According to Pete Bigelow, the Willow Run facility could be open for its first phase of testing as soon as the end of 2017.
Ford Motor Company

The Next Idea

Start talking about Willow Run and chances are pretty good that images of Rosie The Riveters building B-24 bombers in World War II come to mind.

But there are big plans being cooked up to transform the old factory grounds near Ypsilanti into a highly advanced proving ground for autonomous and connected vehicles.

Pete Bigelow spells it all out in his story for Car and Driver.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are 7,495,216 people registered to vote in Michigan in the 2016 presidential elections. That’s more than 40,000 more than were registered in the last presidential election, according the Secretary of State’s Office. There are more voters registered now than in 2008, the previous record.

The deadline to register to vote in the November election was last week.

Some of the biggest registration surges came from counties with a large college-age population; Washtenaw, Ingham, Isabella, Marquette, and Kalamazoo counties.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Indiana Governor Mike Pence brings the campaign spotlight to Macomb County tonight. He'll be speaking at the Lincoln Day dinner in Shelby Township. Organizers say it’s the largest crowd in recent memory for the Lincoln Day dinner, and it’s proof that Macomb County is still fertile ground for the GOP message.

Trump merchandise
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A state Republican leader is losing her party position because she won’t back Republican nominee Donald Trump for president. Wendy Lynn Day was elected grassroots vice chair at a state party convention last year. In the role, she served as a liaison between the Republican Party and the tea party movement.

Day backed Senator Ted Cruz in the primary, but said she cannot support Trump, whom she does not consider a Republican.

doctor's office
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The next round of Obamacare will cost more for hundreds of thousands of Michiganders who get their health insurance through the federal program.

Four fewer companies are offering health insurance plans through Michigan’s Affordable Care Act marketplace next year.  That will directly affect about 10,000 Michiganders currently covered by plans offered by those companies.

There are three weeks to go until Election Day and Republicans are in despair, while Democrats are paranoid because no one is quite sure what the Donald Trump Effect will be on the ballot come November 8th.

It appears the Trump campaign is in a free fall, the statistical analysis website 538 now rates Trump’s chances of winning Michigan at 7.7 percent.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan's House Democrats are looking to take control of the chamber this November, but that won't be easy.

The Democrats need to win at least 56 of 110 seats to have a House majority. They currently hold 46.

The Associated Press reports that the Democrats do have some advantages that should spur optimism going into the November election. 

More from the Associated Press:

Vice presidential candidates Republican Mike Pence (L) and Democrat Tim Kaine (R).
wikimedia commons

Both major party candidates for the next U.S. vice president plan campaign stops in Michigan this week.

Donald Trump’s running mate is up first. Indiana Governor Mike Pence is scheduled to headline a dinner hosted by the Macomb County Republican Party tonight.

Traditionally blue-collar Macomb remains one of Trump’s few bright spots in Michigan, where most recent polls show Hillary Clinton regaining a healthy lead, though none has her topping 50% of the total vote.

Clinton’s running mate, Virginia Senator Time Kaine, will pay a visit to Detroit Tuesday.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Great Lakes Water Authority put $1.3 billion worth of bonds on the market last week.

It’s the first bond offering for the new regional authority, which emerged from Detroit’s bankruptcy process. It now provides wholesale water and services to millions of people across southeast Michigan.

About $1.1 billion of that will be used to refinance existing debt at a lower interest rate, says Nicolette Bateson, the GLWA’s Chief Financial Officer. She says that should produce almost $310 million in savings over the life of the bonds.

Someone asked me, what if Donald Trump loses the presidential election and refuses to concede defeat?

Well, legally, it doesn’t make any difference whatsoever.

From time to time, we’ve had Michigan candidates who didn’t have the grace to face their supporters and congratulate their opponents.

Geoffrey Fieger never formally conceded his race for governor. Neither did Terri Lynn Land when she was defeated by Gary Peters for the U.S. Senate two years ago. But both lost badly, the state certified the results, and that was that.

Michigan's 10th Congressional District.
United States Department of the Interior / Wikimedia Commons

Michigan’s 10th Congressional District stretches from the tip of the Thumb to northern Macomb County. 

Voters will choose between two candidates with relatively thin resumes in the District.

Businessman Paul Mitchell is making his second run for Congress. He ran two years ago in a different district in a different part of the state.  

When asked about that, this was his initial response.

“Turn that off for a second,” Mitchell asked for the recording to stop, “I have one question for you.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Two judges from the Detroit-area are challenging Michigan Supreme Court justices Joan Larsen and David Viviano.

  The two races are the most significant races for statewide office on the Nov. 8 ballot.

  Larsen was a law professor before she was appointed to the court last year by Gov. Rick Snyder. Viviano, a former Macomb County judge, has been on the Supreme Court since 2013. He, too, was appointed by Snyder.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Conditions are ideal for Democrats to bolster their ranks in the Michigan Legislature, but capturing a House majority to end Republican control of state government could be elusive.

  Democrats' advantages include higher voter turnout for the presidential election and the departure of dozens of Republicans who cannot run again under term limits. Democrats have gained House seats in every presidential contest since 2004.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan will announce plans for a new class action lawsuit related to the Flint water crisis.

The ACLU’s new lawsuit will focus on the education rights of Flint area school-age children and what is needed to ensure their right to free and quality education.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - The city of Flint will receive more than $970,000 to help residents get increased access to health services.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Update 1:05pm 

Power distribution was restored at 11:38am today to 29,729 customers following a suspected lightning strike at 8:55am that caused the Eckert Substation to trip offline causing outages across BWL’s service territory.

 Original Post - 10:45am  A suspected lightning strike on a key power substation knocked out power to 29,729 Lansing Board of Water and Light customers just before 9am this morning. 

Electricity service is slowly being restored.

A utility spokesman is urging BWL customers to avoid any downed power lines today.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

ST. IGNACE, Mich. (AP) - Presidential nominee Donald Trump is trying to put Michigan in the Republicans' corner for the first time in two dozen years by taking aim at trade deals and an economy that's left blue-collar workers behind.

Democrat Hillary Clinton says the billionaire businessman is no friend of workers because of using Chinese steel in his construction projects and opposing the auto bailout.

In the middle are voters, who say they're split over the candidates' trustworthiness.

Detroit Bike City Kendra /

Detroit's popular weekly Slow Roll bike ride was canceled for the second week in a row due to competing events.

Flint river
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lawsuits keep piling up in the wake of the Flint water crisis. This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and I talk about a new complaint that calls for a grand jury criminal investigation into Gov. Rick Snyder's legal fees. We also talk about another challenge to Michigan's 180-day time limit on collecting petition signatures and upcoming visits from vice-presidential candidates Tim Kaine and Mike Pence.


Carfentanil-laced heroin is showing up in Michigan.

That was confirmed last week, when public health officials in Wayne County definitively linked at least 19 deaths since July to the powerful synthetic opioid.

They were on the lookout for carfentanil after it appeared in nearby states this summer — particularly Ohio, where a late-summer surge in fatal overdoses was tied to carfentanil. There was also a suspected case in Kent County last month.

Dr. Pamela Pugh has been on the job as Flint's chief public health adviser for less than two weeks.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint residents are being urged to cooperate with an investigation into disease outbreak that may or may not be connected to the city’s water crisis.

Since March 1, more than 130 people in Genesee and Saginaw counties have fallen sick with an illness called Shigellosis. The disease causes bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain, but has not been linked to any fatalities.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Leave it to the former chair of the Michigan Democratic Party to demand a grand jury investigation of Republican Governor Rick Snyder over his legal fees tied to the Flint water crisis.

Business has a better idea – lend its expertise, free of charge, to projects that promise to get Flint back on its feet after getting walloped by lead-tainted water and financial retrenchment.

A Nation Engaged: Fireworks

Oct 14, 2016
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio


America is changing.

Non-white kids now make up a majority of kindergartners. By the next presidential election, the Census Bureau predicts the majority of all children will be children of color.

And by 2044, no one racial group will be a majority in the country.

This cross-current of demographic and cultural change is upending traditional voting patterns and straining the fabric of what it means to be American.

The Apple Business cocktail mixes apple cider with gin. You won't believe how well it works.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

"October is my favorite month," Tammy Coxen of Tammy's Tastings said. "Do you know why? Apple cider!"

Apple cider is a popular ingredient in a lot of cocktails which seem perfect for fall. Often the cider is mixed with bourbon or rum. But this cocktail, the Apple Business, is made with gin.

"I chose Ann Arbor Distilling's Water Hill gin for this drink because of of the spicy garam masala note," Coxen said.

The distiller's website indicates the botanicals used to flavor the gin include Croatian juniper, cardamom, and garam masala.

Courtesy Photo / Hoekstra True Value Hardware

People are flocking to a family owned hardware store that’s become a staple in Kalamazoo.

Hoekstra’s True Value Hardware is closing after nearly 150 years in business.

Co-owner Phil Ippel says he’s looking forward to more golfing, traveling and volunteering in the community. He’s even got a river cruise booked for next year.

“It’ll be a few months here, some hard work to get it down where we can do that,” he chuckled.  

Courtesy of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.

If you had 20 years to give away $1.2 billion, how would you do it?

That’s the question facing one Detroit-based philanthropy, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.

Funded by the estate of the late Ralph C. Wilson Jr., who was born in Detroit and went on to become the owner of the Buffalo Bills, the Foundation plans to focus its efforts on the areas Mr. Wilson called home: southeast Michigan and western New York.

And unlike many philanthropic foundations, which invest their endowments and give away the income generated by those investments, Mr. Wilson’s foundation has a mandate to spend all of the money by 2035.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio


This week two stories were released about secretive funds benefiting Michigan legislators and the Republican and Democratic parties.

The stories were a joint investigation of MLive and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Wells Fargo sign.
Mike Mozart / Flickr -

Wells Fargo is losing business with state governments across the U.S.  

At this point, the growing list does not include the state of Michigan.

State treasurers in California and Illinois and the cities of Seattle and Chicago cut ties to the troubled financial industry giant since it was learned that Wells Fargo employees manipulated customer accounts to meet sales goals.

Friday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced he is suspending Wells Fargo from doing business with state agencies, and excluding the bank from participating in any state bond offerings.

Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / Creative Commons

The amount of money candidates in Michigan can get from special interest groups could get cut in half. That’s if a proposed bill finds its way through the legislature.

Currently these groups are allowed to donate ten times the amount of money an individual can. If the bill sponsored by State Representative Martin Howrylak  is passed, the donation limit would be reduced to five times the amount individuals can donate.

Craig Mauger is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, a nonpartisan organization.     

The concern about concussions in sports like football is at an all-time high, but the authors of "Back In the Game: Why Concussion Doesn’t Have to End Your Athletic Career" say the media hype may be overblown.
John Martinez Pavliga / Flickr -

The issue of contact sports and concussions has been all over the news in recent years.

There’s enough concern that a growing number of parents are deciding against letting their kids play rough sports because of the fear that concussions will lead to permanent neurological damage. It’s a complete swing away from the attitudes of the past when coaches would tell players "just walk it off."

There’s a new book which suggests that, yes, concussions are very serious, but there’s a lot of misinformation about them, and also a lot of media hype. The book is called: Back In the Game: Why Concussion Doesn’t Have to End Your Athletic Career.