Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Is this Any Way to Elect a President?

This week is Michigan’s primary and over the past few days we’ve had our share of annoying TV and radio ads, slick mail ads, robo calls, phone polls, sound bites and all the proofs and promises of their conservative leanings—including criticism for GM and Chrysler’s 2008 bailout.  Imagine such patter in the automaker state!

Last week Santorum was poised to pull off an upset here, which could plunge the GOP nomination process into “chaos.”  Over the weekend, Mitt “Let Detroit go bankrupt” Romney picked up in the polls and now he may win this much-needed primary in his home state by a small margin.  His lead may be scotched, however, by Democratic and Santorum mischief making.

Many Democrats are planning to vote for Santorum because they believe a match up between him and Obama would deliver a sure win to the Dems in November. 

Other Democrats refuse to play this game fearing the possibility of a Santorum win of the nomination and the presidency. 

Democrats here are allowed to participate in the Republican primary because voters don’t have to declare their party affiliation.  That rule went by the wayside a couple decades ago so that now the only requirement is for voters to indicate whether they will vote in the Republican or the Democratic primary.

The official position of the Michigan Democratic Party is that people should not vote in the GOP primary.  The Kalamazoo County Democrats are mum on this, although many people have been talking to each other about doing the dirty deed.

Joe DiSano, long-time veteran of Michigan politics, blatantly encouraged Democrats to vote for Santorum in an editorial last week in order to “embarrass” Romney

Former Governor John Engler, a Republican, on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos said the UAW is encouraging its members to vote for Santorum, too.  Both he and current Governor Rick Snyder are backing Romney.

Then there’s the Rick Santorum for President Campaign.  It sent a robo call on Monday morning asking Democrats to vote for Santorum because Romney was in favor of bailing out Wall Street Bankers but not the auto industry.  

In the afternoon the Red, White and Blue Fund pointed out Romney's flip flop on abortion. 

A lot of money is being spent here, too.  Romney and Restore our Future have spent $3.2 million while Santorum and the Red White and Blue Fund have spent $1.1 million.  Romney came to Kalamazoo last Friday and Santorum will visit on Monday night.

Despite all of these efforts, the election is likely to pull only a small percentage of voters to the polls.  Kalamazoo County Clerk Tim Snow expects only a 20 to 30 percent turnout in this county that has a huge Republican population and a big pro-life contingent.

The primary process has me baffled.  Is it really working as it was intended?

Do the parties really want non-party members deciding their candidates? 

Do the parties want only a small, vocal sliver of their members selecting their candidate to the consternation of the majority, which is Romney’s major problem. 

Do voters get an authentic vetting of the candidates for all the money spent?

The primary process began on a nationwide scale about 100 years ago after the Progressives sought to measure and make transparent the popular opinion of candidates rather than have party bosses control delegates and the national convention.  The 1968 Democratic National Convention really enhanced it as leaders wrote more detailed rules to assure more participation from the delegates.  Many states chose the presidential primary as an easier way to follow those rules and the Republicans eventually followed suit. 

Given where we’ve come in this process today, there’s got to be a better way for parties to nominate their candidates!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Rick Santorum in Kalamazoo

Rick Santorum addresses 400 people in Kalamazoo
This article and video appeared in the Huffington Post on Tuesday, February 28

Over 1,000 people showed up for a Rick Santorum rally Monday night at the Heritage Christian Academy, a K-12 private school in Kalamazoo.

The Santorum campaign set up the visit on Saturday hoping to gather 300 people.

Because the room where the rally was held had a capacity of only 400, a couple classrooms were opened to accommodate 150 people.  Elizabeth Santorum, eldest daughter of the candidate, conducted a town hall meeting there.  About 350 people couldn’t get into the building at all organizers told the crowd.  Santorum delayed his appearance in order to greet these people.

Rally organizer Jack Hoogendyke excited the crowd when he asserted that “the eyes of the nation are on the state.  Are you ready to make history tomorrow?”

Indeed, the possibility of a Santorum upset is imminent since he comes off more conservative than the other candidates, especially Governor Mitt Romney.

Santorum has been all over Michigan, including the Upper Peninsula and the electricity he generated tonight may give him the momentum he needs to win here in what is predicted will be a close race.

In his speech, Santorum spent a lot of time focusing on the necessity of following the Constitution and bashing President Obama’s entitlement programs, especially “Obamacare.”  Santorum hardly spoke about Romney, an indicator that he sights a win in Michigan.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

We're with You, Judy Sarkozy

Fire at Sarkozy's Bakery brings community together to grieve a Kalamazoo landmark and legend

Table One at Sarkozy's on Saturdays at 10 was the place to meet friends and talk about the issues of the day.  Judy is in white with the black hat.  The picture gallery on the wall includes stories of the bakery, photos of famous bakers, and World War II posters about saving wheat.

Another view of Table One in 2008

More than just a bakery or a business  
Judy Sarkozy, not only baked wonderful European-style breads, but she has served as beacon of light for the people of Kalamazoo. 

Judy welcomed all people to the bakery.

Judy hired people many businesses would skip over, and then she trained them to be responsible employees.  She paid her staff more than the minimum wage and supplied them with health insurance.  They worked hard for Judy and enjoyed making bread and serving customers.

Judy gathered Table One every Saturday morning at 10 where friends visited with each other and talked about the day's issues.

Judy initiated various community events including the popular New Year's Eve Fest that provides non-alcoholic family entertainment with singers, dancers, musicians, magicians, storytellers in downtown churches and establishments. 

Judy has regularly donated her leftover baked goods to the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission just down the street from her shop.  Since 2001, Sarkozy's has donated more than 140,000 lbs. of bread to support anti-hunger programs at Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes.

Actually, she did so many things for the community that the YWCA awarded her the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

While it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a leader who initiates a ways for people to gather, eat, celebrate and enjoy life.  Judy Sarkozy has done that for Kalamazoo!

May God bless Judy as she faces this tragedy not alone, but with all of us.  May we remember that the pain of this terrible loss to our community will not destroy us.



More from the Gazette 

Bonny Podiak, of Portage, shops for Sarkozy bread at the D&W Fresh Market on Parkview Avenue. Podiak had gone to Sarkozy Bakery in the morning to buy bread for a dinner party and saw the firefighters there. "It's just sad, " Podiak said, adding that she hopes Sarkozy bread will be back. At left, Roger Smith, a manager at D&W Fresh Market, restocks the shelves with bread with the fresh date ending on the weekend.

Larry Bell, owner of Bell's Brewery discusses the loss.  He worked at the bakery as a young man.


Monday morning Gazette editorial

...Sarkozy Bakery was about more than just baking bread and keeping us fat and happy. It was one of those unique treasures that we like to believe could have only been born and bred here, because of the people involved, the devotion of the owners and customers alike. Judy Sarkozy was an ardent advocate for downtown and the city. The customers were not just customers, they were fans and friends, and on Saturday mornings the bakery was famous for its coffee klatch, which gathered at the cafe tables to nibble and sip, talk about Kalamazoo and nurture friendships.

Whatever happens next for Judy Sarkozy and the bakery, we would like to say thank you for all the years of feeding us those delectable treats and nourishing our souls with your generosity of spirit and and an enduring sense of community.  READ COMPLETE EDITORIAL HERE

Sentiments from Sarkozy's customers and friends

Gorilla Gourmet on Oakland Drive put out a sign

A Facebook page has been started called Save Sarkozy's.  It is a community bulletin board featuring fond memories and sentiments about a tragedy that has touched the whole community.  It's goals is to provide "a space to leave information about what we can do as a community to help Judy Sarkozy, the employees and their families who work there, and the bakery itself."

D&W Freshmarket weighed in on the grief at its Sarkozy bread counter.  Store director Bill Micheals put up a poster inviting customers to write Judy a message.  In just two days the poster was covered front and back and a new one was put up.

Here is Bill's personal message to Judy that he taped to the poster.


The Devastation

Photos on Monday morning of a very lonely street.  A few passersby, one with a camera, checked out the building.  Police have roped off the area and the fire marshal prohibits people from getting close to the building.

Renovation of the Rickman House into a condominium development was a prime place for an adjacent bakery.  During construction, Judy had to let people know the bakery was still open.

The Future?
Offers pour in from Kalamazoo community while Sarkozys weigh whether to rebuild

It only took a couple days before the community pitched in to offer Judy Sarkozy help.  Check out this wonderful story by Yvonne Zipp of the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Rob Peterson of DKI is working to coordinate the effort.

“I probably have at least a few dozen emails offering some form of assistance,” said Rob Peterson, business recruitment and retention director for Downtown Kalamazoo Inc., which offered to act as a contact for community members who wanted to support Ken and Judy Sarkozy. The emails range from “everything from ‘please let me know what I can do’ to ‘I have an oven she can use.’"