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Archive | Voices and Views

Here’s what’s going on in Sand Lake

 

As a trustee for the Village of Sand Lake, I support our Police Chief and officers. Although I cannot express each trustee’s feelings here, I can say that, as a council, we support our police. Their job is difficult, and with so much public scrutiny of law enforcement nationally, it seems like every action a police officer takes is questioned. We believe we have good police officers who enforce the law.

The Village’s Zoning Administrator has told the Police Chief that he needs to leave, which is an overreach of his authority. The Village President and Council have the authority over the Police Department. The Zoning Administrator has made an issue of the Police Chief’s “theology,” making a mistaken assumption about which religious denomination the Chief belonged to, and that eventually led to a question about whether the Chief was “a sinner.” These are civil rights issues.

To be told to ignore the law and walk away, as our Zoning Administrator directed our Police Chief, betrays the public’s trust that police are here to protect people by enforcing the law. The police are sworn to uphold the law, and so is the Village Council and other Village officials, including the Zoning Administrator. By ignoring laws and putting “blinders on,” as the Zoning Administrator says, the police and Village officials would be no better than the people who break the laws.

The Zoning Administrator’s attack on the Police Chief, his officers, and the Village Council, in his letter to the Post (11/12/15—What is going on in Sand Lake?) is unjustified. As a Council, we cannot terminate the Chief’s employment, ask him to resign or retire because he is guilty of enforcing laws, nor can we make an issue of his “theology,” which was never a consideration for his employment or a condition of his job.

The Zoning Administrator said in the Post Scripts that rumors and personal conflicts are the strength of the community. I think that cooperation and collaboration make a stronger community. When police, residents, and businesses cooperate and collaborate, everyone wins. When laws are not enforced, we all lose.

David R. Dewey, Sand Lake Village trustee

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What is going on in Sand Lake?

 

“What is going on with the Village?” A question that I’ve fielded more frequently of late.  The divide between residents of the Village of Sand Lake and the administration has risen to the surface recently with the ordeal surrounding the proposed CMC Tavern.  I’ve heard many stories and versions of the same story; one thing for sure, many residents are fed up, and the administration seems reluctant to listen to their concerns.

At the center of the controversy, which has been brewing for years, is the Chief of Police.  The Chief serves at the pleasure of the Village Council; hence, they are brought into the fray when they condone Police actions that are at least controversial, and at worst divisive.  The fact is this: many residents have the perception that the police are less than professional and have no confidence in their performance.  The opposing perception is; the Chief is right and just in all his actions, and that holders of the opposing perception are rumor-mongers, liars and less than honest citizens (have an ax to grind).

So far, a statement of current conditions. Evaluating past history, understanding both sides of the controversy, and searching for the root cause of this mendacity, one finds the central figure to be the Chief of Police. Be it fact or perception, he is the catalyst for this current divisive state of the community.

It is my opinion that an early retirement is in order, which will allow the Chief to depart with dignity.  The Village can then begin the healing process and strive to become the small town it can be. We have had our controversies in the past, there will always be rumors and personal conflicts; that, in fact, is the strength of any real community. However, when those controversies and personal conflicts prove damaging to the domestic tranquility of the community as a whole, action must be taken to clean and heal the wound.

May God have mercy on my soul.

Dan Hula

Resident, Village of Sand Lake

 


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 PostScripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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What is a leader?

 

A leader is:

Accountable – they take responsibility.

Honest – honorable in principles, intentions and actions.

Focused – know where they are going.

Passion – live, breathe, eat, and sleep their mission.

Respect – treat people the same, no playing favorites.

Confident – believes in one’s self and what they are doing.

Clarity – saying yes to the right things and no to the others.

Integrity – have strong moral principles.

Inspire – encourage those to be the best they can be.

Compassionate – show concern for others.

Collaborative – takes input and feedback from those around.

Communicative – share their vision to those around.

Fearless – not afraid to take a risk or make a mistake.

Genuine – clear on what your values are and have courage to hold true to them.

Thank you, Superintendent VanDuyn, for being our leader. Thank you for your vision of what Cedar Springs can become and for your dedicated service to moving us forward. I have been employed here for over 13 years and have never felt more a part of this team. To you, no job is too big or too small. We all matter; we all play an important part  in this school system. Decisions you make are not always easy but you do what is in the best interest of the students and this school. I thank you for your courage to stand for what is right.

Becca Fisk, Ensley Center


 

Post Script 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 PostScripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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Concerned parent speaks out

 

I am concerned about what is happening in our school district and concerned that only one side of the story is being voiced. There is a group of school staff who seem to be unhappy with some of the changes happening in the district.  This is the voice that was heard at the school board meeting last week (10/26) and in last week’s Post (10/29). There is another voice in this situation, but I feel these voices are probably afraid to speak. I almost didn’t. Why? Because this small group of staff touch my children’s lives every day. If I speak up, how is it going to trickle down to my children? Will they be treated different by this group of staff?

Ultimately, where our district goes from here is what’s important for my children.  Our children are what are important.

The new superintendent was hired to improve the district, make it a better place for our children. That’s what she’s doing. Our district was in need of change and restructure.

It’s important for the parents of Cedar Springs to realize all the positive things that have been accomplished in the last year. To name a few: lower classroom sizes, new district website, new math curriculum (6-12), new health care clinic, new buses, academic interventionists and full time GATOR reading interventionists, upgraded/new technology added. And then, look ahead to what’s planned for the coming year; more new buses, research/selection of new math curriculum (K-5), growth of Campus Kids , fencing around Beach Elementary, responsive classroom training, an interactive Rotary Club for high school students, new board policies and operation procedures, and increased safety/security at our school entrances. These are just a few of the things that have and will be done last year and this. I would encourage community members to visit www.csredhawks.org for a full list.

My hope is that parents and community members will look at the facts and see that Superintendent VanDuyn is working very hard to ensure the best for our students, and is working to move our district forward to bigger and better things.

Jennifer Skelonc, Nelson Township


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 PostScripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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Congress’s problems are deep-seated but fixable 

 

By Lee H. Hamilton

A lot of ink is being spilled about the speakership drama in the U.S. House and the turmoil besetting the Republicans who run Capitol Hill. There is a pervasive sense in Washington that Congress has gone, at least temporarily, off the rails.

All this attention on the crises of the moment suggests that resolving them will fix Congress. It won’t. Three deep-seated issues must be addressed before Congress can return to a constructive role.

The first is that Congress should work its will by letting members vote on the major issues of the day. In legislatures, whoever controls procedure usually controls results. In Congress, leaders — and sometimes followers — in both parties for years have manipulated the process to avoid tough decisions or skew results. Giving members of the House and the Senate a fair shot at addressing the nation’s challenges would deal Congress back into the policy-making arena.

Second, Congress has developed several bad habits that it needs to fix. These include huge bills that become vehicles for special-interest provisions and leadership wish-lists; bypassing the committee process; concentrating power in the leaders; curbing the participation of most members; and limiting debates and amendments.

The most pernicious of these is the practice of legislating by omnibus bills. These consist of hundreds of provisions, usually drafted in the dead of night by leadership staff — not members of Congress — and brought to the floor with scant time for anyone to read them, limited time for debate, and few amendments allowed. A lot of members have never known anything different.

There’s another way, and it brings me to my third point. We have over 200 years of experience on Capitol Hill that have taught us how to run a legislature so that the voice of the people can be better heard, multiple viewpoints get considered, and ordinary legislators get a fair shot at influencing the results. It’s called the “regular order,” and it gives members a fair crack at crafting policy for the nation.

The American people want Congress to work. They don’t expect a solution to everything, and they certainly don’t expect miracles. But they do expect a Congress that tries to make progress and that’s capable of developing creative approaches to the major problems of the day. The frustration for me is that we know how to do things better with a time-tested process, but members of Congress simply ignore it.

Lee Hamilton was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. He writes regularly about Congress and what individuals can do to make our representative democracy work better. His columns are part of the educational mission of the Center on Congress at Indiana University, where he is director. Visit www.centeroncongress.org or go to Facebook to express your views about Congress, civic education, and the citizen’s role in representative democracy. “Like” them on Facebook at “Center on Congress at Indiana University.”

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What’s happening to our school board?

 

To the Cedar Springs Community,

I am a concerned parent and community member. At Cedar Springs Public Schools, we prided ourselves on evolving our school district into one of the best in Kent County. The pillars of success that we are known for include Cognitive coaching, Adaptive schools and Professional Learning Communities dedicated to ensuring our teachers and administrators are trained and proficient in delivering and enhancing our children’s learning. Our children’s education was our number one priority. But the state of our district has changed and there are behaviors and patterns that cause concern for our future.

According to the Center for Public education, the school board is supposed to serve their communities in several important ways:

  • First and foremost look out for students.
  • When making decisions about school programs, incorporate their community’s view of what students should know and be able to do.
  • Be accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of their schools.
  • Ensure that students get the best education for the tax dollars spent.

It is increasingly apparent that our leadership is acting in their best interests and beliefs vs. the community’s.  Parents, teachers and administrators have brought forward example after example—written and verbally—of concerns, mismanagement and actions not in alignment with the excellence we have achieved and come to expect in Cedar Springs. The board has not demonstrated the behaviors expected of a board:  willingness to listening, understanding the issues fully, and then acting on behalf of our children and community and what is best for their academic success. They have gone to great lengths to defend and protect their direction and new leadership, despite the feedback they are hearing. Discussion at board meetings has been misrepresented in the published minutes; they have sent numerous signals through behavior and words that our concerns don’t matter; there has been no communication on the academic strategy of our district; and they have undervalued our teaching staff. When is enough, enough?

Three of our top performing administrators have left in the last nine months—Steve Seward, Jennifer Harper and now Dave Cairy. Why?

Our focus and resources dedicated to the cognitive coaching discipline have been cut by four positions in the last year, while the data shows the overwhelming impact and value it has given to our teaching staff and student outcomes. Why?

These are just a few of the big questions. We need parents to be aware, ask questions, be informed on what is going on and help to hold the board and our superintendent accountable. Form your own opinions.

We have worked way too hard as a district to come this far and allow it to slip away. Come to the board meetings, be curious and let your voice be heard.

Laura Davis, Algoma Township  


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 PostScripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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CS School board treasurer speaks out

 

To the Community of Cedar Springs:

I, Michelle Bayink, was unable to attend the Cedar Springs Public Schools Board of Education meeting on Monday, October 12, 2015 due to an out-of-state work assignment. I have upcoming work obligations and I will not be able to attend the October 26 and the November 9th meetings.

I am stating that at the October 12, 2015 Cedar Springs Board of Education meeting a statement was read by the board president and was not shared with me prior to the meeting and was not part of the board packet. I had no knowledge of the statement being addressed to the public and I do not support the statement.

Respectfully, 

Michelle Bayink

Board Treasurer

m3bayink@yahoo.com


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 PostScripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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Dysfunction exacts a cost


V-Lee-Hamilton-web
By Lee H. Hamilton

Earlier this month, The Economist, the renowned British weekly, ran an editorial advocating an end to the U.S. dollar’s supremacy as the world’s chief currency. The magazine offered several economic motives and one supremely political one. “For how long,” its editors wrote, “will countries be ready to tie their financial systems to America’s fractious and dysfunctional politics?”

I want to be blunt here. Congress’s inaction on a host of important issues — its inability to deal with our problems — is doing real damage to our country. It undermines our ability to lead in the world and causes undue economic and social hardship at home. We are getting a reputation as a nation that cannot deal with many of its problems.

If we’re to get out of this mess, the starting point is to recognize the political reality of divided government. The parties have a right to their own hopes and aspirations, but they also need to take seriously the responsibility to govern. They need to find a way past the unhappiness and anger that are evident in the country at large.

Given the seriousness of our problems and the lack of progress on the policy agenda Congress is supposed to handle, there’s really only one way forward: through negotiation and compromise. This has never been easy—learning to compromise on the issues without compromising one’s own principles—but it’s especially challenging now, when I worry that striking a deal has become a lost art.

Still, certain steps seem obvious. The congressional leadership must let the Congress work its will. Members should be allowed to vote straightforwardly on the major policy issues of the day, without leadership manipulating the process to control the result. The House should reject the Hastert Rule, under which a majority of the majority caucus is required to bring a bill to the floor. And both houses need to stop the outrageous use of huge omnibus bills adopted by short-cutting time-tested regular order procedures.

If Congress does not learn to compromise and negotiate, the country is headed for even deeper trouble than we’re currently in. U.S. world leadership will slip, our ability to deal with economic and social issues at home will deteriorate, and the electorate will become even more embittered. Our future is in Congress’s hands. It would be nice if they recognized it.

Lee Hamilton was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. He writes regularly about Congress and what individuals can do to make our representative democracy work better. His columns are part of the educational mission of the Center on Congress at Indiana University, where he is director. Visit www.centeroncongress.org or go to Facebook to express your views about Congress, civic education, and the citizen’s role in representative democracy. “Like” them on Facebook at “Center on Congress at Indiana University.”

 

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Happy with school superintendent

 

As a follow up to Lyle Perry, Jr.’s comment last week, Superintendent VanDuyn’s letter in the post was outstanding! I am very excited and hopeful about the direction I see her taking our school district. It was also very encouraging to hear the school board members voice their support of Dr. VanDuyn and all she is accomplishing at this week’s school board meeting. As a parent with four children in the district I would also like to thank Dr. VanDuyn, the administrators, teachers, and support staff for the way the lock down situation was handled on Monday. I think you all did a great job, thank you for keeping our kids safe!

Jenny Skelonc, Sand Lake

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Inspiring Letter

 

Dear Editor,

The letter in the Post from Cedar Springs School Superintendent Laura VanDuyn is outstanding! Progress achieved and plans made for the future are reassuring and inspiring!

Lyle Perry, Jr., Cedar Springs

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