1-16-2019 Letters and Commentary

Of such is the kingdom of heaven

Jesus had a soft spot for children. When his disciples tried to keep children away from Him, He made that famous statement, “Suffer (allow) little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven”. Jesus especially blessed them at that time. (Matthew 19:13-15, KJV) In another encounter where Jesus called a little child to Himself out of the crowd, He stated that unless a person became like a little child, they could not enter the kingdom of heaven. That’s in Matthew 18:2-4. Looking at those two passages (and there are more) we observe that Jesus had a special place in His heart for children. The humility that Jesus spoke of, as being a trait of children generally, was to be emulated by the adults if they expected to enter Heaven. Children are some of the most vulnerable members of society. They need our protection, but they also deserve our respect. That respect may not be the respect earned by accomplishment, but the respect owed by position – the position of being a person made in the image of God, a position of honor because of the value assigned to each child by God’s personally directed love for each one. This is true not only of our own children but of the children of those who oppose us, or even hate us. We may remember that song we learned so many years ago, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world…” How can we not therefore also love all the little children of the world? They are not given as conveniences. They are given as stewardships, responsibilities, privileges. And none are “mistakes”, because God is not “surprised” by any soul He creates. May we see children as the blessing they truly are, and may we value them as Jesus does.

THE CRIMINALS AMONG US… One would think “white collar crime” might be on the wane. Especially with all the sophisticated tools available to crime fighters, including computer programs and scanners that can detect anomalies in bookkeeping and facial recognition of miscreants on the myriad of video cameras in public and private spaces. But if the “news” is any indication, criminals are still feeding on the unwary and uninformed. Last week, I got a couple emails from a loyal reader who said he was traveling and needed to get some money for a relative. The message… “Good to hear from you, hope all is well with you? I need to get four google play gift cards for my niece, it’s her birthday but I can’t do this now because as I’m currently traveling. Can you get it for me from any store around you? I’ll pay back by the weekend when I get back home.” Of course, I didn’t do anything of the kind, nor reply to the message that was purportedly sent from a person I know and trust.

White collar crime has yet to be wiped out where people with a position of trust, skim off millions of dollars from friends and neighbors. The following is a press release from the MI A.G.: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel today announced the sentencing of Beth Lisa Jaslove, 69, of Birmingham, after she stole more than $1 million from her therapy patients through a scheme called Community Money Program. Jaslove pleaded guilty to one count of larceny by false pretenses of more than $100,000. She was sentenced to five years supervised probation and ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution. She appeared Jan. 9 before Judge Phyllis McMillan in Oakland County Circuit Court. As part of her sentencing, Jaslove is not to be employed as a therapist, counselor or spiritual guide for individuals or groups during the term of her probation. “Ms. Jaslove took advantage of her clients for far too long and preyed on vulnerable Michiganders simply striving to improve their well-being,” Nessel said. “My office will continue to hold those who steal from others accountable for their actions.” Jaslove stole money from patients between 1991 and 2017. In the period between 2008 and 2016 alone, she obtained more than $1 million from the victims. More than a dozen people nearly lost the total of their investment in the Community Money Program. Through the program and her business, the Center for Growth and Enlightenment, Jaslove took money from her patients under the false pretense that it would be used to help others in need. She also promoted the scheme by telling her patients and clients that investing in the program would help their personal growth and enlightenment.

What grinds me, most of those charged with stealing money from individuals and organizations are allowed to plead to a lower charge in exchange for a more lenient sentence and fine (if any). The person in the preceding PR stole $1 million but was allowed to admit to stealing $100,000 and thus was ordered to make restitution of the lesser amount. In my math world, this means she was allowed to keep $900,000 of the money she stole from people who trusted her.

Addressing erosion along Lake Michigan

I grew up on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Protecting the Great Lakes is one of my top priorities in Congress – and my record proves it. I understand that Lake Michigan shoreline erosion is a concern for all of us who call Southwest Michigan home. Folks across the state enjoy our beaches, which are disappearing at an alarming rate. I’ve been working hard in Washington D.C. to find a solution.

Just this past week my colleagues Representatives Bill Huizenga and Jack Bergman and I sat down with officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Detroit Division and FEMA to discuss solutions to shoreline erosion and ways to alleviate the burden on constituents. I have also penned a letter to the USACE asking them to include $2.4 million in their FY 2020 budget plan for sand to be placed along the shore to help counter the erosion in New Buffalo Harbor. I remain committed to working on a coordinated response with every level of government to ensure our shoreline can withstand, recover from, and adapt to high lake levels and erosion. Our Great Lakes are a national treasure and I will continue to do everything I can to protect them.

To learn more about important legislative issues, follow me on Twitter at @RepFredUpton or visit my website: upton.house.gov. 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).

Restoring Pure Michigan

Before serving the people of Southwest Michigan as your state representative, I worked as the Programs Director at the North Berrien Historical Museum. In that capacity, I took numerous classes to learn new and creative ways to increase museum attendance and plan exciting events that the community would find interesting. I also took a class that detailed the benefits, return on investment, and resources offered by the Pure Michigan advertising campaign. I’m a firm believer in the success of these tourism campaigns, which is why I’ve been supportive of Pure Michigan since my first day serving you. In 2008 as Michigan was climbing out of a single-state recession, Pure Michigan began broadcasting our state across the country in a positive light as a top of the line tourism destination. While people across the country viewed Michigan as a state whose prime was past and whose people were down on their luck, Pure Michigan sought to change that perception – which it did. Michiganders who were met with a sympathetic look when they told people where they were from now beamed with pride when traveling across our nation and around the globe. Thanks to Pure Michigan, our state became synonymous with breathtaking landscapes, urban escapes, unique attractions, starry skies, and rich culture. Since its launch, Pure Michigan has helped grow our tourism industry to the point where multiple travel outlets have named Michigan – Southwest Michigan specifically – as one of the top travel destinations in the world. This hasn’t been luck; it’s due to the hard work and professionalism of our state employees behind Pure Michigan and our investment in their work. Voting to restore Pure Michigan funding will be one of the easiest votes I take in 2020. I’m hopeful that negations with Governor Whitmer proceed quickly so that Pure Michigan can get back up and running as we prepare to enter the spring and summer months. If I can ever be of assistance to you, you can reach me via email at PaulineWendzel@house.mi.gov or by phone at 517-373-1403. You can also visit my website at www.RepWendzel.com.

Looking to retirement

Dear Editor,

I am announcing that I will not be seeking re-election to the position of Berrien County Prosecuting Attorney for the term beginning January 1, 2021.

I began my career as a lawyer in 1979 in private practice in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. I have served in various capacities as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Calhoun County (1985-1988) and Berrien County (1988-2013) before being appointed in 2013, then elected in 2014 (for an unexpired term) and again 2016, to the position of Berrien County Prosecutor.

By the end of my current term on December 31, 2020 I will be 70 years old and will look forward to retirement. I will remain in the area as my wife, Joann, continues to work as a supervisor at the Berrien County Department of Health and Human Services.

Michael J. Sepic

Berrien County Prosecuting Attorney

2020 grants now available from “The Heart of Cook”

Grant applications are again available for “The Heart of Cook” Foundation Fund. “The Heart of Cook” is a grant program funded by Indiana Michigan Power’s Cook Nuclear Plant and administered by the Berrien Community Foundation to assist nonprofit programs in Southwest Michigan and Northwest Indiana.

Educational projects, human services programs that support families, and environmental protection and preservation projects are the focus areas for this grant program. The grant review committee, comprised of Cook Nuclear Plant employees, gives special consideration to projects that involve I&M employees. Organizations must have 501(c)(3) tax exempt or equivalent status to qualify for funding.

“Every year we look forward to providing this funding opportunity to the non-profits in our community,” said Joel Gebbie, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. “The Heart of Cook Foundation is one way that we can say thank you and support the non-profit organizations that serve our community so tirelessly throughout the year.”

“In 2019, the Heart of Cook provided more than $65,000 in funding to 38 non-profit programs and special projects in educational and community-based agencies,” added Bill Downey, Cook’s employee advisory committee chair. “We love that we can partner with the community in this way and we’re looking forward this year to helping more organizations do the incredible things they do.”

Grant applications and guidelines may be obtained by visiting