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Friday, December 11, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: U.S. Supreme Court denies Texas's attempt to overturn election results in Michigan, 3 other states

LANSING -- Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued the following comment Friday evening, Dec. 11, after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case filed by Texas to invalidate the results of the Nov. 3 general election in Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin:

"Today’s Supreme Court decision is an important reminder that we are a nation of laws, and though some may bend to the desire of a single individual, the courts will not. To the people of the State of Michigan, it was a great honor to appear at our country’s highest court on your behalf to ensure that your voice was heard and that your votes were counted. Now it’s time to move forward -- not as separate states, red or blue -- but as united states in the continuing pursuit of a more perfect union."

Inset photo: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. (Photo courtesy michigan.gov)

Editor's Note: See "UPDATED: AG Nessel files Michigan's response to Texas's election lawsuit in SCOTUS."

UPDATED: AG Nessel files Michigan's response to Texas's election lawsuit in SCOTUS

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. (Photo courtesy michigan.gov)

LANSING -- On Thursday, Dec. 10, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed with the U.S. Supreme Court her response to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit, which seeks to overturn the election results in Michigan and several other battleground states.

In her response, Nessel notes that the challenge by Texas is "an unprecedented one, without factual foundation and without a valid legal basis."

Part of the jurisdictional flaw with this lawsuit is Texas’s end-around to the country’s traditional judicial process by filing its complaint directly with the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The base of Texas’s claims rests on an assertion that Michigan has violated its own election laws. Not true," Nessel's filing states. "That claim has been repeatedly rejected in the federal and state courts in Michigan, and just yesterday the Michigan Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch effort to request an audit. Not only is the complaint here meritless, but its jurisdictional flaws abound and provide solid ground to dispose of this action."

Along with Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Wisconsin were listed as defendants in the suit. All the defendant states had claims similar to those noted in Texas’s complaint brought in their respective federal and state appellate courts, and those claims have been soundly and summarily rejected.  

"Trump and his ambassadors -- like the Texas Attorney General -- have used our court system to wage a disinformation campaign baselessly attacking the integrity of our election system. In addition to just spreading falsehoods on social media platforms, through media channels, and from seats positioned before our state legislatures, they’ve now done so at our country’s highest court," Nessel said. "I am confident the Supreme Court will reject Texas’s bid to disenfranchise millions of Michigan voters and I am proud to represent the people of my state in defense of the very essence of our core democratic values. Michigan voters will decide the outcome of their elections, not Texas politicians."

False claims made against election officials in Michigan have varied from prohibiting Republican poll challengers from monitoring the counting of votes, to the legality of mail-in ballots cast and election fraud.

President Donald Trump has expressed his intent to intervene in Texas’s lawsuit, while several Republican state attorneys general have filed amicus briefs in support of Texas.
 
The case is just one of many that have been filed following the Nov. 3 general election disputing the results that gave Democratic President-elect Joe Biden a resounding victory over Republican President Trump.

ELECTION LITIGATION UPDATE:

  • Johnson et al v Whitmer et al: The Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a motion for leave in the case, which asked the Court to allow election results to be provided to the Legislature so that it could conduct an audit.
  • Bailey v Antrim County: UPDATED Dec. 11: Michigan Department of Attorney General Communications Director Kelly Rossman-McKinney today issued the following statement on this case: "On Wednesday, the Michigan Department of Attorney General filed a motion to intervene on behalf of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in Bailey v Antrim County, currently before 13th Circuit Court Judge Kevin A. Elsenheimer. Judge Elsenheimer granted the motion following a hearing yesterday (Dec. 10). During that hearing, the plaintiff’s attorney indicated that the results of the inspection of the Antrim County tabulator being conducted by the plaintiff and his agents has not been completed. Therefore, NO information regarding the inspection has been made available to Judge Elsenheimer, Secretary Benson or the Department of Attorney General Dana Nessel. Further, this information is already subject to a protective order issued by Judge Elsenheimer."
  • Dar Leaf et al v Whitmer et al: The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan on Monday denied a motion for a temporary restraining order filed by plaintiffs in the suit that alleged, without any evidence, widespread election fraud. Judge Robert Jonker, in his opinion, wrote: "Plaintiffs’ applications invite the Court to make speculative leaps toward a hazy and nebulous inference that there has been numerous instances of election fraud and that Defendants are destroying the evidence. There is simply nothing of record to infer as much, much less conclude that irreparable injury will occur before the defendants can be heard."
  • Constantino et al v City of Detroit et al: After their appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals was denied, plaintiffs appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court. This appeal was denied on November 23 and remains pending before the state court. This suit alleges a "litany of errors" in the processing of ballots at the TCF Center.
  • King et al v Benson et al: The district court denied a motion for injunctive relief on Monday, December 7. The plaintiffs allege the same list of irregularities in the City of Detroit’s election as in the Constantino case.

Click here to view a copy of Attorney General Nessel’s response to the Texas lawsuit.

Editor's Note:  Meanwhile, according to 9 and 10 news, Michigan US Congressmen Jack Bergman, 1st District, and Tim Walberg, 7th District, reportedly say they will support the Texas lawsuit against our Michigan election results. See "Bergman, Walberg Support Texas Election Lawsuit."

See also our Nov. 25, 2020, article, "Michigan Board of State Canvassers certifies state voting results with hours of public comment; GSA acknowledges Biden victory."

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

MDHHS extends epidemic order 12 days to ensure COVID-19 surge is stabilizing

MDHHS Director Robert Gordon speaks at a Dec. 7, 2020, press conference on COVID-19 in Michigan. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, pictured in background, and MDHHS Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun also spoke. (Photo courtesy Michigan Executive Office of the Governor)

LANSING -- The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has extended by 12 days the epidemic order that restricts indoor social gatherings and other group activities. The additional 12 days will allow the department to determine the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on the spread of COVID-19 across Michigan.

Under the Dec. 7 order, MDHHS continues to urge families to avoid indoor gatherings; and only two households may gather inside, with strict protocols recommended. Individuals should wear masks consistently whenever they are inside with individuals not in their household, and are recommended to pick only a small group to see regularly. Bars and restaurants must remain closed for dine-in service, but can remain open for outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery. Gyms are open for individual exercise with mandatory masking and additional strict safety measures. Casinos, movie theaters and group exercise classes remain closed. Professional and college sports meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation may continue without spectators. Colleges, universities and high schools will continue with remote learning, with no in-person classes.

"Hope is on the horizon, but we need an additional 12 days to determine the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus," said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. "This is all about protecting our families and frontline workers until we eradicate this virus once and for all. With recent daily case counts averaging well above 6,000, the daily death toll at alarming levels and the risk of hospitals becoming overwhelmed, we must work together as Michiganders and listen to our health experts. This may be the most difficult time yet in our struggle with COVID-19, but there is light at the end of the tunnel."

The order will keep existing measures in place through Dec. 20 and does not include a blanket stay-home action. Employees who work in jobs that cannot be performed from home can continue to go to work, including those in manufacturing, construction and health occupations. Outdoor gatherings, outdoor dining and parks remain open. Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; personal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment; and individualized exercise at a gym, with extra spacing between machines.

"We each have a personal responsibility to wear a mask consistently and minimize indoor gatherings, so we can protect our frontline heroes and loved ones," said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. "If we don’t, the disease will continue to spread and people will continue to get sick and die."

Click here for the Dec. 7 COVID-19 UPDATE Power Point presentation.

A video of the Dec. 7 press conference is available on Governor Whitmer's Facebook page here.

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Guest Article: Line 5 and Market Realities

By Gene Champagne*

Recently I was listening to the public comments being offered to the Michigan Dept. of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) regarding the proposed Line 5 tunnel project in the Straits of Mackinac. I was not planning on offering my own public comment until I heard a Dickinson County Commissioner comment that regurgitated refrain that resembles comments from our UP state house and senate representatives, many county officials and economic development gurus. Their statements are straight from the Enbridge public relations subterfuge. Enbridge is a foreign company that stands to profit immensely from the continuation of Line 5, tunnel or not.

The misinformed refrain goes something like this: "We need Line 5 and this tunnel because many UP residents rely on propane for cooking and winter heat. If Line 5 is discontinued propane prices will skyrocket and many residents will not be able to pay for it. Without it UP residents will be in danger of losing their only source of winter heat. Many UP residents are elderly and live on fixed incomes."

Well, I am a senior citizen living on a fixed income. I live in Big Bay and have a camp in Grand Marais. I rely solely upon propane at both properties. Unlike our local and other UP "leaders," I actually did my homework rather than taking the easy way out by repeating a refrain that may not be true.

I contacted the propane suppliers for both residences to inquire about supplies and storage, both at their end and mine. Their responses were nearly identical. Both companies have responded to market conditions, especially since the polar vortex of 2014. They have added storage and have been contracting to receive their supplies from a differing number of sources including Kinross, Lansing, and various Wisconsin locales including Superior. They do receive some supplies from the Rapid River fractionator that is supplied by Line 5, but it is nothing they depend upon. I was assured by both company representatives that a disruption of propane from Line 5, whether by accident, policy/political decisions, or market disruptions would not affect my propane supply in a negative way. Prices could rise slightly, but nothing severe. My current propane bill reflects no dramatic change that I would notice.

These pricing facts confirm the estimation made by Plains Midstream representative Luc Mageau at the Upper Peninsula Energy Task Force meeting in Hancock on September 20, 2019, in Hancock. Plains Midstream is a Canadian company that owns the oil, along with the Rapid River fractionator and Kinross storage facility. Enbridge is the pipeline owner that transports the oil. At the task force meeting Mr. Mageau, in my opinion, did not seem to care who or how the oil was moved, as long as his company was paid for it.**

I mentioned this information to a friend from the Copper Country. She took it upon herself to ask the same questions of her propane supplier and received the same answers. She then called a second supplier to confirm consistency of fact and received the same answer.

Our propane suppliers in the UP have adapted to market conditions and made the necessary adjustments to ensure reliable service and delivery of propane to their customers. I find it insulting that our "leaders" disparage our small business UP propane suppliers by continuing this false narrative. Our propane suppliers understand the needs of their customers and the vagaries of the propane market and have responded in a responsible manner. Our "leaders" need to do their jobs, get the facts, and start representing the people of the UP again instead of a foreign company with a pot of money for glossy full page newspaper ads, speaking fees, and campaign contributions.

I also received additional information that came from one supplier I contacted. It was confirmed by the second supplier. The Rapid River facility was shut down for an inordinate amount of time this summer, much longer than the normal spring maintenance shutdown. When questioned on this bit of information I had come across, I was told by one supplier the product had been bought up by a different entity(ies) to ship to the eastern coast of Canada for export to overseas markets (mostly Asian). This is where Enbridge realizes its maximum profit, not from UP propane. The UP and Michigan is just a short cut to the maritime provinces of Canada. When those markets dry up, Enbridge could very possibly bail. Enbridge has also diversified into renewables in major way. They understand market economies. Perhaps our "leaders," many of whom profess belief in the free market system, could use a refresher course.

I began this letter sometime after the county commissioner’s comments. As I finish it, Governor Whitmer, along with Michigan Attorney General Nessel, have announced orders to shut down the portion of Line 5 that currently is active in the Straits of Mackinac. I can already hear the whining and screams of pending disaster being blamed on "radical environmental agendas from leftist socialists." This whining that emanates from the misinformed ignores capitalist market economies and the resourcefulness our small business owners here in the UP.

It is too bad that much of the posturing comes from our “leaders”. We need leaders who actually lead, not follow. Leaders should take us cautiously, yet bravely into the future of possibilities that comes with newer 21st century technology. Real leaders do not keep us mired in the past, especially when small businesses are moving on based upon market fluctuations.  Blindly repeating the refrain of a foreign company, who could give a hoot about UP propane users, is a disservice to the citizens of the UP and the State of Michigan.

I have not named the companies that I spoke of in this article. At the time I spoke with them I did so as a customer. They answered my questions honestly as a part of their customer service policy. I did not anticipate at that time that this information would find itself going out to a public audience. There are probably some propane dealers in the UP who have not adjusted to possible market conditions and fluctuations. Hopefully, they can transition or be assisted in that transition. A capitalist market based economy will most always be the final decision maker regardless of political posturing. Regardless of repeated falsehoods and wishful thinking, the market will have its way. 

I am sure that there are a few other "wrinkles" that will need to get worked with this transition in propane procurement. That is what leadership is about and what they should be doing, not repeating sound bites from those who stand to profit temporarily at the long term expense of UP residents.

I would suggest that propane users, anyone seriously interested in the future of the UP, along with our "leaders" do not take my word for it. Call your propane dealer. How hard is that?***

Inset photo: Gene Champagne. (Photo courtesy Gene Champagne)

Editor's Notes:

* Guest author Gene Champagne is a resident of Big Bay and Grand Marais, Michigan.

** The video recording of the UP Energy Task Force September 20, 2019, meeting is available on YouTube here via the UP Energy Task Force Web site. Luc Mageau of Plains Midstream speaks toward the beginning of the meeting, at about 15 minutes. Gene Champagne speaks during the public comment period toward the end of the meeting, at about 3 hours and 16 minutes in the video. 

*** The UP Energy Task Force completed its study on propane supply April 17, 2020. See the "Upper Peninsula Energy Task Force Committee Recommendations Part I -- Propane Supply."

The US Army Corps of Engineers will hold a public hearing tomorrow, Dec. 7, on the proposed Line 5 tunnel. See: "US Army Corps of Engineers to hold online Public Hearing on Enbridge proposed Line 5 tunnel Dec. 7."