- Associated Press - Monday, January 25, 2016

The Detroit News. Jan. 21, 2016

Detroit lawmakers should back DPS.

With widespread teacher sickouts, buildings in poor condition and a district quickly going broke, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has started warming to the governor’s plan to overhaul the finances and governance of Detroit Public Schools. His backing should help sway Detroit lawmakers, and that could speed the process in Lansing.

At this point, the Legislature needs to take some decisive action regarding the district to cover the growing debt burden that’s eating into DPS’ per-pupil funding.

The mayor has gone from one of the chief opponents of the governor’s legislative plan to its most influential backer.

“Lansing needs to act. I appreciated the governor’s comments last night, pushing the Legislature to move,” Duggan said Wednesday, referring to Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address.

Of course, the mayor’s change of heart is also because the Snyder proposal has changed significantly.

When he announced his vision for DPS last April, Snyder had wanted lawmakers to send DPS more than $700 million over 10 years. That money would allow the past debt burden to be paid down while creating a new district that could start fresh with educating kids.

In addition, Snyder proposed several new layers of governance - for both the new Detroit school district, as well as a board that would control the opening and closing of all schools in the city, including charter schools. More than half of the city’s schools are charters.

The governor’s blueprint had also called for heavy state involvement for years into the future. Duggan saw that as Snyder stepping on his turf.

But lawmakers were squeamish about these concepts, and the legislation that was finally introduced last Thursday is very pared down. The bills would direct $250 million toward the formation of a new city school district. But they leave out the concept of a Detroit Education Commission that would have overseen all city schools; the charter school community strongly opposed the idea.

And the bills would also turn control of an appointed school board in Detroit back to an elected one within a year.

Snyder’s education team had worked closely with Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart. As chair of the appropriations subcommittee on K-12 funding, Hansen’s involvement made sense. But he’s also from a small town near Lake Michigan - very far from Detroit.

And many other GOP lawmakers still aren’t eager to get involved with DPS, especially after recent incidents of teacher strikes and other unrest in the district. They don’t want to be seen as rewarding bad behavior.

Getting the Detroit delegation on board would alleviate some of the pressure on Republicans.

Duggan met with Detroit lawmakers on Tuesday afternoon, in an attempt to garner their support.

On Wednesday, Snyder told The Detroit News editorial board Duggan’s backing should help get legislation passed.

“It’s hard to ask out-state lawmakers to vote for it if Detroit lawmakers won’t,” Snyder said.

The current situation at DPS is not sustainable and is in fact deteriorating quickly. Detroit lawmakers should throw their support behind this legislation.


Lansing State Journal. Jan. 22, 2016

MSU leading the way on coal.

Michigan State University is leading the way in clean energy by putting a stop to the use of coal to power its campus.

The T.B. Simon Power Plant will no longer use coal once current supplies are exhausted, and the more than 250,000 tons of coal that is burned annually to heat and power the campus will be replaced by natural gas this spring.

By making the decision to stop using coal, MSU has made environmental groups like the Sierra Club happy; the university also will save money by heading off new EPA regulations that would make burning coal expensive.

Leading the way on clean energy options is yet another example of the impact MSU has on Greater Lansing.

Public television partnership has great potential for Lansing

The new partnership announced by MSU President Lou Anna Simon not only pleased the multitude of community members who spoke out against the sale of WKAR-TV spectrum space, it also hitched the MSU wagon to Detroit Public Television, the PBS affiliate serving the Detroit region.

For the community as a whole - and especially all who enjoy public television - this is a win. It’s also an example of MSU hearing and responding to community concerns.

The MSU-Detroit Public Television partnership is designed to enhance research efforts, innovation, student learning opportunities and new initiatives while also reinvigorating programs that educate and provide information not otherwise available to community members.

The first goal of the new partnership is the creation of a channel that runs children’s programming 24 hours a day; it’s step one of a positive movement with great potential.

LSJ office moves to iconic downtown building

The notable third-floor glass block windows on the front of the Knapp’s Centre downtown are now the newsroom walls of the Lansing State Journal.

As of Tuesday, the LSJ and Michigan.com staff are working from the iconic building in downtown Lansing. While the building is just one block west and one block north of our former building on Lenawee Street, Knapp’s allows us to be closer to the downtown and Capitol action.

Change can be hard, and media companies have seen plenty of it in recent years. This change is a good one, cementing the LSJ’s commitment to serving the people of Greater Lansing.


The Port Huron Times Herald. Jan. 22, 2016

Emergency lights: Slow down, think of Schultz .

We don’t know exactly what happened Friday morning on North Road in Clyde Township. St. Clair County Sheriff Department investigators are still sifting through the circumstances that took the life of Jason Schultz, owner of Preferred Towing. Whether that investigation will result in criminal charges likely won’t be known before next week.

We do know that Schultz was extricating a vehicle from a roadside ditch and that he was struck and killed by an 18-year-old driver who drove past the tow truck.

We also know that whatever they learned about how to behave in the presence of emergency vehicles, most Michigan drivers appear to have forgotten it.

For the purposes of this refresher, consider there to be two types of emergency vehicles, those that are moving and those that are stationary. And emergency vehicles include police cars, firetrucks, ambulances, rescue vehicles and tow trucks - and the category “firetrucks” includes the authorized personal vehicles of volunteer firemen.

Michigan’s Emergency Vehicle Caution Law, often called the move-over law, deals with stationary emergency vehicles. A driver approaching a stopped emergency vehicle with its lights flashing must - carefully - move over into an open lane to avoid putting emergency responders at risk.

If it is not possible to move into another lane because of traffic, weather or road conditions, the driver must slow down and pass with caution, giving the first responder as much room as possible.

We think the law could use one more clarification: If you cannot pass safely, you may not pass at all. Slow down so that you can stop if you need to. The loss of a few seconds is nothing compared to the loss of a life.

Failure to give a first responder safe space can get a driver a $150 fine and four points on his driver license. Causing an injury or death while violating the law means prison - up to 15 years.

Failing to yield to a moving emergency vehicle leads to similar penalties.

We see that law violated every day. The law is simple and clear. If an emergency vehicle is showing its warning lights and blaring its siren, drivers must move to the edge of the roadway and stop. There are no half-ways in that: Move out of the way and stop.

They’re keeping us safe. Let’s do what we can to keep them safe.


The Petoskey News-Review. Jan. 22, 2016

It’s time for governor to accept responsibility, take action in Flint

In many ways, we got what we expected from Gov. Rick Snyder’s “State of the State” speech Tuesday night in Lansing

It was heavily focused on Flint’s water crisis and what resources would be added to the effort dealing with lead contamination in the city’s drinking water supply.

Snyder dedicated $28 million more to help residents of the community and deployed more than 100 additional National Guard members, while also releasing his emails regarding response to the crisis.

Snyder also outlined the events and decisions that led to the water supply contamination, pinning the blame on government at all levels. It was encouraging to see Snyder accept responsibility for the problem.

“I let you down,” he said. “You deserve better. You deserve accountability. You deserve to know the buck stops here with me.”

Residents of Flint and the rest of the state deserved to hear that. It doesn’t fix the problem, but Snyder’s speech and commitment of more short-term solutions to help the city’s residents was an encouraging step toward a solution. Now, it’s time for action on long-term fixes.

The water became contaminated following a cost-saving decision in 2014 under leadership of a state financial emergency manager. The choice was made to switch the city’s water source to the Flint River. The water, however, was not properly treated and caused lead to leach from pipes into the supply.

Michigan’s Democratic leaders were critical of the Republican governor’s statements, saying he didn’t go far enough to accept blame for the failures and dedicate the necessary support to Flint residents for not only the short term but in the long term, as well.

Republican state legislators, though, came to the aid of their fellow GOP leader.

“(The people of Flint) were let down by all levels of government and that includes city, state and federal,” said state Rep. Lee Chatfield, a Levering Republican who represents residents in Emmet County. “But now is not the time for pointing fingers but rather rectifying the situation and providing meaningful solutions.”

While it’s agreed that pointing fingers for political gain is rarely a productive activity for our governmental leaders, in this case it is important to investigate where the system failed so such a massive and threatening error will not occur again. The people of Flint and throughout the state have a right to know where this process went wrong.

Snyder’s time in office has been trademarked by uplifting bumpersticker slogans. He never misses an opportunity to brag about Michigan as the “Comeback State,” and talks often about his leadership style that focuses on “relentless positive action.”

In this case, Flint and the state need a leader to navigate them through and out of a major public health crisis that is not going away any time soon. There is no phrase to be coined for fixing this one. We need a plan and action.

‘Our View’ represents the opinion of the News-Review editorial board: Ryan Bentley, Doug Caldwell, Jeremy McBain, Jordan Spence, Steve Zucker and Craig Currier.


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