Reading the news: A plan to downsize and reshape the city of Detroit

This is part of my effort to stay informed about what's happening in my city, state and around the country.  I know that I need to be aware of what's happening in the world.  It seems like there's an over abundance of information.  Nevertheless, here's an item from my reading this morning:

  • Detroit Free Press story about the Detroit Works Long-Term Planning report which looks at how the city can be reshaped to make it more livable. 

It involves the resettlement of wide-areas of people and the creation of farms and orchards inside the city.  A total redesign is the target to deal with the vast stretches of the city that are vacant.  It aimes to provide a way to make the city more manageable.

Are there other cities that have undergone the same kind of transformation?  In this country and outside?  How do the residents of the area react?  How long does it take?

The day I cursed out the trap beneath my kitchen sink

The problem

I really thought I could fix the pvc pipe that became disconnected from the trap underneath my sink. I have absolutely no-confidence in myself as a do-it-yourselfer.  But, we needed to use the sink and it looked as simple as sticking the two pieces back-together.

My background includes nothing of this sort.  I had no dad around to show me and my uncles, well, they had their own kids.  I felt left behind with that kind of thing.

Kept coming apart

When I emptied out the cupboard beneath the sink, I crawled under.  I looked at each piece and tried to size up the situation.  It didn't seem complicated.  I kept asking myself what I'm missing.  I would join the two pieces and they would come apart again.  Keep in mind that they had been joined together for the more than ten years we had lived there.

I used every neuron in my brain that had been developing over six decades.  The two would not stick together.  I've tried home repairs before and I seemed to have a similar outcome.  

You are stupid

That's when the tapes started playing in my head.  I could hear them plainly.  "You're stupid.  You're a shithead.  I'm an asshole.  This shit should be simple and I can't even do that."

Then I started to vocalize my feelings about what I tried and failed at.  The air started to turn blue.

The problem was that my son was in the living room and he heard me.  This added to my personal humiliation over something that anybody should be able to do.  I made myself look smaller in my grown son's eyes.

I'm sure he doesn't know how to do it either.  I never showed him because I never learned.  He has a pretty good self-concept though and he knows where his strengths are.  

He loves me, I know, regardless of whether I can hook two pipes together.  He's a great guy who loves unconditionally.

There's a lesson here

A lesson for all the do-it-yourself guys and dads out there:  Pass it on to your sons and other young guys.  What a great project for guys in a church.  In my church where I went every Sunday with my mom, I don't think the adult guys even knew my name.

For my grandson, learn everything you can from your dad and your other grandfather.  Make use of their knowledge. I know they want to share it.  

I'm proud to support Walt Sorg and his candidacy for the 67th House District in Michigan


That's me on the left carrying Walt's banner in the July 4th parade in Lansing.

Somebody on Facebook expressed surprise that a conservative like me would support a liberal like Walt Sorg for the Michigan House of Representatives in the 67th District.  

First, I can't actually vote for Walt because he's not in my district, but I would if he was.  Next, let me be completely open about my relationship with him.  I've known him for at least four decades give or take a couple of years.

We have worked together as reporters and on the staff of the Michigan Legislature.  We have socialized and we have helped each other when necessary.  I have seen his ups and downs and he has seen mine.

He knows how to govern and he knows that you need people from the other side to do it.  He listens and he reacts and it's not some phony exercise to create the illusion of communication.  If he disagrees, he'll let you know and he's open for continued conversation.

Walt is open and transparent.  He hasn't tried to hide that he has had bad knees or that he has struggled in keeping his weight down.  He's had financial and health challenges.  He's a real person.

He was there when I needed help cutting a tree down and he was there when I needed a place to stay when I found myself homeless for a week.

What about the philosophical differences?  What are labels worth anymore.  Mitt Romney calls himself a conservative and he was the father of the health plan in his state that President Obama used as a template nationally.  Romney says Obamacare is wrong, but it's the same as Romneycare on the state level.

Relationships are key in politics and I don't even no who's running on the Republican side in the 67th District.  I've seen Walt at every community function I've been at.  He's listening and he's talking.

I'd vote for him if he was in my district, the 68th.

It's too easy to write-off Michigan ballot proposals as "political bullshit"

I would understand if you said your tolerance for "political bullshit" hit full a long time ago and you just want all the television commercials, robocalls and door-to-door to go away.  For much of the time, I'm there myself.  But . . .

I know that I could spend the rest of my time on the political sidelines and instead of reading about ballot proposals and candidates I could read, watch videos and look at pictures of my grandchildren, my grandson, my unborn granddaughter and grandkids yet to come.

But I've made a choice, my grandkids, my kids and my wife are still at the top of the list.  But, as part of that, I know that I have to be involved in the politics of the day in some fashion.

That includes the six ballot proposals that we will probably be asked to vote on.  I want to know the pros and the cons, the who, what, when, where, how and why and, especially, the so-what.

To start out, here's a story by Tim Martin of the Associated Press about the six proposals with bulleted point for each one.  These are important and each one has consequences.  

Don't expect me to start going door-to-door for a candidate, but I feel some involvement coming on.


Who could spit a cherry pit farther, President Obama or Mitt Romney?

This was the first time I ever heard about cherry pit spitting competitions with the international version happening right here in Michigan.

It got me to thinking after reading a story about the competition in the Detroit News about how a contestant one year spit a pit more than 90 feet.  Think about that, the size of the pit and how far that is.  That would be a remarkable feat.

Just how remarkable are our politicians?  How far could they spit a cherry pit.  President Obama?  Mitt Romney?  Members of Congress?  Members of the Michigan Legislature?  City Council?

I think I'm ready to go to Meijers and buy some cherries.  

Is this possible event for the next Olympics?

YOU VOTE: Should it be harder for the Michigan Legislature to raise your taxes?

I've been on a political fast for the past couple of years where I've felt little motivation to get involved or take a position for a variety of reasons.  I'm feeling my attitudes changing.  

My attention was drawn by a piece on the Facebook page for the Michigan League for Human Services where they write about a petition being circulated to allow voters to decide whether 2/3 of the legislaure are needed to increase taxes.  That raises the degree of difficulty to get a tax increase to almost impossible.  

There are pros and cons on this issue and I look forward to seeing them presented and argued.

Here's a start:

  1. An Action Alert from the Michigan League for Human Services warning how such a limitation could cripple public advances in our state
  2. Michigan Alliance for Prosperity Website  which is the sponsoring group behind the petitions.  A cursory glance of the site doesn't show who its sponsor are.
  3. An mLive newstory about the effort to increase the number of lawmakers required to pass an increase.

Tom Greene, former Michigan State Capitol reporter, deserves to be remembered for a lot of reasons

I remember when I was a very young reporter at the Michigan Capitol and Tom Greene introduced himself.  He was a big shot television correspondent for a Detroit station and he took time to take an interest in me.

It wasn't a phony insincere interest.  He always asked me about my single-mom in Bay City, especially when she got sick.  He made me feel like a real person of worth.  I guess you'd call it respect.

He died last night after many years of health challenges.  He deserves to be remembered for the big role that he played in Michigan government and politics.  He and his crew, first Larry and Art, an then others helped to keep our politicians and officials honest.  Tom could sniff out impropriety and he wasn't afraid to go after it.  And his station would run it.

His stories are legend and I'm sure forgotten by a younger crew of journalists.  

If there was a journalists Hall of Fame, he'd belong in it.  He left a big footprint on this state and I'd hate to see it get filled in by the sands of time.

Jackson County (MI) Sheriff uses Facebook picture to nab bank robber

This story from Lansing's WLNS TV is one more proof that Facebook is where lots of people hangout and its where you need to go if you want to catch people's attention.

An example, a twenty-something guy robbed a credit union in Jackson and got away.  But the sheriff put the picture from the surveillance camera at the bank up on Facebook.  Within 12 hours there were enough leads to get the guy.

There's a lesson here for anybody trying to get attention for something.


Facebook robber
This is surveillance camera picture published on Facebook.


I don't hear or read anything about "brownouts" in Michigan because of the heat


Front door
Looking out our front door as the temps begin to climb this morning.

Maybe I missed it, but I haven't read or heard anything about our plants in Michigan generating electricity getting near maximum capacity during this high heat and constant consumption of air conditioners.  


You would think that the unrelenting triple digit heat would street local electric producers.  But, a quick check of online news shows no mention of that possibility in mid-Michigan.

Today is supposed to be a record-breaker in Lansing with weather forecasters last night predicting that temps should reach 105.  

Walking through our neighborhood on the southwest side of the city, you hear a lot of AC running.  

Anybody hearing talk of brownouts?

Can the city of Detroit be saved from its free fall crash into bankruptcy?

It's easy to ignore what's happening in the city of Detroit as it struggles for its life, especially if you don't live there.  But there are lots of reasons to follow what's happening there.

There are hundreds of thousands of people who live there and whose daily life is affected by a city on Detroit the edge of being ungovernable.  The state is a few hours away from taking control of a city that doesn't want to be controlled.  The state is on a path to appointing a financial manager to supercede the mayor and the city council.  The manager will have the power to do just about everything.

How will the Motor City react when the state of Michigan comes marching into a city that has gone through hell in the past several decades with crime and with public corruption and the loss of a whole lot of jobs?  

Read this story from today's Detroit Free Press about everyday people and how they are reacting.  Also check the mention of city streets where street lights don't work because the city can afford to fix them. Here's the Detroit News story summarizing the city's and the state's positions and their next moves. 

We all have a stake in what's happening there.  What other cities in Michigan are heading towards bankruptcy?  

Grand Rapids "Laugh Fest" reminds how important laughter is to just about everything

I wonder if my city, Lansing, could take a lesson from Grand Rapids where they are opening a "Laugh Fest" this week.  Inspired by the late comedian Gilda Radner, the event emphasizes the importance of laughing to dealing with and healing a disease.

I wonder how it could affect life in a struggling city like Lansing.  Would our City Council be a more productive body if they could sit down and openly laugh with each other?  

Check this story from WKAR by Scott Pohl where he interviews the head of the event that will bring in well-known comedians from around the world.  And, there's one doctor, Patch Adams.  Remember him?  Robin Adams played him in a movie who believed that laughter was vital to a paitent's healing process.

It's hard to use my new Honda 525S snowblower when it's in the 60s in mid-Michigan

In January, my gut told me that I better get a new snowblower to handle all the snow we'd probably get here in the heart of mid-Michigan.  I'm not a snow person, but I've found that blowing it gives me a sense of power and it's fun.

When it snows, I usually do a big chunk of our block.  Don't tell my neighbors that it's not because I'm a good guy, but because I really get a kick out of doing it.  But, the snow never came.  And that's okay.

Look at the story from the Detroit Free Press about how it's going to reach 65 in the metro Detroit area today.  

Read through the story and you'll see that the weather man says the temps and conditions this time of the year can turn on a dime.

Do you know about the plan for 22 more casinos for the state of Michigan?

Are there really any winners other than the owners when a casino is built in your area?

Our city of Lansing is trying to get one built downtown just a couple of blocks from the State Capitol.

Now check this proposal reported in the Lansing State Journal to build 22 more in the Great Lakes State.  Is this enthusiasm for gambling in our state due to lots of people struggling financially and who are looking for an easy way to build their personal treasuries?  Are we producing more vicitims?  

Are Michigan cities becoming unsafe to live and work in?

Lansing where I live is having a tough time paying for adequate police protection for people who live and work here.  Local treasuries just don't have the bucks to pay for the cops.

What does this mean?

Check this Detroit News story published about how this is being played out around the state.  What's the result of fewer cops on the street?  More crime?

This song will help daily life in Michigan suck less--Little Drummer Boy by Sean Quigley

Many people in Michigan are waking up this morning and feeling various levels of despair.  Read this Michigan State University poll as described in this mLive story and you'll see results that show people are not liking what's going on in our state right now.  They are not seeing hope for the future.

How do you relieve that?  How does one recalibrate and reset the compass in a direction where true hope is more evident?

Check out this rendition of Little Drummer Boy by Sean Quigley of Winnipeg, a high school student who produced this music video.  The Little Drummer Boy he sings about has nothing to give to the baby Jesus other than his drumming.  He gives everything he has.

As we approach Christmas in Michigan, it seems like local churches are hiding Jesus behind closed doors. They are hiding the only true hope.  Living in the heart of our state, I'm seeing the church from a broader perspective.  It's more than a building.  It's all believers.

Today as I go to physical therapy for a hurting shoulder and then have lunch with a good friend, I'll be thinking about what I can give to Jesus whose birthday we will be celebrating.  Check out this video from Sean Quigley.  What do you think?


Will Gov. Rick Snyder be sitting in the "just plain folks section" at tomorrow's Detroit Lions game with Green Bay?

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says there will be no Thanksgiving meal at his house tomorrow because he's going to the Detroit Lions game tomorrow where our NFL team has a chance of beating the Green Bay Packers.  The question is about where he will sit.  Does he get special seats on the 50-yard line, in the sky boxes or does he sit with the ordinary rough and tumble fans in the other seats?