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A roundup of recent Michigan newspaper editorials

November 6, 2017

The Detroit News. November 2, 2017

Vote No on pot measures

The legal marijuana landscape remains too uncertain for Detroit residents to lock themselves into policies today that may be outdated next year. That’s why we are recommending voters reject two measures on Tuesday’s ballot that would strip the city of much of its regulatory authority over sales of medical pot.

The initiatives, brought to the ballot by Citizens for Sensible Cannabis, would revoke ordinances that strictly dictate areas where medical marijuana dispensaries are not welcome, including near existing schools, liquor stores and churches.

We agree the city’s siting ordinance is too restrictive and designed to limit the number of outlets in the city rather than to protect children and church-goers.

But at the same time, a city should have some oversight over where businesses locate and how they operate.

The second ordinance would open the city’s industrial districts to marijuana growers and distributers.

No one can be certain where state law on marijuana is going. Measures to legalize recreational use of pot are expected to be on the ballot next year. And federal policy is unpredictable, given Attorney General Jeff Session’s aversion to the use of pot for any reason.

Detroit should wait the issue to settle before adopting policies at the ballot box that will have to be undone by the same process.

We urge a No vote on both the marijuana proposals on Tuesday’s Detroit ballot.


Grand Haven Tribune. November 2, 2017

Do your homework before voting

Earlier this month, the Tribune hosted a forum with Grand Haven’s candidates for mayor. Incumbent Geri McCaleb and Councilman Mike Fritz both took time out of their hectic schedules to attend the forum, which took place at Grand Haven High School.

The forum was coordinated with the Advanced Placement government class at GHHS.

We chose to pursue this forum because we feel it’s very important that our high school students gain a better understanding of government at a local level. Their teacher, Keith Swets, explained that his class focuses on government on a national scale, and doesn’t really touch on local issues.

To help prepare the kids for the forum, Grand Haven City Manager Pat McGinnis visited the class and explained how our city government works. The students then crafted their own questions for the mayoral candidates, and their questions were outstanding.

They wanted to know what’s happening with Grand Landing, where the candidates stand on the deer cull, what’s being done about a lack of parking in downtown Grand Haven, and how the debate over short-term rentals might hurt Grand Haven as a tourist town.

Not surprisingly, the students also had a lot of environmental and social concerns. They wanted to know what’s being done to increase diversity in Grand Haven, and what’s the future of our local power plant?

The first question asked struck us as the most meaningful of all: Why should we be concerned with local government if we’re not old enough to vote?

Both Fritz and McCaleb offered similar answers, urging the students to do all they can to make their voice heard, either by volunteering on a committee or contacting the mayor directly with their concerns.

It was inspiring to see these students so interested, even excited, to learn about politics on a local level.

As the candidates pointed out, local government is the most responsive form of government and the easiest to contact.

We would like to thank both Mayor McCaleb and Councilman Fritz for their willingness to participate in this forum, Mr. Swets for getting his class involved, and the students who took time to ask questions and listen to the answers.

If you would like to get to know these two candidates a little better before casting your vote on Nov. 7, visit www.ghtrib.com, where you’ll find a Q&A article in which both candidates answered a series of questions about hot-topic issues across our area. You can also visit the Tribune’s Facebook page, where we posted a live stream of our candidates forum.

The right to vote is one that we should all take very seriously, and we feel it’s imperative to do your homework on the candidates and issues prior to visiting the polls.


Times Herald (Port Huron). November 2, 2017

Enbridge and pipeline can’t be trusted

Enbridge Energy Partners says there is nothing to worry about. The 64-year-old pipelines carrying millions of gallons of crude oil under the Straits of Mackinac are safe and protected. And if anything happened to the twin 20-inch lines, sensors would detect the leak and shut down the pumps before real disaster ensued.

This is the same company that can’t explain why the same fail-safe mechanisms failed to keep more than a million gallons of its crude from fouling the Kalamazoo River near Marshall in 2010.

And it is the same company that we now know flat out lied about Line 5 beneath the Straits.

In March, the company told state officials that it may have scratched the protective coating on the pipes while doing work in 2014 to better secure them to the lake bed. The damage to the coating, it claimed, could be covered by a plastic bandage it told regulators in March of this year.

Last week, we learned that the damage to coating is far more extensive. No Band-Aid is going to cover pizza-sized scrapes that put the future of the pipelines in question and the safety of lakes Huron and Michigan in peril. And no Band-Aid is going to restore Enbridge’s credibility.

“Trust and transparency are critical in any relationship. This latest revelation by Enbridge means that the faith and trust Michigan has placed in Enbridge has reached an even lower level. Enbridge needs to do more than apologize, Enbridge owes the citizens of Michigan a full and complete explanation of why they failed to truthfully report the status of the pipeline,” state Attorney General Bill Schuette said.

“The fact that Enbridge has known about these breaks in coating for years is, unfortunately, less surprising than it ought to be,” Mike Shriberg, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center and a member of the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Council, said. “It seems every month there is a new revelation about the deteriorating condition of Line 5 and Enbridge’s lack of transparency. This is the wrong pipeline in the wrong location operated by the wrong company. We cannot continue to allow this pipeline to jeopardize our Great Lakes.”

That is the crux of the pipeline debate.

Even if Enbridge could be trusted, even in Line 5 could be trusted, the Great Lakes are the wrong place for a crude oil pipeline. A leak in the Straits would be a disaster for the lakes. A leak in winter would be close to impossible to clean up.

Enbridge’s Line 5 needs to be shut down. It needs an alternative that doesn’t cross and imperil one of our most important, vital and fragile resources.


Petoskey News-Review. November 3, 2017

Drainage, flooding issues along U.S. 31 need further consideration

As occasionally happens there during sustained rainfalls, motorists made quite a splash last week while navigating U.S. 31 northeast of Petoskey.

Water pooled Oct. 24 along the stretch of highway near the Petoskey-Bay View Country Club in Bear Creek Township, spraying high and wide as vehicles moved along the busy stretch, with expanses also flooding in at least one nearby business parking lot. Although the frustrations for motorists were temporary — with the standing water along the highway subsiding after a day or so — we see that area’s flooding potential as a topic needing further consideration.

The Michigan Department of Transportation has taken notice of the occasional flooding issues along U.S. 31 through the years, installing a storm drainage system that would help relieve flooding in 2014. The project near the country club cost about $15,000, and included two new catch basins for the existing drainage. While MDOT engineers see anecdotal signs that the project has helped alleviate flooding issues over time, conditions last week overwhelmed the system.

“Our drainage system was designed to handle all of the water that would normally find its way to it during a 50-year rain event. It does not account for Tannery Creek overflowing its banks. Once that occurred, that additional water overwhelmed our system,” said James Lake, an MDOT spokesman.

Because of the scope of development along U.S. 31, a culvert just up the road near Tannery Creek and the Chase bank branch is sized too small, MDOT engineer Matt Radulski said. While the culvert might have been properly sized when it was installed, Radulski said additional development through the years makes it harder for rain water to be absorbed into the ground, and runoff occurs more often — creating a choke point. And if the water builds up behind the nearby McDonald’s restaurant and similar properties and goes beyond the basins, it flows to a lower point. That happens to be along U.S. 31 near the golf course.

If further efforts to control flooding in the area are to occur, they may extend beyond MDOT’s jurisdiction, since portions of the watershed involved are outside the highway right of way.

From the standpoints of traffic flow and safety, we’d encourage exploration of further options for limiting flooding potential along that stretch of U.S. 31. Under certain weather conditions, particularly at colder times of year, we see potential for flooding along the highway to pose more of a motorist hazard or traffic impediment than seen last week.

As an MDOT engineer noted, addressing the drainage and flooding issues will require teamwork and communication. We see numerous parties — transportation agencies, environmental regulators, watershed advocates, private property owners, Emmet County’s drain commissioner and perhaps other local officials — whose input could play a part in the conversation, and would urge some active dialogue toward potential solutions.


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