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HATS OFF TO HAL...
January 26, 2012 - Steve Schulwitz
It was hard not to feel like a proud father when Gov. Rick Snyder introduced Hal Nieman and explained how the freshly repealed small business tax has afforded him to hire in Michigan. I grew up in Alpena and obviously work here still. In other words, Alpena will always be my hometown, and I love when it gets recognized in a positive light.
I began exchanging Tweets with Alpena Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jackie Krawczak, who was in Lansing for the speech, and the emotion from her and her comrades was apparent even through social media.
Then someone I respect said something that put a damper on my mood, and worse yet, took away some of the luster Alpena had received during the governor's address.
Tim Skubick, host of Off the Record and a fine journalist, held a round table session with several other political reporters. early on during the discussions, it was easy to tell who supported the governor's position from the "right," and who was a little more liberal.
When the subject of the small business tax came up, the panel talked about how the Democrats elected to remain seated after Mr. Neiman was introduced and his plan to hire over 100 workers revealed. It was after then Skubick and his cast ripped into Alpena's chest and ripped its heart out.
When mentioning the governor's introduction of Hal, Skubick misspronounced his last name. I have no problem with that. As a member of the media you deal with names every minute of every workday, and as hard as you try to get names right, you do occasionally butcher one. What angered me is when they laughed and referred to Neiman's store as "Neiman's Family Mark-Up," which was followed by laughter by Skubick and his posse.
There was no mention of the work the man has done to spur growth in Alpena and several other Michigan communities by providing jobs, contributing money, prizes and time to many local events and causes. Instead a blind-sided insult was delivered to the stores the man has worked a good portion of his life to be successful.
I'm getting angry all over again just thinking about it.
I have had the opportunity to listen to a lecture by Tim and also had the honor of interviewing Tim. I watch his show from time to time and on most things agree with his train of thought. On this occasion, however, I feel he blew it and wish he would issue a public apology to Mr. Neiman, his employees and everyone in Northeast Michigan who live in small towns.
Without people like Hal, his businesses, his REASONABLE prices, and his generosity, times would be even more tough in our region and a lot of the little things he does now that may go unnoticed would stand out once they were gone.
In closing, I want to say what Mr. Skubick and his cronies should have said: Congratulations Hal, to you and your staff. Everyone in our great state is thankful for your devotion and dedication into making things better in our small communities. The acknowledgment you received during the State of the State Address was well-deserved. We are proud of you, we are proud of Alpena, and we are proud of Michigan.
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