Sunday, May 20, 2007

An Army Against the Clock

David Ignatius, one of my favorite Washington Post columnists, has a thought-provoking column in today's Post about the nascent Iraqi Army.

Registration is required to read, but it's free.


Kettering or Mott, Private or Public, It's All Getting More Expensive

An interesting article from The Flint Journal here regarding the ever-increasing cost of higher education in Flint.

I suppose on some level it's reassuring that both Kettering University and Mott Community College, two schools that really couldn't be more different vis-a-vis their respective franchises and student bodies, are both seeing tuition hikes of 3%, but it's still distressing. Most everyone with a college degree has some debt (I certainly do) and I'd wager that most of those folks are more than willing to call it an investment in the future, like a mortgage, say.

But what's the breaking point? I don't know, I don't know that anyone does. But it worries me.

(Speaking of breaking points/signs of the apocalypse...)


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Go Directly to Jail, Do Not Pass Go

There is no question that the city of Flint faces the challenge of crime as well as economic hardships. Flint’s crime rate surpasses the national average in almost every felony. As the city tries to restore law and order, city administrators are forced to consider the practical realities which hinder their ability to provide crime prevention to the citizens of Flint. For instance, there is little space to house all who are arrested in Flint on a daily basis. Mayor Williamson’s solution is to open more jails. Makes sense. If there is not enough space then why not create more space. On the surface, the simplicity of this plan seems like pure genius. Many love this idea including the police who feel they are making a difference when the criminals they put in jail are not just walking through the jail’s revolving door, but are incarcerated till trial where they belong. However, this is deceptively simple.

While I support the jail being re-opened, the Mayor’s plan leads to uncertainty as to how long the jail will remain open. Like almost all of the Mayor's policies, the re-opening of the jail is not fully explained and the public is placated by his financial contributions to other similar programs. The reality is that the jail would require the employment of about 30 guards, upkeep on the facilities, and money to support the jail’s population. These costs could rise past $1 million per year assuming the guards are paid $30,000 a year. The fate of the jail depends upon the Mayor funding the facility and its staff from the Flint Auto Auctions o junkyards, but it is hard to believe that the auto auctions will be able to support the jails permanently considering they make on average about $500,000 a year.

All of his other solutions depend upon his continued monetary support. Where will we Flint be when he is no longer funning for mayor? Just like the mayor's dumpsters, which littered our streets when he was running for Mayor, the funds for the jail could dry up and leave the city in the unfortunate position of releasing prisoners and employees. This smells like a political stunt designed to win the Mayor votes in time for the campaign season and it would be irresponsible to rely on the Mayor’s patronage.

None of the Mayor’s plans are designed to rebuild our city. Instead of aiding that effort, he constantly struggles against those who are trying to build long-term, enduring solutions like the Genesee County Land Bank, Uptown Development Corporation, and the Mott Foundation. Really, the Land Bank is one of the only government agencies in Flint which has had success. Affordable downtown lofts, small businesses tailored to meet the demands of college students, and the rejuvenation of Flint neighborhoods can all be attributed to these actors. Political favors at election time are not going to be enough to fix Flint’s problems. If we want to rebuild our community we will have to do it from the ground up and avoid relying on the simple solutions. Putting criminals behind bars will help the city, but we must also work to support such a project financially. Plus, this alone will not save Flint. It will take a reinvigorated downtown built to support a diverse economy built off of our abundance of opportunities in higher education. Only by rebuilding Flint's workforce and securing jobs for the future will crime decrease. If there is anything that our community must take from Flint’s history, it’s that we cannot depend upon short-sighted visions for our community and we must focus on building long-term solutions that will endure the test of time.

- Keith

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Our First Member Profile...

Afternoon everyone, today it's our pleasure to introduce you to Keith Flynn, with an interview live from the Brown Sugar Cafe in lovely and scenic downtown Flint.

Okay, Keith, where are you from?
From the gorgeous city of Flint, MI.

Great, tell us a little bit about your education...
Well, I went to high school at the Valley School in Flint, graduated from Albion College in 2006 with a major in Political Science and Management. I'm currently enrolled at MSU Law, dual degree in Law and Industrial Labor Relations.

How long have you been with GCYD?
I've been with GCYD for five years now.

What do you hope for GCYD to accomplish going forward?
I want to see us become an enduring institution in Flint politics.

Sounds like a great goal, Keith. So, who do you like for President in 2008?
Right now I'm between Barack Obama and John Edwards and, boy, am I torn.

What does Obama have to do to win?
He needs to reveal more about what he wants to do specifically. Broad, rhetorical comments can energize voters but considering all the problems our nation is currently facing, Americans want real ideas of how to move forward.

Okay, looking back, who is your favorite President ever?

Short and to the point, a man of few words. So, what do you do for fun?
I golf, play tennis. I watch a lot of sports lately. I play video games. I'm a video gamer.

What's your favorite game?
Difficult... I'd say... The first Halo. I really liked that one.

You say you watch a lot of sports lately, what do you think the Tigers are going to do this season?
*psst*Win the World Series.

Alright Keith, we'll get you out of here on this: In three sentences, what does the future hold for Flint?
The future of Flint is the growth of high-tech industry, which will be built off of our strong higher-educational infrastructure. The challenge of today is to build our public school infrastructure so that all Flint citizens have access to the skills they need for Flint to grow and prosper. Flint needs to remember the past but in the process move in a completely different direction for the future.

Alright thank you Keith. Tomorrow, a sit-down with our Vice President, John Cherry.

A Hearty UAW Handshake...