Kathy Hoekstra was a communications specialist with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy from 2008 to 2011. She assisted in the Center's media outreach and did reporting for the Center's Michigan Transparency Project and for Michigan Capitol Confidential.

Prior to joining the Mackinac Center staff, Kathy spent nearly 15 years in broadcast journalism. She was an award-winning news anchor and reporter for radio stations in Port Huron and Saginaw and worked for more than a decade in local television news in the state. In addition to her reporting and anchoring duties, Kathy also produced and hosted a weekly public affairs program that involved in-depth coverage of local and statewide issues.

Kathy graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor's degree in both communications and English. She is also a graduate and Hall of Fame member of the Specs Howard School of Broadcasting, and she has done graduate work at Saginaw Valley State University.

Lawmakers Fail to Answer Questions About Film Subsidy Transparency

A rather blistering May 16 Livingston Daily editorial asked a few simple questions of three state lawmakers about the Michigan Film Incentive and how well it's working. Two of the legislators responded in a guest column Sunday, arguably dodging the real questions raised in the original editorial and putting up a weak defense of the two-year-old subsidy program. … more

More Information Trickles Out Regarding Hangar42

Grand Rapids Press reporter Chris Knape continues to dig into the questions raised by the Mackinac Center about a potential $10 million subsidy for a film studio infrastructure project called Hangar42. … more

New Facts Exposed in Hangar42 Investigation

In following up on questions raised by an ongoing Mackinac Center investigation, Grand Rapids Press reporter Chris Knape added two facts to the pattern of information so far known about the proposed Hangar42 film subsidy deal. … more

Hangar42 Studios' Incentives Raise Questions

Film Noir

Cap-and-Trade: A Thorning Subject

Last week, Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman introduced the American Power Act, (Full text, section-by-section summary) the latest version of federal cap-and-trade legislation. Watch this Mackinac Center video to hear what impact this legislation would have on Michigan's economy. … more

'No Comment' from Day Care Union Lawyer on E-Mails, Senate Hearing

'No Comment' from Day Care Union Lawyer on E-Mails, Senate Hearing

On Monday, a Michigan Capitol Confidential story brought to light a series of e-mails between Nick Ciaramitaro, director of legislation and public policy for AFSCME Council 25, and representatives from the Michigan Department of Human Services and the Michigan Home-Based Child Care Council (MHBCCC). … more

Cherry Picking: More Day Care Union Connections?

Coincidence? Perhaps. But these ever-emerging connections deserve attention when representatives from the Michigan Home-Based Child Care Council, the DHS, the union and the administration remain tight-lipped about the origin and purpose of this entire operation. … more

Zombie State Agency Finally Talks to Lawmakers

Tuesday's committee hearing gave senators a chance to quiz the MHBCCC about its purpose, its creation through an interlocal agreement between the Department of Human Services and Mott Community College, and the big question: the council's relationship with the Child Care Providers-Together Michigan or CCPTM, the so-called "day care union."
The testimony disclosed at least one unexpected revelation. … more

Fourth Time's a Charm

Tuesday's committee hearing gave senators a chance to quiz the MHBCCC about its purpose, its creation through an interlocal agreement between the Department of Human Services and Mott Community College, and the big question: the council's relationship with the Child Care Providers-Together Michigan or CCPTM, the so-called "day care union."
The testimony disclosed at least one unexpected revelation. … more

Connecting the Day Care Union Dots

A revelation during a Michigan Senate committee hearing last week is drawing some new connections to the mechanism that enabled some 40,000 home-based day care owners to be categorized as public employees and unionized. There are indications that some of the so-called dots that need connecting may include the Granholm administration and Lt. Gov. John Cherry. … more

Stealth Unionization: Action and Inaction

FOIA: One Word Makes a $7 Million Difference

As it turns out, one little word in Michigan's FOIA law is the difference between $0.00 and $6.8 million. … more

Golden Ticket

Are You My Employer?

Stimulus Helps 4-Year-Old Buy New Home

Had Joe Biden's stimulus-boosting, damage-control visit to mid-Michigan this week been made open to the public rather than just a few hand-picked visitors, maybe someone could have asked him why a four-year-old "taxpayer" received a "first-time homebuyer" tax credit of $8,000. … more

Is the MHBCCC Defunded?

Michael & Me

Mapping Out an Underhanded Scheme

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation continues its quest for answers in the day care scheme being perpetrated by the Michigan Department of Human Services and a so-called home child care union by filing a motion with the Court of Appeals to reconsider its curt dismissal of Dec. 30, 2009.
It's worth noting that Michigan is not unique in having had day care providers unionized. In Michigan the dues are siphoned directly from subsidy payments.
We compiled a handy, interactive map which displays the states that currently have unionized home day care providers. Simply click on the icon for each state to open an information box about each state's home child care union set-up. … more

Time to ZIP It?

In November, I wrote about the "Luckiest ZIP code in Michigan", which, according to the official Web site that tracks federal stimulus dollars, was a ZIP code in Lansing. Further review of all 674 ZIP codes on the Michigan list, cross-checked with United States Postal Service ZIP Code lookup finds $573,161 in federal stimulus money went to five ZIP codes in Michigan that do not exist. $1,254,110 went to ZIP codes in other states, including $1,143,025 that went to ZIP Code 55411 (Minneapolis, Minn.) and created zero jobs. … more

Film Subsidies — Smokin'!

Does Michigan's film subsidy program encourage children to smoke? Will Michigan's workplace smoking ban put an end to smoking in movies made here? After all, isn't a film set a "workplace?" … more


I have to hand it to the Michigan Department of State Police and its Freedom of Information Act division. Not only did they want nearly $7 million ($6,876,303.90, to be exact) to process my FOIA request, but they now seem to be dragging their feet in explaining how they arrived at what is recorded on Sunshine Review as the nation's highest FOIA fee. … more

Stabilizing Blight?

The Michigan Climate Coincidence: Channeling Goldfinger

Michigan is not officially part of the two-week United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, which the New York Post says aims to "save the Earth from certain doom." While the Great Lakes state will miss out on hobnobbing with notable personalities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Daryl Hannah, Helena Christensen, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Prince Charles, Michigan seems poised to do its part by legislatively chipping away at 54 policy recommendations to "reduce greenhouse gases" as spelled out by the Michigan Climate Action Council in the 125-page Michigan Climate Action Plan and its 471-page appendix.
As I read these recommendations and the proposed environment-related legislation, I'm reminded of a quote from the character Auric Goldfinger in Ian Fleming's "Goldfinger:" "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action." … more

Day Care in Wonderland

More Day Care Providers Speak Out

Sherry and Dawn's Story

The Luckiest ZIP Code in Michigan

Apparently in terms of federal stimulus money and thousands of new jobs allegedly created, the luckiest place in Michigan to live is in the 48933 zip code. According to the U.S. Postal Service website, 48933 is none other than Lansing, our state capital. … more

Stimulating! Ten New Congressional Districts in Michigan!

My colleagues at Watchdog.org and its state-level affiliates were the first in the nation to break the story that the $787 billion federal stimulus package "has doubled the size of the House of Representatives, according to Recovery.gov, which says that funds were distributed to 440 congressional districts that do not exist." … more

What Price Information? Try $7 million

$6,876,303.90, to be exact. That's what the Michigan Department of State Police is charging for more than two million pages of documentation I requested via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regarding the state's handling of federal homeland security grant money from 2002 to present. This is definitely a record for Mackinac Center FOIA requests. In fact, this may be a record for any FOIA request. … more

“Dis-Unity” Studios?

A news report from Detroit TV station WDIV seems to indicate that a $146 million film production studio has instead become a boondoggle for the city of Allen Park. … more

Shanghai Surprise: The Unionization of Home Day Care Providers

Michelle Malkin said it best when she said, "The Culture of Corruption has never hit so close to home." The prominent author, blogger and commentator was referring in a recent blog post to a shady scheme to shanghai Michigan's home day care providers into a newly-formed, dues-paying labor union. Last month, the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation exposed this scheme in its first lawsuit, Loar v. DHS… more

Summer of Discontent: Stimulus Money Leads to Payday Mayhem

Hundreds and maybe even thousands of young people in Detroit apparently had to stand in lines and in the rain for up to four hours to receive paychecks for their summer jobs.  Others did not know where to find their checks. Still others didn't get their paychecks at all. And on several occasions, police were called in for crowd control. The payday mayhem is just one of the many findings of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)… more

Moviemakers Risk Biting the Hand That Feeds Them

While some in the Michigan Film Office, film industry and state government are quick to boast about the ever-increasing number of movie productions that have come to Michigan as a result of film tax subsidies, there have been some unforeseen and hard-learned lessons for some Michigan businesses, schools and organizations. … more

Michael Moore’s Union Dilemma

ABC News is reporting today that a couple of labor unions are a little miffed that Michael Moore used non-union labor during work on his newest release, "Capitalism: A Love Story", which opens in theaters nationwide tomorrow. … more

Michael Moore and the Michigan Film Incentive: Is There a Happy Ending?

It’s apparently not a love story between filmmaker Michael Moore and Michigan’s generous refundable tax subsidy for the movie industry. In his quote about the program in a Sept. 29, 2009, blog post on the Michigan Messenger Web site, Moore is clearly not even enamored with it: “If it’s not good for Michigan,” he said, “Michigan shouldn’t do it.” … more

Are We Being Too Tough on Hollywood?

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has been critical of the Michigan Film Incentive since its inception in 2008. At first, the criticisms were focused on the pure principle of the thing: state government has no business trying to pick corporate winners from losers in the marketplace. This time, the perceived “winner” would be moviemakers who could get cash refunds of up to 42 percent of money spent in Michigan. This also became the most generous film incentive in the country. … more

Delay Your Fines for Free?

Delay Your Fines for Free?

A Fire Sprinkler Mandate in Michigan?

Tea Parties and Policy Revolutions

The Scene and the Unseen: Act IV

Mackinac Minutes: Spring 2009

This video segment is the Spring 2009 edition of Mackinac Minutes. … more