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Wednesday, July 11,2012

Chairman of the tribe

Meet Aaron Payment, the recently elected, populist chairman of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

by Andy Balaskovitz
To the delight of Lansing officials and Chairman Joe Eitrem, the referendum failed. But late last month, Payment defeated Eitrem 56 percent to 44 percent. Payment believes his efforts at least caused the Tribal Council to dedicate 15 percent of net revenues to education and health care, should there be a Lansing casino.
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Thursday, July 5,2012

Eyesore of the week

by Andy Balaskovitz
The mainstream media is heralding Niowave’s multimillion-dollar expansion as an economic savior of the high tech, progressive sort. True enough, but what about the company’s neighbors who have sat by — uninformed and excluded — and watched their Walnut neighborhood become a mini industrial park?
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Wednesday, June 27,2012

A tale of two developments

The downtown Y and the Ottawa/Butler apartment projects face obstacles in the City Council.

by Andy Balaskovitz
The East Lansing-based Lawton Group has plans for a new four-story, mixed-use apartment and commercial building called Reutter Park Place to replace the old YMCA building, built in 1951, at 301 W. Lenawee St.
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Wednesday, June 27,2012

Parks and preservation

Landscaping, historical architecture — and when one trumps the other: Inside the mind of LCC President Brent Knight

by Andy Balaskovitz
Brent Knight owns 20 pairs of historic cuff links. He’s restored a 1955 Thunderbird, a 1946 Lincoln and a 1946 Ford. He’s subscribed to the publication Michigan History for 30 years, and several copies are in his office next to issues of V8 Times, a magazine devoted to Ford enthusiasts. A hand-sewn American, 45-star flag from 1896 to 1908 hangs on his office wall. He’s moving into the Herrmann house, built in 1893, on Lansing Community College’s campus after it’s renovated in September. At his last college presidency job in Illinois, he orchestrated several passive-learning classrooms (think Civil War history painted on the walls of an algebra classroom) and a museum.
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Wednesday, June 20,2012

Eyesore of the week

by Andy Balaskovitz
Architecture critic Amanda Harrell-Seyburn says: Social activities at the sidewalk level are vital to a community and can be directly proportional to the health of the physical infrastructure. Cafes, markets, food carts, musicians or simply pedestrian traffic thrives when the physical environment is supportive. However, as the infrastructure erodes, so too can these activities — jeopardizing the social life of sidewalks.
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Wednesday, June 6,2012

The border

The Lansing Police Department's latest attempt to reduce crime in a jurisdictionally challenging corner of the city

by Andy Balaskovitz
It turned out to be 17-year-old Dennis Duane Gibbons Jr., who Tran said was attempting to break into the store from the roof. His point of access was the roof and the heating vent. Initial police reports said he died of exposure after he got stuck. Police at the time said it was unclear why Gibbons attempted to gain entry into the business.
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Wednesday, May 23,2012

With veto pen, bridges burn behind him

Distrust, accusations of thwarting the legislative and collective bargaining process sum up budget cycle 2012. Oh, and the city's finances are still grim.

by Andy Balaskovitz
As Mayor Virg Bernero delivered verbal blow after verbal blow to the City Council’s budget amendments Monday night, 1st Ward Councilwoman Jody Washington looked on in disbelief. And disappointment. With a little confusion on the side — as if to say: “Really?”
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Thursday, May 17,2012

Top-Tier Pay

After layoffs and declining revenue, Delta Dental is comfortable with its executive compensation. A former board member and a dentist who recently dropped his membership are not.

by Andy Balaskovitz
Three years ago, as Delta Dental of Michigan was laying off dozens of employees and losing big contracts with auto industry retirees, it was uncertain whether the nonprofit dental insurance company’s top officials would respond with pay cuts.
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Wednesday, May 16,2012

Theological conflict

Two prominent black ministers say same-sex marriage is a "civil right" but one that doesn't square with the Bible

by Andy Balaskovitz
“I think the president is to be commended. He did not allow his own Christian philosophy or theology to dominate his presidential responsibility,” said Bishop David Maxwell, head of Mayor Virg Bernero’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.
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Wednesday, May 9,2012

Penny pinching

City Councilwoman Jody Washington promises to continue her no-votes on spending office-holder account funds, citing tough economic times.

by Andy Balaskovitz
But 1st Ward Councilwoman Jody Washington is changing that. Washington vows to “always vote no” whenever Council funding for local events, advertisements and the like come up — even in cases where the funding would cost less than $13 per member to sponsor.
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