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Whitmer's doing what's best for Benton Harbor

As an African American businessman with a successful company in our area, I have always tried to hire people from our communities. But it has become increasingly difficult to find qualified workers when our schools are not preparing students with the skills and talent needed to build our products.

That is why I applaud Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for developing a plan that everyone agrees will give our children in Benton Harbor the chance to succeed.

Unlike previous administrations, she did what was right, even if it was difficult. Her team was in Benton Harbor from Day One to make sure that everyone had a seat at the table. They held a town hall meeting to hear from parents, students, teachers and business owners. They worked with community leaders and elected officials to find common ground on tough issues.

Whitmer did not create this situation. The district has been running a financial deficit for 13 years, and an educational deficit even longer. It would have been much easier for her to “kick the can” down the road again, come up with another five-year improvement plan and watch another generation of children suffer from those results, but she wants to be the one to solve this problem.

There is no doubt about it: Education is a fundamental civil right. But for more than a decade now, our children in the Benton Harbor Area Schools have been denied an equal opportunity for a great public education — and this has exacerbated the inequality in our community.

If we are going to be successful, we need to stop pointing fingers and blaming each other, and instead use that energy to rally around our children.

This is our chance. Let us take advantage of it.

George Saleeby, CEO

Swing-Lo Suspended Scaffold Co., Inc.

Benton Harbor 

Ending term limits would improve government

In response to Nolan Finley’s recent column ("Join Shirkey's drive to end term limits," June 11) in support of Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey’s proposed effort to eliminate term limits, we would like to share our views.

The Metropolitan Affairs Coalition (MAC) was founded in 1958 by Henry Ford II, UAW President Walter Reuther and other leaders who were seeking a mechanism to engage in regional problem solving. The shortcomings of term limits in many ways reflect the reason for the creation of MAC. On a regular basis, we bring together members — from business, labor, education, government, and philanthropy — with differing viewpoints. They get to know and learn from one another, listen to different perspectives, and find commonality on a broad array of issues that benefit the region’s economic prosperity and quality of life. Directors serve three-year renewable terms, and many stay for years if not decades.

Our ability to work together despite our differences is at the heart of the term limit issue. The “brief tenure in office concept” that is the core of the term limits experiment creates a natural barrier to long-term thinking, developing trust relationships, getting past differences and nurturing an environment that promotes understanding and a desire to find common ground. 

MAC believes that the state is a complex system best run by those with experience in matters of budgets and public policy, who know well their colleagues and the issues; that the people should get to decide who represents them; and elimination of term limits would lead to more effective and efficient government.

Robert Clark, mayor

Monroe

MAC board member

Mark Gaffney, past president Michigan State AFL-CIO

MAC co-chair

Nancy Susick, president, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak

MAC vice chair

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