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For The Week Of April 15, 2018 Through April 21, 2018

A ‘Night Court’ Memory; Yeah, It Is Kinda About That ‘Night Court’

By John Lindstrom
Posted: April 19, 2018 12:55 PM

Comedian and actor Harry Anderson was found dead in his home this week at age 65. He built a legendary following for his role as Judge Harry Stone on the 1980s NBC sitcom, “Night Court.”

In many ways his character was like himself, according to his friends and colleagues, a goofy guy who was also a magician, fond of hats and loud ties, who adored the music of Mel Torme. Of which much was made in the popular show.

Mr. Anderson’s co-stars, friends and fans took to the contemporary manner expressing grief, i.e. Twitter, to, well, express their grief. John Larroquette, who played prosecutor Dan Fielding on the show, said Mr. Anderson was “wicked smart,” and “wicked funny” with a big heart and the ability to “eat a hamster like no one I ever knew.”

John Ratzenberger, who played postman Cliff Clavin on “Cheers” (where Mr. Anderson first gained attention for a guest role as “Harry the Hat”) said of Mr. Anderson, “See you later pal.”

And then, there was this remembrance from Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget McCormack. No, no, no, no, no, she did not appear on “Night Court.” Nor for that matter did her sister, actress Mary McCormack.

But she had a night court memory which sort of related to “Night Court.”

Tweeted she: “My first lawyer job was a public defender in Manhattan, where we had 24-hour arraignments. I worked the overnight shift (midnight to 8 a.m.) whenever I could, because it paid extra and because, well, what’s more interesting than Night Court really.”

Ms. McCormack did not further tweet as to what some of those experiences may have been. However, anyone who has had an overnight adventure in Manhattan can anticipate that such court experiences had to have included drunkenness, lewdness and doppyness (in whatever way one choose to define doppyness).

She was asked who her “Bull” was, referring the massive bailiff in the show played by actor Richard Moll. “Billy was his name,” she replied.

Still, whatever those experiences in the real night court Ms. McCormack … enjoyed, perhaps, it’s hard to imagine they could have topped this:

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Demographic Adjustments Show Michigan Students Are … Worse?

By Christopher Klaver
Staff Writer
Posted: April 18, 2018 1:58 PM

Much hay has been made in recent years about poverty rates and their relation to standardized test scores. Michigan has struggled on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in recent years, and many have pointed to the state’s relative child poverty rate as a reason it is falling behind.

Critics of standardized tests have said the scores are statistically proxies for poverty rates and have consistently backed that up with data.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has issued an annual counter to the state’s top to bottom list of schools, which was largely based on scores on the state’s standardized test. The Mackinac Center’s list, which corrected for poverty, moved a number of schools from the bottom of the list to the middle or even top.

So Michigan should move up among the states if its poverty rates are taken into account, right?

Well, no, according to research from EducationNext and the Urban Institute. Matthew Chingos, director of the Urban Institute’s Education Policy Program, and Kristin Blagg, a research associate at the institute, created a database that allowed them to correct the 2017 NAEP scores for a variety of factors, including poverty rates in 2015 (the most recent available).

For some states, the adjustment helped, at least on fourth grade mathematics scores. Florida moved from one of the better states to well out in front and Texas moved from among the bottom states to second.

Michigan, though, moved backward. From about the middle of the pack to third worst.

Theoretically, then, higher-income students are substantially carrying the state and poorer students are not performing nearly as well as their counterparts across the nation.

To be fair to Michigan, only 15 states saw their average scores adjusted upward by accounting for poverty, and only a few of those by enough to really move their position among the states (Louisiana, Mississippi and New Mexico all moved into the middle of the pack from the bottom with the adjustment).

Michigan also did not see the biggest drop in average score by accounting for poverty. Hawaii dropped from among the top states to last, and by several points. New Hampshire, Vermont and Wyoming also saw big drops in their standing.

Of particular note was that adjusting for poverty brought most of the states much closer together. The unadjusted scores spread the middle group of states across about 12 points. Taking out poverty brought most states to within six points of each other.

Unfortunately, Michigan is one of the states that would fall well outside that tight grouping in the middle.

There are of course questions about how the researchers made their adjustments to the scores, and they acknowledged some shortfalls in the free and reduced lunch rates that are the proxy for poverty in school data.

Nonetheless, the study shows Michigan still has far to go to reach the target of a top 10 education state and that it must find ways to meet the needs of its poorer students to hit that target.

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Nassar Victims Turn Against Engler

By Zachary Gorchow
Posted: April 17, 2018 4:44 PM

When former Governor John Engler became the interim president of Michigan State University amid the tumult of the Larry Nassar scandal, those who survived the sexual abuse inflicted upon them by Nassar mostly decided to give him a chance.

Rachael Denhollander, the first of Nassar’s victims to publicly accuse him, initially criticized the choice but then said she would wait and see how he operated before judging him as allies like Sen. Margaret O’Brien (R-Portage) said they thought Mr. Engler could succeed at bringing reforms to the university and reaching a settlement with Nassar’s victims in the lawsuits they brought.

That seems like a long time ago now.

It’s apparent from their public statements that Nassar’s survivors, Ms. Denhollander included, are done with Mr. Engler after a series of events, the most serious of which took place last week.

Kaylee Lorincz, a Nassar victim, said at Friday’s MSU Board of Trustees meeting that at a meeting that included her, Mr. Engler, two top MSU staff and her mother in which she hoped to share her story, Mr. Engler said cooperation between the university and Nassar’s victims could not occur until a settlement is reached in the lawsuits. Ms. Lorincz’s attorney was not present.

Ms. Lorincz said Mr. Engler then asked if he wrote her a check for $250,000, would she take it. After she balked at the question and a subsequent one she said he asked about what number it would take, she said Mr. Engler said he had met with Ms. Denhollander and she had given him a number. Ms. Denhollander subsequently said in a tweet she has never met with Mr. Engler, nor given him a number. Ms. Lorincz said she felt bullied by Mr. Engler into revealing information that would help MSU in settlement talks.

In a prepared statement, Mr. Engler said his memory of the meeting was different than Ms. Lorincz’s but never outright denied Ms. Lorincz’s allegation.

This incident wrecked whatever credibility Mr. Engler had left with the Nassar victims, and it was already in tatters after he criticized Senate legislation that would end government immunity in situations involving sexual assault and retroactively lengthen the statute of limitations on sexual assault lawsuits.

Only the five people in the room know exactly what was said but the idea that Mr. Engler raised the civil litigation and possible terms of settlement without her attorney present, if that is in fact what happened, is a major gaffe at best and breach of legal ethics at worst.

There will be a resign rally on the MSU campus Friday demanding the resignations of Mr. Engler and the entire Board of Trustees, which hired him.

All this underlines the festering reality that MSU has yet to settle the lawsuits from Nassar’s victims.

On the one hand, it’s easier said than done. It is going to take big money, easily hundreds of millions, perhaps pushing $1 billion, given the more than 200 victims.

On the other hand, developments continue to come to light that would seem to raise the price of a settlement. The most significant was the charges against Nassar’s former boss, Dr. William Strampel, accusing him of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty. He’s accused of sexually harassing students as well.

The Strampel charges have dramatically weakened one of the defenses MSU has mounted in court to the lawsuits, that Nassar fooled everyone and that no one believed he had committed any crimes. No doubt Nassar did fool many people, but the charges suggest the person overseeing him, Mr. Strampel, harbors a world view conditioned toward seeing women as playthings, not people to be believed. Mr. Strampel was the one who failed to ensure new protocols for Nassar when seeing patients – wearing rubber gloves, asking permission before digitally penetrating patients’ vaginas, having a parent in the room – were followed.

The parties are in mediation now. The sooner MSU can get this case settled, the sooner it can show Nassar’s survivors it truly is taking them seriously. The sooner it can extricate itself from the worst chapter in its 168-year history.

But presuming a settlement does occur, it will be too late for Nassar’s survivors to see Mr. Engler as an ally.

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Calls For Gun Control Get Loudest Applause At Dem Convention

By Alethia Kasben
Staff Writer
Posted: April 16, 2018 4:42 PM

DETROIT – The Michigan Democratic Party endorsement convention heard from elected officials across the state and nominated its first openly gay candidate for statewide office over the weekend, but even Dana Nessel didn’t get the standing ovation that four teenagers calling for gun control received Sunday.

Four teenagers addressed 6,700 Democrats at their endorsement convention to call for gun control in the wake of school shootings nationwide. The most recent in Parkland, Florida, killed 17 people.

Brooke Solomon, 15, said young people, particularly students in schools that could experience shootings, want to be part of the conversation. She told the crowd if politicians don’t want to be part of the conversation, they will be voted out.

“That’s not a threat,” she said after the applause died down enough so she could speak again. “It’s a promise.”

Those students’ calls for gun control got the loudest applause of the evening and everyone was on their feet.

Democrats held their endorsement convention on Sunday and informally chose their 2018 candidates for the Supreme Court, secretary of state and attorney general. The event’s participation was historic at 6,704.

Other issues brought up by different candidates throughout the day to get the loudest reaction were Republican policies leading to the Flint water crisis, Nestle’s permit to obtain 576,000 gallons of water per day from White Pine Springs, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ education policies and the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline.

Democrats are hoping to sweep the elections come November and those are some of the issues you can expect to hear about from candidates up and down the ticket as the primary and general elections get closer.

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