Letters to the Editor — October 21, 2010

Open letter from the family of David Vanderlaan

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my community for the outpouring of kindness and support. I grew up in Rockford, and my husband and I decided it was the obvious best place to raise our children. Little did we know at that time the Rockford community would someday come to our aid in a time of need that showed the real character, compassion and humanity of our little town.

My heartfelt thanks go out to the volunteers, along with my husband’s two best friends, Brandon Stocki and T.J. Burton, that spent the countless hours searching for my husband went he went missing and then when his body was found.

I want to say a personal thank-you to the Rockford Chief of Police Jones and the entire department for going way beyond the call of duty in the recovery of his body from the river. We need to appreciate them more for their dedicated service. They are among our unsung heroes.

The warmth and compassion expressed by my neighbors, my Lakes Elementary moms and friends, was so comforting in my time of need—more than I can possibly express in words.

The outpouring of concern and compassion from my children’s teachers and staff at Lakes Elementary has sometimes brought me to good tears. I feel reassured that my children are in good hands when at school. The teachers’ and staff’s presence at my husband’s funeral showed their commitment to the overall well being of my children and for the days and months ahead.

Our school teachers are our present heroes that need our recognition and praise.

I truly know now why Rockford was my choice to call home.

God bless you all. 

Deanna Vanderlaan and children

Political ads ‘simply deplorable!’ 

Dear Editor,

Once again we are being inundated by the unlimited political budgets available to both parties in an election year. It certainly seems suspicious that millions and millions of advertising dollars are available to candidates striving to actually get or retain a “job” in Michigan that pays $79k plus for state offices and $174k for federal offices. This letter isn’t about salaries, though elected Michigan legislators have the “second highest” pay of any state, which certainly doesn’t correlate with our “high unemployment rate” or a pay for performance approach, but I digress and that is another matter for another time.

From the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) role in “Truth in Advertising,” which the BBB has done for 99 years or so, this letter is about the ”simply deplorable” state of political advertising we are subjected to every two years. To begin with, political advertising is generally perceived to have one of the lowest levels of credibility with the public. Self-regulation of consumer advertising has been a staple of BBB’s work for years and, in my 18 years serving 38 western Michigan counties, we have seen a significant improvement in truthful consumer advertising in highly competitive industries and competitive economies.

For the most part, I would estimate 98% plus of all regional advertisers follow the ethical and legal requirements for truthful advertising. The real tragedy is that political advertising lies outside the purview of BBB’s self regulation and isn’t really policed by any agency in a timely fashion, unless of course you make a foolish mistake with a political “yard sign” which actually has laws. So let’s get this straight: your yard sign ad can be yanked into some courtroom (ASAP) if your “yard signs” have a mistake in their content or timing, but you can constantly run questionable TV/radio ads virtually without any fear of repercussions and with a “wink wink” mentality. You won’t get in any trouble before any election if you:

• misrepresent so-called facts and twist them to your favor;

• take and use your opponent’s quotes totally out of context;

• edit or Photoshop your opponent’s pictures and comments to meet your own political statement;

• darned near, flat-out lie, because no one enforces seemingly nonexistent political advertising regulations;

• spend three million for a job which pays $174k per year;

• hide behind the federally and state approved “anonymous” advertisers clause.

That said, it is simply deplorable to advertise how poorly your opponent’s job creation or unemployment record is in Michigan when the truth is most of the job losses are directly contributable to the self-inflicted, near demise of the U.S. auto industry. Then again, it is simply deplorable to suggest your opponent has purchased goods from China (who doesn’t buy globally) for resale in the U.S. Michigan statistics re unemployment/job losses, high school drop-out rates, housing foreclosures, net population losses, etc. are all disconcerting to anyone who cares and should be the starting point for actual solutions. Questionable ads to elect questionable candidates aren’t exactly the solution we should be seeking. Leadership isn’t about whining about your opponent, it is about finding solutions, and sometimes very tough solutions, to problems. And, as everyone knows, we have long-term, systemic problems in Michigan. As the BBB has said for 99 years, “If it [political ads] sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”

We need to do something different, and one simple solution is to only allow political candidates to talk about their own results or their own solutions and prohibit candidates from talking about their opponents. This will force candidates to actually focus on what they would do or what they have done. To summarize: Political advertising can’t be trusted; leaders don’t whine, they find solutions; nobody enforces or even blinks about deplorable political claims (unless of course it is a yard sign); and even if you are on the “DO NOT CALL” phone list, politicians can make “robo calls” and disturb your dinner hour by telling you their opponent is awful and they are great. Question everything you hear, read or see; believe in RESULTS. 

Ken Vander Meeden
President, BBB of Western Michigan

Game earns RPS $43,675 

Dear Editor,

On behalf of the Rockford Public Schools Board of Education, I want to thank the Rockford school-community for your support of the Rockford/Muskegon football game played at Fifth Third Ballpark on October 1. After all expenses have been paid, RPS earned a profit of $43,675. Those dollars will help fund grades 7-12 boys’ and girls’ athletic programs, with a portion allocated to the marching band program. During a very tough economy, these revenues will definitely benefit our students. 

Thank you,
Dr. Mike Shibler, Superintendent
Rockford Public Schools

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