicing right here in Oakland County.
We were happy to have Madiha Tariq from Oakland County, Representatives Brenda Carter and Donni Steele and Senators Rosemary Bayer and Sylvia Santana in attendance at the ceremony. Their hard work made all of this possible!
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Marijuana News, Updates, & Articles of Interest
THE DCD MARIJUANA TEAM: YOUR COMPETITIVE EDGE!
DCD continues to exist as the premier resource helping municipalities navigate the waters of cannabis policy. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have regarding medical or recreational cannabis policy, procedure, and more. DCD is available for presentations to municipal boards, for one-on-one meetings, and for consultations.
We are here to help you with: municipal lobbying, license application writing and assistance, business plans, state required operations manuals and compliance, facility design, corporate structure, and design and branding.
We are experts in both medical and recreational cannabis policy and have been in the space for over ten years. We welcome any opportunity to work with you in the future!
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Doing Things Differently
DCD is rebranding, and our bottom line is your bottom line. We are striving to create and foster strong relationships with clients and lawmakers, deliver results with strong ethics and class, but above all else, out-hustle and out-smart our competition every day to be the very best. We’re making chess moves while others are playing checkers. Everything we do is with you in mind, we’re doing things we’ve never done before and aggressively pursuing opportunities. The time is now. DCD has taken our firm to the next level and your involvement and investment paired with our knowledge and expertise is going to launch the great state of Michigan forward.