Monday, February 16, 2009

Six O'Clock News - Biddle City Edition

  • When you figure in the tax cuts, Michigan's total on the stimulus will be $18B, a figure that numbs the mind for anyone that has watched the numbers on the budget fights of this past decade. I believe that I heard that the state has received $69B in requests, so obviously not everything will receive funding. Fearless prediction: watch for the Republicans to be the first to complain when something in their district doesn't make the cut. Here is a breakdown from Gary Peters office:

    About $847 million is earmarked for highway and bridge projects, $135 million for public transit, $84 million for energy programs, $249 million for weatherization assistance, $237 million for water infrastructure, $1.6 billion for local budgets and $926 million for K-12 education, according to the office of U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township.

    States across the nation are examining the question of fairness in the process of distributing the $$. Michigan will have web pages that list the requests and the spending - details still being sorted as to how the money will be allocated. "Some" will go through the legislature, perhaps as part of the budget.

  • The auto industry. Failure is not an option here. With that in mind, Geithner takes over the show, with all avenues being explored. Job cuts and plant closures will happen regardless. Too deep, long and scary to address here, but both links are good reads. Progress reported late today in the talks between GM and the UAW.

  • Jack Lessenberry points out that we need a constitutional amendment establishing a graduated state income tax" here in Michigan. Preach it, brother. Or should I say comrade? (I kid! I kid!) Folks, if you want quality schools, roads, communities, environment... find a way to pay for it. There is nothing more infuriating than people who complain about the lack of services while simultaneously asking for more "tax cuts". Back to the 80's with you. No place for you here in the future.

  • With the budget in mind, so far good reviews are coming in on the plan to thin Michigan's prison population, which actually has already started. In 2008, 71% of prisoners were paroled at their earliest release date, and our prison population has decreased by around 3,000 in the past two years, from 51,000 to 48,000. The goal is to hit 45,000, a figure not seen since 1999.

  • Dow plans to sell solar shingles by 2011. Interesting concept; an official calls them "individual little power plants", probably easier to repair and replace than a large solar panel would be. Hope it works, and takes off in sales.

  • Wind energy saw record growth in 2008. Unfortunately the Bush Republican Recession is taking its toll now as expansion has slowed. Chris Schilling at the Tri-Cities Business Review has crunched some numbers from the American Wind Energy Association, and found that Michigan is lagging a bit when it comes to hitting our potential. Although we are 14th out of the 50 states for overall capacity, we currently are at No. 22 in installed capacity. Gosh, it's a shame that our legislature didn't get a RPS passed sooner, huh? And, for all those who said this was a "fad" that wouldn't create jobs:

    The same report indicated that the share of domestically manufactured wind turbine components grew from under 30 percent in 2005 to about 50 percent in 2008. The report points out that U.S. wind turbine and turbine component manufacturers announced, added, or expanded 70 new facilities in the past two years.

    Moreover, those new manufacturing facilities created 13,000 new direct jobs in 2008.

    Back to you, Dick.

  • If you clean it, they will come back. A beaver lodge has been spotted on the Detroit River, the first in 75 years.

  • I want to be John T. Greilick when I grow up.

  • Lansing celebrates its 150th anniversary with a year-long celebration. The town started as a swampland swindle back in the 1830's, when two brothers from New York returned home and told of a non-existent "Biddle City" to sell plots...

    They told the residents of Lansing, New York that this new "city" had an area of 65 blocks, contained a church and also a public and academic square. A group of 16 men bought plots in the nonexistent city and upon reaching the area later that year found they had been scammed. Many in the group too disappointed to stay ended up settling around what is now Metropolitan Lansing. Those who stayed quickly renamed the area "Lansing Township" in honor of their home village in New York.

    In 1847, mindful of those nasty British across the river from Detroit, plans were made to move the capitol of Michigan inland. After days and days of "political wrangling" in the Michigan House over where to locate the new capitol, they decided in secret to locate in "Lansing Township".

    And so began the long tradition of endless political fighting and rash decisions made in frustration that continues to this day....