- Associated Press - Monday, February 27, 2017

Detroit News. February 23, 2017

MSU must redouble scrutiny of sexual abuse

High-brow credentials and impressive titles don’t give anyone the right to inappropriately touch vulnerable young women. Sadly, it appears Michigan State University gymnasts were lulled into trusting an alleged sexual predator because he bore the imprimatur of the college.

That makes MSU complicit, intentionally or not, in the scandal now engulfing its former gymnastics medical trainer, who has been charged with sexual assault for abusing the young athletes who were sent to him for treatment. The university had a responsibility to adhere to strict protocol and oversight aimed at preventing abuse of student-athletes. And it appears MSU failed at these.

Osteopathic physician Larry Nassar, a 53-year-old father of three, faces first-degree criminal charges in Michigan, child pornography charges at the federal level (investigators found 37,000 images on a hard drive in his trash) and several civil lawsuits filed by dozens of girls and women, as accusations pile up that he sexually assaulted gymnasts. The victims, members of the Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics teams, charge Nassar engaged in unwelcome digital vaginal penetration. He maintains his innocence.

USA Gymnastics suspended Nassar in summer 2015 and reported their internal investigation to the FBI. But Nassar continued to see patients at MSU’s sports-medicine clinic until August 2016 when a former MSU gymnast filed a complaint with the campus police.

MSU is named as a co-defendant in many of the lawsuits amid allegations university officials ignored warning signs. One former MSU gymnast and plaintiff says she complained about Nassar to MSU coach Kathie Klages in 1997, but her concerns were dismissed.

After 27 years as gymnastics coach, Klages retired last week after being suspended by the university for her “passionate defense” of Nassar to gymnasts in September. Athletic Director Mark Hollis said Klages expressed a “highly emotional sense of shock” by the allegations against Nassar, leaving gymnasts confused about who they could speak with about their complaints.

MSU was right to suspend her. Her reaction is exactly the problem: the belief that Nassar couldn’t possibly have done what he is accused of doing because of his resume.

Attorney John Manly is representing several former Olympic gymnasts. He told “60 Minutes” that Nassar is a “serial predator” and believes Nassar sexually abused “hundreds” of women, including women on every single Olympic gymnastics team since the late 1990s.

MSU must advocate for its current and former gymnasts to speak freely. University police and officials should conduct an extensive investigation. Were student-athlete complaints ignored? Why wasn’t there oversight of his treatment practices?

With protesters outside, MSU president Lou Anna K. Simon defended her athletic program Friday, saying at MSU “there is no culture of tolerance of sexual assault or harassment.”

Still, the accusations against Nassar, if true, indicated years of sexual abuse of college athletes went undetected, and complaints were ignored. MSU must examine its practices and commit to scrutinizing everyone involved in its athletic programs, including those with impeccable professional credentials.


Lansing State Journal. February 21, 2017

Downtown Lansing needs your time, energy

Areas surrounding Downtown Lansing continue to develop, yet businesses continue to struggle along Washington Square - the major thoroughfare between Lansing Community College and the highway to the south.

This includes pulling the plug on the recently announced Beer Exchange before it even opened.

The questions on the minds of many: Why? What’s wrong with downtown?

Perhaps a better question would be: How does an individual who cares about downtown help nurture the thriving, vibrant business community everyone desires?

Along this vital corridor favorite lunch spots have closed, the number of bars and restaurants has dwindled and the lack of retail options is evident. Recent closures include The Black Rose, Crafty Palate, Henry’s on the Square, Hot Chicken Kitchen, House of Eden Rock, Lenny’s Sub Shop and the Sarnie Shoppe.

But there are many quality businesses here that remain open - and some are thriving. Numerous volunteers and organizations work every day to help them remain so, even while attempting to draw new business in.

These volunteers are the antithesis to most who work downtown, those who when confronted with the idea of staying downtown for an evening with friends - or even coming back to spend a weekend day here - simply ask the same question: Why?

The answer is simple: to maintain a vibrant business community in the region, you need people who dedicate energy and offer their time to see downtown thrive.

Downtown Lansing Inc. is a group of volunteers that work together on committees like the design team - in charge of streetscapes and historic renovations to create a welcoming atmosphere downtown - and the business development team - supporting local businesses through education and marketing.

The Greater Lansing Convention and Visitor’s Bureau works to draw visitors from across the country to Lansing, many to downtown conventions at the Lansing Center. The tourism ambassador program provides training to volunteers who help host groups and promote local businesses.

Other groups - from the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce to the Greater Lansing Arts Council - host events and projects that could satisfy a desire for a more focused, short-term project. Events like the Capital City Film Festival and Arts Night Out are great opportunities to get involved.

Blossoming Stadium District stifles Washington Square

There are many ways to help:

. Support downtown retail at Kositchek’s, Linn & Owen Jewelers and Summit Comics & Games.

. Spend your evening at one of the fine bars and restaurants that remain downtown - including Kelly’s Downtown, Midtown Brewing Company and Tavern & Tap.

. Keep your lunch plans local with The New Daily Bagel, Firehouse Subs, the Kewpee Sandwich Shop, Lou & Harry’s, Zoup or one of many other great places.

. Encourage new business by watching for EnVie, Strange Matter Coffee and others to open.

Above all else, get involved. Engage with those who are trying to make a difference downtown and add your efforts; your two cents or a few hours of volunteer work go a long way.


Times Herald (Port Huron). February 24, 2017

Silence from Sarnia sounds like a broken record

For the record, we are not buying Imperial Oil Ltd.’s reassurances that whatever happened Thursday evening was not important, significant or dangerous. We do not believe the towering flames enveloping Imperial’s Sarnia refinery were an optical illusion. We do not believe a corporate spokesman’s claim that the incident did not release toxins into the air. And we certainly do not believe the plant’s emergency sirens were blaring reassurances that nothing was going on.

We are confident in our skepticism because Imperial Oil has a history. Incidents - spills, explosions, fires - always turn out to be far worse than the company initially claims. Its Super Bowl Sunday spill in 2004 grew from some industrial solvent into 42,000 gallons of toxic chemicals linked to reproductive health issues and liver and kidney damage.

That spill also led to what was supposed to bring down the iron curtain that divides emergency responders on each side of the Ontario-Michigan border. We are supposed to be told about chemical emergencies in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley and we are supposed to warn them when we have environmental incidents on our side of that invisible line splitting the St. Clair River.

We should say that spill and all the other ones before and since that Feb. 1, 2004, farce.

Fear and anger over the lack of notification prompted more calls about communication and sharing information in November 2004, February 2011, July 2011, September 2011, July 2012 and April 2016. Do not assume those all happened in Sarnia; two of them were significant spills in Michigan waters that were not shared with our Sarnia neighbors in a timely fashion.

It is both frightening and pathetic that we haven’t solved this problem yet. We live in an era when we share what our children ate for breakfast with near strangers and our refrigerators warn us when we’re low on skim milk. We know what the pandas in the Beijing zoo had for breakfast yet nobody can confirm whether that conflagration half a mile away and filling our sky with pulsing dread is harmless.

Local officials and state officials have talked about this for decades. We wonder how often they talk to their counterparts across the border. Perhaps this needs to be a federal matter.


Petoskey News-Review. February 23, 2017

It’s time the county creates a written plan for the Dark Sky Park

We have to commend the new Emmet County Board of Commissioners for holding county officials’ feet to the fire concerning the Headlands International Dark Sky Park near Mackinaw City.

The park, in northern Emmet County, has long been criticized by this newspaper’s editorial board for its cost - paid for by a capital improvement bond approved in 2014 and initially budgeted at $7.6 million but may reach $8.7 million by completion - and for not having any clear written feasibility study before construction. On top of that, the county administration doesn’t even seem to have a written plan on how it is going operate this park once its new facilities officially opened.

At a county meeting earlier this month, county administrator Marty Krupa was questioned by commissioners about the setting up of an open house date that was never discussed with the new board members beforehand, whether the building had an operations budget set and if it even had staff trained to operate the telescopes that are being installed at the facility.

The answers the commissioners got were vague with Krupa saying that he had faith in the parks and recreation employees who would be involved with caring for the facility and operating the programming. Krupa also stated he could bring the operational budget as a discussion at a future meeting.

“We have qualified park staff that run all of our parks, whether it’s the Alanson Locks, Cecil Bay, or Camp Pet-O-Se-Ga. We rotate our staff where we need people at the time,” Krupa said in a Petoskey News-Review story published on Feb. 14. “We operate as a team and we’ll continue to do that. Yes, we’ll have to work out some of the details, and we’ll get those worked out with you, but I believe the staff we have on hand is qualified enough to keep it maintained.”

We are deeply disappointed with all the time, money and controversy surrounding this facility that Krupa and county staff have not worked out the details for the operation of this facility other than vague answers to questions from the commissioners. Which leads to being further shocked - but not surprised - that nothing has been written down on this matter by Krupa or parks and recreation director Laurie Gaetano.

Have they not been paying attention to the questions we have been asking about this facility’s operation all along, or the questions others in the community have been asking on this facility, or the fact that the Dark Sky facility was one of the big issues in the county board of commissioners’ election last year that saw most members of the old board voted out of office?

As county commissioner Charlie MacInnis said to Krupa at the meeting regarding the Dark Sky Park and facilities plans, it’s time to write this down. After all, millions of dollars have been spent on its construction, it makes more than enough sense that the county actually has written plans. These plans can then be shared not only with the commission, but the taxpayers footing the bill.


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