Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Sunday Paper: May 16, 2010

Driving the Mighty Mac. Tip 'o the hat and a great big thank you goes out to Lawrence Rubin, who passed away this week at the age of 97. Rubin was fundamental in planning and securing funding for the bridge starting in 1950, and then went on to run it for 34 years as executive secretary of the Mackinac Bridge Authority. He built two homes that overlook the Mac, and in his spare time wrote two books about it as well. See some fascinating 50s era pictures from the construction of the bridge here.

Cleaning out the stuff I saved over the week:

  • The first federal legal defense of the nation's new health care law was filed right here in Michigan; Justice Department lawyers submitted a 46-page brief in federal court in Detroit explaining that yes, Congress does have the power to make laws that will "regulate interstate commerce and provide for the general welfare". If they can't, we are going to have bigger problems than anything the health care bill would ever do.

  • The Big Three have now reached wage parity with foreign automakers, and predictions are that they will achieve a cost advantage by as early as 2013. The union concessions of 2007 and starting new hires at a lower rate are credited with the lowered average. A Pyrrhic victory, as not only are workers making less, it hurts the state's bottom line. So, next time someone says "overpaid union auto workers", be sure and set them straight.

  • Revenge of the Turtle: Pete Hoekstra takes the passive-aggressive route to answer Mike Cox in a new TV ad that embraces the NRA, the anti-choice Right to Life crowd, the anti-gay Family Research Council, the anti-tax Citizens Against Government Waste, and the "I'm rubber, you're glue" defense when it comes to the race to see who can be the biggest tea bag in Michigan. Did you enjoy the Bush years, people? Think before you vote.

  • As far as Cox goes, you can officially call his first TV shot a "Major Advertising FAIL". Not only did Twitter Pete give him the "wingnut high-road snub", he also was asked to pull an image of an old supporter of his who has now switched to Synder, AND the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association asked him to pull the ad altogether, defending Hoekstra's vote that brought $286 million in federal money to Michigan. Question now is: Does Cox try this again? Peter Luke warns this is just going to get worse.

  • We better extend that anti-bullying legislation to the Legislature itself. Just last week we had Mike Bishop calling the Senate Democrats "terrorists", and now reports come out that Senate Republican Roger Kahn went crazy and stomped on the cell phone of a staffer when his car keys went missing. Republicans want to downplay the severity of this incident - just like they wanted to down play the severity of the incident when Kahn yelled at Sen. Clark-Coleman in the elevator last year. Perhaps the lawmakers themselves could use a program - there are some serious anger management issues going on in that chamber.

  • And legislators, just remember, if you can't behave yourselves, there are 678 job applicants ready to take your place. Some notable names have dropped out since filing day, but there are plenty of new kids that would love their shot at Crazy Town. Why, I'm not sure, but you're all on notice. Between federal and state filings, 782 candidates total were reported, a 31% jump since 2006.

  • More evidence of how the Republican "all-cuts" policy is leading to back-door tax increases: Grand Rapids Community College moved to raise their tuition for the coming year, citing the fact that "more students are enrolling while less dollars are coming to us through property taxes and state revenue". Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor has raised tuition as well. University presidents are threatening to do the same. Senate Republicans have proposed another 3.1% cut to college funding this year.

  • What's the deal with the US Department of Energy holding up the loans for the renewable energy companies for the Ford Wixom plant? C'mon feds, let's get moving. Jobs are waiting to be created here. There is going to be an auto town recovery summit at the White House this Tuesday featuring all your favorite names from Michigan and beyond, sure hope some arms get twisted and ears get bent on this project.

  • Don't put your Gummi Bears in sulfuric acid. Apparently bad things happen.

  • Good news for the environment and bird fans - the Kirtland's Warbler may be taken off the endangered species list. Back in 1990, a non-profit group named American Forests started planting jack pine trees, the bird's natural habitat. 20 years later, one million trees have been planted, and officials have counted the recovery target of 1,000 singing males for nine consecutive years now. Wildlife experts say that maintaining the trees is key to the bird's continued recovery.