Last year the Grosse Pointe schools got a lot of bad local publicity, and a little bad national publicity, over the spectacular mishandling of a speech by Rick Santorum at one of the local high schools.
Long story short, the superintendent got played by the teenage Young Americans for Freedom chapter. They allegedly raised the money to pay Santorum’s $18,000 speaking fee — something I don’t believe for a minute — and came to the principal with the request he speak during school hours. Even though there was a perfectly fine policy right there in the rule book saying clubs have to hold these sorts of functions after hours, the principal said yes, then no. The YAF recognized the giant blinking neon sign over that one, and exploited it. There were a few days of yadda-yadda, much of it truly embarrassing, and finally, the sage of Pennsylvania was permitted to speak.
No one remembers what he said, although I’m sure it’s Googleable. Oh, here it is: He challenged them to lead.
Even the YAF must have figured it wouldn’t be able to fool the administration two years in a row, and this year’s speaker was a great deal less sexy: Steve Forbes. Yep, that guy. Parents were presented with an opt-out option, but the hell with that, I figured, let the young people behold this sage of the late-20th-century GOP and hear his lessons.
The Freep said he gave the young people “an economics lesson.” It was not “be born rich, fail to save the family business from the rocky shoal of the internet, then fall back on a still-considerable personal fortune,” but rather, the virtues of a flat tax. What a letdown, although I’m sure Forbes himself was absolutely thrilled that someone wanted to pay for this message, one he’s been delivering since much of his audience was in utero. Loved this detail from the story:
Asia Simmons, 15, of Harper Woods and Chloe Ribco, 14, of Grosse Pointe Woods described the talk as cool and interesting.
(Kate Derringer, 17, disagreed, calling Forbes’ address “really boring.”)
Reporters got a little more out of him, asking about the Detroit bankruptcy. Guess what he said?
Forbes predicted that Detroit could recover quickly after bankruptcy with the right approach, namely a lower tax burden.
Do these guys ever get tired of beating this drum? I guess not, when a trip to Michigan on a lovely spring day is dangled in front of them.
Kate said he also praised corporations for the good work they do. Funny. Kate’s been working almost a year for a corporate-owned ice-cream restaurant that shall remain nameless, and we’ve used it several times to illustrate the need for unions in this country. Once ice cream season slows down in the fall, hours get cut way back — totally understandable. But along with the cold weather came a new wrinkle: On-call hours. Workers are expected to make no other plans for their on-call shifts and stand ready to come in if summoned, but if not summoned? No pay.
“Now you know why labor needs a voice,” I told her many times last winter, sometimes humming “Solidarity Forever.” I’ve also counseled her to quit and find something better, but it appears, like her mother, Kate never found a rut she couldn’t love. (I think that line originates with Laura Lippman.)
So, then, as the opening weekend of summer yawns before us, some bloggage:
I recall when this art theft happened. My friend Adrianne said she’d written a paper on “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” and had spent a lot of time in front of the canvas, absorbing its composition. She felt a real wound when it and 12 other works were plucked from the Gardner Museum walls and taken who-knows-where; it was an early lesson in the power of public art, one I’ve thought of many times as Detroit’s own art collection has been threatened.
Now it turns out they think they found at least some of the pieces — in the hands of organized-crime figures with Italian names. And here I thought those folks were all about Lladro.
Have a great holiday weekend, everyone. Let’s enjoy every last burger.