A few odds and ends on a Friday before a holiday weekend ...
 Looks like there's more than meets the eye with St. Mary's hospital's sudden and unexpected withdrawal of support from the Catherine's Care Center medical clinic for the indigent, as reported here last week. What's becoming clear is that the decision was made without the knowledge of St. Mary's executive staff and was in fact prompted by a vendor for the hospital who disliked the doctor who has been donating his time and talent to the Care Center. The whole thing stinks, folks, and threatens the well-being of one of the most effective healthcare programs for our community's impoverished citizens. I'll have more on this story for you next week.
 Better late than never. Looks like the editorial writers for the Grand Rapids Press have gotten aboard our bandwagon in demanding that the Grand Rapids Public School District return to the taxpayers the 2.5 million bucks it raised from them last year to buy new school busses. Yesterday, a week after we had propounded upon the issue, the Press agreed in its lead editorial that those dollars needed to be returned to the taxpayers now that the school district has outsourced student transportation and no longer needs to buy busses.
 Speaking of outsourcing the bussing, it looks like G.R.P.S. superintendent Bert Bleke told a fib to school board members and taxpayers. The $250 bonus each district bus driver is slated to receive when he or she converts to an employee of Dean Transportation isn't being paid by Dean but by the school district. Bleke justified his tall tale by explaining the ruse: The check for each bonus will be coming from Dean, but the school district is providing Dean the funds for it. Well, folks, what can you expect of a man who is grimly holding onto the superintendent's seat long enough for his pension to vest and then is retiring -- BUT not actually retiring because he will then let the school district pay him as a consultant to advise the new superintendent?
 Speaking of government pensions, where is the hue and cry for the scalp of Grand Rapids City Manager Kurt Kimball who tripled the City's pension liabilities to get the union for City workers to agree to a temporary slowdown in pay hikes? And what about the City Commissioners who agreed to this? This is a financial tsunami just over the horizon that will drown River City. If General Motors and Ford are on the verge of Chapter 11 now that they are in the shadow of their own pension tsunamis, what made Kimball ever think he could triple the liability of a defined-benefit plan without even getting his shoes wet? People, this is the height of incompentence or arrogance or both of a city manager who has had this post for far too long. We deserve a lot better for the $130,000+ we pay Kimball every year.
 Speaking of budget woes: This story will give you a taste, dear readers, of how the City of Grand Rapids will use its cash crisis to stick it to area residents in some very petty ways. As you know, the Grand Rapids parks department hosts a softball league for adults. The teams of the league pay the City a fee to cover the cost of umpires, lights, and other direct costs. This season a parks department official notified the league members that the City will not let teams make up softball games that are rained out. Keep in mind, folks, these teams have paid the City for the services it provides to host their games, and if there is a rain-out, then no game was played and so the City has incurred no costs. Of course, the City has not offered to refund the portion of the fee it collects for games not played. Nothing but a grubby grab for a few tax dollars.