Robin Williams – RIP

robin-williams-slice1A Legendary artist, actor, comedian – Robin Williams passed away yesterday.  I admired him because of his wit and his courage.  He didn’t shy away from publicly fighting the disease of depression and addiction.

To honor him, I say “Captain, My Captain!” and share this Walt Whitman poem(one that Robin shared with us in the movie Dead Poets Society) with you:

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck the Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up — for you the flag is flung — for you the bugle trills,
For you the bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths — for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning,
Here Captain! dear father!
The arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

 

Latest from Brunch with Bridge – “A Toast to those with the courage to say ‘Vote for Me’.

Here’s my latest column that I wrote for the Brunch with Bridge website:

August in Michigan brings an election to our front door steps. The August primary is upon us and while many politicos see this as the warmup to the November general election shindig, many forget this week will be the end of a number of campaigns.

The end of the road is a tough thing to face when you’re a candidate. In some cases, it’s the completion of the “Green Mile” because you’re fighting against a well-funded incumbent and you’ve been walking uphill the entire way. In other cases, it’s a coronation and the completion of a campaign plan that worked perfectly.

Everyone who runs will be able share interesting stories about campaigning door-to-door – dogs barking, doors slamming, people showing up in just a towel, and other fun things. There’ll be stories about beautiful houses. There’ll be stories about never ending driveways with inclines that make the shins burn. Some will be humorous and some will be sad. But there will always be stories.

I have worked campaigns for people throughout the state. I can share stores about offers of Jack Daniels and lemonade; of a woman wishing to surprise her significant other on a hot summer day and how she turned beet-red when she realized I wasn’t him; stories of German shepherds finding my arm more tasty than a dog biscuit. I wonder, however, how many of the stories end with people who say to a candidate “Thank you for running.” I imagine there won’t be much of that.

Many of these legislative districts are drawn so that the election is determined on filing day. Many are determined by who wins in August. Sometimes, an incumbent may shrug their shoulders and curse the “annoyance” of having to even bother with the primary. Of the seven legislative districts that impact Kalamazoo county (U.S. House 6, Michigan Senate 20 and 26, Michigan House 60, 61, 63 and 66), there are contested primaries in five of them, involving 11 people.

There are two things that voters should remember when it comes to Aug. 5. First (and foremost), get out there to vote. Even if there’s only one person on the ballot, the opportunity to exercise our right to choose is one that we too easily take for granted. Second, these candidates have invested their time and energy to knock on your door, to meet you, to get to know you. We should be grateful for that.

By now most of our readers know the story of Abraham Lincoln. Here’s a guy who lost more elections than he won. Lincoln suffered from intense episodes of depression and yet, he is considered to be the greatest president of the United States. It’s a common story shared with those who we ask to try and try again. In my political career, I am 3 for 3 when it comes to the August primary. I am 0 for 3 for the general election. If I have to hear the story of Abraham Lincoln one more time…

But the words “Thank you for having the courage to run” do more for building a candidate’s perseverance than anything else. It recognizes the courage it takes to face the unknown, the courage to serve the public more so than oneself.

So, to Fred Upton, Jim Bussler, Margaret O’Brien, Ron Zuiderveen, Dave Buskirk, Pamela Brown Goodacre, Jon Hoadley, Brandt Iden, Phil Stinchcomb, Dave Maturen, Vic Potter, and all of the candidates who are facing a contested election this week, thank you very much for giving us a choice. No matter what happens Tuesday night, you will have much to be proud of.

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.

Thoughts and other random things from a guy named Dave Worthams

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