Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Sunday Paper: March 14, 2010

New "enhanced" sign at the John Ball Park Zoo in Grand Rapids


  • Check your clocks. It may be later than you think.

  • Virg Bernero lands the big fish with the AFL-CIO endorsement. President Mark Gaffney said that Andy Dillon "is not close enough to us on our issues, our concerns", and that the Speaker's views are more closely aligned with Republicans. Really? Gee, hadn't noticed. Rick Haglund explores the Bernero platform past the populist anger and finds it wanting - but since none of the other candidates have sufficiently answered the questions surrounding their goals, it's probably not fair to single Virg out on that yet.

  • Lt. Gov. John Cherry was approached by labor about re-entering the race. "No thanks" was the answer. Smart man is he.

  • LG Chem made it official, and will build a 605,000 sq ft. lithium-ion battery facility in Holland, creating 400 new jobs by the year 2013. LG Chem will be making batteries for the Chevy Volt. Johnson Controls-Saft is already ahead of them, planning to have their battery facility and its 550 employees up and running by 2011. Holland Mayor Kurt Dykstra said having two battery plants “sets us up in Holland as being the North American leader for this industry.” They're happy, to say the least.

  • More economic development kudos for the state. Trade & Industry Development magazine's CiCi awards recognizes the top 30 development projects in North America for 2009; Michigan led the field with 6 out of a possible 15 awards in the Corporate Investment category. Check out the list here.

  • MEAP scores are showing improvements statewide in math and reading, with minorities and children with disabilities closing the gap with their peers. The Freep has the entire database of the state if you want to look up your local district.

  • Remember when Dick DeVos told us that we shouldn't chase "trendy" ideas like renewable energy? His investment firm Windquest is now jumping into its second venture in the field; a new partnership with Pro Services Inc. will explore turning waste into electricity. Good thing Dick didn't listen to Dick, huh?

  • This Week in Evil Republican Legislative Behavior: Senate Republican subcommittees cut both universities and community colleges by 3%, the "biggest cuts the senate subcommittees could make without jeopardizing money from the federal government". They restored the tuition grants to private universities that were cut last year, but they would not restore the Michigan Promise credit that Governor Granholm had proposed. They also attached stem-cell research reporting provisions onto this budget bill, characterized by a leader of the 2008 ballot proposal as a "very sneaky backdoor way" to hinder the intent of that amendment.

  • More Evil, from the other side of the Capitol: House Republicans are continuing their "War on the Poor" by proposing more government when it comes to people that receive Bridge Cards. Rep. Dave Agema wants the cards to have a picture ID, at the cost of $6 a card (they cost twenty five cents right now), and also suggests random drug testing, which has already been shot down once in this state as unconstitutional. No word on whether a funding source was included for all this new government spending that Agema is proposing, or how private businesses would be required to enforce such a mandate. Massachusetts had photo IDs at one time, but discontinued them after they were deemed too expensive and had no affect on cutting down fraud.

  • The idea of lengthening term limits seems to have hit the wall; both Kathy Barks Hoffman and an increasingly cynical Peter Luke take a long look at this issue. While there are some strong points to be made about inexperience on the part of new legislators, the fact that they seem to use this as an excuse to avoid making tough decisions is not winning them any points - after all, "inexperience" isn't preventing them from taking the easy, popular, and strictly partisan votes.

  • Ending on a positive note about our lawmakers - they did manage to pass "Katie's Law", a bill that would provide an honorary license to those unable to take final exams due to illness or other circumstances. The bill now goes to the governor for signature.The Michigan Board of Nursing presented Katie Viger with her honorary nursing license days before she died of brain cancer on Feb 18th. While this situation probably won't come up all that often, it's nice that this is available to reward those students that put in all that hard work. Good on you, Legislature.