Saturday Shorts: DIA pay, Michigan tourism, fireworks

The Detroit News

Michigan is partnering with Google and the Pure Michigan campaign to use the latest in camera technology to promote state tourism.

The Google Trekker shoots photos in 360-degree, panoramic scenes. The pictures show fully navigable views of attractions such as Mackinac Island, Sleeping Bear Dunes and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. These and other locations previously weren’t accessible on Google Street View.

The Trekker captured 44,000 photos that will be placed online for viewing throughout the world. The pictures were taken by members and volunteers on the Pure Michigan team and the Department of Natural Resources, which borrowed the Trekker and traveled for four weeks throughout the state.

One nice feature about the project is that there was no cost because the program is by invitation only and Google loaned the equipment to the state.

Tourists have always been offered myriad beautiful sites to visit once they arrive here. Now, prospective travelers can get an advanced view of the attractions and hopefully will be enticed to visit Michigan.

Be good stewards of DIA funds

Oakland County has signed an agreement with the Detroit Institute of Arts that will give taxpayers more say in the use of millage funds generated for the museum.

In addition, it will increase the transparency of how the money is spent, says Oakland County Art Authority chairman Thomas Guastello.

Macomb and Wayne counties are expected to approve similar contracts with the DIA.

The three counties approved a tax levy to help support the operation of the DIA. However, the institution stirred controversy when it granted bonuses for top executives.

Under the agreements, Guastello says the counties will have a voice in the compensation of staff members and could veto expenditures that are excessive.

Taxpayer support saved the DIA, which is owned by Detroit but is a regional attraction. The control given to the counties is only right. The agreements do not prohibit or restrict the use of private funds but, since the millage represents 70 percent of the DIA’s budget, voter supervision and direction of the tax dollars is more than warranted.

Enjoy fireworks, with care

A new effort is underway to institute more reasonable regulations concerning fireworks.

Proposed legislation would restrict the use of fireworks to the Fourth of July holiday. Currently, displays are allowed throughout the year during 10 public holidays. People would be limited to setting off fireworks only on July 3, 4, and 5.

Rep. Martin Howrylak, R-Troy, one of the sponsors of the bipartisan legislation, says the bill reins in the fireworks regulations that took effect in 2011. He says the law tries to balance the rights of property owners who want to use fireworks and those who find them annoying.

Howrylak admits his legislation is a compromise to a bill last year that would have changed the law back to the pre-2011 regulations. He stresses the bill does not prohibit local municipalities from enacting fireworks noise and zoning ordinances.

From safety concerns to noise complaints, many are realizing the looser guidelines aren't working out and desire a return to the pre-2011 regulations.

However, because of the many vested interests in selling commercial fireworks, Howrylak’s bill is a good alternative.