Detroit Free Press. Sept. 27, 2020

Endorsement: Elect these candidates to state’s university boards

University of Michigan Board of Regents

Ten candidates are vying for two seats on the University of Michigan’s Board of Regents. But despite strong challengers, Michigan voters should return MARK BERNSTEIN and SHAUNA RYDER DIGGS to the board.

Bernstein and Diggs, both Democrats, were elected to the board in 2012. Each offers a unique perspective necessary to guide the university through this challenging time.

Bernstein came to the board steeped in policy research, and that has paid off. A consistent voice for equity and access, he has made it easier for university employees to unionize. He has also offered thoughtful solutions to the problem of sexual assault on campus, brought into the spotlight as U-M faces allegations that a former doctor in its athletic department sexually assaulted student athletes for years.

Diggs, a physician, is a valuable asset as the university continues to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic . Diggs understands the connection between minority representation on faculty and staff, and student success.

Both incumbents supported the Go Blue Guarantee, a promise of free tuition to Michigan students with family incomes below $65,000 a year.

Bernstein has taken the sometimes unpopular position that university’s efforts to make tuition affordable should be aimed at students who struggle to pay, even if that means increasing tuition for students who can afford tuition.

Both Republican nominees, Sarah Hubbard and Carl Meyers, are accomplished professionals. Hubbard has won respect around the state from members of both parties for her political and policy pragmatism; Meyers, a longtime Dearborn resident, believes the university should invest in and promote its satellite campuses in that city and in Flint, noting that those schools are important tools for diversity and inclusion.

But Bernstein and Diggs are the best choices and should retain their seats.

Michigan State University Board of Trustees

Ten candidates are seeking seats on the Michigan State University Board of Trustees.

Trustee Brian Mosallam is running for re-election, but board member Joel Ferguson opted not to run again, leaving an open seat.

Voters should cast ballots for Democrats BRIAN MOSALLAM and first-time candidate REMA ELLA VASSAR.

As the university grappled with painful revelations about former sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar, who sexually assaulted hundreds of young women during his tenure with U.S.A. Gymnastics, Mosallam was a consistent voice for transparency and change. Mosallam proposed reforms that change the way the university handles sexual assault complaints, and led the charge to oust former Gov. John Engler, whose tenure as the school’s interim president was dotted with missteps and serial insensitivity to Nassar survivors. Mossallam continues to push to make records related to the scandal public

Mosallam has earned the trust of Nassar’s survivors, and deserves another term to see through the work he has started.

Vassar, unlike most candidates for university board seats, isn’t a MSU alum. But she he’s the wife of one MSU graduate and mother to another, and that, she says, makes her the member MSU’s board needs.

During the worst days of the Nassar crisis, the board of trustees often seemed insular, concerned more with preserving the reputations and careers of longtime university allies than in promoting the transparency justice required.

Vassar, an assistant professor in Eastern Michigan University’s College of Education, offers an objectivity those with more intimate ties to the school can’t muster.

As a former k-12 educator with serious policy credentials — she holds a doctorate in urban schooling policy from the University of California - Los Angeles — Vassar says she wants to improve access to and equity within the university, and her academic and professional background suggests that she understands how to get there. She says the university must improve its outreach to Michigan’s native communities, Black populations and working-class white towns alike.

Wayne State University Board of Governors

For more than a year, the bitter contention among members of Wayne State University’s Board of Governors has been higher education’s worst-kept secret. Rival members of the elected board fought at meetings and in the press for months as students, faculty and staff voiced growing concern that the board’s bickering put the university’s stability and success in peril.

After one board member resigned last year, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointed Detroiter Shirley Stancato, the former president and CEO of New Detroit, a civic organization that advocates for racial equity. She is one of seven candidates competing for two spots on the university board.

Stancato is an experienced civic leader who excels in conducting difficult conversations with grace, and that’s exactly what this board needs. Voters should elect SHIRLEY STANCATO to a full term on the WSU board.

A first-generation college graduate, Stancato is focused on ensuring that Wayne State not only admits first-generation students but offers the support they need to complete their degrees.

Voters should elect EVA GARZA DEWAELSCHE to the open seat. Dewaelsche, president and CEO of SER-Metro, a regional workforce development agency. Dewaelsche has served on the Wayne State University Alumni Board of Directors, and has been an active participant in the university community. She believes Wayne State must diversify both its student body and its faculty and staff, offer more substantial mental health care services, and a comprehensive set of wraparound services for vulnerable students. She supports the school’s promise of free tuition to Detroit students, but believes the university should do more to ensure entering freshmen can meet its entrance requirements.


The Mining Journal. Sept. 26, 2020

PWPL opening doors to limited customer traffic starting Monday

It’s taken awhile but the Peter White Public Library in the city of Marquette is soon opening to the public.

Closed to customer foot traffic since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the venerable institution will open its doors on a limited basis starting Monday.

“We are definitely excited to have people back in the library … to have people on site and in the building,” PWPL director Andrea Ingmire said for a Mining Journal story on the issue. “It is going to look different. That is the biggest thing. What we are going to be able to have available is going to be reduced because there are areas of the building that we just can’t open logistically. But we are going to do the best we can to meet all of the service needs that people have.”

Starting Monday, what’s being termed express walk-in hours will be 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.

Not unreasonably, officials ask that visitors observe the standard social distancing of six feet while inside. And masks will be required for people to want to enter the premises.

“If masks cannot be tolerated, we ask that you consider wearing a bandana or buff instead,” a PWPL press release states. “Those who are medically unable to tolerate a face covering of any kind are welcome to continue utilizing curbside library services.”

Although it’s presently unclear how long the limited hours and access will be in place, we applaud Ingmire and her crew for getting the facility up and running in any form.

In a way that’s rare even for small towns, the Peter White Public Library in Marquette is central to so much that happens around here. Start with basic library functions and services but then add in arts, culture, community gatherings, learning, music and so much more.

We’re pleased it’s back, even in this limited form.


Petoskey News-Review. Sept. 26, 2020

Racing pigeons

Kudos to Mike Netzky, leader of the Flying Clovers Racing Pigeon group, for organizing a national youth race on Saturday, Sept. 26.

During the race, birds will fly from the Grand Rapids area back to Pickerel Lake. The birds came to Netzky from 12 different states, as well as 14 entries from Michigan. Each bird was bred by children ages 5-18 and came to Netzky as untrained youngsters 7-9 weeks old. Each pigeon had to be vaccinated, quarantined and then acclimated to their new loft.

The Flying Clovers Racing Pigeon Club has been slowly training the young birds to fly up to 130 miles in preparation for the Grand Rapids release.

500-mile ride

Kudos to Rev. Linda McCarty for embarking on a 500-mile bike ride cycling between Mackinaw City and Petoskey to raise funds for Guatemala.

McCarty is the president and CEO of Houston-based Faith In Practice, a national nonprofit that provides medical care to the poor of Guatemala. COVID-19 has been especially devastating to the country.

McCarty is dedicating her ride to Faith In Practice’s U.S. volunteers who travel thousands of miles, and commit thousand of hours, to prepare, travel and serve in Guatemala.

Fall festivities

Kudos to communities that are offering creative alternatives to traditional fall activities in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

One example is Boyne City, which canceled its annual Harvest Festival, but will offer several fall activities in its place.

A pumpkin giveaway will take place on Saturday, Sept. 26, with 300 pumpkins available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Friends of the Boyne District Library have also provided painting kits for children to take home to paint their pumpkin.

The 12th annual Breezeway Fall Color Cruises, organized by the East Jordan Area Chamber of Commerce, has also announced the cruises will take place on Sept. 26, Oct. 3 and Oct. 10. Color tour participants will have the opportunity to pick up “goodie bags” filled with trip tips, color tour maps, coupons and other surprises at Royal Farms Winery in Atwood from 10-noon on those days.

Food donation

Kudos to Dave Kring Chevrolet Cadillac for continuing its annual tradition of donating meat to area nonprofits.

The donation is now in its 33rd year. A total of 652 pounds of beef and pork were distributed between Manna Food Project, Petoskey Church of Christ, Brother Dan’s Food Pantry, Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan and The Nehemiah Project.

The donation comes from livestock purchased by Kring during the local 4-H livestock auction, which took place virtually this year amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Cycling record

Congratulations to the eight cyclists from West Michigan who broke a World Ultra Cycling record by riding from Sturgis to Sault Ste. Marie.

The ride from the state’s southern to northern border, 367.6 miles in total, was accomplished in 15 hours and 56 minutes. That time shattered the previous record by 3 hours and 52 minutes.

The “Epic Ride” group includes Ben Blake, Ralph Buckingham, Nick DeHaan, Joseph Lampen, Sean Murphy, Jon Ornée, Jeremy Sall and Justin Van Beek. They averaged 23.1 mph during the ride, and the clock did not stop except for the crossing of the Mackinac Bridge.

A solo attempt at the record in the reverse direction fell just short. Former Olympic runner Paul McMullen attempted his own cycling ride of the same distance, starting in Sault Ste. Marie near the International Bridge. McMullen deviated from his planned route just south of Marion at about the 200-mile mark, and halted his ride near his hometown of Cadillac.

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