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Posted on Sat, Apr 30, 2011 : 2:41 p.m.

Marchers outside Michigan Stadium protest Snyder policies during U-M commencement speech

By Ronald Ahrens

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Two latecomers hurry across Main Street to commencement exercises in Michigan Stadium as protesters gather for a demonstration against Governor Rick Snyder.

Ronald Ahrens | For

Protesters who earlier had rallied at Pioneer High School against Gov. Rick Snyder's policies moved across the street as the time for University of Commencement drew near Saturday morning.

They marched and chanted outside of Michigan Stadium as the ceremonies got under way at 10 a.m. But it wasn't enough to cause much of a distraction for the graduates or their guests or to disrupt Gov. Snyder's speech at the ceremony.

A crowd estimated at 1,000 to 1,200 by rally marshal Tad Wysor and University of Michigan Department of Public Safety officers chanted and sang throughout the 90-minute ceremony. Protesters said they are upset about the governor's tax and other policies.

“What’s so cool is that almost off of them came over here, said Wysor, an Ypsilanti resident who represented the American Federation of Government Employees.

The rally had kicked off at 8 a.m. at Pioneer High School’s Holloway Field, and protesters had to walk several hundred yards up South Main Street to reach the Stadium’s main gate.

They chanted such slogans as “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Rick Snyder has got to go.”

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Professional actors Mark Boyd, left, and Bruce Bennett portray billionaire conservative activists, the Koch brothers, flanking an image of Gov. Snyder, in a role commissioned by the Michigan Nurses Association.

Ronald Ahrens | For

In keeping with the rhythms, participants blew whistles and clapped their hands, while further percussion was provided by at least one cowbell, one gourd and a set of ankle bells normally used in classical Indian dance.

Many motorists on Stadium Boulevard and Main Street beeped their horns as well.

“I’ve never protested in my life, but I won’t quit till we get him recalled,” said Bob Hutchins, who waved a homemade placard along with his wife Brenda.

A retired autoworker who lives in Ypsilanti, Hutchins said he hoped graduates inside the stadium went ahead with the threat to turn their backs on Snyder when he delivered his address.

“I want him booed everywhere he goes for four years,” he continued. “I don’t want him going anywhere without seeing me out there with a sign.”

But some who attended the commencement expressed disappointment over the rally.

“I feel bad they’re doing it at graduation,” said Sylvia King, who came from Muskegon to see her goddaughter receive a diploma. “I agree with them, but there’s a better time than at graduation. The kids have put their heart and soul into four years of college.”

Hastings resident Jim Fisher, whose nephew earned a business degree, pointed out that he’s a public servant—Barry County Circuit Court judge—and he dislikes “the fact that every public servant has a target on their back.”

He was referring to the likelihood of a push for cuts in public employee compensation. Nevertheless, Fisher said, “The realities of the situation are going to require shared sacrifice.”

As Snyder’s address began, protesters were asked to come from the sidewalks along Stadium Boulevard and Main Street, where they had been marching, in order to cluster at the main gate, concentrating their decibel output.

Grant Mandarino, a U-M graduate student in art history, led one chant through a bullhorn, yelling, “Rick goes down when the people stand up.”

When Snyder wrapped up his speech, rally marshals announced the protest was over and everybody should immediately return to their vehicles at Pioneer. Ann Arbor police officers stopped traffic, and the marches streamed diagonally across the intersection, reversing the impressive flow that had carried them in.

But Jack Prince lingered near the stadium’s gate, expressing disgust to all who would listen.

“It was the most innocuous protest in history,” said Prince, a teacher from Grand Rapids. “Right at the peak of the protest, at its loudest moment, is when they disperse the crowd.”



Mon, May 2, 2011 : 12:27 p.m.

We fully realize that Snyder won the election. It is too bad that so many were deceived by his portrayal of himself as "moderate" when he in fact has a hard right-wing agenda. The anti-democracy issue raised about Snyder has to do with the emergency financial manager legislation that he proposed and was passed. How does the EFM law not frighten every citizen in the state. Those who thought that the EFM law would only rarely be used to dispense with elected officials should be shocked at the city council and planning boards dismissed less than 3 weeks after the bill was passed. What is next? Detroit, Flint, Saginaw...? Cutting funding to cities and schools sets them up to be taken over by EFM's. Coming to a community near you!


Mon, May 2, 2011 : 7:53 p.m.

dlb, the reason the state took school funding out of local hands to begin with was because a school board and local officials allowed their school district to totally collapse because of their petty infighting and incompetance. Now we hae the same thing occuring with officials and unions looking out for their own interests and not minding their own store. If they can't get the job done what is it about "emergency" you don't understand? You tell me. You can cry all you want about EFM being frightening but what is more frightening is allowing the whole system to collapse because of "special interest incompetance". EFM's can be avoided, so avoid it and quit crying "foul" when it's local governance that "stinks".


Mon, May 2, 2011 : 9:14 a.m.

Protest all you want. Snyder still WON the election and protestors are talking about "Democracy". That would be "selective" democracy they are advocating.


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 5:35 p.m.

I believe that these have been some of the most close-minded, right-winged, ignorant comments I've seen. 1) The protesters obviously were NOT protesting the graduation. They were protesting Snyder's presence. Why he would be invited to do a commencement speech at the same school he is proposing to cut 15% of their spending, I'm unsure -- but it isn't right. 2) Numerous graduate students, from UofM, decided to join the protest -- one particular student decided to forgo the actual ceremony to be in the protest. 3) There was parking reserved for the protest in the parking lot, just as there was parking reserved for those attending the graduation. As for those who had to drop individuals off and go find parking elsewhere, it was the same for numerous protesters. 4) Maybe the governor should focus on things that really matter? How is providing a 1.8 billion dollar tax cuts to businesses going to help anyone in this state? I can't understand the logic behind "1.8 billion dollars in tax cuts to businesses and 1.8 billion dollars in funding to healthcare and education -- see that's equal." Snyder is busy making the rich richer and the poor poorer. The average student at a university has gone from being in the middle class to being in the upper class -- on average, only 14% of a class is made up of students who's family makes less than 50,000 dollars a year. Do you not see anything wrong with that?


Mon, May 2, 2011 : 12:09 a.m.

The average family attending the U of M has a family income of $180,000. 35% of the students are foreign and many receive subsidies from taxpayers. they then take what they learn here and go back to their countries and kick our stupid butts. Less thsn 5% of the students attending U of M have a family income of $50,000 or less. This is an elite school which caters to those who will pay. I graduated from there and I know I couldn't afford it today. They're practically a private school as it is. Cut their funding and spend it on smaller more affordable programs and let them bring in more foreign nationals.

Mike K

Mon, May 2, 2011 : 12:04 a.m.

Dave, what is not fair is 50% of income earners paying 97% of the income taxes, and liberals crying to have "the rich" pay more. What has happened in Michigan is that commerce decreased, and as a result tax collections have decreased. So what now? Tax the rest of us more, or cut expenses? Tax payer funds need to be treated like any "scarce resource" in that they are NOT infinite.

Dave the guitar player

Sun, May 1, 2011 : 11:52 p.m.

Halter - I didn't hear a word during the protest that said that the taxes your business are paying are fair. You are being misled. Working people and the less fortunate in Michigan are not your enemies. However the Governor is pitting you (in the form of reduced taxes for small business) against programs for education, health and the poor. Meanwhile, the wealthiest in Michigan are being asked to contribute *nothing*. In fact, their tax rate will be going down. This is not fair. It is not "rhetoric" that the rich are getting richer. The top earners have had enormous increases in their income in the last 10 years, while the middle class has remained flat. Check the facts. It is not fair that the working class in Michigan should pay the whole cost of fixing the problems with the economy. If you have a plan, bring it on and we will negotiate, but don't think you can just take everything that generations have struggled to build without a fight.


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 10:26 p.m.

Amber -- not for nothing -- this is just plain wrong...Glad you spoke your thoughts...but the stuff you hear being thrown around my liberal democrats around the U is very different from the real-world of business. I am a small business owner. I know first hand how much tax I pay (and it is HUGE compared to yours), but it is also so high that I could never hire more employees, nor contribute more to the tax base, job creating, or anything. But lower the taxes, give it a year or two to stabilize, and I can envision hiring 6 - 8 more people for the company. Without those tax breaks, none. And THAT is the reality of how this works. Snyder is a businessman that understands that it doesn't matter how many bleeding-hearts there are that think it is all about groups and serving the underprivileged, that is NOT how you stimulate the economy nor create jobs. What Snyder and Co. are doing is re-establishing the systems that Granholm and other democrats have slowly eliminated over the years and sent MI into a spiral downhill. As to the "rich richer and the poor poorer" rhetoric, it couldn't be more wrong. That's the kind of stuff that gets thrown around in the democratic world when they don't understand how the system works. It's not about fairness. It's about what salvages our state no matter what the cost.


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 9:26 p.m.

Your protest was targeted at disrupting the KID'S graduation; 4 years of hard work by my son and TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars from ME. And you clowns, most of whom obviously couldn't get to grade 12 wanted to mess that up for him and for me? You want to protest, go to the Capital in Lansing where he works and carry on like lunatics there for all I care. What you did, Amber, was SELFISH and showed no regard for thousands of upstanding young adults and their parents. You did it because you want to continue getting the unsustainable deals that Jenny and the other democrats promised when they knew we couldn't afford them. Go protest Granholm about that if you can find it. She bailed out of Michigan at the first possible moment and moved to CA. I guess she was able to find a state more screwed up than even the Michigan that she botched for 8 years.

Mike K

Sun, May 1, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

Here's what's wrong with that "Snyder is busy making the rich richer and the poor poorer" - liberal taking points, class warfare, mob mentality....... That's not altogether correct, and overly simplistic, but it is certainly easy to capture and use to incite the masses. As noted above, commerce is the key to any population as it generates a viable tax base, and that's what Snyder is trying to create, or correctly stated, re-create.


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 4:31 p.m.

I was glad that the protests could barely be heard from within the stadium. 99.5% of the students behaved respectfully while less than 10 turned around (and of course were captured by the cameras). The people protesting are clueless. They are taking their rage about the reality of this world and the fact that their unsustainable publicly funded deals are, in fact, unsustainable. Of course, this rage is always directed at republicans in spite of the fact that democrat "leadership" is what created such an untenable situation in the first place. The state is broke and Snyder is trying to deal with it an an effective way that is fair to everyone. This is in stark contrast to the thin-skinned community organizer who is running up record debt at breakneck speed in DC. Unless these union people start living in the present and stop trying to turn back the clock in a reactionary way, they'll continue to be pummeled by events, financial reality, and the facts of life. Just screaming at someone is not a solution. Just demanding something for nothing, in an infantile manner, is not a solution. In fact, I don't see any solutions coming out of that mob; just noise, threats, and intimidation.


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 10:45 p.m.

You know Joe you guys have the shortest memories in history. Your buddy John Engler left this state in a an absolute mess. We will be lucky to ever recover from that part of our history. Rick Synder offers more of John Engler and we can't afford that! Wake up and smell the coffee.


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

Dave, nothing the left proposes is "progressive"; it's reactionary. We are in the mess we are in because of so-called "progressive" programs that have chased away business and guaranteed unsustainable lifetime pension/health care deals to state funded employees and unions who extorted deals like the UAW did and left future generations of management to face the unfunded mandates. You had your chance and your ideas FAILED. Now get out of the way and fold up your silly protest signs. It's time for the adults like Snyder to take over and make the hard choices.

Dave the guitar player

Sun, May 1, 2011 : 4:51 p.m.

Governor Snyder promised to solve the crisis in Michigan in a fair manner. He broke that promise by proposing a solution that taxes the poor to grant tax breaks to the rich. Progressive solutions have been put forth. You just choose not to hear them.


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 4:11 p.m.

I am very proud of the way Govenor Snyder is streamlining this states very fiscally inefficient public sector, especially when it comes to eductation. *****Five Stars*****


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

Rick Synder needs to be confronted by protestors 24/7, everywhere he goes to remind him that citizens are on top of his political deceptions. I for one will be circulating a recall petition to try and stop Rick Synder from doing anymore damage to the State of Michigan. Granted tough times call for tough measures, but we don't need to set labor back 100 years in this state, or any other state. The workers didn't create this mess, the politicians did!

Mike K

Sun, May 1, 2011 : 11:59 p.m.

Dave - ok, you know people who worked from the film credits. Key word, "worked". That kind of work is only temporary. To generate long term prosperity for our state, commerce must increase. Yeap, that includes "corporations". The anti corporation stance many liberals take is counter productive to what feeds our society (i.e. taxes).

Dave the guitar player

Sun, May 1, 2011 : 11:32 p.m.

Where do you get your facts, Joe? The film credits *did* generate jobs. I personally know people who were employed making films locally during the depth of the crisis. You appear to believe that anything the Government does is worthless without checking the facts. Please make sure you have some specific (factual) gripe about the complaints of the protesters before calling anyone "evil".


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 9:29 p.m.

Yet Dave, you and the rest of the liberals supported tax giveaways to rich Hollywood filmmakers that created ZERO net jobs in this state and that cost us $90M per year in losses. And you didn't make a PEEP, Dave. You and your leftwing ilk loved those disastrous programs which were worthless. What Snyder is trying to do is bring SUSTAINABLE jobs to this state and you need the evil corporations to do that, Dave. Grow up. Hippies went out of fashion in the 1960's. Most became evil capitalists and even the so called liberals like Clinton and Obama cashed in big time.

Dave the guitar player

Sun, May 1, 2011 : 4:48 p.m.

Spending 1.8 billion dollars on tax breaks will *not* create enough jobs to offset the $1.8 billion in lost tax revenue. That loss will have to be made up by the working people of Michigan. His tax breaks for the wealthy are a tax increase on you.


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 4:35 p.m.

8 years of Granholm left this state in shambles. Now you want more of the same? The unions have destroyed the manufacturing base in this nation, put the big three into bankruptcy, and rendered public education into the status of mediocrity or worse. On top of it, every state in the union and the federal government is tottering under the weight of public sector unions and their insane pension/benefits deals that benefit the union members, not the taxpayers. And you want MORE union power? I'd say the protesters at Pioneer define selfish. ME, ME, ME! They threatened to ruin the day of kids who worked their butts off for 4 years and by the looks of that MOB, most of that motley crew would be lucky to achieve GED's without copying off of the smart kid they were sitting next to. Snyder can't put Michigan back 100 years since the democrats, with their unholy alliance with the unions, have already done it. It's time for CHANGE in this state. Without it we can't have HOPE. Go Rick! Keep up the GREAT WORK!!!

Mike K

Sun, May 1, 2011 : 3:45 p.m.

Anti education, political deceptions? Too much drama from the left. He is doing WONDERFUL things for the State of Michigan. You see, a state's tax base increases with commerce. If you increase your tax base, you have more money to spend. The state of the State speaks for itself, or do liberals like looking at empty industrial parks where no taxes are being generated? Ask yourself, "how did we get here?" Ask yourself why automakers have moved to States like TN, AL and GA?? Especially when you have tons of skilled tradesmen and a solid manufacturing infrastructure in place here. There's clearly a reason. Ask yourself why Intel and First Solar have chosen the State of AZ for their new mfg plants? Commerce matters. Think about it. Since the earliest days of modern man, society formed around the market where goods and services were exchanged. Rick Snyder's priority is to increase commerce (that has been LOST for some reason), and he's on target.


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 11:42 a.m.

MB111 In fact many of the groups that have expressed their disagreement with the proposed Snyder budget cuts have proposed alternatives. The main one is not to give corporate tax breaks of million of dollars. Other proposed savings would be to remove the lucrative benefits that legislators now receive, saving over a million dollars. You might want to check your facts before you make such a statement. Many groups have already made sacrifices. For example, many school district employee's have not had a raise (and in fact made less money) for several years.


Mon, May 2, 2011 : 12:04 a.m.

Corporations don't pay taxes, they collect them and build it into the price of everything they sell. Doesn't anyone get that? I guess it just makes everyone feeel good to tax the companies who reate the job.

Dave the guitar player

Sun, May 1, 2011 : 11:22 p.m.

Do the math. You cannot reduce a deficit by cutting taxes. Tax cuts will just make the problem worse. And 45% of people pay no *federal* income taxes. When *all* taxes are included (including payroll taxes, sales taxes and state taxes) the poorest Americans are paying *more* as a percentage of their income than the richest Americans. The people in this nation who are most able to afford to solve our fiscal problems are not carrying their fair share anymore. And the idea that rich people will just move away is clearly not true. Why doesn't Donald Trump live in Alabama where taxes are so low? In a time of crisis, this is not the time to throw the poor under the bus. Michigan can afford a better future than the Governor has in mind.


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 4:50 p.m.

If you want to gripe about tax cuts for the rich and corporations, please go complain to Barack Hussein Obama. His favorite company, GE, just paid no taxes last year and he extended the "Bush tax cuts" for 2 years which now makes them the Obama tax cuts for the RICH. The FACT is that you can't close the unsustainable deficit by raising taxes even more on corporations and the wealthy. We already have a situation where 45% of the people pay zero federal income tax. The rich already fund most of the government. Tax corporations more and guess what? They move away and you have NO JOBS. The simplistic nature of the neo-marxism thrown around by people with zero practical understanding of economics at this protests is staggering. It's a darn shame that such people have the same vote as those who take risks by starting businesses and that actually CREATE something. It's not ironic that the people who fill these rallies are retired on the taxpayer's dime or who make far more than market value as a result of their union's thug tactics. The time to end public sector unions is NOW. Private unions will take of themselves by chasing industry away to other states. When you wake up in the real world, protesters, maybe you'll have a chance. Until then, you'll wallow in loserdom.


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 12:57 a.m.

I was not able to make it, but I'm glad to see people standing up for the next generation. It's disappointing that Snyder would be honored by a university, despite being so thoroughly anti-education.

Dave the guitar player

Sun, May 1, 2011 : 11:13 p.m.

You don't have your facts straight. It was not the unions and the social safety net that caused the Wall Street meltdown. It was corporate greed and market manipulators. Now banks and corporations are have record profits while they call for cuts in government programs and taxes. Working people are not the villians in this tragedy.


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 4:39 p.m.

The Next Generation of our citizens were addressed by Snyder INSIDE the stadium. Snyder, with his three UM degrees represents the bright future, in contrast to the loud, uncouth, rude, and largely ignorant mob that gathered outside of the stadium. Keep promoting that Michael Moore-style madness and pretend that you're not part of the problem that has bankrupt this state and our nation at large. Just blame it all on "corporations" and "the rich" while you fail to improve your own personal competitiveness, grow your skill sets, and instead waste all of your energy trying to regain the unsustainable deals that killed our economy in the first place. Yeah, get those signs and bullhorns out and "march". That's your "solution". When you get a real idea, present them and we'll debate the merits. Until then, take your bullying tactics along with that community organizing stooge in the White House, and get lost.


Sat, Apr 30, 2011 : 11:42 p.m.

The event was very civil. They chanted &quot;Recall Rick&quot; which seemed to be the message. I posted some video interview of people at the rally. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Mon, May 2, 2011 : 12:02 a.m.

Recal Rick? And replace him with another big spender pollitian? Maybe someone sympathetic to the plight of the union teachers who can retire in their fifties? While the rest of us schlubs work until we're seventy? Is that what public service has become? Milk the taxpayer until the cow dies?


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 12:47 a.m.

why in ann arbor is there always somebody who has to bring their dog to public events?


Sat, Apr 30, 2011 : 11:20 p.m.

Interesting how many news headings there are about Synder and the Protest....when it was all a blip on the radar.... At least the TV news got it right --- one minute of coverage on the graduation; 6 seconds mention of the protesters....


Sat, Apr 30, 2011 : 10:58 p.m.

I had to drive past the Stadium at 9:30a this morning and it is pretty sad that graduates and their parents had no where to park in the Pioneer Parking lot because protesters had taken up a lot of spaces. The parents and grads had to drop people off in the street so they could make it into the stadium on time while the driver had to go further away to park. I think it is also in poor taste of the protesters to protest the graduation. These kids have worked for 4 years for this moment and they had to deal with protesters during their graduation. Maybe these protesters should try to come up with solutions rather than just complain! Maybe Snyder's ideas aren't the best but at least he is trying to find solutions to the States budget issues instead of just putting us in more debt.


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

Nice post, James. The answer to your questions is obvious; the protesters are selfish. They don't care about those kids. They don't care about anyone or anything outside of their selfish interests.

Dave the guitar player

Sun, May 1, 2011 : 4:42 p.m.

It is pretty sad that UofM chose to invite a governor who is massively cutting funding for education to an event celebrating learning. It is the governor who is causing the controversy, not the protesters.


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 3:08 p.m.

Anyplace an elected official makes a public speech is a political event. Response is protected American speech. 'taste' doesn't enter into it when families' livelihood and education are at stake. How can you bellyachers about parking (incorrectly btw: protesters had designated parking and did not displace anyone)? From a student standpoint, this would have been an unremarkable day. Now it's memorable! Solutions abound. Why are protesters always accused of offering no answers? The answers existed well before the protests: remove tax breaks for wealthy indivs and corps!


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 1:18 a.m.

Solutions? The left never comes up with solutions other than more welfare and anme calling.


Sat, Apr 30, 2011 : 10:23 p.m.

I wonder if the guy holding the UAW sign still has a job.


Mon, May 2, 2011 : midnight

The UAW threw the younger members under the bus having thier wages cut to $14.00 per hour so the older members could keep everything they had been promised including their $27.00 per hour wage. If they had cut their wages a younger worker could have made a living wage. The teachers unions will do it next. It amazes me when they speak of solidarity and then make the younger members take the hit.

Dave the guitar player

Sun, May 1, 2011 : 11:05 p.m.

Are you at least a bit embarrassed by your apparent inability to feel any concern at all about people who have lost their jobs?


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 4:52 p.m.

Probably a &quot;jobs bank&quot; job where he shows up to a union hall to play cards all day for $85 an hour.....


Sat, Apr 30, 2011 : 9:35 p.m.

Marshall Surely you realize if they had ignored the protesters there would have been those saying the protesters were ignored because supports Snyder. And there is a story now about the commencement.

Marshall Applewhite

Sun, May 1, 2011 : 1:42 a.m.

You must not have read my post properly. Key word above &quot;focus&quot;.


Sat, Apr 30, 2011 : 9:28 p.m.

The protesters have not provided a single alternative to the cuts. What would they propose? Perhaps new ideas can achieve the protester's goals. The alternative is to complain and not provide any sort of option - which makes it a constant display of hot air.

Dave the guitar player

Sun, May 1, 2011 : 4:39 p.m.

The protesters *do* propose alternatives. You apparently prefer not to hear them. You cannot cut a deficit by cutting taxes. Check the math.


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 2:19 p.m.

Exactly. A recall may get the base fired up, but if you actually want to win, you need to come up with alternatives. Joe, I hear these ideas from commentators, but I don't hear it being broadly communicated to voters on a state-level from a major party. I've not heard of any proposed legislation to this effect. (It may not pass, but it demonstrate an alternative). If its out there, maybe you can point it out.


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 12:53 a.m.

The alternative is to return taxes on the wealthy to what they were ten years ago and continue to invest in our future.


Sat, Apr 30, 2011 : 10:22 p.m.

The only thing they propose is &quot;less work, more pay&quot;.

Marshall Applewhite

Sat, Apr 30, 2011 : 8:32 p.m.

It's pretty embarrassing that has chosen to focus much more on the protests than the commencement. The protests were essentially a small blip on the screen of this otherwise great event, but for some reason wants to talk about MEA organized protests. This is really saying something about what thinks about its readership.


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 2:59 p.m.

Marshall, look at the whole paper. The protest is one of a half-dozen pieces on commencement. And, it's actually news. Hurrah.

Kai Petainen

Sun, May 1, 2011 : 2:34 a.m.

It might be more of a statement not of readership but of leadership at or of whomever pays the bills.