Editorial Roundup: Michigan

Detroit News. April 6, 2024.

Editorial: Claw back grant used to buy $4,500 coffeemaker

Let’s put in perspective that $4,500 coffeemaker purchased by a politically connected recipient of a $20 million state economic development grant.

While it’s a teeny drop in the $80.7 billion state budget, the purchase price of the fancy brewer took every dime of the state income taxes paid by two median income Michigan households, based on a Forbes analysis of the state tax burden.

So, two families worked an entire year so Fay Beydoun could sip only the finest cup of Joe.

Beydoun is a Democratic donor and appointee of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer who in 2022 secured a $20 million grant for an entity that didn’t even exist when lawmakers approved the expenditure.

In fact, Beydoun didn’t even have a complete business plan for Global Link International, which was supposed to be a business accelerator to bring jobs and investment into Michigan. And still the Legislature gave her the money.

No bank would have been so cavalier in its lending practices.

The grant smacked of cronyism from the beginning, given Beydoun’s connections and the fact that the $20 million came as a direct payment from the Legislature that bypassed the normal grant-making process.

Beydoun was on the executive committee of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which is supposed to oversee the grant. The Detroit News reported Beydoun has spent $800,000 of the first $10 million installment of the grant. Along with the fancy coffee pot, Beydoun also spent $408,000 over three months on salaries and one employee; $11,000 on a single plane ticket to Budapest (a first-class coffee drinker can’t be expected to fly coach), and $100,000 to sponsor an event by a Michigan business founders group.

She was executive director of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce in Dearborn when she received the grant. Officials of the business group are still asking questions about why the money went to her instead of the chamber.

It’s a good question.

The $20 million Beydoun received was part of a shadowy, closed-door $1 billion spending spree by the Legislature at the end of the budgeting process. The governor and lawmakers decided to spend the surplus funds rather than return the money to taxpayers.

Even while they were pork-barreling, Whitmer was busy clawing back a miniscule income tax break triggered by the influx of excess funds.

Now, she should direct lawmakers and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which oversees the grant, to retrieve any money Beydoun hasn’t spent from the first $10 million and stop payment on the second installment.

The purpose of the grant is still poorly defined, and whatever it turns out to be, Beydoun does not appear to have put together an adequate infrastructure for carrying it out.

Her early stewardship of taxpayer dollars has been dismal. She shouldn’t be allowed to spend any more of it on expensive appliances, or anything else.

And taxpayers should remember how their money was misused the next time the governor and Legislature come around asking for more.


Traverse City Record-Eagle. April 4, 2024.

Editorial: Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing

We live in a wondrous place. Even in the heart of “the city,” you don’t have to go far to see the stars, or to feel like you’ve escaped into the wild.

We cherish our resident nature, but our species is prone to blunder — and sometimes little errors get amplified.

Hard to imagine that our mighty oaks can be felled by a blackish-bronze beetle the size of an earring stud. Or that we lay out the welcome mat for the disease that can kill trees within weeks with unthinking acts like pruning branches out of season or bringing firewood from one place to the next.

But our oaks are vulnerable in the spring, as oak wilt — a beetle-borne fungal disease — typically spreads between April 15-July 15. The disease shows its colors as summer progresses, with trees wilting from the top down, dumping leaves both brown and green.

Sap-sucking beetles spread the spores through tree wounds, and it also spreads from tree to tree through interconnected root systems. Once a tree or stand gets oak wilt, the dead and downed wood can spread it for up to a year.

And, there is no cure.

Our state is holding the northern border of the oak-wilt line, as it so far has stopped at the 46th parallel, according to the U.S. Forest Service. It’s throughout Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and in the Upper Peninsula’s Dickinson, Iron and Menominee counties, and 24 other states. As ever, scientists are racing to come up with ways to contain it, as warming climate is expected to soften those borders and march the disease up into the forests of Canada.

But there’s plenty we can do — or in this case, not do.

When that spring yard work itch kicks in, check the calendar before you dust off those pruners — especially in May and June when infection rates peak, according to Michigan State University researchers. The state prohibits logging red oak on public land April 15-July 15, and asks private landowners to suspend logging during the same period.

If you suspect an infection, call the MSU Diagnostic Clinic at 517-355-4536 or visit MichiganOakWilt.org

Today’s Record-Eagle GO section offers a number of tips we can do to protect our natural resources this spring, from boat washing to avoiding hiking around muddy spots in the trails.

But to preserve our oaks, the best thing we can do is to put our feet up and enjoy the view for a while.


Mining Journal. April 5, 2024.

Editorial: Bills that would regulate tobacco sales supported

Although we suspect a lot of people are not going to be happy about it, we support measures working their way through the State Legislature that would allow counties to tighten enforcement of what tobacco products can be sold there.

The Senate bills in the Regulatory Affairs Committee would require tougher rules for tobacco sellers, according to the Michigan Association for Local Public Health.

For the first time, the legislation would ban all sales of flavored tobacco products, require tobacco retailers to be licensed and tax e-cigarettes and vapes containing nicotine.

Bills would also repeal ineffective penalties that punish youth for possessing tobacco products, according to the legislation.

Sen. Sue Shink D-Northfield Township, a sponsor of one of the bills, said, “It is part of a larger package that is designed to address the crisis of young people being addicted to flavored vapes.”

In Michigan, youth use of e-cigarettes is about 50% higher than the national average, according to Shink.

You read that right — 50 percent.

Dave Hodgkins, the legislative associate for state and federal affairs for the Michigan Municipal League, said the organization, which represents cities and villages, supports the legislation.

“Local control is important because it ensures the ability, the balance, the needs, interests and safety of all residents in their respective communities,” he said.

To us, increasing local control has a huge upside, namely the people who are most directly affected by the situation have much easier access to governmental decision makers.

We hope this passes and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs it into law postehaste.