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A roundup of recent Michigan newspaper editorials

September 24, 2018

The Detroit News. September 19, 2018

Make Michigan a millennial talent hub

Calling all millennials: Michigan wants you. That’s the message in a new talent attraction campaign that went live earlier this month as a way to woo young professionals to the state, and keep them here. It’s a worthwhile idea as Michigan moves from being a state where young people once left in droves to one that draws them in.

The state’s Talent and Economic Development Department is leading the Choose Michigan effort, and think of it as a Pure Michigan campaign to attract job seekers. And not just anyone looking for work. This is all about targeting college grads in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) fields and letting them know what a great place Michigan is in which to live and work.

Given this is a millennial campaign, there’s a good deal of time spent marketing the state as a place to play, too.

Most Michiganians are aware of the economic progress the state has made the past eight years. And all the natural beauty that comes with being surrounded by the Great Lakes.

But that message is lost on youth in states surrounding Michigan — and even on some who went to college in the state.

Roger Curtis, who heads the talent department, says Choose Michigan is rolling out in the Midwest cities of Chicago, Pittsburgh and Madison as well as across Michigan. There’s a website (choosemichigan.org), along with an array of social media, videos, radio and print spots.

If you’re not a millennial, you may not get the marketing strategy. The videos are animated and brightly colored, and try to showcase how Michigan offers fun on the weekends and energizing work during the week.

They have gotten a positive response from millennial focus groups. Curtis says that 72 percent of millennials who participated in Midwestern states said they would now consider Michigan as a place to pursue a career. The campaign was also tested in California, and 64 percent of millennials surveyed there came away with a favorable impression.

“There’s the juxtaposition that you can go to the Electric Forest Festival on the weekend, and then go change the world redesigning the energy grid with renewable energy sources on Monday,” Curtis says.

Choose Michigan is a subset of the Marshall Plan that Gov. Rick Snyder has promoted and helped push through the Legislature earlier this year. The talent development program is largely focused on grooming talent already in the state, but the governor has also made it his mission to boost the state’s population.

This is a good way to do it. Snyder has projected more than 800,000 jobs will come available through 2024 in high-paying, in-demand careers in computer science, manufacturing, health care and IT, to name a few.

The Legislature set aside $100 million for the Marshall Plan, and Choose Michigan is costing $2.5 million in the first year. Its success will be judged based on visits to the website, the number of millennials who express an interest, and then how many jobs are getting filled.

The campaign is starting with a focus on Detroit, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, but any Michigan city is welcome to join.

If it gets the kind of results Curtis expects, the state should consider expanding the reach to California, which is actively competing for talent — especially in the realm of mobility.

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Times Herald(Port Huron). September 20, 2018

We applaud next Miss Michigan USA

As the Miss Michigan USA and Miss Michigan Teen USA pageants return to McMorran Place this weekend, organizers have made note of Port Huron’s evolution. The pageant was first contested in Port Huron 18 years ago.

Downtown has done quite a bit of growing up in that time, with not only new stores and restaurants to greet the contestants but also changes like the St. Clair County Community College’s new field house and student housing.

And there is something the young women and teens stalking the McMorran stage will certainly recognize: Port Huron has a poise and confidence it didn’t have 18 years ago. It is the product of changes led by new business people, new leadership and new attitudes. Port Huron isn’t runner-up to any town and the lights across Huron Avenue are its sparkling crown.

Women’s beauty pageants such as the Miss Universe system, of which Miss Michigan USA is a branch, and its competitors are evolving, too. The international Miss Universe competition Dec. 17 and Bangkok, Thailand, will crown its 67th queen. Miss America is older, but not by much.

Miss America was born as a “bathing beauty contest” in 1921 to attract tourists to Atlantic City, New Jersey. This year, though, it has eliminated the swimsuit competition from its contest in recognition, in the #MeToo era, that judging women or anyone on external physical appearance is wrong.

Miss Universe has kept the swimsuit judging, for now. But its 2018 show will have any major pageant’s first transgender entrant, Angela Ponce of Spain. How big a step is that? It was not that long ago that Miss America specified its contestants be unmarried, childless and white.

There may be freckles on Miss Michigan USA, it is important to Port Huron and the city is important to the pageant. The contest, the competitors and their families and supporters mean a more than $300,000 boost to the local economy. They fill hotel rooms, buy souvenirs and break bread in our outstanding restaurants.

What they get out of it is that Port Huron appreciates the pageant and cares about how it turns out. When organizers moved it to Ann Arbor, they found it was just another face in the crowd in that busy university town. The contestants glow brighter under the affection of Port Huron spectators.

Friday’s events include evening gown and swimsuit competitions for the Miss Michigan USA contestants. Teen competitors will models sportswear instead of swimsuits. It begins at 7:30 p.m. in McMorran Auditorium. Tickets are available at the McMorran box office or online at missmichiganusa.com. Saturday’s finals begin at 5 p.m. and conclude with the crowning of Michigan’s Miss USA entrant.

Be in the audience to crown her win with your applause.

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Lansing State Journal. September 19, 2018

Keep the dialogue on sexual assault going, help the community continue to heal

Sexual assault cannot always be prevented.

There are bad people in the world — some who masquerade as ‘nice’ doctors, priests, teachers and coaches. Survivors and their families should never feel in any way responsible for the crimes perpetrated against them by predators.

That’s just one topic to be discussed in two forums on Friday that will offer tips for identifying red flags and advice to help protect against sexual assault.

Greater Lansing needs this dialogue. Our community has been living a public nightmare since the arrest, conviction and sentencing of former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar. Hundreds of women and girls have said Nassar sexually assaulted them over a more than 20-year period.

“Nice Guy Sexual Offenders: Identifying Red Flag Behavior and Warning Signs” will feature a panel of experts at the MSU Union (8:30-10:30 a.m.) and at the Meridian Township Building (2-3:30 p.m.).

More conversations surrounding sexual assault are key to helping protect the community from predators such as Nassar. Such discussions also can provide a pathway for survivors, their families and the community to heal.

Among the panelists:

Larissa Boyce - a former youth gymnast and survivor of sexual assault perpetrated by Nassar. Boyce first reported the abuse in 1997.

Brianne Randall-Gay - a Nassar survivor who in 2004 initiated one of the first police investigations against the former doctor.

Tashmica Torok - executive director of the Firecracker Foundation, a local non-profit that honors the bravery of children survivors of sexual trauma by building a community invested in their healing process. Torok is a survivor of childhood sexual trauma.

Jim Clemente - a member of the FBI/NYPD ‘Sexual Exploitation of Children’ task force who was victimized as a teenager by a coach.

Francey Hakes - a former federal prosecutor and child protection consultant.

The topic of sexual assault is distasteful. However, shying away from the uncomfortable conversations perpetuates the stigma that makes some victims feel they did something wrong.

Nassar’s crimes will haunt Greater Lansing for years. Yet he’s only one predator. There are and will be others.

Our priority must be to protect and support our children. To note warning signs. To listen to their concerns.

Change will happen one encounter at a time. Let’s equip ourselves to be part of that movement.

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Traverse City Record-Eagle. September 21, 2018

Stay on the beach; respect your neighbor

The public’s right to walk on Michigan beaches, despite various court rulings through the decades, remains a bit unsettled in some people’s perceptions. Every few years, it seems, a local problem steps up and kicks authorities in the shin, seeking a fresh look at the century-old issue.

Leland Township is the site of the latest related conflict.

A shoreline property owner is upset by continuing problems with members of the public trespassing on his private property, which is adjacent to the county-owned West Reynolds Street public road-end. The landowner describes on-going problems with litterers and vandals. He takes no issue with the public’s right to walk on public land. He’s just upset that some folks go out of bounds and end up on his property.

Most landowners respect the public’s right to shore use, even though that means they enjoy a bit less privacy than residents of non-shore locations. That’s just reality when you live on the shore.

But respect in an ideal world goes both ways. Every member of the public should respect the rights of private property owners.

There’s no excuse (except an emergency) for trespassing. There’s no excuse for littering on either private or public land. There’s no excuse for vandalizing anything anywhere. Those all are bad behaviors. They’re all against the law.

Beaches and public lands by their very nature carry a two-edged sword. We value them because they’re accessible to all and give us a place to breath freely and enjoy nature. But because beaches are relatively off the grid, people who misbehave — leave broken glass in the sand, knock down a signpost or do something else disrespectful — usually have moved on by the time the problem is discovered.

Park rangers and county workers know part of their job is to clean up after those bad actors. They grit their teeth when they find a stretch of sand strewn with hamburger wrappers and soda cups. They grunt in anger when they discover a sign has been vandalized. It’s par for the course for public employees.

The situation is different for property owners. We all expect that our right to be safe and secure in our homes won’t be disturbed.

People who own shore property know that everyone has access. But landowners expect that those users — perhaps after lingering a moment to gaze dreamily at the sunset or dipping a toe in the water — will move on. They certainly don’t expect those strangers to toss litter on their lawn, no more than a downtown Traverse City resident would expect a pedestrian to drop garbage on their front yard.

We live in an imperfect world. Most of us respect the rights of our neighbors. But there always will be a few folks who don’t. It’s a particular shame when they encroach on private property.

Authorities do what they can to make it clear where public land transitions to private holdings. Leland Township installed signs at the West Reynolds Street road-end to show exactly where the public land ends. But some people apparently don’t see the signs, don’t understand them, or simply ignore the message.

The situation on West Reynolds Street has frustrated one home owner so much that he’s trying to pressure the township to do more. The township plans to change its signage.

Road-end issues aren’t limited to Leland Township. Similar problems have appeared elsewhere. No one has a perfect solution.

Clear signage helps the thinking public stay on the right side of the line between public land and private land.

Society still is searching for the best way to deal with those few members of the public who don’t respect others — and don’t think.

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