Best Advice For 2009

Michael H.Hodges
The Detroit News

It's time to take a minute to reflect on the individuals who most deserve our admiration.

Far from the limelight, any number of our neighbors are doing work that makes a real difference in people's lives.

If you know one of those remarkable individuals, we'd sure like to hear from you.

Since 1978, The Detroit News has asked readers to tell us about those Michigan residents, famous or utterly unknown, who deserve to have their good works honored by being named a Michiganian of the Year.

We're particularly interested in the unseen and the unsung -- like the Detroiter who shoveled out dozens of her elderly neighbors after a crushing blizzard, all the while singing "Amazing Grace." Or the quick-thinking gentleman who leapt into a pond at the Detroit Zoo to save a drowning baby monkey (and got bitten for his pains).

Some honorees hold down highly visible jobs -- such as U.S. Rep. John D. Dingell, General Motors chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner or the Rev. Faith Fowler, who turned her Cass Community United Methodist Church into a social-service powerhouse helping Detroit's down-and-out.

Others have uncanny powers to thrill, like soul-queen Aretha Franklin or Tiger legend Al Kaline.
Or consider Waltraud Prechter, who harnessed the grief over her husband's suicide by raising millions for research on manic depression.

Their stories lift up our spirits, inspiring our own good works.

You can nominate someone by writing a letter to Michiganians of the Year, Features Department, The Detroit News, 615 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, MI 48226.

Please include the individual's name and a short explanation why this person deserves such an honor. Don't forget your name and telephone number, so we can call you if we have further questions.

You can also fax The News at (313) 222-2451, or e-mail at with "Michiganians of the Year" in the subject line.

But act fast. The deadline for applications is Jan. 31.
By Stever Parker
Huntington Post

Since every automotive enthusiast publication, website, and magazine runs some sort of "Best of" list every year, we're listing those we think are Detroit's "Most Significant" for 2008 and 2009, and some early available news on 2010 models. After reading this post, we'd really like to know where you think we're right - or wrong - and tell us what cars should be on this list, and why. They are listed in no specific order.

On-sale in mid-2009 as a 2010 model.

This "Caddy station wagon for the 21st century" will likely use a traditional gasoline powertrain, probably a version of GM's "High Feature" 3.6-liter V6 engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. A gas/electric hybrid version could be added to the SRX roster in late 2010, and the main reason we picked it for our "Most Significant" list. No new SRX pricing as yet; 2009 CTS base prices range from $33,500 to $36,000.

On-sale mid-2009 as a 2010 model.

Ford's all-new 2010 Fusion hybrid has been certified by the EPA at 41 mpg/city and 36 mpg/highway, with a combined rating of 39 miles per gallon. That beats the hybrid versions of Camry, Malibu and Altima. Based on the competition's '09 ratings for combined city and highway driving, the new Fusion hybrid beats every widely sold vehicle in America except the Toyota Prius hybrid (46 mpg combined) and the smaller Honda Civic hybrid (42 mpg combined). Pricing will start around $27,000.

On-sale now.

The G8 is almost certainly the last big family-sized rear-wheel drive sedan from the Pontiac division. Sometime soon, Pontiac will become a niche brand with just one or two models (sold at dealers selling several GM makes). G8's three engine offerings, a 256-hp 3.6-liter V6, a Corvette-derived 361-hp 6.0-liter V8, plus a new GXP package with a 402-hp 6.2-liter V8 and a 6-speed automatic are not high-mileage units. It's built in Australia by GM's Holden division. Base prices from $28K to $31,500.

On-sale now.

Like the Pontiac G8, Flex probably looked great - on paper - about four years ago, when planning for future production models really begins. Flex's one engine choice is its biggest drawback: a thirsty 262-hp 3.5-liter V6 mated to a 6-speed automatic (16mpg in-town, 22 highway). All-wheel drive is available. Flex would have been a great car - in 2002. Base prices start between $28,000 and $36,000 for 2009 models.

On-sale now.

Malibu's "single-mode" hybrid, with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder gas engine mated with an electric motor, produces 164-horses and mpg figures of 26 in-town and 34 on the highway. New for 2010 (on-sale late 2009) is rumored to be a Malibu "two-mode" hybrid. That model would use a gasoline 3.6-liter V6 + an electric motor to make 255-hp. Both hybrid systems stop the gas engine at red lights, and the two-mode allows the vehicle to run at low speeds on electric power only. Malibu hybrid prices start at $26K; 2010 pricing hasn't been announced.

On-sale now.

When Lee Iacocca was fired from Ford and went to lead Chrysler, he took with him Ford engineer Hal Sperlich, who brought with him a van project that became the first US minivan in 1983. Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan still dominate the minivan market, and offer a 3.3-liter V6, a 3.8-liter V6 and a 4.0-liter V6. Some models still have stone age four-speed automatics; others a modern six-speed. 2009 base-prices go from $24,230 to $36,550.

On-sale Spring, 2009

Lincoln's 2010 MKZ gets somewhat-new looks inside and outside. MKZ comes with one drivetrain choice: a 263-hp 3.5-liter V6 Duratec engine with a six-speed automatic transmission (similar to Ford's Flex wagon drivetrain). MKZ offers a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. MKZ is easy to spec out, with options kept to an enjoyable minimum. 2010 MKZ is built in Hermosillo, Mexico. 2009 models are base-priced between $32,695 and to $34,585.

On-sale first quarter 2009 as a 2010 model.

A two-door coupe will add a convertible version in late '09 (Camaro in photo is a convertible prototype). A base 3.6-liter V6 engine produces 300 horsepower. Automatic-equipped SS models get a 6.2-liter V8 making 400 horses and has Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation (which most owners will switch "off"). SS versions with a manual transmission get a monster 422-horse 6.2-liter V8. Mileage figures and official pricing haven't been announced. Can't wait to see those mileage figures ... and, I'd wager, neither can Congress.

On-sale now.

Vibe is built on the same Fremont, California assembly line as its near-twin, Toyota's Matrix. GM shares the factory with Toyota, and New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) was the first joint venture between GM and an import carmaker. The 2009 Vibe is redesigned inside and out and has more power and other new features, including the return of all-wheel drive, a definite plus. Two engines are offered, a 1.8-liter 132-horsepower four, and a 158-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder. Mileage ranges from 20 mpg in-town to 26 highway, depending on the model. Base prices range from $16,100 to $20,875.

On-sale now.

Jazz is the quintessential American music, and Jeep's Wrangler is the quintessence of American cars. Jeep's logo ties at #1 as most-recognized product symbol worldwide along with Coca-Cola's, and Wrangler and Corvette remain America's most authentic cars. All models have a 3.8-liter V6 engine, making between 202- and 205-horsepower, depending on model. Manual or automatic transmissions are available. "There's nothing like the real thing." Base prices range from $20,460 to $31,840.

Some photos by
Detroit, MI (PRWEB)-- The office of DetailXPerts Franchise Systems in Detroit has one goal - to utilize their patent-pending process that protects the environment while delivering excellence in service.

"We are excited to have our first franchisee in the Detroit area," says CEO Emmanuel Williams. The downtown Detroit and Southfield, Michigan franchises are owned by Terry Cleveland, the newest franchisee, Williams continues. "Our franchising efforts allow us to empower others toward business ownership while giving DetailXPerts the opportunity to make a difference in the world," he adds.

According to Terry Cleveland, most people stay at jobs that they hate, because they feel they don't have any other choice. The thought of owning a business can be overpowering, and most people end up abandoning their dream. "As a new business owner, I feel like I'm part of the family. There is a supportive environment and the training program is second to none - it will definitely help me to succeed," Cleveland said.

"DetailXPerts is a flexible business to own and operate, Cleveland commented. I have 2 franchises which give me the right to 5 locations and, I can also service my clients with my mobile unit. I am able to choose how big or small of an operation I desire. This allows me to have control over my income, my time and my lifestyle. With my DetailXPerts' business I plan to create generational wealth for my family."

Prior to opening the downtown Detroit and Southfield, Michigan franchises, Terry Cleveland, 47, born and raised in Detroit, worked for General Motors (GM) for 21 years as a production operator, after leaving GM he became a business consultant, giving him a solid background in automobiles and business management. "After 21 years with GM I had to make a decision for my life and I decided to own a business where I could control my destiny. This is a great opportunity to expand the number of small business-owners in the Detroit area," said Cleveland.
"To create the lifestyle of your dreams, people have to find a business opportunity that fits them, says Emmanuel Williams. The ideal candidates for our franchise are good with people, willing to learn and grow, do not mind getting their hands dirty, and want to be part of a winning team," he adds. "In addition, the close relationship and support we provide creates a unique win-win relationship where the franchise owner is in business for himself but never by himself."

With its Support Center located in Detroit, Michigan, the DetailXPerts Franchise Systems is the world's first eco-friendly vehicle steam cleaning system. Offering a full range of services to people interested in business ownership.

DetailXPerts Franchise Systems provides franchise opportunities to people looking for an educational and family environment using a proven business system.

With DetailXPerts' patent-pending process, they can clean 15 cars with just 2 gallons of water. The U.S. Government Accountability Office predicts 36 states will have water shortage problems by year 2013 and the Entrepreneur Magazine list onsite "waterless" car washes as a 2009 Trend. DetailXPerts has the answer.

For more information, call 313.924.9779 (toll-free 1.877.317.9737), or visit their website at
Royal Oak Mirror

After being picked, processed and shipped thousands of miles to a table near you, our food is just plain worn out.

Or as Ferndale resident Trevor Johnson says, "You're eating stressed-out food."

It fits with our stressed-out lives, always running to this and trying to accomplish that before the day's over.

It's enough to make us forget that eating is a privilege as well as a necessity, something that, if done correctly, can nourish our soul as well.

That's where Johnson comes in. He's looking to carry a new food revolution on his 24-year-old shoulders, educating people about the food they eat, where it comes from, why it's grown the way it is.

He wants to help people to "foster that food revolution in their front and back yards."

To that end, Johnson has started his own business called "Rent-a-Farmer," which offers clients the chance to use the expertise of real farmers to help them grow fruits and vegetables in their back yards. "This is not about going back to the farm," said Johnson, who graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in horticulture. "It's about bringing the farm back to us."

Johnson is founder of Ferndale's Good Neighbors Garden, which rents out gardening space for residents in Ferndale and bordering cities to grow their own produce.

Rent-a-Farmer would allow clients to buy a basic-level package that includes, for example, gardening tutorials and access to gardening tools. Each successive level would include increasing involvement from farmers, and the premium package would essentially send a farming expert to your back yard to oversee your home garden.

Other services may include help in building containers for raised beds and constructing a small greenhouse to extend the growing season.

"We're really open to whatever clients want," Johnson said.

Johnson's mom, Debbie, loves her son's idea and thinks the times are amenable to this sort of business.

"People want things that are green," she said. "They want to eat local. It's exciting."

Johnson thinks so, too, and he's already got some farming and gardening experts on board, as well as some potential clients lined up. He's still looking for gardeners who are willing to be part-time farming consultants. Those interested in becoming "farmers" don't have to have a degree or work in horticulture professionally, he said. "What we're looking for is experience."

And as intuitive as Johnson is in matters of the earth, he may be somewhat counter intuitive in matters of business. He's hoping he doesn't have any one client for longer than two years, by which time he hopes they learn to cultivate crops for themselves.

At some point, he said laughing, Rent-a-Farmer may go out of business completely.
"And I'm OK with that," he said, "because we'll have a world of home gardeners and farmers."

For more information on Rent-a-Farmer:
Trevor Johnson at (248) 894-4059
Royal Oak Mirror

Local school districts, community centers and environmental agencies offer a variety of garden planning classes. Registration has started in some districts; others are just making class schedules available to the public.

Here's a sampling of courses in Oakland and
Wayne counties:

Rain Gardens
This day-long how-to-do-it seminar is designed for ecological gardeners who are working with clay soil. Register beginning at 6:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 9, 2009, at the Southfield Public Library, 26300 Evergreen, south of I-696.

The program will run from 7-8:30 p.m., and cover topics such as compost benefits and water quality, native wildflowers and shrubs for rain gardens, and sizing and locating a rain garden. Speakers will include Rick Lazzell, landscape designer and consultant; Suzan Campbell, Michigan Natural Features Inventory; Lilian Dean, Southeast Oakland County Water Authority (SOCWA) Healthy Lawns and Gardens program.

There is no admission charge, but advance registration is required.
Call Karen Bever at (248) 288-5150 or e-mail

Postage Stamp Gardens
Michael Saint, a certified master gardener and owner of Good Earth landscape Institute, will show you how to turn a neglected entrance, courtyard or side yard into a peaceful oasis, from 10-11:30 a.m., Tuesday, March 3, 2009, at The Community House, 380 S. Bates, in downtown Birmingham. $19 fee. (248) 644-5832

Creating a Focal Point - Three Easy Steps
Michael Saint demonstrates the use of lighting, sculpture, various plants and hard structures to draw attention to the heart of the garden, 7-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 10, 2009, at The Community House, 380 S. Bates, Birmingham. $19. (248) 644-5832Garden Design Made Simple
Michael Saint offers tips for taking landscaping from "ho hum" to "wow," 7-8:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 18, at The Community House, 380 S. Bates, Birmingham. $19 fee. (248) 644-5832

Growing Roses Made Easy
This session is designed to take the mystery out of growing roses. It runs 7-9 p.m., Thursday, April 9, 2009, at Glenn High School, 36105 Marquette, Westland. $20 fee. No phone registrations accepted. Register by mail or in person starting Jan. 5, 2009, at Tinkham Adult Center, Leisure Office, 450 S. Venoy, Westland, MI 48186.

Roses, Perennials and Hydrangeas: The Makings of a Traditional Flower Border
Learn about vintage gardens in this class, 7-9 p.m., Wednesday, April 22, 2009, at Farmington Community School, Students will look at old fashioned perennials, timeless classic roses and hydrangeas and learn how to combine traditional plants to make their own vintage-style border garden. Farmington Community School, 30415 Shiawassee, Farmington.
The fee is $20. (248) 489-3333

Getting Your Garden Ready for Spring
The class will guide students to a successful garden season with a variety of tips, 7-9 p.m., Wednesday, April 29, 2009, at Farmington Community School, 30415 Shiawassee, Farmington. The fee is $20. (248) 489-3333

Growing Perennials Made Easy
The class will offer tips on successfully growing perennials, including use of fertilizer and other maintenance practices, 7-9 p.m., Thursday, May 14, 2009 at Glenn High School, 36105 Marquette, Westland. $20 fee. No phone registrations accepted. Register by mail or in person starting Jan. 5, 2009, at Tinkham Adult Center, Leisure Office, 450 S. Venoy, Westland, MI 48186.
Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Jennifer Granholm and lawmakers hope generous tax incentives will help make Michigan the center of efforts to research and manufacture advanced batteries used in hybrid and electric vehicles.

Legislators say the United States today has no large-scale production plant for the lithium-ion battery, the technology General Motors Corp. expects to power its touted Chevrolet Volt.
Most battery technology is being developed in Asia.
"It is imperative that Michigan possess this technology to keep Michigan the center of car manufacturing," said Sen. John Pappageorge, a Troy Republican. Before adjourning this month, the Legislature approved tax credits worth up to $335 million depending on how many battery packs are assembled here, production expenses and other factors. Granholm is expected to sign the legislation.

Lawmakers were motivated to act at a time auto demand has dropped due to the ailing economy and the credit crunch, which has made it tougher for some buyers to get financing. GM and Chrysler LLC recently secured a $17 billion lifeline from the federal government.

The same week lawmakers voted for the credits, GM announced it was delaying construction of a Flint engine factory to conserve cash. The plant eventually will make 1.4-liter engines for the Chevy Cruze and the Chevy Volt plug-in electric car, key products in the century-old automaker's bid to turn itself around after relying on highly profitable truck and SUV sales.

"That's just temporary," Granholm said. "They are going to produce the Volt. ... The battery that is going to power the Volt -- we intend that to be made in Michigan." GM could make a decision early next year.

The state also is working with a cell manufacturing company to build a facility in Michigan. The governor says the rechargeable lithium battery not only will store energy in people's cars but potentially could be used for their homes and businesses, too.

"All of that we want to make a big play for Michigan," Granholm said. "We want it to be an American solution produced by American workers."

Things are moving quickly on the battery front. Fourteen U.S. technology companies and a national laboratory this month created an alliance to seek billions in federal funding for construction of a plant to make advanced vehicle batteries.

The U.S. will lose out on high-tech jobs if Japan, South Korea and other countries continue dominating battery development, according to the new coalition.

Michigan's tax incentives are similar to those offered the film industry earlier in 2008. To entice moviemakers to choose Michigan over competing states, Granholm and legislators created refundable tax credits for in-state movie production expenses.

Giving tax breaks is nothing new, with the state often deciding to forgo tax revenue in exchange for economic investment and job creation. But refundable credits go further. They are more like a rebate for production expenses and can require the state to cut checks to businesses if the credits exceed their tax liability.

Refundable credits have been castigated by critics such as Sen. Nancy Cassis, a Novi Republican who has said Michigan would be more attractive if it provided "broad-based tax relief ... benefiting all, rather than just a selected few."

The criticism mostly has been ignored. Senators scaled back the battery bill's potential price tag by nearly $200 million before voting 31-3 to pass the legislation. It was approved 94-0 by the House.

Backers say Michigan just cannot afford to miss out on a vehicle battery market that could total $50 billion by 2020. They describe the tax incentives as a "down payment" toward fostering high-tech industries. The battery bill is House Bill 6611.

Americans are paying $1 billion less per day for gasoline now compared with mid-July, when the national average price was more than $4 per gallon, an energy analyst says.

In Michigan, the average price of gas Friday was $1.62 a gallon.

Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for Oil Price Information Service, estimates that Americans were paying about $1.61 billion per day for gas on July 11, when the national average price was $4.11 per gallon.
On Friday, with Americans buying about 372.4 million gallons of gas per day, Kloza estimated that the country would spend about $611.5 million.

The low gas prices are a reprieve for the estimated 2 million Michigan residents who AAA estimates will travel 50 miles or more from home during the holidays.

Still, Kloza said the relief for individuals is not enough to provide a broader boost for the economy, stalled by frozen credit and low confidence.

Next year, oil and gas prices will remain low, at least until peak driving season returns in spring, Kloza said.
The Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Jennifer Granholm has differed in the past with U.S. automakers, squabbling with the United Auto Workers union over party politics and wishing out loud that Michigan’s fortunes weren’t so tied to the ailing industry.

But when detractors in recent weeks portrayed the Big Three as manufacturing dinosaurs that didn’t deserve bridge loans to avoid bankruptcy, Granholm became an impassioned advocate for the industry. "It has been extremely frustrating, and I have probably used some words I should not be using," she said.

The two-term Democratic governor has been a frequent guest on national talk shows and news programs, taking on the naysayers. She has rallied governors worried about losing major factories and suppliers, plotted Capitol Hill strategy with congressional members from Michigan and other states, and sent letters to President George W. Bush.

"The auto industry is seeking only a fraction of what was given to the  . . . financial industry and it’s a loan. And that loan is going to ensure that we have a manufacturing infrastructure and 3 million jobs are protected in this nation all across the country, not just in Wall Street but in small communities all over," Granholm said on PBS’ Nightly Business Report this month.

The feisty and hard-charging governor, who ran a half-marathon in less than two hours this fall, is easily angered by injustice, and she thinks that the automakers and her state are being wrongly maligned.

The Senate’s failure to pass a $14 billion bridge loan for General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Llc. — which could run out of money within weeks without assistance — infuriated Granholm, who sits on President-elect Barack Obama’s transition economic advisory board. She accused Senate Republicans who refused to back the bridge loans of "protecting the foreign companies that are in their borders. They’re not acting as Americans."

When former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said during an exchange Sunday with Granholm on NBC’s Meet the Press that U.S. automakers had a cost disadvantage compared with foreign automakers, an impassioned Granholm skewered his comments as inaccurate and pointed a finger at him as she argued over legacy costs.

During an appearance last month on CNN, she accused Romney of "breathtaking hypocrisy" for saying in January during his presidential campaign that he’d be a partner to the automakers and fight for jobs, then arguing in November against giving them the loans.

More than a few television anchors have felt the governor’s polite but pointed displeasure. When CNN’s Kyra Phillips asked why auto companies deserved the bridge loans, Granholm took aim at the financial-sector meltdown and shot back that "it’s really important to know that the auto industry didn’t put us into this position."

She also hasn’t pulled any punches in her news conferences.

"I really felt so deeply for these workers who have felt powerless to be able to change the minds of people in Congress who were spouting untruths about the industry," she said after watching the bridge-loan plan fall apart. "Those who caused this financial meltdown were allowed to walk away with $700 billion, with no oversight, many of them ultra-rich hedge-fund players. Those who were the victims of their greed — people who work on the factory line — were blamed and were asked to pay the price," she added.

Don’t tell her automakers aren’t trying to lower costs to match their foreign competitors or that they haven’t improved quality or taken steps to move more fuel-efficient cars and hybrids.

"The bottom line is, the industry has recognized that it must change," the governor said.