Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Will the Real DeVos Please Stand Up?

DeVos is drawing criticism from a diverse group of people across Michigan. From the GLBT community, comes this response to news that the DeVos family provides continuing support to the American Family Association's boycott of Ford Motor Company:
Dick DeVos Jr. is running for governor on a single message - jobs - and his wife's family is trying to put one of our state's leading manufacturers out of business.

DeVos can no longer hide behind the moderate mask that he has worn this entire election year. And GLBT voters need to not be fooled that DeVos is running for governor in order to improve the economy. DeVos would be a disaster for Michigan.

If a Republican like DeVos were to win the gubernatorial race, it would set back our state by decades. Every anti-GLBT piece of legislation imaginable would fly through the Republican controlled legislature and be signed before anyone knew what happened. State resources would dramatically shift toward faith-based charities that would continue to discriminate against minorities, including GLBT people. He would roll-back progress on civil rights, work to dismantle public education and move Michigan so far to the right, that we wouldn't recognize our state at all.
Our state's large Arab community is unhappy too. DeVos canceled an appearance with AAPAC (Arab American Public Affairs Council) members last week citing family issues (an appearance he requested), but it turns out he changed his mind because of pressure from the Detroit Jewish News. It's editor urged local politicians and candidates "not to attend AAPAC events or accept contributions from the group because of anti-Israel, anti-Zionist and arguably anti-Semitic comments by its leaders.” The paper later claimed credit for the canceled meeting.

DeVos met with a handful of Arab community leaders after this snub to apologize for “mistakes” committed by his campaign, but the Arab American News isn't buying it - and they're not mincing words either:
The DeVos campaign has not disavowed the Jewish claim of victory. This defeat for Arab Americans facilitated by DeVos is a major problem for a candidate who is trying to sell himself as a bridge-builder and a catalyst for harmony and peace. Just like Bush’s poodle, DeVos appears to be the Jewish community’s poodle. And on this occasion I would like to thank Mr. Dick DeVos for creating such a mess out of a simple campaign stop, which he requested in the first place. He saved us the embarrassment and the awkwardness of being cordial to him and to his Republican Party. He may have also provided our community with a real incentive to go out and vote in this election.

We know where Dick DeVos stands on the most important issue to our community; namely the Arab-Israeli conflict. He stands with his boss, George Bush, squarely on the side of Israel. A vote for Republicans is a vote for war and a vote for Democrats is a vote against the war. President Bush has already framed the debate of this mid term election and you can either vote for “staying the course” of war or you can vote for searching for peace. Republican candidates in Michigan including DeVos and Senate candidate Michael Bouchard have fallen in line and have chosen to be the yes men of Bush. [...]

Good riddance to DeVos and to his warmongering party. This episode revealed to Michiganders the kind of incompetence that the Republican Party has become famous for. His campaign ads claim that he is an experienced chief executive. The way he has mismanaged this simple campaign meeting speaks volumes of his abysmal skills. [...]

By listening to the "Detroit Jewish News," DeVos proved to be even dumber than his boss, George Bush. He has already resorted to the politics of exclusion and applied sanctions against Arab Americans before taking office.
The paper points out that Michigan has 100,000 Arab American voters who will go to the polls in November and exercise their democratic rights. They also point out they most likely will vote for someone who didn't insult them.

Finally, from Michigan Daily comes college student Sam Butler's opinion of DeVos:
"I will build roads where jobs are and where jobs will be." That is the one of many deliberately ambiguous headers in Dick DeVos's "Economic Turnaround Plan" - and it scares the bejesus out of me. It is alarming for two reasons. First, it reveals Dick DeVos's commitment to building more roads. In his section entitled "Building a Transportation System that Encourages Job Growth," DeVos doesn't mention public transportation once. He rails against how much money we lose through gas prices and traffic congestion and yet proposes to solve these problems by building more efficient highways. [...]

This brings us to the second part of why DeVos's statement is so frightening. Where does DeVos think jobs will be in the future if not where they are now? Although not explicitly stated, the Grand Rapids native would probably answer his hometown. After all, it is where the Amway heir's office is located and where more roads and public transit would make his commute a whole lot easier.

In April, after some political brawling, Governor Granholm and the Republican leaders of the Legislature announced a major transportation package. The bill allows residents of Grand Rapids and Southeastern Michigan to vote to approve 25 year tax levies that would be spent on proposed mass transit projects in each of those areas. Such long-term millages are vital because local funds are required to gain access to the $114 million in federal funds that are earmarked for Michigan mass transit projects.

Originally, the $114 million was meant to fund a light rail line between Ann Arbor and Detroit. However, these funds were hijacked by an entrenched Republican contingent in the State House that wanted those federal funds to go exclusively to a different Michigan city and its suburbs - yep, Grand Rapids. They passed a transportation bill that was thankfully vetoed by Governor Granholm last December precisely for its exclusion of Southeastern Michigan.

I had the privilege of listening a state representative speak to a group of students recently. Most of us had just spent the summer commuting from Ann Arbor to Detroit, and the status of the rail line quickly dominated the conversation. He was surprisingly candid about the legislative fisticuffs and explained how there is a growing Republican notion in the state Legislature that Michigan's second-largest city should become the new linchpin of Michigan's economy and cultural identity.

As the saying goes, that would be funny if it weren't so serious. Detroit is the center of Michigan's vitality, and strengthening the connection between Ann Arbor and Detroit would strengthen Michigan as a whole.

[...] the troubling part of the debate is that it points to a larger right-wing mentality that any funds put towards revitalizing Detroit are wasted. DeVos's reluctance to pay attention to Detroit is one of the most important gubernatorial election issues that nobody is talking about.
All three writers make valid points that speak volumes about DeVos' character. DeVos quietly funds faith-based charities that discriminate against minorities and he turns his back on Arab Americans and the City of Detroit. He may call himself a bridge-builder on camera, but don't let that fool you. DeVos plays the same game that Bush does. If you're not one of his "base" - one of the chosen ones - he'll turn his back and forget about you quicker than Bush forgot about Osama bin Laden. Remember that when you vote in November.

1 comment:

Lew Scannon said...

DeVos belongs to groups that advocate outsourcing of jobs. (The Heritage Foundation, for one)So excuse me if I don't trust him to bring jobs back to Michigan. This is all about his far-right agenda (anti-gay, pro-faith based initiatives, vouchers, anti-union), not about repairing Michigan's economy.