Street Talk: A lot was accomplished, but much is left to do

In late December, Gov. Rick Snyder met with members of Michigan's media to discuss the accomplishments of the past year and his goals for 2013.

“We got a lot done this last year, but as I always say, I'm neither content nor complacent with where we're at,” Snyder said. “We're gonna keep up relentless positive action, no blame, no credit, just solving problems into 2013, and I'm fired up for another year.”

Gov. Snyder highlighted some of the accomplishments of 2012:

  • Moving forward with the New International Trade Crossing, which he says will bring more and better jobs to Michigan.
  • Personal Property Tax reform.
  • Eliminating regulations. He said 13 rules were eliminated for every new rule that was added.
  • Pathways to Potential, a new initiative that puts social workers directly in schools. The program is in more than 20 schools today with a focus on Flint, Pontiac, Saginaw and Detroit, and is expected to reach 120 schools by spring.
  • A conference on infant mortality and one on helping the disabled, and new legislation to assist families coping with autism.
  • Efforts to revitalize cities across Michigan.
  • Improving public safety, with one new trooper school graduated and another on the way.
  • Efforts to revitalize Detroit, including a new authority to restore public lighting.
  • The creation of a Regional Transit Authority for southeast Michigan, an effort that took 40 years to achieve.
  • The creation of “virtual cities,” allowing municipalities like Grand Rapids and Livonia to collaborate in order to save money.
  • Blight removal, including tearing down blighted properties and improving others.
  • Reform of the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System to ensure it's on a sustainable path for the future. Thanks to pension reform efforts, Michigan now has a plan to pay down $20 billion in liabilities, he said.
  • Education reforms, including dual enrollment, performance metrics for schools, and the creation of the Education Achievement Authority, which is helping 15 schools in Detroit.
  • Pure Michigan's continued success.
  • A series of “good government initiatives” to help strengthen communities and protect taxpayers.
  • Improving state government with Lt. Gov. Brian Calley's work on the Bureaucracy Busters program, a social media initiative that calls on Michigan government employees to offer innovative ideas for enhancing efficiency, customer service and the workplace.

So what’s on tap for 2013? Snyder said expansion of the Education Achievement Authority and a focus on matching talent with jobs in Michigan will be near the top of the list.

A gold star

It used to be that students who maintained a perfect attendance record received a gold star. Does that apply in Lansing’s political circles?

If not, it should. State Rep. Peter MacGregor, R-Cannon Township, posted a perfect voting record and 100 percent attendance for the 2012 legislative year, having not missed one of the 914 roll call votes taken during the second year of his first term.

In fact, this is the second year in a row that MacGregor has posted a perfect voting record.

“The people of the 73rd District trust me to represent them on the issues being taken up in the Legislature,” said MacGregor. “We have made significant reforms to get Michigan back on track over the past two years, and it was essential to be present and participate in those debates to be the voice of my district. That is what my constituents expect of me and it's a promise I will continue to make as I begin my second term.”

In addition to 2012 perfect attendance on the House floor, MacGregor also did not miss any individual committee hearings.

’Tis the season

Flu season arrived early for many in Kent County. Statistics through the month of December showed a much higher than typical caseload at Kent County hospitals for influenza and flu-like illnesses. The confirmed number of cases for September-December 2012 was 242, up from just six for the same period in 2011.

What to do? Stay inside, wash hands frequently, avoid contact with others? Well, there seems to be a better answer, at least for most people.

The Kent County Health Department says the single best way to protect against the flu is by getting vaccinated.

“This season, 98 percent of the confirmed flu cases are either Type A or Type B strains of influenza, which are both found in this year’s vaccine” said Cathy Raevsky, administrative health officer for KCHD, recently. “In the coming days, many children will be going back to school after the holiday break, so we anticipate the numbers will continue to climb. If you haven’t gotten a flu shot or nasal mist for you or your family, now is an ideal time to vaccinate.”

The vaccination can take about two weeks to become effective.

Michigan Department of Community Health has reported two pediatric deaths in Michigan last month due to the flu. KCHD officials say they have plenty of injection ($25) and nasal mist ($32) vaccines available this year. Visit to learn more about flu vaccinations, prevention tips and treatment, or call the health department at (616) 632-7200 to make an appointment. Your co-workers will thank you.

Rib tickler

Back in 1977, Sam Bravata set out to develop a “family fun” restaurant and decided to furnish it with a unique collection of antiques and curiosities while producing some of West Michigan’s most delicious ribs. Eventually, Sam’s Joint restaurants spread to seven locations, including the flagship eatery in Caledonia. Other venues were built in Plainwell, Gun Lake, Alaska, Coopersville, Norton Shores and Rockford.

For the past 35 years, Bravata has personally been buying antiques and collectibles from various places around the world to furnish his renowned restaurants. While six locations will remain open, the Caledonia restaurant will be closed, and all of the unique décor will be offered during a one-time, online auction Feb. 12 through, a division of Meidema Auctioneering Co., in Byron Center.

“This is a great opportunity to purchase one-of-a-kind items from the famous Sam’s Joint restaurant,” said Jon Kuiper, an online auction specialist. “Please note: None of the restaurant equipment or tables and chairs will be selling, as they will remain with the building, which is currently for sale.”

Kuiper said the auction includes a veritable cornucopia of Americana. Items include a huge variety of vintage furniture, organs and pianos, scale model airplanes and boats, vintage firearms, an Italian granite bust, a carved eagle with an 11-foot wingspan, and vintage toys, trucks and pedal carts. There’s also a diving bell, mid-century collectibles, a vintage gas pump, military artifacts, statues, carvings, wooden airplane propellers, sports memorabilia, rare metal signs, dolls, stained glass windows and Tiffany shades, light fixtures, taxidermy pieces, musical instruments, clocks, arcade games, Western-themed collectibles, historic oddities, artwork, mirrors and historic documents, Native American artifacts, sleighs, strollers and buggies, duck decoys and much, much more.

The auction begins at 8 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 12 and closes at 6 p.m. Feb. 11 is a “preview day” from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors also can stop by and view the merchandise on the day of the auction. Kuiper said staff will be on-site with free wireless Internet access to assist in bidding.

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