Category: Breaking News Written by Huffington Post
WASHINGTON -- Three years after Democrats began crafting health care reform, nearly 18 months after the president signed it into law, and eight months since the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to its constitutionality, proponents of the Affordable Care Act can finally exhale. The law is constitutional, the court ruled in a Thursday session that supplied all the nervous anticipation of an actual election.
But while the law's mandate may pass legal muster, it remains unpopular. And as part of the decision to uphold the law, Chief Justice John Roberts may have made it even more toxic, determining that it was a tax. Policy experts said they remain concerned about components of the legislation, including looming cuts in Medicare payments to hospitals and other providers, while Democrats have exhibited general wariness with championing it on the campaign stump.
Democrats won today's battle, but the war over health care remains unsettled.
"I'm politically glad," said Howard Dean, the former Democratic National Committee chairman. "I think the fact that the Supreme Court legitimized it and the charge was led by John Roberts makes it much harder for Republicans. I feel like it would be hard to run around and scream about socialism when John Roberts voted for the bill.
"But we have got a lot of work ahead of us," Dean added. "We better make this work. It is the slow boat to China. What has happened here is we have basically cemented the future of health care reform into the private sector. That can be perilous. There is a lot of cost-control that has to be done."
Vermont, where Dean was governor, is attempting to do just that, working toward a single-payer system by 2013, the most aggressive state-based experimentation currently taking place. The problem is that there is virtually no political appetite left for U.S. lawmakers to consider additional reforms.
"It doesn't end the discontent" with the health care system, said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.). "I knew when I voted for this bill, it was a first step -- not nearly satisfactory in many ways -- but a first step, and a major first step," much like the beginnings of Social Security. "We're not going to want to make major changes, I don't imagine, right away. There are some of us will say we should have put in the public option, we should have put in the negotiation of prices on drugs. We'll push for that, but I don't know that any of that will happen. Maybe some will. But after a period of years, there'll be experience with it, and people will say, 'Well, this is working well, but that's a problem.' Nothing stands still."
Having endured years of sustained attack for constructing a bill that was based, fundamentally, on conservative principles, Democrats on Thursday were conceiving of ways to make the Affordable Care Act more popular rather than structurally different.
Top officials in the Obama White House stressed that they would continue to emphasize some of the law's popular provisions, from the prohibition of discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, to allowing kids up to the age of 26 to remain on their parents' health care plans. Obama himself did as much in his statement on the court's decision.
In addition, one top official discussed spotlighting a provision of the bill that allows states to opt out of Affordable Care Act provisions, provided they meet minimal coverage requirements. The president, that official said, would push for the start date for that opt-out clause to be moved from 2017 to 2014.
"It has got a lot of attractiveness to folks who are conservatives," explained Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) who authored the provision and supports moving it to 2014. "But remember, there are at least as many progressive folks who said, 'Look, we wanted a public option and that was our second choice, we really wanted single payer.' So you give both sides an opportunity to say we have a chance to showcase our ideas."
Other leading Democrats had alternative suggestions, all agreeing that a bill that has been sold to the public before would need to be presented once again during the presidential campaign.
"We may get a reset and another hearing from the public to make the connection between why controlling health care costs is so very important for growing our economy," offered Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, chair of the Democratic Governors Association. "We liberals tend to run immediately to caring, love, and fairness and there was a real economic imperative here. You can't be a productive nation if your capital is going to escalating health care administrative costs."
Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, predicted that the issue of health care would not "recede into the backdrop" simply because the court settled the legal dispute. But he said he suspects the contours of the debate have now shifted into the Democratic Party's favor.
"For most Independent voters, they are not interested in going backwards. They want to move on," Israel said in an interview. "They like the protections and are tired of the partisanship and they don’t want to spend the summer re-litigating health care, particularly after a conservative Supreme Court upheld it."
Roberts certainly provided Democrats an imprimatur of sorts to claim that there is conservative backing for the Affordable Care Act. But early indications suggest Republicans don't really care. House GOP leadership has already planned to hold a repeal vote in July (which will fail in the Senate). And presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney was quick to the microphone to offer his support for the tear-it-all-down approach.
“What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States," Romney declared, with a baking Capitol Hill in the background. "And that is, I will act to repeal Obamacare."
It's that extreme rejection of the entire law, said Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, that has made it easier for Democrats to defend. Warren, rare for a Democratic candidate, unapologetically backs health care reform while on the campaign trail.
"This is a clear division between parties," Warren said in an interview. "It's a clear division here in Massachusetts between me and Scott Brown. Republicans want to go back and tear up the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and start at square one. They want to re-fight the battles that have gone on for more than three years now."
There is, said Warren, "a certain finality that comes from a Supreme Court decision -- except for Republicans. You know, if it had gone the other way, they'd be arguing finality."
Last Updated on Friday, 29 June 2012 11:11
Category: Breaking News Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
President Obama spoke from the East Room at the White House today in response to the ruling by the Surpreme Court on the Affordable Care Act. Below is the transcipt of the President's address.
12:15 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Earlier today, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act -- the name of the health care reform we passed two years ago. In doing so, they've reaffirmed a fundamental principle that here in America -- in the wealthiest nation on Earth – no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin.
I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost. That’s how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington. But that discussion completely misses the point. Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it.
And because this law has a direct impact on so many Americans, I want to take this opportunity to talk about exactly what it means for you.
First, if you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance -- this law will only make it more secure and more affordable. Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of care you receive. They can no longer discriminate against children with preexisting conditions. They can no longer drop your coverage if you get sick. They can no longer jack up your premiums without reason. They are required to provide free preventive care like check-ups and mammograms -- a provision that's already helped 54 million Americans with private insurance. And by this August, nearly 13 million of you will receive a rebate from your insurance company because it spent too much on things like administrative costs and CEO bonuses, and not enough on your health care.
There’s more. Because of the Affordable Care Act, young adults under the age of 26 are able to stay on their parent's health care plans -- a provision that's already helped 6 million young Americans. And because of the Affordable Care Act, seniors receive a discount on their prescription drugs -- a discount that's already saved more than 5 million seniors on Medicare about $600 each.
All of this is happening because of the Affordable Care Act. These provisions provide common-sense protections for middle class families, and they enjoy broad popular support. And thanks to today’s decision, all of these benefits and protections will continue for Americans who already have health insurance.
Now, if you’re one of the 30 million Americans who don’t yet have health insurance, starting in 2014 this law will offer you an array of quality, affordable, private health insurance plans to choose from. Each state will take the lead in designing their own menu of options, and if states can come up with even better ways of covering more people at the same quality and cost, this law allows them to do that, too. And I’ve asked Congress to help speed up that process, and give states this flexibility in year one.
Once states set up these health insurance marketplaces, known as exchanges, insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against any American with a preexisting health condition. They won’t be able to charge you more just because you’re a woman. They won’t be able to bill you into bankruptcy. If you’re sick, you’ll finally have the same chance to get quality, affordable health care as everyone else. And if you can’t afford the premiums, you'll receive a credit that helps pay for it.
Today, the Supreme Court also upheld the principle that people who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance. This is important for two reasons.
First, when uninsured people who can afford coverage get sick, and show up at the emergency room for care, the rest of us end up paying for their care in the form of higher premiums.
And second, if you ask insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions, but don’t require people who can afford it to buy their own insurance, some folks might wait until they’re sick to buy the care they need -- which would also drive up everybody else’s premiums.
That’s why, even though I knew it wouldn’t be politically popular, and resisted the idea when I ran for this office, we ultimately included a provision in the Affordable Care Act that people who can afford to buy health insurance should take the responsibility to do so. In fact, this idea has enjoyed support from members of both parties, including the current Republican nominee for President.
Still, I know the debate over this law has been divisive. I respect the very real concerns that millions of Americans have shared. And I know a lot of coverage through this health care debate has focused on what it means politically.
Well, it should be pretty clear by now that I didn’t do this because it was good politics. I did it because I believed it was good for the country. I did it because I believed it was good for the American people.
There’s a framed letter that hangs in my office right now. It was sent to me during the health care debate by a woman named Natoma Canfield. For years and years, Natoma did everything right. She bought health insurance. She paid her premiums on time. But 18 years ago, Natoma was diagnosed with cancer. And even though she’d been cancer-free for more than a decade, her insurance company kept jacking up her rates, year after year. And despite her desire to keep her coverage -- despite her fears that she would get sick again -- she had to surrender her health insurance, and was forced to hang her fortunes on chance.
I carried Natoma’s story with me every day of the fight to pass this law. It reminded me of all the Americans, all across the country, who have had to worry not only about getting sick, but about the cost of getting well.
Natoma is well today. And because of this law, there are other Americans -- other sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers -- who will not have to hang their fortunes on chance. These are the Americans for whom we passed this law.
The highest Court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law. And we'll work together to improve on it where we can. But what we won’t do -- what the country can’t afford to do -- is refight the political battles of two years ago, or go back to the way things were.
With today’s announcement, it’s time for us to move forward -- to implement and, where necessary, improve on this law. And now is the time to keep our focus on the most urgent challenge of our time: putting people back to work, paying down our debt, and building an economy where people can have confidence that if they work hard, they can get ahead.
But today, I’m as confident as ever that when we look back five years from now, or 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, we’ll be better off because we had the courage to pass this law and keep moving forward.
Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America.
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 June 2012 17:29
Category: Breaking News Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
Detroit Medical Center Takes Another Big Step Toward the Future of Healthcare, Buys HMO.
DMC Signs an Agreement to Purchase ProCare Health Plan, Inc.
DETROIT – Detroit Medical Center (DMC) announced today that it has signed an agreement to purchase ProCare Health Plan, Inc., a Detroit-based Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) that offers health care coverage to Medicaid beneficiaries in Wayne County. The purchase is contingent on approval of the State of Michigan including its Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation.
“The future of healthcare is in achieving better health for our community, better healthcare for our patients, and lower costs,” said Mike Duggan, CEO Detroit Medical Center. “ProCare’s experience in managed care is a key component in aligning DMC to where healthcare is moving.”
Robin Cole, President of ProCare Health Plan, Inc., said, “ProCare Health Plan, Inc. has been dedicated to serving the unique needs and health challenges found in our city since our founding by Dr. Augustine Kole-James in 1996. We are proud of the high quality of care we have been able to provide to our members, many of whom live in medically underserved areas.
“We are making this agreement with the DMC because it is in the best interests of the Plan, its members, our employees and the Detroit community we care so much about. The DMC is a very positive force in Detroit, and we are so pleased that their strength, resources and commitment will soon be fully behind ProCare Health Plan.”
Duggan said, “With our recent selection as one of only 32 National Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations, DMC is moving from a hospital system to a health care system. Our acquisition of ProCare better enables us to capitalize on many of the State and Federal initiatives in providing care, particularly to special needs populations.”
In a health care system the patient-physician relationship becomes the center of patient care. DMC’s structure and expertise in working with its physician community keeps the focus on caring for patients even when they’re healthy.
“The future of medicine isn't in hospitalizing as many people as possible. It's in managing their healthcare efficiently to keep them out of the hospital and where hospitalization does occur, to get them home as quickly as possible, “said Carrie Harris-Muller, President Michigan Pioneer ACO, “An important component to good health is patient, physician and hospital communication. DMC’s electronic medical records in the hospital and at the doctor level, enables DMC to be a leader in providing better patient care.”
About Detroit Medical Center www.dmc.org
The Detroit Medical Center includes DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan, DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital, DMC Harper University Hospital, DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, DMC Hutzel Women’s Hospital, DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital, DMC Surgery Hospital, and DMC Cardiovascular Institute. The Detroit Medical Center is a leading regional healthcare system with a mission of excellence in clinical care, research and medical education.
About ProCare Health Plan, Inc.
ProCare, founded by Dr. Augustine Kole-James, was certified as a Clinic Plan in October 1996, a Qualified Health Plan in 1998, and a licensed HMO in December 2000. ProCare currently operates from its headquarters on the east side of the City of Detroit and serves the Medicaid population in Wayne County, Michigan.
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 June 2012 13:50
Category: Breaking News Written by Huffington Post
If you've ever thought of a way technology could improve Detroit, now's the time to turn your idea into something concrete.
Apps For Detroit, a competition for groups to design apps (whether for the web, phones or tablets) that address city challenges, kicks off with an informal information session at Signal-Return in Eastern Market this Thursday.
"One of the outcomes we hope to achieve with this event is … to corral disparate groups in a space and find developers who care about civic issues," said Alicia Rouault, one of the three Detroit fellows for Code For America, a nonprofit that launches initiatives to improve city government functionality with technology. With partners Matt Hampel and Prashant Singh, she is working on two projects for the city. One program will track bus locations in real time, another will give community groups tools to collect and analyze their own data.
When the three fellows finish their project, they hope to leave the city not just with a couple apps, but also usable data and a stronger network of people working on civic projects.
Karla Henderson, group executive of planning and facilities for the City of Detroit, as well as a judge for the challenge, hopes Apps for Detroit will become an annual contest.
"We're very excited to be moving technology forward in the city," she said. "It's something we've lagged on so it's great to have volunteers and people interested in improving Detroit."
While some in Detroit are already using technology to make the city and its infrastructure work better for residents, like Loveland Technologies' apps and database of properties for sale in the Wayne County tax auction, Rouault hopes their events will stimulate more collaboration and action.
On Thursday, they're expecting to bring together a mix of developers, designers, individuals in the non-profit sector and others to get more information about the two week competition and look for teammates to work on challenges, which will range from using national databases of health facility to provide information for citizens to visually show stories of social good in the city.
"This is as much about connecting developers to people who understand issues in Detroit from a really informed perspective," Rouault said. "An engineer building something in isolation won't ultimately be as impactful or informed as if they were collaborating with someone who knows really knows the issues in Detroit."
The city will release data about parks, recreation center, bus routes and bus stops that hasn't been made readily available before, something Rouault called a "huge win." After Thursday, the information will be online for developers to access and build on.
But teams or individuals don't have to use the new data in the competition, which purposely has few constraints. Essentially all that's required is a great idea and a working prototype.
"The best apps are generally built on top of good data," Rouault said. "But who knows? One request was to make it easier for citizens to document potholes on the street, and that doesn't need to be built on data that exists."
Code for America will be putting information about the challenges on the Apps For Detroit website, which also has a page for individuals to share ideas and create teams. A panel with representatives from business, government and media in Detroit, will judge the submissions, due July 15, and announce winners at the beginning of August.
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 June 2012 11:13
Category: Breaking News Written by Huffington Post
Michigan State University sees Detroit as a future pioneer for urban agriculture.
America's first land-grant university announced Wednesday it will invest $1.5 million over the next three years to help turn the city into a world hub for food system innovation.
The university signed a memorandum of understanding with Detroit Mayor Dave Bing Wednesday afternoon to begin laying the groundwork for the program, which they are calling the MetroFoodPlus Innovation Cluster. The memorandum does not create any financial obligations for either party, but allows them to explore the creation of the innovation hub and begin working towards a joint development contract.
“We want to demonstrate that innovation based on metropolitan food production can create new businesses and jobs, return idle land to productivity and grow a more environmentally sustainable and economically vital city,” Bing said in a statement.
As the earth's population continues to concentrate in cities and resources become more scarce, the university believes that the world will become increasingly dependent on urban farming to meet its food needs.
“By 2050, food production will need to double – using less water and energy than today," MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said in a release. "We see great opportunity to do good locally and connect globally.”
At press conference at Mayor Bing's office on Wednesday, Simon said that, by positioning itself as a leader in urban agriculture, Detroit would be able to take advantage of opportunities presented by the Farm Bill, which recently passed the U.S. Senate and is now in consideration in the House of Representatives.
Organizers say the exact schematics of the project still need to be determined by the city's stakeholders. They hope to involve about 80 local organizations active in Detroit's food network including D-Town farms, Eastern Market and the Greening of Detroit in the planning process. Mayor Bing hopes to integrate the initiative with the Detroit Works long-term framework for city planning.
The university hopes that the project will encourage increased cooperation between local food creators and distributors. Another idea? Positioning Detroit to become known as a food exporter. At the press conference, Dr. Richard Foster of MSU's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources said the general goal of the innovation cluster is to create a system that's both "socially acceptable and creates an abundance of food."
"If it's socially acceptable, it means that racial justice issues we face in this state [and city] are actually considered," he said. "It means economic and wealth distribution will have to be considered."
The university will primarily be involved in creating an agricultural knowledge base in the city. They envision creating a small 8 to 10 acre physical site that may include a state-of-the-art greenhouse.
Although details are still speculative, MSU hopes to give local farmers access to cutting edge farming technologies, like an advanced aerogel plastic that will allow greenhouses to conserve five times more heat than conventional plastic coverings, or energy-efficient lights that provide plants with only the wavelengths they need to grow.
The university also hopes to play a role by conducting relevant plant research on their East Lansing, Mich. campus and helping develop soil remediation and indoor growing techniques.
"Intensive indoor agriculture is going to be the global solution [for food security] to cities like Mexico City like Sao Paolo [in Brazil]," said Dr. Foster, "because they're not going to have a land base they're going to have to grow up and in a 300 mile radius of that city."
He believes as an innovator in urban agriculture Detroit could develop indoor farming systems that have zero energy loss and 90 percent water efficiency, and then manufacture equipment for those systems and sell them worldwide.
MSU and the City of Detroit hope to attract more participation and investment in the innovation cluster as it develops.
The next step for the project is an input session for community stakeholders scheduled for July 11 and 12. Although Detroit is known for its contentious politics, Dr. Foster said he is confident the project is on solid ground.
"The groups have indicated their willingness and not only their willingness, but their enthusiasm," he said. "In coming together they've set all their individual things, not totally aside, [but enough] to create the vision for all of us to be successful."
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 June 2012 11:10
Category: Breaking News Written by Huffington Post
WASHINGTON -- The individual health insurance mandate is constitutional, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday, upholding the central provision of President Barack Obama's signature Affordable Care Act.
The controlling opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, upheld the mandate as a tax, although concluded it was not valid as an exercise of Congress' commerce clause power. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined in the outcome.
The decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius comes as something of a surprise after the generally hostile reception the law received during the six hours of oral arguments held over three days in March. But by siding with the court's four Democratic appointees, Chief Justice Roberts avoided the delegitimizing taint of politics that surrounds a party-line vote while passing Obamacare's fate back to the elected branches. GOP candidates and incumbents will surely spend the rest of the 2012 campaign season running against the Supreme Court and for repeal of the law.
The decision looks like a political compromise among the justices. The majority concluded that the mandate, which requires virtually all Americans to obtain minimum health insurance coverage or pay a penalty, falls within Congress' power under the Constitution to "lay and collect taxes."
"The individual mandate cannot be upheld as an exercise of Congress's power under the Commerce Clause," Roberts wrote. "That Clause authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce, not to order individuals to engage in it. In this case, however, it is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but choose to go without health insurance. Such legislation is within Congress's power to tax."
Ginsburg, writing separately for the four liberals, said they would have upheld the mandate under the commerce clause too. "Unlike the market for almost any other product or service, the market for medical care is one in which all individuals inevitably participate," she wrote. "Virtually every person residing in the United States, sooner or later, will visit a doctor or other health care professional."
On Medicaid expansion, the court upholds the expansion but with a caveat: The federal government may not threaten the states that don't comply with the loss of their existing funding.
"As for the Medicaid expansion, that portion of the Affordable Care Act violates the Constitution by threatening existing Medicaid funding," Roberts wrote. "Congress has no authority to order the States to regulate according to its instructions. Congress may offer the States grants and require the States to comply with accompanying conditions, but the States must have a genuine choice whether to accept the offer. The States are given no such choice in this case: They must either accept a basic change in the nature of Medicaid, or risk losing all Medicaid funding. The remedy for that constitutional violation is to preclude the Federal Government from imposing such a sanction. That remedy does not require striking down other portions of the Affordable Care Act."
Careful legal parsing aside, the bottom line is: The Affordable Care Act has survived.
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 June 2012 11:06
Category: Top News Written by Steve Holsey
Some things never go out of style. Love. Jeans. T-shirts. Quality. Class. Manners. Physical fitness. And we can’t leave out Motown because no record company has ever had such lasting impact. It is woven into the fabric of America.
When you hear a song by the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, the Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Martha & the Vandellas, the Marvelettes or any of dozens of other artists, you are not hearing “an old record.”
What you are hearing is “a Motown song” — and they are timeless. So well done, so distinctive and so full of fire that they sound as fresh as when first recorded and first heard blasting from radios. It comes as no surprise that there is always someone doing a Motown remake.
The classics are innumerable, among them, “Dancing in the Street,” “My Girl,” “I Can’t Help Myself,” “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “I Want You Back,” “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (either by Marvin Gaye or Gladys Knight & the Pips), “Please Mr. Postman,” “Heat Wave,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours,” “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” “My Guy,” “Do You Love Me?” and “The Tears of a Clown.”
Everybody knows these songs, and it is an international phenomenon.
Ranking right up there near the music are pictures of the artists who made those records, some of which we are showcasing this week — in glorious black and white.
“Come and Share These Memories.”
The multitalented Stevie Wonder had already enjoyed hits like “Uptight (Everything’s Alright),” “Fingertips – Pt. 2” and “Castles in the Sand” when this picture was taken.
Florence Ballard and Diana Ross of the Supremes at the airport.
The Motown people loved to get together to party — and sing.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 19:28
Category: Top News Written by Leland Stein III
There was a tumultuous 149-day lockout and the public outrage about it, which I never understood. It is the American way to engage in labor negotiations between ownership and management.
Yet when predominately African-American men stand up for a decent labor package and a share of the monetary gains from their hard efforts on the basketball court, too many radio and Internet jerks take that opportunity to lambast the game of basketball and the players themselves. Many called them selfish and predicted that no one would watch or care about the NBA after the long lockout.
Well, the 2011-12 season happened and it just ended with the Miami Heat and LaBron James winning the NBA title. The NBA Finals were entertaining and hard fought. In fact, the entire NBA Playoffs were very engaging, full of interesting twists and, of course, magnificent action on the court.
Miami overcame an outstanding Oklahoma City Thunder squad that had just ran through three former NBA championship teams (Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs) before they produced their first four consecutive loss stretch of the season.
Led by James’ 26 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, the Heat routed the Thunder 121-106 to win the NBA Finals in five games. It was the franchise’s second NBA title.
Miami became the third team to sweep the middle three games at home in the 2-3-2 format. The Detroit Pistons took all three from the Lakers in 2004 before the Heat did it against Dallas in 2006.
James and the Heat have been the most scrutinized in all of sports and the favorite of too many in the media as the team to disparage, disrespect and/or ridicule.
But now the Heat in on, literally, as South Beach is on fire with the passion of winning the NBA title. The Heat players are also touched by the glory of overcoming tons of naysayers and finding a way to come from behind against two very tough Eastern Conference foes (Indianapolis and Boston) that had them on the ropes.
One could see the elation and relief in the faces of the Heat players after their victory.
“It means everything,” James told reporters after the win. “I made a difficult decision to leave Cleveland but I understood what my future was about . I knew we had a bright future (in Miami). This is a dream come true for me. This is definitely when it pays off.”
The Heat burned the Thunder so thoroughly, with 3:01 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, James left the game along with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh for good remaining for a round of hugs and the celebration started. That was what James had been waiting for since arriving in the NBA out of high school as the No. 1 pick of the 2003 draft.
He hopped up and down in the final minutes, shared a long hug with opponent Kevin Durant, and watched the confetti rain down from the rafters.
The Big Three along with James came through in game five. Bosh, who broke down in tears as the Heat left their own court after losing game six last year, finished with 24 points and Wade scored 20.
But the Miami victory was fueled in large measure by role players hitting big shots and doing the intangibles. In the deciding game five it was broken-down Mike Miller, who could not throw a pea in the ocean, yet there he was knocking down seven 3-pointers and scoring 23 points.
In the previous games it was Shane Battier or Mario Chalmers or Udonis Haslem or Norris Cole or James Jones coming through with big plays or shots.
The Heat victory was truly a team win.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 19:18
Category: Top News Written by Lena Epstein Koretzky
Inbound traffic to downtown Detroit where sidewalks are packed with people is increasing thanks to blockbuster events like the Detroit River Days Festival. The one-of-a-kind festival along Detroit’s riverfront attracted thousands of visitors last weekend, lured by such attractions as tall ships, towering sand sculptures, live concerts and various other family-friendly activities.
Music headliners included national acts such as Boyz II Men and the Whispers, in addition to local favorites like the Howling Diablos and Thornetta Davis, who performed amidst dozens of street performers, aerialists, jugglers and dance acts.
This effort and others, headed by Detroit RiverFront Conservancy President and CEO Faye Alexander Nelson, have helped reinvigorate interest and enthusiasm in Detroit’s riverfront.
Nelson has quietly managed to raise capital investment topping $300 million since taking the helm in 2003. She has overcome formidable barriers, barriers that have crushed others who have attempted to sustain such urban promotions.
Her efforts deserve our gratitude and applause. Detroit is a better place in which to work, live and play, as well as a more welcoming place in which to conduct business, due in large part to the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy and Faye Alexander Nelson.
Beyond negative campaigning, candidates owe voters facts
By Lena Epstein Koretzky
Society loves risks. We love the feeling, the rush of our heart beat, the heat tingling throughout our body, from the bottom of our toes, to the core of our chest. Risks are exhilarating and uplifting, they are the jolt of energy that builds up, only to explode with the high of euphoria or deflate with the low of disappointment.
I’ve always considered myself a risk taker. As a student in Cambridge I spent a brief weekend with girlfriends attempting my luck at poker. Although never having played the game, I was confident in my ability to succeed.
Although I brought to the table a top-notch poker face, I focused far too much energy worrying about my girlfriends’ hands than my own. In my methodical attempt to dissect my opponents’ every breath, hand gesture, or eye twitch, I would end up convincing myself that I knew more about their hand than I did my own. And that’s what I played to. Sometimes I would get lucky, but more often than not I would lead myself down a road of misguided decisions.
I lost $84 in my weekend pursuit of poker glory.
Needless to say, my passion for poker never came to fruition and I will not be watching the World Series of Poker on ESPN this summer. Instead, I will focus my time following another game, an exciting game, a competition that holds many similar traits to the game of poker and impacts us all: politics.
If you’ve ever been looking for a time to start following politics, the cards that will unfold this summer are sure to be entertaining. Like poker, politics is a game of calculated risks, a game that runs on big money and involves a sophisticated state of the art “poker-face.” As Barack Obama and Mitt Romney enter the final table of this campaign season, their heads-up play will see them analyzing not only their own hands, but also each other’s. Money will be spent and risks will be taken.
Besides the potential ‘campaign worker turned mistress’ or secret sexting scandals, it should be fairly easy to predict an opponent’s hands at this level of presidential politics. As a political sommelier, I’m less excited with discovering which candidate can read their opponents hand, as I am with what each candidate will do with that knowledge.
Unfortunately, if history has its way, both candidates will continue a long standing tradition of negative campaigning, focusing less on their own strengths, and more on their opponents’ faults. America risks the possibility of going to the voting booth in November and casting a ballot not based on which candidate has sold themselves as having the better hand, but on who has sold their opponent as having a worse hand. There is a difference and the latter brings a greater risk.
Although there is always the exception, when a candidate campaigns on their hand, the strengths and experiences that make them the most viable candidate, they are more inclined to focus on the realities and truths behind why they made the decisions they made and hold the beliefs that they believe. Naturally, they have a firsthand knowledge of their own experiences and philosophies and thus can more intimately articulate the facts.
From a political perspective, we could call this “acceptable boasting with a purpose.” But when candidates focus more of their campaigns on their opponents, the realities that should make up a campaign become distorted and convoluted. The substance that allows one to speak truthfully about their own experiences becomes exaggeration and misleading to one attempting to speak truthfully about their opponents.
One of the most successful campaign ads in American political history was the “Daisy Girl” commercial run by Lyndon Johnson. Reacting to comments from Johnson’s Republican opponent that he would consider use of nuclear force with regards to Vietnam, the ad depicted a little girl playing with a daisy, followed by a sudden change of screen to a nuclear bomb exploding. Highly controversial for 1964, the ad was immediately pulled, but not before news organizations picked up the film to run in their evening broadcasts. In the end, Daisy Girl is considered a key reason why Johnson won that election.
As negative as Johnson’s campaign ad was, and as a taboo as it was for 1964, it worked. Almost 50 years later, negative campaigning is more common than ever in campaign politics, almost a pre-requisite to any candidacy, quite simply because this method helps people win. Negative campaigning won’t go away; as long as candidates want to win, they will inevitably always continue to use this in some capacity.
But the modern voter has an advantage over the 1964 voters. With modern technology and the ability to obtain quick, credible and factual information, the voter has a more enhanced ability to learn about the candidates, both from their campaigns as well as a multitude of other outlets.
Voters need factual information to judge each candidate independently on which one can deliver a more promising four years for America. And although I could spend time urging each candidate to mitigate their negative campaign advertising, I also am a realist. Instead, I will urge each voter to mitigate their risk in choosing the right candidate. Do your research, become informed, and get behind the candidate that truly represents the best hand.
As we enter the final table of the political World Series this summer, make an effort to look beyond the poker faces. Choosing the wrong president is a risk that America cannot afford to take.
Lena Koretzky is a political observer and advocate.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 19:16
Category: Top News Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Gov. Rick Snyder sat down with Chronicle editor Bankole Thompson for an exclusive interview Monday afternoon at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The governor talked about an array of issues, all with direct impact on the city of Detroit. Following are excerpts.
Asked if the consent agreement is going to have a significant impact in terms of how the city moves forward in its recovery, Gov. Snyder said he would hope not.
“It’s unfortunate that all that happened because, the way I view it, it just took up time and people’s attention,” Snyder said. “It’s more than just the time. It took away people’s attention from working and solving the problems.”
Snyder expressed a hope that all this is behind us now, and that people can get back to focusing on the key issue: financial stability and better services to the citizens.
Asked how the state intends to pursue the public lighting bill, Snyder said his administration helped take the lead in saying we need to do something about Detroit’s public lighting.
“I think the solution that, collectively, we came up with with the city was a good answer,” he said. “To basically say let’s put it in a lighting authority. Let’s come up with a good stream of revenue so the lighting authority can go out and do some bonding to get caught up, to do some good work. And that involved making us swap between the utility tax and the income tax, in terms of what’s earmarked for police and fire.”
Snyder added that it was “just moving pieces around,” that there was no real tax increase.
“But it was to create this authority, and to do it in a thoughtful way, where it could go out and raise money, and deploy those dollars efficiently, and then have a good board of people to do it,” he said. “So I think it was real good legislation. It was just unfortunate that in some ways too much politics got caught up and it didn’t get done.”
The governor also said that what currently exists simply doesn’t work.
“So isn’t this a major improvement just by saying let’s put it in a separate lighting authority?” Snyder asked, rhetorically. “Then if you look at the composition of the board, the majority of the board members are appointed by the city. And then there’s some requirements as to the qualifications of the board members. There has to an engineer, there has to be a financial person, people you’d want involved on a board like that.”
When the governor was asked about his plan to revitalize Michigan’s urban cities, he said his administration is making progress with the work of his director of the Michigan Office of Urban and Metropolitan Initiatives, Harvey Hollins, who recently held stakeholders meetings aimed to involve leaders acrosss the region.
Asked if the issue of residency has come up, Snyder said he hasn’t heard that as much.
“We found that even on the financial advisory board, you try to look at residents, to get them involved,” he said. “And you want to. At the same time, there are a lot of people that work in the city or have family in the city that want to help. I think in many cases, if you want good people, it’s good to get a diversity of people that have some relationship with Detroit.”
Asked where matters stand with respect to Belle Isle, Snyder said the city has a proposal.
“We’ve given one to the mayor for his review,” he said. “So they have the ball on that one. And what we did was propose a state park concept.”
Snyder added that it’s a great opportunity. He noted that there are two or three pieces to it. One is a state park still owned by the city.
“We could still invest in it,” he said. “Because we have some resources and trust fund dollars, different dollars we could put in to both Belle Isle itself and hopefully some of the roads and the bridge, to make sure that’s maintained. So that would improve Belle Isle. And at the same time it would free up dollar resources that the city’s putting into Belle Isle, so they could put them in the neighborhoods or other places where they could make a difference.”
Asked if what’s happened in the last two weeks has impacted his relationship with the mayor’s office, Snyder said no.
“My view is, if you look, I think we’ve been very consistent,” Snyder said. “Our goal is to be a good partner. We said we have an agreement. We honor the agreement and we’re working hard to deliver our side of the agreement. And I just encourage the City of Detroit to do the same thing from their perspective, because the people that we’re really talking about, the beneficiaries of all this work, hopefully are the citizens of Detroit.”
He added that “all that lawsuit stuff” just took away from the city being able to devote more time and attention to solving problems.
The governor also declined to dwell on the lawsuit, choosing instead to focus on the positive.
“It’s like okay, hopefully it’s done; it’s over; let’s go,” he said. “Let’s get back to providing better services.”
Asked to explain how the state is going to zero in on Wayne County, Snyder said that’s part of the state’s normal responsibility when a county or other jurisdiction has financial problems.
“Part of the treasury department’s mandate is to go ask questions, to follow up, to make sure things are being done properly,” he said.
He added that it looks like there are some good questions that should be asked with respect to Wayne County’s financial affairs.
“Hopefully we’ll get adequate answers,” he said.
Questioned regarding whether or not he is troubled by reports about pensions, Snyder said a lot of people suffered financial losses on their own in the stock market.
“But in terms of the whole structure, there are good solid questions that need to be asked, and the treasury is going about doing that, in terms of following through. And I would just wait for the outcome of what those responses are, and are there follow-up steps we need to take to make sure we’re taking care of the citizens?”
Asked where he puts the future of Southeast Michigan, with both Wayne County and Detroit having financial issues, Snyder said we need to get the city and the county on a financially stable basis.
He added, however, that people tend to get caught up in the financial stability question, which he admitted he’s deeply concerned with.
“I’m an accountant by training, so it really matters a lot,” he said. “But it all should be put in the context of by doing this, how do we set a foundation that we can build on and grow on? Because the answer for Detroit, the answer for Wayne County, is about growing Detroit, and growing the county. That’s the solution.”
He pointed that there are a lot of good things going on that we don’t talk about enough.
“I never ignore the problems, but I also want to make sure that we are highlighting the good things going on, so we have something to build on,” he said. “Like the young people moving into downtown.”
Gov. Snyder said there’s a good energy level in downtown Detroit on weekends.
“It’s pretty cool to come down and be here on a Saturday night,” he said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 19:31
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