Category: News Briefs Written by Michigan Chronicle
Robert Kolt, an Okemos-based public relations consultant and instructor at Michigan State University, has been appointed volunteer president of AARP Michigan.
Kolt’s appointment, effective immediately, is for a two-year term. He succeeds Eric Schneidewind, who served the maximum six years as AARP Michigan president.
Kolt, 53, has served on the AARP Michigan Executive Council since 2010. He says he intends to bring energy and enthusiasm to the volunteer leadership of the 1.4 million-member state arm of AARP.
“I’m among the new generation of AARP members who see AARP as relevant and cool,” said Kolt, a former political strategist, who has expertise in advertising and media relations. “I will spend a lot of time early in my term listening to members to learn what they’re thinking, and how they want us to serve them.”
Kolt noted that AARP will lead a national conversation on protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare in 2012. AARP Michigan will engage citizens 50 and older in many cities across the state.
“Bob Kolt brings impressive credentials in business, government, communications and community service to the volunteer leadership position at AARP,” said Jacqueline Morrison, AARP Michigan State Director. “We’re confident he will also bring energy, commitment and vision.”
Kolt is CEO and president of Kolt Communications Inc. He has served as a political adviser to former Gov. James Blanchard and former Secretary of State Richard Austin.
Prior to founding Kolt Communications in 1991, he was communications director for the Michigan Department of Transportation and public affairs officer for the Michigan Department of Treasury.
He also worked as a news anchor and correspondent for WZZM-TV 13 ABC in Grand Rapids and WWTV-WWUP-TV 9/10 CBS in Northern Michigan.
Kolt, who has a master’s degree in Communications from MSU, is an instructor of Public Relations Techniques and Writing and Media Ethics in the Department of Advertising, Public Relations and Retailing College of Communications Arts and Sciences. He has been an instructor at MSU for 19 years.
He has been involved in many community and philanthropic organizations, including Capital Region Community Foundation, Capital Area United Way, the Michigan Nurses Foundation and Lugnuts Charities.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 March 2012 12:49
Category: Top News Written by Michigan Chronicle
DETROIT, March 6, 2012 – Real Times Media (RTM), a Detroit, Mich.-based multimedia company, is pleased to announce that it has entered into a strategic alliance with the Atlanta Daily World (ADW) newspaper in Atlanta, Ga. Under the terms of the agreement, RTM will assume full operational responsibility for the 84-year old African American publication this month.
“Real Times Media is delighted to enter into this strategic alliance with the Atlanta Daily World”, says Hiram E. Jackson, chief executive officer, Real Times Media. “The Atlanta Daily World is one of the most storied and legendary newspaper franchises in America and Atlanta is one of the most important markets in the country.
“We believe that building a strong multi-media presence in Atlanta is key to the continued growth of our company,” Jackson said.
Concurrent with the new strategic alliance, a partnership headed by a number of Real Times Media owners including William F. Pickard and Hiram E. Jackson, acquired 100% of the ownership of the Atlanta Daily World.
Founded in 1928 by William A. Scott II, the Atlanta Daily World is Atlanta’s oldest Black-owned newspaper.
“The Scott Family is very pleased with the marriage of the Atlanta Daily World and the Real Times Family,” said William A. Scott IV. M. Alexis Scott will continue as publisher.
“The Atlanta Daily World is excited to become a part of Real Times,” Alexis Scott said. “This is truly a new beginning for the paper. The resources that are now available will enable us to diversify into a multi-media platform.”
In becoming part of RTM, the ADW joins five other historic African American newspapers including the Chicago Defender, the Michigan Chronicle, The Michigan FrontPage, the New Pittsburgh Courier, and the Tri-State Defender in Memphis, Tenn.
In addition to its newspaper holdings, Real Times Media is parent company to Who’s Who Publishing Company, the leading provider of content celebrating professional achievement in the African American and Latino markets; and RTM Digital Studios, an archival image licensing company dedicated to artifacts from the past 100 years of the African American experience.
“The Real Times approach is more than the printed word—our newspapers are continually evolving and remain focused on a 360 degree integration of print, digital opportunities and engagement marketing. That’s why we expect the Atlanta Daily World and our other brands to continue to buck industry trends and continue to grow.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 March 2012 12:44
Category: Top News Written by Jackie Berg
While many female executives have made it to the top of their department or senior executive levels within their organizations, too few occupy the most coveted position of all — the executive seat in America’s boardrooms.
“Getting an invitation to sit on a board is all about positioning,” said Lizabeth Ardisana, CEO of ASG Renaissance, who sits on the boards of Oakwood Hospital and Kettering University, as well as Citizens Bank. “It demands more than being a top performer in your job. It demands that individuals build credible networks that evidence their reputation as an industry expert and respected leader in the community.”
Unlike a job interview, the process to get into the selection pool of potential board members is often murky and does not come with a proven playbook.
Although many would-be board candidates assume that their HR manager can serve as a direct champion of such appointments, an HR manager’s role is that of an influencer or facilitator rather than a direct champion, according to Linda Forte, senior vice president, Business Affairs, and chief diversity officer, Comerica Bank.
“HR managers are often involved in drafting search factors like core competency requirements and identifying qualified search firms to assist in the recruitment process, as opposed to making direct recommendations,” said Forte.
A firm’s general counsel, who may be responsible for organizational governance as well as other executives familiar with organizational corporate culture, and trusted external advisors are more likely to be called upon for board recommendations than other executives, according to Forte.
Experience is a must, particularly financial experience, according to Joyce Hayes Giles, senior vice president, Customer Service, DTE Energy, who was tapped to serve on the board of Health Alliance Plan in 2011 following appointments to board seats on the American Association of Blacks in Energy and the DTE Energy Foundation, in addition to the boards of the Music Hall, Oakwood Hospital, St. John Providence Health System, Wayne State University Alumni Association and Belle Isle Conservancy.
“Achieving a seat on a corporate board requires deep experience of 10 years or more,” said Forte, who emphasizes that external activities become as important as internal accomplishments in the board selection process.
“It’s a diplomatic process,” she concluded. “There’s a fine line between networking and expressing interest in a possible board seat and over-promoting yourself. The adage that it’s easier to find a job when you are employed applies here. Many senior level officers assume that if you have to announce your qualifications, you are probably not the right candidate. They are looking for the self-evident candidate.”
Despite obstacles, preparation is key, according to Hayes Giles.
“Preparation is a common requisite whether you are seeking internal career advancement or external opportunities,” she said. “You have to walk the walk. If you don’t possess the education, experience and track record desired, you are not as likely to get tapped.”
While savvy senior level decision makers seek diversity, appointing a new board member ultimately is a goal-based process, according to Jack Riley, senior vice president of marketing, Fifth Third Bank, whose announcement of the appointment of General Motors Director of Corporate Relations and president of the GM Foundation Vivian Pickard to its board of directors raised resounding applause among Detroiters who cite, that despite advances, too few women of color are tapped for open board seats.
The proof is self-evident.
According to the Michigan Women’s Leadership Index, published annually by Inforum, found that Women of Color make up 1.18% of board directors in the top 100 public companies in Michigan, a slight decrease from 1.4% in 2009.
“Executives with experience as CEOs and CFOs are usually in high demand, as are those with specific expertise,” notes Terry Barclay, chief executive officer of Inforum, Michigan’s largest business organization helping women lead and succeed in the workplace. “For example, international experience – particularly in Asia – is in high demand. The needs of public companies are diverse. When companies seek to recruit board members, they look for high-level executives that can add something of real value. The seek people with perspectives or sets of skills that fills a gap for managers and/or other board members.”
“In addition to the importance of diversity of race and gender is diversity of thought. It is the candidate’s experience and track record that matters most,” said Riley. “There’s got to be a fit with the organization’s unique corporate goals, mission and business needs. Vivian Pickard was a natural fit to our Fifth Third Bank board. She had the corporate governance, finance, political and leadership experience our leadership was seeking, in addition to the type of proven philanthropy and community-based marketing expertise we value.”
NON-PROFIT POSTS PAY DIVIDENDS
It’s important that candidates do not dismiss non-profit board posts.
“Experience matters. A large number of women are appointed to non-profit board seats,” comments Forte, “which can serve as an invaluable training experience.”
The type of nonprofit board service matters, according to Barclay. “Being a board member of a big, non-profit health care system or university can provide the experience, visibility and strategic connections that can get you there faster.”
Although preparation is a key consideration, Hayes Giles comments that board trends are shifting, albeit ever so slightly.
“Forward thinking companies are starting to take a more consumer-minded focus in filling available board seats, recruiting candidates that mirror their consumer demographics,” she said.
And they are being rewarded by the insight that a more diverse group of board members brings to the process.
“Bottom line, a company’s profit margin lifts in tandem with consumer satisfaction,” says the customer service expert who has invested 33 years in building DTE Energy’s reputation as a leader in customer satisfaction.
THE INSIDERS CIRCLE
As more women enter the boardroom, they elevate other candidates, according to Hayes Giles.
“The insiders circle is a very, very small circle,” said Hayes Giles. “Men recruit and recommend other men to fill board seats. And it’s up to us to recruit and recommend other women. Without such advocacy, challenges will remain.”
It’s worth noting that despite advances, the majority of women appointed to boards are serving without compensation.
“Paid board seats are highly coveted and don’t come easily to candidates, regardless their gender, race or area of expertise,” said Hayes Giles. “Ultimately, I’d like to be among those few.”
LOW RISK CANDIDATES ARE
A common thread among female executives interviewed is this consensus: board seats are filled by executives with the lowest common risk factors.
Are you worth the risk?
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 17:06
Category: News Briefs Written by Michigan Chronicle
Strategic Staffing Solutions, Inc., (S3) the Detroit-based global information, technology and business services company, filed a defamation lawsuit in Oakland County Circuit Court recently against New World Communications of Detroit, Inc. and WJBK., WJBK FOX 2 Television, FOX 2 reporter Charles LeDuff and producer Douglas McKenzie.
The suit was filed in connection with a story aired by FOX 2 the evening of Feb. 2, 2012 involving a call center that S3 has operated for Wayne County since 2004 that the suit says “contained factual inaccuracies that defamed both S3 and its president, Cynthia J. Pasky.” It seeks damages in excess of $25,000.
The suit said “there was a calculated and deliberate decision on defendants’ parts to avoid the truth in order to sensationalize the story and further the dramatics of their ongoing series on Robert Ficano and the office of the Wayne County Executive.” It says that the story “falsely implies that S3 illegally and/or illicitly obtained and renewed a contract” for the call center “in exchange for significant contributions to Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano’s campaign.”
“We are filing this suit because FOX 2 has rejected all attempts to meet and go over the serial inaccuracies and misstatements that were in the story that aired,” Pasky said. “Given their continued stonewalling of our efforts to contact them, our only recourse is the courts.”
According to S3, inaccuracies in the FOX 2 story enumerated in the lawsuit include:
The story falsely implies that S3 illicitly obtained and renewed a contract with Wayne County to operate a call center in exchange for significant contributions to Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano’s campaign. In fact, the contract was originally awarded through a competitive bidding process in 2004 and was approved by the Wayne County Commission in a public session.
The story makes the “blatantly false” assertion that S3 failed to perform under the contract with Wayne County.
The story involved a “calculated and deliberate decision … to avoid the truth in order to sensationalize the story and further the dramatics of their ongoing series on Robert Ficano and the office of the Wayne County Executive.”
FOX 2 ignored the fact that the contract extension in 2009 was approved by the Wayne County Commission in full accordance with the charter after a full explanation and that the extension lowered the county’s costs at a time when the economy was at an all-time low and cost-cutting measures were imperative.
The story ignored the fact that under the new contract Wayne County realized a 15 percent reduction in call center costs in the first year for a total savings of $84,432 and an additional 10 percent reduction in the second year for further savings of $47,000.
The story ignored the fact that when proposed additional profits did not materialize, S3 further reduced its rates to the county pursuant to the contract, providing additional savings.
The story ignored the fact that in 2011, S3 again competitively bid for the project with five other potential vendors, and the contract was awarded to S3 based on its superior bid.
The story falsely said that LeDuff had tried to call Pasky and showed him supposedly falling asleep while on hold. Company phone records show that no such call was received.
The story falsely said that FOX 2 had requested a representative of S3 to appear on camera when no such request had been made.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 16:34
Category: Top News Written by Bankole Thompson
Regime of once powerful Wayne County boss facing federal scrutiny
Can Robert Ficano, the man who once wielded enormous influence and power and whose political machine was unmatched compared to other political heavyweights in Wayne County, now survive the rigorous federal scrutiny that has so quickly engulfed his administration?
That is the question on the mind of every political entity in the city and beyond. For the last four weeks I’ve been listening to people from various political backgrounds playing the soothsayer’s role, making predictions about the future of the county executive and his administration.
Some believe that the end of his administration is a foregone conclusion, while others are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt as long as he doesn’t get indicted and stained in the process.
While it is important to state clearly that Ficano has repeatedly declared his innocence and has not been charged with any crime, it is difficult to fathom how his administration can function effectively under the climate of a widening federal investigation that has already nabbed one of his top lieutenants, Tahir Kazmi.
Kazmi, the county’s former chief information officer, was recently charged by federal prosecutors with extortion, theft and obstruction of justice, hallmarks of federal corruption probes.
“We are turning over every stone in this case, and anyone who tampers with our investigation will be charged with obstruction of justice. We hope that these charges will encourage others to come forward and assist us in our investigation rather than impede it. The citizens of Wayne County are entitled to a thorough investigation to ensure that they are receiving the honest government they deserve,” was how the determined U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Barbara McQuade described the charges.
The charges against Kazmi signal what some predict is a harbinger for things to come in county government as FBI agents enhance their investigations with more subpoenas to try to connect possible spider web corruption in the Wayne County regime.
“If these allegations are true, this is outrageous. We have been fully cooperative. If somebody did something wrong, we are going to hold them fully accountable,” Ficano said recently in an urgent news conference held in the lobby of the Guardian Building after the Kazmi charges were announced.
The federal investigation is not over. Ficano’s former deputy, Azzam Elder, the man widely perceived by many to have had power that exceeded his title, and Turkia Awada Mullin, the county’s former economic chief, whose doubtful appointment to CEO of the Detroit Metro Airport blew the covers off the $200,000 severance package, are all reported to be under the federal microscope.
Michael Grundy, another top Ficano lieutenant and political operative, who ran the county’s insurance program for the poor, is also under federal scrutiny, facing disturbing allegations of shakedown from a county client, as well as reports of wiring thousands of dollars of public dollars to a fledging IT company owned by a childhood friend.
With all of these investigations focusing on the Ficano administration — and the men and women who served under him occupying significant positions that warranted public trust and responsibility — it is hard to imagine how Ficano’s administration can ride out the political storm.
How can his administration earn the public confidence when reports of county misuse of funds meant for the most vulnerable in society by some of his former executives are dominating the headlines?
The individuals under scrutiny were not just regular employees. They were key members of Ficano’s cabinet running departments, and by the stroke of a pen changed lives.
In a different setting, a board would have asked Ficano to resign a long time ago for either being a bad manager or not having a clue as to what his lieutenants were allegedly doing.
Was he that much in the dark about what was happening or was he just going along with the program?
This investigation is crucial because it involves possible economic crimes and breaching the public’s trust.
Ficano will continue to declare his innocence after every federal charge is announced with one press conference after another regarding one more of his former cabinet members. The public can only stomach so much. The reports of possible cases of corruption, bribery and extortion by individuals who were sworn to uphold the interests of taxpayers are a disturbing distraction for the Ficano administration.
We saw this political circus play out before with the Kwame Kilpatrick administration, where the former mayor tried to make the case that his legal woes would not affect his duties as the city’s chief executive officer, when it eventually did just that, resulting in him being forced to leave office.
Of course, Ficano is not Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick’s initial legal issues emanated from his personal affairs. Even though Ficano has not been charged, everyone around him that has left his administration, it appears, is getting ready to fall.
Given the close relationship between him and some of his former lieutenants, like Elder who is now bent on exposing his former boss, will Ficano testify against his former right hand man, or will it be the reverse?
As the wheels of justice turn with dizzying speed, Wayne County is like a stone rolling down the mountainside.
One would think that what’s taking place in Detroit City Hall corruption probe will serve as a valuable lesson for some county officials to be more honest and forthright.
Ficano is set to give his State of the County address on Wednesday, Feb. 29. The county executive will certainly try to be upbeat despite the federal probe, amd it is important for him to restore public confidence in Wayne County government. The speech should not only be about budget cuts. It should also be about ethics, and a string of preventive measures to ensure that taxpayers are not cheated.
In addition to the State of the County speech, Ficano should deliver the State of the Anti-Corruption speech and reassure taxpayers that their dollars are in the hands of good stewards who understand that the business of working for the public is a privilege and not a birthright.
That will be a good start for assuring Wayne County taxpayers who feel betrayed by every report of malfeasance and possible corruption emanating from one of the most powerful local governments in Michigan.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 16:28
Category: Top News Written by Phil Power
Well, the votes are in; the millions spent on TV ads, and the candidates have moved on. But when you survey the results of the Michigan Republican primary election, all I can say is:
“Bring back the smoke-filled room!”
That’s not because of the way things turned out. What bothers me are all the evils that go along with the primary election process.
I wasn’t surprised that Mitt Romney squeaked out a win over Rick Santorum. After all, his father, George Romney, was elected governor here three times in a row, and old-timers like me still remember him with some affection.
In some of his TV ads, Mitt made no bones about his own affection for his native state. He talked fondly about growing up in Michigan and saying the election was “personal.” During one speech, he even opined that our trees were “about the right height.”
In fact, you might have expected that he would have won easily. But the outcome was hardly a convincing victory for Romney, with all he had going for him here. He picked up endorsements from virtually the entire Republican hierarchy, from Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on down. Romney started the campaign with a double-digit lead, only to quickly fall behind before recovering. In the end, he won by less than half the margin he piled up four years ago over John McCain.
Put another way, about three in every five Michigan primary voters rejected their native son, as did two-thirds of the state’s counties. That may be in part because of the constant barrage of anti-Romney ads launched by the Santorum camp.
Not exactly the best way to help position the ticket for November! Yet picking nominees via primary elections is now the “democratic” norm, both in Michigan and nationally. That’s too bad.
Among the many things that troubled me this time were the weight accorded a few ultra-rich donors and the skewing of the entire campaign toward a small but intense base of very conservative activists. Worst of all were the ads. TV screens throughout the state were clogged with political ads, at once both sanctimonious and harsh, from the candidates. I found it hard to tell the difference between the spots paid for by the Romney and Santorum campaigns themselves and those of their accompanying “super PACs,” anonymously funded by multi-millionaires and sanitized as “independent” of the actual campaigns by the U. S. Supreme Court.
The Michigan Truth Squad, a fact-checking program of The Center for Michigan, assigned “foul” or “technical foul” calls to a majority of the ads from both campaigns for outright misstatements, unsubstantiated inferences and simple personal innuendo.
The robocalls that infested so many homes around the dinner hour represented their own form of entrapment as well.
Abraham Lincoln once proclaimed our democracy was “of the people, by the people and for the people.” Turns out these days it’s become largely the product of the millionaires, bought by the millionaires and (I fear) conducted for the interests of the millionaires. And because the target audience in the Michigan primary was the right wing of the GOP, the dominant campaign rhetoric was mainly shameless pandering to hard-right ideology. The main effect primary elections have on our political institutions is to let activists on the fringe determine the kinds of candidates normal people are supposed to vote for in general elections.
That’s a very odd way to manage a political system.
I remember when I was a (very) young man being allowed to sit (silently) in the “midnight caucus” at Democratic Party state conventions. That was the device at which party bosses discussed the merits and demerits of the candidates for office and issued “leadership recommendations” to the party faithful.
Although only a minority of party bosses actually smoked cigars, this was our equivalent of the smoke-filled room of legend.
What strikes me about those meetings is how knowing and probing the discussions were. The bosses knew all the candidates well, their tendencies, strengths and weaknesses. Some might be womanizers, others hard drinkers. Some had deservedly distinguished records.
Others were frauds.
However, whatever their morals, the bosses knew their own continued power depended on picking candidates who were not only competent to fill office but also capable of standing up to the scrutiny of a campaign without embarrassing themselves or their party.
The boys in the back room had a self-interest in picking winners. The scrutiny of the smoke-filled room was much, much harsher and more candid than all the glitzy TV ads and robocalls.
Sadly, today, in the name of “democracy,” we have changed the rules. We now have primary elections conducted primarily to pander to the ideologues amongst us. These elections are for the most part paid for by unelected, unrepresentative wealthy individuals and interest groups. And the image-mongering that has substituted for the gimlet-eyed judgment of professional party bosses often winds up picking the least capable and least qualified among the candidates.
Don’t know about you, but I’d be willing to risk the consequences of a little second-hand smoke if we could just bring back a system for picking candidates that made sense.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 16:10
Category: Top News Written by Carol Cain: Special to the Chronicle
Ann Romney wishes more people knew her husband, Mitt Romney, as well as she as she’s convinced they’d vote for him for president.
“I’ve watched him fix things his entire life,” said Romney, who has known him since they were children growing up in Metro Detroit.
Mrs. Romney talked about the many people he helped through their church, the companies he helped while at Bain Capital, and the U.S. Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah that were on the verge of collapse before he rescued them a decade earlier.
Romney even helped by giving his wife of 42 years something that can’t be bought ---hope.
Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998, Mrs. Romney, mother of five boys and 16 grandchildren, was devastated. An active woman who loves being with family and horse back riding (she has won some national amateur equestrian championships) was understandably
“I was so sick and depressed I couldn’t get out of bed,” she told me during taping of “Michigan Matters” which airs 11.a.m Sunday on WWJ-TV CBS Detroit.
“Mitt was so incredibly gentle and kind,” she said. “He told me he knew I was going to be OK. And I believed him.”
“I wish more people knew him,” she said. “Women voters in particular would vote for him if they knew him like I know him.”
He showed his unwavering support again when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. She’s been cancer free since and has had to work to keep her MS in check but the health concerns have made the couple even closer and dedicated to helping others.
The Romneys have made his second bid for the presidency into a family affair, as their five sons have been involved.
“It was wanting to give our grandchildren and others a brighter future,” Mitt Romney told me during taping. “One where everyone has a chance to go for the American dream. There are too many people in tough situations, and hurting and states like Michigan are feeling it most.”
“This is where I was born,” he said. “This is personal.”
(Carol Cain is an Emmy winning journalist who is senior producer and host of WWJTV CBS Detroit’s “Michigan Matters.” She also moderates the Michigan Chronicles “Pancakes and Politics” events which begin March 12 with Gov. Rick Snyder.)
Last Updated on Friday, 24 February 2012 20:26
Category: Top News Written by Michigan
LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder today signed emergency legislation that lets Highland Park students finish the school year despite the district’s financial crisis.
Lawmakers on Thursday night moved swiftly to address the critical educational needs of Highland Park students by allowing them to remain in their current facilities or attend school in another district.
House Bill 4445 includes $4 million to be used as $4,000 per-pupil stipends that follow students currently enrolled in Highland Park schools. Money from the Distressed District Student Transition grants can go to another school district or a charter school that accepts Highland Park students, or if the student remains in Highland Park schools, the money must go to the operating entity that is brought in to run the school. The money will not be used for the Highland Park district itself.
“This temporary measure keeps Highland Park children in the classroom, where they deserve and need to be,” Snyder said. “While this action does not solve the school district’s financial and management situation, it does put the immediate needs of students and their families first by minimizing disruptions for the rest of this school year. There is still much work to do but this collaborative effort shows that we can rise to any challenge and find appropriate solutions. I applaud Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and House Speaker Jase Bolger for their leadership, and commend those legislators who put differences aside and acted in the best interests of Highland Park children.”
Despite repeated state advances and bailouts, including a $4 million hardship loan last summer and two advancements of state aid payments in the past month, it is expected that the school district will not be able to meet today’s payroll.
In related news, the independent review team tasked with assessing HPS’ financial situation met publicly this week and its members again solidly concluded that the district is facing a financial emergency. The governor has agreed with those findings. Additionally, the HPS Board met last evening and passed a resolution opting not to appeal the findings of the review team or governor, or the appointment of an emergency manager. Per the timeline outlined in Public Act 4, the soonest the governor can reinstate Jack Martin as emergency manager is late next week.
Snyder is committed to ensuring full and open communication with Highland Park parents, teachers and community leaders. His most recent letter sent to parents this week outlined the district’s financial challenges and ways in which state officials are working to minimize any disruptions to the education of Highland Park students. The governor also pledged that officials will conduct a public meeting to keep local residents informed. Details of the open forum will be announced.
Due to the urgency of the Highland Park schools situation, lawmakers used H.B. 4445 as a “vehicle” bill to appropriate the funding. H.B. 4445 is the school aid supplemental bill. In addition to the Highland Park student funding, it includes:
- $12.5 million to the Office of Great Start within the Michigan Department of Education for early childhood funding. Specifically, $3.25 million will go toward implementation of a statewide standard kindergarten assessment to determine a child’s readiness upon entering school. The initiative will link kindergarten readiness information with existing prenatal through age 20, or P-20, data system. The remaining $9.25 million will provide services to early learning program providers in the Tiered Quality Improvement Rating System, which identifies quality levels of early childhood providers, holds programs accountable for child outcomes and provides parents with information about the early learning settings that are available.
- $424,700 in adjustments for other post-employment benefits (OPEB) as a result of the decision by the governor and Legislature to begin prefunding state employee retiree health care in fiscal year 2011-12. The appropriation provides sufficient funds to pay for the increased cost of prefunding.
- $4.7 million from the federal Education Jobs Fund that was provided to Michigan in fiscal year 2010-11. Michigan did not spend the entire amount of the grant. The program provides $10 billion in assistance to states to save or create education jobs, including those that provide educational and related services for early childhood, elementary and secondary education.
A more detailed analysis of H.B. 4445 is at www.legislature.mi.gov.
Last Updated on Friday, 24 February 2012 19:21
Category: Top News Written by Carol Cain: Special to the Chronicle
It’s a good thing Rick Santorum favors cowboy boots. He might want to add some six shooters to his arsenal as he prepares for a stepped up battle for his party’s presidential nomination with GOP contenders having him squarely in their sights.
As the Republican beauty contest to find a person to take on Barack Obama in the November general election for president descends on Michigan with its Feb. 28 primary, Santorum has been spending a lot of time in Metro Detroit.
His surprise leap-frogging from third place to running neck and neck in some polls to first place against Mass. Governor and Michigan native son Mitt Romney is downright shocking to many.
Many assumed Romney would walk away with his home state where his late father, George Romney, was once governor and also saved American Motors.
Santorum, the former Senator from Pennsylvania, has come through the early season of this fascinating contest unscathed as Romney shouldered the brunt of attacks from former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Gov. Rick Perry and other GOP contenders.
Santorum knows the hot lights and attention will now come his way. It’s that same kind of attention that took down one time front-runners Rick Perry, Herman Cain and forced others out of the race.
In drumming up support, Santorum has been hop-scotching Michigan as he visited the Detroit Economic Club, local chambers, Lincoln dinners and cities big and small.
He stopped at the WWJ-TV CBS Detroit studio and appeared on “Michigan Matters” where I had a chance to talk with him about a variety of topics:
Q: Do you have any background in Michigan?
A: Yes, my grandfather, Pietro Santorum, came here from Italy to work in Detroit’s auto plants in 1925. He was laid off two years later and had to return to Italy. He came back to this country and worked in the Pennsylvania coal mines until he was 72 years old.
Q: How does that make you relate to people in Detroit?
A: Being the grandson of a coal miner, growing up in a steel town in Pennsylvania, helped forge me as someone who understands the greatness of our country and the importance of the industrial heartland of America.
Detroit helped build America and create wealth. I come from steel country. We feel that same pride about what we did to forge a great and powerful nation. And there’s no area of the country that can take more credit for that than you right here and therefore you hold a great degree of honor here.
Q: With your views against gay marriage, use of contraception, abortion in any case, many say you are too conservative to win a national election particularly when you will have to convince independents to vote for you. Your thoughts?
A: Some are saying, ‘Rick Santorum is so conservative that he can’t win.’ Mitt Romney is telling people I am not conservative enough. Maybe the truth is: I am just right. Someone who understands the role of government and understands things that are important like having a strong defense department.
Q: What do you think you are suddenly tied with Gov. Romney (or even ahead in some polls)?
A: I think we have been delivering a pretty positive policy perspective. I haven’t been out there attacking anyone or beating up on anyone.
During the debates, I just answered the questions and was on the sidelines as the others were involved in back and forth attacks.
I am sure that helped people watching the debates who said, ‘here is a guy who is putting forth ideas and not into all the banter.’
Q: With your new front-runner status you know that will change. How will you respond? (The next presidential debate is being held Wednesday Feb. 22 in Mesa, Arizona. That state also holds its primary on Feb. 28 as does Michigan).
A: All I can do is lay out to people what America would look like and show them how good government can work. I’m ready for what comes.
Q: Mitt Romney has taken a lot of heat for being against the government bailouts of the auto companies. Where do you stand and if you agree with him, wouldn’t the impact on Detroit have been even more devastating?
A: I was against all the bailouts – not just autos, but Wall Street too.
Yes, there might have been more disruption and GM and Chrysler might not look like they do now. There might have been a fracturing of the industry which might have been better in the long run.
Q: With no capital in the markets, how would GM, Chrysler been able to restructure? Even President George W. Bush said at the recent National Auto Dealers Association meeting in Las Vegas he would have given the auto bailouts again.
A: There were people who were holding back capital knowing the government was going to provide it. There would have been money.
Q: Speaking of money, some question if you have the money and organization to bankroll a national campaign into the November election. Do you?
A: We raised $2 million all together until Iowa (Jan. 3). Then we raised $4.5 million in January and in the first two weeks of February we raised $5 million. I am not worried. We don’t have the super PACs that Romney has. But we are picking up momentum.
Q: Given you are among the front-runners, have you thought about a potential vice president candidate. Would you consider Mitt Romney?
A: I would consider someone who shares my values and will do the job I told the American public I would do.
Q: What about former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush?
A: I will look at many people, but they need to share my values.
Q: How is your daughter, Bella (three years old) who suffers from Trisomy 18, a genetic disease, doing?
A: Thank you for asking. I left the campaign trail to be home to make sure she was ok. She had pneumonia but came out of it thanks to the doctors and nurses who took such good care of her.
Q: As a candidate running for office with a young family at home, it must be tough.
A: I have seven children, ages 20 to 3. My two oldest, 20 and 19, are traveling with me as they took the year off from college to do so. This is not the best time to run but I feel so strongly that we are at a critical time in our country I had to do it.
Q: Your wife, Karen, has been taking care of family. How would she juggle the demands of being First Lady and what would her focus be in that role if you were successful?
A: Karen is going to try to get on the road more often with me.
As First lady, her focus would be on children with disabilities. Unless you live with the burden and gift of a special needs child it’s hard to understand. It is tough but it is also wonderful. You learn so much from them.
Q: Your thoughts on Mitt Romney – the candidate?
A: I like Mitt and all the candidates. He has some strengths, like his business experience. But the job of president is more than being CEO. It’s about managing change. It’s about motivating America and I don’t think Romney has shown an ability to connect and get the country motivated.
I am not trying to manage; I am trying to change the country.
(Carol Cain is an Emmy winning journalist who is senior producer and host of WWJ-TV CBS Detroit “Michigan Matters.” She writes about politics and business for Sunday’s Detroit Free Press.)
Last Updated on Friday, 24 February 2012 04:03
Category: News Briefs Written by Michigan Chronicle
Henry Ford Health System physician Kimberlydawn Wisdom, M.D., has been appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as a member of the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health.
Dr. Wisdom currently serves as senior vice president of Community Health & Equity and the Chief Wellness officer at Henry Ford Health System.
Last Updated on Friday, 24 February 2012 03:47
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