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39 posts from August 2006

If Michigan is tops in e-government, what are rest of states like?

Local television news in Lansing has been touting an award that Gov. Jennifer Granholm is taking credit for making Michigan's e-government website the best in the country.  I agree with Confessions of An Undercover Geek that something's wrong with that conclusion.

Is this more political campaign hoo-ha where a candidate takes credit for everything from the sun coming up to home team home runs at Tiger Stadium? 

As with the Undercover Geek, I will probably comment more on this down the line.

By the way, let me state loudly, clearly and with full disclosure that the Undercover Geek is my son, Justin.  He knows his stuff and his conclusions about the state website are worthy of response and discussion by state officials and others.

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ACD in Lansing, Michigan: Help, we need our DSL back!

I'm still using the wi-fi at Beaner's in Lansing because our ACD DSL service is out at home.  It's one of the few times over the past couple of years where its been out.  And, it's never been out this long.  They say they can't check it out til tomorrow.  Pleese make it today.  It's my birthday.

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Anybody in heaven see my father, Claude H. Thorp

I'm sitting in a Beaner's coffeeshop on Waverly Road in Lansing, MI using wi-fi with my son, Justin.  It's a milestone day for me personally because I was born on this day in 1946 which makes me 60 years-old. 

As I see the clock on my timeline ticking I've thought long and hard about what I want to do in the days ahead and what I want to leave behind.

That's where my dad, Claude Thorp, comes in.  I'm wondering if he's in heaven.  I hope so.  I truly hope that he put his heart and his faith in the only one that counts, Jesus Christ.

Why is this important to me?  Well, he's my father.  But, my memories of him are limited to less than five minutes and to a threat that he'd kill me if I didn't leave his front door.  Yeah, there's a big back story with lots of details which left lots of scars.

In 1948, he left my mom and me and never came back.  For her survival was a daily struggle.  For me, I've been on a lifelong search for my father and then for anybody who could be a father figure.  Don't get the violins out.  I'm not asking for sympathy.  I am making a statement.

If he's in one of the nooks and crannies of heaven, then I want him to know it's over.  I can't do a memory wipe like they do with a computer hard drive.  But I have to move on.  I don't have enough time left to hope for what will never happen.

I know that he died in Florida in 1992 and that he was cremated.  I also know that he had a whole another family and that he never divorced my mom.  She was a saint. 

A couple nights ago I read the introduction to Tim Russert's new book about fathers.  I could identify with the feelings of Antione Fisher who wrote the poem about the little boy inside every man.  That little boy wants to cry.  Well, I've grown up.  The little boy has left.  It's over.

Dad, I forgive you for what you've done and how your absence has dogged me most of my life.  I hope other dads take note and realize how important they are.

There's a big God and there's his son Jesus who can forgive any dad for past mistakes.  Don't assume your kid will be okay without you.

The scar over this whole in my life will loosen every now and then I'm sure.  But, I know that my relationship with Jesus Christ is minute-to-minute and that he will take whatever concerns I give him.

Enough said.  I love being a dad.  I'm proud of my two grown kids.  Despite my dad's big time screw-ups, I know he would be proud too.

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Michigan's economy sinking to new levels that are not part of a cycle

Growing up and living most of my life in Michigan, I've watched friends who work in auto plants struggled with the whole cycle of being laid-off and being called back.  It was a cycle, but with the exception of the last decade, there was always the promise that it would turn around.

Not anymore, according to a pretty prominent economist in the state.  In today's Detroit Free Press, he says the state is sinking into a hole that it will not easily get out of:

  • "I hate to superimpose worse news on top of bad news, but this is
    not a cycle," said David Littman, a senior economist for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a Midland-based think tank. "We're in a secular decline here in Michigan.
  • "As the economy slows nationally, we're going to sink much farther relative to the other states. We've only just begun.
  • "We're going to see Michigan sink to levels that no one has ever seen. We're going to be looking at the highest unemployment rates in the nation for the next five to 10 years."
  • "Nine percent of Michigan's labor force was unemployed, up from 6% six years ago, the data show. Nationally, the unemployment rate was 7%.
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Former MI Gov. William Milliken brings back memories with PBS interview

Tim Skubick's interview with former Michigan Gov. William G. Milliken is worth listening to.  I stumbled on the video version last night while channel surfing.  Why do I mention this?

The former governor establishes a baseline for attitude and behavior on the part of a public official.  These days it's too easy to feel nauseated by how political candidates play slash and burn with the truth and how they show a stunning lack of respect for different ideas.

Gov. Milliken was a true leader.  He had a set of core values that drove him, but he still respected other points of view.  He was a true listener and he always seemed truly interested in those he was talking to.

Both candidates for Michigan governor, Jennifer Granholm and Dick Devos, need to take a lesson from this man.  We are moving into a campaign period where more and more people will be potentially sickened by their poison attitudes towards each other. 

Can you win political office without being nasty?  Is the office worth it if you have to lower your standards of behavior and the level of respect in our ailing culture?

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Take a look at Barb Byrum's website for 67th MI House District

ByrumI'm trying to figure who to vote for in my state house district in Michigan.  I've looked at the website of the Republican candidate in the 67th District, Don Vickers, and I'm not impressed, even though I've been a Republican most of my adult life.

Now look at the website of his opponent, Barb Byrum, whose mom has been a long time member of the Michigan Senate and now House. 

I don't have any hangups about a daughter trying to follow in mom's footsteps.  But, the daughter still has to sell herself.  And, I ask has Barb done that with her website and her blog? 

She's young.  She's an attorney and whatever else.  A big part of a state rep's job is educating the constituency.  Look at her site and ask what you need to know about her to vote for her.

Because the Republicans seem to have given up on this district, Barb will win I'm sure.  But, who is she?  What are her values?  How does she make decsions?  Does she listen?  Can she learn?  Can she influence other people? 

I hope her web site doesn't do her justice, because if it does, then the voters are being cheated.

The Michigan Democratic Party needs to help its candidates more with new technologies and show them how to communicate an effective message.  Barb Byrum hasn't done that, nor has her opponent.

Michigan foster care workers knew this boy was in danger, according to Detroit Free Press

I would like to think that the average Michigan person is not comfortable with what happened to this child in foster care and with the fact that state foster care workers could have saved this child.

Jack Kresnak writes this story from the words in the state reports.  Ask yourself:  Is Michigan's foster care system working?  If it isn't then what can be done and who should be involved in fixing it?

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Michigan needs a state dog

SnoopyGo look at all the bills introduced by Michigan legislators and see if you can find any that border on the edge of incredulity.  My guess is you can find plenty.

My suggestion for any state lawmaker with a little bit of game:  How about a state dog?  We have a state flower, rock, probably a song and who knows what else.

I do represent a special interest in this area, the Beagles.  We have one.  Like most people in Michigan, they immigrated from some place else.  Just look at the ethnic and cultural mixes in our state.  I believe the Beagle originally came from Great Britain.  Our Beagle is incredibly smart, very focused and very loyal.  She never complains about the weather and loves the outdoors, as well as being indoors where she's sprawled out on her favorite afghan.  She listens, but she still has a mind of her own.

What about state dogs for other states?  New York?  Indiana?  The others?

Granholm and Devos: How are they going to make college education affordable in Michigan?

Michigan's two candidates for governor, the incumbent Gov. Jennifer Granholm and challenger Dick Devos keep playing a violin with one string.  It's always about the ever-important subject of jobs and getting more.  Okay, that's important, but there are other items of concern.

Paying for a college education is another.  For either candidate that will probably not be a problem for their children.  But for thousands of others in the Great Lakes state, it's almost an insurmountable problem.

Take these stats:  A recent Fox special told how the price of a public four-year college education increased by more then 500 % from 1981 to 2003.  All other consumer prices rose by 140 %  in that same period.

It's time that we heard some real discussion from our political candidates, rather than this finger-pointing and bloviating that's calculated by political consultants with survey research in hand.

The people need to take back their government and demand more from those running for office.

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Striking Detroit public school teachers: Brutes and bullies or heroes and servants?

How do you feel about the striking Detroit public school teachers, members of the Detroit Federation of Teachers?  The Detroit Free Press has a discussion board going.  Comments are interesting.

Text-messaging: Michigan needs a law that says you can't do it while driving

A 17-year-old struck a police car while text-messaging a friend in this Detroit-area suburb.  The cop got hurt.  It was pretty dumb and dangerous.

My question:  how long before a Michigan legislator gets a bill drafted and introduces it to make it illegal to drive and text message?  Then legislators from other states will see it and sponsor the same thing.

Would a new law keep drivers from being this stupid or would it be lawmakers trying to justify their existence?  There's plenty of precedent for the latter.

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Don Vickers, Republican candidate in MI 67th, must not be serious about winning

Vickers4I bet Don Vickers would be a great neighbor.  I'm sure he loves his family and that we share many similar values.

He's the Republican candidate for the 67th House District in Michigan which includes some of the southside of Lansing and much rural area.  It's an area that typically votes Democratic.

Having spent most of my working life around the Michigan Legislature, I understand the importance that a state legislator has.  They make decisions that affect my daily life and how much money I get to keep.

Back to Don Vickers.  Check out his position on the issues.  He wants a better business environment for our county.  Wow.  Should I be surprised and swayed by that?  He wants to keep mid-Michigan working.  Another wow.  Does he point to that as a major difference from his opponent.

The cliches continue.  It's sick that voters would accept that.  Do the Republicans want to throw this seat to the Democrats?  Is Vickers really that shallow?  I'm disappointed.

He needs to give me a REAL reason to vote for him.  He hasn't shown me anything.  Voters deserve better candidates and they have a responsibility to pin candidates down about what they stand for and what makes them tick.

Family Life Radio's Midland, MI station at 99.7 takes Lutheran Hour from program line-up

It was late Sunday afternoon and I waited for two of my favorite programs to come on Family Life's Midland, MI station, WUGN-FM, 99.7.  The programs are:

  1. The Lutheran Hour
  2. Unshackled from Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago
I waited and waited and they didn't come on.  With an e-mail inquiry, I found that station manager Peter Brooks decided to take them off.  There was an allusion to perhaps not having a big enough audience.

As a listener to Family Life Radio and as a financial supporter, I am disappointed in their action to remove these programs.

It makes me wonder if this Christian radio network run from Tuscon, AZ is taking a different theological turn.  I remember when the station founder Warren Bolthouse would denounce denominations that differed from his view about baptism and communion.  Those would be Lutheran and Roman Catholic and a couple of others.

Then with the leadership of Dr. Randy Carlson, there seemed to be a spirit of ecumenism without compromising the main message.  Perhaps, it's swinging back the other way.

Are their enough Christians in the blogosphere to let Brooks and Carlson know that such moves would narrow their listening audience and their base of support?

E-mail response can be made to the Midland station and to the FLR corporate offices in Tuscon.

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How does "Snakes on a Plane" add meaning to the life of our culture?

As a baby boomer with a little bit of age, I know I need to be a better guardian of what goes into my head and my heart.  That's why I checked the review done by Focus on the Family of the new movie, Snakes On a Plane.

Now most of my liberal friends will hold up their noses at Dr. James Dobson and his ministry but I respect his organization, even though I don't always agree with what he says. 

That's why I was stunned to see the review of this movie.  It seemed to be more balanced and more factual than any news story in the New York Times or Washington Post, our nation's guardians of truth.  It presents the movie in a very straightforward sort of way.

What about language in the movie.  Review says about 30 uses of the f-word.  "It's combined with 'mother' and it's also used in song lyrics.  Characters take God's or Jesus' name in vain 15 times."

Yeah, this is important.  I don't want to 'dis' my God.  The review also describes sexual content.  And violence.

I think this is a movie I can do without.  It has no value.  I'll take the review's word on it.

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Detroit public school teachers need public relations lesson

I get a real negative view of Detroit public school teachers from a picture in this morning's Detroit News.  Detroit Federation of Teachers members had just voted to strike and you can see the joy and the enthusiasm on the faces of striking teachers.

They look like the Detroit Lions had just won the Super Bowl finally.

Wow.  What is there to be happy about?  While workers around the state are losing their jobs, the teachers refuse to take a five percent cut.  In this picture, they look like self-serving union bullies.  If they don't get their own way, they shut the place down and here in a city where kids really need every bit of help they can get, there's no school.

I hope I'm missing something here.  I know how hard teachers work.  At least, that's my impression of public school teachers.  It might be that way only with private school teachers who probably get paid half of what their public counterparts get paid.

Public school teachers in Detroit need to tell their stories not with a picket line.  Try blogging.  Let us in outstate Michigan and inside the city know what your job is like.  Build a community of support.

Right now, I don't feel your pain.  But, I see the pain you're causing the children in Detroit.

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My "sister" Londa gave me a really nice birthday gift in church

I've really sucked at getting out of the gates with what to do after retiring from my first career as a political staff person.  A few doors seemed to close and I got spooked.  My purpose for the next chapter of my life seemed to be elusive. 

I'm not really old yet, maybe older, but not old and I feel like I still have some innings left in me.  I just haven't been able to put the pieces together and I turn sixty in a few days.

An option seemed to be getting depressed because I couldn't find the handle on the next steps to the next chapter.  And, then my "sister" Londa gave me a birthday card with a present inside of it.  Maybe, she's being used by God as a conduit.

The present was a bracelet.  It's a witnessing tool.  It's black  with stripes of gold, red, white and green and with several icons.  There are also two question marks.  It's a tool to use to share or give witness to my faith in Jesus Christ.

Londa, I'm wearing it and I'm looking forward to using it.  I'm old enough to know that hope doesn't come from money, a job, from political parties, people, family, friends, a title.  It comes from Jesus Christ.  And, I do want to share that. 

What better purpose could there be in life?  I can't think of any.  You? 

My guess is that I'll get into something in addition.  But, I need to ease up and trust.  God created me and he has a plan for me and part of that, right now, is wearing my witnessing bracelet from evangecube.

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Public school teachers say yes to strike in city of Detroit

Kids going to school in the city of Detroit take it on the chin one more time with the decision by teachers to go on strike.  Issues revolved around pay and benefit cuts.  I don't remember the last time that Michigan had a teacher strike.

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Michigan public schools really suck, according to federal standards

The Detroit Free Press reports that 15 percent of Michigan's public schools don't meet federal No Child Left Behind standards.  Number of our state's schools not meeting the standards has grown from 436 last year to 544 this year.  Individual schools face serious consequences.

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