Friday, April 09, 2010

Stupak announces decision not to continue in Congress

MARQUETTE -- Congressman Bart Stupak announced his decision not to run for re-election during a press conference at Northern Michigan University today, Friday, April 9.*

After delivering his prepared announcement, Stupak fielded questions from reporters present, explaining that he and his family had discussed the possibility of this decision during the past six years and finally decided this week that it was time to move on.

"I'm at the crossroads," Stupak said. "I want to do new things -- new challenges, new opportunities -- and I look forward to it."

Tributes from some of Stupak's close friends, and his wife Laurie, preceded Stupak's announcement.

District Director Tom Baldini, former Chair of the International Joint Commission (IJC) for the Great Lakes, praised Stupak's work and dedication to protecting the Great Lakes from water sales, oil drilling in and under the lakes, and contamination.

"Many call him, and deservedly so, the Guardian of the Great Lakes," Baldini said.

Marquette Sheriff Michael Lovelace thanked Stupak, a former state trooper, for his "undying and staunch support of law enforcement." Lovelace added, "Bart's always been a protector of the people."

Michigan Rep. Mike Lahti spoke of Stupak's reputation as one of the most respected lawmakers in Washington, his honesty and his tough votes.

"Our country and state and district are losing an effective fighter for the people," Lahti said. "Bart will be missed, no doubt."

Lahti noted he wished Bart would be running again and he was confident Stupak would win, but this was a decision for Bart and his wife, Laurie.

Laurie Stupak, Bart's wife of 36 years, preceded her introduction of her husband by saying he was "kind, trustworthy and brutally honest" when she met him and was still the same today.

"His word is his thought," she said. "He loves his job in Congress. He loves the people he represents. He often tells his colleagues in the Congress and his friends in Washington, DC, that he represents the most beautiful congressional district in the United States."

Dr. Leslie Wong, president of Northern University, said Stupak was the first person to call and congratulate him when he was chosen to be president of NMU six years ago.

"He cares about the people and the organizations of his district," Wong said. "We are in his eyes a hidden jewel with unlimited potential."**

National, state leaders send statements on Stupak decision

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Stupak's office sent comments today from national leaders and leaders from Michigan. Here are just a few:

President Barack Obama:

"For more than three decades -- whether protecting Michiganders in their communities as a police officer and state trooper, or protecting the GreatLakes in the halls of Congress -- Bart Stupak has dedicated his life to public service. Since arriving in Washington, he has never lost sight of his principles or the people he was elected to represent. He has been a tireless advocate for hard working families across northern Michigan and for law enforcement officers and first responders across the nation. Michelle and I thank Congressman Stupak for his service and wish him and his family joy and success in their future endeavors."

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi:

"Congressman Bart Stupak has served Michigan's First District with great distinction for nearly two decades. He has remained a stalwart advocate for the interests, hopes, and aspirations of his constituents and Michigan's families have been well served by his years in the House.

"Nowhere did First District voters or the entire nation witness his tenacity and steadfast commitment more than in the successful effort to provide quality, affordable health care to all Americans. Throughout the battle for reform -- from his crucial role on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to his leadership on the floor of the House -- Bart Stupak was a forceful advocate for providing health care to all Americans.

"I thank Congressman Stupak for his years of dedicated service to the House of Representatives, and I wish him well in his future endeavors."

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman:

"This is a huge loss for the Committee. Rep. Stupak has been a brilliant Oversight and Investigations Committee Chairman, and his work on food safety and oversight of the health insurance industry has had an enormous impact."

U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI):

"Bart Stupak is a public servant of great integrity and genuine conscience. I deeply regret his decision from a public perspective, but I also respect and understand his decision because of the longevity of his service and the tremendous sacrifice that his service has entailed for him and his family."

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

"Bart Stupak has been a true champion for Northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula families and a friend of mine for many years. I know he would have been successful had he sought re-election. His passion and dedication to public service have been tremendous assets to our entire state and will be deeply missed."

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm:

"Bart Stupak has been a stalwart fighter for the first district and Michigan. As chairman of an Energy and Commerce subcommittee, he has been a champion for the Great Lakes State. His example of service with civility should be a model for all to follow. While the recent negative and personal attacks on this man of conscience over his position on health care reform have been shocking, I hope the bitterness will not deter other good citizens from choosing to serve our country and our communities. I send my best to Bart and Laurie and my deepest thanks for serving Michigan with dignity and honor."

U.S. Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI):

"I am saddened by the news that Bart will not be running again. He's an outstanding member of Congress, a remarkable Subcommittee chairman, a fighter for his constituents and his convictions.

"But above all these things Bart is a truly decent and caring human being and public servant of the highest order. I know that Bart, his lovely wife Laurie and their dear son Ken did not come to this decision easily. Bart has served the public for more than 30 years. He put his life on the line as a Michigan State trooper and he has put the needs of his country before all else during his 18 years in Congress.

"Bart was a true leader in the health care fight. It was his questioning before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee that forced insurance company executives to admit they would not end the practice of rescission on their own. He has also been a true leader in our fight to make America's food and drug supply safer.

"While Bart and I don’t see eye to eye on the specific issue of abortion, he certainly played a valuable role voicing the concerns of the pro-life community during the debate on health care reform. Bart proved to be one of the best poker players we’ve ever seen on Capitol Hill; and, because of his work, health care reform is now the law of the land.

"One of my best decisions as Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce was to see that Bart became Chairman of the Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee. He is an able investigator with an inquisitive mind and determination to find the truth. All Americans have benefited from his leadership of that Subcommittee.

"I will greatly miss serving with Bart Stupak. His district, Michigan and our country will miss his public service."

U.S. Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04)

"With the announcement of his retirement, my friend and colleague Bart Stupak will be leaving Congress after 18 years of tenacious, dignified, and honorable service to our Nation and the families of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I will miss Bart’s leadership on protecting the Great Lakes and his tireless determination to protect consumers and fight for working families. I wish Bart and his wife, Laurie, much-deserved rest and happiness."

*Read Congressman Stupak's prepared statement for his announcement at the April 9 press conference.

** Click here to view the video of the press conference on the Northern Michigan University Web site. (You may wish to start the video at about 12 min. 50 sec. for the actual speeches referred to in the first part of this article.)

Stupak issues statement on re-election decision

WASHINGTON, DC -- At a press conference on the campus of Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak provided the following statement on his decision not to seek re-election:

As Prepared:

The people of Northern Michigan have provided me with the honor of representing them in Congress for the past 18 years. I am truly grateful for their support.

I have the distinct honor of serving as your Congressman longer than any other member in modern times -- longer than Bob Davis, Phil Ruppe, or John Bennett.

When I first ran for Congress in 1992, I campaigned on a pledge to make affordable, quality health care a right, not a privilege, for all Americans. I promised the people of the First District that I would not accept the insurance that Members of Congress receive -- the Federal Employees Health Benefit Package -- until all Americans could have access to that same quality of care. For the last 18 years, I have kept that promise.

Since the day I took office, I have fought to improve the quality and accessibility of health care for people throughout Northern Michigan, and across this country. Despite many set backs, in the process and in politics, I never gave up hope, and I never gave in. As a result, we’ve made significant progress.

Today, in Northern Michigan, eleven Community Based Outpatient Veterans Clinics have been established to provide veterans with the care they need and deserve.

Broadband access for Northern Michigan hospitals serves as a model for the country of how to improve the quality and efficiency of care and lower costs in rural areas.

We’ve improved emergency rooms and provided updated diagnostic technology, leading to improved medical treatment and critical prevention services.

And, last month, we finally accomplished what I set out to do 18 years ago -- we passed comprehensive national health care reform!

Throughout the past year, I have worked alongside my colleagues to achieve health care reform and I’m proud to have helped bring it across the finish line.

As a result of that work, today we are on a path to provide health insurance for 32 million more Americans, including 38,000 people living in Northern Michigan.

Today, because of these reforms, all American families -- including more than 197,000 here in Northern Michigan -- will see their costs lowered and receive important consumer protections so that they no longer have to live in fear of being one illness or injury away from bankruptcy.

Today, children can no longer be denied care because of a preexisting condition, and no insurance can drop you or your family from care, or cap your insurance coverage, due to a serious or chronic illness.

Today, because of reform, seniors will be able to afford their prescriptions drugs, and Americans will receive the preventive care they need.

And today, small businesses can receive tax credits to help make employee coverage more affordable.

After 18 years, together we have accomplished what you sent me to Washington to do.

My friends and family know that during the past several election cycles, when it seemed like health care reform was an impossible dream in Washington, I considered retiring from Congress. I wish to spend more time with my family and begin a new chapter in my career.

But, in each of the past several election cycles, I chose to continue to serve the people of the First District, because I felt we still had work to do.

In 2004, after voting against the war in Iraq, I worked to elect John Kerry so that we could bring the illegal and immoral war to an end.

In 2006, when it seemed possible for Democrats to regain the majority and put this country back on track, I worked hard to make that happen. When it did, I became Chairman of Oversight and Investigations, the most fascinating subcommittee in all of Congress!

Over the last four years, we have launched investigations into high-profile issues such as border security, nursing home safety, security breaches at nuclear weapons labs, food and drug safety investigations, excessive energy speculation, discriminatory practices of the health insurance industry, and the recent Toyota sudden unattended acceleration problems.

And, two years ago, I saw an opportunity to finally enact health care reform with the election of a new president.

While legislative accomplishments have been a significant part of my career, perhaps the thing I am most proud of over the past 18 years as your Congressman is helping you, my friends, my neighbors, and my constituents.

My staff and I have helped tens of thousands of people resolve problems and cut through red tape. Problems such as helping secure benefits through the Veterans or Social Security Administration, or helping with a tax problem at the IRS, or securing medals for a service member who valiantly served our country. We’ve helped people obtain passports, secure local mail delivery service, and obtain funding to weatherize their homes in order to save money on their monthly bills.

These may seem like little things, but to me and my dedicated staff they are the most important things.

I want to thank members of my staff, past and present, both here in Northern Michigan and Washington, DC., especially those individuals who have been with me from the beginning of my Congressional career:

Chief of Staff Scott Schloegel, District Director Tom Baldini, Sue McCarthy, Ann Fix, Amy Wisti, and Sue Norkowski. I thank them for their dedication, loyalty, and hard work.

I have spent more than 30 years in public service -- as a police officer in Escanaba, a Michigan State Police Trooper, a State Representative and now a United States Congressman. My service to the people of Michigan has been the greatest honor of my life.

But, it is time to begin a new chapter.

Last night and early this morning, I informed Democratic leaders and key supporters that I would not seek re-election to Congress. I will always serve the people of the First District, but have chosen not to continue to do so as their Congressman.

I am committed to helping Democrats retain this seat as I believe we must continue to fight for our working families and small businesses, for our economic and national security, for our environment, and for our quality of life.

By announcing my intentions here today, potential candidates will have ample opportunity to organize campaigns and collect the necessary signatures before the May 11th filing deadline.

I want to thank the people of Northern Michigan for putting their faith in me. For 18 years, I have traveled this district -- from Keweenaw Bay -- to Grand Traverse Bay -- to Saginaw Bay -- and all points in between -- to hear your concerns and share in your joys and disappointments.

I have enjoyed almost each and every minute, and fought for you and your families each and every day. But, now it is time for me to spend a little more time with my wife of 36 years, Laurie, whose love and commitment has sustained me through the years . . . with my son, Ken, and his family . . . and my extended family and friends.

Thank you.

A biography of Congressman Stupak can be found at http://www.house.gov/stupak/about_bart.shtml

Selected major legislation accomplishments of Congressman Stupak can be found at http://www.house.gov/stupak/bart_accomplishments2010.shtml

Editor's Notes: Read an ABC News Report, with video clips, on Congressman Stupak's decision.

Click here for a New York Times article on Mr. Stupak's announcement.

Volunteers to prune Central's Heritage Apples Apr. 10

CENTRAL -- The Heritage Apples Program is a multi-year joint effort of the Keweenaw County Historical Society (KCHS) and the Keweenaw Land Trust aimed at caring for the apple trees of historic Central and encouraging stewardship and preservation of old apple trees and heritage apple varieties throughout the Keweenaw region.

You are welcome to join volunteers THIS SATURDAY, April 10, for a work session pruning some of the apple trees at the Central Mine location in Keweenaw County. Participants will meet at the Central Visitors' Center at 10 a.m. and work until 2 p.m. If you wish to arrive after 10, you should be able to find us if you wander the trails of the KCHS property at Central. John Slivon and Pat Toczydlowski will bring their pruning tools and self-taught "expertise" to the task. Bring a sharp pen knife, pruning saw, clippers, gloves, etc., if you have them. You may want to bring a rain coat, lunch and water bottle as well, depending on the weather and your plans.

Directions to the Central Visitors' Center from the south: Take Hwy US 41 north past Phoenix to Central. Turn left (north) on the road that leaves the highway opposite the Gratiot Lake Road. The Visitors' Center is a short distance up on the left hand side. There is a parking lot just past the Center.

Questions?? Call Patricia Van Pelt at 482-0160.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Mary Wright to present "The Story Line" community art project Apr. 9

HANCOCK -- Remember the Chairs? Remember the Mittens? Remember the Granny Doors?

"What’s Next?" you ask.

What’s next is the "The Story Line" -- an Art Extravaganza to accompany the Pine Mountain Music Festival 2011 premier of Rockland, the Opera.

Come hear more about "The Story Line" at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 9, in the Finlandia Chapel, Hancock.

This event will include original music from Rockland, by Jukka Linola, a renowned Finnish composer, with libretti created by Jussi Tapola. The opera is based on incidents that occurred during the miners' strike in Rockland, Mich., in 1906.

Artist Mary Wright will describe "The Story Line," a year-long community art project that will be done in conjunction with the opera. The project engages people to research their own histories and tell the stories of their ancestors' struggles. Over 1,000 students and community members are already part of "The Story Line." You can be, too.

New sculpture by Mary Ann Predebon at Community Arts Center through April

HANCOCK -– The Copper Country Community Arts Center presents a new exhibit titled "Remodeling Old Architecture; Revisiting Old Dreams" by Houghton artist Mary Ann Predebon in the Kerredge Gallery now through April 30. The public is invited to attend the opening reception at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 8. Refreshments will be served.

Predebon’s new clay sculpture is influenced by roof lines, windows and gables. She uses the house structures to create a common thread throughout the nine pieces in this exhibit. Each one holds various elements that reflect the artist’s personal experiences or make commentary on the human condition. Some are playful, such as "House of Heavenly Bodies," which features a cow jumping over the roof with sun, moon and stars. Others are more serious, such as "Contemplating Losses," which features a lone figure on recessed stairs. Others are based on the artist’s travels or make a statement about issues such as global warming.

Mary Ann Predebon received her Masters degree in Art Education from Northern Michigan University. She taught clay classes for more than eight years at the Community Arts Center and mentored many students. The Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. This exhibit is supported by a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. For more information call 482-2333.

Artist booth applications available for Houghton Spring Art and Music Festival

The Copper Country Community Arts Center has artist booth applications available for the 9th annual Houghton Spring Art and Music Festival happening in downtown Houghton on Saturday, June 12. The Festival is co-sponsored by the Copper Country Community Arts Council and the City of Houghton. Stop by to pick up an application or call 482-2333 for more information. The Copper Country Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock.

White Elephant Sale

The Copper Country Community Arts Center's annual White Elephant Sale will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 10. The Arts Center is still looking for donations of art, jewelry, art supplies, books or curious objects. No clothing please unless it’s unique or vintage. All proceeds from donated items will benefit the Arts Center. Drop off items by Thursday, April 8. Thank you, Retreat Design, for sponsoring this fundraiser.

The Copper Country Community Arts Center is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday - Friday, and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday (with the above exception for Saturday, April 10).

Club Indigo to present Iranian comedy Apr. 9

CALUMET -- The April Club Indigo at the Calumet Theatre features Secret Ballot, a satirical comedy, about an odd couple -- determined female election agent and uncooperative soldier -- who are forced to spend the day together as they travel around an isolated Iranian province in a jeep with a mobile ballot box, trying to persuade the totally ignorant populace to vote -- touching on complex regional issues with both charm and humor.

Secret Ballot will be shown at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, April 9, preceded at 6 p.m. by an Eastern buffet from the Keweenaw Co-op, Hancock.

Both buffet and film are at the Calumet Theatre. Cost is $18 for both. Film only, $5. Reservations for the buffet can be made with a call to the theatre at least a day in advance: 337-2610.

The movie has been made possible by Aspirus Keweenaw, Laurium.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Nordic Film Series to offer Finnish film Apr. 8

HANCOCK -- The Finnish film Letters to Father Jacob will be shown at 2 p.m. and at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 8, at the Finlandia University Finnish American Heritage Center, Hancock.

Letters to Father Jacob is a redemptive story about a blind, elderly pastor and a hardened life-sentence prisoner who has just been pardoned.

The film is directed by Klaus Härö, who also directed the films Mother of Mine and Elina, previous Nordic Film Series selections. The 72-minute film is in the Finnish language with English language subtitles.

There is no charge to attend the film, but donations are accepted. For information, call 487-7549.

International Night to offer "Treasure" theme Apr. 9

HOUGHTON -- "International Treasure" is the theme of this year's International Night at Michigan Tech, scheduled for Friday, April 9. Sponsored by the Michigan Tech International Club, International Night features a dinner cooked by international student chefs from around the world, followed by a performance by student organizations.

video

This lovely Chinese "Umbrella Dance" was a highlight of last year's International Night. Don't miss the entertainment at Michigan Tech's 2010 International Night this Friday, April 9!

The dinner will be at 6 p.m. in the Memorial Union Commons. The performance is at 8 p.m. in the Rozsa Center. Tickets are on sale this week at the Memorial Union, Fisher Hall and the Rozsa Center. Dinner and performance costs $15 for adults, $12 for students with ID. Children age 5 or younger are admitted free. Tickets for the performance only are $8.

For more information, please contact Nicole Kirch, International Club secretary, nlkirch@mtu.edu, or Sahil Thakkar, I-Club publicity chair, spthakka@mtu.edu.