August 16, 2014 at 1:00 am

EDITORIAL QUICK HITS

Outsourcing isn't the problem

In response to the problems with Michiganís privatized prison food service company, Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services, Gov. Rick Snyder has fined the firm $200,000.

The governor also will require Aramark to redesign its current training and staffing procedures in close coordination with the Department of Corrections.

The fine will be used to implement structural changes on the state side, including appointing an independent contract oversight senior adviser, not employed by Aramark or the DOC, but working directly in the stateís executive office.

Snyderís action is reasonable in trying to correct problems with the state prison food vender. Yet it was not a mistake to privatize the food service. The state is saving $14 million a year by outsourcing it.

Reverting to the old system of state employed staff members is not the answer. Getting Aramark to clean up its act or replacing it with another food vender is a better option.

Let local officials set gravel road speeds

A few years ago, the state allowed speed limits on gravel roads to jump to 55 miles per hour from 25 mph.

But a number of the more rural Metro area communities believe the limit is too high and continue fighting for legislation that would enable local officials to set the speeds.

Atlas Township Supervisor Shirley Kautman Jones says safety and maintenance are the main reasons why the decision should rest in local hands. Higher speeds more quickly deteriorate gravel roads and with road funding tight, itís an expense many areas canít afford. But more important, the safety of residents on those roads is threatened by higher speeds.

Rep. Brad Jacobson, R-Oxford, says he is preparing a package of bills to be introduced this fall that includes the option of allowing local governments in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties to lower gravel road speeds to 45 miles per hour.

That could be a start, but legislation is needed to give local officials in all counties the power to set a range of speeds on dirt roads.

Don't boycott Israeli institutions

Several Michigan professors reportedly are joining more than 100 prominent Middle East scholars and librarians from across the country and abroad calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

They say they are backing the Palestinians and blaming Israel for causing the Middle East fighting.

These professors are refusing to acknowledge that Israel is responding to the constant barrage of missile attacks from the Gaza Strip.

The small democratic nation is defending itself the best way it can.

Israel is surrounded by hostile neighbors and deserves credit for trying to limit civilian casualties. It often warns its enemies of pending bombings or halts its actions for humanitarian purposes.

There are two sides to the conflict in the Middle East, but these academics apparently choose to see only one ó that of the Palestinian extremist group Hamas, which started the fighting.