- Associated Press - Monday, March 7, 2016

The Detroit News. Mar. 3, 2016

We endorse Ohio Gov. John Kasich in GOP vote.

Michigan voters again have the opportunity to shape the outcome of the Republican presidential nominating contest when they cast their ballots Tuesday.

Four years ago, the state gave native son Mitt Romney a narrow but critical victory that sent him away with the momentum his campaign needed to defeat rival Rick Santorum.

This time, Michigan could be where a true alternative at last emerges to front-runner Donald Trump, who comes out of the Super Tuesday vote with a formidable lead in the delegate count.

That candidate should be John Kasich, the Ohio governor who offers a heaping measure of maturity, competence and experience to a GOP race that has taken on the air of a junior high class officer’s election. Kasich also possesses the temperament that can command respect both at home and abroad.

Those should be the minimum qualifications for a nominee. And yet, of the remaining candidates, only Kasich has demonstrated them consistently on the campaign trail. It doesn’t hurt that Kasich also has a record of success in Ohio and, before that, in Congress.

Under his leadership the past five years, state taxes have been slashed by nearly $5 billion. The budget, once facing an $8 billion shortfall, is now enjoying a surplus. The jobless rate has fallen to 5.2 percent, from above 9 percent when he took office. Ohio’s economy has grown at twice the Midwest average, as has household income. America could use those kind of numbers.

Kasich is continuing in Ohio what he began as a congressman. In 1997, he was a key player in the deal that led to a rare balanced federal budget, and was also a driver of sensible welfare reform. And 18 years on the House Armed Services Committee highlights his national security background. The congressional experience rounds out a resume that should give voters confidence that Kasich can handle challenges both domestically and overseas.

Beyond the record, Kasich stands out from this field for his absence of stridency. He is conservative, but not an ideologue. He is willing to break with Republican dogma when the situation demands pragmatism, as he did in joining Michigan’s Rick Snyder as one of the few Republican governors who agreed to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

He is devoutly religious, without being intolerant, and understands that society and the government are obliged morally to help those who can’t help themselves. Kasich’s work on criminal justice reform in Ohio has turned around lives, while saving taxpayers money.

And then there’s this: Kasich does not covet the presidency so desperately that he’s willing to say or do anything to get elected. He has not changed his positions, nor surged to extremes to appeal to the party’s base. That distinguishes him from most others in this race, on both sides.

Of the other Republican candidates in the race, Marco Rubio comes the closest to making a case for the White House. The young Florida senator has considerable promise, and a compelling story. The son of Cuban immigrants, if nominated, he would be the first Hispanic major party presidential candidate. He has a sound plan for economic growth and is strong on national security.

Rubio offers the most depth in his proposals and is intensely focused on policy details. He certainly has what it takes to be president. Yet he has been too quick to bend in the quest for votes, as he did in backing off the Senate immigration compromise he helped forge as part of the Gang of Eight.

The rest of the GOP card ranges from disappointing to dangerous. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is a demagogue who has been an obstructionist in the Senate, believing that a minority has the right to impose its will on the majority. He is not the person to break the gridlock in Congress and get the country advancing again. He’s too preachy, and too convinced of his own righteousness.

Detroit native Dr. Ben Carson effectively ended his campaign Wednesday. He’s a nice man and gifted surgeon who should have left the race months ago.

As for Donald Trump, the bombastic real estate developer and reality TV king, it almost defies reality that he’s not only still around, but far out in front of this race. He offers no practical solutions to any challenge faced by the nation, and brings to the campaign little but bombast and bravado. We would dismiss him as a joke if not for the undeniable possibility that he could be the nominee. The damage a Trump nomination would do to the Republican Party is incalculable.

Republicans started this campaign with 17 candidates, several of whom had the character and experience to be effective presidents. As the race has winnowed to five, Ohio Gov. John Kasich stands as the best choice for Republicans who still care about winning the presidency in November and giving this country an effective leader.


The Port Huron Times Herald. Mar. 3, 2016

Outlet mall stores are welcome downtown.

We understand the retailers at the long-suffering outlet mall on Range Road in Kimball Township may be looking for new locations to set up shop. And we hear some of them are discouraged at the prospect of moving and starting over in new locations.

We believe any of those businesses could thrive in one of the Blue Water Area’s downtowns and that a move could be the key to greater success instead of a burden. We’re often surprised that anything survives at the Port Huron Factory Shops considering conditions and traffic there. We’re disappointed the shopping center seemed to never get traction, but those years in the shadow of the relic arena could not have helped.

With the center evolving into a rental storage facility, we’ve shopped for perfect fits for the stores that have toughed it out on Range Road. Some would seem to have obvious markets in St. Clair, others seem like perfect fits for downtown Marine City or Port Huron. Still others, we’re convinced, could gather loyal customers anywhere if they could do it between the pot holes and thumping freight trains on Range Road.

Those are two of the things our downtowns offer the outlet mall businesses looking for new locations. Our downtowns have better paving and better parking than the mall. No endless freight trains block our downtown streets and discourage shoppers from even approaching.

Our downtowns have vigorous merchant groups, some have Downtown Development Districts and all work to help downtown businesses succeed. We don’t remember any promotions happening at the forlorn outlet mall. Our downtowns have fun, like fairs and festivals and parades, and that attracts customers.

Downtown Port Huron even has a hockey venue and a hockey team, not the ghost of a dream of a hockey arena. Instead of potholes and rail tracks, downtown Port Huron shakes things up with Art Hop and live music nearly every night and Boat Week.

Our downtowns have foot traffic. Every retailer wants foot traffic, right? Our downtowns have built-in customer bases living both in above-store lofts and nearby neighborhoods. A business relocating to one of our downtowns would be close to great restaurants and their hungry customers and other vibrant businesses.

Come downtown. We’d love to do business with you.


Grand Haven Tribune. Mar. 1, 2016

No child left behind at Central.

Not every child thrives in mainstream public high school, and that’s why alternatives like Grand Haven’s Central High School are so essential.

But that’s not always enough.

That’s why special programs like The Encounter Project at Central High are necessary additions to the curriculum.

The Encounter Project aims to help disadvantaged youth overcome challenges to getting their diploma. The project’s mission statement is: “We are established to effectively address the academics, behavioral and character challenges that exist among disadvantaged youth and families to raise their level of self-worth and promote a higher standard of living.”

The project’s director, Eric Gray, told Tribune reporter Krystle Wagner for a story last month that when he moved back to the Grand Haven area in 2012, he noticed a disparity between the “haves and have-nots.” As a way to reach out to students and help them lead .

sustainable lives and address the issues they face, Gray developed The Encounter Project.

Gray said he’s done similar work at Holland High School.

Through the program, students participate in community service projects, and they can take classes such as first aid, cooking and nutrition. An instructor from the Michigan State University Extension office is teaching an anger management course. Last week, Wagner reported on the Cooking Matters class in which the students learn about reading food labels; healthy snacks; the differences between fresh, frozen and canned veggies; and how to turn recipes into delicious, nutritious meals.

Off the school campus, The Encounter Project provides counseling and mentoring.

We salute Gray and Central’s staff for going the extra mile to give students who could otherwise be left behind with ample opportunities to become productive adults.


The Petoskey News-Review. Mar. 4, 2016

Politicians, put the money where your mouth is.

Every time there is a mass shooting many politicians will say something like, “Guns aren’t the real issue, mental health is the issue.”

We hear the same talking point, again and again, shooting after shooting.

So what exactly are politicians doing for mental health?

So far in 2016, Gov. Snyder has proposed in his 2017 budget to change the way mental health programs in Michigan are funded. Snyder’s $54.9 billion proposal for state spending in the coming year transfers $2.4 billion in Medicaid funding for community mental health services to Medicaid health plans.

Essentially, he has proposed to change the plans to private HMOs.

Health officials across the state are against these changes because they claim it would privatize the whole mental health care system, create unnecessary competition between insurance plans and eliminate transparency.

Community mental health offices are tasked with seeking out those people who need the most care, rather than those who will end up costing the least.

Because the governor’s plans don’t create any savings, why change the system? How is this supposed to help people with mental health issues?

We also ask what our local legislators have specifically done for mental health care?

What people with mental issue need are more doctors, therapists and mental health hospitals. They need to know about alternative treatments and therapy programs. They need affordable medication. This appears to be yet another solution in search of a problem coming from this state’s leadership.


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