Sunday, June 29, 2008

Guess which ship I prefer

I'm currently sailing on the Carnival Cruise ship "Spirit" off the coast of Alaska. Many years ago the U.S. Government gave me several free cruises on their cruise ships to the exotic Vietnam coastline. I have attached photos of all three. Let me know which one is my favorite. Be careful, the obvious answer could be wrong.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Another lost story from the Journal

Off line I was reminded of another story I was involved in that shows the sometimes vacant editorial judgement at the new Flint Journal.

One of the favorite mottoes among Journal reporters: "You'll never know what inside page you'll find a Page One story on." That was true more times than not.

About three years ago I picked up on a plan by the Lapeer County Sheriff to sell a fully automatic rifle it had owned since the 1970s.

It didn't take much of my feeble imagination to realize this might be a good story. Let's see, a law enforcement agency deciding to sell a fully automatic weapon to the public. Nothing could go wrong there.

Well, actually, the Sheriff was only going to accept bids from licensed, federal firearms dealer, but it was still a great story.

When I submitted the idea and then the story, I assumed it would be a Page 1 story. When the story ran it was buried in the Region/State section. I shook my head and started questioning my own news judgement.

Roll the calendar ahead six months and the Detroit Free Press and that little New York publication, The New York Times, pushed the story right out front when the sale was advertised.

When I showed up to work, I had a succession of editors who wondered first, why I hadn't known about this and second, to get on it right away for our own story.

So I went to our morgue files and pulled up my story (again, buried far inside the newspaper six months earlier) and suggested that perhaps the editors should include their own newspaper with their daily reading.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Getaway day

Well, gang we're off to Alaska. The great white North. The land of the midnight sun. The land of ..., OK that's enough.

As I already mentioned, blogging will continue while I'm away (technology willing) so feel free to chime in. What may not happen on a timely basis is the posting of comments, but I'll try to check in a couple times while we are away to post them.

While we are englarging our carbon footprint by flying to a cruise ship, we hope and pray that your summer will be full of fun as well.

Keep stopping by, and we'll be back on the Fourth of July.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Packing, uggggh

I love to travel, but I hate to pack. Especially when I'm flying somewhere. With all the new regulations, it is frustrating to try and figure out what you can take and what you can't.

Heck if you pack the wrong thing, without even knowing why you could end up in jail.

When I flew to California in January, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end when a TSA official stopped and grabbed my carry on for a further inspection. She "had seen something on the x-ray" that was troubling.

Uh-ho, I thought, what did I accidentally include in my luggage. Well, along with some new luggage I purchased with my going away gift certificate from some of my colleagues (thank you, very much) a new ditty-bag (shaving kit). I completely forgot that my new ditty-bag included a small corkscrew.

So the TSA official dug through my stuff until she found the zippered compartment that included that dangerous cork screw which she promptly confiscated.

Is this toothpaste too many ounces? Have I accidentally packed a machete? I just went through the TSA site and learned that I have to leave my cattle prod and spear gun in my checked luggage. Swords and sabers are also prohibited. Darn.

I wear loose clothing and slip on shoes and come prepared to be frustrated and angry, but unable to show it.

Not to mention that someone with my same name (very common) apparently has come to the attention of the Homeland Security folks, so each and every time I check in I have to do it at the counter and not the electronic check-in because my name is on the terrorist watch list even though I'm ten years older than the Jim who has come to the TSA's attention.

Then once on the plane I have to squeeze my 2X body into a M seat and my 6-2 height and long legs into a space made for a circus dwarf.

Part of my flight day ritual includes drinking almost nothing so that the need to get out of my seat during a five-hour flight is nil.

As a young boy, my mother used to dress my brother and I in sharp slacks, white shirts, bow ties and dress shoes for our one-hour flight to visit my father during Easter and summer visitations. Flying was an adventure, a big deal and something we always looked forward to.

Now I dress like I'm going to the beach to minimize the search issues.

So while I steel myself for the big trip, I have to get my traveling face on. Smile, darn it, smile. Don't argue, be agreeable, don't make sarcastic comments to the TSA officials.

Remember the old saying: "Getting there is half the fun."

Not so much anymore.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Worth the read

A friend of the blog sent this column from today's Washington Post. It's worth the read. Gene Weingarten writes a very humorous, but thought provoking column.

Here's the link:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Mortgage fraud story sees light of day....finally

OK, I had hoped to lay off the Flint Journal for awhile, but then the U.S. Attorney filed charges against a series of mortgage fraud suspects and my blood boiled over again.

Yes, we're talking about Kurt Heintz and his Great Lakes Mortgage company that I had researched just about a year ago right now. To keep from having you search back through 130 posts, here's the Reader's Digest version.

Last year in April 2007, thanks to a number of Davison Township residents, I was turned onto a large mortgage scam that had occurred in a high rent subdivision called Rivershyre. I spent more than two months pulling tax records, Treasury records and other documents to show quite clearly that Kurt Heintz and his company had seriously inflated the value of the Rivershyre properties in getting loans.

My wife and I spent a romantic evening driving through the subdivision logging each property by address, noting whether it was occupied, empty or for sale or any combination of the three.

Not to be immodest, but it was one of the more detailed and well put together investigative pieces I had done for the Journal, or any other newspaper for that matter. When I finally filed the story, I had, of course, attempted to get comment from Mr. Heintz and had visited his home and place of business. After a young child answered the door at the Heintz's rented home in Grand Blanc Township, I asked to see Kurt Heintz. The child said he would go get him. A man and woman came to the door and when I identified myself, he denied that he was Mr. Heintz.

Before going to the house I talked to a neighbor who knew Mr. Heintz and told me what he looked like and said he was home. So I knew the man was lying to me. I called him on it as politely as I could, but he wouldn't budge from the story, but assured me that as soon as "Mr. Heintz" came home he would have him call me. I explained to him I was working on a story and must hear from "Mr. Heintz" soon.

As you can probably guess, no call ever came. So I submitted the story for publication last August or September. A couple of months work and a fortune in copy paper for all the documents were complete.

At that point, the top editors immediately started wringing their hands and turned the story over to the REAL editors of the Journal, a bunch of high-priced lawyers, who began ripping the story apart. Without a comment from Heintz, I was told, there could be no reference to him.

Note to Journal story subjects: Want to avoid having your name in print: Don't make yourself available and don't comment. That's basically what the paper's management was saying.

What emerged from the editing, by the law firm, was a story about a subdivision which had a bunch of empty houses and high weeds. A bare passing reference to a possible FBI probe, but no mention of who or why this had come about. They ran from that story like it was a bag of anthrax

Because he lied to me, refused to call me back, Kurt Heintz escaped the publicity he so richly deserved last summer. Only when the local television station WJRT-TV, Channel 12 began pursuing the story (after I left with my buyout) did the Journal grudgingly start following the story of Mr. Heintz.

That coverage came about because an angry investor stabbed Mrs. Heintz sometime in December in the same home where I had confronted him and her. Mr. Heintz was interviewed the night of the stabbing, and yep, it was the same guy who told me that "Mr. Heintz" was not home. Someone called me from the paper and asked if I still had my documents. I won't say here what I wanted to tell them.

Just Friday, my former colleague Bryn Mickle (who should demand to be paid by the story considering the number of recent bylines of his I have noted) apparently caught up with the indictment of Mr. Heintz and the fact he may be on the hook for as much as $20 million in fraudulent loans. No offense to Mickle, but we could have told that story last August with just a little bit of nerve from the folks who call themselves leaders at the Journal.

But then I have heard a theory about why my story never saw the light of day back then. This is not my theory, but I have to admit it makes a lot of sense.

The theory: My work on the Great Lakes case came just months after another similar type of investigative reporting blew up in the paper's face.

That story had to do with a building company - Son Rise - and some difficulties and defaults that company had run into. A business reporter set out to tear into it, but in the end there were so many errors in the story that in one of the most embarrassing and bizarre situations, the paper allowed the owner of Son Rise a free shot in a front page, unedited rant against the newspaper.

Don't take my word for it, here's what the Columbia Journalism Review wrote:

Now mind you, a few days before the Sunday front page rant, the top editor called us all together in the newsroom to explain ahead of time what the paper was doing.

He started his explanation by absolving the reporter of any blame and said he did not believe the paper did anything wrong and that he still believed the story was solid. But went on to explain that the Journal's lawyers (read: real editors) believed it was the best way out of the situation.

Image this, we were being told we didn't do anything wrong, but to avoid a lawsuit we were turning our front page over to an angry story subject. I had never seen anything like it before, or since.

Any intelligent person would ask, if you didn't do anything wrong and the story was solid, why would you turn over your front page to anyone. But turn it over we did. Many of us viewed it as throwing the reporter under the bus.

But back to my Great Lakes story. The theory goes that after such a bad experience that, the editor no longer had the spine to push against another developer or mortgage broker no matter how solid the reporting.

When newspapers, or any media, loses its nerve to push against those who are doing wrong, then they are useless. Most of us got into this business to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." (That is certainly not an original quote from me, but I have always lived by that).

So to all those wonderful Davison Township residents who helped me pursue Mr. Heintz and his scam last summer, your story is finally out, but with no thanks to the timid boss or lawyers at the Flint Journal.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Back to Buffalo

I'm heading back to Buffalo today to pick up my wife and bring her home. Her father's health has improved and it looks like he can return home. For that we are grateful.

Blogging will be sporadic for the next few days as we get ready for our trip to Alaska.

Just checked my Blogger Analytics this morning and I've picked up a couple new countries as visitors here.

Someone from South Korea checked in and a blog reader in Romania (picture above is Sibiu - Romania's Orthodox Cathedral) spent nearly 12 minutes on my site. A lot of the foreign visitors find their way here, probably accidentally, and drop right off. But someone hanging around for 12 minutes is pretty unheard of. Maybe they fell asleep while they had the site up.

Anyway, I am averaging more and more visitors every day and I'm grateful for your visits. I really write this blog as an outlet for my writing passion, but the fact that more than 1,500 different individuals have stopped by, and that many return, is truly flattering.

Things will obviously slow down while I'm in Alaska, but maybe we all need a break from me. Heck, sometimes I even need a break from me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A little change

A few dial-up visitors have complained about how long it takes to load

Part of that probably relates to my finding out how to put pictures and graphics up. So I have changed my settings to allow only the last 20 days of posts to appear. That should help folks load the page a little quicker.

If you want to see the older stuff, just click on the links to the right under "archive" or click on "older posts" at the bottom of the page.

Hopefully, that will clear up the problem. If it doesn't, I'm sure you will let me know.

Monday, June 16, 2008

More good-byes at the Journal

The long parade of buy out recipients is nearly at an end. The final four will be leaving at the end of June.

Vertie Brewer, Bruce Edwards, Rickey Hampton and Dan Schantz are bringing up the rear of the parade that started last November and December with Gary Piatek and me. I think the final count is about 80 employees, 40 some from the editorial department, who have taken the money and ran for the hills. For some reason I couldn't make the picture of the four (at the top) any larger.

Because I will be in Alaska (hey, I wanted to have a little fun with my big check) when the party for Vertie, Bruce, Rickey and Dan is held, I just wanted to note the end of an era.

I particularly want to thank Vertie, the head of personnel, for all his kindnesses over the years. It had to be hard to oversee the flood of buy outs and retirements during the past six months and Vertie was a class act about it, even as he knew his career was coming to an end.

Bruce Edwards, who was a photographer when I started in 1989, became a talented videographer in the era of the new media at the Journal.

Bruce was a kind person who I never saw angry and who was always willing to go the extra mile.

Rickey was a columnist for the paper who waxed on issues of sports and community during his long career. I didn't always agree with Rickey, but he was always friendly to me and we shared a number of fruitful conversations. Rickey brought a needed perspective to the paper, one that will be interesting to see how they replace.

Dan Schantz I ran into occasionally, but to him and all others leaving I wish much success and happiness in life after the Journal.

In case you're in town, the party for all four is at Bubba O'Malley's, 1076 S. Belsay Road in Burton on June 26 from 5 p.m. until they throw them out.

Good luck guys.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Flint vs. Buffalo, Russert wins it for the NY city

As I mentioned earlier, my wife and I arrived in Buffalo, NY about an hour after the tragic news of Tim Russert’s death.

Perhaps some of the best analysis I saw of Russert’s untimely death reflected frequently back to his Buffalo roots. The local Buffalo coverage of his death was filled with video clips of his frequent visits back to his hometown, especially the Blackthorn restaurant and bar. (This bar and restaurant is less than a mile from my wife’s parents and we have been there several times – but never when Russert was there).

The television reporters descended on the Blackthorn and everyone had a story about a Russert visit to the bar and his unpretentious manner when he was home.

There is no doubt that Tim Russert loved Buffalo, but more than that, Buffalo loved Tim Russert. His death cast a pall over the city Friday and Saturday that was palatable.

Everywhere you went, people were watching and talking about the loss of their favorite son.
In the past I have reflected on the similarity of Buffalo and Flint. Separated by Canada and 300 miles, they have so much in common it is like looking in a mirror. Whenever we have traveled to Buffalo – and that’s dozens of times – I am struck by the similarity of neighborhoods – decaying and otherwise – the loss of business, the once thriving steel business is virtually gone and the hard boiled, balled fist populations of both cities.

Nearly every block in Buffalo has a bar, restaurant or both. Not the Applebee’s, Chili’s kind of bar, but the kind you see in good, old movies. The bar built inside what was an old house. You have the feeling when the night’s over, the bartender and waitress, who are married, simply walk up the stairs to their apartment and go home.

We went to Houk’s (I think that’s how you spell it) on the lake in Hamburg Saturday. The menu outlines three generations of the same family ownership and it sports that retro 1950s linoleum that was popular then. Every restaurant has a fish fry and many carry the kummelwick sandwich I wrote about a few days ago.

The uneven linoleum floor required the use of several napkins under two table legs to keep the table from rocking back and forth and a smoking ban in all public places in New York, left us victim to healthy, cold gusts of wind as people went out on the deck to eat and smoke.

People in Buffalo have a certain appearance. I hate generalities, but Buffaloians are hardy stock. Tim Russert and Ron Jaworski with their large, round faces are the best examples I can offer right off the bat. For those who know me, I fit in perfectly.

Wolf Blitzer is a Buffalo guy, but obviously has a little different look. People are friendly, but frank and you have the feeling one wrong remark and you could be on the wrong end of a punch. The difference being that you know you would deserve the punch.

Roman Catholics, and their churches are everywhere, Tim’s family church, St. Bonaventure’s is on Seneca Street, also less than a mile from my wife’s childhood and her family’s current home. Many Catholic Buffaloians took advantage of the Saturday masses so they could watch Tim Russert at home on Sunday mornings.

It occurred to me that Tim Russert may be the difference in the public perception of Buffalo, versus the public perception of Flint.

Flint’s current most favorite son is Michael Moore. But Michael, unlike Tim Russert, does not conjure up positive images of his hometown. Really, he conjures up the opposite. Flint, for better or worse, has been defined by the lingering images of “Roger and Me.” A movie, by the way, that I like, enjoyed and thought was if not fair, at least provocative in examining what had happened to the city.

But unlike Tim Russert’s friendly sign offs and frequent shout outs to his home city, Michael Moore’s legacy was to leave Flint in ruins, no matter who is to blame.

Buffalo is in mourning because their best cheerleader, who was also a good friend, is now gone. Flint’s Michael Moore, doesn’t make those high profiled friendly visits home where he sits on a bar stool with the guys from his old neighborhood and just talk about the good ol’ days.

Some of those talking about Tim Russert at the Blackthorn remembered that Tim would often sit with his beer at the bar and just ask about “so-and-so” and what every happened to Nora Beasley, his best friend’s mother at school.

Well, on Friday night the local NBC affiliate interviewed Nora Beasley’s son, who recalled a warm little story about Tim Russert coming home to speak at a high school graduation. He was on a very short leash from NBC and was flown in from the airport by helicopter to give the speech and then be rushed back to the airport for his trip back to Washington, D.C.

When the speech was over, Nora Beasley’s son got word to Russert through a police officer that Nora was in the crowd and really wanted to see Tim. He told the helicopter to wait, waded back through the crowd until he found Nora and then stopped and visited with her for 15 minutes while an expensive helicopter waited.

It was illustrative of the love Tim Russert had for his hometown and its people, his old friends. Flint has no such friend and it shows in the kind of coverage it receives from the national media.
On Sunday, the day we left, local businesses purchased full-page ads honoring the life of Tim Russert and expressing their condolences for his death. Who in Flint today would inspire that kind of memorial?
Tim Russert was the best. Rest in Peace.

Miami Herald turns to its own "Chicken" for help

It appears that the Miami Herald will have to steal the Flint Journal's annual celebration of "Bounce the Chicken Day."
Each September for the past few years, the Journal remembers internally the front page photo of a group of people bouncing a rubber chicken up in the air. Everyone in the newsroom celebrates by wearing something chicken related and bringing in a food item that is likewise, related to the chicken. (I always liked the deviled eggs best).
Anyway, the Miami Herald has started a little celebration of its own. See the link sent by a faithful "" reader:

Navigating the links, and we're not talking golf

It was one thing to wade through a whole Editor's column focused on the "Wide Awake Club," but trying to negotiate some of the links inside the column were truly frustrating.
A link (warning: they may fix these by the time you check) in the editor's online column that was supposed to take you to the Wide Awake Club section, took you instead to the Editor's blog. There were other problems, like a link that brought you right back to the column you were already reading when you hit the link, but some of those seem to have been fixed already.
For a website that is already a challenge to navigate, bad links make it even worse.

Buffalo is grieving

What a strange weekend to end up in Buffalo. Tim Russert's death was announced about an hour before we arrived in Buffalo. For the entire weekend it was like a morgue. I'll have more to say about Buffalo and Flint when I get a few minutes later this evening.
But I'm back and blogging should resume.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Back to Buffalo

Blogging will be slow this weekend as we are headed back to Buffalo, NY to help with my mother-in-law and father-in-law.

I'll check in while I'm there and I'll be home Sunday when blogging should resume.

Buffalo has some really unique foods, besides the hot wings. My favorite Buffalo cuisine is a Beef on Weck or kummelweck (See: sandwich which is thinly sliced roast beef on a salt-encrusted bun. I've never had one anywhere else, but they are really, really good.
In the meantime, go back, leave a comment on one of the "moldy-oldies" or catch up.

Otherwise, get outside and enjoy this great weather.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Great blog to check out

In the previous blog item I posted a very funny, but thoughtful, Washington Post column on the experience of a laid off journalist. His name is T.M. Shine and he also has a blog that is worth checking out: (I'll put a link to it in the column at the right)

A guy who didn't take a buyout

Here's a security video of a guy going absolutely bananas in an office. A buyout is cleaner and neater. I'd hate to be the custodian after this rant.

Looks like there might have been a minor injury or two.

Or for a very funny, if long read, this is a gem from a former and recently laid off journalist:

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Bean counters take over America's newsrooms

Another troubling report from

Good editors motivate people to produce at their highest rate. But quotas and story counting only leads to a reduction in quality and increases the possibility of mistakes. Certainly, editors should keep track of who is producing and who is not, but that goes far beyond the number of daily bylines.

A good investigative piece could take days or weeks to produce if done thoroughly. On the other hand, if someone is missing from the newsroom for hours on end and is producing nothing, obviously more supervision is in order.

But when you treat everyone like they were the worst producing person in the room, you hurt morale.

Managing is different than controlling.

Old tornados never die, they just get recycled

Give the Flint Journal credit for recycling. Not newsprint, but certainly recycling news.

Five years ago the Journal did a blowout special edition on the 50th anniversary of the devastating Beecher tornado that killed dozens of people.

So Sunday, the 55th anniversary of the tornado, the Journal, who can't seem to get enough of this disaster, recycled much of that five-year-old material into an online package.

Reporter Shena Abercrombie, a good reporter who took over my old beat plus keeping the several beats she already had, did the update story for the dead tree edition, but online the Journal reached into its morgue and recycled a number of stories that were done five years ago.

The also dusted off another story from 2001 done by the late Len Hoyes on the tornado.

When I went online today at first I was surprised to see bylines from old friends Kim Crawford and Ed Ronders, but then spotted the editor's note that acknowledged these were actually reprints from 2003. Hopefully, they'll recycle a new check for my two buddies.

Are we glimpsing the future of newspaper thrift? No need for reporters when you got stories on ancient history by people who are long gone. They were good the first time, so what not again?

So what will be get next year on the 56th anniversary of the tornado, more of the same?

The Journal is in love with anniversary stories. The slaying of Kayla Rolland at Buell Elementary School and the Beecher Tornado are just two examples.

It's cheaper than actually looking for news, especially when the stories are in-the-can and already paid for. No need for reporters, just a good librarian. Oh wait, they got rid of the librarian, so it must just take a good computer program that can retrieve old stories.

Newspaper imagination should be more than looking back at old calendars and copying what you did before.

Fun facts for a Sunday

Just took a peek at my Google counter. Since March 30, the day I installed the counter service, 1,474 people have visited That, of course, doesn't account for anyone who visited here from Dec. 1, when I started the blog, until March 30. So I thank all of you for your visits.

The service doesn't tell me who is stopping by, but it does tell me from where. Predictably, the vast majority of visits come from the United States, and more than 900 are from Michigan. It also tracks repeat visits and some of my most loyal visitors live in Oakland County and, of course, the Flint metropolitan area also sends the majority of visitors. Other Michigan visitors are scattered throughout the lower and Upper Peninsula.

But Canada sends quite a few visitors, Thunder Bay, Windsor, St. Catharine's, Montreal, to name a few.

I'm still intrigued by folks in Ireland, the UK, Scotland, Morocco, Australia, China, India, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Egypt and a few more I can't remember, who still drop by from time to time.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

New media provides low class dialogue

Earlier this week I grabbed a couple pages from the Flint Journal's online discussion about the new police chief and "super" chief, Richard and David Dicks. Earlier Matt Bach, who is the community conversation producer, posted a note telling readers that their comments were being hung up because the site's filter does not allow the posting of Richard or David Dicks last name.
Understandable, but avoidable under a system where every post would be moderated or in a system where a moderator was online 24 hours a day.
I continue to be amazed by the low level of discussion between many of the posters. If this is the new media, count me out. Here's a sample:

Posted by trinidad on 06/04/08 at 8:18PM
The Con didn't know about the Conduct Board? Yeah right. Anybody believe this malarkey?
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Posted by hurricanelp on 06/04/08 at 8:25PM
Old Fat head thinks he can do what he wants..there should never be 2 family members appointed to top ranks...Them 2 and con Don will really be able to corupt the goverment and city of Flint.. I hope the Feds keep an eye and and ear open on these convicts. Cuz, this is gonna be worse than Detroits Mayor ever done.
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Posted by FlintConserv on 06/04/08 at 8:30PM
Not a bad gig...get fired from the department. Come back 2 years later and run the show.
And let's not forget the feds are investigating the new "Super Chief."
Only in The Don's World.
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Posted by whetagg on 06/04/08 at 9:04PM
he's a super chief, super chief, he's super chiefy owww
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Posted by flintcitizen on 06/05/08 at 9:14AM
I hear from people in the community that the father (Superchief Sr.) continuously got the Twins out of their criminal troubles and made excuses for them. So I'm sure he's going to provide real oversight on his son. Of course this is a Charter violation, but when has the Don every cared about that?
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Posted by mattbach on 06/05/08 at 9:52AM
That's hilarious. Made my day. I'll be singing that all day.
Matt Bach
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Posted by darthmole on 06/05/08 at 9:56AM
I'm shocked, SHOCKED I tell you that this surprises anyone.
The fact that Mr "shoot first and ask questions later" did something without checking into it first.
He put police decals on his car and was later told he couldn't do that. "Sorry", he says. "I didn't know. I won't do it again." He did it again last year.
He took home a city generator to run his Halloween decorations when the power went out. "Oops, I didn't know you weren't supposed to do that."
He arrested a man delivering papers at city hall. "I can't do that either? Why didn't anyone tell me that ahead of time?"
He's issued several memos at city hall telling the workers what they can't do, only to have the union, the ACLU and many others tell him that he was wrong.
Now, he hired a man as police chief, only to have him report to his own father.
Is this the man we want for Governor?
Is this even the man you want to buy a car from?
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Posted by whetagg on 06/05/08 at 9:56AM
Matt,Thanks... working on the verses. I'll send it along when I'm done. :-)
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Posted by harleeeguy on 06/05/08 at 9:58AM
A few words immediately come to mind.
I am often amazed with the Mayor's attitude regarding his actions and decisions.
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Posted by PeoplesTruth on 06/05/08 at 10:16AM
It's interesting that Don says he didn't know the Standards of Conduct Board existed, since a couple months ago he was raking Inez Brown over the coals for not calling a meeting of the Standards of Conduct Board. It's further interesting that Trachelle Young herself, one of Don's best buddies, sits on the Standards of Conduct Board and one of her primary responsibilities as city attorney is to advise on what's legal, including what the Charter says about nepotism and appointments. How could he possibly say he didn't know?
How reckless is it to have a mayor who repeatedly claims ignorance of what is illegal or unethical?
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Posted by getreal222 on 06/05/08 at 10:32AM
I see and hear so many complaints about this mayor but, I see no action taken to get him out..Whats the deal??? Someone must be happy with him.Whos gonna start the proceedings? If they have not already been started?
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Posted by dafederales on 06/05/08 at 10:34AM
Ol' Fat Head (I love that one) has already bought off the city union. I'm certain that is what he's doing here by appointing these two. He knows he can keep them in his back pocket. See, once he has something on you, you become an accomplice so you keep your yap shut.
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Posted by MSPOLOTIK on 06/05/08 at 10:35AM
SOUND THE ALARMS.....MAYOR WILLIAMSON DID SOMETHING UNETHICAL.....NOOOOOOOOOOO!!! I can't believe he'd ever do anything like that!?! Are you telling me he is DISHONEST?!? Get out!! I can't believe that......By the way....I AM KIDDING OF COURSE....he's a career criminal. How is anyone surprised by this?? Just add it to the list of eternal-Williamson-b.s.
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Posted by ishouldknow on 06/05/08 at 11:10AM
Harleeguy, you say "I am often amazed with the Mayor's attitude regarding his actions and decisions." Are you REALLY amazed? If so, why? The citizens of Flint don't really seem to care that their mayor is unethical and doesn't follow the rules. If they did care, they would have been bombarding his office with phone calls and walk-in complaints about the Chief-Super Chief deal. As always, if it doesn't affect someone directly then they don't give a crap about what happens. This is proof. And I ask you, why on God's green Earth would anybody in their right mind make someone chief of an organization the size of the Flint Police Department who doesn't have ONE BIT of experience? This is lunacy and the people of Flint need to step up to the plate and DEMAND that they have a QUALIFIED, EXPERIENCED, and ETHICAL police chief!!!
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Posted by BurtonGuy on 06/05/08 at 11:14AM
The mayor was rewarded by being re-elected, and he has ALWAYS operated this way. Why would he want to change how he does anything?
I know that I am not a City of Flint resident, but didn't the citizens get exactly what they voted for? Why would anyone expect a snake not to bite and even pick it up again after being bit once?
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Posted by dafederales on 06/05/08 at 11:32AM
Ishouldknow, part of Flint's problem is that not all of the taxpayers are allowed to vote. I pay over 2K a year to Flint and cant vote in their elections. You got a bunch of naer do wells in that city deciding who gets in office. Then the nitwits they hire (elect) put their own nitwits in charge of everything. Therein lies the crux of the problem. Run the bums out!
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Posted by songbirds on 06/05/08 at 11:48AM
"he's a super chief, super chief, he's super chiefy owww" (whettag)
"hat's hilarious. Made my day. I'll be singing that all day" (mattbach)
I think it's hysterical as well. How about:
City Council sing "whoa oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh"
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Posted by harleeeguy on 06/05/08 at 12:20PM
I really do feel amazed with Don Williamson appearing to be so smug and arrogant in his decision making and behavior.
Is this Gotham City?
The mayor appears to have many reasons to be smug.
A short laundry list of questionable actions was previously listed above and pasted here:
"He put police decals on his car and was later told he couldn't do that. "Sorry", he says. "I didn't know. I won't do it again." He did it again last year.
He took home a city generator to run his Halloween decorations when the power went out. "Oops, I didn't know you weren't supposed to do that."
He arrested a man delivering papers at city hall. "I can't do that either? Why didn't anyone tell me that ahead of time?"
He's issued several memos at city hall telling the workers what they can't do, only to have the union, the ACLU and many others tell him that he was wrong.
Now, he hired a man as police chief, only to have him report to his own father."
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Posted by eoseph on 06/05/08 at 1:49PM
i would think that the journal, under the FOIA, would divulge these 'peeps' criminal records. ya know there has to be some 'skeletons.' come on flint, let's dig deep. (allegedly)
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Posted by FlintCat on 06/05/08 at 4:18PM
"Super Chiefy" and son are just the tip of the criminals running this city. It is sad that the citizens re-elected the top boss of this city mofia, but it was only by 581 votes! I'm sure he paid more than 1,000 voters in various ways to vote for him.... I know for a fact he did pay many! The FJ needs to go Freep on the Don. Unfortunatly his car company keeps them in print.
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Posted by miasma on 06/05/08 at 4:49PM
LOL, I love how "going Freep" is now a verb :)
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Posted by whetagg on 06/05/08 at 5:58PM
Hi Matt Bach,I see that a couple of my posts disappeared. not only from this article. Did I anger boss tweed (Donald the Hutt) or one of his cronies?
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Posted by suburbman on 06/05/08 at 7:04PM
Just a few comments on the Police Chief, Super Chief appointments.You cannot point fingers at Richard or David Dicks for taking the jobs as they were offered. Ask yourself if your boss gave you a huge pay increase with pension enhancements along with being the department head, would you turn it down?
For David Dicks, who had zero chance of a promotion to Chief through traditional testing and interview procedures, the decision was a no brainer.
The interesting questions are what the Don wanted in return, what they had to agree to, to seal the deal. You can forget the public statements about going to a community policing model of law enforcement, mere salad dressing offered by the Don for public consumption. Community policing is grounded in prevention programs, juvenile intervention to steer kids away from crime, emphasis on education and self respect with police involvement in all aspects. It takes big money and triple the number of cops that Flint has.
What the Don wants is a foil to blunt the recall effort against him and we have just been introduced to the two guys who now have that assignment.
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And then later on a different thread about the same subject:

(Anonymous poster)

What a disgrace...
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Posted by MIcynic on 06/04/08 at 8:40PM
The article says: Mayor Don Williamson said he wants residents to be able to identify police when they're cruising the streets and under his directive all police officers "from now on will be in marked cars in full uniform."
Not only will the citizens know the police are around, so will the bad guys. If no one is doing any plainclothes work, or using unmarked cars, the bad guys can better evade arrest.
Maybe that's what the Mayor wants.
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Posted by FlintCat on 06/04/08 at 8:49PM
At least we'll be able to identify David as he drives the wrong-way down the one-ways as he is prone to do....
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Posted by trinidad on 06/04/08 at 8:54PM
Well, I guess it was more important to show off the gas guzzling SUV's rather than grieve.
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Posted by whetagg on 06/04/08 at 9:06PM
he's a super chief, super chief, he's super chiefy owww
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Posted by ddhier on 06/04/08 at 9:36PM
They should have these types of vehicles. And besides buying these vehicles saves some jobs. Two thumbs up.
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Posted by trinidad on 06/04/08 at 9:42PM
ddhier, Why do they need the SUV's? All they need are squad cars. When budgets are being cut and jobs lost or reduced in hours, driving SUV's are not necessary. It's not like they need passenger room. They'll never tansport anyone. What a waste of money. Not that it matters. According to the Charter, the Con is in violation for hiring the father and son. So, this is about to get interesting.
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Posted by BurtonGuy on 06/04/08 at 9:42PM
Looks like a little illegal windshield obstruction to me. Can I write "Super Chief" or whatever else I choose across my windshield?
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Posted by BurtonGuy on 06/04/08 at 9:44PM
On second thought, maybe they should just use their last names on the windshield!
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Posted by trinidad on 06/04/08 at 9:45PM
And if you think about it BurtonGuy, it is what they are! LOL
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Posted by ddhier on 06/04/08 at 9:49PM
So what you are saying is tha a father and son can't work for the city of Flint together at the same time or that they bother can't be chiefs?
I have a big SUV for 1 person why not? All those who critize need to try and do his job. let's see first hand how you would do it.
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Posted by Deuce225 on 06/04/08 at 9:57PM
Hey BurtonGuy just call them RICHARDNOGGIN.That short for D---Head.
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Posted by flintflint on 06/04/08 at 10:00PM
Mayor's car marked? City council president car marked? Why not? I'd love to see the councilman's car parked at Walmart, grocery stores, K-mart, or other places. Politicians need accoutability too!
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Posted by trinidad on 06/04/08 at 10:22PM
ddhier: Are you a relative. Yo usure are touchy. Yes, accordingto the charter, if you can read it, it is a violation for relatives to hold oversight over another. I mean do you think if Little D is accused of wrongdoing..hmmmm that Big D could honestly render a punishment? Who are you kidding? again, they do not need gas guzzling SUV's, and you still have not explained why they do? As far as you having an SUV, you're a private citizen and you can pay as much as you choose to fill up your tank. Oh, and as to how I would handle Flint. I'd first call Lansing and ask them to take recievership. Then I'd call the Feds to clean up corruption starting at the top with the Con.
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Posted by amccoy18 on 06/05/08 at 12:51AM
Incompetence and Flint is knee-deep in it. My conscious is clear because I didn't voted for Mayor Williamson. Nepotism at it best,I just for sorry for the City of Flint. The only good thing about this that Flint only got 3 and half years to suffered until they get a new mayor who has common sense and not flawed.
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Posted by dmoore on 06/05/08 at 7:21AM
amccoy, do you know something we don't? unless the mayor runs for governor and wins, he will win another term as mayor, if he wants to run.... he isn't going anywhere until he chooses to go.

If this is what passes for riveting conversation, I'll pass. But remember, this is the same paper who takes anonymous phone calls from folks in "Talk Back" and uses them in place of well-thought out and well-written editorials. Sigh.

Something to do on a hot day

Hey, if you are bored today, go to the Flint Journal page on and look for the following posting with the link (they'll probably remove it when they see this or figure out what's happening):

We've Moved!
by The Flint Journal
Friday June 06, 2008, 1:05 PM
This page has moved.
Please go to for today's news from The Flint Journal.

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I tried the link this morning and just kept going in circles. Click on the link and go back to the same page you were at when you clicked the link. Click the link again and make the 360-degree turn back to the same page.

What I was hoping for was a link to a completely new and improved Flint Journal online page. Now that would be good news. Sadly, the paper remains with the boring and difficult platform.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Red Wings Rule!

Finally! After staying up until almost 1 a.m. Tuesday only to have the Red Wings lose in triple overtime, we were done a couple breaks.
So while the game was over relatively early (before 11 p.m.) I couldn't take my eyes off the post game coverage and interviews that went on until midnight (and beyond, but I had to go to sleep then).

I'm happy for Dallas Drake, he finally wins the Cup after a long career that started with the Red Wings. I'm happy for Chris Osgood, who is a lesson to anyone about being humble and waiting your turn (even after you've waited way too long already) and Darren McCarty, who nearly threw away everything for hard living and partying.

As a former baseball fan, I really lost interest in baseball after the major strike in the 1990s, but I have become a Red Wings and hockey fan.

But for those who don't understand hockey, it is not an easy trek. Four rounds of playoffs and the fact that, like the Penguins, getting close is almost as depressing as not making it at all. Take my son Bill, and his San Jose Sharks, they have been playing golf since early April after they were eliminated. That's two months ago. In just about three months these guys will be back at training camp. The playoffs are just long.

Next year, I'm not going to get so wrapped up in hoping for a Red Wings Stanley Cup. It's very draining. But then, I say that after every season, win or lose.

I taught my two-year-old granddaughter this year: "Go Red Wings, yea hockey." I was going to teach her last week to say "Booooo Penguins," but her grandmother told me that would not be a proper thing to teach her. She was right and in the end the Penguins were great opponents who gave the Red Wings everything they could handle.
Go Red Wings!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

How about a short political cease fire?

OK, the major election opponents appear to be set. It's been nearly two years of non-stop politics and with the general election looming, obviously more to come.

I would consider voting for the candidate who will shut up and leave us alone for the next two months. After the conventions, have at it. But for now don't we deserve just a little respite from the daily bombardment of rhetoric and propaganda?

By doing so they would stem the use of carbon spewing aircraft, not to mention the hot air spewing of each other, for the summer. Give us a break John, Barack and Hillary, because she still, sort of, seems to be in the race, will ya?

The immediate future includes tonight's Stanley Cup Finals contest includes the Detroit Red Wings (yeaaaaa!) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (noooooo!).

By the time we get out of church it will be the end of the first period and, hopefully, the Red Wings will be up by four goals.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Helping's a good thing

It's been two years since my last trip to New Orleans to help in the relief effort from Hurricane Katrina. (One photo is of me next to a pile of rubbish pulled from a church in the First Ward the other is of more debrist in front of the church. If I look hot and tired, I was it was staggeringly humid that day. If I think hard enough I can still remember the putrid smells of rotting food and growing mold. The church was the First Church of the Nazarene in New Oleans, I believe on Jefferson Street if you want to mapquest the location. It was right off the freeway that was featured so frequently on the news)

I will never forget my first impressions when I made my first of five trips down in October 2005, just weeks after the Hurricane hit and the levees failed. Devastation and ruined housing as far as the eye could see. Boats on freeway off ramps and the darkness. The darkness was what made the biggest impression on me.

Imagine driving from Flint to Detroit on I-75 at night and not seeing one street light, one house light, it was something out of a horror novel. That's what it's like. One night coming back from our work, we accidentally took a wrong exit and found ourselves in the middle of a once busy neighborhood that was now deserted and dark.

It was eerie, unsettling and a feeling I don't think I will ever forget. Whole car dealerships full of ruined cars, large shopping centers completely deserted and very few people in evidence anywhere.

Things steadily improved until I made my last trip, about this time two years ago. But saying "improved" was relative and while some FEMA trailers were in evidence in the neighborhood where we were working, there was still an unbelievable amount of work done.

I bring all this up, because I was having a conversation on another website Monday about what we do without our money.

A new friend of mine, Brad Culver, who is a pastor in Canada, has a unique perspective on the "Christian" church. I always called myself a Christian, but Brad suggested for many of us we are really "followers of Jesus" and not Christians.

Why? Because if you tell someone you are a Christian, you have to spend an hour telling people what you are not, thanks to folks who use the label, but don't always live the way Jesus called us to live.

I have many friends, a couple who frequently read this blog, who aren't really believers, but they live their lives in a way that Jesus would love. They help people, they are concerned for people and they are kind and gentle.

After the five trips to New Orleans, I have contributed to a lot of causes and needs, and my own church, of course, but I miss the feeling I had on my trips to New Orleans. That feeling of doing something for someone else for no reason but that it had to be done.

I love what Brad Culver said, I love how he meets people where they are, without judgement, and helps get them closer to where they need to be.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Romans 3:23, which roughly says we are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God. It reminds us not to dump on others when they fall short in the human department because we also fail.

So today, I'm going to take a break from the criticism of the newspaper industry and just remember how it felt to do something nice for someone who needed it.

So if this little sermon prompts you to do something nice for someone, good for you.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Do as I say, not as I do...

Global warming is the new touchstone of American politics. All three candidates in the two parties talk about it and seem to agree we should do something about it.

Then they fly off in their carbon spewing private large jets and travel where ever and whenever they want.

In this day of new media, why is there this gas guzzling need to fly everywhere. Campaigning is all about getting television and media coverage. That can be done from a static studio in one place. I know that sounds crazy, but if you're going to say your serious about global warming, put you're money and your travel plans where your mouth is.

Al Gore is another one who feels no shame about flying here and there - in a private jet - telling the rest of us to conserve. Show me the way, Al. Show me the way.

In the meantime, I want to see some oil rigs punching holes in the Gulf of Mexico, in Alaska, off the coast of California or where ever there is a large pool of oil.

Heck, even if we just threatened to drill, the folks, many of them stated enemies, would at least have to think about lowering prices.
We all need to learn to conserve and use less, but for the near future, we simply need more oil while those alternate energy sources are invented and produced. Our great-grandparents didn't immediately shoot all their horses because they heard Henry Ford had found a way to build a car.

Blogging IS the new media

A frequent reader of this blog has started another, I think his third blog, covering issues in Davison. Kevin McKague is a former Davison City Councilmember who made some news when his wife, Joy Murray, was also elected to the same body a few years ago.
Kevin was forced to resign because his truck driving job took him out of town, but he has stayed active in local politics.
For those interested in Davison politics his new blog would be of great interest:

I will add it to my links as well.

Thanks, Kevin