do i really have no control?

This note was left earlier today by reader Robert:

I’m sorry to have to say this, but this site is no longer about you Mark. It’s bigger than that now. It’s got a life of its own. You’re just the Dr. Frankenstein who brought it to life. Now this monster, which bares your name, is making it’s way down to the village where it will be raping and pillaging. Man are the townspeople going to be pissed at you.

I like the Frankenstein analogy a lot, and I wish that were the case, but I fear that the movie Magic comes a lot closer to hitting the mark.

Posted in Other | 10 Comments

fining overweight haulers in ypsilanti

A month or so ago, we had a conversation here at about Ypsilanti’s revenue crisis and opportunities that might exist to bring additional dollars into our coffers. Our friend, Cameron Getto, suggested that we look into fining overweight trucks that are passing through the City, doing considerable damage to our roadways in the process. According to him, other municipalities have been pursuing such programs with great success. Our Mayor read the idea on the site and asked the City Manger, Ed Koryzno, to look into it. Following is his initial report to City Council, which was sent out earlier this evening.

Motor Vehicle Weight Enforcement Program: Council asked staff to respond to the suggestion that the City could generate substantial financial resources by implementing a Motor Vehicle Weight Enforcement program. Chief Harshberger has prepared the following information about what departments have such enforcement and what revenues are generated.

The YPD is continuing its analysis of implementing a weigh measurement enforcement program for commercial vehicles. To date, the Police Department has been able to obtain considerable information from VanBuren Township PD, which currently utilizes four officers in a traffic services unit. Two of the four officers conduct commercial vehicle weight enforcement.

When a vehicle is cited for being overweight, the citation is sent to court and a plea is usually made. The plea is to reduce 25% of the fine; so if the ticket is $2000, $550 is reduced, and then 70% of the $1450 is given directly to the Police Department and 30% is given to the local library.

Van Buren Township Police Department advised that the 70/30 split is standard for Wayne County, and their district court. There is also a $140 court fee added to the overall cost of the citation, which goes directly to the state. Other than that, all citations have similar revenue.

In 2006, the Van Buren Twp Police Department had revenue of $265,000 from 275 citations issued for overweight trucks. Also, one must keep in mind that Van Buren Twp. has two or three rubbish landfills and they advised that the majority of weight enforcement violations are committed by garbage trucks and haulers.

With regard to Washtenaw County Courts, we have learned that there are apparently several levels of classifications for courts. The initial information obtained from our county court system indicates that we would receive approximately one-third (33%) of the total fine for weight enforcement tickets issued. If that is the case, the Ypsilanti Police Department would realize a much smaller amount of revenue than that of Van Buren Twp.

Using the $265,000 that Van Buren Twp received for 2006, YPD would only have received less than half that amount. So, YPD would have obtained an estimated $132,500 compared to the amount Van Buren Twp totaled.

Posted in Ypsilanti | 16 Comments

conyers says impeachment isn’t off the table

Michigan Congressman John Conyers, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, spoke at a town hall meeting yesterday about the war in Iraq. During the speech, he said something that I found very encouraging. He said, impeachment, contrary to what we might have heard, is not “off the table”. Here’s the whole quote:

“I want to tell you that… and I want to say this on behalf of, and in defense of Nancy Pelosi… Nancy Pelosi has impeachment off the table, but that’s off her table. (applause) It’s not off John Conyers’ table. (applause) Nancy Pelosi, who I am supporting, cannot prevent me from introducing an impeachment resolution against… well, I’ve got a long list of people (laughter and applause as he pulls a list from his pocket)…”

I would have thought that it would be all over the news, but, so far, I’ve only seen it mentioned on Michigan Liberal dot com. Hopefully there’s someone in a newsroom somewhere that’s not sleeping.

[And, as long as we’re sharing political videos, here’s a quite moving one of John Edwards on the subject of healthcare. Say what you will about the guy, I believe he’s sincere, and he’s got my vote.]

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

think global (warming), act dingell

I’d like to ask all of you to do something about global warming. It’ll only take a minute — I promise.

Some friends and I recently decided to do two things about global warming locally. The first was to start spreading the word as to how much power we southeast Michigan natives have to direct national policy through our Congressman, John Dingell. (Almost everyone now knows how serious a problem global warming is, but not many people right here in the 15th district know that our Congressman, as Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, will likely be the person drafting our nation’s response to it.) The second was to start a petition, which could be signed by his constituents, stating (respectfully) that we expect for him to lead our nation aggressively on this issue.

Specifically, we’re asking that he push for two things in the House: 1) a commitment to at least 20% renewable energy in America by 2020, and 2) automotive fuel efficiency standards that are, at a minimum, as aggressive as those recently passed by the Senate.

You can see the petition here.

And, it’s still a work in progress, but you can see a draft of our site here.

If you’d like to join us in this fight to save the earth, we’d love to have you with us. Please sign the petition. It’ll matter more to the Congressman if you’re from Michigan’s 15th district, but feel free to sign regardless of where you’re from, and leave a personal message if you have the time. So far, my favorite message has been this one form local Democratic activist and beer hall owner Rene Greff:

Dear Congressman Dingell, I am sure you know that we are strong supporters and as activists we are as pragmatic as we are idealistic. We appreciate your record on environmental protection over the years and strongly urge you to seize this opportunity in history to take bold action and use your considerable power and influence to help put the US and the world back on track to save the planet before it’s too late. Not only are we counting on you, but we stand ready to assist in any way we can.

Michigan rarely has an opportunity to lead the world – let’s make the most of it.

[Please feel free to share the petition link with anyone and everyone you know. Thanks.]

Posted in Global Warming | 4 Comments

kid nation

On September 19, CBS will begin airing the “reality” series, Kid Nation. It’s hard to know what the execs at CBS had in mind when they greenlit the project. I guess it’s one of those things that would have worked either way. Either the 40 kids given the task of governing themselves would lose their shit and go all “Lord of the Flies,” or they’d pull together, create a functional society in the former New Mexico mining town, and teach all of us adults a valuable lesson about life. Either way it’s good TV.

“Can they succeed where adults have failed” — that’s the tag-line.

I was intrigued when I first read about the concept. It’s a kind of terrifying and beautiful idea. Drop a gang of 8 to 15 year old kids in the middle of an abandoned town and leave them alone to sink or swim. Of course, that’s not really what happens at all. Left to their own devices, they might have had a decent shot at creating something to be proud of. But, as I think we all could have guessed, the adults, contrary to what the tag-line might suggest, are very much involved. The adults pull the strings and these 40 fresh-faced, teleginic kids jump. Their emotions are manipulated for good TV. I’ve read that in some cases, they were made to work 14-plus hour days. And, kids pushed to their breaking point make for good TV. (If they’d been professional actors, it would have been illegal to work them so hard at their age, but since it’s reality television, it’s apparently alright.) Maybe I’m over-exaggerating a bit, but I don’t think these kids ever had a shot.

Watch the trailer if you don’t believe me. At some point toward the end, you’ll see the kids competing against one another. They’re competing over labels. They all want to be “upper class,” but, alas, some will be “laborers.” Left to their own devices, I doubt this would have been their agreed-upon division of labor. I doubt that a kid would say, “Some of us should live comfortably in big houses, doing little work, while others work 14-hour days in the hot sun.” Hell, no. The kids would have said, “We all need to work together.” But that’s not the construct that’s handed to them by the adult producers of the show. They’re forced to replicate the system we have now, as though it’s the gold standard. They’re only seen as being successful if they deliver a system that mirrors what we have today. Or, at least that’s what it looks like to me… Watch the trailer and let me know if you agree.

[This post was brought to you by the terrifying black people who gave Republican Florida State Representative Bob Allen no choice but to suck restroom cock, the boy that took Republican Congressman Mark Foley’s “did you spank it this weekend” comment out of context, and those stupid cops who misread Republican Senator Larry Craig’s innocent beneath-the-stall foot rubbing as an invitation for gay sex.]

Posted in Pop Culture | 10 Comments


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