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24 posts from May 2006

Southeast Michigan workers face either reduced or lost health care benefits

During the Mackinac Island conference of the Greater Detroit Chamber of Commerce, results from a survey of southeast Michigan employers will be announced showing that employees with healthcare benefits are in for a rough time.

The Detroit News reports that employers are either going to greatly reduce coverage or they will eliminate it:

"The study shows 61 percent of companies are considering reductions in future health care benefits for employees while another 27 percent may eliminate medical insurance for workers," according to the Detroit News story.

"Three-quarters of the business leaders surveyed also said smokers should pay more for insurance premiums, while nearly as many said individuals who lead a healthy lifestyle should get cost advantages."

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Coming out of the closet as an online Weight Watcher

I've struggled with being overweight for a long time.  I'd take it off
and then put it back on.  I can't blame it on anybody other than myself. 

Online Weight Watchers is right up my alley. Can I do it and then keep it off?  Stay tuned.

By the way, this morning, I ate oatmeal with Splenda, along with Craisins.  It should be four points.  And, yes, I will record it right after I'm done posting.

UPDATE--FOR LUNCH: I just had lunch for seven points.  I had a Healthy Choice Lemon Pepper Fish dinner and I had two reduced fat chocolate chip cookies.  And, yes, I did record what I ate on the computer.
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A challenge: Find Michigan Office of Children's Ombudsman on state website

Here's another reason I wouldn't vote to re-elect Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm:

I wonder what Jakob Nielsen, the usability expert would say about the efforts which her administration led.

An example, go to the state government website and try to find the Michigan Office for Children's Ombudsman. If you can find it, how long does it take you? 

What if you wanted to make a referral to this state agency about a child you suspected of being abused or neglected and that the state was not doing its job?  Could you easily find the info from the homepage?

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Ricky Holland child abuse death in MI takes another turn

Ricky Holland, a seven-year-old living in a suburb of Michigan's State Capital city, was allegedly beaten and killed by his parents.  Last summer hundreds of volunteers got involved in searching for him when he was reported missing by his parents.  Then police were led to his body in January by his father.

Now according to a story in today's Detroit Free Press, the local prosecutor says others may be charged in Ricky's death. 

Mysteriously silent is the Michigan Office of Children's Ombudsman which has the responsibility to investigate the state's role in protecting kids at-risk for abuse and neglect.  The Michigan Department of Social Services had been involved in his care and his protection.  There has been no apparent investigation by this office or others about state involvement.

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Let's put "body mass index" on student report cards

Does your local school have food police to make sure your kids eat the right stuff?

Local, state and national politicians are more and more stepping into the role of being surrogate parents for our kids, especially in the kinds of foods they can eat at school.

Take Arkansas, for instance.  The state had a porky governor, Mike Huckabee, who lost 100 pounds and who has a passion to see that obesity is eliminated.  In his state, schools include each student's B.M.I or body mass index along with their grades. 

Does legislating what students can eat at school result in healthier kids? 

Our town's mayor, Virg Bernero introduced legislation when he was a state lawmaker to prohibit the sale of pop or soda in public schools.  He was passionate about it.  The bill never made it beyond first base.  If it had passed would it have had any discernible health effect?

Where do parents start having responsibility for their kids and for training them?

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Justin Zachary Thorp: He's my son and I'm proud of him

Img_0282 I worked hard to choke back the tears this weekend as my son, Justin, graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York.  I am really proud of him and who he is and what he has done.

In my eyes, he has become a man of distinction.  He's ready for the next chapter in life and he will be a player at whatever he does.

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My Congressman should blog about this: Earmarks in the federal budget

If Congressman Mike Rogers who represents my area were to start blogging, here's something I would like to hear his transparent, honest and unvarnished opinion about:

  • Explain your feelings about the infamous "earmarks" in the federal budget.
  • Have you ever had earmarks placed in the budget for our congressional district or other congressional districts?
  • Do you feel that earmarks are appropriate and should they be continued?
  • Why don't you talk about earmarks and the budget in your newsletters?
  • How did he vote on the Alaska bridge to no-where? 

I found this editorial from which reports that when the U.S. House of Representatives considered lobbying reform, it included provisions providing more disclosure of budget earmarks.  But, then in the fine print, it provided waivers of disclosure for many.

Has he already talked about these issues and I just missed it?  I doubt it.

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U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers: Time to stop your mailings and keep money in U.S. Treasury

This full-color brochure from Congressman Mike Rogers and paid for by the tax payers has been sitting on my file cabinet for a couple of weeks and it's time to pitch it.  But, before I do . . .

I want my Congressman to know that he should take me off his mailing list and put the cost of mailing this stuff to me back in the U.S. Treasury.  This piece, titled Michigan Jobs Update, displays newspaper headlines about how Rogers has talked rough about China and its trade policies.  He even has some legislation.  So what?

Inside this mailer, there's page two with two paragraphs and some bullets about enforcing free trade and then a list of proposals described as his Energy Agenda.  Then on page three, there's a few hand-wringing paragraphs about healthcare costs.  That leaves the address page which is dominated by a screenshot of his website.

It doesn't connect with me and I'm a conservative Republican.  It reads like a PR piece and doesn't convince me that he's connecting with or compassionate about those who live in Lansing. 

It would be too easy to say he should have a blog.  But for a blog to be effective, he has to value transparency and he has to be committed to communicating with his consituents.  I'm not impressed with his efforts so far.

I'm becoming more and more disillusioned by both parties.  It would be too easy to stay home this November and not vote.  I'm not sure that my voting or my participation in a campaign makes a difference anymore.  Maybe I'm wrong.  I will be looking for an answer in the weeks to come.

How much money could have been saved if he hadn't done this mailing?  $100,000?  How much does it cost to start a blog?  Go to and it's free.
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How often did your dad say, "I love you?"

How important is it for dads to tell their kids that they love them?

According to the National Center for Fathering, not many men do it on a consistent basis.  This is from their weekly-newsletter which is free and is worth getting and it's about how they survey dads at their big seminars:

(After asking dads, how many tell their kids that they love them on a consistent basis)

The results are predictable, as are the jaws that drop in amazement. In a room of about 500 dads, only 10 or 15 will raise their hands. The majority of those men are still waiting to hear their dad say “I love you” for the first time. And -- like father, like son -- many of them don’t consistently say it to their children.

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Ten Commandments for Our Family--Guiding principles for family life

This is hanging in our hallway and is a constant reminder.  We got it when we went on an Alaska Cruise with Dr. Randy Carlson of Parent Talk On Call:

Ten Commandments for Our Family
Guiding principles for family life—

We promise to:
1.    Protect each other from harm.
2.    Be patient with each other
3.    Be trustworthy-so we can be trusted
4.    Say I’m sorry and really mean it
5.    Be self-controlled
6.    Be as polite to each other as we are to guests
7.    Celebrate each other’s victories
8.    Stay close to each other during times of defeat and loss
9.    Speak to each other with words of kindness and respect
10.    Never, ever give up on each other

Based on First Corinthians 13 as written by Dr. Randy Carlson of Family Life Communications and the radio call-in program Parent Talk

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Advice for building successful stepfamilies

Checking Focus on the Family's website everyday has produced some helpful stuff for me, both personally and to share.  Here's a whole page of resources on how to build a successful stepfamily.

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In Michigan, are schools of choice good or bad?

I wonder if political candidates will debate the issue of schools of choice during the campaign this summer and fall.  They should talk about this Michigan law that allows students from one district to attend public schools in another.

To set the context for this need, I point to a story in yesterday's Lansing State Journal which states that Lansing's public schools lost 6,000 students during the past five years.  When the bulk of its operational  funding comes from state aid determined by per pupil state aid, such aa loss is devastating.  Nearby suburban school districts dodge budget problems by being able to accept city students.

Meanwhile, public perception of Lansing's schools continues on a spiral downward.  When my kids were school age, I would wince at the possibility of sending my kids to neighborhood public schools because of my perceptions of their condition.

Along with schools of choice, political candidates need to share their point of view about the cause of the perceived nosedive of the educational quality of many public schools.  It would be too easy to blame teachers and curriculum.

How about family and the condition of family life in our culture?  In today's Lansing State Journal, Circuit Judge Laura Baird talks about how our courts are being clogged with family cases. 

How much of our educational decline can be attributed to dysfunctional families that are looking for the schools to raise their kids?

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Michigan politicians need to answer for letting Indian casinos off the hook for $300 million

When I read the online version of the Detroit Free Press this morning, my reaction to the story about the Indian casinos was simple. Michigan voters might want to consider doing away with the State Legislature.  At times, they seem to be nothing more than window dressing to give voters the impression that they are being represented.

The state of Michigan cheated itself out of $300 million worth of payments from its first batch of Indian casinos and that amount is sure to grow, according to the story.

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This sucks: More than a third of this year's Michigan State University grads will leave the statee

As we face the start of another campaign for Michigan governor, it's fair to ask the question.  Who has the responsibility for a third of this year's Michigan State University graduates saying they will leave the state for their first job?

Read the story in today's Lansing State Journal and it's clear that the new grads just don't have enthusiasm about staying here.

This is an issue that's going to be politicized to death and it deserves more.  Gov. Jennifer Granholm has been at the steering wheel of the state for the past four years.  And, this is where we are.  How much longer are we going to wait for something to happen during her watch as governor?

When will the Democrats realize that businesses have to have a reason, they have to have incentive to locate here?  And, they don't have it now.

It's got to change or Michigan will start looking more and more like a Third World country.

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Michigan Job Watch: Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson needs to move to the Great Lakes State

Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson just announced that Fed Ex was bringing 800 jobs to his city.  This is a real deal.  Look at his city.  It's booming, compared to Michigan.

When has a Michigan mayor or governor, for that matter, been able to make an announcement like this?  I can't remember one time in the past several years.

The state of Michigan is mired in the mud of old do-nothing, complain all-the-time Democratic thinking.  And that points to the top politician in the state, Gov. Jennifer Granholm. 

She owes and Michigan's people deserve an explanation about what her jobs people did to procure these jobs for our state.  Probably nothing.  They were probably too busy hatching strategies to pass the word that her Republican challenger, Dick Devos, comes from a wealthy family.  So what?

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UAW has real tight rope to walk with Delphi strike vote

By getting authorization from its members at the bankrupt Delphi, the UAW is holding the power to throw a bomb on a big chunk of our national economy and to turn Michigan into an economic wasteland resembling a Third World country.

If Delphi strikes and GM stops, then everybody gets hurt.  Dan Howes, business columnist with the Detroit News points this out pretty clearly.

At the National Day of Prayer this past week, I wonder how many prayed for wisdom and courage for UAW leaders, Delphi executives, GM executives and everybody else involved. 

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Michigan workers bail out for plenty of work in Wyoming

As we buckle up for another statewide political campaign in Michigan, I keep asking myself about which candidate for governor would be best for bring our state through some teeth-gritting transitions.

The liberals in this state mock and ridicule Dick Devos because he was born into a wealthy family.  The left-wingers point to the imaginary silver spoon in his mouth and to the big yacht that his father owns.

And, they take political meanderings in the mind of the state Democratic chairman about Devos and charges that he shipped Michigan jobs to China. 

Put aside your partisan prejudices, you can see that all these charges, concerns and ridicule of Devos is pure bunkem. 

So, who can best help restore the lost jobs in Michigan, our current governor, Jennifer Granholm, a former political appointee in Wayne County, or somebody who has a record of running a big company and other smaller ones? 

Granholm has been governor for four years and good paying jobs are racing out of the state.  Look at Wyoming which is holding job fairs in our state for the hundred of jobs it has.

Devos needs a fair look by everybody. 

I can't wait for the day when Michigan holds job fairs in other states.  Best one to make that happen, it seems to me is Dick Devos.

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Here's how to talk to your kids about porn

Parents everywhere, at least those who believe that porn is bad, will appreciate this offering from Focus on the Family.  For moms and dads not sure how to broach this topic with their kids, here's some pretty straight forward, plain advice.  It's worth a look.

And, if you are a parent who see no harm in letting your kid see porn, you should read it also. 

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