May 31, 2014 at 1:00 am

The Great Lakes, unified

Congress has passed bipartisan water legislation that, for the first time, designates the Great Lakes as a unified system.

While most people who know their geography would conclude all the bodies of water are connected, the reclassification by Washington is expected to shorten the dredging backlog in Michigan harbors by more quickly freeing federal funds.

Supporters of the legislation see it as recognition of the contribution the Great Lakes make to the economy.

Itís refreshing to finally have Congress admit that the lakes are a national as well as regional treasure.

The legislation is critical because it calls for greater coordination and authorization of emergency measures to stop the spread of invasive species, such as Asian carp. The bill allows Great Lakes states to better compete for revenue now that the lakes are seen as one water system.

President Barack Obama should quickly sign the legislation that enhances the protection and maintenance of these priceless resources.

All are winners at national spelling bee

The Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., this week saw 281 elementary and middle school students compete in an academic competition that was as intense as any athletic contest.

The youths, including 11 from Michigan, came from all 50 states and several countries to vie for a title that is harder to win than professional footballís Super Bowl.

Thatís because those who compete are among the best of the best. Competition starts at the local school level and proceeds to regional contests. From there, spellers head to the nationís capital for a week that includes not just the competition but trips to see national historical sites. Because the chances of winning are slim, wise students visit as many sites as possible for a fun experience.

The Detroit News Regional Spelling Bee winner, Neha Seshadri, of Novi, was among 46 spellers to make it into the semifinals but fell short of the finals.

Local schools should participate in the spelling bee because it gives gifted youngsters a chance to showcase their talents and win the trip of a lifetime.

Lincoln Park needs outside help

After voting twice against a consent agreement with the state, it appears resolving Lincoln Parkís financial crisis will be left up to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

The municipality has had a general fund deficit the past two fiscal years that totals about $1.2 million because revenue from property taxes and state revenue sharing have plummeted.

The city could have approved the agreement and kept local control while working out its revenue shortfall.

With the rejection, an emergency manager is the most probable of three other options. The other two are neutral evaluation ó allowing a local government and its creditors to work out a solution ó or bankruptcy. The state will decide which option it wants for the city.

An EM is a reasonable alternative.

The emergency manager would have complete financial control and presumably would examine consolidating or merging services as well as privatization as alternatives for balancing the budget.

The result should be a leaner and much more financially stable community.