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Archive | Voices and Views

Response to “Reader disappointed in story choice”

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.

I too was at the last board of education meeting. I admire your dedication to family in supporting the position of a relative on the board, however there are a few statements you made that I don’t believe are accurate. One only needs to look through recent issues of the Post to see several articles about our students’ accomplishments. One article in the last 7 months bringing awareness to our community that our teachers are STILL working under fear and intimidation does not constitute a pattern. I would also argue that the ‘slanted viewpoint from the vocal minority’ is not accurate. The board meeting I attended was standing room only, and ended with a standing ovation from an overwhelming majority when Trustee Sabinas filed a formal complaint against Dr. VanDuyn. The Cedar Springs Post has a responsibility to this community to report ALL news, even if it’s something you don’t want to see. I don’t want to see our teachers publicly beg for help from the board of education month after month for over two years, yet here we are and it is STILL happening. So while we ALL would like to see news full of sunshine and rainbows, it’s difficult to admire the drapes when the house is on fire.

Tami Elliston, Cedar Springs

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Bill Schuette: Treat, don’t punish, causes of opioid addiction


In 2015, we lost 963 Michigan residents to car accidents. And we lost 1,981 to overdoses.

Heroin is available in every town in Michigan and can be purchased for less than the price of a few snacks at the gas station.

I’ve sat down with the victims in this crisis. I’ve looked them in the eye and heard their stories. I’ve heard the pain in their voices and recognized their guilty and broken spirits. For many in the grips of this addiction, it’s not even about feeling good anymore, it’s about not feeling bad.

What will it take for us to provide help, and not punishment, for those struggling with addiction? Our children are dying and government isn’t paying enough attention to what really needs to be done.

We need an attack from all angles.

In April, the State of Michigan received $16 million from the Trump administration to combat opioid addiction. Eighty-percent of the funds will go toward treatment, and 20% will go toward preventative measures. I have also asked the Legislature to direct the nearly $1 million from a settlement with a pharmaceutical company I recently negotiated to proven high-quality education and awareness programs about opioid addiction.

These dollars need to go toward:

A multi-faceted public awareness campaign: We can’t stop addiction just through treatment, we need education programs in place from elementary school to high school and in our health care facilities to make sure that there is no question on how damaging opioids are to the human body and mind.

Resources for addicts and families: Michigan has a piecemeal approach that spans across various state departments and doesn’t give those struggling or their families a central place to turn for help and resources. This doesn’t work. The State of Michigan needs a resource for families on how to get help for addiction available 24-7 online and by phone with a toll-free 1-800 number.

Aggressive law enforcement efforts: I announced this week that my new Opioid Trafficking and Interdiction Unit, designed to catch those moving heroin and other opioid-based drugs across our state, is up and running. My team is working with local, state and federal law enforcement to go after both the heroin traffickers and the overprescribing doctors that are flooding our cities and towns with readily available, deadly drugs.

This isn’t about catching those with a single dose of heroin struggling in the grips of addiction, it’s about getting the high-dollar distributor that supplies hundreds of people with a quick and potentially deadly high.

Strong treatment plans: We need to combat opioid addiction with intensive inpatient and outpatient treatment programs that follow regimented and proven techniques to rid a person of addiction.

Sending addicts to jail without a program to help them overcome their addiction doesn’t end the cycle, it makes the pull that much stronger when they leave. Whether it’s the proven results of Narcotics Anonymous, or another recognized program, we need to refocus our efforts to reach those incarcerated to make sure they can re-enter our communities without their addiction and with a plan for the future.

We can’t arrest our way out of this problem. We need to take a hard, but compassionate look at what we are doing to prevent and treat addiction before it can hurt more of us.

Bill Schuette is attorney general of Michigan.

This column originally ran in the Detroit Free Press on June 1, 2017. Reprinted with permission. http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/contributors/2017/06/02/bill-schuette-treat-dont-punish-causes-opioid-addiction/363204001/

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Congress needs to reassert itself on use of force 

Lee Hamilton

By Lee H. Hamilton

The Trump Administration, like its predecessors, has shown an apparent appetite for the use of force overseas. The “mother of all bombs” dropped on Syrian troops, saber-rattling toward North Korea, proposed deployments of U.S. forces in 10 or more countries — all of this suggests a growing comfort with the idea of putting our troops in dangerous places.

But the decision to send troops overseas requires clear eyes, hard questions and specific answers. If we are sending our military abroad, our objectives and exit strategies need to be nailed down. Are we engaging in nation- or empire-building? Do we risk being locked into protracted, unending conflicts? Are we inflating the dangers to our national security, as when we falsely asserted that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction?

And when we do intervene, are we avoiding or increasing the suffering of the local people whom we’re trying to help? No use of force should go forward without reciprocity — that is to say, capable, committed local leaders who fight corruption and try to provide good governance and protect the values we cherish and promote.

The use of force ultimately comes down to the president — or the president and his top advisors — making the decision. Too often this happens without sufficient dialogue, consultation, or robust debate beyond the White House. In particular, the people who have to do the fighting and bear the costs need to have a major voice in the use of force, and the best way to ensure that is with the involvement of the Congress, along with the media, courts, civil society, and even the international community.

There are obviously cases where the president needs flexibility. But if we’re to put our troops in harm’s way, he also needs independent advice and to answer tough questions. I don’t see any alternative but the strict, robust and sustained involvement of the Congress.

Deciding on the use of force is the most grave and consequential decision government makes. It is of such import that it should not be made by the president alone, but should be shared with the Congress. Presidents should not get broad authority to use force without limit on geography, objectives, or types of forces. The Founding Fathers had it right: the president is commander in chief; Congress has the authority to declare war. Power over the use of force needs to be shared.

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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Reader disappointed in story choice


I was present at the last Cedar Springs School board meeting. I am so sorry, sad, and disappointed that the Cedar Springs Post chose to focus on one negative slanted viewpoint from the vocal minority at the latest meeting. It seems to be a pattern with the Post.

Some delightful first graders who were directed by their wonderful teacher sang and folk-danced. The robotics team with their robot was spectacular! The staff that presented the new Orange Frog program based on happiness were excited and proud to further this program at Cedar Springs Schools.

There are so many positive happenings that are being overlooked by the Post. It would be so good to hear about these instead of rehashing old agendas.

I look forward to seeing the positive changes continuing for CSPS.

Lynne Zank, Nelson Township

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Objection to an article update


Regarding the article published on May 4, 2017 about my husband Richard Webb (Man sentenced on child exploitation charges). It is lamentable that I am burdened to write to you again. This season in our life has caused immense suffering for my husband, me, and our 13-year old son. Was it really necessary to continue to drag our family and business through the mud? What happened to journalistic integrity?

If you actually want to tell our story I would be glad to share it with the community. If you are genuinely interested in the family and the truth behind this story I would be glad to talk about it. I believe I can speak with some authority on this subject. I am a survivor of child sexual assault. I am also a “preacher’s kid” that came of age in the church as the daughter of two pastors and missionaries. My mother holds a PhD in Christian Counseling. One of her favorite sayings is “Never assume. Assumptions make asses out of people.”

I said it before and I will say it again, “I want The Cedar Springs Post and its readers to understand that God is with us no matter what the situation or trial we face in life. I recommend everyone watch and see what our Almighty God is going to do!”

Once again you have my permission to publish this letter online and in print. In fact I encourage it.

Thank you,

Sherrie Webb, Nelson Township

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Grave robbers

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.



Grave robbers

I don’t understand why people have to go to cemeteries to take things off of gravesites. You see I went Friday morning (April 28) and put a flower basket on our son’s gravesite. Then in the afternoon the family went out to the cemetery and the flower basket was gone. It would be nice if you could find it in your heart to bring it back. After all, he served his country just so you could be free. But I just hope that you enjoy the basket and remember how and where you got it.

Judy Gage and the family of Terry Gage II

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An unsightly mess


Shaner Ave. (Nelson Township) between 17 and 18 Mile Roads has recently been turned into an unsightly mess. The mess is not only in the ditches along the road, but also left on the properties of current residents. Consumers Energy and the Kent County Road Commission came through with heavy equipment and cut a long wide path of trees and brush. This ugly defacing of Shaner was done most recklessly and without regard for the properties on which their work was done. Several property owners have lost large trees, which now lay on their properties in large hunks or piles. Heavy equipment was used to mow down brush and topple trees. In some of the areas where work was done, a lot of debris was left. Tree trunks and uprooted trees lay on the wide swath of loose and lumpy mounds of water-soaked soil that was also dug up. Pieces of shredded brush lay on the narrow shoulder of the road, being a hazard for bikers, walker, and joggers. Ditches were damaged where the heavy equipment went on and off the road, which will result in water backing up into residents’ yards when it rains, if the ditches aren’t repaired. This all was done to accommodate the development project, White Pine Ridge, now in progress on Shaner and 18 Mile Roads. We residents on Shaner appear to have to deal with the ugly side of progress at work. In the beginning, Nelson Township officials appeared to believe that the condominium development would give something back to the community. So far it has only been costly for the Township, particularly in attorney’s fees. This is only the beginning of many adverse effects that the development will have on residents along Shaner and 18 Mile Roads. I ask: will it be progress or progressive devastation to a peaceful quiet and uncrowded rural community?

Mary Stidham, Nelson Township

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Veterans are coming

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.



That’s right folks, we hope that after much red tape, it looks like the red, white, and blue will be coming to live in good old Cedar Springs. One of our problems was a code that wanted two parking spaces for each of the residents. Problem solved by WEFA president Fred Cini. If they should own cars, they have written permission to park on the WEFA paved parking lot. And would you believe it, he even asked if any would be employable. What a guy! He represents what Cedar Springs is all about. It also appears “just maybe” the planning commission will accept a copy of our original site plan, which would save us over $5,000.

You are invited on Saturday, April 29, to a preview of what can happen at the facility (the old Amish Warehouse Store, corner of Main and Beech) from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00, and you will see what those monies were spent on: a new pool table, shuffle board table, and air hockey table. Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of area people, we were donated a new $1,600 bow flex machine; a beautiful electronic organ; a large electronic read out treadmill; plus a nearly new foosball table. And a big thank you to all you folks that wanted to donate to the already full game room area. Every Veteran and their families should be at the May 2nd Planning Commission meeting at 7:00 p.m.

Bob Truesdale, Cedar Springs

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What you can teach your grandchild about Social Security


By: Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

One of the greatest gifts you can give a grandchild is the gift of financial literacy. Helping them save money early in life and showing them how to make wise spending decisions goes a long way toward a bright financial future. As they get older, they may want to save for special purchases or their college education. You can encourage them when they get their first job to begin saving for the future, including their retirement.

Planning for the Future with my Social Security

When you celebrate their graduation from high school, you can also remind them to set up a my Social Security account. They need to be age 18 or older, have a U. S. mailing address and a valid email address, and have a Social Security number. Even though their retirement is many years away, you can explain the importance of reviewing their earnings record each year since Social Security uses the record of earnings to compute their future benefits. As they start their first major job and begin saving, they’ll be able to monitor the growth of the estimates of benefits available to them. You can access my Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Share How Social Security Works

You can share your knowledge about Social Security with your young savers by explaining how the program works and how it has worked for you. About 96 percent of all Americans are covered by Social Security. Nearly all working people pay Social Security taxes and about 61 million receive monthly Social Security benefits. Encourage them to watch our Social Security 101 video at www.socialsecurity.gov/multimedia/webinars/social_security_101.html.

Share Your Retirement Stories

Social Security replaces about 40 percent of an average worker’s income, but financial planners suggest that most retirees need about 70 percent to live comfortably in retirement. Americans need more than Social Security to achieve that comfortable retirement. They need private pensions, savings, and investments. That means starting to save early and monitoring your Social Security record for accuracy. The best place anyone of any age can visit for quick, easy information about Social Security is www.socialsecurity.gov.

Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov 

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Give Michigan drivers relief from high auto insurance premiums


Michigan drivers pay above-average prices for auto insurance.

Michigan drivers pay above-average prices for auto insurance.

By Michael Van Beek and Matt Coffey, Mackinac Center for Public Policy

A new legislative session kicked off in January, and once again, there’s talk in Lansing about reforming auto insurance in Michigan. This is a perennial issue: Since 2001, legislators have introduced 340 bills about auto insurance regulations, according to MichiganVotes.org. But like drivers in the Indy 500, lawmakers keep going around in circles without getting anywhere. This pattern needs to stop and policymakers should fix the problem.

The interest in reforming auto insurance stems from a well-known fact: Michiganders have the regrettable privilege of paying some of the highest premiums in the country. According to research from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the average annual premium in Michigan was $1,351 in 2014, second only to New Jersey and Louisiana and 37 percent more than the national average.

Bad drivers aren’t to blame for Michigan’s abnormally high auto insurance premiums. After all, Michiganders can navigate the most miserable conditions, thanks to our winter wonderland. When a snowflake falls in Atlanta, on the other hand, there are ditches full of cars and highways are backed up for miles.

What is to blame, however, are Michigan’s unique auto insurance laws. The state’s no-fault approach is similar to that of just 11 other states, and no other state forces all drivers to buy unlimited personal injury protection.

Michigan’s current auto insurance system was created in 1973, and a solid case can be made that it has been, by and large, a failed experiment. For instance, the no-fault system—which gives insurance benefits to anyone injured in an auto accident regardless of who was to blame—was meant to reduce litigation. Since the law guarantees insurance benefits for all accident victims, the theory goes, there should be fewer lawsuits, reducing costs for both insurance companies and the courts.

That’s not what’s happened in practice. Michigan still allows an accident victim to sue an at-fault driver if a certain threshold for injuries is met. The Michigan Supreme Court has interpreted the law in a way that lowers this threshold—effectively undoing what no-fault set out to achieve. The result is that Michigan drivers pay a hefty premium for no-fault protection but don’t really benefit from it. Not surprisingly, Michigan ranks as one of the most litigious states in the nation, according to the Pacific Research Institute.

The failed no-fault system is only half the problem. Requiring insurers to provide unlimited PIP is even more problematic. It’s easy to figure out how this approach contributes to astronomical insurance premiums, why it’s rife with abuse and why no other state uses it.

With no limit on what insurers must cover, anyone injured in an auto accident can seek and “afford” the most expensive treatment possible. What’s worse: While private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid have fee schedules that limit what medical providers can charge, there are no schedules for what they can charge for services they provide to accident victims. That’s why it’s common for hospitals to charge auto insurers significantly more than they charge medical insurers or Medicaid and Medicare for exactly the same service.

The generous benefits available through Michigan’s unlimited PIP system, as might be expected, attract those who see an opportunity for profit. For instance, unlimited PIP covers paying a caregiver to serve accident victims in their own homes. There are very few limitations on who can provide this care and, again, there is no fee schedule. As a result, family members of accident victims can and do bill auto insurers for 24 hours of care each day at hourly rates as high as $30. That works out to be a nice six-figure salary. While it is unlikely that this is the norm for those providing home-based care, the opportunity for abuse is clear.

Considering these problems with Michigan’s auto insurance system, one might wonder why nothing has changed. After all, each lawmaker has thousands of constituents who are harmed by these steep premiums. The answer to this riddle is what economists call “concentrated benefits and diffuse costs.” The status quo provides concentrated benefits to medical providers, attorneys and accident victims, and they will spend significant resources lobbying the Legislature to protect these benefits. The costs, meanwhile, are diffuse, paid by drivers all across the state. Diverse and unorganized, drivers’ voices are easily drowned out by the loud, coordinated and well-funded voices of those who defend the status quo.

It’s time to admit that our no-fault auto insurance system has largely failed. As a result of court rulings, it has strayed from its original purpose and its promised benefits have not materialized. For the sake of Michigan drivers, policymakers need to overhaul it and make our state competitive again.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Michigan citizens by promoting sound solutions to state and local policy questions. The Mackinac Center assists policy makers, scholars, business people, the media and the public by providing objective analysis of Michigan issues. Visit them online at www.mackinac.org.

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