Progress Michigan http://www.progressmichigan.org Uncompromised progressive politics for Michigan. Wed, 19 Aug 2015 17:10:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.8 Report: Snyder Administration Oversight Failures Led to Aramark Problems http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/08/report-aramark-problems/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/08/report-aramark-problems/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 14:57:08 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=38551 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE News from Progress Michigan August 18, 2015 Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, sam@progressmichigan.org Report: Snyder Administration Oversight Failures Led to Aramark Problems Emails show that lack of state oversight and follow through a constant occurrence LANSING ­— A report released today by Progress Michigan, a government watchdog group, shows that the Snyder administration and the […]

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

News from Progress Michigan

August 18, 2015

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574sam@progressmichigan.org

Report: Snyder Administration Oversight Failures Led to Aramark Problems

Emails show that lack of state oversight and follow through a constant occurrence

LANSING ­— A report released today by Progress Michigan, a government watchdog group, shows that the Snyder administration and the Michigan Department of Corrections was just as complicit in the problems that plagued the scandal-ridden Aramark contract as the company itself.

“This report shows that the Aramark scandals went way beyond the damning headlines already reported,” said Lonnie Scott, exectutive director of Progress Michigan. “There were constant issues regarding not only the contractor, but how the state handled oversight as well. It’s clear from their own documents that the administration was unable or unwilling to hold this private out-of-state contractor accountable to Michigan taxpayers. This lack of oversight on this contract should call into question all private contracts that the Snyder administration is responsible for providing oversight.”

According to MDOC documents, problems related to food quality and sanitation, prisoner safety and facility security, and adminstration occurred 3,707 times in an eight-month time period. Furthermore, the report notes that the Snyder adminstration and the Department of Corrections failed to address 1,791 of the issues allowing them to become persistent or recurring in Michigan’s prison kitchens.

The report is based on documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Progress Michigan reviewed over 25,000 pages of emails between the Department of Corrections and Aramark. The contract issues were identified by the Department in Letters of Recommendation sent to Aramark. These documents show that the Department and the Snyder administration created a governing culture that allowed these persisent issues to become a reality across Michigan’s prisons.

“With Gov. Snyder doubling down on his failed privatization experiment, it is important to understand that his own administration failed to hold the last vendor accountable,”  Scott continued. “There is little doubt the administration’s failures will continue unless further scrutiny and accountability is applied to all privatization across Michigan.”

The report can be found here.

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GOP Trumped by Its Own Past http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/08/gop-trumped-by-its-own-past/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/08/gop-trumped-by-its-own-past/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2015 14:31:21 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=38546 The Donald is in Michigan today. The irrational wing of the GOP is pumped. The GOP establishment is scared. They’re scared because Donald Trump wasn’t supposed to lead the polls. Donald Trump wasn’t even supposed to run. Donald Trump was only expected to find the nearest microphone, yell something racist about Mexicans or President Obama’s […]

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The Donald is in Michigan today. The irrational wing of the GOP is pumped. The GOP establishment is scared. They’re scared because Donald Trump wasn’t supposed to lead the polls. Donald Trump wasn’t even supposed to run. Donald Trump was only expected to find the nearest microphone, yell something racist about Mexicans or President Obama’s birth certificate while the establishment stood back, enjoyed the show and kept their hands clean. But then Trump ran and is leading the GOP polls by a wide margin.

Trump’s rise is a direct reflection of the right’s reaction to the Obama presidency. Since the fall of 2008, the GOP establishment has stayed quiet while their base spewed race-fueled hate, made up lies about the Affordable Care Act, demeaned women like Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi and topped it off by blaming hard working immigrants for our nation’s broken immigration system. All of this happened while Republican leaders either stayed quiet or helped to fan the flames so that they could ride the anger created by Tea Party zealots, birthers and Trump back to power. The Donald had another idea.

When the Roberts Court gave corporations the same rights as people in Citizens United, the GOP establishment saw it as a win for them. Unlimited money in our political system would surely help the people most willing to sell our rights, our land, our water and our democracy itself to the highest bidder. That is unless the highest bidder decides he doesn’t need to buy another Bush when he can just buy the White House.

In the most recent debate, Trump bragged that he buys people running for office and demands favors in return for his contributions. Trump’s truth telling is probably the best argument for the Supreme Court to revisit Citizens United.

What the GOP establishment doesn’t understand is that Trump is the monster that they have created. Like a classic science fiction movie, the creators of the monster are now running scared as the fans they flamed have turned on them. Donald Trump doesn’t lead the polls because he is a well-known reality TV star who happens to be a fringe candidate, rather, he leads the polls because Donald Trump (warts and all) is the mainstream of the modern Republican party.

Mr. Trump should be able to find some friends in Michigan. He can give Rick Snyder a call and share a drink or two while discussing screwing working people. The Donald and Bill Schuette can share a laugh at how they use hate to rile up their base against undocumented workers and the LGBTQ community. Trump’s anti-woman rhetoric will find tons of support from representatives in the GOP House and Senate who voted to force women to buy rape insurance in Michigan. Finally, Trump can head to Lapeer and take lessons on how to handle the backlash he’s sure to get from the establishment (on second thought, he should skip that lesson.)

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Equality Michigan: Development Director http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/08/equality-michigan-development-director/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/08/equality-michigan-development-director/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2015 12:58:05 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=38544 JOB DESCRIPTION: Development DirectorJob Supervisor:  Executive DirectorJob Location:  Detroit, MichiganPosition DescriptionThe Development  Director reports to the Executive Director and is responsible  for managing and   executing   Equality   Michigan’s   development   operations.      The   development   director collaborates with staff, volunteers and donors to reach annual and long-term goals, with primary […]

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JOB DESCRIPTION: Development Director

Job Supervisor:  Executive Director

Job Location:  Detroit, Michigan

Position Description

The Development  Director reports to the Executive Director and is responsible  for managing and   executing   Equality   Michigan’s   development   operations.      The   development   director collaborates with staff, volunteers and donors to reach annual and long-term goals, with primary focus on building a major gifts program.

Specific Responsibilities:

(1) Major Gifts Program.  Work with the Executive Director, staff, and volunteers to design and implement strategies to increase the number of donors who regularly make gifts of $5,000 and more through face-to-face solicitations. Cultivate, steward and facilitate solicitation of the donors; Provide effective support to the Executive Director;

(2) Annual Fund.  Design and implement strategies to increase the number of donors that regularly make gifts of less than $5,000. Identify, develop and implement strategies for the cultivation of new, prospective, existing and lapsed donors; identify and work with these prospects to become major donors. Coordinate effective strategies and timetables for annual campaigns.

(3) Leadership. Support the Executive Director’s efforts to develop long-range efforts that will grow and sustain the organization by participating in strategic planning and helping to engage key donors in the process; Ensure effective training of, and appropriate development materials for volunteer solicitors, including the board; recruit and nurture volunteers to engage in development-related activity.

(4) Planned Giving. Oversee the development and implementation of strategies to increase planned giving efforts.  Market planned giving opportunities to LGBTQ rights supporters.

(5) Foundation Grants. Work with the Executive Director to sustain and grow foundation, government and fund support; draft proposals and final reports, with staff assistance.

(6) Management.

a)   Produce an annual work plan that guides implementation toward goals and objectives and aligns with other organizational strategic efforts;

b)   Ensure the maintenance of effective documentation of development operations and the database.

c)   Prepare regular reports for the Executive Director that analyze gifts and trends;

d)   Adhere to the development budget, monitoring expenses;

e)   Ensure that confidentiality and work quality requirements are met by staff and volunteers;

(7) Gift Recording & Acknowledgement. Assure the proper recording, tracking and reporting of gifts from donors in a timely manner. Work with staff to maintain accurate and current data files, including giving histories, profiles and interactions.  Ensure production of reports for accounting and annual audits.

(8) Special Events: Ensure that special events are strategic, well executed, and that follow up is effective. Ensure that new members and event attendees are integrated into development program.

(9) Materials. Work with staff and partners to develop key fundraising messages and materials and to integrate social media efforts in fundraising.

(10) Other tasks as assigned by the Executive Director.

Requirements

•     Bachelor’s degree and/or equivalent combination of education and work experience in fundraising.

•   Commitment to justice and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons.

•     Strong  major  gifts  fundraising  experience,  including  research  and  solicitations,  with proven track record of growing gifts.

•     Excellent interpersonal, oral and written communication skills; a relationship builder with a seal for attracting new business and follow-up.

•   Ability to work flexible hours, including some evenings and weekends.

•     Strong development planning experience, facility with data, and demonstrated capacity to assess results objectively and determine paths to overcome obstacles.

•     Demonstrated leadership skills and ability to motivate others, successfully directing and engaging volunteers as well as ability to work well with colleagues in a positive, team- oriented approach.

•   Strong problem-solving skills with a demonstrated capacity to get the job done.

•     Comprehensive  understanding  of nonprofit resource development  and the methods of fundraising.

•     Broad   understanding    of   multi-faceted    campaign    planning,    implementation    and management.

•   Familiarity with NGP VAN

Compensation

Full-time, salaried position, health and other benefits, with travel and cell phone reimbursement. Salary is commensurate with experience and performance.

Working Conditions

Work is performed indoors, and may include walking or standing for brief periods in order to assist staff, and the public; distribute information to other departments; and file records. Work also includes exerting up to ten (10) pounds of force occasionally to move and carry boxes of records.

Applying

Please send a cover letter and resume to Equality Michigan by 5:00pm EDT, August 21, 2015:

Equality Michigan Human Resources

19641 West 7 Mile Road Detroit, Michigan 48219 resumes@equalitymi.org

About Equality Michigan

The mission of Equality Michigan is to work to achieve full equality and respect for all people in Michigan regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

Equality Michigan follows an Equal Employment Opportunity Policy and employs personnel without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, disability, familial or marital status, height, weight, sexual orientation or gender identity. It is the policy of Equality Michigan to select, train and promote the best qualified individuals based upon relevant work factors such as work quality, attitude and experience so as to provide equal opportunity for all our employees. We value diversity and expect a strong commitment from each employee to ensure equal opportunity for all. Equality Michigan makes a special effort to recruit and retain employees who reflect the diversity of the communities and constituencies with which Equality Michigan works.

 

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Progress Michigan Doubles Down on Call for Independent Courser Investigation http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/08/progress-michigan-doubles-down-on-call-for-independent-courser-investigation/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/08/progress-michigan-doubles-down-on-call-for-independent-courser-investigation/#comments Mon, 10 Aug 2015 16:18:57 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=38542 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE News from Progress Michigan  August 10, 2015 Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, sam@progressmichigan.org Progress Michigan Doubles Down on Call for Independent Courser Investigation Michigan State Police should handle probe into lawmaker’s actions, GOP Leadership LANSING — Today, Progress Michigan called for an investigation by the Michigan State Police into the situation surrounding State Rep. Todd […]

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan 

August 10, 2015

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574sam@progressmichigan.org

Progress Michigan Doubles Down on Call for Independent Courser Investigation

Michigan State Police should handle probe into lawmaker’s actions, GOP Leadership

LANSING — Today, Progress Michigan called for an investigation by the Michigan State Police into the situation surrounding State Rep. Todd Courser. The investigation should also include Speaker Kevin Cotter and House GOP leadership.

As reported by MIRS, staff involved in this incident met with Speaker Cotter’s Chief of Staff before this story came to light on Friday.

“Since Speaker Cotter’s staff met with the individuals involved in this situation prior to this news being made public, it is time to remove this investigation from the House Business Office, which ultimately reports directly to Speaker Cotter,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “We have the highest faith in Tim Bowlin, however, given the gravity of the situation and the allegations which have been made, this investigation should not be handled internally.”

Courser recently released an audio statement claiming he was being blackmailed regarding his affair with fellow Tea Party Rep. Cindy Gamrat. Last week following the news of the cover up, Progress Michigan called for both Courser and Gamrat to resign.

“Given the fact that Rep. Courser has been accused of using public resources to try to cover up his wrongdoing and now Courser has accused former staffers and House leadership of blackmailing him, it’s only appropriate that the Michigan State Police conduct this investigation,” Scott continued. “This entire situation is playing out like a bad episode of House of Cards and the public deserves the truth. It’s important that we know what the Republican leadership knew about this situation, and when they knew it.”

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Speaker Cotter Needs to Be Part of Courser-Gamrat Investigation http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/08/speaker-cotter-needs-to-be-part-of-courser-gamrat-investigation/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/08/speaker-cotter-needs-to-be-part-of-courser-gamrat-investigation/#comments Fri, 07 Aug 2015 18:30:45 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=38540 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE News from Progress Michigan  August 7, 2015 Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, sam@progressmichigan.org Speaker Cotter Needs to Be Part of Courser-Gamrat Investigation What did the Leadership know and when did they know it? LANSING — In light of the recent scandal involving Tea Party State Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat attempting tocover up their […]

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan 

August 7, 2015

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574sam@progressmichigan.org

Speaker Cotter Needs to Be Part of Courser-Gamrat Investigation

What did the Leadership know and when did they know it?

LANSING — In light of the recent scandal involving Tea Party State Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat attempting tocover up their extramarital affair using public resources, Progress Michigan is calling for an independent investigation into the matter, which should also include Speaker Cotter and the House GOP leadership.

“The Republican Leadership has been quick to paint this issue as only involving Reps. Courser and Gamrat, however, any investigation should include answers as to what any members of Republican leadership knew of this incident and when they knew it,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “House Speaker Kevin Cotter shouldn’t just call for an investigation, he should be a part of it. Since Speaker Cotter can’t investigate himself we believe an independent investigation should commence immediately.”

Not long ago, Speaker Jase Bolger and Roy Schmidt were the subjects of an independent investigation for election violations and the investigation revealed that the Republican Speaker was deeply involved in that scandal.

“The public deserves to know how deep this scandal goes,” Scott continued. “Based on the previous failures of Republican leadership around similar scandals it seems like a fair question to ask and can only be answered by an independent investigation.”

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Courser-Gamrat Sexcapade Not the Issue http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/08/courser-gamrat-sexcapade-not-the-issue/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/08/courser-gamrat-sexcapade-not-the-issue/#comments Fri, 07 Aug 2015 16:41:58 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=38537 SEX! Now that I have your attention, I’d like to direct your eyes to the cover-up. Let’s get this out of the way. Yes, it is likely that Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser had sex with each other. Yes, they both told us that marriage was between one man and one woman. Yes, they both […]

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SEX! Now that I have your attention, I’d like to direct your eyes to the cover-up. Let’s get this out of the way. Yes, it is likely that Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser had sex with each other. Yes, they both told us that marriage was between one man and one woman. Yes, they both said they believe in the sanctity of marriage. No, they didn’t tell us that they tossed their own marriage vows out the window in pursuit of carnal knowledge of a fellow Tea Party warrior. But really, that’s not the point.

It’s not about what happened under the covers; it’s about what happened in an odd attempt to cover it up. Let’s ignore the fact that Todd Courser decided the best way to deal with the fallout of his heterosexual affair was to have an email sent to Republican activists that accused Courser himself of having gay sex with a male prostitute outside of a prominent Lansing nightclub (for the record, the most unbelievable part of that email was the fact that Lansing has a “prominent” nightclub.) It’s also unclear from the email that was eventually sent whether or not Courser used taxpayer funds to pay his John – but I’ll leave that to Courser’s imagination.

But, you see, Courser’s fantasy email (a fantasy that it would solve his problem) wouldn’t be an issue if he didn’t attempt to use taxpayer-funded staff time to draft it. I can’t even imagine having any boss I ever worked for asking me to use my time to draft an email that sounded like it belonged on the dark web. And that’s the point.

As a progressive, I don’t care what goes on in Courser and Gamrat’s bedroom (or the Lansing Radison for that matter). I understand that sometimes people make choices in life they regret. I do hope that this affair leads Courser and Gamrat to rethink their position on legislating what happens in other people’s bedrooms, but I’m not going to judge Courser and Gamrat for their own personal sex lives – I’m better than that. It’s not about the sex.

Courser and Gamrat tried to cover up their relationship by asking staff to help. They allegedly used taxpayer money to do so. I have a problem with that. We should all have a problem with that. There should be a full investigation of Courser and Gamrat, they should both cooperate and resign. There should also be an investigation into who else knew about this and may have been complicit in the cover up. This isn’t about sex; this is simply a case of two people who thought that their crusade was more important than the work of the people. It’s about two people who showed a lack of respect for Michigan taxpayers by trying to get us to pay to hide their affair. Let’s focus on that.

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Courser/Gamrat Have Deceived Their Constituents http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/08/release-coursergamrat-have-deceived-their-constituents/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/08/release-coursergamrat-have-deceived-their-constituents/#comments Fri, 07 Aug 2015 14:25:13 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=38533 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE News from Progress Michigan August 7, 2015 Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, sam@progressmichigan.org Courser/Gamrat Have Deceived Their Constituents LANSING — Progress Michigan released the following statement regarding the news that Republican state representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat allegedly used state resources to try to cover up a extramarital affair between the conservative lawmakers. The […]

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan

August 7, 2015

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574sam@progressmichigan.org

Courser/Gamrat Have Deceived Their Constituents

LANSING — Progress Michigan released the following statement regarding the news that Republican state representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat allegedly used state resources to try to cover up a extramarital affair between the conservative lawmakers. The use of public funds to cover up private failings is a clear violation of the oath that they both took when sworn into office.

“If Reps. Courser and Gamrat used state resources in an attempt to cover up their sexual affair, they have deceived their constituents and the public,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “These elected officials clearly have no regard for the trust that is given to them by the voters in their communities, whom Courser callously referred to as ‘the herd.’ It’s time for Courser and Gamrat to own up to this deception and take responsibility for their actions, they should resign their respective seats immediately.”

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ACLU of Michigan: Digital Media Strategist http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/08/aclu-of-michigan-digital-media-strategist/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/08/aclu-of-michigan-digital-media-strategist/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 17:23:18 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=38529 The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is seeking a Digital Media Strategist to work with the Communications Director and Deputy Director to develop and implement cross-platform communication and media strategies. The DMS focuses on creating content for email marketing and advocacy, informational videos, and public education materials to be shared through social media and […]

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is seeking a Digital Media Strategist to work with the Communications Director and Deputy Director to develop and implement cross-platform communication and media strategies. The DMS focuses on creating content for email marketing and advocacy, informational videos, and public education materials to be shared through social media and the ACLU of Michigan website. The DMS also aids volunteer-led efforts to publicize public events, including managing the production and mailing of invitations; and manages internal systems, including materials inventories and relationships with vendors.

SPECIFIC RESPONSIBILITIES
Advocacy and Public Education Campaigns
• Work with the Communications Director to develop cross-platform campaigns on selected issues;
• Work with the Field Organizer to create online publicity materials for events and festivals;
• Develop online content to clarify and magnify legislative work with an emphasis on story-telling and video production;
• Primary responsibility for all email marketing and social media program. Write and produce emails and posts to engage and build public involvement in the ACLU’s advocacy efforts, promote local events, recruit members, announce significant news, and generate legislative action;
• Assist in development of publications, opinion pieces, special reports, Website content, brochures, and blogs for staff and volunteers;
• Manage speaking requests and maintain inventory.

Media Relations 
• Help develop social media strategies that complement earned media strategies and efforts to reach youth and diverse populations, relying on social media including Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc;
• Provide media support to the Executive Director and other staff;
• Serve as a backup to the Communications Director as the primary point of contact for incoming media requests; manage media contact lists; monitor news coverage and share key news with staff weekly; and write and edit press releases and other materials;
• Help edit and proofread publications, releases and other materials produced by staff and volunteers.

Institution-Building
• Ensure systems and institutional infrastructure are well-maintained by managing the website, posting press releases and public education materials, and integrating national ACLU web-based materials as necessary, and monitoring site usage;
• Support local unit public relations efforts by posting event information, consulting on speakers and topics for local events, providing training on branding and messaging, and educating local units as to the capabilities of the state and national office and how their efforts can complement those of state staff ;
• Manage a robust video program including case and client profiles, introductions to issue-areas, and informational videos on legal and legislative questions;
• Engage with national communications staff and other state communications staff, replicating best and innovative practices, sharing Michigan work throughout the national organization;
• Lead innovative online strategies and use of new technologies and software that will enhance and facilitate external communications;
• Produce regular analytical reports that measure impact of online initiatives; Consult with Communications Director and Deputy Director on how to use analytical reports to guide the formulation of strategy;
• Empower ACLU staff to share online content by initiating opportunities, and providing guidance and support;
• Work with consultants on targeted initiatives;
• Contribute to the staff’s understanding of messages, messaging, and relevant news and news opportunities by sharing internal content and successes.

Other tasks as assigned by Communications Director and Deputy Director

EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS
• Demonstrated interest and commitment to civil liberties
• Bachelor’s degree in a related field required.
• 2-5 years of public relations and media experience, including experience organizing and managing social media campaigns.
• Experience with advocacy-oriented media campaigns, a plus.
• Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
• Strong writing and editing skills; ability to produce clear, concise online advocacy materials within tight deadlines.
• Experience working with social media technologies, including YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, etc.
• Excellent computer skills, including website experience and at least basic HTML.
• Skills in graphic design and familiarity with Gimp, MS Publisher and other basic design software.
• Experience in video editing and production.
• Exceptional interpersonal skills and the ability to contribute to a collegial work environment.
• Experience using public opinion research to frame issues and develop messages, a plus.
• Ability to manage multiple projects in a busy office environment, and strong attention to detail; ability to work with minimal supervision and to meet deadlines.
• Ability to work flexible hours and travel when necessary.
• Demonstrated interest and commitment to civil liberties
• Ability to supervise volunteers, work under supervision of others, work cooperatively with groups, and develop consensus.
• A commitment to diversity; a personal approach that values the individual and respects differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability and socio-economic circumstance.

Personal Characteristics 
• Personally committed to advancing the ACLU’s values, mission, goals and programs, with an understanding of the range of civil liberties issues and their implications.
• An energetic person who can handle and prioritize multiple activities and responsibilities; a self-starter and finisher.
• A team player that inspires collaboration and functions decisively; flexible and well organized.
• Emotionally mature and self-confident, with a sense of humor in order to maintain balance and perspective.
Supervision: The Digital Media Strategist is supervised by the Communications Director. 

APPLICATION PROCESS
Applications must be submitted by August 28, 2015. 

Please prepare an application package including: 
• a resume
• a cover letter describing your interest in this position, your commitment to social justice and the ways in which you meet the above requirements
• a writing sample
• a sample of graphic, video or web design work

Email these materials to: Darrell Dawsey, Communications Director, at ddawsey@aclumich.org

The American Civil Liberties Union/Fund of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. All interested individuals, including people of color, women, LGBT persons and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

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Progress Michigan Challenges Unreasonable FOIA Charges http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/08/progress-michigan-challenges-unreasonable-foia-charges/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/08/progress-michigan-challenges-unreasonable-foia-charges/#comments Wed, 05 Aug 2015 14:59:00 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=38526 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE News from Progress Michigan August 4, 2015 Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, sam@progressmichigan.org Progress Michigan Challenges Unreasonable FOIA Charges Progress Michigan FOIA seeks information regarding lobbyist influence in Attorney General’s office LANSING — Today, Progress Michigan appealed a cost estimate from the Office of the Attorney General regarding the watchdog group’s latest FOIA request. The […]

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

News from Progress Michigan

August 4, 2015

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574sam@progressmichigan.org

Progress Michigan Challenges Unreasonable FOIA Charges

Progress Michigan FOIA seeks information regarding lobbyist influence in Attorney General’s office

LANSING — Today, Progress Michigan appealed a cost estimate from the Office of the Attorney General regarding the watchdog group’s latest FOIA request. The FOIA seeks communications between certain employees of the Attorney General and known lobbyists. In response, the Attorney General is demanding $19,313.78 in fees to simply search for the records requested.

The emails sought by Progress Michigan are similar to the information used by the New York Times for a story detailing the pressure and influence that corporate lobbyists have over Attorneys General across the country. Progress Michigan is seeking to determine if Attorney General Bill Schuette, the chair of the Republican Attorneys General Association, has engaged in the same type questionable conduct as the other Attorneys General in the New York Times story.

“Attorney General Schuette has praised the FOIA process as one of the ‘foundations of our freedom and the key to the democratic process’ and he couldn’t be more right,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Sadly, this cost estimate shows that Mr. Schuette’s actions do not match his rhetoric – especially when his conduct is the subject of the FOIA request. Is Schuette trying to hide how much well-heeled, out-of-state corporate lobbyists influence his decisions?”

The appeal is based on previous FOIA requests that have been honored without charge because of the easy availability of electronic records. Both the Department of Education and the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) have honored Progress Michigan requests at no cost. Those requests were both much broader than the current FOIA request in question.

Recently, a $52,000 search fee was proposed by the Michigan Department of Treasury for another FOIA request, to which Progress Michigan filed an internal appeal to have the fee reduced. That process concluded with a significant drop in the fee to a more appropriate level.

“Charging nearly $20,000 to search for publicly available records is a violation of the spirit of the FOIA law and Attorney General Schuette should step in and require that his office correct this estimate,” Scott continued. “Our organization is willing to pay for proper costs associated with our request, however, we will not allow the Attorney General to hide behind exorbitant fees to avoid public scrutiny. Is Bill Schuette trying to hide something from the public?”

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Cementing Private Profits in the Public Sector http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/07/cementing-private-profits-in-the-public-sector/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2015/07/cementing-private-profits-in-the-public-sector/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 14:31:57 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=38522 By Sean Tobin There has been a debate in this country, nearly from its inception, on whether or not governments should or even can outsource services related to keeping people locked away for various wrongdoings. In side-stepping the debate between whether rehabilitation or retaliation works best to prevent future acts against society and civilization, we […]

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By Sean Tobin

There has been a debate in this country, nearly from its inception, on whether or not governments should or even can outsource services related to keeping people locked away for various wrongdoings. In side-stepping the debate between whether rehabilitation or retaliation works best to prevent future acts against society and civilization, we come to the crux of a new issue. How do we pay for it and how well do our current methods work?

In using John W Kingdon’s three-stream method to analyze how policy comes to be, we need to identify three things: the problem, the solution and the political environment. First what is the problem that needs to be fixed? When we look back on crime trends we see that in the late 1960’s there were sharply increasing incarceration rates in the country so prisons were filling past capacity. The second stream that needs to come into play is the solution. In the 1970s debate broke out as to what the best solution should be. Congress put together many different combinations of old and new ideas to come to the best solution. However, there is a final stream, in this case a political filter that the policy must pass in order to be implemented.

As Congress was honing in on several widely accepted policy solutions by the 1980s, they had to determine which one would be able to pass the Ronald Reagan’s desk with a signature instead of a veto. This is where good policy had to change to meet a format he was willing to approve. Obviously, the form it had to take included private corporations’ control in the expanding prison system. Here is where private prisons are born.

Fast forward to 1996, when the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) tested how well these privatized prisons and outsourced services were performing. They, as well as many academics and other evaluators, cannot and have not been able to find any conclusive evidence that privatized prisons or prison services have provided better or cheaper service. Unfortunately, what they have found is that once prison privatization takes place, corporations tend to become institutionalized and maintain control regardless of which party is in control.

Having private companies run public services like prisons creates a situation where it is likely that problems of incomplete or incorrect information will arise. How does the client, in this case the state, know whether the quality of service meets contractual obligations? The obligations which are in place for prisoner safety and survival. In order to maintain the human rights of our prisoners, we must have structured methods to provide for oversight.

The solution is that there should be evaluations, with real penalties on the provider, and made available to the public in assurance that proper services are indeed taking place. The knee-jerk thought that private means more efficient is flawed by the presupposition that market failures do not happen and/or are not common. The corners that a private provider is tempted to cut for cost savings will transfer what is supposed to be their monetary cost onto the prisoners, who are mostly illiquid and can only pay with their health.

As has been demonstrated for this type of service, private prison service providers cannot beat the state on price or quality, but the state must also make sure corners are not cut to generate a profit. This added layer of oversight needs to be efficiently and formally structured with transparent and feasible goals. This is the best way to ensure that we do not force the 43,000 people in Michigan prisons to pay with their health and to protect the taxpayer dollars which are used to pay the private corporations.

Michigan halfway protected its prisoners. MDOC fairly regularly evaluated the conditions that Aramark cooked, stored and served its prisoners. What many don’t realize is that MDOC counted over 3,700 violations in nine months of service, 48% of which were persistent issues that did not change. The public was not made aware and the contract that Michigan had with Aramark did not effectively convince that company to right its ways. MDOC could not convince them to fix their mistakes – nor did the few sanctions that were eventually placed on Aramark.

Aramark cut corners with the services they provided, but the real failure was on the part of the MDOC for not holding them accountable and for allowing persistent problems to continue. The new operator, Trinity, has been observed in other states cutting corners in regards to the quality and quantity of food they provide. Before we switch over to a new provider, it is prudent that we undertake an overhaul of the evaluation practices to make sure that we don’t allow Trinity to cut corners.in the same way Aramark was allowed to, all while racking up our tax dollars for corporate profit.

Sean is a Research Intern at Progress Michigan and is currently studying Public Policy at Michigan State University.

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