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40 posts from June 2009

Lansing (MI) City Council-member A'Lynne Robinson listens and shares


1)  Discussion about new liquor store on Holmes and MLK.

2)  Further discussion about the liquor store.

3)  Colonial Village neighborhood leader expresses concern about store.

4)  Concerns raised about chemicals used to kill MLK grass.

Lots of relevant issues to the southside of Lansing (MI) came up and were discussed at today's "Second Saturday" meeting sponsored by City Council-member A'Lynne Robinson.  It was held at the Hill Vocational Center, the site of yet-to-open Southside Community Center.

Video 19 00m 04s Topics of interest discussed at the meeting included:

  • Homeowner reaction to the opening of a new liquor store on the northeast corner of Holmes and Logan.
  • Chemical spraying of grass on the boulevards and rights-of-way on Martin Luther King as a means to kill grass so money doesn't have to be spent to cut it.
  • Reaction to rising tensions between some citizen commenters at Lansing City Council meetings and council-members raising concerns for public safety.
  • A report about the "On The Boulevard" Business Association and their plans to plan southside community events.

I share this information as an interested citizen who lives in the southside.  I have short video segments taken with my small Flip video camera.  I was also limited in the number of questions I was able to ask to clarify and expand points.  I will try to point out those information gaps as I come to them.

The videos will be on my "The Lansing Blog" and may be cross posted to my neighborhood blog. 

I welcome comments and questions.

Meet MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, the new face of the Republican Party

I should be up to my eyeballs in political involvement. It has been in my blood since I was a kid. I've worked around it all my life and I've felt a lot of passion about my political philosophy.

However, since I retired four-and-a-half years ago as a legislative staffer, I've found myself more interested in the bird feeders in my backyard, then getting involved in a political campaign or a political cause.

To me it seemed that Republicans lost sight of their true identity. They wanted to win for winning's sake. They've been struggling and face their end if they don't rediscover it.

That changed when we visited our son Justin this past week in Washington D.C. and we watched Morning Joe on MSNBC with Joe Scarborough and friends.

He talked about his book "Last Best Hope" and I was hooked.

Our country is facing an oncoming freight train brought on by huge debt and growing need.

Scarborough defines real conservatism that's several football fields away from the angry conservatism heard on talk radio and by the ideologues in the Republican Party.

He points to one of the big players in the cause of our problems as George W. Bush who he describes as a real liberal and a radical liberal at that.

How does the Republican Party get back into the mainstream. He says not by selling out its values, but by going back to them.

I'm reading the book on my Kindle 2 and I'll post more in-depth.

In the meantime, here's a review from Christopher Buckley, the son of the late William Buckley, author of Up From Liberalism.

Is Scarborough the new face of the party? Could be.

How much salary will GM CEO Fritz Henderson get paid by taxpayers?

Fritz Henderson, the General Motors CEO, says he will probably stay on as the company's top guy once it emerges from bankruptcy, according to an AP story on today.

With the taxpayers owning GM now, the question has to be raised about how much salary we will pay him.

Remember several months back when the U.S. Congress forced Detroit auto execs to drive to D.C. rather than take their private jets. The argument was that it cost less.

Will the GM CEO's pay receive the same kind of scrutiny or will he be paid millions like his predecessors?

As the source of the funds for their operation, the taxpayers should have a right to know what top GM execs will be paid. Don't you think?

New Detroit daily newspaper to start within next two months

Can a new daily newspaper in the Detroit-area be successful?

It seems like we will have a chance to find out with the start of the new Detroit Daily Press which, according to Crain's Detroit Business will start publishing in the next 60 days.

Two brothers, Mark Stern and Gary Stern, who have had newspapers in other states are the publishers and the investors in the project where the new daily paper will sell for 50 cents during the week and a $1 on Sunday.

Will it attract the necessary advertising and readers? Is there a market for a new "dead tree" newspaper in the Detroit-area?

This is all being started without govenrment aid, I believe.

Fact: General Motors has been nationalized by the federal government

Daniel Howes, business columnist for the Detroit News, has a worthy read this morning about the present operational status of General Motors.

He takes on the assertion by President Obama and his automotive industry restructuring team that the federal government is not in the auto business.

Howes writes that it's time to settle this fiction. General Motors has been nationalized by the federal government. We--the taxpayers--are in the car business.

He writes:

The White House, key members of Congress and the president's investment-banker agents on the auto task force are undeniably in the car business, calling shots on plants, products, restructuring, a new chairman and a carefully selected slate of would-be directors for a reconstituted board.

Has anybody seen a full list of GM dealers targeted for shutdown?

I may have missed it, but has anybody seen a full list of the 1,300 GM dealers slated for closing?

Today's the deadline day, according to the Detroit Free Press, for the targeted dealers to decide whether they will accept their fate with the auto company.

In contrast to Chrysler, I've never seen a list of GM dealers pegged for closing. There have been dealers quoted in random news stories who have said their dealership agreements were not being renewed, but I haven't seen a list.

Who in Michigan got a closure notice?

Are they going to contest it?

Ask super-wife what she was doing twenty-five years ago today

It was a hot day twenty-five years ago in Lansing when Gladys and I were walking from garage sale to   P6060051 garage sale in our old neighborhood and she was starting to feel contractions.  She was getting ready to deliver our son, Justin, who came early on June 10.

We've been in Washington, D.C. for the past several days helping him celebrate his birthday.  His apartment on Capitol Hill has been a base for visiting sites we haven't seen before. 

This time we went to the Food & Wine Festival at National Harbor, more exploration of Georgetown, checked out the new visitors' center at the U.S. Capitol and we had plenty of good conversation.

God has blessed us with two great kids, Justin and Krista and a great son-in-law, Adam Jones. 

Justin tomorrow's special.  Happy Birthday!

There's no more pretending about our free market economy

Don't read this Detroit Free Press story about how President Obama's team called the shots on the Chrysler bankruptcy on a full stomach. They made and executed all the plays. They were running the show.

Back in the old days those kinds of actions by government would only be taken in governments that felt it could make better decisions than its people.

The prevailing thought seems to be that government knows better.

What other areas are they going to extend that attitude to?

This change could go in a real scary direction.

Just advance ordered "The Last Best Hope" by MSNBC's Joe Scarborough

I thought I was listening to Barry Goldwater as I sat on the couch with our son Justin listening to Morning Joe on MSNBC. Listening to Joe Scarborough I found myself getting excited about politics and being conservative.

His new book "The Last Best Hope--Restoring Conservatism and America's Promise" comes out on June 9 and I pre-ordered for my Kindle 2.

Talking about his book he talks clearly about the difference between Republicanism and conservatism. Right on.

I didn't realize he had been a member of the U.S. Congress from Florida.

I will read it and will get back.

I say "no" to Sen. Tom George as next Michigan governor

Sen. Tom George, a Republican from Kalamazoo, wants to be governor of Michigan. I say "no" because of his support for our state's give-away program to Hollywood film producers.

Michigan's program pays Hollywood producers almost half of their production costs to make a film in our state.

Everybody agrees that the state doesn't get back the amount that it pays to have Hollywood stars do their thing in our state. This year Michigan will write a check for more than $80 million to have Clint Eastwood and others make films here.

In this morning's Lansing State Journal, Sen. George agrees that the program is not giving the state a positive payback, but he's still for it. Here's what the story reports:

Michigan Sen. Tom George, R-Texas Twp., said he supports Michigan's incentive program because of the production activity it has drawn to the state. But he has no illusions about whether Michigan's effort brings in more tax revenue than it gives away.

"We don't get back what we pay out," said George, who wants to cap the annual payout, either on a per-film or per-year basis. "We don't even get back half."

Now consider that Michigan's faces historical deficits in its state budget. Real needs will not be met because of it.

Do we want a governor who wants to continue spending almost $100 million a year of taxpayer money for eye candy that has no practical return?

I don't.

Your opinion?

GM to thumb its nose at public about financial disclosure

GM's contention that it will share less financial information than it did as a publicly-held company doesn't go down well with my oatmeal this morning. The car is now considered as a privately held company and not subject to the same disclosure requirements.

The Detroit Free Press this morning writes that GM execs said they will loosen this up once they start selling stock in the next year or so.

The taxpayers borrow big bucks to keep them in business and now they won't share how they're using our money. There's something not right about that.

Does GM sale of Hummer mean China will replace Detroit as auto center?

The Chinese are buying Hummer from General Motors, according to the New York Times. The Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company LTd. has a preliminary agreement to buy the company.

Doesn't that make the Washington Post's story from last month about China becoming the epicenter of the auto industry more relevant?

Didn't the Hummer start as a military vehicle called a Humvee? Will they make the military model too?

Hang on the auto world is changing fast.

Michigan is feeling brunt of latest GM cuts

I read this Detroit News story about how yesterday's General Motor's cuts were affecting Michigan and I almost wanted to throw-up.

Of course, there's the closing of the auto plants, but there's also the side effects.

There's the reduced revenues from property taxes. Take Oakland County and what the Detroit News reported:

The county is already bracing for an expected $80 million a year drop in property taxes related to job losses and foreclosures through 2012, and the GM plant closing will further exacerbate the financial squeeze.

How are other local units of government responding to property tax losses? Are they planning for it? What services will be affected?

Here's the headline about GM bankruptcy delivered to our front porch

The mid-Michigan area seems to have escaped the major fallout from yesterday's GM filing for bankruptcy.  It's plants will stay open and might even get more business.  But there's still a buzz of concern about whether consumers will buy the cars produced.  That could be the game-changer for the area.  Here's the page one banner headline from our Lansing State Journal:

Video 4 00m 08s

A LIFE GOAL: Visit every Starbucks coffee shop in the world

This is a fun read from the Wall Street Journal about a 37-year-old freelance software programmer who wants to visit every Starbucks in the world. He's at 9,000 stores where he goes in gets a coffee and takes a picture.

What drives this guy? Can a specific goal be that big of a motivator with the kind of fuel you need to get as far as he has? Or is he just obsessive compulsive?

The story has a certain amount of novelty value and it's entertaining. Check out his blog and you'll be fascinated. But there has to be a lesson here someplace.

Michigan needs to cut-out Mitch Albom's column today

I almost didn't read Mitch Albom's column in this morning's online Detroit Free Press. But, I'm glad I did and I think everybody in the state of Michigan should either print or cut it out.

Here's why: It's not easy living in our state right now and it's easy to wonder if the noose around its neck will ever loosen and come off. We seem to be headed for a future where new college graduates will scramble for a fast food job.

There don't seem to be any answers. Politicians in the state seem like our neighbor's dog who spends the day chasing his tail.

Albom, the author of Tuesday's With Morrie and other books, provides a vital reminder in the last sentence of his column.

He says the state has fallen down. It's going through the loss of a major chunk of its identity, its relationship with the auto industry. With that came a feeling of strength and a hope for the future.

He goes on to say that the challenge is not that we've fallen, but it's how we get up.

Lots of food for thought there.

How are we going to get up in this post auto industry age?