News Hits

Paging Mr. Maryweather

It wasn’t a big article – just a column-length piece on Page 3 of the Free Press business section last Tuesday – but it sure got the attention of Freep Publisher Heeth K. Merrywhether.

Reporter Charlotte W. Craig’s piece on corporate parent Knight-Ridder’s plan to form a new company that will run Internet operations at more than 30 of its papers across the country covered the bases just fine. There was, however, a teeny problem. The name of Freep Publisher Heith A. Merriwheather was misspelled. Twice. This on a story we reckon passed the eyes of at least one editor and two copy editors before going to press.

Insiders report "steam and lava were flowing from the publisher’s office for two days over the mistake. No doubt it hurts him even more to know his Knight-Ridder bosses will see such a dumb mistake in the paper he runs."

Note to copy desk: That’s Heath J Meriwether (we think).

Failing the drug test

So Michigan figures it’ll toss overboard a bunch more people still clinging to our state’s welfare life raft by imposing mandatory drug tests on all the poor folk receiving government assistance. After all, almost every one of ‘em has to be hitting the crack pipe or shooting up heroin, right?

Last Monday, a judge issued a temporary restraining order halting the first policy in the nation mandating drug tests for welfare recipients, even if there are no grounds to suspect they’re on drugs.

Part of the problem, observed U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts, is the state’s failure to show the program is needed. The state’s case wasn’t helped when it was forced to admit that, after five weeks of testing, only about 8 percent of the cases – a percentage the ACLU says is consistent with drug use in the general population – tested positive. And of those who did test positive, all but a few were for marijuana, not narcotics.

"Michigan stands alone in making its families guinea pigs in a social experiment," says Graham Boyd, director of the ACLU’s Drug Policy Litigation Project. "Now a federal judge has found this dubious plan to likely be unconstitutional."

Listen up, Guv

You think the Democratic senators and state reps in Lansing are getting a little tired of being steamrolled by the round mound occupying the governor’s office? If you have any doubts, consider the joint resolution introduced by Samuel Buzz Thomas III. According to a press release with the headline "Thomas Innovation Would Require Governor To Listen," the ol’ Buzzer proposes amending the state Constitution to require that the governor attend a session of the House and Senate every month and respond to questions about the general state of the executive branch. If approved by the Senate and House, the resolution will be submitted to popular vote in the 2000 election. We say you can lead a porky pol to the trough but you can’t make a sow’s ear actually listen.

Careless day care

Democrats walking the Michigan Senate floor have yet one more reason to despise Johnny Engler. This time the issue is child care. New rules proposed by the administration would gut regulation of child care facilities. If enacted, the guidelines would do away with requirements for sleeping facilities, administering of medicine, diaper-changing hygiene and other such incidentals. The problem, say GOPers, is that, despite these booming economic times, all those people being shoved off welfare into burger-flipping jobs can’t afford day care, and relaxing regulations will bring costs down. The Dem response: "What if we applied that kind of thinking to all government regulation? Some people can’t afford houses, so let’s just eliminate the building codes and let folks move into an unsafe home. A lot of people can’t scrape together money for a new car, so we’ll just do away with those pesky regulations that prevent exploding gas tanks. Why is the government bothering to inspect the meat we buy at the supermarket? Maybe we should just have two meat departments: one with safe food that the wealthy can afford, and a separate counter for the rest of us to shop at. The smellier the meat, the lower the price."

Putting the ass in compassionate

Oh, that George Dubya. So likable, with that aw-shucks Texas grin and his campaign promises of a brand-spanking-new conservatism that’s plum full of compassion. And, did we mention, full-throttle flaming bigotry? According to the Democratic National Conference, Dubya recently assured a group of conservatives that there would naturally be limits on his compassion. For instance, drawled the presidential wannabe, there would be no openly gay or lesbian individuals appointed to government positions under his watch. Is that the sound of party jumping from Log Cabin clubs across the country?

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