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Here’s what the Michigan Constitution says about state aid to private schools:

No public monies or property shall be appropriated or paid or any public credit utilized, by the legislature or any other political subdivision or agency of the state directly or indirectly to aid or maintain any private, denominational or other nonpublic, pre-elementary, elementary, or secondary school. No payment, credit, tax benefit, exemption or deductions, tuition voucher, subsidy, grant or loan of public monies or property shall be provided, directly or indirectly, to support the attendance of any student or the employment of any person at any such nonpublic school or at any location or institution where instruction is offered in whole or in part to such nonpublic school students.

That’s about as clear as could be.

John Auchter / WWW.AUCHTOON.COM

A common question these days is, "How did it come to this? How did we end up with these presidential candidates?" The simplest answer is, "It's our fault." Would a curious, engaged, and active electorate have generated the current tickets? Probably not.

For many years, few people paid any attention to the politics of Michigan Supreme Court justices. Nor were elections for the state’s highest court usually exciting.

That’s because there used to be a presumption that judges were more or less above politics, and that once on the bench, they should remain there as long as they were honest and competent, until the magic age of 70, after which, under the Michigan Constitution, they may finish a current term, but are no longer eligible to run again.


If this election follows the familiar pattern, Donald Trump will lose Oakland County, Michigan’s second-largest and easily most affluent county, and lose it badly.

Oakland was once reliably Republican. But the party’s move to the right on social issues hasn’t played well with largely highly educated Oakland voters, especially professional women.


Have you ever wondered what would happen if a President of the United States went stark raving mad? As in, thinking he or she was an eggplant?

Actually, there IS a system to deal with that. As I understand it, all that would have to happen would be for the vice president and a majority of the cabinet to sign a declaration that the president was not competent, and send it to Congress.


Flickr user Gage Skidmore / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Donald Trump’s trashing again this week of Ford Motor Company and Michigan’s economy isn’t playing well with state business leaders. That’s at least two reasons why many of them are choosing to sit out this year’s bizarre presidential race.

The Detroit News caused quite a stir this week when it endorsed Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson for president.

The newspaper, which was founded in 1873, has never endorsed anyone except a Republican for the nation’s highest office, though on three occasions, including the contest between George Bush and John Kerry in 2004, it hasn’t endorsed anyone.

But do such endorsements matter?

John Auchter / WWW.AUCHTOON.COM

In 2009, more than 11,000 untested rape kits were discovered in Detroit's abandoned crime lab. Rape kits contain the physical evidence of a victim's sexual assault. When processed, the DNA data generated can be used not only to bring perpetrators to justice, but also to add this information to a national database of sex offenders.

Courtesy Ed McDonald / Flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Arnold Palmer was born on the cusp of the Great Depression in Western Pennsylvania. His father, Deke, had been the greens keeper at Latrobe Country Club, advancing to club pro when Arnold was four.

A club pro has to listen to every member of the country club like they’re the most important person in the world. According to John Feinstein’s classic book, A Good Walk Spoiled, that’s a habit Arnold learned, too. Whether he was talking to a young professional, the hundredth fan that day, or, heaven forbid, a reporter, Palmer made eye contact, every time, and made the other person feel like they were a valued friend.

Democrats are liberals, and Republicans conservatives, right?

We usually talk and think about the major parties that way, as if they were two different flavors of ice cream.

Republicans are red raspberry; Democrats, blueberry.

Republicans want lower taxes and fewer services; Democrats higher taxes and more services.

Democrats are pro-choice; Republicans anti-abortion, et cetera, et cetera.


If Donald Trump is to be elected President, he almost certainly has to win either Michigan or Pennsylvania.

If Trump carries every state Mitt Romney won and adds Ohio, Florida and Iowa, he still loses – unless he can take Michigan or Pennsylvania away from the Democrats.

So far this year, polls show he may have a better chance here.

Hillary Clinton leads in Michigan, but by less than in Pennsylvania and by far less than President Obama won the state either time. But Republicans in Congress are now doing something that may torpedo any chance Trump has of flipping this state this year.

Macomb County resident Julie Baumer volunteered to care for her sister’s unwanted baby thirteen years ago. She was a 27-year-old mortgage broker who was engaged to be married and had a full life, but she didn’t want the little boy to be put up for adoption.

But a few weeks later, she took the baby to the hospital, where doctors discovered a lot of blood on his brain. She was suspected of violently shaking the baby.

As everyone knows, the first presidential debate since the primaries is tonight, the first head-to-head clash between the two least popular presidential nominees ever.


The Tesla Model S, first introduced in June 2012
Tesla Motors

Tesla’s legal challenge to Michigan’s dealer franchise laws exposes the hypocrisy of the state’s theoretically enlightened take on the transforming auto industry. Enlightenment has its limits.

Here’s the epicenter of the U.S. auto industry, the repository of enormous engineering talent, falling all over itself to lead the autonomous-vehicle bandwagon to master mobility to beat Silicon Valley at its own game.

How’s this idea: In an effort to please an old-fashioned, shrinking industry, we outlaw efforts to sell a new product in an innovative way?

Instead, we’ll make anyone who wants this product drive to Chicago or Cleveland to buy it.

That ought to help Michigan become economically competitive again.


Textbooks
Danny Nicholson / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Now that the teachers and students are back in school, I can’t resist turning my attention to school sports, one of my favorite subjects.

I am a proud 1982 graduate of the Ann Arbor Public Schools. I can still remember the name of every teacher I ever had. Almost all were very good, and I had more truly exceptional teachers than anyone has a right to expect. I’m still in touch with many of them.

Auchter's Art
JOHN AUCHTER / AUCHTOON.COM

Listen, if you got yourself a big ol’ pot of roiling outrage going right now, I’m not the one to tell you to take it off the heat.

It’s election season and who am I to talk you out of the delicious indulgence of indignation? I’m an editorial cartoonist, for crying out loud!

There are bitter disputes over many aspects of education these days, but there is widespread agreement that how well children are reading by the time they finish the third grade is the best way we have of predicting their future success.

We also know this: In Michigan, things are bad and have been getting worse.

Thirteen years ago, this state ranked 28th in fourth grade reading proficiency. Now, we are 41st, and the Education Trust-Midwest estimates that soon we will be 48th.

You might think, some days, that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were actually running for president of Michigan.

Trump has been to the state repeatedly, and will be in nearby Toledo for the second time in the last few weeks today.

Chelsea Clinton, the candidate’s only child, will be campaigning and fundraising in Lansing, Grand Rapids and Flint Thursday and Friday. You might think they are paying a lot of attention to one medium-sized state that has only 16 of the 270 needed electoral votes.

Years ago, I heard a young reporter ask an old editorial writer what the difference was between Republicans and Democrats.

The old guy said, “Democrats love big government, preferably controlled by and run from Washington. Republicans are in favor of smaller, less intrusive government, and local control,” he said, and then paused.

“Except, that is, when they’re not.”

The young reporter asked when that was. “Whenever local government does something they don’t want it to do,” the old cynic said. That was long before the Tea Party or Rick Snyder.

If you’ve been living in Michigan for a while, chances are that you have noticed a drop in the quality of services you are getting from local government. I’m not just talking about distressed cities like Detroit or Pontiac, I’m talking about everywhere.

Well, guess what. You think you are getting less because you are. Some of that has to do with the mentality that all taxes are bad, even when not levying them costs us more than the tax would, as is the case with the roads.


Donald Trump gets it wrong about Ford's Mexico move

Sep 17, 2016

Facts detailing how the global auto industry operates shouldn’t muck up the campaign between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Nor should they slow the candidates’ flailing efforts to score cheap political points in the industrial Midwest, right?

Yet, this week, Trump predicted the Dearborn automaker will “fire all of their employees in the United States” because it’s ending small car production in Michigan. And a CNN anchor actually asked Ford CEO Mark Fields whether the allegation is true.

Today, Detroit still has a lot of problems. But the city is out of bankruptcy. It is no longer crippled by huge debts and unfunded pension and benefit mandates.

The population loss has slowed to a trickle, the streetlights are on again, and Midtown is booming. But 11 years ago, Detroit was an entirely different place. White flight had been succeeded by black middle-class flight that was almost a stampede.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Who else thought when you first heard Basket of Deplorables: "That's the perfect name for a punk rock band"?

Well I definitely did, and it got me thinking.

Punk rock was in general a reaction to what rock and roll had become by the mid-1970s.

It had more or less bypassed its original audience: the young and the disaffected. Radio stations had become categorized, playlists were standardized, and established acts were given every advantage over the new and different.

Politically, the easy thing for the State Board of Education would have been to postpone a vote on guidelines for protecting transgender students until after November 8th.

State Board President John Austin, who has led the way on this issue, had every reason not to want this vote now.

He is up for reelection this year, he’s had some thoughts about running for higher office, and there’s a real threat that social and religious conservatives will try to put a target on his back because of his courageous stand against bullying.  

When news came yesterday morning that State Representative Peter Pettalia had died in a motorcycle crash, the first question everybody I knew asked was: Was he wearing a helmet?

Pettalia was a key player in the successful drive four years ago to repeal the law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets. Turns out that he was wearing a helmet at the time of the tragedy, which evidently was not his fault. The brutal fact is that if you are going to collide with a heavy, vast-moving vehicle, a motorcycle, unlike a car, offers almost no protection.

There’s a fascinating intellectual property rights war going on that may have big implications for anyone who has a business and is thinking about using a symbol in the public domain. 

If you drive around much, you’ve likely seen bumper stickers and T-shirts bearing the familiar diamond-shaped M-22 logo that designated a scenic highway in the Leelanau Peninsula.

I was a little surprised when Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette appealed the decision striking down the ban on straight-ticket voting to the U.S. Supreme Court.

I knew, of course, that the attorney general wanted straight-ticket voting outlawed.

He is a fiercely partisan Republican, and the GOP thinks with some reason that allowing straight-ticket voting hurts their candidates.

Flint paying price for red tape, politicking

Sep 10, 2016
Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The water crisis in Flint is giving the troubled city renewed attention and a jolt of economic opportunity. But two things are standing in the way: bureaucracy and politics.

Just ask Michael McDaniel. He’s the retired brigadier general in the Michigan National Guard who Mayor Karen Weaver hired last February to head the city’s Flint Action and Stability Team. He’s still waiting to be paid for the work he’s doing.

I am a little overweight. Not grossly fat, but I could certainly lose a few pounds. I could say this is because I was bullied as a child, because I heroically work too hard and don’t have time to eat properly, or because of my existential angst.

Actually, existential angst sounds like a good, all-purpose excuse for everything, especially given the current climate, political and otherwise. But the fact is that I am overweight because I eat too much and don’t exercise enough.

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