The Detroit News. July 6, 2019

One more unmet Ilitch obligation

The arrogance of the Ilitch organization in ignoring its obligations to the city of Detroit is breathtaking.

The family that owns the Detroit Red Wings and Tigers, Olympia Development and Little Caesars pizza continues to renege on the promises it has made to develop downtown property that the city helped it obtain.

Taxpayers, who contributed $344 million to help the Ilitches build the new Little Caesars Arena, expected to see neighborhoods rising around the sports and entertainment facility. The family promised housing, offices and restaurants as part of a 50-block project called The District Detroit.

Instead, the Ilitches have delivered mostly parking lots, without saying when, if ever, they intend to build on their vast and vacant downtown land holdings.

The latest affront to the city came with the missed June 28 deadline for revealing its plans for a prime piece of real estate on Woodward next to the arena.

The site had been used as a staging area for materials and equipment during the LCA construction, which was completed last year.

Crains Detroit Business reported this week that the Ilitches had not filed a development plan as required with the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. for the site at the northwest corner of Woodward and I-75, even though it had been given a one-year extension by the DEGC to come up with a proposal.

The property was supposed to host a hotel in the grand plan for The District Detroit originally laid out by CEO Chris Ilitch.

The DEGC seems reluctant to call out the Ilitches for yet another missed deadline. It issued no public statement about the delinquency, or what action it intends to take to force the Ilitches to comply with the agreement.

Woodward is one of the hottest real estate strips in the nation, with roughly $8 billion of projects either underway or ready to launch.

The property in question is a prime site. If the Ilitches don't intend to put it into productive use as promised, the DEGC should take steps to force the sale of the land to developers who will.

The ongoing negligence of its obligations by the Ilitch organization has to come to an end. Detroit is moving rapidly forward with its redevelopment. The Ilitches should either come aboard or step aside. And the city should stop excusing their foot-dragging.

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The Mining Journal. July 6, 2019

Fire safety must be paramount during summer months

Although the area has received sufficient rain this spring and summer to keep wildfires at bay, history tells us that conditions can — and do — change very quickly.

Experts at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources remind us that safety must always be paramount when using fire outside.

While this is true year round, it is especially relevant in the summer months when more of us are recreating outside.

Here are a handful of common-sense safety tips all of us should practice anytime:

? Campfire safety. Always thoroughly douse your fire with water before leaving it for the night.

? Debris burning. You need to get a permit at Michigan.gov /BurnPermit or from your local municipality before you burn debris. Call 866-922-2876 for a permit in northern Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. Keep your fire at least 10 feet away from logs, stumps or other debris and make sure no branches are hanging overhead.

? 'Firewise' landscaping. This type of landscaping protects your home or cabin by minimizing the number of shrubs, leaves and trees that are close to the house. You can also learn more about it from the National Fire Protection Association.

? Fireworks. There are new laws and restrictions for fireworks and when they can be used. "Nationally, fireworks cause 18,500 fires per year and have injured/or caused the death of 40 people on average," said Lt. Jason Wicklund, DNR conservation officer. "If you are using fireworks to celebrate this fourth of July, remember that you are responsible for where that firework ends up and the damage it may cause. Also, please take into consideration pets, those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders and local ordinances that have a time frame on noises (including fireworks)."

So far in 2019, the DNR has fought more than 168 wildfires on over 818 acres around the state.

Let's do everything we can to keep that number as low as possible.

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The Alpena News. July 6, 2019

How the free press helped free America

"Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."

— Thomas Paine, "American Crisis"

This week, as I do every July 4, I pondered on the bravery and nobility of our founding fathers, and marveled at their wisdom to protect the freedom of the press.

I have always thought that, without a free press, the authors of the Constitution would have had a hard time protecting any of the other freedoms scrawled out in the Bill of Rights.

After all, the free press protections in the First Amendment are not really about newspapers, which were a relative rarity in the colonies at the end of the 18th century.

What freedom of the press is really about is the freedom to obtain information from sources unsanctioned by the government. And that allows us to think and share our own thoughts, to inform and educate others, to study whatever we please, to openly question the government and help others do the same.

Without those freedoms, we would quickly lose all the others.

Without a free press, we couldn't publish and disseminate religious texts if the government disagreed with them, so you could throw freedom of religion out the window.

Without a free press, we would struggle to stay informed of congressional debates about gun control, meaning infringements on our Second Amendment rights might go unanswered by a voting public.

If the government controlled the press, who would tell us when the government was guilty of warrantless search and seizure or using harsh tactics to disperse a crowd peacefully assembled?

Without a free press, we couldn't even publish the laws themselves, or any analysis of them, unless the government wanted us to. We couldn't learn how to push back when the government gets heavy-handed.

Part of the reason I'm a journalist is because I believe the free press is what makes the rest of the Bill of Rights work.

The founding fathers protected the free press because they saw the value it had in the very creation of their newborn nation.

Pamphleteers like Thomas Paine and newspapermen like Benjamin Franklin used the press to inform their fellow colonists of the goings-on of the Revolutionary War and to rally their neighbors to the cause.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation carries a couple of quotes from the founding fathers to prove the point:

"Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government," Thomas Jefferson is quoted, "I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."

"There is nothing so fretting and vexatious, nothing so justly terrible to tyrants," said Samuel Adams, ". as a free press."

(Find out more about the history of newspapers in the Revolution here: https://tinyurl.com/yy7ls58j).

For many residents of the colonies, the battles of the revolution were far off, and some even struggled to see the effect of the whole "taxation without representation" thing on their own lives. Newspapers and pamphlets and other informational text — printed against the wishes of the British government — helped the colonists understand why the patriot cause was important.

This is my favorite part of the story of newspapers in the Revolution: The very founders who supported a free press during the war were suddenly bothered by it — after they took office.

Again from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation: "When John Adams wrote 'A Constitution or Form of Government for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' in 1779, he included a guarantee of liberty of the press. But as president, Adams endorsed the Alien and Sedition Acts, aimed at muzzling the opposition by jailing editors who dared criticize the chief executive." Even George Washington took to sneering at newspaper editors once he was in office.

Why were these original endorsers of the First Amendment suddenly opposed to a free press?

They were afraid.

And that's just the way it should be.

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