|Jack Hall Blog|
|ESCANABA, MI--DECEMBER 19, 2014-2:09 A.M.|
It looks like we will all be voting in May to give ourselves a tax increase to fix Michigan's roads and bridges.
The Michigan Legislature approved a package of bills and resolutons early this morning to try to raise the $1.3 billion extra per year that governor says we need.
The proposal asks us to raise the state sales tax from 6-percent to 7-percent. That can only be approved by you and I at the ballot box. There are other changes to be made in this 11-bill package that change the way the gas tax is collected, but doesn't raise it by much.
It also has some Santa Claus gifts, in the spirit of Christmas. As an effort to get Democrats to go along, they agreed to restore the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income residents. This is a credit that gives many people more money than they paid into the state at tax time.
If you paid in, say $400, this credit could see you get a check for more than that. This credit was correctly, in my opinion, eliminated in 2011. Now it is back, giving people every dime they paid into the state government, plus extra money from the rest of us.
Yep, I know. I sound like Scrooge. But many people besides me feel that there's already enough money going to M-DOT and county road commissions to take care of the roads. But that money is not spent as frugally as it should be, and these road projects carry much-larger price tags than they should be.
As I write this blog, at 2:09 a.m., the legislature is still debating and voting on thse bills. Kind of reminds me of those disfunctional late-night votes under former Gov. Jennifer Granholm back in 2007. But there was one thing different this time.
As the clock struck midnight, the state lawmakers started singing Christmas Carrols. With our state rep Ed McBroom (R-Norway, pictured above) playing the piano and the horn. Nice!
|APPLETON, WI--DECEMBER 18, 2014-1:45 A.M. CT|
Vacations never last long enough.
You wait for a vacation for weeks, you count down the days, and then, it seems like they are over in the blink of the eye.
Well, I am here in Appleton after spending three and a half days down in the Chicago area.
I must do some more shopping on Thursday here, and in Green Bay. I have had a good time just relaxing in the hotel rooms, to be honest with you.
I must be getting old, because I was at my happiest just lounging around the hotel and doing very little. At those times, we are just watching TV at night, and I do some work on the RRN news/sports web sites when Becky goes into the bath tub for her very long bubble baths.
I like this LaQuinta Inn and Suites in Appleton. It is a very nice hotel, with TVs in the bedroom and living room. The wi-fi here is so good, and I love the location right on College Avenue near the Fox Mall.
In sports, I want to congratulate Escanaba's Chad Leisenring for his Michigan High School Football All-State Academic honors. He and Bessemer's Jess Mazzon were the only U.P. boys to get that honor for having such good grades. And the Lake Linden-Hubbell team was also honored.
This shatters that old stereotype of "dumb jock" and I am very proud of these kids!
|MUNDELEIN, IL--DECEMBER 17, 2014-1:11 A.M. CT|
Leave it to the Escanaba High School boys basketball team to do something special while I am on vacation.
The boys put up a whopping 105 points in a 105-69 whipping of the Houghton Gremlins Tuesday night in Houghton.
The Gremlins did a full-court press defense all night long, but it didn't help them as the Eskymos had numerous lay-ups and wide-open "threes" after thet beat the press.
Escanaba has an impressive group of guys, and even though they've only played three games, the Upper Peninsula should take notice of the Eskymos this season.
Also while I am on vacation, a sports controversy began brewing at Northern Michigan University.
NMU Wildcat Women's Basketball Coach Troy Mattson, frustrated that a girl from Wayne State University scored 27 points and grabbed 19 rebounds against his team, answered a question about that girl during his post-game press conference.
In it, Mattson accused Wayne State of cheating in its recruiting of Shareta Brown from the (Division One) University of Detroit. And Mattson said that none of the coaches would vote for Brown to get conference rewards because of that alleged cheating.
For those comments, NMU Athletic Director Forrest Karr has suspended Mattson for the next four games, and Mattson has submitted an official apology to Wayne State University.
Now, Mattson was the assistant men's basketball coach under Dean Ellis when I was an NMU student reporter back in the early 1990's. I never knew Troy to be anything controversial. To me, he always was honest, though, whenever I, or someone else, asked him a question.
Note that this Wayne State has seven of its 12 players, including Brown, as transfers from NCAA Division One schools. That is very unusual, and could lead some to believe that these young ladies are being recruited illegally to switch from their bigger schools to join the Wayne State roster.
But you have to have proof to say such things publically, and Mattson didn't have any.
Other than what's going on back home, I'm just having fun down here in the Chicago area. Everyone seems to be in the Christmas spirit as I walk from store to store!
|CHICAGO, IL--DECEMBER 16, 2014-12:22 A.M. CT|
It looked like they just didn't care.
The Chicago Bears played a rotten game against the New Orleans Saints here tonight. Chicago lost, 31-15, but that score is flattering to the Bears. The Saints sacked Jay Cutler seven times and he threw three interceptions.
But it wasn't all his fault.
The offensive line was awful. On one of the sacks, they had one guy and we had three, but their one guy was able to grab Cutler and knock him over. It was pathetic. And the fans throughout Soldier Field let the Bears team know just how they felt with loud boos. Our best player was Marietti, the kickoff returner!!! Our second-best player was the punter!! So, yes, we booed!
Were we bad fans? Maybe. But we spend over $100 for even the cheapest seats. A beer is $9.25 (no, I am too cheap for that). A hot cocoa is $11, but you do get to keep that lovely souvenir cup. A bottled water that we pay 69 cents for at Holiday is $4.50 here. Hot dogs are $6.25 (no....I did not!)
So, at those prices, we have a right to boo. And that's not because the Bears were losing, but because just looking down and watching them, the guys just walked up to the line of scrimmage, even when they were trying to come back in the fourth quarter. No intensity at all.
Having said that, I still enjoyed being at Soldier Field again...two weeks in a row. I didn't know I was going this time, so I didn't bring my camera. My phone takes lousy pictures. So, no photos to post!
Even though I got rained on, it was still special for me to be at an NFL game again.
It's just too bad that this game wasn't very "special".
|ELK GROVE VILLAGE, IL--DECEMBER 15, 2014-1:12 A.M. CT|
Ah, yes. Vacation. I am happy to be spending time with family for a few days. I am still updating our news and sports web sites every night, but otherwise, I am away!
One thing I am keeping an eye on, and all of you should be too, is this week's debate on how to fix Michigan's roads in the state legislature. I think this is a dangerous couple of days for our wallets and purses. That's because state house and senate members are under intense pressure from Governor Snyder, and from construction and business lobbyists, to do something.
That's what has me concerned. When state lawmakers get together at 10:00 at night to make public policy, bad things happened. The governor has made it clear that he wants tax increases to pump $1.2 billion extra dollars every year to fix Michigan's roads and bridges.
The problem is, there is no agreement on how to do that. Double the gas tax? Make it a lot more expensive to get our license plates renewed every year? Both? Changing road funding various formulas? None of the above? All of the above?
When someone is backed into a corner, decisions are made that might not be made under normal circumstances. These 110 state representatives and 38 state senators, some of whom will not be in office come January, have an enormous job to do this week.
And every one of us should watch it very closely. Because whatever they decide down there in Lansing this week will effect every single one of us in our pockets.
Oh, and on Monday Night Football down here in Illinois, it's GO BEARS!! Yes, I now the Bears are out of the playoffs. But I love Soldier Field and I still love my team!
|ESCANABA, MI--DECEMBER 12, 2014-2:51 A.M.|
So the thieves in Congress are at it again. They approved, with ony a few hours to spare before a government shutdown, a federal budget of more than a trillion dollars Thursday night.
This budget does not even try to cut spending. Our country is $19 trillion in debt, and all they do in Washington is keep spending even more money on everything. It's like a pinata at a Mexican party. When you break the pouch, the goodies fall down on you and everyone cheers.
That's what is happened Thursday night when conservative Republicans joined liberal Democrats to pass this budget to make sure there was no government shutdown. Personally, I would be pleased with a government shutdown. Because all government does is cause damage.
The bad thing is that there's almost no one in Washington now willing to make tough decisions to even slow down federal spending.
Some Republicans tried a couple of years ago with sequestration, and they were villified as being people who wanted to kill grandma and starve little kids. Now, everyone seems willing to let President Obama have his way. To spend billions of dollars on whatever he wants to spend it on, even though we don't have the money and have to keep borrowing it.
The bill is going to come due someday. Detroit went backrupt. Greece, Iceland, and others have gone belly-up. What says that the United States of America can't, too, someday?
|ESCANABA, MI--DECEMBER 11, 2014-2:27 A.M.|
An event was held Wednesday night at the Escanaba High School that allowed high school football players from our area to meet one-on-one with the coaches of seven different college coaches from across the Midwest.
The Recruit Night event was sponsored by the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association as a way for kids in our area to see what their options might be for playing football after they graduate from high school.
I saw kids from Rapid River, Munising, West Iron County, North Central, Crystal Falls Forest Park, and Bark River-Harris there.
It was truly a U.P.-wide event!
Thanks to Escanaba football coach Jim Hansen for organizing, and hosting, this.
It's possible that kids like Hunter Messersmith (BR-H), Lucas Bero (Rapid River), Lee Graff (Forest Park), Collin Immel (Munising), and Rob Granquist (NCA) might have made a positive contact with a future college coach at this event. Those are just a few of the guys that I saw there.
This also gave these NCAA-II and III schools a chance to tell U.P. kids about their campuses, their football programs, and their academic programs.
Ranging from Concordia College in the big city of Chicago, to the brand new program at Finlandia University up in Hancock. They were here, talking to and learning about U.P. kids.
Anything that we can do to get our kids noticed is a positive thing in my book.
|ESCANABA, MI--DECEMBER 9, 2014-3:09 A.M.|
Are you in the Christmas spirit? I guess I am, a little earlier than usual.
Hearing Christmas songs playing on the radio as I drive around town makes me smile.
I even bought a couple of gifts on-line tonight...and this is the first time that I have ever bought a Christmas gift over the Internet.
I think that this time, I want to really enjoy the holidays, and do what I can to help my friends and family to also enjoy it. I plan to put up my Christmas decorations Wednesday night.
That will be early for me, and late for many of you. I guess I am usually lazy, and put the decorations up on like the 20th, and then continue to be lazy and leave them up until sometime in February. I am changing that this time around!
Nice win for the Escanaba High School hockey team Monday night, 9-1 over Negaunee. Sad though that the third period became more about cheap-shots and badmouthing instead of hockey. But, that happens when teenaged boys get together for a game that gets out of hand.
Check out my story about the hockey game at www.RRNsports.com
Oh, and congratulations to Phil Strom for being named the new Delta County Prosecutor. My story on that is posted on the local news page at www.radioresultsnetwork.com
|GLADSTONE, MI--DECEMBER 8, 2014-1:20 A.M.|
It was a great feeling for me to see our community come together on Saturday to lend a helping hand to a family who could really use a hand these days.
Hundreds of people turned out in Gladstone for a benefit breakfast for Dallas Potvin and his family.
Dallas is a teenager who works here at the Radio Results Network, and at Elemer's County Market. And he attends Gladstone High School.
Well, he hasn't been able to attend school for the past two-plus months, and he hasn't been able to go to work, either. That's because he has a condition that sees him cough up large amounts of blood, and suffer severe attacks of chest pain. The hospitals here in the U.P. can't help Dallas.
The benefit at the American Legion Post #71 on Saturday was the result of a lot of hard work by many friends of the Potvin family.
It was also highlighted by so many of our local businesses who, time and time again, donate items to help with these types of events.
There are so many of these benefits put on across the U.P. to help people through rough times. I thank everyone out there who either helps with, or attends, these benefits.
The money that was raised at Saturday's benefit will help the Potvin family with travel and lodging expenses as Dallas goes back to Children's Hospital in Milwaukee for treatment on the 17th. He's already been to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota twice in the past couple of months, as well.
I am proud to call Dallas, and his entire family, my friends. But even besides that personal friendship, I feel that this is benefit just another example of what a great community we live in.
Dallas told me: "I don't even know half the people who came here". But that is the part of this event that made it even more special. It was about people helping people. We do that all the time up here.
Even for "strangers". Because, who knows? Maybe you or I might need a helping hand, and people might mobilize to help out.
I know that I can speak for Dallas, and his parents Robyn and Rodney, when I say "Thank You" to everyone who got involved in one way or another in this event.
|DES PLAINES, IL--DECEMBER 5, 2014-12:28 A.M. CT|
Well, it was fun being at Soldier Field tonight, but the Bears-Cowboys game wasn't very much fun to watch.
Especially the third quarter, when the Bears gave up three straight touchdowns and fell behind, 35-7. It was ugly, and even though the Bears made it interesting in the fourth quarter, the damage was done and Chicago lost, 41-28. No playoffs again for the Bears.
It got ugly in the stands as the Bears fans booed and the sizeable Cowboys contingent had fun agitating the angry Chicago supporters. And outside of the stadium, there were protests connected to the case in New York City when a black man died after being put into a chokehold by a white NYPD officer. A grand jury chose not to indict that officer.
Police were able to keep the protesters away from us, but traffic was a mess. I'm glad that we walked and used the subway to go between the hotel and Soldier Field.
I'm too tired to post photos from the game. Have a good weekend, everyone.
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