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Archive | Voices and Views

Time to move on

For over 70 years there was a cooperative spirit between Red Flannel Festival volunteers and city officials who worked together to promote Cedar Springs for the good of the entire community. That all changed in 2011 when the economy took a serious downturn and the city could no longer justify costs associated with the festival, as taxpayer services and staff were negatively impacted. As a result, the Festival Board threatened a lawsuit if the city didn’t pay for use of the long john logo. After almost two years, facing what would surely be a prolonged court fight and considering the subsequent costs to taxpayers, the Council voted to move forward with a new logo. During last Thursday’s council meeting, members were openly castigated for doing so by those RFF volunteers who refuse to accept the decision and who seemed determined to promote more divisiveness within our community. I found it telling that they left immediately after speaking, not caring about anything else but their own agenda.

After all the Festival’s demands for taxpayer dollars, I found it ironic that a woman took to the podium to quite proudly proclaim the Festival Board’s success in taking care of everything (costs) themselves this year, except for police support at the beer tent. (She explained that an outside security would have been used but the City charged less.) You just can’t beat that good old American can-do spirit, the concept of pulling one’s own weight! Had that been done in the first place, it would have been a win-win situation for everyone.  The city vehicles, stationary, street signs, etc. would have continued to be free advertising for the yearly festival and the citizens would have their red flannels. I found it odd that the Festival recently offered a new business free use of the Red Flannel logo when it is being held for ransom from the city.

The whole issue surrounding the logo boiled down to nothing more than pride, arrogance, and unwillingness to do what was best for Cedar Springs. There is plenty of blame to go around for all involved but, the Council, having no other viable option, has voted, with heavy hearts, to move on.  That can only happen if people will stop the rumors, gossip, and hateful vitriol that is taking place throughout the community and on social media and embrace the future.  Friendships have been lost, families divided and enough is enough! Take a step back and work to restore good relationships within our city for the good of all.

Cedar Springs will always be known as the “Red Flannel Capital Of The World”.  Google that title and you can find as many as seven websites where our city’s name shows up as just that. That isn’t going to change. It’s time to support the Chamber of Commerce, an entity that is trying to bring back a spirit of cohesiveness and community to our town. Business owners are joining in and Shawn Kiphart has worked tirelessly, and at great cost to himself personally, to improve community relations. Let’s all do our part to make that happen. We can’t change yesterday, tomorrow is a new day, let’s make it good.

 

Kathy Bremmer, Cedar Springs

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Godspeed, USS Gerald R. Ford

 

Tens of thousands of Navy supporters attend the christening ceremony of the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) at Newport News Shipbuilding. The first in class, Ford-class aircraft carrier, is scheduled to join the fleet in 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Peter D. Lawlor/Released)

Tens of thousands of Navy supporters attend the christening ceremony of the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) at Newport News Shipbuilding. The first in class, Ford-class aircraft carrier, is scheduled to join the fleet in 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Peter D. Lawlor/Released)

By Sen. Carl Levin

 

Over Veterans Day weekend, I had the honor of giving the keynote speech at the christening ceremony of the USS Gerald R. Ford, the U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier.

We Michiganians are proud to call President Ford one of ours. That’s not just because he held our nation’s highest office, but because of the manner in which he held that office – with a fundamental goodness of heart and generosity of spirit that all of us in public life should try to emulate.

There is perhaps no more visible, more powerful representation of America’s military strength than the towering hull of an aircraft carrier. No other nation makes carriers like America makes them, and the USS Gerald R. Ford will be the most powerful American carrier ever to sail.

Yet for every time this ship will instill doubt in the minds of our adversaries, it will many more times give hope to our friends and the people of the world. It will be welcome support in a time of crisis, and it will bring comfort and aid in times of disaster and grief. And so it is truly fitting that it will bear the name of Gerald R. Ford.

Gerald Ford sought to replace division and doubt with unity and hope. He took office at one of the most tumultuous moments in the history of our democratic system. His task was to calm America’s stormy waters so that we could regain our self-confidence as a nation. George H.W. Bush observed as Vice President Ford prepared to take office as president, “What we need at this juncture in our history is a certain sense of morality and a certain sense of decency.” That’s the perfect description of Gerald Ford. He was the right man for the time.

He knew our true strength, the strength that would carry us through that trying time, wasn’t just in the force of our arms, but what is in our hearts. In a 1975 speech outlining his foreign policy goals, President Ford spoke of the need to build a strong military, but then said, “I would like to talk about another kind of strength, the true source of American power. … I am speaking here of our belief in ourselves and our belief in our nation.”

That is the spirit this great vessel will carry across the oceans. It embodies our military might, and much more: It carries the name of a president who showed us America at its best, an America that strives to bring hope to every corner of the planet and to do so with strength, but without bluster.

Then-Congressman Ford brought a moment of modest humor to the solemn moment he was sworn in as vice president. He told America, “I am a Ford, not a Lincoln.” He showed us that one need not take on extraordinary trappings to accomplish extraordinary things, just as the men and women of this ship, drawn from every part of this land and every segment of our society, ordinary Americans all, will accomplish the extraordinary.

In the decades to come, when the crew of the USS Gerald R. Ford helps defend our nation from danger, when they protect the innocent from harm, when they sail under freedom’s flag bringing hope in times of despair and calm in moments of crisis – at those times, they will exemplify the greatness and goodness, the steadiness and steadfastness of their vessel’s namesake, and of the nation he loved so much and served so well.

Godspeed to the USS Gerald R. Ford and to the men and women who sail her.

Carl Levin is the senior U.S. senator from Michigan and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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Congratulations to the new mayor

Congratulations to our new Mayor, Mark Fankhauser, for winning the mayor’s seat, and a big thank you to that person who spilled the beans several days before election night that I would not be returned to serve you, the good people of Cedar Springs. I have been asked not to write and inform you any longer. I will honor that request, but let me tell you before I go, our City is not broke, and the $2,930 in fees invoiced to the Red Flannel Festival for 2013, is not the big picture.

I have a copy of those “severe” cuts that were made a few years ago when our revenues dried up. One of them was using two-ply rather than four-ply toilet tissue at City Hall. You poor people, it made me want to cry. When I was a kid growing up on West Muskegon Street, we had the luxury of going from corn cobs to the pages from a Sears and Roebuck Catalog. Those were the good days, as my Grandpa Eldred was also a successful businessman.

Thank you for your prayers and support. 

See you, Bob Truesdale

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Let’s serve Veterans as well as they have served us

Daniel M. Dellinger

Daniel M. Dellinger

By Daniel M. Dellinger

 

During the recent government shutdown many numbers were thrown around. But there is one number that stands out and it has nothing to do with the debate over the federal budget.

More than one a day. That is how many members of our active-duty military, National Guard and Reserve forces have committed suicide over the last year. Simply put, we are losing more service members by their own hands than we are by the enemy in Afghanistan. Only those who experienced firsthand the horrors of combat can understand why most of these young men and women feel compelled to take such drastic and permanent measures.

As Veterans Day ceremonies and parades occur throughout the country, it is important that we commit ourselves to do everything possible to prevent these needless and tragic deaths. We are their friends, their family, their co-workers and their neighbors. It is up to us to ensure that every veteran feels that his or her service to this country is appreciated by their fellow Americans.

There are many tangible ways that we can acknowledge their sacrifice, but the easiest is to simply say, “Thank you for what you have done for our country.”

If he is showing signs of unhappiness or depression, encourage him to seek help through the VA immediately. If she has had difficulty obtaining the benefits that she is entitled to let her know that The American Legion has thousands of trained service officers nationwide that will help her navigate the bureaucracy free of charge.

And if that veteran has made the Supreme Sacrifice, remember the price that has been paid for our freedom and offer your support to the loved ones left behind.

But Veterans Day is a time to honor not just those who have fought for us in battle, but, in fact, all of the outstanding men and women who served in our nation’s Armed Forces since our founding more than 237 years ago.

Not all veterans have seen war, but a common bond that they share is an oath in which they expressed their willingness to die defending this nation.

Perhaps most significant in preserving our way of life are the battles that America does not have to fight because those who wish us harm slink away in fear of the Navy aircraft carrier, the Coast Guard cutter, the Air Force fighter squadron or the Army soldier on patrol. While we should all be grateful for the remarkable advancements made in military medicine and prosthetics, the fighting spirit and inspirational stories of our veterans are not due to technology.

These traits come from the heart.

And many of these veterans are women, such as Army Chief Warrant Officer Lori Hill. While piloting her helicopter over Iraq in 2006, she maneuvered her chopper to draw enemy gunfire away from another helicopter and provide suppressive fire for troops on the ground. Despite flying a damaged aircraft and suffering injuries, she landed the helicopter safely, saving her crew. For her actions, she became the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Women are major contributors to our military presence in Afghanistan and many have given their lives in the War on Terrorism. The American Legion recently issued a report calling upon VA to improve its response to the unique needs of women veterans. The VA and military health systems need to adequately treat breast and cervical cancer as well as trauma that resulted from domestic violence, sexual harassment and assault. America is home to more than 1.2 million women veterans and they deserve our support.

In the poem “Tommy,” the great writer Rudyard Kipling lamented over the rude treatment a British soldier received at a pub. Writing in classical old English, Kipling compared the abuse with the more favorable treatment that “Tommy” receives by the public during war.

“For it’s Tommy this, an ‘ Tommy that, an’ ‘Chuck him out, the brute!’

But it’s ‘Savior of ‘is country’ when the guns begin to shoot;

An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;

An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees!”

Let us always treat our 23 million veterans as the saviors of our country that they are—even when the guns are no longer shooting.

 

Daniel M. Dellinger is national commander of the 2.4 million member American Legion.

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How to improve the road ahead

V-Lee-HamiltonBy Lee H. Hamilton

 

One of the more amazing spectacles in the days after the government shutdown ended was the obsession in Washington with who won and who lost in the showdown. Yes, the capital is focused on next year’s elections, but honestly! There was only one real loser, and that was the American people.
Why? Because nothing got resolved. The agreement leaves the government open only until mid-January, and gives the Treasury the ability to borrow through early February. This is the barest minimum that we needed. So the question is, can we avoid a similar crisis down the road? To do so, Congress must confront three enormous challenges. To begin with, great democracies do not lurch from doomsday moment to doomsday moment. They plan ahead, they resolve their challenges, they fulfill their responsibilities abroad and respond to their own people’s needs. Congress can do none of these things so long as its members respond only to brinksmanship, resolving one crisis by setting up another a few months down the road.

Second, I find myself thinking often these days of the skillful legislators I’ve known over the years. Where are their counterparts today? Congress only works well when politicians and staff understand that each party has to walk away with something; that it’s crucial to preserve flexibility and avoid scorched-earth rhetoric; and that it takes people with the fortitude not to walk away from talks when things are going poorly. Congress needs legislators who are willing to roll up their sleeves and commit fully to the process.

Finally, Congress is weak today. By its inaction, it has given power to the President, who can use executive actions to enact policy. It has strengthened the federal bureaucracy by leaving regulatory decisions to federal agencies with very little direction or oversight. It has given massive economic power to the Federal Reserve, since someone has to promote economic growth. And it has allowed the Supreme Court to become the central policy-making body on controversial issues from campaign finance to affirmative action to environmental regulation.

“Any society that relies on nine unelected judges to resolve the most serious issues of the day is not a functioning democracy,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said in a recent speech. I’m sorry to say that he’s talking about us.

Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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Scholarship pageant

Dear Post people,

Just read through all of your paper dated October 3, 2013. Coverage of the crowning of the Queen and her court, very nice. I also saw pictures of athletes of the month, very nice also. What I didn’t see was a picture of a little lady by the name of Tamara Tiethoff that was voted by the other ladies on the scholarship pageant for “Miss Congeniality.” Would really have been nice to see her name even mentioned.

A Post Reader,

Wm Boehm

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Even the Mayor goes to jail

 

 

Yes, he ignorantly drove his 4-wheeler down Main Street, not realizing it needed to be tagged by the Red Flannel Festival for insurance purposes. After a conversation with the Chief of Police, Roger Parent, it was decided by the Keystone Cops—Leon Avery and Mark Fankhauser—that I was not above the long arm of the law! A big thanks to Russ Durst for bailing me out. And thanks to RFF President Michele Andres for legalizing my vehicle. Maybe, with everyone’s help, I can play within the rules at next year’s 75th Red Flannel Festival.

It was a great day for everyone, a sea of red up and down Main Street, including an Amish Furniture store on South Main Street that had record sales. And some would say that it (the day) is about the RFF and their so-called financial empire, and that the city merchants don’t benefit that much. Last Saturday’s sales was an eye-opener for this merchant.

A world of thanks to all the worker bees, generous sponsors and donors for a great Red Flannel Festival.

 

Humbly,

Your mayor, Bob Truesdale

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To the residents of Cedar Springs and Solon Township,

By now, you should have received a survey from the Library Board regarding services and a new building. We apologize if we have missed or overlooked any of you. There are extra surveys at the library for you to come in and fill out. We value your opinions and greatly appreciate your time in completing them.

As a reminder, the Library Board is asking you to fill out the surveys and return them to the library either by mail to 43 W. Cherry Street, Cedar Springs, MI 49319, or drop if off at the library, or in the book return dropbox. We would appreciate receiving the surveys no later than October 1. We will then compile the collected information and submit it to our recently formed building committee.

We thank you for your time and opinions.

Sincerely,

Earla Jean Alber, Cedar Springs

Library Board Chair

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What you need to know about Congress right now

V-Lee-HamiltonBy Lee H. Hamilton

Deeply unpopular and flagrantly unproductive, Congress is on its August recess right now. It won’t return until Sept. 9, after a five-week recess, leaving itself just a few days to settle issues like raising the debt ceiling and passing a federal budget. Here are some things you should know about where it stands at this stage of the game:

— Few, if any, Congresses can match this one for futility. It managed to help out some communities in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and to reach a deal on presidential nominations, but mostly it can’t get things done — whatever your politics. The repeal of Obamacare, action on climate change, a “grand bargain” on our fiscal problems, education and tax reform, creating jobs, strengthening gun laws… the list of dropped balls is long, although there is still hope for immigration reform, if just barely. A few weeks ago Speaker John Boehner told Americans not to judge Congress by how many laws it passes, but by how many it repeals. It hasn’t succeeded on either count.

— The budget process is a mess. It’s been years since Congress put together a budget according to its regular order, but even by its recent low standards this year has been chaotic. None of the appropriations bills needed for the government to continue running after Sept. 30 has been enacted. “It is common for Congress to leave big budget fights until the last minute,” the Wall Street Journal’s Janet Hook wrote as Congress left town, “but the budgeting process now seems so adrift that even congressional veterans find it hard to see a resolution.” Passing a budget is the most basic function of government, and Congress can’t manage it.

— Members of Congress do not like to compromise. The parties are more divided ideologically than they’ve been for many decades, with one side fiercely hostile to government and the other convinced that government can accomplish good things. Neither side can get things done on its own. That’s pretty much the definition of when responsible lawmakers step forward to build a consensus. Yet in this Congress, either they don’t know how or they’re not interested. A glimmer of hope does exist, as more members respond to polls showing Americans believe it’s more important for the parties to compromise than to stick to their positions. They may not be able to come to agreement, but some of them are talking about how willing they are to reach across the aisle.

— Even so, it’s worth noticing that one of the congressional parties is extraordinarily difficult to lead at the moment. The Republicans are fractured and squabbling over their future direction. This makes me sympathize with the formidable task the Republican leadership confronts.

— Hardly anyone out there thinks Congress is doing a good job — it’s consistently below 20 percent approval ratings — and most people think it’s too partisan. Yet members aren’t very concerned. They’ve become quite skilled at running against Washington, even though they are Washington. And they count on the fact that few voters hold their own member of Congress responsible for its shortcomings, however unpopular Congress as a whole has become.

— As lobbyists descend in swarms on Capitol Hill, they hold more power than ever. They rain cash, twist arms, and even draft bills — all the things that powerful congressional leaders used to do. The NRA’s defeat of legislation strengthening background checks for gun purchases, in the face of overwhelming public sentiment after Newtown, was nothing less than an impressive display of political clout and an example of how influential lobbyists and special interests have become. Perhaps this is why a good number of my former colleagues have made a tidy living for themselves by becoming lobbyists.

— Finally, all of this contributes to the emerging themes for the 2014 congressional campaign. Candidates will clearly run against the mess in Washington, and a good number of them, though not all, will talk regularly about the need to be bipartisan. The big question for 2015 will be whether the successful ones can translate their talk into legislation to help move the country forward.

Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. Now on Facebook you can find information about our educational resources and programs, and you can share your thoughts about Congress, civic education, and the citizen’s role in representative democracy. “Like” us on Facebook at “Center on Congress at Indiana University.”

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Student loan bill a difficult but necessary step

By Sen. Carl Levin

 

The Senate recently faced a very difficult choice. When a July 1 deadline passed, the interest rate on federal student loans was set to double. American students and parents who worry every single day about whether they can afford college cannot be burdened with such an enormous rate hike. The Senate approved legislation to temporarily resolve this crisis, but left the door open to future rate increases. I voted in favor of this legislation, but I also favor action to avert future rate increases.

The cost of tuition at public four-year colleges is up more than 15 percent since 2009. Student loan debt has reached historic proportions. And yet we allowed the rate on new federally subsidized student loans to double, to 6.8 percent, as of July 1. If we had allowed this rate increase to continue, we would have subtracted thousands of dollars from the wallets of American students and their families or, worse, pushed college beyond the financial means of some families who already wonder whether they can afford to give their kids the education they need and deserve.

The bipartisan legislation we passed in late July will provide relief. But it is far from perfect. It switches these interest rates for these critical student loans from fixed rates to floating rates with caps that are far too high. This opens the door to rising interest in the future that students and their families simply cannot afford.

The student debt problem, which for many families is a student debt crisis, requires a carefully considered long-term solution. I am hopeful that such a solution will eventually emerge. But this legislation is not it.

That is why I supported an amendment offered by my colleagues, Sen. Jack Reed and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and another amendment offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders, that would have mitigated some of the long-term damage of this legislation. Even though we did not adopt those amendments, I supported this bill for the simple reason that it removes the immediate burden facing America’s students and their families.

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Sen. Tom Harkin, has pledged to try to fix the likely spiking interest rates facing students when a higher education bill comes up next year. I will strongly support that effort.

We in the Senate had a choice. But America’s college students do not – they have no choice but to pay the ever-rising cost of a college education, not if they want the skills and knowledge that hold the promise of a better life. They have no choice but to live with the decisions we make in the Senate, and that’s why I supported this legislation to avoid a doubling of student loan interest rates that our families simply can’t afford.

Carl Levin is the senior U.S. senator from Michigan.

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