Rick Snyder

Rick_Snyder_NewGov. Rick Snyder became Michigan’s 48th Governor in 2011 and was re-elected in 2014. In his first term, the state passed four balanced budgets, eliminated a $1.5 billion deficit and reformed burdensome tax and regulatory codes as Michigan created over 300,000 private sector jobs. Among his greatest achievements, Gov. Snyder built a bipartisan coalition of Michiganders to ensure Detroit exited bankruptcy successfully He also successfully implemented Healthy Michigan, an innovative and bipartisan plan that has provided affordable and quality health care for more than 500,000 hard-working Michiganders.

Dan Loepp

Loepp_Dan-editDan Loepp is president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) and chairman of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association board of directors. In these roles, Loepp is leading a fundamental transformation of BCBSM and the Blues system to ensure the state of Michigan and the rest of the nation attain the essential objectives of real health care reform.

Loepp is driving a four-part strategy at the company that includes enhancing the value of health care by improving quality and constraining cost increases. This strategy saved more than $500 million between 2006 and 2010. It is also yielding substantial improvements in the stakeholder experience and rejuvenating the Blues’ unique, nonprofit social mission.

An innovative leader, Loepp joined BCBSM in 2000. Prior to becoming president and CEO in 2006, he led a two-year campaign that spurred health care reform in Michigan and stabilized health insurance rates for small businesses. Loepp serves on the Detroit Regional Chamber Board and also served as a past board chairman.

Pentastar Aviation Honored for Outstanding Customer Service

Pentastar Aviation is pleased to announce they have once again been recognized for its world-class customer service with the receipt of a Silver Stevie® Award in the 2018 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.

Pentastar Aviation received the award for Customer Service Success, joining other winners such as IBM, Vizio, Dell Technologies, and Delta Airlines.

“Customer service excellence is a top priority, and a commitment that is reflected in every aspect of our operations,” said Greg Schmidt, Pentastar’s President & CEO. “Our team is always looking for ways to exceed the needs and expectations of our customers and we empower them to assure our customers are completely satisfied. We also utilize a robust customer survey process to help identify opportunities for continuous improvement to ensure the customer experience at Pentastar remains among the best.”

In winning the award, it was noted that Pentastar’s commitment to customer service excellence has been recognized consistently for the past 11 years by industry peers, making them one of the most awarded private aviation companies in the country.

“Pentastar is doing everything right for the customer”, one judge wrote.

“In a very tough industry, while trying to watch costs but still deliver excellent service, (Pentastar Aviation) is very impressive… to come in the Top 5 in the country. Well done.” Wrote another.

The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service are among the world’s top honors for customer service, contact center, business development and sales professionals. The Stevie Awards organizes seven of the world’s leading business awards programs, including the prestigious American Business AwardsSM and International Business Awards®.

The awards were presented to honorees during a gala banquet on Friday, February 23 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, NV. More than 600 executives from the U.S. and several other nations attended.

More than 2,500 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were evaluated in this year’s competition. Winners were determined by the
average scores of more than 150 professionals worldwide from seven specialized judging committees.

About Pentastar Aviation
Pentastar Aviation, wholly owned by Edsel B. Ford II, is a leader in the world of business aviation, providing aircraft management, advisory services, aircraft maintenance, avionics services, interior services and award-winning FBO services. Air charter transportation services are provided by Pentastar Aviation Charter, Inc., a U.S. FAR Part 135 on-demand air carrier, or by other U.S. FAR Part 135 certificated on-demand air carriers arranged by Pentastar Aviation, LLC. Their team is committed to delivering the highest standards of safety and service excellence to their customers.

Pentastar Aviation has been servicing regional and global travelers for more than 50 years and is headquartered at Oakland County International Airport (PTK). For more information, please visit www.pentastaraviation.com.

Want to See My Picture On the Cover… From OCC to Local City Council to the Cover of TIME® Magazine

Journalist, vice president of Preservation Farmington, and the youngest candidate and top finisher elected to Farmington City Council, Maria Taylor carries an impressive resume. Add gracing the recent cover of TIME Magazine® among a group of women deemed ‘The Avengers,’ and 2018 is shaping up to be another exciting year for this OCC Alum.

Less than 10 years ago, Taylor was a student at OCC’s Orchard Ridge campus in Farmington Hills, working hard to not lose points for speaking too fast in faculty member Carole Bennett’s public speaking class, and trying to figure out credits toward graduation with her counselor, Rhonda Brown. While she had an interest in serving the community –she had worked at the historic Warner Mansion in downtown Farmington and marched with the community Warnerettes—Taylor credits OCC for preparing her to serve in her current role as Farmington City Council Member.

“When you go to a commuter college your classmates come from all walks of life. Older, younger, different races and religions—all different backgrounds. That’s what the real world is like and that’s a valuable experience to have when it comes to serving the community,” said Taylor. “There’s a common misconception about community colleges as a place to go when students find they can’t get into a four-year institution. My experience absolutely discredits that myth: I found OCC to be top tier in instruction and experience, where the instructors really care about their students.”

Her advice to future and current students: consider dual enrollment while in high school and take a public speaking class. The latter she clarified by stating, “Experience in public speaking really helps in any profession.”

After graduating from OCC in 2010 with a degree in Liberal Arts, Taylor went on to study English at Alma College. She served on the Farmington Historical Commission in 2014-2015 before co-founding Preservation Farmington and securing a seat on the Farmington City Council in 2017.

TIME Magazine’s story on ‘The Avengers’ describes “an unprecedented surge of first-time female candidates, overwhelmingly Democratic, running for offices big and small, from the U.S. Senate and state legislatures to local school boards” through the eyes of those trailblazers.

About OCC
With five campuses throughout Oakland County, OCC offers degrees and certificates in approximately 100 career fields as well as university transfer degrees in business, science and liberal arts. The College provides academic and developmental experiences allowing each student to reach their full potential and enhance the communities they serve. More than 40,000 students annually attend OCC; more than a million students have enrolled in the College since it opened in 1965. Learn more at oaklandcc.edu.

Evans seeks $5.4B tax for regional transit plan

The Detroit News

March 15, 2018

By: Shawn D. Lewis and Nicquel Terry

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans is launching a massive, retooled 20-year regional transit plan pitch that needs voters to approve a $5.4 billion tax.

The controversial plan that immediately drew fire Thursday seeks to ask voters to approve a 1.5-mill transit tax this year so the plan can provide $170 million a year in operational funding. The plan would also invest $696 million in supporting infrastructure. The tax would cost the average house worth $157,504 in the region $118 a year.

Evans calls the initiative “Connect Southeast Michigan,” and it would replace a smaller regional mass transit master plan voters narrowly rejected on the 2016 ballot.

That $4.6 billion millage failed 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent. Washtenaw and Wayne counties favored the millage, Oakland County voters were split, and Macomb County strongly rejected it. The 2016 plan included a smaller 1.2-mill property tax that would have cost the owner of a $200,000 home about $120 annually.

Evans presented the new, 20-page vision for regional mass transit to the board of the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan on Thursday before a standing-room only crowd. Some people standing along the walls held signs that read: “RTA do our job so we can get to our jobs.”

“This plan is designed to serve riders where they are and where they need to go on a daily basis,” Evans said in a statement. “It will expand economic opportunities for countless local residents who struggle to get to work, school or even the doctor’s office. It will also take cars off the road, which will ease congestion, reduce emissions and increase productivity. It brings value to all four counties and is flexible enough to grow with mobility technology so we can adapt it moving forward.”

The report was divided into four main sections: the vision, state of transit in the region, delivering value and the plan.

One of the standout features is commuter rail service connecting Ann Arbor and Detroit, with an operational investment of $9 million a year and a capital investment of $135 million. It would include eight round-trips a day connecting Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Wayne, Dearborn and Detroit. This rail service was also a key feature of the 2016 plan.

The new plan includes 15 bus routes at 15-minute frequencies with an operational investment of $70 million per year and a capital investment of $210 million.

There also would be 15 new express regional bus routes connecting major destinations across the four counties with an operational investment of $17 million and capital investment of $13 million. Four of the routes would provide express service to Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

This plan added 11 freeway-based express services with park and ride lots compared to what the 2016 plan offered, improving access to jobs, officials say.

The lack of regional transit was a “deal breaker” for Amazon, which recently passed up Detroit for the location of the company’s second regional headquarters, Evans has said.

The 2018 plan also reaches beyond the fixed transit routes with a hometown service program, which would give 60 communities a variety of potential services, including on-demand service, ride-sharing partnerships and meal delivery.

One of the main points of contention within the four counties has been a provision in the Regional Transit Authority Act requiring that a minimum of 85 percent of money collected in a county be spent on routes located within that county.

This plan expands that requirement by noting: “All counties are provided at least 85 percent return of their millage revenue and all counties receive greater than 105 percent return on their investment through leverage of farebox, state and federal funding.”

The plan anticipates generating $1.3 billion in farebox, state and federal revenues.

According to the “Connect Southeast Michigan” report, the plan supports 67,000 new jobs, generates $6.6 billion in additional gross regional product and generates $4.5 billion in growth of personal income.

Only Evans and Mayor Duggan appear to be the only regional leaders behind any expanded regional mass transit plan. Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel have made it clear they will not support a plan similar to what has been proposed in the past.

Patterson has noted that nine Oakland communities already had opted out of joining public transit in the failed 2016 millage and he would “respect the wishes of the voters of the select nine Oakland County opt-out communities.”

Patterson has said that since 1996 and through 2017, the opt-in communities paid almost $352 million in taxes to support regional transit. He noted that was nearly $37 million more than Macomb and $107 million more than Wayne.

Evans’ new plan on Thursday did not change the position of Patterson, who has publicly opposed plans for a transit millage.

Patterson said the proposal still forces opt-out communities in Oakland County to participate.

“That is not the democratic way to proceed,” Patterson told The Detroit News. “That alone was a disqualifier for us.”

Evans’ expanded plan, he said, now requires more money from Oakland County, which is already the largest contributor to existing regional transit.

“If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it,” Patterson said. “Reduce the size of your plan.”

Evans responded to Brooks’ comments, saying: “What Brooks is not telling you is that he will get 105 percent back into Oakland County. If he has parts of Oakland County that don’t want in, then draw a straight line, and those above are in and those below are out. But putting doughnut holes in a plan won’t work. If this is going to be a regional plan, then we have to have regional input.”

Duggan, meanwhile, argued Thursday via a statement that the regional transit plan “connects the entire region, and I enthusiastically support the RTA considering it.”

“Residents of all four counties deserve an opportunity to vote on it this fall,” he said. “I applaud County Executive Evans for his efforts to develop a plan that will allow our citizens to connect with jobs and our region to compete for more.”

And since cost is a major determining factor for the four counties that would be involved, money is discussed right up front under “vision” and throughout the report. There are break-out boxes that read: “What we heard” and “What we did” to improve upon the previous master plan. In one box, what was heard was the need for direct service to jobs.

According to the report, officials argue the transit plan is fiscally responsible — particularly with respect to federal grants.

“Each of the four counties will receive back more than 105 percent of the funds it collects through strategic deployment of these leveraged funds,” the report said. “The benefits of spending those dollars will bring still greater economic benefits. According to the American Public Transportation Association, every $1 spent on public transportation generates $4 in economic returns.”

Paul Hillegonds, chairman of the Regional Transit Authority’s board, said the plan “addresses the concerns with the previous plan received from all four counties and is a great compromise.”

“Southeast Michigan has been trying to solve this problem since the ’60s. It’s long past time for action,” he said. “We look forward to receiving public comments on this plan. Our goal should be to get a proposal on the ballot and give voice to the voting public.”

RTA board member Freman Hendrix and other board members praised Evans on his presentation.

“Input is being asked for from the community, and I want to commend Executive Evans for stepping up and taking a leadership role,” he said. “We here at the RTA have been waiting for this day so we can be a complement to what we’re trying to do here.”

Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, called Evans’ proposal an “amicable, more robust solution to move our region forward and attract the jobs and talent needed to compete globally.”

“The chamber supports approving the plan to let the voters decide on the November ballot,” he said in a statement.


View the original story on Detroit News’ website here.

Brooks Kushman Shareholders To Speak At Intellectual Property Law Spring Seminar 2018

The Intellectual Property Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan in cooperation with the Institute of Continuing Legal Education is hosting the 2018 Intellectual Property Law Spring Seminar in Lansing, Michigan. It is an opportunity for national and local leaders in intellectual property to network, and learn new best practices to help them adapt to their client’s changing needs. Brooks Kushman shareholders Ben Stasa and Martin Sultana will be presenting on autonomous vehicles technology.

Stasa will be moderating the panel on a comprehensive IP primer of autonomous vehicles, and Sultana will be on the panel. The discussion will cover the new relationships between auto OEMs, suppliers, and tech companies in Silicon Valley, and key IP challenges and emerging issues in vehicle-to-vehicle communications to open source software compliance, industry players will discuss managing the IP and regulatory issues that are disrupting the automotive space.

Stasa is Co-Chair of Brooks Kushman’s Autonomous Vehicle practice group. His practice focuses on guiding the development of medium to large-scale patent portfolios, and managing teams of attorneys tasked with supporting the same. Given his lead role, he is often called upon to handle complex issues, as well as opine on matters concerning infringement, patentability, and validity. Stasa, as a result, has developed expertise in handling difficult legal circumstances for a wide array of technologies. He also has experience in using analytic tools to uncover competitive data and trends, and apply information gleaned from the same when counseling clients on patent strategy.

Sultana is Co-Chair of Brooks Kushman’s Autonomous Vehicle practice group. With years of real world automotive, electronics and software experience, he is well equipped to advise clients in this emerging technology, and regularly advises automotive OEMs and suppliers on the development of patent portfolios, freedom-to-operate opinions and validity opinions. Sultana focuses his practice on patent preparation, patent prosecution, and opinion related work. He also has extensive experience in preparing and prosecuting patent applications on a variety of technologies. Sultana understands, through over a decade of engineering experience and his time as in-house counsel within a Tier-1 automotive supplier, that business decisions often impact intellectual property rights. This approach enables Sultana to thoroughly understand the issues that his clients face, and approach them with an informed perspective.

For more information about the conference, the rest of the programming, and to register for the event click here.

About Brooks Kushman P.C.

Brooks Kushman P.C. is a leading intellectual property (IP) and technology law firm with offices across the nation, and represents clients nationally and internationally with respect to protection, enforcement and monetization of IP, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. The firm has more than 90 intellectual property professionals specializing in various technical disciplines, and has a reputation for providing leading IP counseling with a focus on the business objectives of their clients.

Brooks Kushman counts a number of Fortune 100 companies across a variety of industries among its clients. The firm is also recognized by leading legal publications and rankings, including Corporate Counsel magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Law360, Intellectual Asset Management, Managing Intellectual Property, and Intellectual Property Today. For more information, please visit www.BrooksKushman.com.

OCC Board of Trustees Names 2018 Audit Committee Three Trustees, Four Community Volunteers to Serve

The Oakland Community College Board of Trustees announced its 2018 audit committee, comprised of three elected trustees and four community members. The committee works to assist the Board of Trustees in fulfilling their oversight responsibilities for financial reporting, internal control, audit, and compliance with related regulations. This includes external review of the audited financial statements, as well as risk management and the internal control environment.

Since 2015, Oakland Community College has been recognized for its financial excellence through the CAFR program (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report) – one of only two community colleges in Michigan – going beyond the minimum requirements of financial reporting and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) for public entities. In tandem with the annual award, independent auditing firm Plante Moran also recognizes the College and prior Board audit committees for their excellence in fiscal oversight.

The committee roster includes Board Trustees Susan Anderson, committee chair, Royal Oak; Shirley Bryant, Farmington Hills; and Pamela Davis, Clawson; as well as community members Farmington Hills resident Michael Carroll, Warren resident Helen Kieba-Tolksdorf, Milford resident Peggy Scheske, and Bingham Farms resident Sara Voight.

“Serving on this committee is an excellent way to support oversight of the financial reporting processes at OCC, a major tax-supported institution in Oakland County,” said OCC Board Chair John McCulloch. “Community involvement is important as we continue to ensure the College is financially sound, transparent and focused on student success and the College’s mission meeting community need.”

About OCC
With five campuses throughout Oakland County, Oakland Community College is committed to providing academic and developmental experiences that allows each student to reach their full potential and enhance the diverse communities they serve. It offers degrees and certificates in approximately 100 career fields and university transfer degrees in business, science and the liberal arts. More than a million students have enrolled in the college since it opened in 1965.

Proposed Regional Transit Plan Would Raise Taxes On Metro Detroit Residents

CBS Detroit

March 15, 2018

An ambitious regional public transit plan introduced by Wayne County Executive Warren Evans seeks to raise taxes on metro Detroit residents.

Evans on Thursday asked the Regional Transit Authority for feedback on the new plan and to consider putting it before voters on the November ballot.

The plan includes increased routes on major cross-county roads, premiumroutes on five roads including Michigan Avenue, Grand River, Gratiot and Woodward, more express connections to the airport and eight daily train trips between Detroit and Ann Arbor.

The “Connect Southeast Michigan “proposal calls for a 1.5 mill tax increase in Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland, and Macomb Counties in hopes of raising $5.4 billion over 20 years.

Evans said a family with a home worth about $150,000 would see a tax increase of $118 a year.

“This plan is designed to serve riders where they are and where they need to go on a daily basis,” Evans said. “It will expand economic opportunities for countless local residents who struggle to get to work, school, or even the doctor’s office. It will also take cars off the road, which will ease congestion, reduce emissions and increase productivity. It brings value to all four counties and is flexible enough to grow with mobility technology so we can adapt it moving forward.”

Evans noted that, on a national level, there’s no debate about the need for mass transit.

“We are letting some of our federal tax dollars go to pave a road somewhere else or fund transit somewhere else in the country because we don’t have a regional plan. It just doesn’t make sense,” said Evans. “We need this plan just to get in line for the federal and state tax dollars needed for large transit projects that can greatly enhance mobility throughout the region.”

Just a short time after Evans’ announcement, Oakland County made it clear that is isn’t on-board.

A statement from Executive Brooks Patterson’s office said what he called “this latest regional transit tax scheme” is nothing more than the plan voters rejected in November 2016.

It’s a pie-in-the-sky proposal that allows the RTA to reach deep into the pockets of Oakland County taxpayers who will pay 40% of the regional transit tab but receive far less than 40% of the regional transit services in return,” the statement continues.

The Detroit Regional Chamber, meanwhile, called the proposal is an amicable, more robust solution to move our region forward and attract the jobs and talent needed to compete globally.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, also, says he “enthusiastically” supports it, and that residents of all four counties deserve an opportunity to vote on it this fall.

“I applaud County Executive Evans for his efforts to develop a plan that will allow our citizens to connect with jobs and our region to compete for more,” the mayor added.


View the original post from CBS Detroit on their website.

JVS Seeks Employers for May 9 Job Fair in Southfield

Are you hiring? Participate in JVS’s 5th annual job fair on May 9 in Southfield to connect with hundreds of potential employees.

Employers: fill your job openings by meeting and prescreening job candidates at the 5th annual JVS Job Connection from 9 a.m.- noon, May 9, at the Southfield Pavilion in Southfield. A few recruitment booths for companies are still available.

Open to the general public and veterans at no charge, the job fair is expected to attract hundreds of job seekers.
Job Connection will feature more than 40 companies including Henry Ford Health System, Oakland County, Tapper’s, Elba Laboratories, City of Southfield, Robert Half and more. Companies interested in participating may contact Angela Bevak at abevak@jvsdet.org or (248) 233-4482. See flyer for more information. (bit.ly/FindGreatEmployees2018)

JVS, a career resource for job seekers and employers, sponsors the event in partnership with Oakland County Michigan Works!, the City of Southfield and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

About JVS
Celebrating 75 years of helping metropolitan Detroiters realize their life’s potential, JVS is an award-winning human services organization with four main locations in the metro area. Through a variety of programs designed to help people maximize their self-sufficiency, the agency helps job seekers jump-start their job searches, provides jobs and meaningful programs for people with disabilities and helps seniors remain active and engaged.

Attorney Michael Pardi joins Butzel Long as Of Counsel

Attorney Michael Pardi has joined Butzel Long as Of Counsel. Pardi has 15 years of experience working for Fortune 500 Companies in the areas of Government Procurement, Commercial Transactions, Automotive, Regulatory Matters, Intellectual Property, Real Estate, Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Governance, and Advertising and Consumer Law.

Formerly, Pardi was Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Campbell-Ewald Advertising. He held the same role at Ricardo US. He also served on the Ricardo US Board of Directors from 2010 to 2017.

Pardi, practices in Butzel Long’s Bloomfield Hills and Washington, D.C. offices. He has experience drafting, negotiating and “closing” terms and conditions of agreements with major customers and suppliers. He has been responsible for all areas of Federal Government Procurement and compliance including ITAR, EAR, US Government Security Agreement (SSA), reps and certs, contract vehicles, and CAS compliance.

Moreover, he helps emerging companies navigate the requirements of Federal and State Contracting including small or disadvantaged business classifications. He drafts and negotiates licensing terms for software products and related services, as well as policies and procedures for export controls, management of classified facilities, and data protection. Notably, Pardi also manages large IP portfolios including patents, trademarks, and copyrighted software and negotiates agreements and terms for the protection of valuable intellectual property worldwide. As former in-house counsel with a major advertising and communication firm, Pardi has practical experience dealing with the issues consumer-focused clients face, particularly with regard to advertising and consumer law, entertainment law, privacy issues, and related litigation.

Pardi is a graduate of the University of Toledo, College of Law and the University of Michigan. He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, Intellectual Property Section.

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as alliance offices in Beijing and Shanghai. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel Long on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long