- Associated Press - Monday, October 3, 2016

The Detroit News. September 30, 2016

Violent crime improving in Detroit.

Crime has been a popular topic in the presidential election, but most of the debate has revolved around high-profile events in a handful of cities throughout the country, or explicitly on Chicago, where crime is soaring.

But now there’s data to back up the perception that violent crime across the country is on the rise. The violent crime rate is still much lower than it was in the 1980s and 1990s, but the recent uptick isn’t a good sign.

The FBI released crime statistics for 2015 earlier this week. Nationwide, violent crime increased by nearly 4 percent over 2014, and homicides in particular rose almost 11 percent over the same time.

The 2015 violent crime rate is the country’s highest in three years. What’s unclear is why violence is increasing.

With so much ongoing tension between police forces in many cities and the communities they serve - a phenomenon dubbed the “Ferguson effect,” after the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri - many have claimed officers are policing in a less aggressive manner.

That could be one cause. Certainly police relations aren’t at an all-time high.

Poverty and continued economic and wage stagnation could be another reason. About 950 more homicides were reported in the 100 largest cities in 2015 than in 2014. According to a New York Times analysis of the new data, about half of them took place in seven cities where the poverty rate is higher than the national average.

The good news is that in Detroit and throughout the state, the number of violent crimes and property crimes decreased.

Violent crime in the city dropped 13 percent in 2015. Those numbers set Detroit apart from other major U.S. cities with similar populations, such as Milwaukee and Baltimore, where homicides in particular increased last year.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig attributed the continued decline to the police force’s strong community relations, which seem to improve year after year.

Property crimes in Detroit, which include car theft, burglary and larceny, decreased last year by 16 percent. Car thefts decreased by about half, a very promising sign for the city’s safety and well-being.

Still, violent crime in Detroit remains too high; it ranks second in the nation after St. Louis. The city’s 2015 murder rate was essentially unchanged from 2014: 295 last year compared to 298 in 2014, or a rate of 44 per 100,000 people.

So improvements in the overall violent crime rate must be put in perspective. There’s a lot of work to do in Detroit, and elsewhere in Michigan.

In Flint, for example, the number of murders increased a staggering 67 percent - to 47 last year from 28 in 2014 - but the overall violent crime rate decreased about 14 percent. That just bumps it from the list of the top 10 most violent cities in America with populations of more than 50,000.

In both cities, a stronger police presence and better community relations are beginning to pay off.

___

Port Huron Times Herald. Sept. 30, 2016

Even if it’s a good cause, do your own homework.

In Port Huron alone, IRS databases list hundreds of nonprofit and charitable groups, ranging from 4-H clubs and a hobbyist group that practices decorate painting of household objects to the Community Foundation of St. Clair County and United Way.

All of them, we suspect, share the same origin story. A group of friends, acquaintances or activists with a passion for a particular issue became motivated to change the world, later realized money might be involved, and then filed the necessary paperwork with the state and federal governments.

Nearly all of them remain true to their passions. Nearly all of them remain true to the promises implied by filing those documents and by the word “charity.”

Reporter Nicole Hayden’s story today suggests the traits potential donors should check before giving money to a nonprofit they believe shares their particular passion and mission. They are:

.Fidelity to the group’s objectives - make sure the group is doing what it exists to do.

.Transparency in its mission and in its financials - ask to check the books. Sometimes, but not always and maybe not often, a charity that won’t open its books, freely and completely, has something to hide.

.Whether its board structure promises good governance. Every organization, whether it is the federal government, a small business or a civic club, needs checks and balances. A nonprofit led and managed by a small group of family members might not have that.

Sometimes, nonprofits fail all those tests as well as our expectations. Typically when that happens, money ends up in the wrong pockets. Angry donors feel like victims of a robbery. And in most cases, that nonprofit paperwork a once-passionate group filed with the government does nothing to prevent the fraud and mend the damage.

Those state and federal agencies are little more than registries. They are not regulators. The question is whether they should be.

We think not.

First, no government agency should be determining the value and legitimacy of our missions. And no bureaucrat should be measuring the quantity and quality of our passions.

That has to remain the responsibility of each of us as individual donors. Kick the tires, check the books, and make our world a better place.

___

Lansing State Journal. September 30, 2016

Dantonio’s words ring true.

With national turmoil and racial tension going on around them, it is important for young men using peaceful protest to help raise awareness to have the support of a coach they respect.

Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio provided his players with that respect - and more.

I can’t make assumptions for our players for what they’ve gone through in their lives,” Dantonio said. “All I can do is try to lead in the best way I can and be positive and accepting to our football team and our players.”

Well done, Coach Dantonio. A thoughtful and genuine response to a sticky issue is leadership at its finest. Your players take their cues about respect and responsibility from you.

Community recognizes ‘10 Over the Next Ten’

The results are in and the future is bright.

The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce’s 10 Over the Next Ten recognizes young professionals going above and beyond the scope of their jobs to have an impact on the region.

In its 10th year, that means Greater Lansing has recognized 100 up-and-comers, many who’ve already left their fingerprints on the region’s transformation and even more who are still shaping their legacies.

Congratulations to Lauren Aitch, Michael Bass, Patrick Dean, Tyler Dyke, Veronica Gracia-Wing, Angela Minicuci, Michael Nordmann, Ben Rathbun, Christopher Sell and Jose Yanez.

Keep your eyes on these 10 - and those who came before and those who will come after. Greater Lansing is in good hands.

Empty Bowls fills the food bank

Lansing area potters are getting ready for the 26th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser Oct. 11.

A great way to celebrate art, the event’s primary mission is to raise money for the Greater Lansing Food Bank.

The Greater Lansing Potters’ Guild helps coordinate about 300 bowls for the event, which allows participants to select a bowl to fill with soup for a $20 donation. A modest meal, but you get to keep the bowl as a reminder of those in our community who struggle with hunger.

Last year, the event raised nearly $13,000. Let’s continue the tradition of helping others in need.

___

Petoskey News-Review. September 30, 2016

Petoskey makes smart move on firetruck.

Petoskey city leaders saved themselves - and those they serve - about $100,000 and a year’s worth of time in finding a slightly used firetruck to replace one that is more than 30-years-old and is a constant risk to fail them in times of need.

In August, Petoskey voters approved a new 0.75-mill property tax levy to pay for updating the city’s fire fleet. Officials planned to purchase a new truck, which would take about a year and possibly more to be built and delivered.

Then, earlier this month they were alerted to an existing 2016 model that had been used for demonstration purposes by Sutphen Corp. of Ohio. The truck, which is equipped with a 100-foot aerial platform, a 1,500-gallon-per-minute water pump and a 500-horsepower diesel engine, is nearly identical to the one they planned to order and comes at a price of $1.09 million, or about $100,000 less than a brand new truck.

Perhaps more importantly than the cost savings, though, is that the city’s public safety department will not have to wait a year or more for their truck to be manufactured.

The 32-year-old ladder truck that will be retired is in frequent need of repair and parts are often difficult to find for the old vehicle.

It is also a threat to fail firefighters during times of need as mechanical problems already have occurred during calls, rendering the truck unusable for its intended purpose.

During a July 4 fire at an apartment complex in Petoskey, for example, the department’s oldest aerial truck suffered a complete mechanical failure and could not be used to fight the fire.

This was the fear in recent years - that the department’s aging fleet would not serve firefighters when they needed the trucks most.

Voters saw the need and cast their ballots in favor of the extra millage this summer. Even then, though, there was worry that a year was a long time to wait and hope.

In finding and acting quickly on the demonstration truck, Petoskey officials are ensuring they’ll be best equipped to battle whatever emergency awaits.

___

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide