Too Big for the Petoskey News-Review

An Open Letter to Frank Foster

Dear Mr. Foster,

I have written you several times over the last year in the attempt to express my views on several key pieces of legislation.  Since you failed to give me the courtesy of a reply even one time, I am addressing you publically in the hope that you will take this opportunity to explain your recent actions in Lansing.

Now I know your position on what you feel your role in Lansing is.  I have listened to you state publically that you must follow the party line even if you don’t agree with it and even if it’s not in the best interest of your constituents.  You claim that if you are ever going to get any of your ideas passed then you have to play ball with the leadership.  While this may have some practical application in your mind, it speaks volumes about how little you really understand the process of politics.

Term limits are among the most devastating pieces of legislation ever passed in Michigan.  Because you can only serve 6 years as a Representative, everyone in Lansing is a neophyte.  How exactly are you supposed to know what to do when you take your seat?  The party will tell you.  The staff will tell you.  There’s no term limits on them.  So as we shift inexperienced legislators in and out through the revolving door created by term limits, we NEVER get representation unless our legislator has the courage to stand up to the radical elements in his/her party.  Clearly you don’t have such courage.  During your campaign I heard you say that you were not willing to go along with party leadership if it violated the interests of your district.  Yet in votes during this lame duck session you did just that.

Was this just another campaign lie or do you really feel our state is better off with lower wages, reduced job safety, and an inferior education system?  Say what you want about the role of unions in politics.  I realize you don’t think much of unions and that they don’t think much of you.  But it is indisputable that wages, benefits, and safety standards in states that are NOT Right-To-Work are higher than their counterparts who have sought to cripple unions.  I am wondering if you truly believe our economy is better when people make less and are more at risk for injury on the job.

The radical elements of your party claim that Right-To-Work creates more jobs.  In the absence of any evidence of that claim, I am wondering why you chose to vote to further harm our already faltering economy.  And if jobs are actually created, what kind of jobs will they be?  Jobs with lower wages, no benefits, and that are less safe will be created…if in fact any are.  So the people “lucky” enough to get one of these jobs will have less money to spend in our already weak economy.  And as I hope you know, it’s not just union wages that are damaged by Right-To-Work.  Unions raise the level of wages of ALL jobs in our state as companies need to compete for the best workers.

As for education, I realize you have long been an opponent of public education. What I don’t understand is why.  Have you really bought into the DeVoss and Koch plan to privatize education and control curriculum so that their radical ideas can be spoon-fed to our children?  Each time you weaken schools by cutting funding and raising demands, you are taking steps toward fulfilling their dream of redefining education.  As more private schools and more cyber schools appear in our state, we are closer to the day that our students will be taught such nonsense as the earth is 11,000 years old and was created in six days, and that the Bible is science, etc.

You can think of this fight over education as a fight over union power if you want. That’s a smokescreen. The real fight is over the definition of education and the ability of our children to think critically.  As you assist in reducing education to the simple task of repeating back “facts” on some standardized test, you are doing long term damage to our future.

I realize that the radical elements of your party have convinced a lot of people that there is no money to do things the right way.  Most people blindly accept this as a truism.  But I look at the history of our government and I clearly see that when the political will exists to solve a problem, we can find the money.  I could recite a litany of great accomplishments in this country that we found a way to fund in spite of continuing economic crises.  The simple fact is that you can always tell what a society values by how it spends its money.  As you continue to assist in the dismantling of public education in favor of an unproven, risky, and downright frightening future, your actions speak much louder than your words.

Finally, since you’re now beginning the second of what can be a maximum of three terms, are you finally ready to start reaping the rewards of being a good soldier for the radical elements of your party?  All that blind following of their ideas must have certainly earned you the right to start doing things that are in OUR interest instead of theirs.  Or did they lie to you like you lied to us?


Mark Pontoni

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