Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
A more extensive article on John in The Flint Journal is available here.
The visitation will be at the Miles-Martin Funeral Home in Mt. Morris. The schedule is as follows:
Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. A rosary will be held at 6:00 p.m. on the same day.
The Mass will be on Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. at St. Mary's Mt. Morris.
Here a some of the comments from readers about John:
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The Detroit News, which is on the verge of going out of business, reports that many Obama administration officials are just like most other Americans — they prefer foreign to domestic when it comes to cars.
Of course, figuring out what counts as an "American" car these days ain't easy. As UM-Flint's Mark J. Perry points out, several American cars, including the Buick Lacrosse and the Chevy Impala, are made by UAW workers in Canada. "What about the 2008 Honda Pilot and Honda Civics," he asks, "built in the U.S. with higher domestic content (70%) than the 2008 Dodge Ram (68%) and the Michigan-built Ford Mustang (65%)?" And don't forget about the cars that sound foreign, like the Mitsubishi Galant and the Toyota Corolla, that are often made by UAW workers in the U.S.
It's all a little confusing. Unless, like me, you've got a 1990 Camry that's paid off and a San Francisco-sized mortgage. I'm not paralyzed by choice. I'm broke.
UPDATE: An insider at one of the Big Three points out that there's a big difference between "Made in America" and "Assembled in America."
The distinction that is being made about what is "Made in America" is a subtle one. More accurate for many foreign nameplates with factories here is "Assembled in America". A significant part of the cost of a vehicle is in the assembly process (i.e. the factory workers who make $40-60K per year and use that money to buy things in their communities). An equally significant piece of the cost structure are the support functions that also help build Detroit. These are the engineering, purchasing, finance, and IT functions just to name a few. Thousands of these folks work for the auto companies and these jobs go away when volume drops just like the factory jobs. One of the differences between a foreign company and an American company is that these jobs - thousands of them - are here in the US - not in , or China, or Korea. Some of these companies may have a design center here and there but the vast bulk of their support groups are in their home country. So saying that a Japanese car assembled at a factory here in the US is just as American as a Chevy or Ford assembled in the US is not correct. The dollars traded within our communities by employees and families of the Detroit Three far exceed those traded by factory workers of foreign nameplates. in Flint and
Think about this for a minute. One day, when the volume and demand return for auto purchases again, every car company in the world will be making money. When profits are made, people get raises and maybe even bonuses. The support employees right up to the mid level managers may get a modest bonus in a good year - say $3 - 6K. They may use that money to build a new deck, put on a roof, replace the windows on their house, take a vacation - you name it - the point is they put that money back into the economy. The big guys with the bigger paychecks put more back into the economy and often donate more as well. Nearly 100% of the cultural centers in Flint and Detroit are due to the generosity from the folks who helped create great wealth from the auto industry.So when Toyota makes money, where does that wealth go? Right back to Japan.
Where a car is assembled is not the only measure of what constitutes "Made in America" and I would argue that the wealth and support of the US economy by a foreign car assembled in the US is dwarfed by an assembling a car anywhere in north America. Think about that next time you want to justify your support of the US economy by purchasing a Honda assembled in Ohio.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Expatriate Shawn Chittle provided this rare artifact — a Flint-made Helmac lint roller used to promote Michael Moore's Roger & Me.
Shawn writes: "Most were confiscated by Canadian customs when the marketing staff tried to take them to Toronto, where the film premiered more than 20 years ago on Saturday, Sept 9 at 9 p.m. Only a few of those lint rollers ever saw the light of day. In 2000 the company relocated to Georgia, and shortly after changed its name.
Randy Gearhart reflects on the romance of Flint...
I sometimes wonder how different my life would be today if I would have taken that job at Fisher Body Plant #2.
The year was 1969. I was home for the summer after my first year of classes at Michigan State. Although they weren’t doing much hiring at the time, I was able to get my foot in the door at the plant with the help of some of my dad’s co-workers. A job was mine if I wanted it. During orientation, however, I began to have second thoughts. When we took a break for lunch, I told GM, “thanks for the opportunity,” but I felt I needed to look for employment elsewhere.
I heard that A.M. Davison might be hiring, so I headed downtown to check things out. Well, they were—and they hired me. My job was selling suits, shirts, and ties on the second floor of the upscale men’s clothing store. Little did I realize, however, that I had not only found myself a summer job, but I was about to find a wife, also.
Most of the time, I brought my lunch to work with me. But on the days I wasn’t brown-bagging, I would walk across the street to eat at the Carriage Room at Smith-Bridgman’s Department Store. The Carriage Room was located on the mezzanine—sandwiched between the store’s first and . The place had an atmosphere all its own. It had a low ceiling and was lighter and brighter toward the front—where the windows stretched from the street upward—but got progressively darker toward the back of the long, narrow room. The place was almost always filled with people and noise—lots of noise. The conversation, the clatter of plates, ringing of glasses, and the chink of silverware was non-stop. Lunchtime at the Carriage Room was a study in controlled chaos. Move ‘em in, serve ‘em up, and move ‘em out—somebody was likely waiting for your seat.
The Carriage Room counter is where I met “that girl,” Debra Reburn. Debbi was a student at Ainsworth High School and was working as a waitress over summer break. Call it fate, fortune, or “the hand of the Lord”—whatever it was, our Carriage Room encounter changed the course of two lives forever. We were married June 24, 1972, at Bethany United Presbyterian Church—the eastside church I attended while growing up.
In celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary, my sister, Nancy, gave us the silver heart you see above. Those little store labels were carefully clipped from my late Uncle Ben’s ties. Today, they serve as a reminder of where our love and life together began—in the heart of a city called, “ Flint .”
(Oh, in case you wondered, I’m really, really glad I didn’t take that job at Fisher #2.)
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Joe Lawlor of The Flint Journal reports:
"Former Mayor Don Williamson worked for $1 per year for the entire time he was in office. Now that he has resigned, he wants about $500,000 in back pay, in addition to the $115,000 he already received in retirement money.
"When asked by The Flint Journal whether critics would view him as being hypocritical, the former mayor said he didn't care."'I don't give a (expletive) what they think,' said Williamson, who resigned effective Feb. 15."
Friday, February 20, 2009
Sorry I couldn't come up with any footage of that reverse spin out Rockford always used to turn around.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
It appears the Detroit River beaver we've come to love may have swam over from the Canadian side of Lake St. Clair where beavers are known to hang out, according to John Hartig, the Detroit River refuge manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"Why this beaver made the journey to the Detroit Edison intake canal is a mystery," writes John Gallagher in The Detroit Free Press. "It may have faced danger at its earlier site or simply gone in search of food. There are poplar trees at the Edison site, which happen to be a favorite source of bark for beavers."
Wait a minute. This beaver faced something so dangerous in Canada that he moved to Detroit? Man, there must been some craziness going on at the beaver lodge for this guy to give up free healthcare and the lower drinking age, eh?
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Not that it means a lot to Flint in terms of jobs, but it appears the Buick brand has survived the downsizing at G.M. Saturn and Pontiac weren't so lucky, if that's the right term in this situation.
Micheline Maynard of The New York Times reports:
G.M. said Tuesday that it would phase out its Saturn brand by 2012. It does not plan to develop any more new vehicles for Saturn, which began 19 years ago as an effort to attract owners of small Japanese cars.
G.M. also said it was considering its options for the Pontiac division. The Pontiac name, part of the car business since 1932, could remain on some models, but may no longer be a separate division. G.M. said Pontiac would be a “focused brand” with fewer models.
The disclosures by G.M., contained in a viability plan submitted to the government, means that G.M. plans to cut its brands in half, to four: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC.
In loving memory of the Pontiac Trans Am...
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Jobs may be disappearing and the population plummeting, but at least beavers are returning to Detroit.
CBC News reports:
For the first time in perhaps a century, a beaver has been discovered living in Michigan's Detroit River.
Workers at Detroit Edison's Conners Creek power plant on Detroit's east riverfront caught images of the animal in November, using motion-sensitive cameras, the Detroit Free Press reported Monday.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services authorities say it's been between 75 and 100 years since a beaver was last seen in the river.
"It's part of that larger story of ecological recovery," John Hartig, the Detroit River refuge manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, told the paper.
Bill Vlasic and Nick Bunkley of The New York Times report:
"G.M., Ford and Chrysler have eliminated a total of 120,000 manufacturing jobs in the last three years. And now the cuts are drastically thinning the ranks of white-collar professionals, turning the once-bustling office towers of the companies into half-empty monuments to better days.
"G.M. delivered another blow last week when it said it would reduce its global salaried work force by 14 percent, or 10,000 workers this year. In the Detroit area, that could mean an additional 3,000 workers will be out of a job by May 1. G.M.’s next round of white-collar cuts will not include buyouts. Chrysler has not said whether it plans more cuts.
"The Detroit area housing market, already deeply depressed, has plummeted since the buyouts. In January, the foreclosure rate increased 102 percent from the same month a year earlier in Oakland County, Mich., home to a huge number of G.M. and Chrysler employees."The state’s unemployment rate was 10.6 percent in December and continues to climb. Job fairs routinely create mob scenes, drawing thousands of out-of-work employees of the Big Three and their suppliers."
Monday, February 16, 2009
1. Go to the Powers website and update your contact information. This will get you on the mailing list and, of course, make it easier for the school to kindly ask you for a donation.
2. You could actually donate money to the school. There are several options, but one of the easiest is donating to the Annual Appeal. Just drop a check in the mail. Address it to Powers High School, G-2040 W. Carpenter Road, Flint, MI, 48505.
If this sounds like a great idea to you, please stop reading and go write that check!
If you are saying "Young has lost his mind if he thinks I'm giving any more money to that (pick your favorite Flint expletive and insert here) school," then please read on...
Now I know there may be a few things about Powers that make you reluctant to donate your hard-earned cash during a recession. I still harbor a few grudges myself. Let's see, there was the extremely unsympathetic math teacher who unsuccessfully tried to have me impeached as student body vice president, partly because the Dupont Street bus made me late for various meetings. That was sure a fun learning experience. And there was the vice-principal who once tried to humiliate me in front of a class because I hadn't worn socks that day. And there was the English teacher who almost failed me because I didn't take notes — my personal class notes, I should add — neatly enough. And the French teacher who...okay, I should stop now. You get the idea. I'm sure all you Catholic school veterans out there have your own lists.
My point is that I've set aside all of those petty grievances. In fact, I hardly ever even think about these indignities anymore. For the past 20 years or so, I've gladly sent off a small donation to Powers each year. (Well, to be totally accurate, my mom sent off the donation in my name for about 10 years. And then called repeatedly to remind me to send it myself for the next ten. And it's always been a very small donation.)
So while I'm hardly a good model for charitable giving, I know that I don't want Powers to be another Flint institution that just disappears like so many others. I don't want to be alarmist but like a lot of things in Flint Powers seems to be struggling.
Enrollment is hovering around 600, which is about half the size it was when I graduated. The fact that Powers didn't raise the money to relocate tells me that fundraising efforts are not going well. (For example, during last year's Annual Appeal, the class of 1984 had two donors out of 254 graduates. This might be payback for the school threatening to cancel our class trip because of our bad behavior but, again, let's not dwell on the negative.)
And remember, there were things we loved about Powers. Personally, I really liked spending almost an entire quarter in Felix Lehmkuhle's class chasing butterflies behind the school with big nets. And it was great when the band would march through the hallways playing at full volume before pep rallies. And Goffe Gumbs and Tim McVey were two of the greatest coaches I ever had, partly because they could actually play soccer better than any one on the team.
So come on, cough up a few bucks for Powers. It's tax deductible.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
John D. Stoll and Sharon Terlep report:
Corp., nearing a federally imposed deadline to present a restructuring plan, will offer the government two costly alternatives: commit billions more in bailout money to fund the company's operations, or provide financial backing as part of a bankruptcy filing, said people familiar with GM's thinking.
The competing choices, which highlight GM's rapidly deteriorating operations, present a dilemma for Congress and the Obama administration. If they refuse to provide additional aid to GM on top of the $13.4 billion already committed they risk seeing an industrial icon fall into bankruptcy.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The puff piece begins:
Say goodbye to the combative, in-your-face, gruff mayor of Flint.Wow, I had the guy all wrong. He's a straight shooter. A maverick. You might even call him The Decider. Gosh, maybe we can convince him to come back and be mayor again.
Don Williamson is leaving office and it's unlikely Flint will ever see another mayor like him.
And he does things his way. During the past five years, Williamson has boasted a style that has brought strong opinions from the public. Simply put, people either love him or hate him.
There's no in between.
"He doesn't do the anticipated," said Joe Wilson, former Genesee County sheriff and Williamson's longtime friend. "There's nothing traditional with him including his background, education and associations. He's not the type to tell you what you want to hear and then talk behind your back. At least he tells you to your face."
Monday, February 9, 2009
• The Don rewards success at Kearsley Park by canning Kay Kelly and saying goodbye to a Ruth Mott Foundation grant.
• The Don gets city workers to mow his lawn.
• The Don uses city money to create a drag strip, despite the obvious liability issues that could cost Flint a bundle.
• The Don fires a cop who dares talk to the media. Then changes his mind.
• The Don gives the state and federal government economic advice.
• The Don arrests a paper boy for delivering bad news. Lawsuit follows.
Of course, this is just a partial list. For more good deeds by The Don, check out the Williamson Watch.
The Flint Journal reports:
Mayor Don Williamson announced today that he is "retiring," finally putting to rest weeks of speculation.
In an 11:20 a.m. news conference, Williamson cited health reasons for leaving office. His resignation is effective midnight Sunday. He took no questions from the media, and read from a prepared statement."Last month, I celebrated my third sinus infection in 13 months and my eighth kidney stone since Nov. 1. My doctors have told me that I should think about relaxing my schedule and reducing the demands on my time," said Williamson.
Flint Expatriate David Petersen is the creator of Mouse Guard, a thought-provoking comic about mice with names like Midnight and Saxon who live in a beautifully illustrated world based on medieval Europe. The A.V. Club has a great interview with Peterson, whose work has garnered him two Eisner Awards, where he talks about Flint's influence on his art and how to write for both kids and adults:
"John D. Schwab, executive vice president and chief credit officer, joined the company in November 2002 and oversaw the Flint-based bank holding company's credit approval and credit quality issues. He retires after 40 years in the banking business.
"Schwab's retirement follows the announcement late last month that Bill Hartman would retire as president and chief executive officer at the end of January and that Cathy Nash, who most recently headed regional banking for the company, was chosen to succeed Hartman."
The downward spiral of Citizens Republic Bancorp Inc. (CRBC) stock over the past three years.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Have you ever wondered if AutoWorld might have been something far more sinister than a harebrained redevelopment project?
Here's the Wikipedia description of Flint's biggest boondoggle:
"AutoWorld's first area was located inside a big dome. The insides were designed to look like Flint long ago. The first display that one encountered was a small cabin. Inside was a mannequin. When one pressed a red button on the outside of the cabin it kicked on a film that projected onto the mannequin's face. The mannequin was supposed to be Jacob Smith, founder of Flint. It would welcome the visitor to AutoWorld and talk about the beginning of Flint. In the center of the dome was a Ferris wheel, and nearby was a carousel and other attractions."And here's Charles Holland, a London Architect, describing another doomed artificial world:
"Westworld is set in a theme park called Delos which is divided into three historical zones: the Wild West, pre-Christian Rome and medieval Europe. Each zone is populated by robots who act as adversaries, sexual partners, drinking buddies or whatever else the human visitors require in order to have a good time. The guests — of whom there seem to be remarkably few — behave according to a crude, secondhand understanding of their chosen period, chasing after comely wenches in Medievalworld or starting barroom brawls in Westworld. Behind the scenes an army of technicians programme, monitor and repair the robots."Eerily similar, no? Perhaps if AutoWorld had comely wenches and served booze, it would have lasted longer. But anyone who's seen Yul Brynner's performance in the movie Westworld knows that things could have gone much worse at AutoWorld. Maybe we should be thankful that the place closed down before the robots escaped and hit the streets of Flint.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Here's the freakishly large stuffed bear — courtesy of Flint Journal photographer Bruce Edwards' flamboyant camera angle — in the lobby of the Character Inn c. 2005. Notice the smaller brown bear in the background, stage right. The big guy seems bemused, no doubt wondering how things came to this. One day you're minding your own business in the woods; a few months later you're trapped in Flint surrounded by red carpet and evangelical Christians in a room reminiscent of the L.L. Bean flagship store after a big sale. The dorm rats from UM-Flint would sure have fun with these props — how many shots of Jäger before you jump in the stagnant wading pool with Yogi? — but something tells me they'll be long gone before the students move in. Too many liability issues. Too bad.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Melissa Burden of The Flint Journal reports:
"Two new restaurants with 75 employees, managed and operated by longtime Genesee County restaurateur George Falaras, are coming to the Community Foundation Building on South Saginaw Street."WizeGuys Pizza Inc. and 501 Bar & Grill could be open within 90 days, said Falaras, 55, of Grand Blanc Township.
"That means downtown Flint is getting at least four new restaurants this spring. Full-service restaurant and bar Blackstone's Pub & Grill, 531 S. Saginaw St., should open by April, and Soyla's, a Mexican restaurant, is near opening in the new Wade Trim Building, 555 S. Saginaw St."
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
"The vacant Riverfront Character Inn is going to be turned into a giant home for Flint's growing number of college students.That's right, downtown may once again be filled with inebriated youngsters just like the good ol' days. Not only is this good news for Flint, but it allows me to post one of my favorite Flint-related YouTube videos for the third time.
"The nonprofit Uptown Reinvestment Corp. bought the 16-story former hotel Friday with plans to transform it into housing for local college students. A $20-million loan from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation is funding the purchase and planned renovations.
Eventually, the building will become home to 550 students and be called Riverfront Residence Hall, said Tim Herman, president of Uptown. It also could include classrooms, a game room, Internet cafe and meeting space in what is being termed a student living and learning center. The exterior of the building also will be updated, as will the heating and air-conditioning systems."
Monday, February 2, 2009
Do you sometimes find yourself longing for the days when America made something besides exotic financial derivatives? Well just sit back and enjoy this "capitalist realist" drama that shows what goes into making a Chevy. It was filmed in Flint just months before the U.A.W. won union recognition via the sit-down strike.
P.S. I should warn you that this is only the first part of this classic. It builds up to a tantalizing crescendo, then cuts you off. You can catch the rest on YouTube.