up into the silence green (e.e. cummings via Hilary & Bob James)

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The iPod sang this song earlier today and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head for some reason.  So join in on this jazzy ear worm (just imagine the music … or better yet, get the Hilary & Bob James CD Flesh and Blood to hear it).

up into the silence
the green silence
up into the silence
the green silence
with a white earth in it
with a white earth in it

you will go
you will go

up into the silence
the green silence
up into the silence
the green silence
with a white earth in it
with a white earth in it

you will go
you will go

out into the morning
the young morning
out into the morning
the young morning
with a warm world in it

you will go … kiss me
you will go … kiss me

on into the sunlight
the fine sunlight
on into the sunlight
the fine sunlight
with a firm day in it
with a firm day in it

you will go
you will go

up into the silence
up into the silence

you will go

kiss me will go
you will kiss me go
kiss me will go
kiss me i will go

The Power of Mackinac Island (an MBA Banking Magazine Article)

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My latest article for the mBa Banking magazine was recent published.  Check it out here!

I am a blessed father of two children, my son Alex (19 years old and off to college) and my daughter Cristiana (8 years old with a vice grip on my heart). Early in March, she got into one of her curious moods where she asks all sorts of questions. It began as follows:

“Daddy? Where did you and Mommy go for your honeymoon?”

“Well, we went to Traverse City and then later to Mackinac Island. Why do you ask?”

“Because I was wondering how far you’ve traveled. Seems like you’ve been all over the world.”

I smiled for two reasons. One, I have very fond memories of my time on Mackinac Island. My honeymoon was the first time that I had traveled north of Grand Rapids up to that point in my life. Because of that, my wife insisted that we go to Traverse City, to Mackinac Island, and that I drive our car both ways over the Bridge … in the outside lane.

The other reason I smiled is because my experience with the MBA has increased my ability to travel. Not necessarily all over the world, mind you, but thanks to the MBA I have been able to walk the halls of Congress to press our issues to our federal leaders. I have been able to walk the halls of the State Capitol in Lansing, helping our state leaders understand the reasons why we want them to “Do No Harm” when it comes to public policy and Michigan banks. I have been able to walk the streets of Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Monroe, Frankenmuth and so many other places with local community banks to share the good work that our members do in revitalizing the communities that we will live and work in.

I have returned to Mackinac Island at least 4 times since my honeymoon and each time I walk on the porch of the Grand Hotel. As I look towards the Bridge and the waters of Lake Huron I sometimes shudder at the history surrounding me. For over 127 years, the MBA has gathers at the Grand Hotel and banking leaders from across the state have witnessed the same view I see each time I’m there.

It’s a peaceful view, especially if the Sun shines on the water at a perfect angle.

It’s a view that U.S. Presidents have experienced. It’s a view that Michigan Governors have shared. It’s a view the MBA Bankers of the Years have beheld.

It’s a view that, over the course of time, has been experienced by a changing membership of banking leaders. In our May/June 2012 MBA Banking Magazine, former MBA Chair Mary Fowlie said,

“When I started as a teller in banking almost 40 years ago, all of the tellers where I worked were women and most of the managers were men. No women are CEOs, board members, CPA’s, attorneys, presidents, chief information officers, lenders, and everything else. The cultural change is that there are a lot fewer stereotypes.”

The power of Mackinac Island, the view from that porch, enhances the vision of our organization. We come to Mackinac every year and we leave empowered to make the changes that our community needs.

We come to Mackinac and we empower.

We’ve done that for 127 years now.  We’re looking forward to having you join us once again on the Island so we all can take in that view.

Latest Testimony on SB 878

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I was asked by a couple of folks in Lansing to testify in support of SB 878(Jones) that is currently before the Michigan House Committee on Regulatory Reform.  The bill would restore common sense regulation of charitable gaming in the state.  I wrote this testimony last night, with the help of my friend Angela Clock (who is working on the issue on behalf of the Michigan Jaycees).

Here’s what I said:

Good Morning Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. My name is David Worthams and while you are used to seeing me testify on behalf of Michigan financial institutions, today I come before you as the 87th Past State President and a Life Member of the Michigan Junior Chamber.

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, a couple weeks back we heard a large amount of testimony from the Gaming Control Board regarding the problems that charitable millionaire parties are causing in Michigan. We’ve heard that the respective charities are either lazy or are part of a racket. We’ve heard that our arguments are personal attacks on the Director and his staff and are not indicative of the necessity the current structure of charitable (prior to the adoption of these rules).

Let me say very clearly, the Director and his are honorable people, just like the members of this committee are honorable people, just like those of us who are members of charities throughout Michigan.

I come here as a representative of the Michigan Junior Chamber, a leadership organization of young adults on both sides of the bridge aged 21 – 40. In our 90 year history, our chapters have used the Bingo Act and charitable gaming to raise funds not only for our operations but for the building of parks that beautify our state, the purchasing of shoes for poor children, the acquisition of school supplies for low income students, and many other things that improve the quality of life of the people of Michigan. We do these things not because we look to prove we are honorable people, but because we want to learn how to provide these things so we are ready when you and your colleagues reach your term limits and have to turn over the keys to the next generation.

There are three things today that I wish to point out to you as major concerns with the current rules that Sen. Jones’ bill will address. Firstly, the importance of the role of the legislature. This is something that Senator Pappageorge pointed out and Senator Bert Johnson remarked to me personally about during the second JCAR hearing on the rules. If the Act is not sufficient to protect the interests of the citizens of Michigan, it is the proper role of the Legislature – not the administration, to create policies to address those shortcomings.

Now, the Director (an honorable man) will tell you that the Legislature has failed to Act and he must react to the silence because rackets are growing and safety is compromised. But what if the silence of the Legislature has been misinterpreted? What if the legislative silence is consent for charitable gaming? In fact, to my knowledge (and I’ll be glad to be corrected by the Minority Vice Chair if my memory is lacking) there have three bills introduced or drafted to allow for charitable gaming. There have been no bills to eliminate gaming as these rules are seeking to do. The bills drafted are looking to update the Bingo Act to reflect current practice … and updating the Act is something we believe needs to be addressed by the proper authority. It needs to be addressed by the you, the Legislature.

The Director will suggest that the rules won’t eliminate gaming, but I disagree. The rules are designed to increase the difficulty a charity has in order to run a charitable gaming room. 3 people must be on site according to the rules. What are the 3 people to do? In many cases, if there are multiple people standing around, twiddling their thumbs … safety and security is not increased because people will trip over themselves looking for something to do. In addition, many of our Jaycee chapters are small, consisting of less than 30 people who are professionals and have jobs. It will be difficult for small charities to meet the requirement of 3 people. While we are grateful that the requirement was decreased over the rule making process, it is still highly difficult.

Lastly, language in the current rules is very broad when it comes to the discretion of the Director in approving or denying licenses. This makes sense, considering the rules were written by the Director. The current Director may have an internal policy that says “We’ll approve everything.” What happens when a new Director is appointed by a different administration and decides “Enough is enough” will be the new policy? This will harm the charities who filling in those gaps that the state government has not been able to.

On behalf of the Michigan Junior Chamber, I ask that you continue to be the honorable people that you are. Support Sen. Jones’ bill and allow charities of all sizes throughout this state the ability to continue serving the people of this state.

2014 Bayshore 1/2 Marathon

2014 Bayshore Post Race Orange Picture
The Tradition post race orange picture with Angela!

I started running in 2012, thanks to my friend Angela doing the Couch to 5K program.  I didn’t think I’d get into it at first, but here we are 3 years later and I’ve just completed my 3rd 1/2 Marathon – the 32nd Annual Bayshore 1/2 Marathon.

Angela and I ran the Bayshore 10k last year.  The course runs along East Grand Traverse Bay and on a beautiful spring day, it is very pretty.  We felt good about it and about the fact that 2014 is to be our year of bling, that we decided to run the 1/2 this year.  This year, our friend Emma Baranowski joined us this year to run the 10K and to cheer us in (in a very aggressive way).

2014 Bayshore Packet Pickup
Emma, Angela, and Me at 2013 Bayshore Packet Pick Up

Now, the one thing that both Angela and I noticed when we first ran the Bayshore last year was that the packet pick up area was at, frankly, the closest thing we’ve ever experienced to the 90210 school. As we walked into Traverse City Central High School, the building was one of the most immaculate things we set our eyes on.  I couldn’t help but to start singing the 90210 theme out loud.

Packet pick up is also one of the smoothest operations experienced in any race that I’ve been a part of.  Not crowded, in and out in less than 10 minutes (and that includes picking up a new water bottle and some sports beans).

2014 Bayshore Bus Ride to Start
Riding the 2014 Bayshore 1/2 Bus … 90210 Style!

 

We're On A Bus!
We’re On A Bus!

This year’s 1/2 was a slightly different course than in the past.  The start of the course was moved over to Bowers Harbor.  In order to get to the start, runners have to jump on school buses and take about a 30 minute ride to Bowers Harbor park.  Even the school buses are 90210 like. Tall backed seats. Stereo blaring a little Boston … yeah I was looking for Brenda and/or Brandon.

I had an opportunity to review the new course a few weeks back, when I was up in Traverse City for the MBA BEST Conference.  I saw right away that the 1/2 course was going to be beautiful.  I also noticed that the first 2.5 miles were going to be a bitch … because of the hill.

It’s more than a hill.  It’s a frickin mountain followed by three other hills.  While it was nice to have the downhill approach into the road along East Bay … it also zapped a whole lot of energy out of me.   Later in the day, as we were heading back home, Angela basically told me “If you ever say the words Bowers Harbor again, I will hurt you!”

2014 Bayshore 1/2 Marathon Course Map
2014 Bayshore 1/2 Marathon Course Map

Once the buses dropped us off at Bowers Harbor park, it was about an hour wait until the gun.  Fortunately, the sun came up and made sure that the 49 degrees that the thermometer read didn’t feel all that bad.  Angela truly appreciated the fact that there was about 50 porta-potties available in the park.   This is a good thing considering there were about 2700 runners in this year’s 1/2.

 

The starting chute at Bowers Harbor
The starting chute at Bowers Harbor

Despite the hill, I felt good about the first 5k of the race.  In what might have been a mistake, I really pushed myself on the downhill parts of the course.  I wanted to go as fast as I could comfortably go so I could get ahead of my pace. I wanted to finish in 2:30 and figured if I could be ahead of that for the first 8 miles, I’d be OK.

Jamie Helsen photobombs a picture of the Bay over the hill.
Jamie Helsen photobombs a picture of the Bay over the hill.

The awesome thing about the hills in the first 5k, they come down to the bay.  The view is awesome, even when other runners (and friends like Jamie) photobombs the Bay! ;)

2014 Bayshore Mile 4See what I mean?

There were 4 perceivable walls that I felt myself hit during the race, at 5, 7, 9, and 12 miles.  The one nice thing about the walls, they were usually followed by a water/Gatorade station shortly thereafter.  There was also so pretty good signs that I decided I would take a picture of, including:

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You Thought This Was A Good Idea 4 Months Ago!
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I Used to Work with Him in the Senate! Go Jamie Go!
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You Think You’re Tired? My Arms are Killing Me From Holding This Sign! LOL!

But I think the best sign that I saw, right around the 11 or 12 mile mark was this one:

2014 Bayshore Mile 10

My final time (according to the chip) was 2:37, about 9 minutes slower than what I did in Grand Rapids … but not too bad considering I did miss some training due to colds and work getting in the way.

But time aside, this is what I came for and this is what I got!

2014 Bayshore Post Race Medals
BLING BABY BLING!!!

 

The traditional orange in our mouths picture!
The traditional orange in our mouths picture!
2014 Bayshore Post Race
And we’re back in Jetta Force One to hit a winery, grab some food, and to take a nap when we get home!

Can’t wait until the next one, whether it’s Detroit or Grand Rapids or something else!

Real Racism –Stop Lying About It

On a recent drive home from Lansing, I turned on my SiriusXM radio and caught part of an interview between Dan Le Batard and Bomani Jones. They were talking about the Donald Sterling incident and, for the most part, Jones was saying exactly what I feel about the whole situation. The time has come for everyone, me included, to stop lying about race in America. You see, this whole thing is going to blow up a number of issues in our society, which is a good thing. We all should want this explosion to happen before we get back to being comfortable on the status quo of race relations in America.

If you haven’t heard the full copy of Sterling’s rant, or only heard the bits and pieces that TMZ has pushed out, then you may think that the gist of the audio is that of a very rich man in Los Angeles who lost his mind and started complaining about black people attending basketball games with the girlfriend he has on the side (said girlfriend being sued by his wife). It is very easy to make that the target of our horrified faces.

What a bad thing to say you very bad man!

There’s another part of the story that some pick up on. This girlfriend recorded her man in his home, where there’s an expectation of privacy and shared it with the world without his permission. What the hell?!! Does she work for the NSA? How unfair of her to take advantage of a bumbling old man by tricking him into saying vile things and recording it! Perhaps it’s all a part of a conspiracy to force Sterling to sell the team to Magic Johnson?

Still, others will pick up on the angle that the First Amendment should protect Sterling from having to lose ownership of the Clippers because we all have the right to say what we want. We also have the right to have our own opinions about any subject, even if they are not popular with the others who are playing in the public sandbox.

Very few, however, have picked up on the big issue here. How easy is it to point out obvious racism and do nothing about “real racism”? Kudos to Jones and to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for being among the few who get it.

Jones said in his interview, “This is the only opportunity that a lot of people out here will have where they feel comfortable within their souls and within their psyches to stand against racism. Because it’s so easy to do it on this right here and because it’s so scandalous … it’s such a funny story when it comes to it right there. So everybody is like ‘Well I can’t miss my chance to speak down on racism because the next time comes and it’s real racism that me and you are actually talking about and the rest of them are being silent that’s when you can pop up and say I said something about Donald Sterling!'”

There it is.

The other owners of the NBA, the sponsors of the Clippers, TMZ, Fox News, CNN, ESPN, the NBA players themselves, Oprah, Magic, you and me and our neighbors. We are all jumping over ourselves to throw a stone at Donald Sterling for what he said. Where the hell were we and where were our stones for the things that Donald Sterling did? Where are we going to be when the real racism is seen, ’cause it’s already here?

What is real racism? Is it, as in Sterling’s case, not having your woman or your man be seen in public with a minority because that is embarrassing to the other folks in your clique? Is it a minority woman shaking her head because you are seen with your wife, who happens to be a white woman? Is it a situation of groupthink from people who cannot fathom the idea that a black man can be the elected head of the local Republican Party? (Tsk tsk , “Worthams is a sellout isn’t he?”) Is it pointing out that anyone who disagrees with the President is a racist or is un-American? Is it not calling a minority doctor by their title? Is it found in calling Dr. Williams or President Obama, Mr. Williams or Mr. Obama instead?

By the way, how did you refer to George W. Bush when he lived in the White House? Just curious.

No, these are all the easy aspects of racism that we can turn our collective noses up at. Jabbar said in Time Magazine, “He was discriminating against black and Hispanic families for years, preventing them from getting housing. It was public record. We did nothing. Suddenly he says he doesn’t want his girlfriend posing with Magic Johnson on Instagram and we bring out the torches and the rope. Shouldn’t we have all called for his resignation back then?”

There it is again.

Where is the real racism in our nation?

It’s the turning a blind eye to the 2003 actions of Donald Sterling by his peers and his community and of the Los Angeles Branch of the NAACP who gave this man a life-time achievement award because he cut a very big check. 19 plaintiffs in 2003 sued him for housing discrimination. He was accused of driving blacks and Latinos out of buildings he owned. This type of discrimination has been destroying cities, and more importantly, lives, all across this land. As middle class minorities try to empower themselves, instances of housing discrimination hinders the attempt because in many cases not only do people lose out on quality housing but they all lose out on the opportunity for their children to have access to quality schools and educational opportunities.

He was sued in 2003 and had to pay $5 million for it. Very few of us know about this because very few reported it and even more ignored it. A second suit was much of the same, because he refused to rent apartments to black people, to Latinos, and to people with children. The cost that time – $2.75 million and it was not big news.

Look at Chicago. Look at Detroit. Look at Muskegon Heights. Look at Benton Harbor. Now ask yourself why are there are many large tracts of land that are like battle zones? There are places in Chicago, as pointed in Jones’ interview, where people are fighting and dying for turf, while a highway runs through their yards allowing people to go from the suburbs to their jobs without having to set foot in “the hood.” This weekend, there will be people from West Michigan who will take the train to Chicago so they can go shopping and visit a museum. Very few will notice the areas the train moves through on their way to the Magnificent Mile.

How many people will be on the train complimenting the NBA Owners for their inevitable vote to depose Donald Sterling for his very bad words, but won’t think about why some people can’t get a nice house in Lisle.

Now keep in mind, I’m a republican. I don’t believe that government should ensure everyone has the same as everyone else. That comes from strong work and discipline.

But the time has come for our society to stop jumping on the easiest soapbox around to scream in the wind. We must stop lying about our concerns about racism. Either we care and are going to do something about this or we are going to go get comfortable on our couches, grab a remote, and watch game 7 between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs.

Thoughts and other random things from a guy named Dave Worthams

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