Last car to roll off assembly line at Ohio GM plant
By MARK GILLISPIE and TOM KRISHER
Wednesday, March 6
LORDSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — A sprawling General Motors’ assembly plant near Youngstown will be idled on Wednesday after more than 50 years producing cars and other vehicles, a move that will eliminate nearly 1,700 hourly positions by months’ end.
GM announced in December that Lordstown along with three plants in the U.S. and one in Canada would close at some point this year.
The Cruze, once a popular and well-reviewed compact car made in Lordstown since 2011, has become the victim of consumer tastes as car buyers in an era of inexpensive gasoline have shown strong preferences for trucks, SUVs and crossover-type vehicles, all of which produce far bigger profits than sedans for GM.
While Wednesday could be the last day for the Cruze, GM spokesman Dan Flores said the plant’s parts-stamping operation will continue producing fenders and other replacement parts through most of March.
The 6.2 million square foot plant (nearly 600,000 square meters) will be placed in a “state of readiness,” Flores said, meaning it will be heated and fully maintained to allow for a resumption of operations. A final decision on the plant’s future is expected to be made during upcoming contract talks with the United Auto Workers that begin this summer. The UAW’s national contract with GM expires in mid-September.
The union claimed in a recent federal lawsuit that its existing contract prohibits GM from idling plants. UAW 1112 President Dave Green has urged workers to remain hopeful, saying their fate will ultimately be decided at the bargaining table.
Meanwhile, production of the Cruze sedan and hatchback will continue in Mexico, where the car is made for markets outside the U.S.
Recently promoted company President Mark Reuss said in January that GM is “looking at a lot of different options for the plant,” without providing specifics. When asked if that means Lordstown could get a new vehicle, he said that hasn’t been decided.
“We’ve just got to keep an open mind here, and we are,” he said.
Reuss also said GM can’t keep operating a plant with a slow-selling vehicle like the Cruze, and still have enough money to invest in the future. It also doesn’t want to get caught like it did in 2008 with too many factories and workers, a problem that helped to push the company into bankruptcy protection.
“We’ve got some history of that, to be honest,” Reuss said. “We don’t want that history to repeat.”
Lordstown’s history dates back to 1966. More than 16 million vehicles have rolled off its assembly line since then, including nearly 1.9 million Cruzes since the car went into production in 2011.
The automaker has said most of its blue-collar workers whose jobs are eliminated in the U.S. will be able to transfer to plants in the Midwest and South.
The other plants slated to close this year are assembly plants in Detroit and Oshawa, Ontario, and transmission plants in Warren, Michigan, and near Baltimore.
Tom Krisher reported from Detroit.
The shutdown brought people who rely on SNAP an extra helping of economic hardship
March 6, 2019
Orgul Demet Ozturk, Associate Professor of Economics, University of South Carolina
Chad Cotti, Professor of Economics; Economics Department Chair, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
John Gordanier, Clinical Associate Professor of Economics, University of South Carolina
Disclosure statement: The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: University of South Carolina provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Millions of the poorest Americans are probably feeling the aftershocks of the partial government shutdown weeks after it ended.
One big reason for that is how it disrupted the flow of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. Florida, Ohio, Virginia and many other states are adjusting their monthly disbursements to avoid making SNAP recipients go 50 days or more without any assistance. But the distribution schedule will be altered in many cases through mid-April.
We are health economists who have studied how public policies affect low-income people. We have found that the timing of when benefits through the program, commonly referred to as SNAP or food stamps, are disbursed affects everything from what and how much people eat and how well children learn to how likely they are to visit the emergency room.
More than 40 million Americans get benefits from SNAP, the nation’s largest program designed to alleviate hunger. All households receiving SNAP benefits get them only once a month through Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, which work like debit cards. The actual date varies in part because the states have flexibility in how they administer this federally funded program managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Out of concern that the government shutdown might jeopardize funding, the USDA told the states to distribute benefits that were slated for February in January. This change occurred even though the shutdown ended in January and we are seeing ample evidence that it disrupted SNAP distribution schedules.
Most SNAP households spend their benefits soon after their disbursement, making it a struggle to keep food on the table before the next time their benefits arrive. Brown University economist Jesse M. Shapiro observed a 10 to 15 percent decline in caloric consumption between the first and last week of the benefit month.
Having less to eat appears to take a toll on the academic performance of many children. When we assessed low-income students’ test scores, we found significant declines in performance in the final week before their families received their SNAP benefits – when those children were more likely to eat less. Other researchers have reached similar conclusions.
Additional research has shown that school children have more behavioral problems and discipline issues at the end of the period between SNAP benefit disbursements.
The timing of when food stamp benefits are dispatched may also have something to do with an increase in trips to the emergency room. Emergency room visits by people who get benefits but have not gotten any for nearly a month are more likely caused by asthma, anemia, diabetes or hypocalcemia – a condition caused by a very low level of blood sugar.
We believe that this happens partly because of people spending some of their own money on food – instead of insulin, inhalers and other medications. Even without schedule changes, we believe that SNAP benefits are too low, leading to rationing and other hard choices when they run out after a few weeks. For the Americans who rely on them, the disruption due to the shutdown only made this problem worse.
The Temptations and The Four Tops
Double Bill Plays the Palace April 5
For more than 50 years, The Temptations have prospered, propelling popular music with a series of smash hits, including “The Way You Do the things You Do,” “My Girl,” “Since I Lost My Baby,” “Get Ready,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep,” and “I Wish It Would Rain.” The Four Tops have been marveling audiences with their infectious blend of pure vocal power and sweet harmonies since 1954, including hits such as “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “Reach Out, I’ll Be There,” “Standing in the Shadows of Love,” “Bernadette,” and ” I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch).”
CAPA presents The Temptations and The Four Tops at the Palace Theatre (34 W. Broad St.) on Friday, April 5, at 8 pm. Tickets are $38.50-$78.50 and can be purchased in-person at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), online at www.capa.com, or by phone at (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000.
About The Temptations
The history of The Temptations is the history of contemporary American pop. An essential component of the original Motown machine, The Temptations began their musical life in Detroit in the early ‘60s. However, it was the Smokey Robinson written and produced “The Way You Do the Things You Do” (1964), that turned them into stars.
An avalanche of hits followed, including “My Girl,” “It’s Growing,” “Since I Lost My Baby,” “Get Ready,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Beauty Is only Skin Deep,” and “I Wish It Would Rain.”
Beyond the fabulous vocals, the classic lineup of Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks, and David Ruffin became known for smooth stepping and flawless presentations. The Temptations Walk became a staple of American style.
When the ‘60s and ‘70s turned political, The Temptations changed their tone, dress, and music with producer Norman Whitfield leading the way. His Temptations hits, many featuring Dennis Edwards who had replaced David Ruffin, burned with intensity—“Runaway Child,” “Cloud Nine,” “I Can’t Get Next to You,” “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” and “Psychedelic Shack.”
Other stellar singers—Richard Street, Ali-Ollie Woodson, Theo Peoples—joined, adding luster to the group’s growing fame. But no matter the change in personnel, The Temptations remained true to themselves, surviving the whims of popular music.
In the ‘80s, The Temptations prevailed with smashes like the Otis Williams-penned “Treat Her Like A Lady” and made an appearance on the “Motown 25” television special.
In 1998, NBC aired “The Temptations,” a four-hour miniseries chronicling the group’s history. It was a ratings triumph over its two-night run, garnering five Primetime Emmy Award nominations and winning one for Outstanding Directing.
Then came a series of acclaimed records—Phoenix Rising (1998), Ear Resistible (2000), Awesome (2001), For Lovers Only (2002), and Reflections (2005)—followed by the 2006 DVD Get Ready.
Most recently, the jukebox musical Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations is expected to begin Broadway previews in 2019.
The current lineup consists of Otis Williams, Ron Tyson, Terry Weeks, Larry Braggs, and Willie Greene Jr.
About The Four Tops
The Four Tops (Duke Fakir, Levi Stubbs, Renaldo “Obie” Benson, and Lawrence Payton), originally called The Four Aims, recorded their first single in 1956, and spent seven years on the road and in nightclubs singing pop, blues, Broadway, and mostly four-part harmony jazz. When Motown’s Berry Gordy Jr. found out they had hustled a national “Tonight Show” appearance, he signed them without an audition to be the marquee act for the company’s Workshop Jazz label. That proved short-lived, and Stubbs’ powerhouse baritone lead and the exquisite harmonies of Fakir, Benson, and Payton started making one smash after another with the writing/producing trio Holland/Dozier/Holland.
Their first Motown hit, “Baby I Need Your Loving” (1964), made them stars, and their ‘60s track record is indispensable to any retrospective of the decade. Their songs, soulful and bittersweet, were across-the-board successes. “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” (No. 1 R&B/No. 1 Pop) is one of Motown’s longest-running chart toppers and was quickly followed by long-time favorite “It’s the Same Old Song” (No. 2 R&B/No. 5 Pop). Their commercial peak was highlighted by a romantic trilogy—“Reach Out I’ll Be There” (No. 1 R&B), “Standing in the Shadows of Love” (No. 2 R&B/No. 6 Pop), and “Bernadette” (No. 3 R&B/No. 4 Pop). Other hits from the decade included “Ask the Lonely,” “Shake Me, Wake Me (When It’s Over),” “Something About You,” “You Keep Running Away,” “7 Rooms of Gloom,” and their covers of “Walk Away Renee” and “If I Were a Carpenter.” The group was also extraordinarily popular in the UK.
After H/D/H split from Motown, producer Frank Wilson supervised the R&B Top 10 hits “It’s All in the Game” and “Still Water (Love)” at the start of the ‘70s. The Tops also teamed with Motown’s top girl group, The Supremes (post-Diana Ross), billing themselves as The Magnificent Seven for a series of albums. They hit with a cover of “River Deep – Mountain High.”
When Motown left Detroit in 1972 to move to LA, the steadfast Tops decided to stay at home, and with another label. They kept up a string of hits with ABC/Dunhill for the next few years including “Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I’ve Got)” (Top 5), “Keeper of the Castle” (Top 10), and the R&B Top 10s “Are You Man Enough” (from the movie Shaft in Africa), “Sweet Understanding Love,” “One Chain Don’t Make No Prison,” “Midnight Flower,” and the disco perennial “Catfish.”
In 1980, the group moved to Casablanca Records, and the following year, they were at No. 1 again with “When She Was My Girl,” making them one of the few groups to have hits in three consecutive decades. They scored R&B Top 40s with the ballads “Tonight I’m Gonna Love You All Over” and “I Believe in You and Me” and were heard in the film Grease 2 with “Back to School Again.” By 1983, riding the wave of Motown’s 25th anniversary celebration, the Tops went back to Motown and H/D/H, resulting in the R&B Top 40 hits “I Just Can’t Walk Away” and “Sexy Ways.”
They signed with Arista later in the decade, and racked up their final solo Top 40 hit, “Indestructible,” which was the theme of the 1988 Summer Olympics. That year they also partnered with Aretha Franklin, a long-time friend from Detroit, for the Top 40 R&B “If Ever a Love There Was.” During this period, Stubbs voiced the man-eating plant Audrey II in the film Little Shop of Horrors, for which he sang the cult classic “Mean Green Mother From Outer Space.”
In 1990, with 24 Top 40 Pop hits to their credit, The Four Tops were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They continued to tour incessantly, a towering testament to the enduring legacy of the Motown sound they helped shape and define.
Following Payton’s death in 1997, the group briefly worked as a trio until Theo Peoples, a former Temptation, was recruited to restore the group to a quartet. When Stubbs subsequently grew ill, Peoples became the lead singer and former Motown artist/producer Ronnie McNeir was enlisted to fill Payton’s spot. In 2005, when Benson died, Payton’s son Roquel replaced him.
The current lineup is Ronnie McNeir, Lawrence Payton Jr., Abdul “Duke” Fakir, and Harold “Spike” Bonhart.
CAPA presents THE TEMPTATIONS and THE FOUR TOPS
Friday, April 5, 8 pm
Palace Theatre (34 W. Broad St.)
For more than 50 years, The Temptations have prospered, propelling popular music with a series of smash hits, including “The Way You Do the things You Do,” “My Girl,” “Since I Lost My Baby,” “Get Ready,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep,” and “I Wish It Would Rain.” The Four Tops have been marveling audiences with their infectious blend of pure vocal power and sweet harmonies since 1954, including hits such as “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “Reach Out, I’ll Be There,” “Standing in the Shadows of Love,” “Bernadette,” and ” I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch).” Tickets are $38.50-$78.50 and can be purchased in-person at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), online at www.capa.com, or by phone at (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000. www.capa.com
The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this program with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, education excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. CAPA also appreciates the generous support of the Barbara B. Coons and Robert Bartels Funds of The Columbus Foundation and the Greater Columbus Arts Council.
Owner/operator of downtown Columbus’ magnificent historic theatres (Ohio Theatre, Palace Theatre, Southern Theatre) and manager of the Riffe Center Theatre Complex, Lincoln Theatre, Drexel Theatre, Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts (New Albany, OH), and the Shubert Theater (New Haven, CT), CAPA is a non-profit, award-winning presenter of national and international performing arts and entertainment. For more information, visit www.capa.com.
Opioid crisis shows partnering with industry can be bad for public health
March 6, 2019
Author: Jonathan H. Marks, Director of the Bioethics Program and affiliate faculty in Law and International Affairs, Pennsylvania State University
Disclosure statement: Jonathan H. Marks does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: Pennsylvania State University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
“Show me the bodies!” someone demanded at the end of my lecture a few years ago.
As a scholar of public health ethics, law and policy, I had just warned an audience of professors and university administrators about the perils of partnering with, or taking money from, corporations – a common practice in public health research and policy-making.
It’s not always possible to prove harm like that, I said. But there are other reasons for government, the academy and public health organizations to maintain arm’s length relationships with corporations. Among them, preserving integrity and public trust.
As I document extensively in my book on corporate influence in public health, partnerships distort research agendas, not merely of individual researchers but of entire fields of research. They also reinforce the framing of public health problems and their solutions in ways that are most favorable to the corporate partners.
These concerns are most acute when corporations are creating or exacerbating a public health problem. Think of a soda company sponsoring exercise initiatives to burnish its reputation and deflect attention from the role of its brands in the obesity epidemic. But close relationships with corporations can be problematic even when companies are working on medicines or other potential solutions to health problems.
I failed to convince that skeptical audience member. But recent research found the bodies, or, at the very least, pointed to one place where we might start digging: the opioid crisis. The new study concluded that drug companies’ marketing of opioids to physicians was “associated with increased opioid prescribing and, subsequently, with elevated mortality from overdoses.” Recent court filings also suggest that doctors who met with opioid drug reps were 10 times more likely to have prescribed opioids to patients who later died of an overdose.
Marketing to physicians is only one of the strategies employed by opioid manufacturers. Between 2012 and 2017, five opioid manufacturers gave nearly US $9 million to 14 patient advocacy groups and medical societies. Although this sum is a drop in the ocean for drug companies with billions of dollars in opioid revenues, these were substantial sums for the recipients. And the companies’ investments paid off.
Many of the groups issued guidelines minimizing the addiction risks of prescription opioids. They also lobbied extensively to defeat legislation restricting opioid prescribing. When the CDC issued its draft guidelines to limit opioid use in 2016, opposition was significantly higher among organizations that had received industry funding.
The most commonly touted solution to financial conflicts of interest is disclosure of the conflict. The Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2010 requires drug companies to disclose gifts to physicians and teaching hospitals. Democratic senator Claire McCaskill has introduced a bill to extend these provisions to cover payments made to patient advocacy groups.
But disclosure, while necessary, is not sufficient for addressing corporate influence in science, medicine and public health. While researching my book, I found plenty of evidence that drug, food and soda companies – among others – weave powerful webs of influence when they support the work of public health agencies, universities, patient advocacy groups and health professional associations.
It’s reasonable to expect corporations to exercise influence to the full extent permitted by law. But I believe governments have a responsibility to insulate themselves from corporate influence. Only by doing so can they meet their obligations to protect and promote public health. And universities should do likewise in order to protect scientific integrity. By inviting companies to partner, government and the academy play into corporate strategies of influence, imperiling their own integrity as well as science and public health.
When the National Institutes of Health launched a partnership initiative to address the opioid crisis in 2017, it turned to drug companies for guidance. They included an opioid company that pleaded guilty in 2007 to misleading regulators, doctors and patients about addiction risks and potential for abuse – and then continued its aggressive marketing for another decade, according to recent court filings. These documents also indicate that, while running newspaper ads in 2017 claiming that it was a “partner” in the fight against the opioid crisis, the company was still working on plans to expand the opioid market.
The world needs better options for pain management. And the opioid industry may play a role developing some of these options. But partnering with industry is hazardous – even if, as its director has pledged, the NIH enters these arrangements “with the utmost transparency,” and does not take cash payments.
Money need not change hands for partnerships to create reciprocity and influence, burnish the reputation of drug companies, and defuse support for more effective regulation of the marketing and prescribing of drugs. Collaboration may also lead to the neglect of other potential solutions to the opioid crisis – and other potential pain remedies beyond drug therapies.
If the opioid crisis has taught people anything, it’s that the interests of pharmaceutical companies and public health inevitably diverge. While opioid manufacturers and distributors were making billions of dollars, they were sowing the seeds of a crisis that has contributed to the deaths of more than 218,000 Americans and counting. In addition, the total societal costs of the opioid epidemic exceed half-a-trillion dollars per year.
Given these catastrophic costs, policymakers cannot afford to repeat and compound the errors of the past. While tackling pain management and opioid addiction, they must not neglect a third public health challenge: their own “addiction” to partnerships with the private sector. But, before public health officials can wean themselves off these collaborations, they must first acknowledge that they have a problem.