Local and Michigan Headlines: GRPS Cuts Approved; PETA Opposes Horse-drawn Carriages in Holland

Here’s some local and Michigan headlines:

If we missed anything, let us know in the comments.

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Local and Michigan Headlines: Community Supported Agriculture in Michigan; The GRPS Teacher Contract Dispute

Here’s some interesting articles pertaining to Grand Rapids and Michigan from elsewhere on the Internet:

  • Michigan Will Lead the Green Industrial Revolution – Governor Jennifer Granholm takes to the Huffington Post to talk up Michigan’s work addressing climate change. Specifically, she is championing efforts to make cars made in Detroit more fuel-efficient. I’m really as excited about it as she is, but at least she’s out there making the effort to improve Michigan’s reputation.
  • Details of new UAW deal with General Motors – Not surprisingly, the UAW leadership made many concessions to GM on the union health plan, raises, and medical benefits for retirees.
  • EPA pledges ‘expeditious action’ on Dow dioxin clean-up, but Superfund status not in the works – While promising to hold Dow Chemical accountable for dioxin pollution, the organization failed to place the contaminated Saginaw Bay and Saginaw River watershed on the Superfund list. Nevertheless, environmental groups are cautiously optimistic that the EPA will finally hold Dow accountable.
  • Employee Stock Ownership, But Not Control – While not about Michigan per se, this article looks at union stock ownership in the auto industry and what that has meant for unions. This is particularly interesting as it relates to the Chrysler bankruptcy and the likely GM bankruptcy. The article was published in Labor Notes, so it is more focused on the perspective of workers and unions than what we typically see in the corporate press.
  • Cox: Top priority as governor would be tax cut – Attorney General Mike Cox has announced that he is running for governor of Michigan in 2010. His main goal would be to enact a $2 billion tax cut which include a 50% reduction is business taxes. Less revenue? That sounds just like what a struggling state government needs.
  • Arab Americans discuss profiling with security chief – Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano recently met with members of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) and the Michigan chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee to discuss their concerns about profiling of Arab Americans at Michigan’s border crossings. The groups want the Department of Homeland Security to collect statistics on the race, national origin, and gender of those stopped at border crossings.
  • Kentwood police identify Michael Sulewski as pedestrian struck on 28th Street – Another pedestrian was hit by a car recently. Drivers really need to look out for cyclists and pedestrians–this is getting ridiculous.
  • What gives in Grand Rapids Public Schools? Either union or district must budge in contract dispute – Here’s the Grand Rapids Press’ look at the ongoing dispute in the Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) over contracts for its teachers. It’s a decent summary of some of the issues in the nearly two-year old labor dispute.
  • Policy change works to provide permanent housing for the homeless, rent payments to those on brink of evictionThe Grand Rapids Press reports that a new state policy shift will allow Emergency Shelter Partnership funds to go towards rent subsidies to keep people in their homes rather than shelters. The Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homelessness applauded the move.
  • Community farms sprouting up across areaThe Muskegon Chronicle has a nice story on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and its popularity as more people look at the health and cost-saving benefits of locally grown produce.

If we missed anything, let us know in the comments.

Local/Michigan Headlines: New Contract for GRPS Superintendent; Michigan’s Coal “Needs”

Here’s some articles published elsewhere in the past twenty-four hours or so that really shouldn’t be missed:

  • Increase in syphilis cases worries local health departments – There has been a rise in cases of syphilis in several counties–including Kent–in Michigan. County health departments and other organizations are responding with increased educational efforts aimed at increasing knowledge of the disease.
  • State champions green industry with new report, conference – The State of Michigan has staked much of its economic future on the promise and potential of “green jobs.” It recently held a conference and issued a report on how the sector is growing. According to the report, green sector jobs grew by 7.7% from 2005 to 2008.
  • Michigan Does Not Need — Nor Should It Have — New Generation from Coal – This piece by local activist Shirley Kallio offers a good critique of claims that Michigan needs more coal-fueled power plants to meet the state’s energy. Kallio looks at claims that energy demand is growing, that coal is the cheapest energy source, and that coal is the most reliable source of energy and critiques those assertions.
  • Media Bites: Sprite – The Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID) provides an analysis of a recent Sprite commercial, looking at both how the product is marketed and Coca-Cola’s efforts to privatize water.
  • Superintendent Bernard Taylor’s pact extended three years by Grand Rapids school board – The GRPS board extended Superintendent Bernard Taylor’s contract by three years even as teachers in the district continue to work without a contract.
  • Detroit People’s Task Force battles false crime lab evidence – “Thirty-five Michigan prisoners and their loved ones are leading a battle against convictions based on deliberately falsified or invalid, unscientific, crime lab evidence.”
  • Doctors: Medicaid cuts will hurt patients – The Lansing State Journal reports that cuts to Medicaid will hurt patients. One in six Michiganders rely on the program and the state has received more money to fund the program through the federal stimulus package, but the money generally isn’t making it back to doctors. Not surprisingly, doctors are upset–but I read this article as all the more reason for a universal healthcare system.

If we missed anything, please let us know in the comments.

The GRPS Bond Issue

Reprinted from Chumps on Parade (March 1998)

The biggest news of the past month was the failure of the school bond issue. It was voted down by around 16,000 votes to 10,000 votes. While it isn’t that much of a surprise, students should still be mad that it failed to pass.

A person has to be stupid in order to say that our schools didn’t need the 396 million dollars the bond would have given us. Take a look at the schools around Grand Rapids. Forrest Hills, East Grand Rapids, Grandville, Caledonia, and many others are at least twice as nice as the Grand Rapids district. Many of our schools are falling apart, due to the lack of new books and equipment, or at some schools, literally falling apart. People who can afford it run to the suburbs once their kids are old enough to go to school. Where does it leave the children of parents who can’t afford to move? Screwed. They are forced to go to schools that are inferior.

Why did the bond issue get voted down? The main reason is the fact that the majority of people who voted were elderly. They figure at that their children have already graduated and that they don’t want to have to more taxes. Mary Milanowski and her “group” of people opposed to the bond issue also played an important role in getting the issue defeated. She got people to vote “no” because she was on the school board in the past. When she said that the schools didn’t need the money, people believed her. Never mind the fact that when she was on the school board she voted no on almost everything, what a help she was. I wonder if she is ignorant or just plain dumb? I’m guessing it is the latter.

Another popular argument was “we should have never let the schools deteriorate into this state.” Well, I don’t think anyone besides YOU, the people who consistently voted no, had anything to do with that. There have been many millages in the past that you must have voted no on. So blame it on yourself, it’s your fault. None of the people working for the GRPS, on the school board (except Mary Milanowski), or the students wanted the schools to fall apart. As for those old people that voted no. If you took the time to go INTO a school you would notice that they basically the same as when your children graduated, or in some cases, when YOU graduated. Nobody can say there isn’t something wrong with that situation.

If people in the 18-25 age group actually voted, it would probably have made a big difference. Those people would know that the schools need help, and would probably have voted “yes”. So next time, get out and vote. Also, not enough adults who have children in school voted. Whether it was due to laziness or some other reason, they really screwed their children by not taking the minute required to vote. Thanks so much.