- Associated Press - Monday, January 16, 2017

The Detroit News. January 11, 2017

Auto CEOs should relax about trade

Three things have emerged clearly from the press preview at the 2017 North American International Auto Show and its AutoMobili-D adjunct.

One: Every carmaker and major supplier is going to bring us self-driving automobiles as quickly as they possibly can, whether we want them or not. Two: Electrified vehicles will take over the world sooner or later.

And three: Donald Trump has really gotten inside the heads of automotive CEOs. Many, including General Motors chief Mary Barra and Sergio Marchionne, head of Fiat Chrysler, openly worried that the president-elect doesn’t appreciate the difficulty of running a global automaker nor the complexities of international trade.

Now, we are philosophically, intellectually and even reflexively free-trade: It’s what makes the world go ‘round economically. And Trump’s demagoguing on the issue of automotive jobs in Mexico has bothered us since he launched his presidential campaign.

It’s also true that the kind of trade-modification measures Trump has suggested - such as a 35 percent tariff on car imports to the U.S. from Mexico - could pretty much explode the auto industry as it’s now constructed.

But our advice is that car-company CEOs should relax, and they should take a broader view. They might enjoy America’s pre-eminent auto show more if they did.

Here’s why: Donald Trump is a negotiator if he’s anything, and clearly he’s staking out a negotiating position so that he can get what he really wants from Mexico, which likely is some substantial improvements in NAFTA. He is a highly successful global businessman who surely knows what he’s doing more than the cognoscenti will acknowledge.

Trump himself very recently gave us an example of how he’s likely to handle Mexican auto production. Remember the campaign when he said Mexico will build a wall against illegal immigration to the United States and pay for it? Well, a few days ago Trump modified that to say what he’s more likely to do is build a wall and then make sure Mexico reimburses the U.S. for it. Also, it might not be a wall after all but just a really high fence.

Also, Trump already has been pretty good for the car business as a whole and likely is to be even better once he actually takes office.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn implied the other day that Trump was responsible for the jump in American consumer confidence which rather suddenly has led auto chieftains like him to hope that 2017 actually could be better for U.S. sales than the record level in 2016.

Also consider the fact that Trump wants to cut corporate taxes, Ghosn said, and “all of this is going to go in the direction of boosting growth” and creating “great things for the industry.”

Similarly, Toyota board member Mark Hogan told Forbes that he’s optimistic. “I look forward to a more pro-business environment, including tax cuts and incentives for job creation,” Hogan said. Trump is “willing to work on rebuilding the U.S. manufacturing base so that we can become a pre-eminent exporter again.”

All of that doesn’t even take into account the strong possibility that Trump will relax stiff future emissions and fuel-economy standards.

Looking at this bigger picture might help automotive CEOs look forward to Jan. 20 just a bit more.

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Lansing State Journal. January 10, 2017

Chevy update stays, Oma’s not typical vodka and CPR legislation

This week, General Motors unveiled the new model of the Chevrolet Traverse, a crossover vehicle made at the Lansing Delta Township Assembly plant since 2010.

A $583-million redesign of the plant last summer will allow the new model to continue being made right here in Lansing, more good news in a growing list of GM investments in the region.

For the more than 3,200 employees - as well as leaders in the Greater Lansing business community and at GM - this represents a continued commitment to local partnership and innovation in manufacturing.

The 2018 Traverse base model will go on sale for a starting price of $24,000 ($5,000 less than the current model), along with more leg room for rear passengers and more cargo space than current models. It’s also projected to get better mileage. Innovations like these are indicators of advancement: for both the car and the region.

Lansing will build new generation Chevy Traverse

Not your typical vodka

Lansing resident Hedy Steinbart, 91, is a German immigrant who has been infusing vodka with her family since before coming to the U.S. in 1952. Jan. 16, Oma’s Cherry Infused Vodka will be for sale online, thanks to an entrepreneurial grandson who took a beloved family product and is turning it into a brand.

Learning the technique from her parents, Steinbart uses real fruit - in this case cherries from Traverse City - to soak in the vodka, infusing it with sweetness and taking away the burn. This is not the same as simple flavored vodkas that still burn; the way it is prepared makes it unique.

Steinbart, with help from her grandson, serves as one local reminder of the American Dream. Oma’s vodka illustrates the importance of shopping small and buying local. That helps keep the dream alive.

At 91, Lansing woman’s vodka recipe goes national

New legislation for CPR in schools

Of the over 357,000 people who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital each year in America, only around 8% survive.

Michigan legislators seek to change that with a new law passed late last year to require that all Michigan school districts begin teaching cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrilation starting in fall 2017.

Simplified requirements show the benefits of having a single 30-minute demonstration some time between seventh and 12th grades, with estimates of having 100,000 new trained individuals each year.

This is a positive move for schools and for all of us who may need this lifesaving technique - for ourselves or our loved ones - at some point in the future.

Michigan students will learn to save lives with CPR training

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Times Herald (Port Huron). January 11, 2017

Lawmakers want do-over on failed schools law

Michigan lawmakers have identified repealing a 2009 law that lets the state take over failing local schools as one of their top priorities of the new session. Sen. Phil Pavlov, a Republican from St. Clair Township, has introduced legislation to repeal the law that allows the state to close or take over chronically under-performing schools that aren’t improving despite other state interventions.

He blames the law’s failings - he says it is “riddled with flaws” - on the Jennifer Granholm administration. It is true that she was governor when the law was adopted. But Granholm didn’t write the law that Pavlov is now calling ambiguous and unworkable.

Lawmakers drafted the legislation - at least we hope it was them and not lobbyists or special interests. Pavlov was principal sponsor of one of the bills in the package.

The problem Pavlov and educators point to with the existing law is that the rules that put a school in the state’s cross-hairs are not perfectly clear. “The metrics of getting on the list are flawed,” Pavlov told the Associated Press, “as are the metrics of getting off the list.”

The metrics are clear, although not necessarily fair. A school that consistently performs among the state’s worst, as measured mainly by student performance on standardized tests, is required to create a turnaround plan. Schools that implement a state-approved improvement plan but make no progress could face closure.

The standards are clear. What’s also clear is that the state has been unwilling to face the backlash that such heavy-handedness in the name of school reform would require. Lansing has been willing to bring the hammer down on failing urban, big-city schools but flinches at seizing a school in places where parents have the time and resources to organize opposition.

In other words, the defect in the law is it works best for schools in neighborhoods Republican reformers and their charter-school fundraisers aren’t interested in.

The law may need repeal. In some cases, it appears unfair and unreasonable. It has, though, made a positive difference for pupils attending schools that fell into the state’s interventions.

Pavlov and his colleagues have had eight years with this law. That is five more years than a troubled school gets for its turnaround.

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Petoskey News-Review. January 13, 2017

It was a pretty good year around here

It became trendy on social media toward the end of last year to claim 2016 one of the worst years on record.

From the deaths of several beloved musicians, actors and other celebrity icons to a fiery political campaign year in the U.S. and mass killings domestically and in areas of unrest around the world, it indeed was a year with plenty of opportunities to grieve and reflect on relations both at home and abroad.

But the News-Review’s editorial board also views 2016 as a year of progress and renewed excitement in Northern Michigan as investors and developers continue to see opportunity for growth and success in the region and local groups and businesses staffed by hard-working locals doing amazing things with limited resources.

Here are just a few of the great things we saw last year in our corner of northwest Michigan:

- Walloon Lake village is alive again after a years-long project - undertaken by Melrose Township officials on the public side and father-and-son developers Jon and Matt Borisch of Grand Rapids - has been completed. Over the last several years, a new restaurant, marina, water sports store and more have opened in the little village at the southern end of Walloon Lake. In 2016, township officials completed a makeover of the village strip that runs along M-75 with lighting and a streetscape that is more pedestrian friendly and provides better parking options for those coming to visit the area’s businesses.

- Petoskey High School’s Northmen Stadium, part of a $10 million athletic complex on the school’s campus, was completed and opened to the public in late August in time for Petoskey’s football season. The stadium is a gem built partially into a hill, giving it a bowl effect that makes games, performances and other activities there visible from many angles inside and outside of the gates. It’s a great facility that local residents will be able to enjoy for decades to come.

- The highly successful Festival of the Book in Harbor Springs was enjoyed by many in its first year after organizers worked at length to organize the event. Panel discussions, presentations and sessions with well-known authors highlighted an event that for many remarked far exceeded their expectations. The organizers of this event did a fantastic job meeting their goals and the buzz for the next one started almost immediately afterward.

- School robotics programs in Boyne City and Petoskey continue excelling on a high level. Both competed in nationals in 2016, making a name for themselves and providing students with unique experiences.

- Boyne City officials began construction on new city facilities, demolishing the old structures at the Lake Charlevoix waterfront and beginning to build new ones that will house emergency services, city administration offices and a museum.

- School districts in Boyne City and Boyne Falls saw enrollment increases above what had been expected, providing more money to the districts and showing a continuing trend of growth in that area of Charlevoix County.

- After years of planning and development, construction began in 2016 on the 15-mile non-motorized trail that will link Boyne City to the Little Traverse Wheelway just north of Charlevoix. Local officials persevered through a series of frustrating starts and stops and finally completed the first segment of this trail on the Boyne City end. By the time it’s done, you could travel from Boyne City to northern Emmet County using a network of paved trails separated safely from the roadway.

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