Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Sunday Paper: June 13, 2010

The Congress of Industrial Organizations HQ. Muskegon Dems should recognize this sign. The AFL and the CIO merged back in 1955.

A special shout-out to those who quietly give back to help others starts off this week's edition...

  • Why is it the DNews can run at least one union-bashing editorial a day, but somehow can never find the ink to show how unions have been willing to make sacrifices? Couple more stories of union members making concessions to save jobs popped up this week: The Farmington Police opted for pay cuts and reduced benefits to save public safety jobs in that town. “We want to help the city... we want to preserve the services in Farmington,” Public Safety Department Commander Terry Purves told the city council. And in Montague, teachers accepted a four-year contract with concessions and health care savings to keep bus drivers and custodians from being privatized. Next time someone says we need to cut public employee pay and benefits, check and see if your locals have already given at the office. It happens more than you think.

  • Fewer teachers than hoped for are taking advantage of the state's early retirement deal; estimates of fourteen to sixteen thousand or so are well short of the 27,000 they had expected. This scenario was predicted by some when the bills passed - but it still will alleviate some of the cuts that had been proposed. Districts are reporting a mixed bag when it comes to covering the positions of teachers and staff that are leaving. Some will be able to avoid forced layoffs, some are going to have to hire new teachers, and some are worried about losing teachers because of "so many openings in other districts". What this means for the budget won't be clear until the final numbers are in; Friday was the deadline to apply.

  • Speaking of the budget, since lawmakers are refusing to enact the common-sense and solid fiscal plan that is already on the table, might as well spread that K-12 money around so colleges and other education programs don't have to take on the Republican cuts. Sorry schools, these people will not act this year to fix our chronic deficits, and is instead choosing to pass the (no) buck to the next legislature. Best that we save as many as we can now, and that means we gotta share whatever we can get.

  • One last budget note: House Dem Fred Miller brought up the idea that perhaps business tax credits can be trimmed to help fund education and other critical entrepreneurial programs. Since it makes so much sense to spread the "sacrifice" out and apply it fairly to everyone who has a stake in Michigan's future, of course this idea went nowhere. Thanks for trying though.

  • As of 2008, Michigan's birth rate was down 21% since 2000. Can't imagine 2009 was any better.

  • There is still some $$ available in the Cash for Appliance Clunkers program that started in the spring. The state and appliance retailers want you to know that the rebate amounts have been bumped up on things like furnaces and water heaters, and the standard appliance rebates are still running as well. Check here for more details.

  • Looking for something to do this afternoon? Today is the last day of Free Fishing Weekend. If you missed this weekend but want to get out there some other time this summer, remember you can always get a one-day fishing license through your mobile phone. That is government efficiency in action - expect to see more of it in the future as the increasingly wired world turns to online apps for speed and convenience.

  • Grand Valley State University issued the first in a series of Michigan wind energy briefs; the report will cover environmental issues, public perception of wind farms including offshore visibility, and placement of farms near existing electric infrastructure. Meanwhile, lawmakers in Lansing are just now putting together a work group to study the offshore wind issue, predicting it will be done "after the election". There's a shocker. S'OK, take your time, not like we NEED THE JOBS or anything. You've got campaigning to do. We understand.

  • 60 isn't too old to run for mayor. Just sayin'.

  • Me-ow. Check out the cat-fight between DeVos and Hoekstra over Republican special interests anointing Cox to be their puppet this past week. The battle seems to be over who is the biggest "insider" - as if any one of this group can lay claim to being some kind of "outsider" - Washington, Lansing, doesn't matter, they are all neck-deep in the big mud. If it didn't carry such tragic consequences for the people of this state, it would be laughable.

  • Got a question for any of the gubernatorial candidates? (Besides Snyder, that is?) Since I can't seem to get past the very broad, open-ended and rhetorical "What in the hell is wrong with you people?", I'll leave it to you to submit your questions for the WOOD TV debates, which will be televised live starting on June 21st for the Dems, and June 24th for the Pubs.