Saturday, October 31, 2009

Interstate Traveler System Sounds Good

Whitmore Lake visionary Justin Sutton was the star of the Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce Livingston Energy Summit and Expo held Friday (Oct. 30, 2009) as he explained his transportation system that he proposes to be built along the interstate highway system.

How could he not be the star? Promising a 200 mile per hour transportation system that will generate solar power, purify water, process sewage, and produce soil for growing food -- all with zero emissions -- while creating thousands of jobs, and providing billions in annual revenue to federal, state, and local governments without costing taxpayers anything -- I mean, how do you top that?

The system is highly visionary. I'll certainly take Sutton's word for its technical feasibility. He knows the science. I sure don't.

I do wonder about a few things. For example, in May 2008, Sutton told an interviewer that he was "on track to break ground in 2009."

When I asked Sutton about that, he said he is ready to break ground, but is waiting for the state to give him the go-ahead. He also said he has offers from around the world to build the system but is waiting for Michigan because he wants to give his home state the first chance to build this system. And he insists the financing is in place from "railroad bonds" and from his 180 partners. I would think his 180 partners might be getting a little antzy to accept one of those other offers instead of waiting for Michigan.

Sutton told the energy expo that a proposed Detroit to Ann Arbor line would generate $2 billion a year in revenue and half would be paid to the government, split among federal, state and local government, as well as entities such as museums and libraries.

"We will become a very, very important taxpayer in the nation," he said.

In other words, he and his private company would become a very powerful person in state and local government. Before Michigan turns over so much power to one group, it needs to know exactly whom it is dealing with. Sutton certainly loves Michigan and is putting his state's interests first, but he won't live forever or even necessarily be in charge forever. The public needs to know a little more about who is behind him. Sutton graciously said I could visit his office and see the list of investors. I intend to follow up. I like to look before I leap.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Livingston Dems to Honor Area Veterans

Livingston County veterans and their families are invited to a luncheon and program on Saturday, November 7, as a token of appreciation for their great sacrifices. The event, sponsored by the Livingston County Democratic Party, is open to any veteran of military service regardless of political party.

"We owe our veterans a great debt and this is a small attempt to recognize that," said Judy Daubenmier, chair of the Livingston County Democratic Party.

The soup and salad luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. at party headquarters, 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600, Brighton. The luncheon will be followed with a speech by Beverly Leneski, chief of voluntary and chaplain service at the Veterans Administration hospital in Ann Arbor.

Local Democrats also will present Leneski with lap robes which party members have been making for VA patients and personal items which the party has collected for them. Party members have been meeting the last two Sundays to make lap robes and will meet again on Sunday, Nov. 1, at 2 p.m. at party headquarters. No sewing skills are required, only the ability to cut and tie.

Reservations for the luncheon are not required but people interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP so that enough food will be available. People may call (810) 229-4212 or email There is no charge for the luncheon.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Republicans Backing a Tax Hike

It can happen, even in Livingston County.

The all-Republican board of Hamburg Township is backing a tax increase.

An increase in the millage to support the Hamburg police department to 1.5 mills from 1 mill is on the ballot for the election on Tuesday, Nov. 3. The tax hike is expected to cost the owner of a $200,000 home about $50 a year.

Police services are vital, but so are other services, like schools. Too bad more Republicans can't bring themselves to step up to protect vital services.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Flaws of School-Funding Proposal A Now Evident

One of the crowning achievements of John Engler's tenure of government is turning out to be as flawed as opponents said it was at the time it was passed.

Proposal A, which was supposed to reform school financing, did nothing of the sort.
Instead, it established an unstable funding mechanism for schools and perpetuated inequality among school districts.

That was evident this week when Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed some $50 million in state aid for some of the richest school districts in the state, to partly counteract a deficit in the school aid fund.

The fund, dependent on sales taxes, has seen its flow of revenues fall below projections as cautious consumers have stopped spending money. All school districts have been given a $165 per pupil cut in state aid and might get another cut before the end of the month.

As Republican lawmakers refuse to consider more revenue for the fund, Granholm decided to find some by taking $51.5 million in state aid from 39 of the richest school districts -- many of which are suburban Detroit districts represented by Republican lawmakers. Many of affected districts receive $4,000 per pupil more than do districts in Livingston County.

So much for Proposal A closing the funding gap among the state's richest and poorest districts.

Livingston County's Republican lawmakers have been silent on this issue. Do they agree with the cuts to the richest districts in order to spare deeper cuts for our schools here in Livingston County?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Why are we so Arrogant that we Believe we Know more than the Nobel Committee?

I read a lot of opinions yesterday about President Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and to be honest, it really shows how ignorant we are as Americans when it comes to foreign affairs. So many people kept asking "what has he done to deserve this?" And they want others to convince them that the Nobel Committee made the correct choice.

That premise alone is illogical. The burden can't be on others to show why the right person won. The onus has to be on those who feel President Obama shouldn't have won to give us reasons why not. And the only way that opinion can be logically valid is if they state who they feel should've won instead. If they don't provide the name of someone more deserving of the award, their opinion means nothing.

The analogy I have been using is such: Let's say Rwanda had a beauty pageant (similar to our Miss America or Miss USA contests), and the winner was crowned "Miss Rwanda". And then you see a photo of Miss Rwanda, and you don't feel she is that beautiful. If you take the stance that she did not deserve to win, when you have no idea who the other contestants were, your opinion is ignorant. That's not to be mean, it's just the truth- you have no knowledge of the competition, so your conclusion about the results is ignorant. But then, to say "convince me why she deserved to win the 'Miss Rwanda' title" is even more unreasonable, as there is no practical way to do so.

Now I am not saying that President Obama was the right choice. My opinion is that I can't think of anyone more deserving, so I am not going to second-guess the Nobel Committee. It's fair to say that they were more aware of all of the possible choices for this award, so they were in a better position to make the decision. And if I did want to second-guess them, the burden would be on me to say why they were wrong. The only way I could do so would be to state who I feel should've won it, and then have a discussion comparing their actions to those of President Obama.

If you can't think of anyone more deserving of the NPP than President Obama, on what basis do you second guess the people (arguably) in the best position to make the decision?

But to provide an argument in favor of choosing President Obama, here is a more informed individual than I, making a case as to why the right choice may have been made.

And in regards to what President Obama said in his speech yesterday, saying he does not feel that he deserves to be in the company of the past winners, that is a fair statment. It is a valid statement though because he has knowledge about the past winners. If someone made that statement, not knowing anything about the previous selections, their opinion would be ignorant.

We as Americans should be honest with ourselves, and just admit that we don't know whether or not President Obama was the best choice.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Stand Up for Gay Rights on Sunday

Local churches and organizations will stand up for the rights and dignity of gay people on National Coming Out Day Sunday (Oct. 11, 2009) at the Mill Pond Gazebo in Brighton.

The 12:30 p.m. event is a chance to stand up in solidarity with people who are targeted because of their sexual identity. The philosophy behind it is that no one should be dehumanized through acts of exclusion, oppression or violence.

The event is part of the Standing on the Side of Love campaign sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.and promotes respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

Other supporters of Sunday's event include St. Paul's Episcopal Church and PFLAG, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Come Help Make Lap Robes for Vets!

It's really simple. You don't even need to know how to sew, just how to cut with a scissors and tie knots.

That's all the skill required to make something that veterans in the VA Hospital in Ann Arbor really need.

Please come and spend a few hours on Sunday, October 11, making lap robes for veterans. We have the materials. All you need to bring is your hands and heart.

For those of you who knit or crochet, we also will have yarn available if you prefer to make a lap robe that way.

We will gather at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11, at Livingston County Democratic Party headquarters, 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600, Brighton, to work on the robes.

Please find a couple hours in your schedule to give to helping out veterans who have given so much for us.

Monday, October 5, 2009

On-Line News Source Debuts in Livingston County

There's a new on-line source for news in Livingston County., started by some former Livingston Press and Argus staffers, debuted last week. There are some technical glitches to work out, but it is up and running and looks far better than, the relic of The Ann Arbor News, which has corporate money behind it.

Here's wishing LivingstonTalk the best. There's plenty of news in this county and we can use more people covering it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

After 'Garbage,' Some Lifestyle Changes

The Livingston County Dems' movie night on Friday (Oct. 2, 2009) was popular once again, and not just because of the ice cream sundaes.

People left with something to think about--namely, all the trash we generate and where it goes.

The documentary focused on a family that was asked to save all its garbage for three months and then track the way different components of it was disposed of by visiting recycling plants, composting facilities, and dumps, including ones in Michigan where out-of-state trash finds a home.

Everybody left thinking about what little lifestyle changes we can make that can add up if everybody does them -- remembering my grocery bags so I don't accumulate more plastic bags, turning off my computer when not in use to save power, looking for products with less packaging.

And on top of that, we accumulate a good pile of toiletries to help out patients at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Ann Arbor.