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56 posts from May 2009

Is Michigan on the verge of becoming ungovernable like California?

I know that I risk being called a drooling, flag-waving right-winger by saying this, but Michigan citizens need to confront the members of and candidates for the state legislature.

Each taxpayer in the state whose concerned about having a future in the Great Lakes State needs to take the latest memorandum from the Mackinac Center's Jack McHugh and ask their state legislators for reaction.

Why? The state can't afford to pay for all the programs it has.

The dilemma: Make substantive cuts to the state budget or make substantive increases in state taxes.

Then the question is about the consequences of raising taxes. Will that encourage or discourage employers from locating here?

McHugh outlines ways that approximately $2.2 billion can be cut from Lansing's budget without being devastating.

He says that plenty of lawmakers talk about budget cuts, but they lack the political will. They will find excuses to not start a serious conversation about getting the job done.

Voters need to educate themselves about this issue and then start grab their lawmakers to respond.

Check out this morning's Huffington Post piece about how California is on the verge of collapse because of the state budget. There's not the political will to make cuts. Could the same happen here?

For liberals into name-calling and ridicule of anybody who might differ from them, I am also overweight, left-handed, wear frayed jeans and, oh yeah, I believe in Jesus Christ as my savior. And I'm pro-life.

Is it right for Warren (MI) Mayor Jim Fouts to require employees to purchase only American cars?

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts demands that his employees only buy American cars if they want to keep their jobs. The Detroit Free Press this morning writesthat he's trying to get governmental units in his area to do the same.

Is it right to for an employer to take away his employees freedom to shop where they want and to buy the vehicles they want.

President Obama is running the auto industry, like it or not

This column by the Detroit News' Daniel Howes is worth a read by anybody in Michigan or with an interest or stake in the auto industry.

In it, he carefully outlines how President Obama came to Detroit made promises about how he'd change the auto industry and now he's doing everything he said.

He notes Obama's assertion that he doesn't want to run the auto industry, but Howes says he already is:

The president says he doesn't want to run the auto business. But the undeniable fact is that he and his proxies already are, whatever they say. Which means this: However Detroit's Great Restructuring ends, this president will own the results.

The outcome of these changes, good or bad will belong to Obama, he concludes.

Is President Obama keeping the hurt on Michigan with new auto mileage standards?

Any thoughts out there about how President Obama's new mileage standards for cars will affect Michigan?

The new standards will make cars more expensive, according to estimates in a Detroit Free Press story this morning. One of the reasons cited for declining car sales has been price.

About extra costs for the mileage improvements, the Free Press says:

The new rules will increase the costs of meeting fuel economy standards by $600 per vehicle to a total of $1,300 in 2016, a senior administration official said. The administration did not provide a total cost to the industry, but previous estimates for meeting 35 miles per gallon by 2020 had run more than $100 billion.

Here's what Pastor David Maier tells eighth graders about going into high school and beyond

Yesterday, we went to the confirmation service for our goddaughter Sarah. It was held at Our Savior Lutheran Church just outside Lansing (MI).

What do you tell 13-14 year-olds getting ready for high school in a rapidly-changing world. These are kids who publicly stated their desire to be faithful to Jesus Christ in their everyday lives. How do they walk their talk.

Pastor David Maier gave them the answer. Here's the first part of what he had to say that I recorded with my Flip video camera:

How are everyday mid-Michigan people being affected by bad economy?

Pastor Noel Heikkinen of Riverview Church in Holt (MI) has a real conversation going on in his "marketplace" here in the heart of mid-Michigan.

He leads a big Gen X and Gen Y church of 20 and 30 year-olds trying to get established in their jobs and in their families.On a blog post, he asked them to share how tough economic times in the Great Lakes State were affecting them. He asked their response to three questions:

1) Have you been personally impacted by the recession?

2) If yes, how?

3) On a scale of 1 (Scared out of my mind) to 10 (Incredibly hopeful), how are you feeling?

Check out the answers in the comment section. They are real world Michigan right now.

Way to get the conversation going, Pastor Noel. I'm anxious to hear your response in an upcoming sermon series.

Here's how Michigan is spending the federal economic stimulus money

We all know that Michigan got more than $7 billion in federal economic stimulus money. You might wonder where it's all going.

The state of Michigan has a website where it provides a breakdown county by county along with other useful information about how the money is being used.

Check out your county. Got any questions or do you see anything that doesn't quite match with what you've heard?

What does Detroit News and Detroit Free Press cut of 150 jobs mean for future?

I just found this story on Crain's Detroit Business website about how the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News is cutting 150 positions. The cuts are not related to the recent reduction in home delivery.

The Free Press is owned by Gannett which recently shuttered its Tuscon newspaper.

What does this mean for these two newspapers?

Are they moving towards the same fate?

My Lutheran pastor blogging buddy had fun watching Angles and Demons with his sons

It's not a movie that will change your life, but Angels and Demons is fun to watch, according to Pastor David Maier in his blog, Fighting Forward.

He saw the movie with his two sons, one a college student and the other a recent college graduate and they had fun watching what he described as a fast-paced adventure about the Roman Catholic Church.

Don't expect the movie to have any connection to the truth about the Roman Catholic church and don't expect anything that will loosen the grip of your faith in Jesus Christ.

Sounds like it's a Vaticanized version of the television show "24."

Ask Your State Lawmaker: Are Michigan job creation programs just political eyewash?

During the past several years I've heard all kinds of politicians here in Michigan from the governor to the mayor bleat loudly about all the jobs created because of tax abatements.

A story in today's Detroit Free Press seems to put such claims in the category of political eyewash.

There all big announcements when the tax breaks are awarded. Pictures are taken with politicians smiling because of all the jobs to be created.

The Free Press story looks at the promise of 195 tax breaks and then looks at how they delivered.

Grab your state lawmaker or candidate for state legislature and get their response to the story. Ask them if it's time to reexamine this policy and possibly try something new.

Is it safe to say that for every dollar of tax break given to a business that homeowners have their property tax bill increased by a like amount?

Ask them. Don't let them off the hook.

A Dad Brag: My son, Justin Thorp, named Tech Titan in Greater Washington, D.C.

Maybe some of you remember the hubbub over the cover of Washingtonian magazine where President Obama is seen bare chested.

Thumb through that issue and you'll come to a big article about the most influential people in 3499395816_f599cf3447 technology in the Greater Washington, D.C. area and go down the list where you'll find a guy with the same last name as mine.  Yup, our son, Justin, was named as a Tech Titan. 

He was recognized with two other young techies for bringing together the diverse tech community in the nation's capital.  The magazine said:

Peter Corbett, founder, TwinTech; Frank Gruber, cofounder, Tech Cocktail; and Justin Thorp, community manager, Clearspring. These three rising stars are playing a key role in strengthening the community ties of the diverse Washington tech world through their online outreach and offline social gatherings.

It's pretty neat.  He's always had a special skill and interest in getting people together for an event.  He has carried this interest and skill into his work as the community manager for a small startup, Clearspring in Tysons Corner, VA.

Way to go Justin.  We are proud of you. 

The Future of Work by Time magazine

Just picked up my new Time from the coffee table with a cover story about how work is changing. Try this cover copy out and share your reaction:

"Throw away the briefcase: you're not going to the office. You can kiss your benefits goodbye too. And your new boss won't look much like your old one. There's no longer a ladder, and you may never get to retire, but there's a world of opportunity if you figure out a new path."

Then its goes on to promote the inside story about Ten lesson for succeeding in the new American workplace.

How would the closing of the Lansing State Journal affect mid-Michigan?

The company that owns the Lansing State Journal, Gannett, today is closing down its Tuscon Citizen because it couldn't find a buyer for $800,000, according to the Washington Post.

  • What if the our local newspaper met the same fate?
  • How would our area be affected by the closing of the only daily tied to mid-Michigan?
  • What role does it play in keeping local government accountable?

For decades, criticism of the State Journal has been a staple of coffeeshop conversation.

Now the question is how close we are to having our newspaper meet the same fate as the Tuscon Citizen.

Would the closing of the State Journal have as much impact as the closing of a General Motors plant?

It's time for a serious look at the role of the news media in our area. Don't you think?

What can Lansing (MI) learn from the Fall Place neighborhood in Indy?

Good, livable neighborhoods are important to a city and this column from the Indy Star's Matthew Tully reinforces that.

He writes about a showcase neighborhood--Fall Creek Place--in Indianapolis that was brought back from the edge of the cliff where it was one of the most crime ridden and run down areas of the city. Beautiful and restored is the way it is described now.

Check the Fall Creek Place Homeowner's Association website.

Tully adds:

I've been working on a theory lately. It says that over the next decade, as neighborhoods such as Mapleton-Fall Creek go, so will go Indianapolis. Essentially, it says a strong city can't be hollowed out. And while it's impossible to guarantee a neighborhood can be rejuvenated, it's good to know people are trying.

In our city, the state capital of Michigan, Mayor Virg Bernero makes you feel guilty if you talk about the importance of the neighborhoods. He says the downtown area needs to be the first focus of redevelopment.

With the tanking economy, the neighborhoods face serious challenges.

We select a new mayor this fall and, so far, we've heard little debate about either downtown or neighborhood redevelopment. There's been a press release type of rhetoric, but not much more.

Residents need to speak up and demand it.

Anybody agree? Disagree?

Having a coffee with Father Jack Lumanog on Friday afternoon

I came away with one key thought from my conversation with Father Jack Lumanog this afternoon.  He says, he's obsessed with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  That phrase stuck with me and has not slipped off my mental teflon.

Father Jack is the rector of Christ The King Anglican Church in DeWitt where my wife and I have been attending and active during the past year.  He's first generation American from Filipino parents who resettled in this country.

The church is part of the Anglican Mission In America (AMIA) which is a mission movement  started by the Anglican Church of Rwanda.  In this Flip video clip, he shares some of his vision for his church in mid-Michigan: