Sunshine Week: Transparency Is for Everybody

Sunshine Week: Transparency Is for Everybody

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
March 22, 2015

Sunshine Week is a national initiative spearheaded by the American Society of News Editors to educate the public about the importance of open government and the dangers of excessive and unnecessary secrecy. It was actually March 15–21 this year, but I had just found out the bit about our Governor and legislators being exempt for FOI requests, so I figured the week after was still topical. The cartoon itself is kind of a reaction to last week’s cartoon about open carry. The comments continued to pour in with the majority summarily dismissing any larger point I was attempting to make by lumping me into a political category — liberal dirtbag in this case. It’s unfortunate because it salts the earth to prevent any sort of real discussion from growing, which is exactly what excessive and unnecessary secrecy needs to thrive.

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Open Carry — Why Are You So Uncomfortable?

Open Carry — Why Are You So Uncomfortable?

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
March 15, 2015

As you might imagine, I have received quite a bit of feedback on this one. People are passionate about guns in these United States, so it’s not at all surprising. Really, the only thing I don’t quite understand is how questioning the wisdom of open carry at public events makes me a feminine hygiene product. But more than one person seems convinced of this.

Recently in Ann Arbor there was a young man who walked into a high school for a choir concert with a gun on open display on his hip. Because of the way Michigan concealed weapon laws work, this was perfectly legal, but it still caused quite a stir. Soon thereafter more than 25 others open carried into a school board meeting. There was a similar test of wills going in in Grand Rapids last year at public meetings with the city council.

America is a large and varied land with a large and varied people. It’s difficult to make one-size-fits-all laws. That’s why it’s so important for people to consider the consequences of their actions. It may be legal to attend a school event or crowded public meeting with a gun on open display, but it doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea. It completely changes the focus. So it’s no longer, “looking forward to hearing my kid sing” or “I want a stop sign at the end of my street.” It’s “who’s the dude with the gun?” That’s more than a little selfish. And if you are doing it to prove a point, well then you can’t play the victim when people are upset with you.

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What Do Young People in Michigan Want?

What Do Young People in Michigan Want?

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
March 8, 2015

For years now in Michigan there has been this ongoing pattern of people in charge fretting over younger people leaving the state. There is all the standard lip service for “the youth are our future” and the need to grow and the next generation and blah blah blah. There is a vague sort of “we need to do something” and the natural follow up of “what would that be?” Then it’s “let’s ask young people,” lots of self-congratulations for being so smart to think of such a thing, the youth are asked, their requests sound expensive and politically inconvenient, it’s back to business as usual, and more young people leave the state. Must be they don’t like winters, huh?

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The Pitch for the May Ballot Proposal, Interpreted

The Pitch for the May Ballot Proposal, Interpreted

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
February 28, 2015

As the cartoon says, this May 5th Michiganders will vote on a ballot proposal for fixing our roads. Well, that’s the pitch. It’s actually much more (and needlessly) complicated than that. Which is why proponents have been having a difficult time finding people willing to shill for it. I mean, literally. A public relations firm lined up to sell the virtues quit earlier this year, and it seems nobody can find a replacement. Legislators who voted to make voters vote are now sitting on the fence en masse (weasels? lemmings? what’s a mammal that has no guts? that’s the metaphor to use here). And although Governor Snyder manages to say something positive on occasion, it is certainly not the relentless positive we’ve come to expect from him. It’s a mess. I just thought that needed to be clarified.

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Cruel, Pervasive, and Can Kill You

Cruel, Pervasive, and Can Kill You

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
February 22, 2015

Early Thursday morning as I made my way across the breezeway roof to my office to draw this very cartoon, I slipped on some hidden ice — very nearly falling backward and dashing my brains upon the door jam. Which confirmed the idea for the cartoon was good.

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Because All of Our Other Problems Have Been Already Resolved?

Because All of Our Other Problems Have Been Already Resolved?

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
February 15, 2015

It wasn’t a big news story. Or even an important one. But this effort to approve self-serve machines for alcohol — it was definitely one that made me stop and think, “seriously? This is a solution for a pressing need?” It needed to be disparaged….

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Playing the DC Slots

Playing the DC Slots

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
February 8, 2015

See? This is a perfect example of why politics can be so exasperating. After years of stonewalling by Michigan Republicans bought off by billionaire Matty Moroun owner of the Ambassador Bridge, Governor Snyder figured out a way to get approved a second span from Detroit to Windsor. Canada agreed to finance the whole thing. All the United States had to do was pay for the construction of the customs plaza on our side. The Democratic Obama administration was loathe to do this last year, lest Republican Governor Snyder be able to hold up this as an important (and voter popular) accomplishment in his reelection campaign. Okay, fine, but now it’s not an election year, and the money still isn’t there. Michiganders dutifully keep feeding our tax money into the machine, but nothing ever seems to come out. What’s the problem?

After drawing the cartoon it now appears the problem is a Republican and Democratic joint effort to try to stiff Canada for paying for our customs plaza, too. And it’s probably gonna work that way. Hmmmm… why do other countries seem to hate us?…

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How Does He Even Have My Number?

How Does He Even Have My Number?

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
February 1, 2015

The joke here is that Michigan governor Rick Snyder is a Republican, and he is having similar challenges with his Republican legislature as President Obama is with the Republican congress. The indignant email feedback I’ve received so far has been solely about the potshot I took at FoxNews. Hmmm… missing the larger point by completely fixating on a relatively minor issue…. Yeah, they’re not helping their case.

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Other Work on the River of Opportunity

Other Work on the River of Opportunity

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
January 25, 2015

In Governor Snyder’s State of the State address, he spoke of a metaphorical “River of Opportunity” and his plans to widen it to include more of Michigan’s struggling residents. Good idea. I tried to help him out with a few more.

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The NRA’s Only Solution

The NRA's Only Solution

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
January 18, 2015

So here’s the point: When I was growing up, I had many friends and neighbors who were members of the National Rifle Association (NRA). It was an organization focused on promoting safe gun use to hunters, collectors, and general enthusiasts. The NRA provided practical services to those with a genuine interest and use for their weapons.

Today, the NRA’s primary focus has clearly morphed into promoting gun sales. Sure, there is still the stuff about gun safety, but its enormous power and influence, its lobbyists and lawyers did not come from gun safety. It has grown from pushing gun sales to new markets. As the number of hunters and outdoorsman has waned, sales have skyrocketed to urban and suburban dwellers, many of whom don’t necessarily like or need guns but feel compelled (usually by fear) to buy them.

The NRA has been so successful that sometimes it gets blinded by its own ideology. Such is the case with a recent bill (SB 789) passed by the Michigan legislature during the lame duck session in December. The purpose of the bill is to reorganize how concealed weapon licenses are issued in Michigan counties. Mostly it is about changing the arbiter from a gun board to the state police. But slipped into the bill was an important change: Currently anybody that has a personal protection order (PPO) against them cannot be issued a concealed weapon license. The bill would have changed that and made it much more complicated. On Friday, Governor Snyder vetoed it citing the risk to domestic violence victims.

If it remains important to the NRA that a handful of people with questionable PPOs are allowed concealed weapons, then they can get a legislator to write a specific bill and try to pass it on its own merit. But I don’t think it does, and that’s why they tried to slip it into a bill that actually did have merit.

Just to be clear: My issue is not with the constitution and the 2nd amendment. My issue is not with gun ownership and our rights as Americans. My issue is not even with guns themselves. My issue, in this cartoon, is with what the NRA has become.

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