Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006: Right Through the Looking Glass

All day I have been running over this year in my mind, trying to figure out what to say, and all I can come up with is-

Thank you.

Thank all of you.

I had a really good year, one of the best of my life. Great things happened. Not-so-great things happened, too, but I learned some valuable lessons from them. That's all I can ask for, right?


I will be forever grateful for this year.

Wishing you the best for 2007-

Happy New Year, everyone!

"Standing in the middle of nowhere

Wondering how to begin

Lost between tomorrow and yesterday

Between now and then

And now we're back where we started

Here we go round again

Day after day I get up and I say

I better do it again..."

The Kinks- Do It Again

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Somewhere on the Grand...

... they are preparing for a homecoming.

The entrance on Pearl Street.

Early in the day. Hard to believe this is December 30th in Michigan.

The media is everywhere.

NBC has their spot staked out on the pedestrian bridge that crosses the river.

You could smell the candles. The staff at the museum keeps them lit.

Gifts from children who can't possibly remember this man. Really touches the heart.

The line grew as the day went on.

The final resting place.

NFL Week 17: After this, we won't be stuck watching the Lions anymore... 2006, anyway.

I never added up last week, did I? Well, there is a reason for that. ;-)

N.Y. Giants at Washington

Carolina at New Orleans

Cleveland at Houston

Detroit at Dallas

Jacksonville at Kansas City

New England at Tennessee

Oakland at N.Y. Jets

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

Seattle at Tampa Bay

St. Louis at Minnesota

Arizona at San Diego

Atlanta at Philadelphia

Buffalo at Baltimore

Miami at Indianapolis

San Francisco at Denver

Green Bay at Chicago

OK, I confess- it was 6-10.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Michigan Legislature officially adjourns for the year

"My fellow Michiganders, our long nightmare is over".

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — State lawmakers officially closed up shop Friday.

They adjourned the legislative session sine die, Latin for "without day." It marked the official last day of the Legislature.

Though largely a formality, sine die is important in one way because some new laws will take effect 90 days after the session's end. Legislation that was not passed died Friday and has to be reintroduced next session.

And I hope this was wrapped with a big red bow and sent directly to DeRoche-

LANSING -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm has vetoed a bill passed by state lawmakers to change Michigan's child protection system following the death of 7 year-old Ricky Holland.

Lawmakers learned this afternoon of the veto on the bill that would have transferred control of the state Office of the Children's Ombudsman from the governor to the Legislature. The law was approved by the Senate and sent to the governor's office for Granholm's signature on Dec. 13.

In a letter to lawmakers dated Thursday, Granholm said the legislation she signed into law two years ago increased the authority, autonomy and accountability of the Office of the Children's Ombudsman, and does not need to be changed.

"Transfer of the Office of the Children's Ombudsman to the legislative branch …would strip civil service protections from the dedicated career professionals working in the Office," Granholm said. "Moreover, further aligning the agency with one branch of state government or another could easily and unfortunately politicize investigations that ought to be pursued with one purpose: the protection of children."

And let's hope we don't have to cut more in that area, but I'm sure the Republicans would be more than willing to toss some more kids into the street if that means they can get their precious tax cuts.

And so we bid adieu to the lawmakers for this year. All I can say is- Door. Ass. You know the rest. Buh-bye.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Pictures from the Ford Museum

Just a few.

Remembering President Ford

You know something is wrong when Rick and Suzanne are the first thing you see when you turn on the TV at 5:15 AM. The link above will take you to a page at WOOD with all the information you will ever need- I once remarked they would go to round the clock coverage when he died, and apparently they have. The Press has an extensive biography here.

President Ford will be buried here in Grand Rapids, details later. My little town will be draped in mourning for some time to come.

I was 11 when he left office. Seems to me he was the last "decent Republican", as my father said today.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Gerald R. Ford, who picked up the pieces of Richard Nixon's scandal-shattered White House as the 38th and only unelected president in America's history, has died, his wife, Betty, said Tuesday. He was 93.

"My family joins me in sharing the difficult news that Gerald Ford, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather has passed away at 93 years of age," Mrs. Ford said in a brief statement issued from her husband's office in Rancho Mirage. "His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country."

The statement did not say where Ford died or list a cause of death. Ford had battled pneumonia in January 2006 and underwent two heart treatments -- including an angioplasty -- in August at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

He was the longest living president, followed by Ronald Reagan, who also died at 93. Ford had been living at his desert home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., about 130 miles east of Los Angeles.

Already the tributes are pouring in, both down at the museum and from across the nation. If I get a chance I will get down there and get some pictures.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Somewhere on the Grand- Christmas Eve

Say hello to the Canon Digital Rebel XTi- or, as I like to call it, "my new best friend". GR isn't much to look at, but to get this kind of clarity at night is stunning. To me, anyway.

Merry Christmas everyone!

UPDATE 7:16 am Christmas morning:

Here are a few more- not as much post-processing done on these as the one above.

Ellis parking garage downtown. Back when I was a kid (now I sound like my Dad- God help me), downtown Grand Rapids was the shopping mecca for the area, and the streets were filled with lights. Now, not so much.

Tree at the site of the new art museum, right next to Rosa Parks Circle.

Gerald Ford Museum.

Some hippies in East Grand Rapids.

I could not get a picture of the bags on the streets- that was too dark, no tripod. (for those who don't know- EGR residents put candles in small white bags and line the streets. It is beautiful. It is also very crowded when the weather is good- traffic was very heavy last night. Made it very hard to shoot anything with all the headlights, that is why I ran downtown.)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

From last year....

... just 'cuz I wanted something pretty to look at.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Granholm: Citizens want stable state services more than tax cuts

Damnit. I knew the second I went into radio silence something would move me to say something- and this is it.

Hello. My name is Cathleen, and I am a blogging addict. Acceptance is the first step to recovery. But I have to take this hit off the crack pipe. Just one more, really, then I'm done.

Once again I find that Peter Luke is the only reporter that is worth a damn in this state- the rest are running around screaming "tax increase! tax increase!" and getting people all pissed off. Both the Detroit News and the LSJ ran a poll asking if people would support a tax increase, and both were running 90% against, of course. The Fress Press article by Dawson "When can we blame the Governor?" Bell specifically mentions a tax increase in the first few paragraphs and hammers on that throughout.

The media once again chooses to ignore the complex difficulty that we are facing and immediately goes for the sensational. Nowhere, nowhere, can I find the full exchange of the media "pressing" her on this question. The one pertinent quote I have found is this-

At the same time, she avoided answering questions about whether she is prepared to call for a tax increase to address the state's budget deficit, which she said could be in the range of $3 billion.

"I'm not giving you a headline to write," she said. "I'm preparing people for the fact that this is going to be significantly challenging."

"Despite repeated prodding from reporters", she never said either way. Didn't matter, the media is writing that headline anyway, either explicitly or implicitly, except for Mr. Luke. He does mention it, but he gets into the heart of the matter and doesn't dwell. Go read his whole story if you want a picture of what is going on here, and pay close attention to the closing paragraph-

Doug Drake, a budget and tax analyst at the Lansing consulting firm Public Policy Associates, said selling a general tax increase to the public would be difficult because the budget has been balanced for the past half-decade through fee hikes and painless accounting gimmicks. But those are being exhausted as the state's economic troubles mount.

"We've spent years now without raising taxes and in a lot of ways, people really don't understand there's a problem," Drake said.

No, we have spent years being told by the Republicans that we can have something for nothing, that we shouldn't have to pay for the society that we live in, that greed is good, that taking responsibility for our world is always someone else's problem. Thank you Ronald Reagan.

We need a serious attitude adjustment here in Babylon.

Or, we can follow the "Walmarting of America" path and let it all come crashing down, and then maybe we will learn our lesson. In the meantime, I don't want to hear any more bitching about education cuts, the prisons, the foster care system, revenue sharing to cities, your street being plowed, none of it. Get out your wallet, or shut the fuck up. Yeah, I'm talking to you, Detroit News.

Who killed Ricky Holland? We did. Deal with it.

UPDATE 8:25 PM- Just caught this-

Republicans are still singing the "single state recession" song in regards to this story.

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, said in a news release that tax increases are not part of his agenda for Michigan.

"The Senate Republicans will not look to tax increases as our first answer to any budget problem. We need to live within our means, and if we can't, it is not up to the hard working citizens of Michigan to bail us out," he said. "The last thing we need to do in this single-state recession is to make Michigan less competitive with other states."

And from WOOD tonight, on the so-called migration rate out of Michigan-

The state's demographer said the migration could be worse if other states weren't in similar shape. But now, 38 states have unemployment rates within 3 percent of Michigan's.

In the 1980s, when migration was the worst, only six states were like Michigan.

The Pubs need some new tunes. Or not. Maybe they should just face the music for a change.

OK, rant over. Back to vacation.

This is why you never, ever write a "Goodbye Cruel World" diary on the blogs, because chances are the moment you do you will have something else to say.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

NFL Week 16: Winter Solstice Edition

Tough games this week- not sure who is playing for what, so I'm just going to wing it. Like usual. ;-)

Minnesota at Green Bay

Kansas City at Oakland

Baltimore at Pittsburgh

Carolina at Atlanta

Chicago at Detroit

Indianapolis at Houston

New England at Jacksonville

New Orleans at N.Y. Giants

Tampa Bay at Cleveland

Tennessee at Buffalo

Washington at St. Louis

Arizona at San Francisco

Cincinnati at Denver

San Diego at Seattle

Philadelphia at Dallas

N.Y. Jets at Miami

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Go-Go's- "Vacation"

Did you ever have a time in your life where you felt that everything you said was coming out wrong? I feel like that right now, and it's paralyzing me when it comes to blogging.

For some of us, the holidays are a white-knuckle ride of painful memories, and that is clouding every post I start and ultimately trash. So, rather than flaming out in a spectacular way and saying things I really don't mean, I think I need to just back away from this right now until this cycle of grief works itself out.

I'll still post those football picks, because, like, that's important, but as far as the rest of it goes- I honestly don't care right now. Who knows, maybe tomorrow I'll have something to say- but right now I need to get away from all this serious stuff. I'm utterly tongue-tied at this point.

See that video up there? The Go-Go's did that as a joke- they did a lot of the things they did for laughs, for fun, and people gave them a whole lot of shit for it because they were supposed to be "serious".

I'll leave it to you to figure out who those people were, let's just say they were supposed to be allies in the war for equality. The Go-Go's found themselves attacked because they weren't living up to what others perceived to be the correct way to fight for "the cause".

Some things never change. There is a lesson here, one that we haven't learned yet. Maybe we never will.

And that's all I got to say about that.

I'm going to go have some fun now. I'll be back.

And I still want to be Gina Schock when I grow up.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

NFL Week 15 Results: Much better

San Francisco 24, Seattle 14

Dallas 38, Atlanta 28

Baltimore 27, Cleveland 17

Green Bay 17, Detroit 9

New England 40, Houston 7

Tennessee 24, Jacksonville 17

Buffalo 21, Miami 0

N.Y. Jets 26, Minnesota 13

Pittsburgh 37, Carolina 3

Chicago 34, Tampa Bay 31 (OT)

Washington 16, New Orleans 10

Denver 37, Arizona 20

Philadelphia 36, N.Y. Giants 22

St. Louis 20, Oakland 0

San Diego 20, Kansas City 9

Indianapolis 34 Cincinnati 16

12-4. Thursday it is.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Granholm has soft spot for GR

Whew. We were worried she would make us leave the state, become part of Indiana or something.

Yes, I'm kidding.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm isn't holding grudges when it comes to Dick DeVos' hometown. In her bid for a second term, she campaigned often in Grand Rapids, including a pre-election day stop at El Sombrero restaurant on the west side. Asked if she will come back to visit, Granholm smiled and said, "I love Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids put me over the top."

We are a spot of blue surrounded by a sea of red. And remember, Dick is from Ada, not GR. There is a difference. Sorta.

Indeed, she won Grand Rapids by an even bigger margin than she did against another Grand Rapids area businessman, Dick Posthumus in 2002.

See? We aren't so bad. We know the score.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

For my photo friend- lunar eclipse 2004

Fuji S3000, 3MP, 3x zoom, taken from my upstairs back porch Oct 27, 2004. Little table-top tripod. Night setting.

It was a great little camera- sometimes I think it actually took better pictures than my S5100. About three weeks later it met a horrible end- dropped on a sidewalk with the lens extended. And that was that. Cheaper to buy a new one. Don't ever try to change the batteries while you are walking is the moral of that story.

I don't think that I would have been able to pick up the northern lights because that light is so diffuse- some people did manage to get some good shots, but most are pretty fuzzy. I'll try if and when it happens again-

Friday, December 15, 2006

Tim Skubick and Rick Albin- together at last

I thought I felt a disturbance in the Force.

Capitol correspondent Tim Skubick gets To The Point Sunday at 10 a.m. on WOOD TV8.

Merry Christmas to me. I usually don't run the idiot box on Sunday mornings, but for this I might make an exception. Who has the bigger ego? Tune in to find out. My bet is on Skubick.
Stuff your stocking in Ypsilanti -- and thank bloggers for the opportunity

Happy story.

Some grassroots blogging in Ypsilanti has led to a holiday event that proves how quickly an involved group of citizens can get things done.

“Stuff Your Stocking Night” will be held from 4-6 p.m. Sunday. Shoppers can buy a stocking for $2 at the CafĂ© Luwak (42 E. Cross St. in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town) and then fill it with items under $5 – toys, candy and other small gifts -- from various Depot Town retailers.

There’s free parking and free gift-wrapping. The proceeds from the sale of the stockings will go to SOS Community Services, a social-services organization. You also can make a stocking for a child helped by the group and donate it.

The idea for a stocking night arose from a conversation thread last week on Ypsidixit, a Ypsilanti-centric blog run by Laura Bien.

After Bien wrote a posting urging Depot Town businesses to improve their online presence, a spirited discussion took off on the Web site that led to Bien’s suggestion for a “stuff your stocking” night.

It took about a day to get the idea off the ground and organized. “It’s tremendously galvanized the whole community,” says Bien.

Trusty, surprised you aren't in on this...

Welfare reform caps Legislature's lame duck session

No time for campaign reform, plenty of time to make sure those poor kids get tossed off of assistance. Need to free up that money so the people throwing the lavish Christmas parties for lawmakers get their well-deserved tax breaks, right?

LANSING -- Welfare recipients would be limited to four years of cash benefits during their lifetimes unless they're deemed unemployable under legislation approved overnight as the lawmakers wrapped up their lame-duck session with a furious day of bill-passing.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm said she would sign the bills, which provide for exceptions to the welfare cutoff. She vetoed similar legislation earlier this year, saying it did not allow exceptions for people who could not work because of disabilities or illnesses.

Republicans have for two years sought a strict time limit on welfare benefits, which they said would encourage people to find work and break the cycle of dependency on state assistance.

And if there is anyone who knows about the cycle of dependency on state assistance, it's the Republicans.

Like I have said before, I believe we were facing federal penalties on this- so maybe it was something that needed to be done. I really don't feel like looking it up again. Jerry Kooiman, who was disappointed that this compromise wasn't "tough enough", now has his legacy. Kooiman recently said he wouldn't run for the part time job of mayor of GR at 39 grand a year (after all, his last part-time job paid $92,000), thought that giving a poor parent with two kids a whooping $459 or so a month was excessive. What a guy.

Bye, bye, Jerry- I won't miss you a bit.

They did manage to wrap up some other things before they hit the bar, according to Christoff mostly "pet projects" of those who soon will be joining the lobbying circuit. Among the highlights-

FILM INDUSTRY CREDITS: A bill designed to bring more film industry business to Michigan is headed to Granholm after getting final approval by a unanimous vote in the House. The legislation would offer tax credits to film companies that spend at least $200,000 in Michigan, provided they meet other registration conditions.

WIND POWER: A bill that would offer a tax credit for harnessing wind energy overwhelmingly passed the House and is headed to Granholm's desk. The legislation would provide a tax credit of 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour of energy generated for a taxpayer who owns a windmill or wind turbine, with no taxpayer receiving a credit of more than $750,000 per year.

CORD BANK INCENTIVES: The Legislature passed a bill that would provide a tax incentive for people who donate money to an umbilical cord blood stem cell bank. The House gave final approval by a 68-37 vote, sending the bill to Granholm.

Granholm does not support the legislation, spokeswoman Liz Boyd said.

People who donate money to the banks could get tax credits of no more than $100 for an individual or $200 for a joint return. Supporters say it could encourage development of cord and adult stem cell research, which could aid the treatment of a variety of illnesses.

The Legislature earlier had sent bills to Granholm designed to encourage the creation of a network of banks for umbilical cords and adult stem cells.

Granholm and some Democrats in the Legislature want to go further and loosen restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, which many scientists say has the most potential for medical breakthroughs. That led to some opposition to the bill that passed Thursday, along with concerns about the potential cost.

CAPITAL OUTLAY: The Legislature passed a bill to allow dozens of universities and community colleges to tap special state funding for building or renovation projects.

The capital outlay budget allows the schools to get money from the sale of state building authority bonds for a variety of projects.

And one that was shot down had the potential to save lives-

CERVICAL CANCER VACCINE: Legislation that would encourage girls entering the sixth grade to be vaccinated against cervical cancer died in the House.

This next part is a bit strange- it passed and then was reconsidered? Why?

I have a good idea.

The legislation - which would have been the first of its kind in the nation - first passed the House by a 58-45 vote. But after a motion was made to reconsider the vote, the bill didn't get enough support to pass.

The legislation had overwhelmingly passed the Senate.

As with other vaccines required for school children, parents could choose to not have their children immunized under the legislation. The House version would have required that parents get information about the vaccine and give permission for their children to receive it before they could be vaccinated.

Sounds like the religious conservatives got on the bat phone and put a stop to making sure young girls didn't get cancer. A death sentence is preferable to them, I guess.

But the measure could not gain enough support in the House because of concerns about the vaccine's possible long-term or unknown effects. Some opponents felt it infringed on a family's choice to decide which vaccines their children should receive, and still others questioned whether it would have sent a signal that underage sex is OK.

Newsflash: Underage kids are not taking their cues from you, legislators. And "families" had a choice on this vaccine.

No, I have a feeling that the Michigan Catholic Conference heard the word "sex" and decided to call in the dogs.

You are on your own, girls. Try not to die, OK?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Renaissance- Northern Lights

The northern lights are in my mind

They guide me back to you

The northern nights are in my eyes

They guide me back to you
NFL Week 15: Try, try again

Maybe if I do this on Thursday my luck will change.

San Francisco at Seattle

Dallas at Atlanta

Cleveland at Baltimore

Detroit at Green Bay

Houston at New England

Jacksonville at Tennessee

Miami at Buffalo

N.Y. Jets at Minnesota

Pittsburgh at Carolina

Tampa Bay at Chicago

Washington at New Orleans

Denver at Arizona

Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants

St. Louis at Oakland

Kansas City at San Diego

Cincinnati at Indianapolis

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bill boosting college scholarship to $4,000 headed to Granholm

OK, NOW I believe this is a done deal. :-)

Congrats, everyone. Never thought it would be so hard to do the right thing.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Lawmakers wrapped up work Wednesday on a plan to raise a scholarship for college-bound students in Michigan to $4,000.

The state Senate voted 38-0 to send the legislation to Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who will sign it. The House approved the bill last week.

The state's current scholarship - called the Merit Award - gives high school students who do well on state standardized tests up to $3,000 toward their college bills.

The new plan increases the total amount available to $4,000 per student. The name of the Merit Award will change to the Michigan Promise grant.

Other things happening-

- The Senate sent bills to Gov. Jennifer Granholm that would ban the sale of thermostats and some other products containing mercury.

The bills would ban the sale of home thermostats containing mercury starting in 2009 and blood-pressure devices containing mercury in 2008.

Surprised to learn that anyone still uses mercury in these things.

- The Senate passed legislation designed to encourage the creation of a network of stem cell banks for umbilical cords and adult stem cells. Some bills headed to Granholm while others went back to the House for final passage.

That's fine, embryonic next year.

- The Senate sent Granholm a bill that would move an office charged with assuring children's safety in Michigan from the executive branch to the legislative branch.

Republicans said the Office of Children's Ombudsman would be "truly independent" if it were an autonomous entity under the Legislative Council, which is made up of eight Republicans and four Democrats. The office currently is an autonomous entity within the Department of Management and Budget.

Democrats opposed the measure and called it a "political bill."

That it was. Probably a big waste of time, too. Not going to happen.
Levin criticizes Brownback offer on judicial nomination

Thank you, Carl. Brownback is way out of line here.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. Carl Levin said Tuesday it would be "very inappropriate" for Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback to request that a federal judicial nominee agree to recuse herself from any case dealing with same-sex unions.

Brownback, who may seek the Republican nomination for president in 2008, said last week he would lift his hold on the confirmation of Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Janet T. Neff to the federal bench if she agrees to step aside from cases dealing with gay marriage.

Brownback has stalled Neff's nomination to the U.S. District Court in Michigan's Western District because she attended a lesbian commitment ceremony of a family friend in 2002.

Levin, D-Mich., said in a written statement that "if Sen. Brownback made this request to Judge Neff, it would be very inappropriate." Levin said it would "strike at the integrity" of the process to ask a nominee to seek recusal from specific cases as a condition for being confirmed.

Neff told Brownback in an October letter that the ceremony had no legal effect and it would not affect her ability to act fairly as a judge. Neff said she attended the ceremony as a friend of one of the two women, a longtime neighbor.

You have to wonder about these people who are so obsessed with gays- what's in your closet, Sam?

With this stunt, Brownback just proved that he is not fit for office. But you knew that already.

New era arrives for cable customers

Spent all day yesterday trying to figure this one out- add coffee, instant telecommunications expert!

No. Not really. This was very confusing legislation that opened up all sorts of questions, and I went to bed with a raging headache, trying to decide whether or not I wanted to go to war with the people at MoveOn, who made some wild accusations about what this would do in regards to net neutrality. Apparently they think if it wasn't added to this bill RIGHT NOW it would be the End of the Internet As We Know It (And I Feel Fine). Since it wasn't, they charged that Granholm single-handedly destroyed the internet, which you have to admit is a pretty neat trick if she could actually pull that off.

No. Not that much power rests in one state. The end of the internet will come later if we don't fight at the federal level. Anyway-

Will this bill do what it says- lower rates and improve service? I have my doubts because I have heard that so many times before. Comcast is probably busy figuring out ways to make me pay for all the advertising they are going to have to do should they be faced with competition. And I don't trust AT & T either.

LANSING -- Consumers can prepare for a new world of cable television, phone and Internet services as legislation to open up telecommunications to more competition in Michigan speeds toward enactment.

The change is expected to spur huge investment in money and jobs to extend fiber-optic lines that will carry service at warp speed.

Lawmakers approved new rules Tuesday that eventually will end contracts for TV service between local communities and cable companies, and place all cable providers under statewide rules.

Someone said that is illegal- breaking existing contracts. I honestly don't know. One of the many questions that came up.

Those agreements have allowed cable companies to offer customers three main services -- TV, phone and Internet -- while telecommunications companies like AT&T and Verizon have been effectively barred from offering cable TV in communities.

Liz Boyd, a spokeswoman for Gov. Jennifer Granholm, said the governor would sign the bill because "it's good for consumers and good for Michigan jobs."

A statewide franchise system got heavy backing from AT&T, which hopes to become a big provider of video services to compete with traditional cable companies like Comcast.

AT&T shook up the debate two weeks ago when it announced that if the legislation were passed, the company would invest $620 million in Michigan to upgrade its broadband services, creating some 2,000 jobs over three years, including 1,200 next year.

AT&T Michigan President Gail Torreano said Tuesday the company would live up to that promise. She said competition would mean lower prices and better service for customers.

Fears are that they would cherry-pick the rich customers and neglect poor and rural areas; I can see them doing that.

This next fear is one that I just don't see happening. Blocking Google would be incredibly stupid.

Others fear that open competition will mean that Internet providers would charge Web site operators to have access to customers. Google, the dominant search engine company, opposed the legislation, fearing it might not be made available on AT&T's Internet service.

Blocking Web sites such as Google from customers is technically possible but not likely, said Scott Stevenson, president of the Telecommunication Association of Michigan, a trade group. He said it would be foolish for Internet providers to keep their customers from popular Web sites.

The second any provider blocks and/or slows down service is the second they lose customers. I know if Comcast starting blocking sites I would be gone in a heartbeat.

This is why I don't have the fear about net neutrality that others seem to have- America gets what America wants, and they want it all and they want it now. Are we going to pay more for it? My cynical mind says "yes", but we don't know that for a fact. Perhaps this will work like they say, but I won't hold my breath.

NFL Week 14 Results: Pleading temporary insanity

Sorry I forgot these yesterday- got caught up in other things.

Pittsburgh 27, Cleveland 7

Atlanta 17, Tampa Bay 6

Baltimore 20, Kansas City 10

Jacksonville 44, Indianapolis 17

Minnesota 30, Detroit 20

Miami 21, New England 0

N.Y. Giants 27, Carolina 13

Cincinnati 27, Oakland 10

Philadelphia 21, Washington 19

Tennessee 26, Houston 20 (OT)

Green Bay 30, San Francisco 19

Arizona 27, Seattle 21

Buffalo 31, N.Y. Jets 13

San Diego 48, Denver 20

New Orleans 42, Dallas 17

Chicago 42, St. Louis 27

8-8. When does baseball start?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Internet activist targets lawmaker

Julielyn (you are out now, girlfriend!) once said that blogs can be "a campaign's best friend". Well, blogs can also be a politician's worst nightmare- a group of people dedicated to watching every move and recording it all in one convenient place. No more digging through mounds of records or old news articles to find out what your congresscritter is up to.

What a wonderful tool for accountability. A focused group of people can (and will) go places that the traditional media will generally ignore.

A Web log targeting U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, is the latest site of its kind to focus on the political scene in Livingston County and the 8th Congressional District.

According to its founder, Julielyn Gibbons, who grew up in Green Oak Township and now lives in Lansing, the Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood blog will document the congressman's every move in order to keep his constituents up to date.

Gibbons' political leanings are clear - her computer nickname is LiberalLucy and her other blog is called Liberal, Loud and Proud - but she insists her latest effort is not meant to smear or disparage Rogers. In truth, she said, her goal is to be educational.

"Since he is, in fact, working for all of us, the government should have an inherent level of transparency," Gibbons said. "This is just helping to make Mr. Rogers' record more transparent."

"I'm not saying Mike Rogers hasn't done anything good for the district, but there's a lot more good that he could be doing," she continued. "If nothing else, we who helped create the blog hope he understands, by us paying attention to him and publicizing what he does ... we are going to hold him accountable."

The blog's motto posted at the top of the site reads: "The people of Michigan's 8th Congressional District deserve better than Mike Rogers. Here is where the change begins."

Rogers spokeswoman Sylvia Warner declined to comment for this article.

The blog - - has been up about a week. So far, it has posted the rankings of Rogers' record from several interest groups, and highlighted quotes from Rogers in various newspapers. Gibbons said about a half-dozen bloggers have signed on to track what the congressman does, including the campaign contributions he receives and his votes on the floor of the House.

Kudos to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus for doing a story on this- although I noticed they put in a pitch for their own comment section, something that the media is quietly adding to their websites as a way to combat the growing diversion that the blogs are creating. Still, they can never be as issue/person specific as a blog can be, and that is where the blogs will win.

Question is: What happens if Rogers is tossed out? Will this group of people continue to focus on that district? My own blog could be renamed "Who's Hassling the Governor Today?" at this point, and I intend on keeping my attention on what happens in Lansing these next four years because I have turned loyalty into a character defect. After that, who knows.

Something to consider.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Owashtanong Short Attention Span Theater

Or, "Things That Happened While I Was Watching Scrubs"- I can't figure out a good title for this, so ripping off Comedy Central was the best I could do.

And stop laughing at me because I picked the Lions. Yeah, you. I see you out there.

Cleaning out the Favorites list from this week-

  • DeVos continues his thank-you tour with the headline story in the GR Press today. Imagine how happy I was to see his not-so smiling picture on the cover of the paper this morning. Quote that shows that Dick still doesn't understand-

    The difficulty, of course, in a political campaign is that your image is not just what you present but is impacted by what the other side presents. And the other side went out of their way to run what some said was the most negative campaign by an incumbent they've ever seen.

    First, Dick claimed his defeat was because the Republicans had a bad year, now he tries to pass it off on negative campaigning. Um, yeah, OK, whatever you say. That comes from the guy that went negative first in August, not with one ad but two, and had, what, five or six different negative ads running at the end? Not to mention the all nasty flyers and robocalls and signs on public property?

    Just like his defeat with the vouchers back in 2000, Dick will point his finger at everyone and everything to avoid the possibility that people just don't like his ideas.

    One more note on the election- $56 million was spent in total, $41.6 million by DeVos, $14.6 by Granholm. Truscott seems to think it was about even-

    Truscott said DeVos' money advantage was overrated. After factoring in spending by labor unions and the Democratic Party plus matching state funds Granholm received, "it comes pretty close to equaling what we spent in total," he said.

    And Chris DeWitt sets him straight-

    "In his dreams," De Witt responded, noting that DeVos also had help from outside groups such as the Republican Governors Association, the state GOP and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. "There is no way in God's green earth that we matched them in spending or came close."

    Denial is an amazing thing.

  • Speaking of those who live in the Land of Delusion, Saul Anuzis gets the Quote of the Week honors with this gem on Carl Levin running in '08-

    "(Levin) has a long record that he has to defend and it's a record that's very vulnerable in Michigan," Anuzis said.

    Thanks go to Zack at Pohlitics for pointing this one out. Still laughing.

  • The Rapid, GR's public transit system, made the national news with a story that happened back in July- a woman was denied a bus ride for wearing a veil. Look, this was an isolated incident, this is NOT how the people that work for The Rapid generally behave. They are some of the nicest people I have ever encountered out in the public, and they have a very tough job. I think she just caught a driver having a bad day, and The Rapid has since apologized and changed their rules on religious coverings. It was something they didn't consider when they made a policy that requires passengers faces to be clear for the surveillance cameras.

  • Jack Lessenberry had an interview with Governor Granholm, Nirmal at Capital Viewpoint found an audio version from Michigan Public Radio. "The governor is sounding a new note of energy and confidence", according to Jack, and it shows on the tape. Hope she can keep it up- new reports show we might need more budget cuts due to a shortfall in tax revenue. All the more reason to replace all of the SBT.

  • Saturn unveiled the Astra this week- this is the car that will replace the gawd-awful looking Ion. The only reason I mention this is I have a Saturn SC2 and I love it- the best American car I have ever owned. I was disappointed when they stopped making that model and hoped they would come out with something similar. The Astra looks cute. The bad thing about it? They are importing them from Europe. Why not make them here?

  • Unions seem to think they will make some gains when the Democrats take over Congress. The "Employee Free Choice Act" will make it easier to form a union and is supposed to be on Pelosi's hot list of Things To Do in early 2007. In other labor news, UAW membership is expected to drop below 500,000 after buyouts- one third of its peak level 30 years ago.

  • Voting is now open at Michigan Caucus for "Michigan's Worst 25". I challenge them to do "Michigan's Best 25" next. ;-)

  • The Great Lakes Loons will use solar energy to help power their new ball park in Midland. Hope I can go see it this year.

  • That's all for now-

    Fantasy vs. Reality: Republican tax cut policy falls apart

    The LSJ has a great editorial that plainly spells out where the "cut business taxes" philosophy comes unglued under the harsh light of day. Republicans operate under the idea of "what should be" and never take into account "what is"- and it is there that they always fail. Time to hammer that home once and for all.

    Cutting revenue is not the answer to our problems. It will make things worse.

    Voters chose investment over tax cutting by wide margins on Election Day. Now it's time for lawmakers to move quickly and replace the recently eliminated Single Business Tax with a broad-based, low-rate business tax that replaces all of the $1.9 billion generated by the tax today - along the lines of what has been proposed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

    Here comes the cognitive dissonance that will rip your mind apart when you really stop and think about it. Republicans complain about all of the following issues, but yet want to slash funding? How does that work?

    Seriously. It's hard to understand how they think it will solve anything to continuously cut revenue, when those cuts have created some of the very problems they tried to use as a weapon during the campaign.

    Both parties campaigned on investing in key state services. Republicans and Democrats said the layoff of 1,500 law enforcement officers since 2001, forced by cuts in state revenue sharing to our local communities, had gone too far.

    Both parties agreed we need to put more state dollars into higher education. Both parties said health care needs to be a priority.

    Both parties said we need to do more to ensure foster care children are protected by the state, and that parolees are policed more carefully.

    The Detroit Free Press has been running some hard-hitting articles on our dysfunctional prison system, and even the Detroit News has called for more spending in foster care. Everybody wants more money for schools. So-

    Both parties now are challenged to fund those programs. Full replacement of the SBT is the first step in creating an investment plan for Michigan.

    Now ask yourself which party has come up to the window with a way to fund these things. Republicans are still calling for more tax cuts, but yet won't tell us which of the areas above would pay for it.

    When put on defense, they still fall back on the "Michigan is a high tax state" argument.


    After a decade of tax and spending cuts, Michigan's tax burden is below the national average. And our economy has not responded. Further tax cuts are not going to create prosperity in Michigan. Of the 10 lowest tax states in America, eight have lower per capita incomes than Michigan - and the other two in recent years have voted to raise their taxes to invest in the services and infrastructure that help attract and grow the businesses that are prospering today.

    It doesn't necessarily follow that "low taxes" translates into success. In fact, the opposite seems to occur.

    The states and regions that have high per capita income also tend to be those states with higher than average tax burdens. That's not a surprise.

    In his recent paper, "A new Agenda for a New Michigan," Michigan Future President Lou Glazer identifies key traits of successful regions: Places that value education, ensure central cities are attractive to talented young people and are welcoming to all.

    These successful regions - Chicago, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Minneapolis - are not known for low taxes. They are known for creating the conditions desired by talented individuals that are the lifeblood of businesses competing in the knowledge economy.

    Or, "Cool Cities", as someone once said. Heh.

    Will Republicans ever listen to reason? Their refusal to work on the MBT proposal tells us that they will not. They will kick this to the Democrats and then cry about "raising taxes", while still insisting on fiscal policy that has no basis in reality.

    How much do you want to bet? You can almost guarantee that is what will happen next year when they finally do get to work on the MBT.

    Let's ignore them when they do, or better yet, point out the facts over and over in the hopes that they finally "get it". If they don't, the public certainly will.

    If Republicans don't want to live in the real world, time to move on without them.

    Peter Luke: Part-time Legislature without term limits tops Christmas wish list

    Yes, yes, yes. I loves me some Peter Luke. I have always been on the fence on term limits, but Luke makes a strong argument for ending them here.

    He also points out some startling numbers on time and compensation from this year- and considering all that has been left undone- a pay cut is in order, don'tcha think?

    I think the citizens of Michigan would agree.

    Part-time in everything but name -- and pay -- Michigan's lawmakers retire for the year this week to take another long holiday, having completed little useful work. They leave behind a big pile of unfinished business.

    How's that as an argument for ending term limits?

    If lawmakers had any courage in a lame-duck session that limps to a close on Thursday, they would muster the two-thirds vote required in the House and Senate to put a term limits repeal on the 2008 ballot. If adopted at the polls, the constitutional amendment would nullify the 1992 voter-approved amendment that installed term limits.

    Courage? This bunch? Surely you jest. This might take (yet another) outside ballot proposal.

    The irony is that scheduling and taking such a vote requires a degree of political self-confidence that, because of term limits, doesn't much exist any more. But that doesn't mean such a vote shouldn't be taken, since term limits haven't delivered as advertised.

    Sure they mean that less-able lawmakers pack up their belongings and leave every six or eight years. But packing their boxes, too, are lawmakers with a lot of good work left in them to develop the craft of legislative problem-solving.

    Term limits essentially have replaced politicians who know a lot with politicians who know a little. By the time they know a little more, they are legally required to abandon their offices, even though most would be handily re-elected if it were left up to the voters and not an arbitrary limit.

    OK. As happy as I am to see Kooiman walk out the door, you sold me Peter- as long as this next bit of information is taken into consideration and enacted.

    Luke suggests a trade, and it's a good one.

    So how to make repealing term limits appealing to voters? Trade repeal for something perhaps more valuable to them.

    Since the Michigan Legislature already is part time, make it official. By Thursday, lawmakers will have spent just 95 days in session and just 25 days since July 1. So put it in the state constitution that lawmakers would have to complete their business by July 1 of every year. The governor could call them back in for a specific, extraordinary purpose. Committee work could be scheduled for the fall.

    At nearly $92,000 annually in salary and expense allowance, the high rate of compensation for Michigan lawmakers will continue to stir resentment for years to come. Chopping that amount in half to $46,000 a year would put Michigan lawmakers at about the average paid to lawmakers in five neighboring Great Lakes states.

    Michigan legislators would be in session for half the year at half the pay. Putting voters in charge of which lawmakers stay would allow the good ones to become twice as smart as they are now in running a state growing in economic and social complexity.

    Would voters swap legislative term limits for a part-time Legislature and a 50-percent pay cut for politicians? They might, but only if lawmakers give them the chance.

    Lawmakers won't give us the chance because they have such a sweet deal going here. Who wouldn't want to make 92 g's a year for 95 days? They would argue that they have to spend time in their districts "talking with constituents", I call bullshit on that. I'm sure if we put electronic tethers on their ankles (ooo, there's an idea), you'd find them on the golf courses and in the fancy restaurants and taking trips to... wherever.

    I would stand and collect signatures on this one. After watching the fiasco that was this past year, I am more than eager to see some changes made in Lansing.

    Time to wipe that smile of self-satisfaction right off DeRoche's face and make him work for a living. Wouldn't that be great?

    NFL Week 14: Am I really picking the Lions?

    Yes, and the Bucs too. Remember me in your prayers.

    Pittsburgh 27, Cleveland 7

    Atlanta at Tampa Bay

    Baltimore at Kansas City

    Indianapolis at Jacksonville

    Minnesota at Detroit

    New England at Miami

    N.Y. Giants at Carolina

    Oakland at Cincinnati

    Philadelphia at Washington

    Tennessee at Houston

    Green Bay at San Francisco

    Seattle at Arizona

    Buffalo at N.Y. Jets

    Denver at San Diego

    New Orleans at Dallas

    Chicago at St. Louis

    Saturday, December 09, 2006

    Barney Cam V: "Barney's Holiday Extravaganza"

    For some strange reason, I got a kick out of this. As Page at Kos said, it's surreal.

    I like surreal.

    I say we impeach Bush and keep the dogs.

    Friday, December 08, 2006

    Unbelievable: The MBT Excuses Musical

    Yes, I've been reduced to quoting song lyrics. This is usually the last defense my brain has before it totally goes over the edge. My mind flips through the thousands of songs I have tucked away in my subconscious until it comes up with one that fits the situation.

    I'm not going to chronicle the SBT follies one more time- if you have been following this at all you know that the Pubs have been dragging their feet for over two years on this subject.

    Today's brush with insanity is brought to me by none other than Tim Skubick who managed to capture some juicy quotes on why the Republicans simply cannot find the time to fix the mess they have created. Watch the video at WILX- it's, well, unbelievable.

    Ken Sikkema, on the time left to tackle this problem. I had some sympathy for Ken until I heard him say this-

    Sikkema: The only deadline that's in my mind is doing the right thing for Michigan when it comes to economic growth and development.

    Skubick: If she asks for a longer lame duck are you willing to go there?

    Sikkema: No. No. We're going to be done by the end of next week.

    Huh. Not important after all. Going to leave town by the 14th.

    I guess "doing the right thing for Michigan" involves leaving businesses up in the air for months over a year- remember, it was August 9th that they blew up the SBT and promised to work on it "after the election", and that came after a waste of time, certain veto, elimination bill back in the spring, and that came after them promising in December of 2005 to work on it in January of 2006. You follow all of that?

    The real mind-blowing statement came from Nancy Cassis. I almost lost a keyboard to my coffee with this one.

    Cassis: We'll stay if this Governor really reaches out and has something concrete to propose. I'm really concerned that it's more rhetoric than substance.

    The Governor has now put forth two plans in two years. Unless the Republicans have managed to keep their "proposal" super secret and under the table all this time, I find it, well, unbelievable that Granholm could be accused of offering only "rhetoric", when as far as I know the Republicans have offered NOTHING at all.

    Skubick plays the "she's a big meanie" card at this point. Now that I have a better grasp on where he is coming from, it's going to be easier to catch him when he tries to goad legislators into making negative statements about Granholm.

    Skubick: You don't think she's playing fair.

    Cassis: Well, I wouldn't... I don't know if she's playing fair or not, she just certainly isn't coming forth and negotiating in good faith.

    This comes from the party who has held the Merit hostage all year and tried to tie it to every little thing they could think of- from welfare reform, to teacher pensions and insurance, to fixing the overtime bill they screwed up. This comes from the party that continuously complained about Michigan's economic condition but yet wouldn't offer any solutions of their own besides "cut taxes". This comes from the party that laments the condition of the foster care system and the prison system while they insist on cutting the revenue that could fix those things.


    All I can say at this point is:

    You burden me with your questions

    You'd have me tell no lies

    You're always asking what its all about

    But don't listen to my replies

    You say to me I don't talk enough

    But when I do I'm a fool

    These times I've spent, I've realized

    I'm going to shoot through

    And leave you

    The things, you say

    Your purple prose just gives you away

    The things, you say

    You're unbelievable

    Or, Just watch the video-

    EMF - Unbelievable

    It's much easier.
    Michigan has a strong chance of landing new Toyota plant

    Remember this story?

    Toyota is expected to say in the next 90-days where it will build a new engine plant in the United States.

    Analysts say Michigan has a strong chance of getting it. Several states and a Canadian Province are also in the running.

    However, the local auto analysis group IRN says two Michigan sites - Battle Creek and Schoolcraft south of Kalamazoo are strong contenders for attracting Toyota.

    Analysts say the cities offer something different from Michigan's traditional auto center.

    Erich Merkle is IRN's Director of Forecasting, "It would be much more like the areas where they've located in Indiana. It's not the east side of the state. It's not the old-line, industrial kind of area. Toyota has definitely favored the more rural, small communities."

    IRN is located right here in Grand Rapids.

    Keep your fingers crossed.

    Thursday, December 07, 2006

    College scholarship plan passes state House

    Here I've been compaining about them all day and they finally turn around and do something good.

    It's about time.

    LANSING, Mich. (AP) — College-bound students in Michigan would be able to receive up to $4,000 from the state under legislation that soon could be headed to Gov. Jennifer Granholm for her signature.

    The state House passed the proposal Thursday night by a 90-12 vote. The Senate has already passed a similar version of the legislation, which has been one of Granholm's highest priorities for the lame-duck session of the state Legislature.

    Republican House Speaker Craig DeRoche said changes to the legislation to be made in the House have been negotiated with the Senate and the Granholm administration, meaning it is likely to get final approval by year's end. The more lucrative scholarship, to be called the Michigan Promise Grant, is designed to make college affordable for more Michigan residents.

    That phrase is disturbing. For some reason I don't trust these guys- hmmm, wonder why. Even when something is "likely" with them, they find a reason to hold it hostage.

    Stay tuned...

    Michigan lawmakers call for college football playoff system

    NOW I understand why they can't work on the MBT (see below)- they had serious, pressing issues to address. What was I thinking?

    LANSING -- Still angry over Michigan's exclusion from the BCS national title football game, a pair of state lawmakers are calling for a playoff system.

    Sens. Mark Schauer and Mike Bishop, the incoming Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate, say subjectivity should be removed from a process that has financial and emotional repercussions. The pro-playoff resolution they introduced Thursday is purely symbolic.

    "The BCS system is clearly not working and consumers in Michigan and around the country are paying a very real price," said Schauer, D-Battle Creek.

    He said the University of Michigan will lose out on at least $10 million for going to the Rose Bowl instead of the BCS championship game, along with a possible rise in enrollment and merchandise sales that come with a national title. One-loss Florida edged out one-loss Michigan for the No. 2 ranking and the chance to face undefeated Ohio State Jan. 8.

    Yes, I'm sure enrollment will suffer. Thousands of high school seniors are ripping up their applications to the U of M as we speak because they aren't in the "big game".

    You have got to be kidding me with this.

    By the way, I'm taking the Steelers tonight. Just for the record.

    Business tax replacement probably won't happen this year

    Special session, anyone?

    LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- State lawmakers are unlikely to vote on a replacement for Michigan's main business tax this year, spokesmen for legislative leaders said Thursday.

    That means the debate about replacing the Single Business Tax would become a top priority for the incoming state Legislature in early 2007.

    Gov. Jennifer Granholm wants lawmakers to tackle the SBT issue before the legislative session ends in a week or so. She has proposed a replacement called the Michigan Business Tax, which would replace all of the revenue lost by the elimination of the SBT.

    But some Republicans aren't happy with that. They want to see an overall tax cut, hoping it would spur more job creation in the state.

    There also are concerns about taxing assets.

    Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, who must leave office because of term limits, has been a proponent of creating a new business tax during the lame-duck session.

    But his spokesman said Thursday a vote is highly unlikely before the Legislature adjourns for the year next week.

    "We are nowhere near ready to vote on this package because all the questions have not been answered," Ari Adler said.

    Matt Resch, a spokesman for Republican House Speaker Craig DeRoche of Novi, also said a vote by year's end is unlikely.

    Republicans voted earlier this year to speed up the repeal of the SBT so it will die at the end of 2007, rather than 2009 as previously scheduled. The SBT has been criticized as a complicated, anti-growth tax that punishes companies for hiring more workers and covering their health care.

    Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said lawmakers should stay in Michigan until they've replaced the SBT.

    "Most people in Michigan don't get a three-week vacation in December," Boyd said. "There is plenty of time for them to stay in Lansing and get the job done."

    But Liz, they have Christmas shopping to do! And trips to the Caribbean planned! And... and... and... whatever it is they do to avoid taking any responsibility for their actions, because it seems that is what they are best at.

    Worst. Legislature. Ever.

    Wednesday, December 06, 2006

    Congress approves bill to preserve Michigan lighthouses

    How cool! I want to go see them all someday...

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress approved a bill Wednesday to promote Michigan's lighthouses, creating partnerships to restore the beacons along the state's shoreline.

    Michigan has more than 120 lighthouses, more than any state in the nation, nestled along the shores of the Great Lakes. The bill creates federal, state and local partnerships to restore the lighthouses and promote maritime culture in the region.

    "These lighthouses are important reminders of the state's maritime prominence," said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland, who sponsored the House bill. It was approved on a voice vote.

    The legislation was written by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and passed the Senate earlier in the year. It requires the Interior Department to study ways to protect Michigan's lighthouses and boost tourism, including the creation of a Michigan Lighthouse Trail.

    This site lists 116 with a short history of each.

    DeVos:"No Regrets" About Campaign

    Dick is on a "thank you" tour. Let's all say "thanks" to Dick as he rides off into the sunset. In Tim Skubick's dreams, he is probably riding a white horse.

    Holland - Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos says he has "no regrets" about his campaign for Governor this year. DeVos lost by a 14 point margin to incumbent Democrat Jennifer Granholm one month ago.

    In his first public comments since his concession speech election night, DeVos told WZZM 13 Wednesday "we're gonna stand up and continue to be involved in the things we care about." He said he has given "no thought" to running for public office again.

    As to why he lost, he told supporters at the Ottawa County Republican Headquarters that "it was a very difficult year to be a Republican - that was not only the case in Michigan, but nationally." He said his race "appeared to be settled on national issues." Yet, he said, "we were able to raise issues and make a difference."

    Yes, Dick, it was all George's fault. You keep on thinking that, OK? OK! Bye, bye now.

    I hope he stops by and thanks Skubick in person- it seems Tim wrote a big 'ol love letter in the form of the book "See Dick & Jen Run". Excerpts were published by The News-Herald, and, thanks to Nirmal pointing this out, I read the first two chapters.

    That was quite enough. For example-

    With her game face again in place, she looks like the cat that swallowed the Amway soap peddler. He, on the other hand, is obviously pondering his next move as the 25-second audience reaction reaches a crescendo and echoes in his brain. He reveals his thoughts at that very moment. "While I thought the format was for us to have an open conversation with the audience and not each other, her turning to me (with some real fire in her eyes) and pressing me on affirmative action was the biggest surprise of the night.

    She clearly came armed and looking for a fight ... an interesting insight into the attitude (or frustration) on their side." The applause begins to subside as the audience and media await his retort to this torpedo fired by the governor. He slowly rises and buttons his sport coat. It reminded me of a knight making sure his armor was in place. With arms outstretched, he's seemingly trying to say OK, listen to this. He begins with, "My friends." Oh yeah. He only wishes he had some friends in the audience. "May I make just one observation? We came here, we came here for a conversation, and that's what I intended to have." My translation: That stinker. She just broke the rules.

    I'm not sure what is more obvious- his love for Dick or his hatred of Jen. I knew he had complaints about the Guv, I never realized how deep it went. Sounds like she ran over his puppy or something.

    And "knight in armor"? Are you serious, Tim?

    Let's make a deal- trading college students for welfare recipients

    Why is DeRoche still being a weasel about the Merit Scholarship? Because we are going to bargain away on the welfare bill. It's a trade- the poor for the college students.

    People's lives being used as poker chips.

    Yes, I'm new to this planet. One of these days I will learn.

    Gov. Jennifer Granholm's plan to increase the Michigan Merit Award scholarship to $4,000 for students who complete at least two years of college cleared a big hurdle Tuesday and was headed for final approval in the state House.

    The bigger scholarship would be available to high school seniors who will graduate in 2007.

    The plan, which Granholm called the most important issue before lawmakers, could be snagged in political deal-making as the lame-duck Legislature wraps up its final days before Dec. 31. After that, the bill would have to be re-introduced.

    But its near-unanimous approval Tuesday by the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee signaled its likely passage. The bill has already passed the Senate.

    House Speaker Craig DeRoche, R-Novi, said there could be a House vote on the bill this week, but said it's not a done deal yet.

    "There are some kinks and bugs we're concerned about," DeRoche said. He added, "We're examining it in the context of everything we intend to act on in the next five days."

    Craig was referring to the welfare bill passing in the Senate, I believe. Granholm is putting her foot down- nothing is getting through unless she gets the Merit approved. Or so it seems.

    LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The state Senate on Tuesday continued the Republican press for welfare changes by passing legislation that would limit Michigan recipients to four years of cash assistance.

    But Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm said the GOP-led Legislature should not consider welfare limits until first increasing the Merit Award college scholarship.

    The Senate's welfare vote may further set the table for lame-duck bartering between Granholm and Republicans, who will lose control of the House in January.

    "If they approve Merit, then we can talk about other issues," Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said of Republicans.

    The Senate voted 22-16 to pass a four-year lifetime welfare limit, which would not apply to people with learning disabilities, certain physical limitations and chronic mental health problems. Because the House passed a similar bill last week, the legislation could reach Granholm soon - depending on how GOP leaders decide to proceed.

    A shocking display of humanity came from the Senate- although it was Shirley Johnson again. She probably bothers the Pubs as much as someone like Sak bothers me.

    But Democrats and one Republican cited Michigan's poor economy as a reason to be wary of the legislation, also questioning how the measure might hurt children. The Granholm administration said it is confident in a new state program that concentrates more on training and educating welfare recipients rather than just finding them a job.

    "Instead of thinking of the adults and kicking them in the butts because they're not working fast enough for you, think about those little kids," said Sen. Shirley Johnson, R-Troy.

    Finally we see some concern for the kids. It's about time.

    I could have sworn we were facing some federal penalties if we didn't revamp welfare, so I think this had to be done anyway. None of the stories mention it and I really don't have time to track down a bunch of dead links at mlive. As much as I hate to see little kids get cut-off from assistance, we need to keep the Feds happy, too. Gotta keep that cash rolling in.

    Tuesday, December 05, 2006

    Commission talks, forum rocks on Prop 2

    GR Mayor George Heartwell is ready to stake his career on doing something he feels right. So refreshing to see someone take a stand- whether this is a wise one or not, I don't know, but good for him.

    What disturbs me the most about all of this are the vehement reactions to his idea of a lawsuit- in both the forum here at WOOD and in letters to the editor at the Press, the response of "the voters spoke" seems to be born of the joy of keeping minorities and women down. I can't put it any better than that. They are "tired of diversity", complain that people are "just lazy" and want "special treatment" (man, am I sick of that phrase), and, just as with the 2004 Prop 2, they feel that as long as the majority feels the same way, it's OK to be sexist, racist, homophobic, etc., on and on.

    I am probably stating that a little too harshly because it is really subtle, but that is the underlying theme that seems to be apparent when I read these things, and it really scares me. Makes me wonder why I want to stay here. I know that this sentiment probably exists everywhere, and, if the economy continues to slide in this country for the lower and middle class, it is only going to get worse as we all fight over the last scrap of meat.

    Good luck George. They are coming after you.

    GRAND RAPIDS -- The forum on the lawsuit Mayor George Heartwell wants to bring against Proposal 2 has generated a large and ongoing response.

    Some were measured, weighing the merits of majority rule with concerns over racial disparity. Others were more direct: "Who died and made the mayor god?" "It should be King Heartwell." "Recall the mayor."

    None of the comments surprise Heartwell.

    "I'm being called an emperor, a despot, a dictator, an idiot, a moron and a few things I can't talk about," the Mayor told city commissioners Tuesday as they began to debate the merits of his idea to sue over the constitutionality of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.

    While city voters turned down the measure in November, it won by a 16-point margin statewide.

    "While this democracy of ours does rest on the principle of majority rules, there are built in protections for minority rights. The judicial process is one such protection," said Heartwell.


    Heartwell wants to get others involved in the lawsuit, including local state universities and the core urban cities in West Michigan, including Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and Lansing.

    Both Muskegon and Battle Creek mayors say it's too early to tell if they'll join in a lawsuit.

    We also checked with officials at Grand Valley and Western Michigan Universities. Both say they are doing their own in-house reviews of their polices to see what, if any, impact, Proposal 2 will have on them.

    More questions remain. Can they afford it? Can they win? And for some, can they stand the political fallout?

    Mayor Heartwell said he's made his decision.

    "Each of us around this table decides what we're willing to fight for, what we're willing to sacrifice for, what we're willing to lose our political office for. This is it for me."

    Takes guts to make a statement like that. I've had my disagreements with Heartwell, but my respect and admiration of this man is very strong. I hope we don't lose him over this, but that is his choice and I back him all the way.

    Hall of Famer Sandberg to manage Peoria Chiefs

    Yes! That will bring him to 5/3rd next year...

    CHICAGO (AP) -- Ryne Sandberg is bringing his Hall of Fame credentials back to the minor leagues.

    The former Chicago Cubs second baseman was hired Tuesday as the manager of the team's Class A affiliate at Peoria of the Midwest League. It will be Sandberg's first managerial assignment and hopes it will lead to one in the majors.

    With Tom Brookens managing the Whitecaps and Lance Parrish managing the Loons, 2007 will be a fun year. Someone wake me up when spring gets here.

    Businesses tell lawmakers not to rush new tax

    "Business" needs to tell us what programs they would slash if they insist on tax cuts. All these plans that have been presented only do half of the work- they don't tell of the consequences of their actions.

    LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan business groups pitched varying tax plans to lawmakers Monday, but they could agree on two things.

    Business taxes should be cut overall and there isn't enough time to create a new business tax in the short legislative session before year's end, they said.

    Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who insists the new tax generate as much revenue as businesses now pay, has called for the Legislature to replace the state's main business tax before adjourning this month.

    "We are very much opposed to moving any plan during lame duck," Tricia Kinley of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce told the Special Joint Committee on Economic Growth. "We don't think that's an adequate amount of time to do the homework and due diligence that's necessary."

    Her comments were echoed by representatives from the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

    The Detroit CoC has a plan. The GR CoC has a plan. Other business groups have a plan. The check-out clerk at the grocery store has a plan.

    Anyone notice who is missing from that list? Liz Boyd did.

    Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said Republicans who control the Legislature have been studying the business tax issue for two years.

    "Who better is positioned to deal with it than current lawmakers?" Boyd said. "If they are unwilling or do not have the courage to take this up, then we will present it to the new Legislature."

    The Republicans take their orders from business only, apparently. As far as I know, they still haven't offered their ideas. Maybe they really don't have any. It might not be cowardice, it might be incompetence. Something to consider.

    The tax plans proposed Monday by the three business groups have similarities to Granholm's plan, including a tax on gross receipts and a lower base rate with more businesses paying. While the governor and state Chamber of Commerce want to cut in half the state's tax on business equipment and machinery, the Grand Rapids and Detroit groups propose eliminating it entirely.

    Did any of those plans indicate what should be cut? How we would balance the budget? If not, they are incomplete and shouldn't be considered, right?

    Right. So easy to do half the job, isn't it. Ask the Republicans.

    NFL Week 13 Results: Well. That sucked.

    Cincinnati 13, Baltimore 7

    Arizona 34, St. Louis 20

    Atlanta 24, Washington 14

    New England 28, Detroit 21

    Tennessee 20, Indianapolis 17

    Cleveland 31, Kansas City 28 (OT)

    Chicago 23, Minnesota 13

    N.Y. Jets 38, Green Bay 10

    San Diego 24, Buffalo 21

    New Orleans 34, San Francisco 10

    Houston 23, Oakland 14

    Jacksonville 24, Miami 10

    Dallas 23, N.Y. Giants 20

    Pittsburgh 20, Tampa Bay 3

    Seattle 23, Denver 20

    Philadelphia 27, Carolina 24

    7-9. Why did I like football again? Having a hard time remembering now...

    Sunday, December 03, 2006

    A week's worth of blogging in one post:

    I put stories that catch my eye in the Favorites list and then I either blog them, move them to a permanent folder where they usually become irrelevant, or I toss them. Here are some of the things I meant to blog about this week, but I just haven't had the time or the inclination, one of the two.

  • The GR Press likes the MBT, but thinks it needs "amending". Sounds a lot like the Detroit News, surprise, surprise, but what was best about the editorial was this-

    The sooner it's acted upon, the better. Whether the changes and compromises can be pulled together this month is hard to say, but the Legislature should make the effort. Michigan's economy is bad and isn't helped by having a black hole where the Single Business Tax (SBT) used to be -- making investors and employers guess about what taxes they would have to pay and how much.

    Someone needs to get that memo to our legislators who are still hemming and hawing and dragging their feet. Case in point, once again this week Michael Sak said-

    "I would lean toward not moving this forward in lame duck," said State Rep. Michael Sak, D-Grand Rapids.

    "I'm not sure why we have to move something forward in a couple of weeks that has been brewing for years."

    Mike's a real team player, ain't he? Sorry- I know he has done some good things, but he just bugs me- and why his attitude bugs me comes from that same story-

    Birgit Klohs, who heads The Right Place Inc., a West Michigan economic development firm, said she's just happy to see some movement on a replacement business tax.

    "We need to move on," she said. "You can't just eliminate it and then wait until the last minute and say, 'Here's something new.'

    "When we're talking to people looking at coming to Grand Rapids, you can't tell them what their tax picture will look like in a year and a half. It makes us completely uncompetitive."

    Get to it, kids. The Muskegon Chronicle agrees. So does the Saginaw News. Peter Luke seems to think it would be OK to wait, but I don't think he takes into account all the new clueless faces coming in. Strong column, though, on what needs to be done and the difficulties we are going to face.

  • We might need Stryker to fund a ballot proposal. The Michigan Senate refused to lift restrictions on stem cell research- and I believe they will hold it hostage next year, too. The Republicans are still under control of the extreme right, obviously.

    The state Senate approved bills Thursday designed to encourage the creation of a network of stem cell banks for umbilical cords and adult stem cells, but Republicans rejected Democratic efforts to also lift restrictions on embryonic stem cell research in Michigan.


    Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, tried to tie the legislation to Democratic legislation that would allow more embryonic stem cell research in Michigan. She criticized Republicans who, along with Right to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference, are opposed because it would allow human embryos to be destroyed to harvest their stem cells.

    "It's OK to throw in-vitro embryos in the garbage, it's just not OK to do research on those embryos?" Whitmer said, arguing that embryos are left over from fertility treatments and would be disposed of anyway.

    Had enough yet?

  • Looks like they really could make those changes to the welfare bill in a heartbeat. Remember last summer when this was stalled because someone needed to make a commercial? (BTW, I will never eat at the Red Geranium again)

    Republican lawmakers on Thursday again voted to limit welfare recipients to four years of cash assistance, but it was unclear whether Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm would support the measure.

    The GOP-controlled state House voted 61-41 to pass a four-year lifetime welfare limit. The limit wouldn't apply to the disabled, the mentally ill and others who meet certain guidelines.


    Under the new bill, recipients could apply for a fifth year of cash assistance if they haven't been sanctioned and the job market is down.

    Republicans said they changed the bill to exempt more adults from the four-year limit and from a state program that seeks to find jobs for welfare recipients, including those with learning disabilities, certain physical limitations and chronic mental health problems.

    It also would temporarily freeze the four-year limit for mothers with children under age 3 and recipients on short-term disability or living in counties with an unemployment rate above 9 percent.

    I'm not sure if these are the exceptions Granholm was looking for, but I was amazed at the speed this came about.

  • Don't look now, but New Berlin, Wisconsin might have found a way to get that Lake Michigan water after all. When is a diversion not a diversion? I don't know, but we better get those rules down before everyone sticks a straw in. Word today comes that Lake Superior water levels are down, Nestle wants more from the ground, and we better get this all straight before we feel the need to let the Coast Guard practice with live ammunition or something.

  • OK, time to give Michael Sak a break. (Just for a second though) He managed to get bill that requests proper ID on fatal accident victims through the House. You wouldn't think that this would be such a big deal, but this has happened twice in our area in the past few years- mix ups on identification that have put some families through a lot of pain. Hope it doesn't happen again.

  • A park at a former nuclear site? Um, no thanks.

  • And finally, yes, Charlie Brown, it's a Christmas tree. I'm agnostic, and even I don't care about this, except that they wasted my tax money on the debate when they could have been doing other things. But what else is new?