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A roundup of recent Michigan newspaper editorials

September 9, 2019

The Detroit News. September 5, 2019

Why target vaping, and not sweet booze and pot candy?

It’s curious that in a state that just voted to allow the sale of marijuana-laced cookies, candy and soda pop, and where alcoholic drinks sit on store shelves in flavors that would make Kool-Aid jealous, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is exercising extraordinary executive powers to ban flavored vaping products.

The governor announced the ban after her health department director declared youth vaping as a public emergency, citing a sharp spike in teen vaping and six cases of lung infections in Michigan suspected of being tied to e-cigarettes. None of the cases involve minors.

There’s no doubt that using these cigarette substitutes is not a healthy choice for teens, or for anyone else for that matter. While the e-cigarettes don’t contain the carcinogens of tobacco, they are rich in highly addictive nicotine. And some studies suggest that they can cause lung damage.

So the governor is right, kids shouldn’t be vaping.

That’s why lawmakers passed a measure earlier this year making it illegal for minors to vape, and outlawing the sale of vaping paraphernalia to those under age 18.

Since it’s already illegal for minors to purchase vaping products, Whitmer’s ban primarily impacts adult users, and the small businesses that sell to them.

Her rationale is that as long as the products are available to anyone in the state, they could end up in the hands of children.

That same case can be made for alcohol, tobacco and the newly legal recreational pot. All can be tied to health ills far more extensive and more urgent than those caused by vaping. And all offer merchandise that children may find appealing.

Does the governor assume the same authority to unilaterally ban the popular hard ciders and fruit flavored spritzers, or THC-infused gummy candies, to protect children?

If youth vaping is a health emergency, then surely youth smoking, drinking and pot use have to be declared crises as well.

Whitmer’s ban on flavored e-cigarettes lasts six months, and can be extended another six months before it must go to the Legislature for approval.

That’s where it should have started. The Legislature exists for a reason. Its job is to debate these sort of policies and weigh the consequences.

Had Whitmer taken a ban proposal to lawmakers, she may have found bipartisan support for passage, and more solid ground for this first-in-the-nation prohibition.

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The Mining Journal (Marquette). September 3, 2019

Move to terminate top state official well founded

We support the Michigan Department of Civil Rights Commission’s move last week when the panel sent the agency’s director packing.

The commission voted 5-2 Tuesday night to fire Agustin Arbulu, following a controversy regarding remarks he had made that many found sexist and intolerable.

According to The Detroit Free Press, the controversy surrounding Arbulu, who has been on a leave of absence since Aug. 20, arose when he made comments along the lines of “check out her ass,” about a woman he saw outside a “listening session” held at a Grosse Pointe middle school, according to a complaint.

When called out for the comments, the director simply noted the listener didn’t like women.

Pardon us?

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had banned Arbulu from attending cabinet meetings and publicly called for his termination, something that only the commission could do.

“The most important concern I have — and I think anyone should have — is whether or not that department is able to carry forward with their mission,” Whitmer told the Free Press. “And because of all of the revelations in the last couple months, I think it’s a legitimate fear that it’s been so undermined that they’re unable to carry out their mission.”

As the controversy unfolded, Arbulu wasn’t without supporters. Many cited a long history of good works and integrity in his defense. Others branded the commission’s decision a political lynching while noting other high-ranking state officials have put their respective feet in their respective mouths but kept their jobs.

We believe the commission’s action was appropriate and consistent with a policy of supporting women — period. Agustin Arbulu had to go.

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The Alpena News. September 6, 2019

Confident school leaders watching bus safety

Upon first reading the news story Wednesday that eight of 93 school buses owned by school districts in Northeast Michigan were red-tagged, or designated as unsafe, it set off alarms for us.

And it should. Michigan State Police late last school year inspected the buses of area school districts as to their safety.

But this is not a case of district superintendents turning a blind eye to the problem. Rather, it’s a sign of district officials trying to stretch every mile they can out of buses that they know are nearing the end of their service life.

As you dig deeper in the story, for instance, you read that, in Posen, where two buses were red-tagged, neither bus is used for transporting students anymore. One of the buses is used for parts for repairs to other buses, while the other has a dead engine and just sits on the school property.

Alcona’s two red tags were for rot and rust, not mechanical issues.

It should be noted that both Atlanta and Rogers City school districts had zero buses designated for red tagging. Atlanta has five buses in its fleet, while Rogers City has eight.

In Alcona, where two buses were red-tagged, Superintendent Dan O’Conner said the inspections were a result of district officials trying to get every mile they can out of their fleet.

“Our school buses are aging .,” he told reporter Julie Goldberg. “We’ve been working on replacing them.”

The same is true for the other districts as well.

The safety of our students has to remain paramount for everyone.

And we are confident that, because of reports like this that help districts identify potential problems, those concerns are being addressed.

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