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Archive | Voices and Views

Mackinac Center applauds Gov. Snyder’s “outside the box” reforms

 

Reforms make it easier for those with criminal records to gain employment 

 MIDLAND — Gov. Rick Snyder issued an executive order September 7 making it easier for people with criminal backgrounds to earn a second chance at gainful employment. Applicants for state employment and people seeking an occupational license will no longer be disqualified just because they have a criminal record. Also, people enrolled in job training programs while incarcerated will know upfront if their background prevents them from obtaining certain employment, and the state will help them get licensed if they need to.

Removing barriers to employment for people with criminal records—which is a large and growing demographic—benefits the public in multiple ways. Research has shown that employment is a key factor influencing someone’s probability to reoffend. Employed ex-offenders are much less likely to commit new crimes, improving public safety. Further, removing these barriers for ex-offenders may help Michigan employers find the talent they need.

More than 20 percent of Michigan jobs now require a state license, which mandates fees, training, exams and more. The vast majority of these licenses, prior to Gov. Snyder’s executive order, restricted people with criminal backgrounds from working legally in these fields. This disproportionately impacts blue-collar workers and those with trade skills, including roofers, painters, cosmetologists, barbers, security guards and many other jobs in high-demand fields.

“A past mistake should not prevent someone from being able to shampoo hair or put up gutters for a living. But that was the reality,” said Jarrett Skorup, director of marketing and communications at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “This is a great move by Gov. Snyder that will help ex-offenders, job creators and the rest of society.”

As a result of these orders, the Michigan Department of Corrections will ensure that prisoners meet the licensing requirements prior to enrolling in job-training programs, like Vocational Village. As part of this reform, additional trades will be taught at Vocational Village.

Kahryn Riley, director of the Mackinac Center’s criminal justice initiative, sees these changes as transformational for former offenders, and a significant step forward for Michigan in the national effort to get smart on crime.

“Michigan’s government has done a great thing by banning the box for state employment—and it has set a great example.” Riley said. “Our state courts hand out nearly 50,000 felony convictions every year, so it’s incredibly important to ensure that people who have made mistakes can still find work and become contributing members of society. This could also be a game-changer for trades facing labor shortages.”

About the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonpartisan, free-market think tank dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Michigan residents. Its policy experts develop solutions to state and local economic policy challenges based on fundamental principles of free markets, individual liberty, limited government and the rule of law. Headquartered in Midland, Mich., the Mackinac Center has grown into one of the nation’s largest state-based think tanks since its founding in 1987. For more information, visit www.mackinac.org.

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Farewell from Brook Nichols

Post Scripts Notice: The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to Post Scripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

 


Farewell from Brook Nichols

Fourteen years ago, I decided to run for the school board. There were two seats open and five candidates. I was fairly new to the area and didn’t know many people, but I was successfully voted in and ran for two additional terms after that. Being on the board was so much different than I thought it would be, but I learned a lot about myself, working with others and most importantly, I learned how much people in this community truly care about their students. Many things have changed over the 14 years I served on the school board and we have gone through some tough times and had to make difficult decisions, but I feel very optimistic about the future of Cedar Springs Public Schools and am excited to see what happens from here. Since our youngest graduated, we decided to move closer to our jobs and family, so I had to resign a few months prior to my term ending. I will miss being a part of this community on a daily basis, but will always be grateful for the years we lived here and raised our girls here. Thank you for the opportunity to serve on the school board for so long. See you on Red Flannel Day! 

Sincerely,

Brook Nichols

Former member of Cedar Springs Board of Education

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Our legacy lives on

 

 

Book donation completed

by: Lois Allen

We reached out to our readers and asked for financial help to keep our history in book form by contributing to the binding of The Cedar Springs Post Newspaper for the years, 2016 and 2017. Thankfully, our readers responded.

We now have enough money to make it happen. Our thanks and appreciation go out to those donors including Nancy Nielsen, our very first donor, as well as Dan and Donna Clark, Kim Gillow and Mary Balon, Sally Thompson and one anonymous.

We will have a dedication page in these books to honor their contribution with their names to be seen and appreciated for years to come.

Thank you!

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Community focus opportunity

The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to Post Scripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.


As the new school year begins, we want to include prayers for safety and success for all involved throughout our community.

Learning is a gift from God. As we begin this new school year, we give God thanks that he has given us thanks to learn many things in many ways.

Loving God, sometimes the new school year seems exciting or scary or both. Help us to remember to show our thanks for your gift of learning by doing our best everyday. We ask that you bless our schools, teachers, classmates, volunteers, friends, and administrators. We ask that you bless those who prepare our lunches, those who drive us to school, and those who keep our schools safe and clean. 

We ask God’s blessing on this new school year that it may be a time when we appreciate and fully use God’s gift of learning, Amen. 

Ann Scott

Cedar Springs United Methodist Church

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A More perfect union

 

Lee Hamilton

By Lee Hamilton

You know these words, but how often do you stop to think about them? “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…”

They belong, of course, to the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. That remarkable document is not just the blueprint for our political system. Its Preamble is also a profoundly aspirational call to arms. Because when you read it, it’s hard not to ask yourself how we’re doing—at establishing justice, promoting the general welfare, securing the blessings of liberty, and, in sum, creating a more perfect union.

It’s especially hard to avoid asking this question now, when the warnings of democracy in retreat are all around us. For many, the creeping authoritarianism that has taken hold in any number of countries—Russia, China, Bolivia, Turkey, the Philippines, and Hungary, among others—seems alarmingly on the ascendant.

You can also look around and find developments that make you wonder whether the world’s democracies have much cause for complacency. Worrisome environmental trends, population growth, climate change, the ills that go along with rising consumption—like mountains of trash and depletion of natural resources—all suggest a world unable to rein in its appetites.

Yet it’s undeniable that we’ve come a long way in this country and in other democracies, expanding women’s rights and the rights of minorities, ending child labor, banning nuclear testing, improving literacy, building strong economies. The world’s most vibrant economies and most nimble military forces remain mostly in the hands of democratic nations: the U.S., France, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, and Australia.

I don’t believe that people around the world favor authoritarianism. They prefer a voice in government. But most of all, they want decent lives for themselves and their children. They are not so wedded to a democratic system that if they see no improvement in their lives, they’ll reject authoritarianism. So democratic governments have to perform. They have to meet the expectations of their people and improve the quality of their citizens’ lives.

In the U.S., many Americans, worried about the direction of their country, wonder whether it is making progress toward the ideals of the Preamble. We seem to advance, fall back, and then move forward again, all in incremental steps.

What do we mean when we talk about “a more perfect Union”? I suppose we think of material progress. But more fundamentally, I hope, we think about the expansion of human freedom and progress toward the goals set out simply and eloquently in the Preamble. There’s a sense that we’re all in this American experience together: it brings us together and connects us with our past, present and future.

The American experiment in representative democracy is always a work in progress. The results are always in doubt. Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg — “whether a nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure”—will probably resonate for as long as we’re a nation.

We face immense systemic problems at the moment: racial discrimination, wage stagnation, staggering income inequality, political polarization, the pernicious effects of too much money washing around in the system, the degradation of civil discourse. It is not a given that we’ll be able to resolve them, and we always have to be alert to the fact that our freedoms and rights can be eroded. Which means that to prevent this erosion we have to step up to the task of responsible citizenship.

This is a challenge for every generation. We’ve stepped up to it in the past, through world wars, the Civil War, economic recessions and depressions. As Americans we believe in a set of democratic ideals, basic rights, fundamental freedoms, and the notion that all people are created equal and all are entitled to dignity. These are ideas that give us cohesiveness and identify us.

But we cannot take our ability to deliver on them for granted. Without a renewal of energy and commitment to the democratic values of the Constitution, without acting on the call issued by the Preamble, we could lose them.

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar, IU School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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What constitutes a letter to the editor?

By Judy Reed

 

People love to express their opinion. And folks love to read it—and respond to it. It’s what makes our country great—the right to free speech and exchange of ideas. That’s why the Post offers our letters to the editor section called PostScripts. There has been some confusion over what constitutes a letter to the editor, or what we’ll allow. What follows is a more in depth look at what we allow and don’t allow, and what guidelines readers should follow.

First, please limit your length to 350 words. Once in awhile we might allow a longer one. But that should be the exception rather than the rule. 

We try to verify letters. Please include a phone number, and your name and address. We do not print anonymous letters. Your phone and address will not be printed, just your name and city or township. If you have some special connection to the issue you are writing about, please include that relationship. For example, a village trustee writing about a village issue should be identified that way.

Stick to public issues. Letters should concern public issues or those that come before a public body. Compliments and criticism of businesses and private organizations do not belong in letters to the editor. Neither do press releases or news stories. 

No thank you letters. Once in awhile we might print a letter from an out of town visitor that was impressed by some kindness they received while here. But other than that, thank you letters are printed on our church page, and there is a charge. Most of the time, people would rather have a handwritten note expressing your appreciation.

No mass-produced or out-of-town letters. Local opinions and issues count the most. 

We will edit—sometimes aggressively. Letters may be edited for length, repeating themes, clarity, accuracy, punctuation, grammar, etc. Keep it short and to the point.

No more than two letters on an issue. You get one letter and one rebuttal. We want everyone to have a chance to express their opinion.

Candidates should publish an ad for campaign purposes. Sorry, no free letters from candidates. And responses to published campaign ads should also be paid ads.

No negative comments in campaign letters in the week before an election. That’s because there would no chance for a rebuttal letter. Just tell people why they should vote for a candidate without tearing the other one down.

Questions? Give us a call at 696-3655, or email your questions or letters to news@cedarspringspost.com.

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Vote for Robyn Britton

 

To the residents of Nelson Township,

As you know there is a primary election coming up August 7. Robyn Britton, who is our present township supervisor, is running for re-election. Having worked with Robyn in the political arena, I’ve found her to be a person of integrity, honesty, and forward thinking.

I also worked with her opponent and I must say the choice is easy.

Not if you vote, but when you vote, in my opinion there is only one person for the job. Vote for Robyn Britton for township supervisor. Believe me, you want to elect Robyn. 

Come join my wife and I as we vote to elect Robyn to run in the November election.

Roger and Betty Towsley, Village of Sand Lake

Past President and Village Council


The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to Post Scripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

* We only print positive letters about candidates one week prior to the election. 

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How to get involved

Lee Hamilton

By Lee Hamilton

Back in 1883, Teddy Roosevelt wrote an essay on what it takes to be a true American citizen. He did not mince words. “The people who say that they have not time to attend to politics are simply saying that they are unfit to live in a free community,” he wrote. “Their place is under a despotism.” He went on: “The first duty of an American citizen, then, is that he shall work in politics.”

I hope you’ll forgive his gender-specific language. He wrote at a time when women didn’t even have the vote. But his essay has been on my mind lately, because his sentiment—that living in a representative democracy demands work from all of us—is as timely now as it was then. A lot of people these days intuitively grasp that our system needs our involvement if we’re to safeguard it. So what should we do—especially if politics has to share space in our lives with family and jobs?

The first step is easy: look around your community and ask yourself what needs fixing or what can be done better. I don’t care where you live: ten minutes’ thought and you’ll come up with a healthy list of issues to tackle. This is how a lot of people get started: they see an issue they want to do something about. So they enter the fray, and often come to recognize they have more political power than they thought.

Of course, your chances of effecting change grow as you learn. You have to inform yourself about the issue: listen carefully as you talk to your neighbors and friends, and pay attention to what politicians, commentators, and those involved with the issue say. Participate, if you will, in the dialogue of democracy. It’s perfectly fine to personalize the issue as you seek to persuade others, but to be effective you’ve got to know what others think, too.

The same, really, goes for voting. It should be informed not just by what your gut tells you but also by what you’ve learned. Our system depends on citizens making discriminating choices on politicians and issues. So you want to educate yourself, which includes talking with people whose opinions differ from yours. The world is complex, even at the neighborhood level, and to be effective we need to understand it.

When it comes time to act, you want to join with a like-minded group of believers. That’s how you amplify your strength. Numbers count. And both within that group and among the others you’ll encounter, you try to build consensus. There’s an old saying that if you want to go fast you go alone, if you want to go far you join together. That’s very true in politics.

Next, you have to communicate—with each other, with the media, and at the local, state, and national levels. You have to communicate with your representatives. You have to go to public meetings and speak up. Focus your message so it’s clear, concise, and specific. Be polite but persistent.

There’s another way of participating that’s a bit more arms’ length, but also important: contribute money to a party or politician of your choice. Doing it is as important as the amount, because money talks in politics, and it helps you expand your influence. For good or ill, it’s an important part of politics.

Finally, run for office yourself. If you are so inclined, get a circle of friends to support you. Start locally. Develop the issues you’re interested in, pick the office that will help you affect them, organize and build support, focus your message, raise money. If this isn’t to your taste, then support candidates of your choice.

All of these are ways of participating—and if you want more, search out The New York Times’ guide, “How to Participate in Politics.” The key thing is to show up. There are all kinds of ways to have an impact, but they start with one thing: Showing up. It’s the least we should do.

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar, IU School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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Sand Lake council member resigns

 

Dear Council,

My intention was to serve as a trustee until the election in November when my appointed term ends. When I was sworn in, I took my oath to the constitution and the people of the village very seriously and was prepared to face the typical civil discourse that occurs during the work of such an organization. I was excited about serving in the community and immediately began the work of community engagement, hopeful that working together would bring growth, progress and prosperity to our village.

Since then, however, the typical civil discourse has turned toxic and disruptive to the operations of the village and its people. After Monday’s village council meeting, it was very clear to me that most of the village council members do not share the same sense of integrity and values that I do. I am no longer willing to serve next to people who engage in unprofessional, unethical, immoral, and even potentially criminal behaviors.

I am no longer confident that the majority of the council is committed to good governance. The severe breakdown in trust between council members along with the outrageous conduct of some members at meetings has prompted my resignation. Consider this email notification of my resignation from the Sand Lake Village Council.

Janice L. Dewey, Village of Sand Lake 

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What the pledge means

 

By Lee Hamilton

You know the Pledge of Allegiance, probably by heart. You may recite it only occasionally, or get the chance several times a week. Sometimes, I’m guessing, you say it mechanically, and other times filled with deep meaning.

I hope it’s more often the latter, because here’s what’s remarkable about the Pledge: in a few short phrases, it lays out the fundamentals of what our country represents and strives to achieve.

Let’s start with these words: “and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible.” It’s not just talking about any nation or form of government; it’s talking about a republic — a unified nation, under divine Providence, with three fully equal branches that are strong, independent, and each entrusted with limited and defined powers within their constitutional boundaries.

The meaning goes even deeper than that. Really, we’re talking about power being dispersed across a large number of people and institutions. We’re talking about a system that was designed by people who were so wary of concentrated power that they made it difficult for any one person or institution to wield it.

They created a republic that to its core rejects autocratic political leadership and authoritarianism. It sees them as a threat to our democracy, and depends upon a system of elections in which ballots are counted fairly and citizens have equal voting rights.

This, in turn, provides a system that has the capacity to reform and renew itself, because its institutions rest on the political involvement of our citizens. Elected representatives make the laws, but government is bound by the electoral process, an independent judiciary, and constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, assembly, religion and the press.

This brings us to the final words: “with liberty and justice for all.” These are crucial to understand. They represent what some pundits have called a framework of decency: a system built on individual dignity and respect for each person. This is a monumental achievement — a country that seeks liberty and justice for all within its borders, and often beyond them, with no limitations or caveats. Liberty and justice are not reserved for white males, or even for citizens only.

In all this, we recognize and tolerate our differences. We may not always measure up to our ideals, but we certainly know what they are. We expect differences in race, religion, and political beliefs. We don’t try to demonize those who are different.

At heart, then, this is a system based on a core belief that we’re all in this enterprise together, and all connected to one another. Everyone has the right to enjoy the promise of America.

Put these two parts of the Pledge together, and what it’s telling us is that we live in a system that binds us together by adherence to rules of political engagement, respect for the rule of law, and belief in our democratic institutions.

We may disagree about all kinds of issues, but we firmly believe in equal political rights and equal opportunity. “Liberty and justice for all” means giving individuals the space to make choices in their own lives that will enable them to flourish. What the country expects in return is that most individuals will live a life of honor, excellence and responsibility. The system demands hard work on the part of its citizens if it is to succeed.
So the next time you stand as the Pledge is recited, think about what you’re saying. It’s deceptively simple. But it packs a powerful message.

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar, IU School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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