News

Prison bars
powelli / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state House has cleared a set of bills that would change how young offenders are prosecuted and incarcerated in Michigan.

Right now, Michigan is among a handful of states that automatically prosecute 17-year-old offenders as adults.

Legislation passed this week would end that practice, and prohibit placing people under 18 years old in adult prisons and jails. 

State Rep. Harvey Santana, D-Detroit, spearheaded the bipartisan effort.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s top civil rights officials held their first a public hearing on the Flint water crisis today.

Dozens of Flint residents told their stories to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.

“This is not a black or white thing,” Flint resident Tony Palladino testified, “because this water is killing all of us.”

Other speakers complained about racism, water rates, real estate red-lining, and Gov. Rick Snyder.

The commissioners noted a task force set up by Gov. Snyder called Flint’s water crisis an example of “environmental injustice."

Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad, left, with Noble Wray, head of the Policing Practices and Accountability Initiative.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

In the wake of two police shooting deaths, Dearborn Police will be getting some help from the U.S. justice department.

Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad reached out to the DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) earlier this year.

Haddad says he did that after two high-profile police shootings in December and January, when Dearborn officers shot and killed two unarmed African Americans in separate incidents.

Susana Bernabé-Ramirez and her daughter Sayra Hernandez
Jodi Westrick

Update 5:20 p.m.

Attorney Brad Thomson said the stay of removal was granted so the family can remain together until a decision from the Board of Immigration Appeals is made on the motion to reopen their case.

Company withdraws permit application to use old pipelines

Apr 28, 2016
St. Clair River
Perry Quan / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A Houston-based company, Plains LPG Services, LP, has withdrawn its request for a federal permit to transport crude oil through a pair of 98-year-old pipelines under the St. Clair River in southeast Michigan, according to a joint statement issued yesterday by U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell and Candice Miller.

“It puts to rest all of these very valid concerns over shipping crude oil through these old, antiquated pipelines,” said Miller.

The nation was enchanted by little Amariyanna Copeny, Mari for short, who calls herself “Little Miss Flint.”

Mari, an absolutely adorable eight-year-old, had written President Obama and asked to meet with him when she came to Washington.

That didn’t happen, but clearly some savvy staffer saw her letter and realized this might be a perfect backdrop for a presidential visit to Flint.

A number of people, including me, have been surprised that the President did not visit the afflicted city before.

Emory University researchers have found that six out of 10 Michiganders tested still have elevated PBB levels.
Michele Marcus / Emory University

In 1973, a plant owned by Velsicol Chemical made a mistake and shipped a toxic flame retardant chemical to a livestock feed plant. The chemical is called polybrominated biphenyl, or PBB. It took about a year to discover the accident. Millions of Michiganders ate contaminated beef, chicken, pork, milk and eggs.

The former Hudson's site, prime real estate along Woodward in the heart of downtown Detroit, has been a city-owned underground parking garage since the Hudson's building was demolished in 1998.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

An iconic spot in downtown Detroit is one step closer redevelopment.

The former Hudson’s department store has been a city-owned underground parking garage since the Hudson’s building was demolished in 1998.

But officials with Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority gave the tentative go-ahead for a new high-rise development there Wednesday.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the deal still needs a few final approvals. The City Council still needs to OK elements of the deal, including the transfer of the parking garage to the developer for $15 million.

Finca Marta organic farm in Cuba
Finca Marta

Michigan agriculture businesses are intrigued by the prospect of doing business in Cuba, after the Obama administration re-established formal ties with the island nation.  

Cuba also sees the U.S. as a potential new market.  

But there are still many obstacles standing in the way of increased agricultural trade.  One of them is the low productivity on the typical Cuban small farm.

The Mackinac Bridge on a warmer day.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A new bill in Congress would shut down an oil and gas pipeline beneath the Straits of Mackinac, if a study shows it's a significant risk to the Great Lakes.

Michigan Congresswoman Candice Miller introduced the Great Lakes Pipeline Safety Act on Wednesday.

The legislation calls for a comprehensive analysis of the environmental and economic threat that Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline poses to Great Lakes waters.

Elevated lead levels found in Farmington schools' water

Apr 27, 2016
Steven Depolo / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Across the state, more schools are testing their water for lead because of the Flint water crisis. And Farmington Public Schools is one of those school systems.

In a letter to district families, Superintendent George Heitsch said recent testing revealed slightly elevated levels of lead in six faucets and drinking fountains in five school buildings.

The letter reads, "To put this in perspective, the lead level is to not exceed the number 15 and the highest in this group was a 37. A level of 500 is considered to be 'high.'" 

Research
Flickr/Bill Dickinson

It would be a felony to get any money for donating or transporting fetal tissue in Michigan, under bills passed by the Republican-led Senate today. 

But Democrats say the bills are cracking down on something that's already illegal – and potentially criminalizing basic medical practices. 

Since 1993, it's been illegal to make any profit from fetal tissue donation. 

Ford worker, Livonia Assembly
Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company's investment of $1.4 billion will upgrade its Livonia Transmission plant to build a new, more fuel-efficient 10-speed transmission for some models of F-150 trucks.  

At the same time, Ford is also building a new factory in Mexico, part of a strategy to build SUVs and trucks in the U.S. and cars in Mexico. 

The UAW doesn't like that strategy, but Ford points out it still employs more than 55,000 hourly workers in the U.S.  That's more than any other automaker in the country.

It now seems nearly certain that one of our major political parties is going to nominate a presidential candidate who has pledged to deport every undocumented person in this nation.

Experts say that’s about 11 million people.

This has struck terror into the heart of one woman I know, who is not from Mexico, but Eastern Europe, who cleans houses and takes care of her husband and little daughter

Jack Lessenberry.
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about the state health director's statement that Ebola concerns distracted from a Legionnaires' outbreak in Genesee County, two bills on hold in the Legislature that would affect Michigan historic districts, and a report that says one in 10 Michigan kids has a parent who is or was in prison.


President Obama in the Oval Office in April 2016.
Pete Souza / White House

President Barack Obama plans to make his first trip to Flint, Michigan, since the city's drinking water was found to be tainted with lead.

The White House announced Mr. Obama will visit the city on May 4. He's slated to receive a briefing on the federal effort to assist in the cleanup and to hear from Flint residents.

Obama first notified eight-year-old Amariyanna Copeny about his plans to visit her city. Copeny -- aka "Little Miss Flint" -- wrote the President prior to her visit to Washington D.C. asking if she could meet him. 

After conducting an extensive national search, Michigan Radio is pleased to announce that Doug Tribou has been named as the station's new Morning Edition host.

From 2008 until August 2015, Tribou worked at NPR member station WBUR in Boston. During that time, he served as a reporter and producer for “Only A Game,” NPR’s weekly sports show. From 2006-2008, he served as a news anchor and on-air host at WBUR. In September 2015, Tribou came to the University of Michigan after being awarded a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s a push on to get more young kids in the Flint area signed up for early childhood education programs.

The state Legislature approved special funding to expand early childhood education programs in Genesee County, as part of the state’s response to Flint’s lead-tainted drinking water.

Lisa Hagel is the superintendent of the Genesee Intermediate School District. She says many three- and four-year-olds would benefit from the education and nutrition program, but they don’t know where those kids are.

It turns out more screens might actually be a good thing for kids.   

A study from Michigan State University found students' learning improved when they were given their own laptop, or similar device. The report was a meta-analysis of studies looking at the effect of these "one-to-one" programs that give an individual device to each student.

Students improved learning achievement in science, writing, math, and English. The results were small but noteworthy, especially for schools weighing the costs and benefits of supplying the expensive devices for their students. 

time card
M Sullivan / Flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

Supporters of requiring employers to offer paid sick leave to their workers were at the state Capitol lobbying lawmakers to adopt a bill if and when it’s presented to them.

A petition campaign is gathering signatures to put the question to the Legislature, or on the November ballot. 

Danielle Atkinson is an organizer of the campaign. She says a lot of workers have a stake in the outcome.

“Over 40 percent of the (privately employed) Michigan workforce doesn’t have a single hour of earned sick time,” she said.  

money
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s U.S. senators are trying again to get $172 million in federal funding for fixing Flint’s damaged water system. 

Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow announced today they have included the money in the Water Resources Development Act. The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is expected to consider this legislation this week.

Stabenow, D-Mich, says she’s glad they’ve “found a new path forward to get urgently-needed help for families in Flint and other communities across the country with serious lead and water issues.”

A Detroit water shutoff notice for Haylard Management.
Ali Elisabeth / Michigan Radio

Detroit will start shutting off water to residential customers behind on their bills next week.

23,000 households that have defaulted on payment plans could face service interruption.

This is the third straight year that Detroit is pursuing its controversial, aggressive shutoff policy. Just a little over 23,000 households were shut off last year.

Athletic spending at EMU hurts education, report says

Apr 26, 2016
Eastern Michigan University
F. Delventhal / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

An ever-increasing athletic budget deficit at Eastern Michigan University is hurting the school's academic mission.

That's according to a report  submitted recently to EMU's Board of Regents and issued by the president of the Faculty Senate, the president of the student body, the chair of the Faculty Senate Budget and Resources Committee, and the treasurer of the EMU-AAUP.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint police department is taking a more aggressive stance on crime.

Standing before a conference table piled high with guns, drugs and $18,000 cash, Flint Police Chief Timothy Johnson says a new unit has spent the past few weeks cracking down on street crime.

“This would have been on the streets if it wouldn’t have been for the efforts of the Crime Area Target team,” says Johnson. “There’s probably a lot more out there than we have on this table. I’m quite sure it is.”

Professor Eugene Roberts leads the U of M Men's Glee Club through their performance of "The Seven Last Words of the Unarmed"
screengrab

The names of men like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and others have been thrust violently into our nation's history. Unarmed African-American men, all killed. Their deaths gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement and to badly-needed discussions about racial discrimination and social injustice. 

This spring, the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club added its voice in a singular way to this tough conversation. 

There are a couple of stories today you may have missed that I think are profoundly significant, but which won’t get a fraction of the attention they should.

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

A common practice by operators of municipal drinking water systems is getting more scrutiny.

Last week the first criminal charges were filed in connection with the water crisis in Flint.

One of the charges caught my attention, because it includes a practice that’s the norm in Michigan cities.

From a Detroit classroom
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Many Detroit school principals accused of taking kickbacks from a contractor have struck deals with the government and are scheduled to plead guilty.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says 11 guilty pleas so far are scheduled in April and May, including deals with nine principals. The man at the center of the probe, vendor Norman Shy, is scheduled to plead guilty on May 11.

Young boy on porch
Sal / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Parents who take a "spare the rod, spoil the child" approach to discipline are doing their children more harm than good, according to a new study.

The study from the University of Michigan and University of Texas says spanking can have long-term detrimental effects on children, including mental health problems, cognitive difficulties and aggressive behavior.

Study co-author Andy Grogan-Kaylor, an associate professor with the U of M School of Social Work, says the outcomes are similar to child abuse, to a slightly lesser degree.

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