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31 posts from December 2005

Era of whole families working in MI auto plants coming to end

History is being written in Michigan right now with the dimunition of the American auto industry.  For much of my life, I knew whole families who had members working in car plants.

I grew up in Bay City and it was not uncommon for brothers, sisters, kids, aunts and uncles to be scattered around various plants.  Some were white collar and some blue.  They knew they could have security and a good income.

The Detroit Free Press chronicles these changes showing how young people don't see opportunity anymore with American car companies.  It's kind of sad. 

Will Michigan be able to come together to keep the economy humming in this state.  The articles tell about how college graduates are choosing to work outside the state.  Too bad political leaders can't enlist these young people to be part of the reemergence of the Great Lakes state as job creator.

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101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality

Focus on the Family has just published a book to grow understanding about being homosexual.  This is an issue that can touch off a firestorm from both sides.  I'm anxious to see what author Mike Haley, an ex-gay, has to share about this cultural hotspot. 

His interview shows some sensitivity to the issue and appears to not engage in the harsh judgments that conservative Christians can make.

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Feds should be allowed to monitor for nukes without warrants

Mainstream media is frothing at the mouth, I'm sure, over a story in the U.S. News and World Report about unnamed sources who says the feds have been monitoring private property for evidence of nuclear weapon-making activity. 

My question surrounds the threat of terrorists piecing together nukes inside of America for the ultimate purpose of setting this off.  How big of a threat is this? 

There really needs to be some rational discussion about this, both pro and con.  People need to get off their partisan hobby horses and set their bias aside.  The possibility of the feds doing this has to be based on some substance, don't you think?

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Christmas message from Lansing, MI, "Get Found"

Last night we attended the kids' Christmas program presented by the students at Our Savior School in Lansing, MI where my wife is a teacher.  The message of the birth of Jesus was brought by the kids through everything from singing, drama, line-dancing and ballet.

The kids presented the program with a conviction that was at the top of the scale and if it could have shone like a beacon, other states would have seen it.

At the end, Pastor David Maier summed up the message with two words, "Get Found."

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NY transit strike: Online community of affected New Yorkers created by blogs

Here's a great example of how blogs can create an interactive community:  Technorati has got descriptions and links of bloggers writing about the NY transit strike.  It's covered like a blanket.  The applications to other issues is incredible.

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I go back to prison tonight to be with dad's group

Do you think dads are important for their kids?

How about dads in prison?

Tonight my friend, Ken Alexander, and I go back to Deerfield Correctional Institution in Ionia to visit with the Long Distance Dads group.  This is a group of felons who are dads.  Some are close to their kids.  Some have had some exposure to their kids and some have had none.

But, this group of guys which has been participating in this 12-week program for almost five years has one thing in common.  They want to learn about being a dad.  For some, it's a tune-up and for others it's a completely new concept. 

For several years, I helped facilitate the discussions.  This year, we come in at the very end to share our dad experiences, from both perspectives of being a son and being a dad.

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MI pro-life leader has built a political powerhouse

Barb Listing, the leader of Right-to-Life of Michigan, is profiled in this Detroit Free Press story by Chris Christoff.  The story describes how she built pro-life forces in Michigan to the point where anti-abortion advocates are a political force to be reckoned with.  It's an issue that won't go away next year.  Count on it.

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Winter living in Michigan to be much more expensive

Detroit News reports this morning that most households will pay 36 percent more for energy bills this year than a year ago.  This is on top of all the uncertainty about the state's economy because of the struggling auto industry.

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Facing tough times; Third Day says cry out for Jesus

With Christmas just a few days away, we face all kinds of circumstances.  Some will face stuff them where no answer will seem apparent.  You hit the wall and where do you go?  Third Day says "Cry Out For Jesus."

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Manufacturers could be more open with blogs about what it would take to create and keep jobs

Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed a package of bills giving state manufacturers what appears to be a token tax break. 

    • Is it enough to make a difference? 
    • Is it just something that the Michigan Legislature threw together to show voters that they were doing something?
From reading the news accounts, its hard to tell what elements would be needed to create and keep jobs in Michigan.  There's virtually no discussion of real life scenarios of how businesses are struggling to cope here.

There seems to be plenty of news releases and word-smithed statements, but very little first person discussion about the honest dynamics of business today.  A blog would be the right tool to allow openess and transparency and maybe understanding and then appropriate action.

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Michigan auto workers should blog GMs historic nosedive

Toyota is poised to overtake General Motors as the nation's top automaker. 

This is a historic change for Michigan.  Lives will be changed forever as this state's economy adjusts to our diminishing position as manufacturing leaders.

Autoworkers, both hourly and salaried, should consider blogging during this whole experience.  It could be a running narrative of how these changes are affecting all slices of life here in the Great Lakes state.

It would be citizen journalism at its best.  There has never been a time where there's more need for all sides to listen and understand what's happening.

The UAW, news media, universities and others should help autoworkers become bloggers.

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Nine-month-old Malik O'Neil's 21-year-old mom charged with smothering him

Malik O'Neil's 21-year-old mom has been charged with premeditated murder for his death in Detroit.  The Free Press said she's charged with smothering him, stuffing him in a plastic bag and then placing him in a cabinet in a basement where other kids played.

This happens as Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has left the position of ombudsman for children in the state open for more than six months.  By law, it has the responsibility to investigate the state's involvement in the care of at-risk children.

Does Michigan's child protection system work? The ombudsman is charged with answering that question and others on a case-by-case basis.

Voices of concern need to be heard on this issue.  Maybe, the blogosphere can play a role in filling that void.

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Christmas memories come alive with Andy Williams at Soaring Eagle in Mount Pleasant

I just noticed an ad for Andy Williams bringing his Christmas show to the Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant, MI about 45 minutes north of here.  Because the tickets are pretty pricey, we probably won't go.

But, I will do the next best thing and get some of his old Christmas songs off iTunes. 

When I was much younger, I remember his Christmas specials on television.  Whatever the weather or the circumstance,  you were given hope and left with a really warm feeling for the season, the birth of Jesus and for family.

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Michigan's at-risk kids are a little safer with Jack Kresnak's return to the Detroit Free Press

I noticed this morning while reading the online Detroit Free Press that a story about a dead infant in Detroit was written by Jack Kresnak.  That's a real "Praise God" moment for at-risk kids in Michigan.

He reports and writes about abused and neglected kids with a passion and an advocacy that's not seen much in journalism these days.

Kresnak returns at a point while the state of Michigan is waiting for Gov. Granholm to appoint a new children's ombudsman for the state.  The position has been vacant for more than six months.  There are concerns that she will leave the position vacant and let the office become so impotent that it will be shutdown.  I hope that's not true.

The Free Press is the only state newspaper that has written about the whole child protection and child abuse and neglect issue on a regular basis in the state.

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My reading: Marysville's Schefenacker blue-collars don't want UAW

From my online newspaper reading:

  • Detroit News has an interesting story that may be a sign of things to come about the blue-collar workers at the Schefenacker plant in Marysville, MI.  They are vigorous in their disdain for the UAW.  Workers feel sold out by the union.
There used to be an assistant sergeant-at-arms--John Penszak-- who used to work in the Michigan House of Representatives who was involved in the organization of the UAW way back when.  He told amazing stories about the hardships in getting the union started.

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Michigan's economic future; what are the prospects?

I wonder if I'm just an alarmist about future prospects for Michigan's economy or does the Lansing State Journal have a reporter that's looking through really rose-colored glasses.

In a story this morning, the State Journal reporter uses the same words that the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions and the Michigan State University football team have been using since almost the beginning of their existence. 

The story says Michigan's economy will go through a rebuilding phase next year as it tries to regain steam.

The housing market in mid-Michigan for the next year was described optimistically.  The area's top Realtor says homeowners will be just fine this next year.

Great news!  Let's revisit this story in six-months and then a year.

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9-month old Malik O'Neil's death shows Gov. Granholm needs to appoint ombudsman

Reading the Detroit Free Press story about the short life and death of 9-month-old Malik O'Neil is hard.  There was suspected abuse in the past.  He was found dead in a basement.  Concerns about the child had been shared with the Michigan Department of Human Services. 

It's really hard to relate to the kind of behavior that results in a baby's death.  My instinct is to go right by such stories to accounts of how bad the Detroit Lions are this year.  Many people have the same reaction, I'm sure.

That's why abused and neglected kids need Gov. Jennifer Granholm to fill the vacant position of Ombudsman in the Michigan Office for Children's Ombudsman. It has been vacant since May.  It's job is to investigate the state's role in the protection of kids at-risk for abuse and neglect.

She and her director for the Michigan Department of Human Services seem to be uncomfortable with having this office provide a second set of eyes on how cases are handled for these kids who are at-risk for their lives.

The time has come for Gov. Granholm to appoint a qualified person to fill the role of Ombudsman for Children in Michigan.

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Portland, mid-Michigan town, adopts LA town ravaged by Hurricane Katrina

Lansing State Journal this morning has really good story about how the tiny town of Portland, just west of Lansing, adopted Port Sulphur, LA, a similar-sized town torn apart by Hurricane Katrina.  This north-south connection comes from a Michigan town that's part of a region facing its own perfect storm, an economic one.

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Sharing with Lansing's new mayor; get real people to answer phones

I wonder if anybody in Michigan's capital city, Lansing, has had a similar experience.

Early in this past summer, I talked with a neighbor down the street, who told about how burglars were breaking into nearby houses while peoople were sleeping.  Listening to his stories, I was concerned.  My first impuse was to call the Lansing Police Department to talk to a community relations officer.

I wanted to verify what my neighbor said and to ask what people in our neighborhood could do to protect themselves.

My attempt to be a responsible citizen was met with instant frustration.  I called all the non-emergency numbers in our southside station and all I got was automated answering machines that sent me on a circular jouney back to where I started.  Then, I looked for the identity of the city council person who represents my area and really got lost in the city's website. 

Continue reading "Sharing with Lansing's new mayor; get real people to answer phones" »

My reading before going to church

The thermometer here in mid-Michigan says it's really cold outside.  Before my wife got the paper from the front porch, here's what I read online:

  1. Our Journey, a daily devotional from Walk in the Word and Radio Bible Class; today's was about how to not get discouraged.  James McDonald writes based on 1 Kings 19 about Elijah and what he did to allow himself to get discouraged and then three things to get rid of it.

Continue reading "My reading before going to church" »