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30 posts from October 2008

Do tax incentives to local businesses help or hurt Lansing (MI) ?

In our city, it seems like the Lansing City Council with Mayor Virg Bernero have created two classes of taxpayers, losers who are homeowners and businesses with specially-granted tax breaks and incentives.

There's talk on the Lansing City Council to declare a moratorium on the special tax treatment for businesses.  This would allow city policymakers to examine the difference between the promise and the performance of this favored treatment for certain businesses.

In this video taken at a special southside meeting today sponsored by City Council-member A'Lynne Robinson, Council-member Wood talks about the proposed moratorium:

Setting budget priorities for Lansing (MI) for the next fiscal year

"Super-wife" and I care about our city, Lansing (MI) and about the issues that our local government is struggling with.  Most of them are affected by a dwindling tax base and falling tax collections and diminishing state assistance.

That's why we went to this morning's meeting between our city council member, A'Lynne Robinson and her constituents on the southside of Michigan's State Capital City. 

For southsiders, this is a must-go meeting where Robinson takes time to listen to residents talk about their concerns and viewpoints.  She also invites other city leaders to talk about issues of concern.

Today, veteran at-large council member, Carol Wood talked about city charter required efforts to present Mayor Virg Bernero with the council's budget priorities for the next fiscal year.  The mayor is then free to accept or reject the council's preferences.

With the declining revenues, the document takes on a new importance.  It's a spending roadmap and should help city hall as choosing which services to pay for becomes more of an issue.  In this video, Wood talks about the document and the background behind it:

Dealing with glaucoma as a member of the first class of baby boomers

If you're a baby boomer, somebody born between 1946 and 1964, have you had to deal with either cataracts and glaucoma?

As a member of the first class of baby boomers, I've dealt with both cataracts and am now managing chronic open angle glaucoma.  Thinking that both diseases were limited to the elderly, I was surprised when I was diagnosed with both.

Today, I went to my ophthalmologist for my six-month appointment where my eye pressure is checked and where my eye is examined.  I count my relationship with Dr. Kevin Liu as key to continuing to manage my disease which could ultimately result in losing my eye sight.

I can tolerate torn up meniscus in my left knee, but I need my sight to function independently.  So, I'm trying to take this very seriously.  I'm writing this both for myself and for other baby boomers who haven't had their eyes checked by an ophthalmologist.

Today, I had the pressure in both eyes checked.  In the past, the pressure in my eyes had been in the 40s and today both eyes were 16 which, according to Dr. Liu, is good for me.

He looked for two other things:  signs of retinal detachment from my history of near sightedness and from the artificial lenses inserted into both eyes because of cataracts and the other being the positioning of the lense  in my right eye.

The retinas in both eyes showed no signs of detachment and the position of the right eye lense was stable, he said.  In the past that lense had to be reattached when it came loose.  Because of my being near-sighted, the shape of my eye lessened the ability of that eye to hold the lense in place.

My goal until my next appointment will be to continue being intentional about taking my two eye drops and learning more about the biology of the eye and the facts about my disease.  I know some facts, but it's in my interest to continue self-educating myself.

For other baby boomers, what's your experience with your eyes?  Cataracts?  Glaucoma?

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Michigan news links: Auto company stocks, gas prices, Detroit deficit, anti-bullying legislation

Here's what I'm reading online this morning about happenings in Michigan and other places:

  • GM and Ford stock took a beating yesterday, according to the Detroit Free Press.  Tightening credit to get car loans is blamed for GM shares losing 65 cents to close t $6.91 and Ford losing 26 cents and closing at $2.66.  Four years ago Ford traded in the mid-teens and GM was above $40.
  • Gas prices in Detroit, Southgate, St. Clair Shores, Ypsilanti and Sterling Heights fell below $3 per gallon, according to the Detroit Free Press this morning.  Customers were seen with big smiles on their faces.
  • City of Detroit faces deficit as high as $150 million amid talk that state and federal government needs to help bail them out, according to the Detroit Free Press.  New Mayor Kenneth Cockrel Jr. is drafting plans to cut the shortage.
  • Anti-bullying legislation is stalled in the State Senate and would die at the end of this year if not passed.  It would require school districts to pass policies about bullying which a Dertoit Free Press article describes as social shunning or ridicule about a range of subjects, including race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, appearance or physical or mental disabilities.

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Is response to John McCain in Macomb County (MI) from Reagan Democrats as sign of coming defeat?

According to this Detroit Free Press story, John McCain does not represent the kind of change that voters are looking for in Macomb County (MI) where Reagan Democrats used to rule.

The economy is driving voters on both sides of the infamous Eight Mile Road in the Detroit area.

The independent-minded blue-collar Democrats are not seeing change from McCain that will help them in their day-to-day lives, according to the story. Obama to them is a change, a roll of the dice, but still a significant change from George W. Bush and the Republicans.

The question: Can Republicans turn around this perception between now and Nov. 4? How can they do this? Will attacks do it or are voters turned off by the mud-slinging?

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I just paid $3.35 per gallon at a Speedway Station in Lansing, MI

Super-wife and I did a couple of errands this morning, including a stop at Hobby Lobby in the southwest Lansing metro area where we filled the tank on our mighty eight-year-old Malibu for $3.35 per gallon. The price put a smile on my face.

During conversations at our daughter's wedding last weekend in Indianapolis, the high price of gas was a steady topic. They were looking for change and their fingers were pointing at oil companies who many of the attendees suspected were gouging consumers.

Anybody in "blogdom" paying less than $3.35 per gallon?

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As father-of-the-bride, I had to work hard to stop the tears

They were almost tears of happiness and joy. It was a privilege to be a part of my daughter's wedding to Adam Jones, now my son-in-law. And walking her down the aisle was extra special beyond description.

I say "almost tears" for a reason. I guess I would have been embarrassed at the time to show the emotion I felt and guys my age just don't cry.

Super-daughter was beautiful and the wedding was personalized to the values and the personalities of each of them. It was perfect.

A sidenote:
I think I've watched Steve Martin in "Father of the Bride" too many times, but Martin's monologue from the movie kept running through my head.  He played a guy who felt some outsider from stealing his very special  daughter.  The movie's a hoot.

I savored each moment at the wedding watching my daughter and Adam and I was reminded how blessed by God I am.  My family is a gift.  Being part of Krista and Justin's life, with super-wife has been the best part of my life.  Now we have Adam and his family melding with ours.  Thank-you Jesus.

By the way, the wedding was streamed live over the Internet using UStream.  There were at least a dozen friends and relatives from various parts of the world who logged in and saw the ceremony as it happened.  It was Justin's handiwork and it's now archived.  I invite you to watch the video:

Free video chat by Ustream

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Giving my daughter away: Remembering the first time I walked her down the aisle

It's countdown time for my favorite daughter's wedding on Saturday.  Right now, I'm sitting on the hardwood floors of her home in Indianapolis waiting for my MacBook Air battery to recharge.

I'm remembering the first time that I walked her down the aisle.  Actually, I pushed her down the aisle within an hour or two after she was born.  There was an hour or so after she was born where my wife was in a recovery room being watched after a full night of labor and then delivery.

Until then the term "walking on clouds" is something that I only heard other people talk about.  Then I experienced it firsthand after super-daughter was born.  Being with my wife through the whole labor and delivery was a magnificent experience.  "Wow" doesn't begin to describe it.

And, then in the recovery room, I got to hold her and all I could do was stare and smile and say, "Wow" a whole bunch of times.  My wife held and cuddled her and then nursed her for the first time.

It was finally time to take that walk from the recovery room to the nursery where she was cleaned up, weighed and evaluated. 

I remember that nurse asked me to push her basinet down the hallway.  I couldn't keep my eyes off her. I was the smiling man walking. It was the start of an abundance of pride I feel about both of our kids, our daughter and our son. 

Day after tomorrow, I walk her down the big aisle.  This time to "give her away."  She will become a missus.  The lucky guy is Adam and I'm still very proud.

Check out this video of her getting flowers ready for her Saturday wedding.

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