- Associated Press - Monday, May 23, 2016

The Detroit News. May 27, 2016

Kym Worthy must free man she wrongly jailed.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy should be standing at the courthouse door to apologize to Davontae Sanford when he walks in to resume his request for a new trial for a murder that by now Worthy and everyone else must know he didn’t commit.

Standing next to her should be Detroit Police Chief James Craig to ask for forgiveness on behalf of the police department for its role in framing Sanford in the 2007 slayings.

And Robert Slameka, the sleazy lawyer who provided the barest of representation to Sanford, ought to be carted off to take his former client’s place in the cell.

The wrong done to Davontae Sanford should make anyone who believes in justice furious.

Sanford was charged with killing two men in a drug house on the city’s northeast side, and pleaded guilty during his 2008 trial. He was 14 at the time and mentally slow.

He says now that his lawyer pressured him to enter the plea. Slameka, a public defender whose law license is currently under suspension, has been disciplined repeatedly for shoddy and unsavory practices. He should never be permitted to try another case.

Almost as soon as Sanford went to prison, another man, Vincent Smothers, confessed to the killings and several others. Mounds of evidence corroborated Smothers’ confession.

Innocence advocates have been urging a retrial for Sanford for years. In spring of 2015, the Michigan State Police launched an investigation into the case.

Their report, just sent to Worthy’s office and detailed in a Detroit News story last Saturday, reportedly recommends murder charges against Smothers and another man, and clears Sanford.

It also is said to implicate a high-ranking police official who testified in the case for perjury.

Worthy has not indicated whether she will drop the charges against Sanford. She has not yet released the state police report.

Sanford should not spend another night behind bars. He didn’t do the crime for which he was convicted.

Rather, he was victimized by a legal system in Wayne County that values expediency over justice, and often tolerates - encourages - the inadequate representation of indigent defendants in the name of moving cases through quickly and cleanly.

In court filings, Wayne County prosecutors contend Smothers’ confession does not necessarily acquit Sanford.

This is either stubbornness or petty vindictiveness at work. They could not be this incompetent.

Smothers has been willing for years to testify to Sanford’s innocence. Even a confessed hit man has more honor than the prosecutors who would rather keep the wrong man behind bars than admit they were in error.

We saw this play out similarly on the other side of the state earlier this month, when an appeals court finally granted a new trial to a Calhoun County woman wrongly convicted of sexually abusing her son. Again despite overwhelming evidence of her innocence and her son’s recanting of his accusation, it took a Herculean effort to get her freed.

The object should always be justice, not simply locking someone up for every crime committed and calling it all good.

Kym Worthy should stop stalling and set Davontae Sanford free.___

Times Herald (Port Huron). May 25, 2016

Celebrating a summer tradition: Weekend gas gouging.

Why, we wonder, does the Michigan Public Service Commission regulate companies such as DTE Energy, Consumers Energy and Semco but not other energy sources?

According to its website, “The mission of the Michigan Public Service Commission is to grow Michigan’s economy and enhance the quality of life of its communities by assuring safe and reliable energy and telecommunications services at reasonable rates.”

Why, then, does it not regulate heating fuels - propane and fuel oil - that aren’t delivered through pipes underground? Why doesn’t it regulate motor vehicle fuels? The MPSC says petroleum products, as transportation and heating fuels, supply about a third of Michigan’s annual energy needs.

The agency keeps constant watch over the shoulder of the Harsens Island Ferry, but does nothing to ensure that we have a safe and reliable supply of gasoline at reasonable rates.

The MPSC is supposed to protect consumers against monopolistic practices. Who protects consumers against the flagrant collusion of the handful of refineries that deliver gasoline to Michigan? It can not be a coincidence that every refinery needs to be shut down for maintenance in the days before every big travel weekend.

The MPSC regulates the tiny Thumb Electric Cooperative, which probably has more competition than the single refinery in Michigan and its four partners in Illinois and Ohio that squeeze the entire Great Lakes region with gasoline prices higher this week than anywhere but the West Coast.

A safe and reliable source of fuel for our vehicles - and to heat our homes in winter - at fair and reasonable prices are essential to Michigan’s economy and our health and safety. Allowing a few petroleum companies to artificially inflate fuel costs isn’t good for business or for consumers.

We expect the MPSC needs the Legislature’s permission to regulate the fuel industry. We can’t think of a higher priority for lawmakers than protecting families from fuel pump gouging every summer weekend. Considering the millions the industry uses to grease politics in Michigan and elsewhere, we have low expectations for that priority.

Perhaps Attorney General Bill Schuette should look into the refinery maintenance coincidences that pump up prices before every holiday weekend.___

Midland Daily News. May 25, 2016

Leading the way in use of clean energy.

As The Dow Chemical Co. continues to evolve, it also is striving to take a leadership role in terms of using clean energy alternatives to help power its operations.

In fact, it only took the company one year to achieve its goal of 400 MW of clean power as part of its 2025 Sustainability Goals that were launched in 2015. With that goal already reached, Dow last week announced it would increase its clean energy target from 400 MW to 750 MW by 2025.

And, on top of that, Dow announced it has partnered with a company to provide 150 MW of renewable energy from wind farms for its Freeport, Texas, facilities. This is the deal that pushed Dow over the 400 MW (currently at about 500 MW) goal and prompted the increase to 750 MW by 2025.

“Dow’s 2025 Sustainability Goals define the path forward for our company, and we are pleased to increase our renewable energy targets from 400 MW up to 750 MW by 2025,” said Dr. Neil Hawkins, Dow’s corporate vice president and chief sustainability officer. “Dow is proud to be the first company in the United States to power manufacturing sites with renewable energy at this kind of scale and that we’ve become one of the largest corporate purchasers of wind energy in America.”

Indeed, the Freeport site alone is using 350 MW of wind power annually, enough power to provide electricity to nearly 50,000 homes.

Clearly, the good news is that clean energy is becoming more cost effective and is offering large energy consuming companies like Dow an opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint. It’s also good news that Dow is taking a leadership role in making this switch to clean energy, a move that we hope other large manufacturers will emulate.___

Traverse City Record-Eagle. May 26, 2016

Recognition for due-diligence well earned.

It’s hard to imagine making a major purchase without an inspection, test drive or warranty of some form, so why shouldn’t public officials exercise the same kind of fiduciary responsibility with taxpayer money?

That’s the attitude that recently earned Traverse City Area Public Schools a slice of national limelight and a chance to set the new standard for how school officials choose curriculum providers.

The Government Finance Officers Association recently announced it will conduct a study on how TCAPS officials conducted simultaneous small-scale pilot programs for three new math curriculums. GFOA officials said the study could propel TCAPS’ model into school districts nationwide.

“(GFOA) looked at this process as a best practice and a modern-day evolution to how we explore curriculum options,” said TCAPS Superintendent Paul Soma. “It’s kind of exciting.”

The pilots launched in three elementary schools two years ago and expanded to eight schools for the second year of inspection. School officials began the search for a new curriculum after TCAPS students fell below statewide proficiency rates in math while using a math program the district employed for more than a decade.

But instead of taking the curriculum companies’ sales pitch hook-line-and-sinker, administrators decided they wanted to put the systems to work in classrooms, see test scores and collect feedback from parents, teachers and students. Officials wanted to see the programs work before committing to spend nearly $1 million.

Administrators collected test scores and opinions that allowed them to differentiate between the three options and make an informed decision based on data instead of a sales pitch.

District officials are preparing final data and a recommendation to present to the school board on June 13 after two years of test driving the three programs.

Scrutiny the district placed on its three options is frighteningly uncommon in government spending where millions in taxpayer dollars often walks out the door on little more than a staff recommendation and a majority vote. TCAPS officials’ diligence in this instance is both commendable and provides a measuring stick by which so many government expenditures could be compared.

Such effort should be the rule, not the exception.___

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