Blogs > It's Time To Take A Stand

Being a business theatre producer has allowed Brian the opportunity to meet and work with some very fascinating people from a variety of backgrounds which, in turn, has helped shape his knowledge and his opinions. His blog will not always be political, it will be about a lifetime of subjects, and nothing is off limits. “Few people have original thoughts, we are shaped by the people we know and meet” he says.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fixing the school system!

While schools struggle with budget demands and decreasing resources from the state, new challenges arise daily.

How to best serve students while maintaining a good working relationship with the MEA is one of the challenges facing school boards, escalating health care costs and building maintenance are others. Through most of the process, the students seems to take a backseat in many districts.

How to maintain the swimming pool quality, how to pay to resurface the football field or add new tennis courts were priorities during the late nineties and at the turn of the century. How to evaluate teacher performance has been a hot topic lately without a solution. How do we put students first is a priority.

The main ingredient necessary to a healthy quality education, along with good teachers, in my opinion, is parental involvement and disipline. These areas have been made more difficult with the current economy and have been battered and abused by a legal system that is hell bent on political correctness and is a casualty of our legal system.

While some disricts are looking at a state takeover, most of it can be avoided with better parental involvement. Parental involvement is an area that is taken for granted and is so important, but no one seems to be attempting to get parents more involved.

I know that many are struggling to make ends meet and that some parents have two or three jobs but a parent being involved in a child's education is one of the most critical elements in a child's development. It doesn't take much time, mostly an interest in their daily activities. If you can, drop by the school unannounced and stop by and watch the teacher's activities for 5 or 10 minutes. Parents who are able to attend field trips make a lasting impression on young minds. I am not suggesting doing their homework, I am suggesting listening to your student and become active in their education.

How to evaluate teacher performance is another area in which there never seems to be a solution. I would like to offer one idea for consideration, taken from the JD Powers playbook.

Why not have the students and their parents evaluate teachers? Much like JD Powers does for car companies, hotels, travel companies, etc..., send out an anonymous survey to students and families and get their opinions and have them score the teaching staff. Have the people with the most to lose or gain evaluate the teachers.

The currently used MEAP tests are under suspicion as to their validity. Some teachers teach for the test and waste a couple of weeks of a students time instead of teaching their curriculum.

Instead of MEAP test or in addition to the tests, why not ask the students and their parents?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanks to the Ladies of Kedzie

Good things have happened since Rich Rodriquez became coach of the U of M Wolverines. For me anyway. I became a Michigan State Spartan football fan.

Then the ladies of Kedzie invited their parents to a pre-game tailgate party for the final game of their final year. It was their way of saying “thank you” to their parents for support for the last four years. Seniors all of them, it was a spectacular Michigan Saturday weather wise when the Penn State Nittany Lions came to East Lansing to challenge the Michigan State Spartans. A great time was had by all and they even let me win a game of Beer Pong.

So what is so important about the ladies of Kedzie and why am I writing about them? They are not going to be the Real Housewives of East Lansing after they graduate. They are four young ladies who belong to the Phi Sigma Pi Honors Fraternity and host pre-game activities for their friends, tailgate party if you wish. Their fraternity does fund raising events throughout the year and all fraternity members and their families are asked to support them. And they do. This semester they have raised over $2,000 for organizations-both local and national- like Teach for America, Help a Willing Kid Foundation (HAWK), and Multiple Sclerosis Michigan Chapter.

So I take my hat off to the ladies of Kedzie and thank them for their continued community support and a wonderful Saturday. Unfortunately, the Spartans lost but it was still a great day. Thanks to all of the Ladies of Kedzie and keep up the great work.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Politics as Usual or Real Transparency!

"The American people want a Congress that is open and accountable to the people it serves. Previous majorities, Republican and Democratic alike, have failed to meet this standard, and the current majority has taken the abuse to new heights. It's time to change the way Congress works by opening the process up and putting it all on the web, where Americans can follow what their government is doing." - House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH)

See for yourself, go to:

Too often we believe these guys when they say they are going to change. They have said it before. They will say it again. Whether we are gullible enough to believe them again is for you to decide. Are we to believe that because they are not in power that they want real transparency? They didn’t want it when they had the power, they wanted the status quo. What has changed to make it believable now? We have nothing to lose by pressing our Senators and Congressmen and women to pass these five steps to have transparency in government.

Five steps that our elected officials do not have the courage to pass:

1 – Read the Bill – Put all bills online for at least 72 hours before they come to a vote. (Actually it should be 2 weeks, not 72 hours)

2 – Ban “Phantom” amendments. Require committees to post bill text online within 24 hours of adoption. (This should be 72 hours)

3 – Show the votes. Post Members’ committee votes online within 48 hours.

4 – Open Health Care Negotiations to the Public. Prevent secret deals behind closed doors and ensure a full and open debate.

5 – Bring Sunlight to the Rules Committee. Allow cameras in the secretive Rules Committee, which decides which bills come to a vote.

Is this just some more political rhetoric or is this finally going to happen? Talk is cheap and seeing is believing, until then I will remain an independent voter.

That is my stand, what do you think?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Who's afraid of Sarah?

Most Democrats, some Republicans and many in the mainstream media dismiss her without much thought but why?

As Sarah Palin begins her book tour, the media has been full of opinionators falling over themselves ready to dismiss and disspell her. They are attempting to minimize her impact and possibly derail her political aspirations. And the more they try, the more power they are inadvertently granting her.

When the Associated Press assigns 11 research writers to verify content of her biography, you know they are attempting to neutralize her. They didn't even research books by Newt Gingrich, Barack Obama or Bill Clinton, so why are they so fearful of Sarah? What does she have that no one else has? Why are they running scared? Does she have typos in her book? OMG!!!

I will tell you. Although I haven't yet read her book, I don't need to read it to understand her motives and her agenda. She is a fresh, honest, down to earth, normal person, much like most citizens. She has common sense and the ability to attract many more people to her than her detractors can.

So why are they afraid of her? She is about to expose their gig. She has the ability to generate more publicity than Obama. The media is afraid that their blind support of Obama will be exposed. That their hidden and not so hidden agendas will be brought to light for what they are.

Her detractors will say she is a quitter because she resigned as governor of Alaska without hearing her reasons. Sure, they listened but did they hear. I think not.

Most interviewers are trying to minimize her by asking stupid questions! Does anyone really care what Levi Johnson thinks or says? He is a 19-year old for God's sake. Did the Katie Couric interview embarrass you? Instead of asking her policy questions, they ask her silly questions.

Channel surfing the other day, I came across TV personalties on The Insider discussing Sarah Palin and couldn't believe the venom being spewed. Don't know who they were and really don't care to know but that kind of obvious hatred does not belong on TV. I made a note to myself to never watch that program.

The real reason so many are dismissing Sarah is that she has the ability to take this country back from professional politicians and they are running scared. Government does not have to be complicated, it is just made that way to guarantee job security. Make it simple for all to understand and you will win.

Go Sarah Palin! That is my stand!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Red Shirt Fridays

I was sent this email and I thought it was an interesting concept.

If the red shirt thing is new to you, read below how it went for a man...

Last week, while traveling to Chicago on business, I noticed a Marine sergeant traveling with a folded flag, but did not put two and two together..

After we boarded our flight, I turned to the sergeant, who'd been invited to sit in First Class (across from me), and inquired if he was heading home.

No, he responded. Heading out I asked?

No. I'm escorting a soldier home.

Going to pick him up?

No. He is with me right now. He was killed in Iraq, I'm taking him home to his family.

The realization of what he had been asked to do hit me like a punch to the gut. It was an honor for him. He told me that, although he didn't know the soldier, he had delivered the news of his passing to the soldier's family and felt as if he knew them after many conversations in so few days.

I turned back to him, extended my hand, and said, Thank you Thank you for doing what you do so my family and I can do what we do.

Upon landing in Chicago the pilot stopped short of the gate and made the following announcement over the intercom.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to note that we have had the honor of having Sergeant Steeley of the United States Marine Corps join us on this flight He is escorting a fallen comrade back home to his family. I ask that you please remain in your seats when we open the forward door to allow Sergeant Steeley to deplane and receive his fellow soldier. We will then turn off the seat belt sign."

Without a sound, all went as requested. I noticed the sergeant saluting the casket as it was brought off the plane, and his action made me realize that I am proud to be an American.

So here's a public Thank You to our military Men and Women for what you do so we can live the way we do.

Red Fridays.

Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing Red every Friday. The reason? Americans who support our troops used to be called the "silent majority." We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home in record breaking numbers. We are not organized, boisterous or overbearing.

Many Americans, like you, me and all our friends, simply want to recognize that the vast majority of America supports our troops. Our idea of showing solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and respect starts this Friday -- and continues each and every Friday until the troops all come home, sending a deafening message that ... Every red-blooded American who supports our men and women a far, will wear something red.

By word of mouth, press, TV -- let's make the United States on every Friday a sea of red much like a homecoming football game in the bleachers. If every one of us who loves this country will share this with acquaintances, coworkers, friends, and family, it will not be long before the USA is covered in RED and it will let our troops know the once "silent" majority is on their side more than ever, certainly more than the media lets on.

The first thing a soldier says when asked "What can we do to make things better for you?" is. "We need your support and your prayers." Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example, and wear something red every Friday.

Check out their webste:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Who cares about... (write your own headline here)

There are things that are important and there are things that are a waste of time. Listening to talk radio today or watching the news and tabloid shows was enlightening beyond belief. For a producer to consider something important enough to put on the agenda it should be a worthwhile listen.

You would think that President Obama committed murder or something terrible. Why would anyone even care if President Obama bowed to someone or what Levi Johnson says or thinks about Sarah Palin? Why would you make a big deal about it. These are not important on any scale.

You would think we haven't a care in the world; that unemployment was non existent; the health care system wasn't a train wreck waiting to happen; that our car companies were making money hand over fist or that there was no corruption in politics. You would think that our school system is turning out grads at a 100% rate.

Media is driving our agendas on a daily basis and they have lowered program content standards to an all-time low. They are taking mediocrity to a new depths. I am not talking about conservative or the liberal media. They are all at fault. I am talking NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX. It is all about ratings. Fox "Fair and Balanced" may be more honest than most of them but they get on a subject and can't let it go. They hammer it to death and then hammer it some more. While the other major Networks take their orders from some other sources so they don't offend anyone. They ask their softball questions. It is absolutely disgusting.

Let's concentrate on issues that are important and let's present both sides of an issue without trying to be an opinionator.

That is my stand, what do you think?

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Party of KnoW!

Learn a lesson from the Democrats when watching the Sunday Political shows. Learn how not to treat someone. Learn how to respect differing opinions.

While watching the Sunday Political shows, I noticed a trend. Whenever they had a Republican and a Democrat debating I was surprised how different each politician was. I watched how the Democrats rarely look the Republican in the eyes. They usually look straight ahead rather than look their opponent in the eyes. The Republicans, on the other hand, generally look their counterpart in the eyes whenever they can and address them directly, usually with some visible element of suggested respect.

The Democrats usually indicate that they are the party in power and act as if they were given free reign to dismiss everyone. They have their own agenda and the hell with the rest of the country.

The Republicans seem lost as to what to do. They are leaderless with John Boehner and Michael Steele at the helm. They should embrace the Party of KnoW. They should take it and run with it, use it to their advantage. Accept the fact that they KnoW how to listen, that they KnoW what the majority of citizens want and that they KnoW how to create jobs. Accept the Party of KnoW! as a charge, a battle cry, an advertising campaign. It is good to KnoW!

If you're not outraged at what is happening in Washington, D.C., you're not paying attention.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank a Veteran for our freedom

The below video was sent to me by my Canadian relatives and it reminds us to thank a veteran and that many veterans from many countries have contributed to freedom. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. Please watch the video and thank a Veteran today.

Term Limits - Good or Bad?

Some Michigan residents and possible political aspirants are taking the current budget and unemployment crisis as another example of why term limits don’t work. One just has to look at the current group of politicians in Lansing trying to put forth a balanced budget to see why.

It has been suggested that newly elected members of the government can’t learn how to do their jobs in 6 or 8 years, that government is too complex.

It has also been suggested that we have a constitutional amendment to eliminate term limits. If term limits are not working, the question then becomes why? Is it because government is too complex and having term limits is like having novices attempting to address complex issues. Is the only solution to eliminate them? That is like having a splinter in your finger and cutting off your hand to get rid of the splinter.

We got term limits because Michigan citizens finally woke up and realized that politicians were feeding off the government trough without having to put in much effort.

The people of Michigan voted for term limits in 1992 because they were disgusted at government waste, inefficiency and special interest. So let’s see if we can find a way to make them work. Most politicians would rather get rid of them so they can continue to feed off the taxpayers.

In order to address these complex government issues, maybe we should have a special educational process that newly elected politicians must attend. A three month crash course or series of seminars that all new incoming elected official must attend before taking their new positions. Not just a two day seminar. They should be graded and rated as to their particular strengths, weaknesses and interests. It should be run by a non-partisan group or university, which in itself could be a challenge. It should not teach positions or policy but rather concentrate on how to find knowledge in state government. How to administer and propose laws. How to hold citizen forums. How to effectively run a state government. And most importantly, how to listen to voters.

In order for an educational system to work, the institution should be changed every 5 years so its influence would be limited in scope. It could have non-partisan consultants, not lobbyists, available to any and all elected officials.

Then on the other hand, maybe we have to look at reducing the complexity of state government, make it more people oriented, put a little common sense back into the government process and get it out of the hands of lawyers and lobbyists.

Getting rid of Term Limits in Lansing is a bad idea. Making Term Limits in Washington would be a major improvement.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Political Correctness - Our Downfall!

When will we ever learn? We, as a society, have been forced to use political correctness in everything we do. Don't say this or that, it could offend someone. Don't do this or that, it could hurt some one's feelings. Don't report someone, it could cause bad feelings in the community. Don't answer questions with honest, truthful answers, you might offend a minority group.

Don't report a stressed out Muslim Army psychiatrist who spews anti-American propaganda because you might offend the Muslim community. This tragedy at Fort Hood, TX could have been averted if only we were not so damned concerned about political correctness. And it is not only in this instance.

Political Correctness (PC) has been around for too long and it keeps getting worse. There is not one organization that doesn't practice PC. A boss asks a subordinate a question and rather than give his or her honest answer, they give a PC answer. Ask a politician a question and see if you can get any kind of answer without the PC jumping out. 911 was a prime example of PC. Many people suspected something was going to happen but they were either afraid to report for fear of reprisals or for fear that they weren't being PC.

It is time to lose this BS PC crap. If you are not prepared for the answer, don't ask the question. If you are acting weird or saying things that might show your true colors, expect to be reported.

We bend over backwards trying not to offend anyone. If someone's actions offends your senses, take action to alert the authorities, scream it from the rooftops if you have to. Do whatever has to be done to avert another tragedy. Why do we always wait until after the fact to raise suspicions.

The silence of the Muslim Community is deafening about this recent tragedy. It makes you wonder just how much they approve or disapprove what Major Nidal Malik Hasan did. They should be denouncing this kind of hatred on every occassion.

Time to take a stand against PC.

Do you miss Lloyd Carr yet?

I have never been a fan of Rich Rodriquez? I didn't like the way he left his former job, I didn't like the way he had secret meetings in Toledo! I didn't like the way he handled his legal affairs with his former school. I didn't feel he was the right person for the job! As Coach Schembeckler always said, "We need a Michigan man to be the coach of a Michigan Team."

I will admit that I was not happy with Lloyd Carr either. I was one of the people advocating his retirement. I never thought I would say I miss Lloyd Carr but "I miss Lloyd Carr."

Sure you are going to say, give Rodriquez some time. How much more time does one need to make a judgement? We need a Michigan man.

I want to throw a name in the hat right now. Jim Harbaugh! Former Schembeckler prodigy, former Michigan Wolverine quarterback, a quality person and a quality coach.

Look what he has done with Stanford? Two years ago, his team beat #2 USC and they weren't even ranked at the time. Yesterday, his team beat #7 Oregon, 51 - 42. Stanford is not normally a team that wins many games. They haven't been eligible to be in a bowl game in 7 years. He has openly stated that he wants to coach the Wolverines. He should be the next Wolverine coach and it should happen soon.

That is my stand.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Taking back our country

How? Change how we financed political campaigns. The first step is to elect all new representatives who have the good of the country as their primary interest, not their own good and personal agendas.

Looking at the primary contributor to corruption in our government has to be money and power or power and money. Either way, it is the same results.

When a candidate collects over $1 Billion to get elected and spends it buying his own cable channel, you have to admit that spending is out of control.

We need to set limits on how much can be spent on election campaigns and how much can be collected. This should also include how much PACs can spend as well.

Here is an idea. For Presidential campaigns set a limit of $100 million. Surely, that should be enough to get your message out. If each campaign is given a limit of $100 million, again including both party spending, PAC spending, basically all spending in the candidate’s name. It would be like a salary cap in sports. You better learn to manage it properly or run out of money early. Visit a state and make it count. There is no need to visit a state 20 times to raise funds.

On Senatorial campaigns: Limit it to $10 million to reach the people of one state.

House of Representative campaigns: Limit $5 million to reach the people of each district.

What would be the outcome of such limits? More and better qualified candidates from which to select. Candidates would learn to spend wisely on their campaigns, which could translate into managing government budgets efficiently.

While we are doing this, we should limit the time campaigns can take. If you are running for President, you should not be able to declare your candidacy until July 4th of the year preceding the election. Make July 4th mean something beside a day off for most people. This would enable each candidate to spend much less than a four year campaign

If we get the money out of politics, we will take back our country from these professional politicians.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Vote NO on Huron Valley Millage Increase

In 1999, I voted against the Huron Valley millage increase, even though my kids attended the schools in the district. We were told that it was important to update our two high schools in order to remain competitive. We were told that the two swimming pools and the fitness facilities would be self sustaining. We were told that the millage increase would be for ten years only. We were told that our taxes would be reduced in ten years. We were told that the kids needed a new gymnasium. At Lakeland High School, they reduced the parking lot to add tennis courts that are rarely used to capacity. The list goes on.

Sure they call it a "Renewal" not an increase but it should be a "Decrease" and since it is not a decrease, it is therefore an "Increase". A rose by any other name will still have thorns.

I do value and am thankful for the education my kids received from Huron Valley schools and know that the teachers are a great resource and value. But you can receive a great education in most places as long as the parents are involved in their kids education. I know some great kids who went through the Pontiac school system and their parents were deeply involved and these kids turned out great. It doesn't take swimming pools, new gymnasiums, tennis courts, new football playing field with a $40,000 "L" at center field to make a great school. It takes commitment from the teachers, the parents and the community.

Recently the Oakland Press took an editorial stand supporting the millage renewal for Huron Valley. I think they erred in their judgement. Vote NO on millage renewal. I will and that is my stand.