Thursday, December 31, 2009

Complaining About Educating Students Until 18?

The Hartland Consolidated Schools official couldn't possibly have said what the local paper says she said. Or if she did, surely it was taken out of context.

I mean, a school official complaining about having to educate children until they are age 18 -- what is up with that? Isn't that what schools are for?

Janet Sifferman, superintendent of Hartland Consolidated Schools, is quoted by the Livingston Press and Argus complaining that Michigan legislation designed to help the state compete for $400 million in federal funds would raise the legal drop-out age from 16 to 18.

Sifferman complained that requiring students to stay in school until age 18 would cost too much money because, the newspaper said, "the state would have to fund schooling for would-be dropouts for another two years."

Using that logic, let's lower the legal drop-out age to 12 and save lots of money.

I've heard complaints before that schools sometimes push out students they don't like, intentionally creating drop-outs rather than trying to prevent them. But I've never heard that lowering your per pupil count, on which state-funding is based, was a way to balance your budget.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Should Michigan Give Its Water Away?

Alaska has a lot of oil, and it doesn't give it away. Michigan has a lot of water, and it shouldn't give it away, either.

Alaska state government rakes in plenty of revenue from the oil it sells to the rest of the United States and elsewhere, enough so that residents get a check from the state government. The state actually charges companies royalties for taking its oil.

Water is just as vital a commodity as oil. Yet Michigan doesn't tax the water that companies take from here to sell elsewhere.

Lt. Gov. John Cherry says the state should impose a 10-cent a bottle fee on the water corporations bottle here, according to a Lansing State Journal article. That kind of royalty would raise $118 million a year.

There will be lots of Republican whining about another tax. And the bottling companies are going to threaten to take the jobs elsewhere. But are there lots of other places with so much extra water that they're giving it away? And why do Republicans want to ship our water elsewhere for free?

If Alaska can charge for its oil, Michigan can charge for its water.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

So How Big Is the Commissioners' Pay Cut?

Livingston County Commissioners are claiming to be putting together a lean budget for 2010, according to the Livingston Press and Argus.

The sheriff's department is cutting more deputies, to the point that if you need to report a crime you may well have to drive to the sheriff's office to do it because no officers will be able to come out to the scene.

So my question is, how big is the pay cut the nine Republican county commissioners are taking in their $15,000-plus annual salary?

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's a Little Late to be Worrying About This

A far-right Republican from Livingston County says he's running for governor of Michigan because the Republicans in the race aren't conservative enough.

Bruce Nichols says he wants to "sway the party to the right," according to the Livingston Press and Argus.

And the head of the Livingston County Republican Party says most people agree with Nichols about veering farther to the right. Mike Murphy says "we can't be fanatical either."

It's too late for that. The Republican Party passed that line a long time ago, what with making up lies about government death panels, phony birth certificates "proving" President Obama was born in Kenya, and on and on.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fighting Hunger in Livingston County

The formation of a new group to fight hunger in Livingston County was announced last week. The Livingston County Hunger Council will try to eliminate hunger in the county through food stamps, community gardens, and nutrition programs.

Hunger in Livingston County? Who knew?

Until the holidays roll around, hunger in Livingston County is rarely mentioned as a problem. This despite the fact that funds for Meals on Wheels, serving our senior citizens, have been cut even as demand at local food pantries has risen.

The new group includes people like Michelle Ounanian, program director of Gleaners Community Food Bank, and people who want more information can call her at (313)923-3535.

The effort is being run by the Livingston County United Way. Where are the Livingston County commissioners? Don't they care about hunger? Why isn't hunger a priority for them?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Rogers Wishing Away Climate Change's Effects

Republican Rep. Mike Rogers must believe in fairy tales. If he wishes hard enough for something, it will come true.

Right now, the Brighton Republican is wishing that climate change would go away, but anyone with a brain knows that won't happen. Climate change, and its devastating effects on the global, our economy, and our lives, can only be halted by action, not by wishes.

Nevertheless, Rogers has grabbed on to a trumped up scandal over emails from a few British scientists to try to claim that the burning of fossil fuels is not impacting our climate -- the polar ice cap isn't melting, ocean levels aren't rising, and everything is just fine.

But wishing doesn't make it true. The U.S. Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency know that. They call climate change a threat to our national security and have developed steps to reduce it. Thousands of scientists working at climate research centers all over the world agree on the extent of climate change, the human role in causing it, and the need to do something about it now.

Among the findings are these:
--The world's oceans have risen by about an inch and a half.
--Droughts and wildfires have turned more severe worldwide, from the U.S. West to Australia to the Sahel desert of North Africa.
--Species now in trouble due to climate change include the polar bear, butterflies, frogs and huge areas of North American pine forests.
--Temperatures over the past 12 years are 0.4 of a degree warmer than the dozen years leading up to 1997, far faster than what scientists expected.
--Water polluted by carbon in the Canadian Arctic is threatening the marine food web.
--Rainfall in the United Kingdom has shattered all records, exactly as predicted by climate change research.
--Heat, drought, and winds at levels never seen before are sweeping across eastern Australian, exactly as predicted by climate change research.
--So far, this decade is on the way to being nearly 0.2°C warmer than the 1990s, an acceleration from the 0.14°C increase over the 1980s.
--The world’s glaciers shrink for the 18th year at a rate twice the rate of two decades ago. The University of Zurich’s World Glacier Monitoring Service report in 2006 and 2007 the world’s glaciers lost 2 meters (2000 mm) of thickness on average. They note, “The new data continues the global trend in accelerated ice loss over the past few decades.” The rate of ice loss is twice as fast as a decade ago.
--The U.N. weather agency says greenhouse gases, thought to be responsible for global warming, reached record highs in the Earth’s atmosphere in 2008.

Mike Rogers would like to wish all that away. But when your friends are big oil companies, that's to be expected.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Is Criticism Getting to

I wonder if is noticing that people are disappointed with their product.

The cheap-looking web-page design does nothing to inspire confidence. Nor does the fact that so many experienced journalists are gone from the old Ann Arbor News and that the publication now restricts itself to Ann Arbor.

I ask because I noticed a large billboard in Ann Arbor earlier this week bragging that has 35 professional journalists with a combined 407 years of journalistic experience.

I wonder how many the Ann Arbor News had? The billboard doesn't say, of course.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cherry to Visit at Livingston Dems' Holiday Party

A Cherry will be at the Livingston County Democratic Party's annual holiday potluck on Saturday (Dec. 5, 2009).

No, not Lt. Gov. John Cherry, but his sister, Sen. Deb Cherry.

The event will begin at 4 p.m. at party headquarters, 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600, Brighton, MI.

Bring a dish to share and a donation for Gleaners Community Food Bank or the Adopt-a-Family program.

The food is always great!