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31 posts from April 2009

Is Michigan's Delta County opening a debtors prison?

Does this sound fair to you?

A woman could not pay a hundred dollar bill her young son racked up for juvenile detention in Michigan's Delta County in the Upper Peninsula so the judge threw her in jail for 30 days, according to George Bullard of the Detroit News.

The mom had a part-time job where she received a check that would have barely covered her son's bill from the county. Instead, they took her check to pay for her month long jail stay.

Is it time to stop making Michigan prisoners pay for their jail stay?

Sounds like it's starting to be used as a revenue enhancer and not a tool to promote justice.

Everybody agree?

How much is Michigan being hurt because of a skeleton State Capitol press corps?

If you live in Michigan or any other state for that matter, I offer a challenge. Try to follow the happenings of the State Legislature and the rest of state government. Look for news about your state legislators and about what issues are being debated and voted on.

Where do you go?

The press corps at the Michigan State Capitol is hardly big enough to be a shadow of its former self. When I was the Press Room Manager at the State Capitol from the mid-70s to the late 90s, the Press Corps usually had 45 or more active members.

How many does it have now? Ten? Fifteen? There can't be many more and more than likely there are less.

Keep in mind, state capitol reporters are the eyes and the ears of the people of Michigan. They shine the light of public attention on our government apparatus and those involved in it.

It's just not happening anymore. What does this mean? State voters don't have any place to get steady ongoing information about the who, what, when, where, how, why and so what of their state government in Lansing.

We are in the dark and at the mercy of politicians who try to bend information to their benefit.

The National Conference of State Legislators says state capitol press corps have been downsized more than 30 percent since 2003.

That hurts us all, especially during at time when state government plays such an important role in our everyday lives.

To protect Michigan blueberry growers, should U.S. put tariff on imports?

I love blueberries?

Let me count the ways: blueberry pancakes, blueberries on vanilla ice cream, blueberries on oatmeal, blueberries on dry cereal. You name it.

The state of Michigan produces about one-third of all blueberries in the United States, but is being threatened by imported blueberries from South America.

This Detroit News story tells about how blueberry prices will plummet this year. Will the drop in prices affect supply?

Is it time for a tariff on the foreign imports?

Can you grow a green lawn in Michigan without phosphorous?

I remember growing up by the Saginaw Bay (MI) and seeing all the muck and the algae in the water, especially by the shoreline. It was an uninviting witches brew that was not inviting.

The answer or, at least, part of the answer according to Bay County government is to ban the use of phosphorous in fertilizers for residential lawns.

This story in the Bay City Times chronicles the reaction of lawn care companies in the area and stores selling phosphorous free fertilizer.

Will this clear the bay of the muck and algae?

Is this a good local law? Should it become a state law?

Pastor Paul Kummer at Grace Lutheran Church in Destin, Florida needs a blog

I'm glad that we worshipped this morning--Palm Sunday--at Grace Lutheran Church in Destin, FL. Pastor Paul Kummer led a dynamic service that would be alien to most members of a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) congregation.

People seemed happy to be in church and they showed it in a variety of ways that's not part of the experiential base of most Lutherans. There were hints that Grace Church is really touching this part of the panhandle of the state. But, a blog would help people see a fuller picture. I'll share why I feel that in a minute.

Some of the things from this morning's service:

  • There was more than 20 minutes of praise song singing at the beginning of the service led by a music director with a pony tail and with a band that included a saxophone player and a young female drummer.
  • After an infant baptism at the beginning of the service, the pastor took the baby throughout the sanctuary in celebration of the new spiritual birth.
  • There was clapping, raising of hands and smiles with really senior senior citizens singing and swaying to the music.
  • The pastor has a speech problem which complicates his speaking of certain word, but he still talked about a difficult passage on submission and he provided application.
  • There seemed to be a full-fledged mission program at the church that included local missions as well as international.

P4050110 I'm really intrigued by the ministry there and I'm interested in learning more.  There are obvious questions that come to my mind that might help extend the reach of this Florida church reach me in the north.  I'm sure it's reaching people far outside the area, but what would happen if Pastor Kummer had a blog where he had frequent, short, transparent posts about him and his life, the church, its people and happenings and how it was touching people for Jesus Christ.

I will look again at the traditional website, but there's only so much that can be included to make it current and relevant.

Would a blog help?  It could.  But so many pastors don't know how to use this powerful tool to build their ministry. 

For Pastor Paul, it might be worth a try.

Are you curious about the details of that first Palm Sunday?

In less than a half hour, we leave to attend the worship service at Grace Lutheran Churchin Destin, Florida where they attending during their snowbird stay here.

It's Palm Sunday, a special day in the church year. I'm trying to get my heart and my attitude ready for a time of worshipping God. But . . . I've been to Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter Services all my life and they seem to blend together in their blahness.

I'm not putting that on anybody other than myself. Today, I want to feel the presence of God at the service.

Thinking back to that first Palm Sunday where Jesus entered Jerusalem, I wonder how many people saw him make the entrance into the city. A thousand? Several thousand?

Did the people shout and scream or were they just curious? How many knew who we really was?

How much buzz did his entrance into the city create? Was there a lot of word of mouth?

If that happened today, do you think it would have been a topic in the blogosphere? Would CNN have been there live? Who from CNN would have covered, one of their big gun reporters or a lesser light?

God bless your Palm Sunday. It's an important day to observe. It's leading to Easter in a week.

Do you feel drug companies should be given a free pass from lawsuits in Michigan?

Read this story about how drug companies are given a free pass from lawsuits in Michigan and then tell me whether you think that's fair or not. And then call up your state legislators and ask them whether it's fair.

Check their knowledge of the issue and whether they are trying to answer with political mumbo jumbo that's fueled by an attitude that's based on fact.

This story presents very real life situations in Michigan where people get hurt by drug company mistakes and victims of those mistakes have no recourse to file a lawsuit.

Michigan legislators created a shield from those lawsuits more than 10 years ago with the hope of luring drug manufacturers into the state. It hasn't worked because they've been moving out.

State legislators are trying to change this.

Voters might want to weigh in on this one, particularly babyboomers who are approaching the age where health care issues become more relevant.

My online Sunday a.m. reading

Here's what I'm reading on the web while sitting at my aunt and uncles table in the little apartment attached to their house in Destin, Florida before I shower and get ready for church:

  • Dark clouds are going to linger for Michigan as the whole mess over the economy continues to get sorted out. This column by Susan Tompor of the Detroit Free Press adds to the gloom that already exists in our state. Check the comments of economists Patrick Anderson and David Littmann. What they are saying is hard to swallow.
  • House Speaker Andy Dillon is talking about putting a tax overhaul on a special statewide ballot this November. There are lots of issues revolving around taxes and watch out if something is put together without the fortitude to get a consensus. The Free Press lists these challenges in a story today.
  • Today's lead editorial in the Detroit Free Press looks at how Michigan got into its current budget mess where revenues miss meeting expenses by more than a $100 million each month. The answers, according to the editorial, lie mainly with changes to the tax code where somebody ends up paying more. Serious cuts to the budget are not really mentioned, other than to state employee pensions and healthcare.

Our GPS took us right to the front door of my aunt and uncle in Destin, FL

It's almost bedtime here in Destin, FL where super-wife and I are taking a few days to visit and stay with my aunt and uncle and to just unwind a bit and to mentally try on the title of snowbird.

I can't say that we will do the babyboomer thing and spend our winters in Florida.  I think I'd miss my snowblower too much, but I can say that I'm struck by a number of items.  First,  I've got so much to be thankful for.  God has really blessed me which makes me excited about celebrating this Easter.  Here are some trip notes:
  • Our new Honda Civic:  What a great car for a trip like this.  First off, we got 37 miles-per-gallon, the most I've ever gotten in any car.  It was very comfortable to ride in and to drive.  It made love to the road.  I hope that this kind of ride and performance continues.
  • Traffic was very manageable all the way down.  There were a couple of instances where traffic on I-65 pinched down to one lane, but I've had longer delays around 496 in the Lansing area.
  • We both love sweet potato french fries which we ate at a small south Alabama town just before entering Florida.  They were great.  I'd eat too many if we got them around home.
  • Our adopted church, Christ The King Anglican Church, in DeWitt where we've been attending and assimilating since last July will be missed during Holy Week.  We are thankful for how God is blessing them and us.  We will miss you tomorrow and on Easter Sunday.
  • My aunt and uncle in their 80's have been tremendous.  We have caught up some and talked a bunch and I shot a video on my Flip video camera with my uncle talking about his World War II experiences until the camera literally  broke.
Here are some video menmentos before it broke starting with this morning:

In Holland (MI), the Tulip Time festival gives the boot to Right To Life float

Holland, Michigan on the state's westside and in the heart of it's Bible belt is the last place that you would expect a Right To Life float to get booted from a parade.

But that's what happened when officials of the city's annual Tulip Time festival said it wouldn't allow for the first time in three decades a local Right to Life group to enter enter a float in its parade, according to the Grand Rapids Press.

Reason given was that the festival's new nonprofit status didn't allow any organizations trying to influence a legislative agenda. However, the local Republican group has been given the green light to have a float.