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October 11, 2006

The (Less Than) Great Debate

Did you catch Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and her challenger Dick DeVos debate on TV the other night?


Two dedicated, civic-minded people.  Going for a job that can only bring them a lot of sleepless nights and grief in this troubled Midwestern state of ours over the next four years.


I watched them and thought: ‘Boy, couldn’t get me up in the TV lights like that!’


The cameras peeled back their veneer.  Showed whether they were comfortable, confidant and quick witted.


We soon ignored DeVos’ corporate image.  The French cufflinks. Starched white shirt, dark tie.


Granholm’s  modelish, personable style frayed a bit at times.


At the end, I  wondered if DeVos was smart -- and humane--  enough for the job.


And why Granholm hadn’t gotten more done in the past four years.


Not a great debate.  Not a clear winner.  Or loser.


They'll be together before the lights one more time.


Let’s see who has the best ideas for Michigan’s future.


October 09, 2006

When Autumn Leaves Begin To Fall

Autumn is my favorite time. Bright color of the leaves. Chill in the air. The innocent enthusiasm of college football. Halloween fun.

But it’s also a bittersweet season.
Each year, as red leaves turn to yellow, fade and fall, I’m reminded of the story about the little girl, losing her Mother to a rapidly advancing and incurable disease.
The doctor, and the little girl’s father, try to prepare the child for the loss.
“When will my Mommy die?” the child asks the doctor, who replies: “When the leaves begin to fall.”
Six months later, in mid-October, the father looks out the window of their home. 


There, in the front yard, is the little girl, trying to paste fallen leaves back on the Maple tree.
Of course, we can’t paste leaves back on a tree. Any more than avoid death of those we love.
Still, at the end, we have our memories to cherish.
Dad shining his shoes Sunday night in preparation for the work week.
My tiny, Irish mother doing the family wash by hand – with crooked arms broken in childhood.
Yes, I remember.

When autumn leaves begin to fall.

Jim Richmond with his mother at McNamara Family gravesite in Atchison, Kansas, USA,  shortly before her death in 2003.

October 03, 2006

Building A Bigger 'Big House'

The University of Michigan has announced plans for a $260 million expansion of the Michigan Football Stadium, affectionately known by alumni and supporters as “The Big House.”


It's Big.  The largest American-style football stadium in the world, seating about 111,000 for Saturday games.


It was built in 1927 at a cost of $950,000 and with footings to handle expansion to 150,000 seats on game day.

But more seats (at least cheaper ones) are not part of the University’s current Stadium  expansion plans.

The University will spend much of that $260 million, according to news reports, to build  private Stadium suites – which will be rented or sold to wealthy football patrons and corporations.

A group of University of Michigan alumni objected; suggesting the money build more and cheaper stadium seats. Too late, the U-M Board of Regents told the alumni group.

Chances are, U-M's football opponents would vote with the University Regents. 

The last thing they'd want is 50,000 more screamin' Michigan fans in The Big House on Saturday.