Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Sunday Paper: March 21, 2010

For a change of pace, here are some happy people with signs. The Grand Rapids Google Fiber Flash Mob, a "small but enthusiastic" crowd of around 500, turned out for a rally to encourage Google to bring their high-speed fiber optic network to town. Grand Rapids rates first in Michigan, third in the nation for "digital conversations" about Google fiber. See a few more pics from the rally here.

Some news you may have missed while you were watching basketball. Or the health care follies. Or both.:

  • Peter Luke finds that the Republican candidate rhetoric often doesn't match up to Republican lawmaker reality. As we all know, Republicans love to eat the lunch, they just don't want to pay the bill. They are truly the party of dine-and-dash...

    Tea Partiers seeking answers from the candidates this primary season might want to ask whether any of them, upon taking office, would send that $1 billion right back to Washington to preserve Michigan’s sovereignty and pay down the national debt.

    Giving back federal money might not fly with Republican lawmakers who last week complained in a resolution that when it comes to federal highway money, Michigan wasn’t getting enough as it is. Senate Republicans not only want more highway aid, they want the same nice deal in the federal stimulus that exempts the state from having to match it. That way they don’t have to ask motorists, who in August or November might be driving to the polls, for a gas tax increase.

  • "They won't vote on reforms. They won't vote on revenues. They won't vote on cuts - but they'll do everything else", says Lynn Owen, the Governor's budget legislative liaison, quote courtesy of MIRS. Owen is speaking about... you guessed it... the Legislature! The House did manage to pass the Pure Michigan funding, but Andy Dillon now informs the media that they won't get the state employee/teacher early retirement bills done until after... you guessed it... spring break! Surprise, surprise, surprise, they are leaving other people hanging while they take a vacation. Again.

  • Speaker Dillon has plenty of time to campaign though. Whether it's pandering to the latest Republican mob outrage du jour, or standing up on a stage with Pete Hoekstra and saying, "Me too! I'm a Republican too!" as he disses the governor, Andy has all the time in the world to do anything but his current job. That must be why the latest poll shows that a Joe Schwarz run pulls more independents and Democrats to his side than it does peel voters off the R column. By the way, Hoekstra smokes Dillon 35-22. Now there's a barbecue.

  • Add Davison to the list of schools making cuts; the district is dropping driver's education and is talking of pink-slips for teachers. As this great diary at DKos explains, the very sad thing here is that this is happening all over the country, as state budgets are still dealing with the fallout of the recession.

  • Some better news - auto sales are very strong to start the month of March, reaching an annual rate of 12.1 million cars according to J.D. Power. The numbers have not been seen since the Cash for Clunkers surge. puts the figure even higher, at 13.2 million SAAR. More cars: J.D. Power's long-term auto durability report tells us that "seven of the 10 models with the lowest number of problems were built by either General Motors Co. or Ford Motor Co." Customers still perceive the brands as having quality issues though. Only time is going to change that.

  • Some Michigan residents receiving food assistance will see a bump in their monthly total, thanks to the state leveraging low income energy assistance into extra food aid. DHS estimates that every $5 spent means $9.20 to local economies, and that this will translate into $360 million in total economic activity in the state. Wonder what the formula for road funding is...

  • ... because Isabella County is the latest local community that might have to ask voters for a millage to repair their roads. Maybe they can ask Speaker Dillon about that the next time he's in town for a Republican gubernatorial debate.

  • Community colleges and universities over on the west side are gearing up to train people for all the battery jobs that are headed our way - but as Rick Haglund points out, these are not your high-wage manufacturing jobs of old. Still, they do pay better than your average no benefits, no stability service jobs - so let's get to it.

  • Michigan's 3rd Congressional district just may have found themselves a good Dem candidate. I don't know much about Pat Miles yet, but he looks promising. After years of the party throwing sacrificial lambs to the Vern Ehlers machine, it will be nice to have a shot at this seat for a change. You guys are going to fund this race, right?

  • "I think people should be able to watch ‘Jeopardy!' in peace." - Mark Schauer. See why he said that here. And gee, we've only just begun.