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08-13-2020 Letters and Commentary

DID YOU SEE A DERECHO? We did Monday evening when a thunderstorm roared out of the Southwest corner of Lake Michigan and onward across the State.

Next door neighbor Amy texted me 15 minutes earlier to warn Anne and I of potential hazards of a giant thunderstorm on its way. As most of us do I switched over to a South Bend TV station to see if there were any bulletins. There was… a “DERECHO” was headed our way, packing a punch of high winds, thunder and lightning, and some hail. The alert for the area was in effect for the next few hours.

What the TV weatherman didn’t do was explain the unusual term. The definition in Google read: A derecho (pronounced similar to “deh-REY-cho”) is a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. Although a derecho can produce destruction similar to the strength of tornadoes, the damage typically is directed in one direction along a relatively straight swath.

The last time I was unaware of a weather term suddenly in use was “lake effect” back in the 1980s. Another new word in the same time frame was wind chill.

So, the question was, did you see a derecho? I did. Happily, the gusts of wind and driving rain probably lasted 15 minutes or so. Other than some small branches that fell from our trees, and a carpet blown off the deck there was no serious damage. I sincerely hope you can say the same.

Red and yellow, black and white

Remember that song, “Jesus Loves the Little Children”? “Red and yellow, black and white – they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.” I believed the message of that song when I was 5, and I still do.

I was an ‘Army brat’, a kid in a career Army family. My dad was a ‘lifer’ (20 years). I loved it. We got new orders, we moved, and I got to make new friends everywhere. We lived in Germany, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and finally Philadelphia. I think I learned the song in Vacation Bible School (where, I’ll admit, my primary interest was snack time graham crackers and milk). But I learned that song, and it has served me well for many years. You know why? Because it’s based on Scriptural truth, and that’s the best foundation for life. In short, it gave me no inclination towards racism; rather it kept me from that trap’s grip. Here’s how…

When the Apostle Paul visited Athens he found many shrines to many gods. The Athenians, wanting not to offend anyone, constructed one ‘To the unknown God’ (in case they missed one they didn’t know about). Paul explained to them who that one was. The account is in Acts 17. God’s message to them (and to us) is that the God Who created all things, also “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,” (Acts 17:24, NASB). So we’re all the same! From one original (Adam)! So there’s one race – the human race!

Observe this critical point – the basis of human dignity is our common Creator. So if you’ve dismissed creation in favor of dehumanistic Evolution’s “from-the-goo-to-the-zoo-to-me-and-you” reasoning, then the dignity of all is erased. Then we have racism. Let’s not do that anymore.

Governor’s order hurt family-owned farms

During the middle of the August Primary Election week, Governor Whitmer’s Department of Health and Human Services snuck in a terrifying new order. This order would mandate a medical procedure for all agricultural and food processing employees, migrant workers, and greenhouses with more than twenty employees on-site at one time.

After speaking to our local health department and medical experts, I don’t see why the governor is vindictively and meticulously targeting our farmers with this hurtful order. I’ve sat with and spoken directly with Berrien County farmers and have gone over what this means for their family-owned businesses. In a nutshell, any employee who refuses to comply with this mandatory medical testing will be ineligible to work in the State of Michigan. Farmers have spoken with their employees, and a significant number of them have already said they will refuse to comply with this mandatory medical procedure. At the height of the harvesting season, this means millions of dollars of product will be left in the fields. Our farmers won’t make money to pay their bills, local Michigan-grown produce won’t be appearing in any supermarkets or farmers markets, and these migrant workers who came to our county to improve the lives of their families and a get a shot at the American dream will be left out in the cold with nothing.

This order isn’t based on science and data. It meticulously targets a minority group without any regard to symptoms. The governor is openly violating the civil rights of vulnerable and under-represented people who don’t have the political clout to fight back. Our farmers and their employees aren’t alone. The Speaker of the House has appointed me to the Governor’s Food Security Council. Our agricultural community finally has an ally in the room where these decisions happen, and I will do everything in my power to stop this blatantly unconstitutional action.

As always, if I can ever be of assistance to you, you can reach me via email at or by phone at 517-373-1403. You can also visit my website at

Override of Gov. Whitmer’s veto of state employee protections foiled

For over 40 years, Michigan’s Whistleblower Protection Act has offered public and private sector employees the ability to be protected from retribution if they report any wrongdoing by their employers to a public body, such as the Legislature.

There are several reasons why an employee might want to contact a member of the Legislature: to report illegal activity, to get help with a state government issue, to improve or question a process in state government, or to advocate their personal position on legislation, among others.

The law, however, does not apply to classified state government employees in the civil service. There is no reason why those workers should not be protected, and lawmakers unanimously approved a bill that would extend whistleblower protections to those state employees who communicate with members of the Legislature.

Unfortunately, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed the bipartisan bill. That she would veto a bill that passed with full support from both sides of the aisle raises the question why — or what she might be trying to hide or keep from the public. Taxpayers fund the government and the salaries of the people who work in the civil service. If something bad is going on we should know about it, and people who have the courage to speak out should not be punished for doing the right thing.

Extending whistleblower protections to the bureaucracy is a necessary and important step in making government more transparent and accountable. That is why my Republican colleagues and I deemed the bill important enough to override the governor’s veto. Defying logic, Democrats sided with Gov. Whitmer and voted against the override, even though every one of them originally supported the bill when it first passed.

Employees should not fear retribution from their employer no matter the reason for their speaking out and no matter where they work.

To echo my colleague, Sen. Tom Barrett, who sponsored the bill, the governor’s veto to suppress employees’ speech is not entirely surprising, but it should worry residents everywhere.

As always, residents can contact my office with any state or local issues by calling (517) 373-6960 or emailing

We’re on the cusp of finding a COVID vaccine; let’s be sure to fund research

Five months into this vicious pandemic, we know that a vaccine is critical to restoring our way of life and rebuilding a healthy economy. Vaccine research is moving ahead, but American colleges and universities are struggling to fund other projects that have made the United States the world-leader in cutting edge research. We simply cannot let this trend continue.

That’s why I helped introduce the bipartisan Research Investment to Secure the Economy (RISE) Act to provide $26 billion to fund cutting-edge research, preserve our scientific infrastructure, and protect our innovation pipeline.

Federal support will not only help keep tens of thousands of our nation’s top students, postdocs, and scientists employed, but it will also promote U.S. leadership worldwide in our efforts to get new technologies and scientific insights.

In Southwest Michigan alone, schools like Western Michigan University have always helped to lead the charge to design novel technologies to accelerate scientific discoveries. Additionally, professors and students at WMU have teamed up with the CDC to boost disease surveillance and most effectively stop the spread of COVID.

Thanks to American researchers, we are always on the cusp of developing a game-changing breakthrough, but we must continue making major investments in research. We need to pass the RISE Act.

To learn more about important legislative issues, follow me on Twitter at @RepFredUpton or by visiting my website: You can also call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/ Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

Paw Paw Lake SAD needs better plan; no improvement of phosphorous levels reached

Dear Editor,

The intent of this letter is to provide assistance to the Special Assessment District (SAD) established to improve the quality of the water in Paw Paw Lake by controlling the levels of phosphorus, directly associated with agricultural runoff into the drains that feed the lake. Instead of repairing the situation, increasingly high levels of phosphorous have directly impacted the growth of weeds, also called “algae bloom,” in the lake.

Efforts to date have resulted in no measurable improvement to levels of phosphorous in the bottom of the lake. Instead of promised improvement, the Spicer Water Quality Results (November 13, 2019, pg. 5) indicate that the phosphorous level has increased by almost 100% in the middle bottom of the lake over the last three years relative to the 2014 baseline. I have been unable to obtain data for 2020.

While specific tasks have been identified for the improvement of the drains feeding the lake, there are no specific schedules identified and no details of the costs estimated. More importantly, there are no projections (goals) as to the reduction in phosphorous. Therefore, no evaluation can be made as to the Cost/ Benefit of performing the tasks and spending the monies.

As identified to the Township Board on 20 July, 2020, SAD is now expending more than 80% of its proposed budget on the subcontractors and legal fees with no details on the specific labor costs expended or proposed and associated fees. Even tasks that are proposed for the improvement of the drains are vague estimates with up to a 100% extension range.

Clearly, based on the current/ past results including the monies that have been already allocated, something has to change. SAD is running a million-dollar business with no detailed plan to be executed.

My neighbors and I request SAD to cease all tasks and expenditures until a detailed audit can be performed on all contractors to validate labor costs on current contracts. We would also request a Professional Program Manager be hired specifically to develop a detailed multi-year Master Plan (cost and schedule) that may be published to the taxpayers and evaluated on both a monthly and yearly basis.

A better plan and transparent implementation will get the results expected from the monies spent.

Thomas J. O’Donnell, Watervliet

Can you live without Social Security & Medicare?

To the Editor,

President Trump is showing us what he really thinks of Social Security and Medicare. Both of these programs are funded by the payroll tax. His executive order suspends payment of these taxes until the end of the year, but they are actually just deferred, and would have to be paid in 2021.

He also stated that if he is reelected he will end the payroll tax. Without tax income Social Security and Medicare will end. Can you live without Social Security and Medicare?

Bennet Leedy, Coloma

The next step to ban dismemberment abortions


A few days before our August 4 primary election, Planned Parenthood and its supporters celebrated the end of the Michigan Values Life petition to ban dismemberment abortions. On the other side, the nearly 400,000 Michiganders who signed the petition are mourning the continued practice of ripping apart children in the womb.

It would be easy to poke holes in the narrative that the third most accurate petition drive in Michigan’s recent history—a higher signature accuracy rate than some that became state laws—contained a “surprising number of errors.” However, that would be a futile exercise. Instead, let us look at the future, and how we must continue to counter Planned Parenthood’s chief tactics: deception and evasion.

Planned Parenthood has always relied on deception and evasion. They call dismembering an unborn child in the second trimester a “dilation and evacuation procedure” on “blobs of tissue.” When the abortionist messes up and injures the woman, the complications are swept under the rug. They will continue to deceive and evade, to stop our future efforts.

Planned Parenthood can celebrate all it wants that its bottom line will be protected a little while longer, but one day the deception and evasion will catch up to them.

Some are wondering if Right to Life of Michigan will be leading another petition drive to ban dismemberment abortions, given our attempt this time came up only a few thousand signatures short in very unfavorable circumstances. Before we even consider that, President Trump must win the 2020 general election.

A successful dismemberment ban relies on the U.S. Supreme Court to allow it, just as they allow bans on the similarly barbaric partial-birth abortion procedure. Currently, it is questionable if Chief Justice John Roberts has the courage to do the right thing.

It is not just the U.S. Supreme Court; the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Kentucky’s dismemberment ban a few months ago. Though Michigan’s ban is worded differently, it would certainly be helpful if the 6th Circuit had fewer abortion advocates on the bench. A President Joe Biden will not be appointing fair judges to federal courts.

The next step in banning dismemberment abortion starts today: Turning out the prolife vote for November. How can we do that? How can we fight Planned Parenthood’s deception and evasion? Make it your mission to speak boldly about the value of all human life at every opportunity.

Chris Gast

Director of Communication/Education

Right to Life of Michigan


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