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49 posts from October 2009

Did Gov. Granholm have to make state school aid cuts?

So,  what's the deal about Gov. Granholm's cuts of state school aid to Michigan schools?  She said the tax revenues are just not there to support promised support for local public schools.  She's talking about the necessity of tax increases, adjustments, restructuring or whatever you want to call it.

The Republicans are saying that the cuts aren't necessary and that there's enough state revenue to cover state school aid.

Who do you believe?

Check this morning's news accounts:

  • Detroit Free Press reports about an additional cut that Granholm made yesterday in per-pupil state aid of $127.  That's on top of a $165 per student cut she made earlier in the weak.  Read down to the bottom of the first page of the story where House Minority Leader Kevin Elsenheimer says the cuts weren't necessary.  The money's there, he says.
  • Detroit News reports the same cuts and quotes Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop as saying the cut are "ridiculous" and says the legislature's state school aid bill was balanced.

Again, I ask, who is right?  State taxpayers are being fed two different stories.  Does one depend on his or her own internal prejudice or are there a reliable set of facts.

Can local school districts live with these cuts?  How will they affect classroom education?

In Michigan, check who got the 18,000 federal stimulus grants and contracts

I don't have time to play with this too much now, but if you're interested in who got the federal stimulus bucks here in Michigan-the grants, the contracts--the Lansing State Journal has a searchable database.  I plugged in my county--Ingham--and I was surprised.  See if you have the same reaction.  There are more than 18,000 recipients.  Keep in mind, these are companies, units of government and the like. 

Mike Bouchard has porn link on his Facebook feed


Michigan Democrats should not get all self-righteous and haughty when I say this because it can happen to them too.

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Mike Bouchard has a link to porn on his Facebook page.  I have no doubt it's spam, but the fact that it's there points to a huge problem with politicians using social media sites.

I clicked on the link promoting an "amazing video" thinking that Bouchard and his crew put together some kind of viral video for their campaign.  I clicked on it and it was a link to porn.

I looked to his information page for a phone number for his campaign and found none.  I did the same on his Facebook fan page and found no contact information.

What does this show?  He and his campaign are not attentive to the social media that they use.  The new internet tools can be a real asset to a campaign and to building a group that talks with its leader and each other.  But, it can also be a negative.

From my days as a staffer in the Michigan Senate, I remember Bouchard as a real family guy with kids.  Pay attention to this stuff and be sure to add contact info on  your Facebook pages.


I love my son-in-law

Kristaandadam Let me say it flat out.  I love the newest member of our family, my son-in-law, Adam Jones.

It was a little more than a year ago that he married my daughter Krista.  That's my only daughter, firstborn child, my sweet pea and my super-pumpkin.  I had already walked her down the aisle when she was born when I rolled her bassinet from the delivery area to the nursery.  And because of Adam, I had one more aisle to go down with her.

I've seen his heart piece by piece over the past couple of years including the period when they were long distance dating and after they got married.

He loves helping people.  I saw this before they were married and I've seen it consistently since.  Adam is a "love-reflector" where he's bouncing back the love that he's felt in his life from Jesus Christ and from his family.

To him, I apologize for every time I've snarled at you and played the role of Steve Martin in Father of the Bride.  I'm proud of you and who you are.  I'm happy that you're part of our family.

Like you, I thank God for my family, including its newest member.  I am a blessed man.  I love being part of a family.

Krista, you picked well or is it good?


Did Michigan dodge the state budget bullet?

Gov. Granholm has signed the last of the budget bills, according to this morning's Detroit Free Press.  There will be no government shutdown at the end of the month.  What does this mean?

Are the budget battles over in the Michigan Legislature?  Questions at the top of my list:

  • Just what was cut and how will these cuts specifically affect local areas?  Don't count on the news media to provide that information in this age of minimalist reporting.  Areas to look at include local schools and local government which both depend on state aid.
  • What are the best forecasts that more cuts will have to be made again this fiscal year?  State revenues are falling fast, we are being told.  What are the forecasts saying and what further cuts are being discussed?
  • What are your state legislators doing to explain all this?  Everybody in Michigan has a state representative and a state senator.  How visible and accessible are they to talk about these issues?  How knowledgeable are they about the state budget?

Part of a state legislator's job is to be an educator for their constituents.  They need to explain what happened in Lansing and what it means for local and state services and for how much tax your pay.

How would you rate your state legislators in doing this?

Michigan is a "state of strife", says morning newspapers

Did things change overnight to bring Michigan legislators together on a state budget that is almost two months late?  Check these two stories and you decide:

  • Detroit Free Press reports about how bickering is increasing between Gov. Granholm and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop.  And then check towards the middle of the story about how our state's public schools could be facing another $120 per pupil cut this year.
  • Detroit News reports pretty much the same, except they describe the bickering as "wrangling."
How do you as a voter feel about this?  What's the answer?  Remember be nice.

Michigan politicians should learn from this video

The answer to Michigan's growing political strife might be contained in this video about a special needs ministry at the church of my good friend Dave Porter.  He goes to Scottsdale Bible Church in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Get a cup of coffee and watch a couple of times at how these folks interact with each other, the love and respect, honesty, transparency, acceptance and forgiveness that they show.

Isn't that what's lack in our state legislature?

Everybody's trying to score political points while the whole state is losing.  Both sides are to blame.  They fiddle while their state does a big crash and burn.

Watch the video.  Am I right?  There's a huge lesson to be learned here.

Weight Watchers Online: Does it continue to work for me?

It's "Weigh-in Wednesday" here in our household where we step on our Homedics scale to see where we stand in our effort to pare off pounds using Weight Watchers Online.

My motivation for doing this is simple.  I'm sixty-three and too many of the guys I know have had heart attacks, strokes or stents put in coronary arteries.  I'd like to avoid that by dialing down on a big risk-factor, being overweight.

I started knowing that I had what seemed liked a half a ton to lose.  My super-wife joined me in the effort to help me reestablish and refocus my eating habits. 

It's working as we are more careful about what we eat, but not fanatic.  We still have a glass of wine when watching the city council on tv, still have sweet potato french fries on occasion, but we eat a Veggie Delite when we go to Subway.  We've even gone to a few buffets where we picked carefully and recorded what we ate.

What did the scales say this morning?  Here's my chart with the latest:


Lock Gov. Granholm and Sen. Bishop in a room and throw-away the key

Michigan's "burning" while its political leaders are thumbing their noses at each other. 

It's continuing this afternoon between Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop and Gov. Jennifer Granholm with threats and counter threats.  The governor used her line-item veto to take big chunks of school aid money away from affluent school districts.

She's being warned by Bishop to not veto anymore and use that as leverage to raise taxes.  The Detroit Free Press reports his admonition to the governor and also reports that the governor will have a news conference later this afternoon.

How about trying this?

Put the two of them into a cheap tacky motel room without a john, lock the door and tell them they're not getting out til they have a deal. 

Voters of all stripes need to start hollering at both of them.  Or they should be replaced. Enough is enough.

This is doable. Both sides will have to compromise.  The days of lots of state services are over with.  But certain ones need to be kept and enhanced. 

If our leaders can't do this, then they need to step aside and let somebody who can get it done.

City of Standish (MI) says "no" to Gitmo prisoners

The city "fathers and mothers" of Standish (MI) says they do not want the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay Cuba to be transferred to their small town at the bottom of the Saginaw Bay.  

Their small town is home to a state prison slated to close at the end of this month and which is being seriously considered to house detainees from Guantanamo.  This would keep the prison open and it would continue adding to the local economy, but it would also make it the center of international attention.

The Standish City Council resolution, according to the Detroit Free Press, expresses preferences to house other prisoners from within the United States. 

MICHIGAN UGLY: State budget meltdown continues with Gov. Granholm school aid veto

What's happening at the Michigan State Capitol right now is just getting downright ugly.  The lack of relationship between her and the State Legislature is billboarding to the nation our state's inability to govern itself.

The latest installment is reported in this morning's Detroit Free Press which reports about her line-item veto of portions of the state school aid bill.  With the school year underway, she singled out the school aid for the more affluent school districts in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne Counties.  She cut the extra state aid these districts have gotten because of their higher tax base.

This is added to the $165 per student cut which will be made to all school districts.

What's the answer?  

The state of Michigan needs to adjust that its economy will never again, at least not for a long time, produce the revenue to pay for all the services it has.  Will increasing taxes on individuals and families and on businesses be an incentive for growth?

I don't think so.

Will Lansing voters lose becaue of Mayor Virg Bernero being a no-show at WLNS TV6 debate?

4022463013_9e13e17608_o I share the disappointment of City Council-member Carol Wood about Mayor Virg Bernero being a no-show at this Tuesday's debate at WLNS TV 6.  This debate was being anticipated by local voters because of its accessibility on a popular local television station.

The election on Tuesday, Nov. 3 will decide who leads Michigan's Capital City which hangs on the edge of a financial cliff as the city budget continues to greatly contract from reduced state aid and local tax collections.

I share a  Flip video clip of Wood's reaction on the Lansing Online blog where she shares her disappointment with the Mayor's action.  

There's local buzz that Wood is within the statistical margin of error for unseating the city's incumbent mayor.

It's one less chance for a wide-number of Lansing voters to view the candidates and watch them as they sort out their positions on the issues and share their vision for Lansing.

Check out blog by Michigan Lt. Gov. John Cherry, 2010 candidate for governor

I'm in a harvesting mode for information about Michigan leaders and those who want to move up on the state's political food chain.  Here's the blog for Lt. Gov. John Cherry who is running for governor in 2010.  He's a former state senator from the Flint area and comes from a strong union and Democratic background.  As a voter, what kinds of information would you find useful in a candidate's blog?

Good Michigan news: Banner pumpkin crop as Halloween and Thanksgiving nears

Did you know that Michigan has a $15.3 million pumpkin crop and that this is a banner year for the big orange gourds?  Here's a video report from WLNS TV6 in Lansing about how local pumpkin growers are flourishing this season and they expect a big response from families.  Do you buy a Halloween pumpkin?  Are any shipped out of state?

I just joined Facebook group for Mike Bouchard for Michigan governor

I'm doing some serious thinking about what's included in the job description for Michigan governor and what qualities and skills such a leader needs to have.  Any thoughts?  In the meantime, I'm gathering information about candidates.

I just joined the Facebook group for Mike Bouchard.  He's the Oakland County Sheriff, former State Senator and former State House member and a Republican.

As a former State Senate staffer, I sat on the floor with my boss just across from Bouchard and I knew his staff.  Nice people.  But, does he have the necessary values and skills to lead Michigan back to wellness.  Maybe his Facebook group will shed some light.

Have the Democrats rid the U.S. Congress of corruption yet?

If you're following the ethical meanderings of members of the U.S. Congress, then this New York Times report on the status to clean-up corruption is important to read.  There's plenty to investigate, but there seems to be little action, despite beefed up resources.  There's also a new Office of Congressional Ethics with the power to initiate investigations without first having to have a complaint.  Why the inaction? 

Remember, it was the Democrats in the last election who pointed to the corruption and ethical lapses in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.  They blamed Republican-control and they promised to clean it up.

Is it safe to go to church in Michigan this morning?

I never thought about getting either the regular flu or swine flu by going to church until I read this story in today's Detroit Free Press.  It raises questions about going to communion and using the common cup versus individual cup and shaking hands.  We are still going this morning.  Anybody with thoughts about the health safety of doing this?

Did I wear a coat and tie for my PBS "Off-The-Record" appearance?

I left the Off-The-Record studio at WKAR-TV in East Lansing with a regret.  I wish I and the viewers had a chance to become better acquainted with the other bloggers on the panel.

Why is this important?  Well, it was fun, in a way, to show some partisan bravado, but the two bloggers who represented the liberal Democratic side are real people with a story to tell.  And I think that gets lost in a fast-moving discussion of volatile state issues.

If I knew them better and vice-versa, perhaps, we would find that we had more in common about how Michigan needs to deal with its budget quagmire where the state is close to falling over a partisan cliff.

I think that challenge symbolizes the larger problem in the state where both partisan sides fail to make the effort to understand each other and find a middle ground so government can move forward and the state can recover from its free fall into economic oblivion.

About the show, it will go up on the WKAR website at noon today and will start its broadcast on PBS stations tonight.  I invite your comments on this blog.  Be nice.

No I didn't wear a tie, but I wore a blazer with a nice L.L. Bean shirt.  When will I wear a tie again.  Umm. . . maybe never.

Question: How many jobs did federal stimulus money create for Michigan?

Has the federal stimulus program been effective in creating jobs?

Look at the story in today's Detroit Free Press about how it's worked in Michigan.  On a gray cold morning in the Great Lakes state, it makes you want to throw up.  The story says:

In Michigan, about 400 jobs have been saved or created through federal contracts worth around $120 million – which could be read to suggest each job cost about $300,000 to create. In many cases, however, contractors reported that work is only now getting underway – or hasn’t yet – meaning many more jobs are expected to be created or saved.