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Wednesday, February 10,2010

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Decorum king


On Feb. 1, a group of high school students sat in on the Lansing City Council meeting. One even spoke at the podium.


At the end of his speech, the other students applauded and were told by the Council president not to do that.


This was after they had already seen two of the Council regular speakers removed by police officers.


It seems the lesson they learned that night was that, in Lansing, decorum is king and liberty is a second-class citizen.


— William Hubbell Lansing




Rail history


Thank you for your excellent article on railroads. I have a railroad fan since growing up in Pittsburgh during World War Two. A steam locomotive train on the Pennsylvania Railroad brought me to Detroit in 1948 and one of the early diesel streamliners on the Pere Marquette Line brought me to Lansing. I much prefer to travel by train than to fly.


In your article, you relate contacting Amtrak to inquire as to why the Grand Trunk depot in REO Town was not used as the rail station for the Lansing area. When Amtrak was formed in the late 1970s, Lansing and East Lansing were informed that passenger service would resume between Port Huron and Chicago on the Blue Water Line. The notice indicated that providing a depot for our community would be required. If we did not provide an adequate passenger station, the train would not stop here. The Capitol Area Rail Council was formed for that purpose. I was mayor of East Lansing at the time and represented the city on the Council.


The former Grant Trunk depot on South Washington in REO Town was the obvious choice of the Council. We found that the Grand Trunk owners had already sold the building to a gentleman who intended to convert it to a restaurant. He was adamant in letting us know that he wanted to no part of the proposed rail passenger depot service. He offered to rent us the shed-like building along the north lot line that was useless for the purpose.


Jack Breslin was the member of the Council representing MSU and came up with an offer for the use of a small utility building along the track line at Harrison and Trowbridge roads. With some modifications and an addition, it became the depot in use today.


As for the future that you discuss in the article, high-speed rail will require new separate tracks from those used for freight. I was disappointed with the quote from U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers’ office in the article. His evident bias against Amtrak is unfounded and simply prejudicial against a government-funded enterprise. Granted that Amtrak can operate only with general subsidy, but use of Amtrak is growing, and several airline companies, including Northwest Airlines, area failing.


— George Griffiths Holt




Don’t cut officers


I am writing you today to share my concerns over the recent policy decision by the leadership of the Lansing Capital Region International Airport to cut the public safety officer staffing to eight officers. I fear this decision may compromise the safety and security of the passengers using the airport and has the potential to violate minimum safety standards.


I took a look at publicly available statistics and compared the staffing levels of the Grand Rapids and Flint airport for public safety and compared to the proposed level in Lansing. Grand Rapids averages 278 aircraft operations per day, Flint 188 and Lansing 226. This yields a seemingly reasonable eight operations per day per officer for Grand Rapids, eight for Flint, yet Lasing officers will be expected to handle 28 aircraft operations per day per officer.


My other concern is the simple matter of staffing. Consider eight officers working 35 hours a week. This yields a pool of 280 available officer hours per week.


Without a vacation, sickness or injury, the airport can expect to staff an average of 1.6 officers at any given time. The math does not lie: At some point the airport is going to have to choose to have only one officer on duty to handle critical safety, policing, fire and rescue needs for the entire airport. It would seem unreasonable to me to expect a single officer to handle these myriad of duties alone.


— Matt Fuerst East Lansing

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