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1:27 pm
Tue June 21, 2011

All About Jobs

Senator Debbie Stabenow came to Michigan last weekend, to visit some farms and talk with fruit and vegetable growers. She is, after all, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

For some reason, though agriculture has long been the state’s second biggest industry, those of us not involved in it tend to give it short shrift. So, mostly do our politicians.

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Politics
12:51 pm
Tue June 21, 2011

Bing Campaigns to Brighten Detroit's Image

People all over the country are submitting thoughts and photos of Detroit's image and challenges.
Submitted by Howard Duffy

About 50 reporters arrived in Detroit on Monday for a three day conference Mayor Dave Bing is calling "Transform Detroit." Bing said this morning, via Twitter, that Transform Detroit "is a media briefing that connects reporters with community leaders and positive happenings throughout the city."

He also tweeted that he hoped he would get some reporters to tell "GOOD stories" after the conference.
The city is trying to put its best foot forward.

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Environment
11:23 am
Tue June 21, 2011

West Michigan residents voice opposition to offshore wind turbines

Business owners and residents in Pentwater, Michigan put up signs expressing opposition to Scandia Wind's offshore turbine proposal.
Photo by Suzy Vuljevic

There’s been a lot of outside interest in Michigan’s coastal wind supply. There have been multiple proposals for land-based wind farms in Michigan. But only a couple of companies have set their sights offshore.

One company in particular has met some tough opposition.

Scandia Wind came to Michigan last year looking to install 50 to 100 wind turbines in Lake Michigan. They had plans to site a wind farm six miles outside of Mason and Oceana counties.

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Education
12:11 am
Tue June 21, 2011

Parents talking about future of Grand Rapids school's leader

GRPS School Board President Senita Lenear and Superintendent Bernard Taylor held a press conference after Cleveland Metropolitian Schools passed Taylor up for a job on June 7th, 2011.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A decision on the future of Grand Rapids Public Schools’ superintendent has been delayed again.

Despite no comments from the school board, several residents and parents talked about Taylor’s future. Tyrone Bynum admits he has not always gotten along with Taylor.

“My focus is what’s good for the kids. And I think we’ve got a winning team. And we can’t afford right now a new superintendent with paying that one and him too…this brother is expensive,” Bynum chuckled.

If they chose the option - it would cost Grand Rapids schools around $1 million dollars to buy out the remaining four year of Taylor’s contract.

The school board met twice Monday, once in a private morning meeting and a public one later in the evening. They did not approve Taylor’s evaluation for last school year or discuss the fact that’s he’s applied for jobs at other school districts.

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Politics
4:29 pm
Mon June 20, 2011

Redistricting fight begins this week

The Michigan House districts as they exist now.

The partisan battle over the state’s new maps of congressional and legislative districts kicks off Tuesday at the state Capitol.

Republicans are likely to get their plans adopted. They control the House, the Senate and the governor’s office. A legal challenge would probably be decided by the GOP controlled state Supreme Court.

Democrats charge Republicans manipulated the lines to put two Democratic incumbents together in one district – and to shore up the GOP base for some vulnerable Republicans.

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Education
4:01 pm
Mon June 20, 2011

Michigan takes drastic approach to fix failing schools

Governor Snyder wants to reform Michigan public schools, starting in Detroit.
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Michigan will try a drastic new approach to fix its failing public schools.

The state will put what it designates as “persistently low-performing schools” in a special, statewide school district.

The effort will start in Detroit. The city’s public school system has gained national notoriety for its rock-bottom test scores, and is already run by a state-appointed emergency manager.

That manager will jumpstart the effort to put some Detroit schools in what the state is calling an “Educational Achievement System” starting in the fall of 2012.

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Arts/Culture
4:01 pm
Mon June 20, 2011

'Pure Michigan' to sponsor NASCAR race

Lake Michigan as seen from Beaver Island
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

The state’s popular Pure Michigan tourism campaign is headed to the race track this summer.

Pure Michigan will sponsor its first NASCAR race at the Michigan International Speedway. It will be billed as the Pure Michigan 400. ESPN will be broadcast the race  nationwide and run Pure Michigan ads during the event.

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Medicine
3:22 pm
Mon June 20, 2011

Michigan not ready for Affordable Health Care Act

Emergency rooms are a costly alternative to a primary care physician.
Mark Coggins Flickr

A new survey found the state of Michigan is not ready to implement the health care overhaul passed by Congress. The Affordable Health Care Act is supposed to go into effect in 2014.

Marianne Udow-Phillips  is the Director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation. She says more people will be eligible for Medicaid under the new health care act and this might overwhelm an already strained health care system:

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Sports
3:21 pm
Mon June 20, 2011

Is U-M getting a mascot?

University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon spoke to Michigan Today about the possibility of U-M having a mascot, which it has avoided until now.

"I'm struck by the fact that when opposing teams come to our stadium, and they bring a mascot, all of our young fans are lined up to see if they can get a picture taken with it, whether it's the Penn State Nittany Lion or Sparty," Brandon told Michigan Today. "That's a little annoying to me."

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Your Story
2:31 pm
Mon June 20, 2011

Become a source for Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio wants you to contribute to our stories
Stephen Henderson flickr

Michigan Radio is becoming a part of the Public Insight Network. Just what is the Public Insight Network?

Well, it's our way to give you a microphone and get your voice heard.

You might contribute to stories on Michigan Radio or those broadcast by  Changing Gears, a radio collaboration between Michigan Radio, WBEZ Chicago, and Ideastream Cleveland.

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Politics
1:45 pm
Mon June 20, 2011

National: Supreme Court limits Wal-Mart discrimination case

Joe Gratz Flickr

The Supreme Court blocked a massive lawsuit charging Wal-Mart with sexual discrimination today according to the Associated Press.

From the AP:

The Supreme Court on Monday blocked a massive sex discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart on behalf of female employees in a decision that makes it harder to mount large-scale bias claims against the biggest U.S. companies.

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Politics
12:49 pm
Mon June 20, 2011

Recall language against State Senator John Proos not clear enough...for now

State Senator Mark Jansen (R-St. Joseph)
senate.michigan.gov/gop

Lyn Earwood, who submitted the petition, says she will tweak the language to make it more clear and resubmit for approval soon.

The language was nearly identical to a recall petition Kent County officials approved this morning against State Senator Mark Jansen.

Both petitions stated opposition to the republican senator's support of the new tax structure that cuts taxes for most Michigan businesses and taxes income from public pensions.

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Politics
12:05 pm
Mon June 20, 2011

Abortion back on the agenda in Lansing

A state House committee could vote this week to outlaw a procedure critics call partial-birth abortion.
  
Similar efforts to ban the procedure in Michigan have failed in the past. Two bills were vetoed, and three laws that were enacted were struck down by the courts.
 
But that was before the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal ban on the procedure in 2007. Ed Rivet of Right to Life of Michigan says this time around, he expects less of a fight.
 

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Economy
11:57 am
Mon June 20, 2011

Borders hoping for sale by end of July

Borders filed for bankruptcy protection in February.

Bankrupt Borders Group may have an interested buyer. The Ann Arbor-based bookstore chain plans to name a bidder by July first.

In a motion filed Friday at the United States Bankruptcy Court Southern District of New York, Borders says the sale process has "gained significant momentum in recent weeks," and that the bookseller is "encouraged" that a successful buyer will emerge.

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Politics
9:58 am
Mon June 20, 2011

Recall effort against State Sen. Mark Jansen moves forward

State Sentator Mark Jansen (R-Gaines Township)
sentate.michigan.gov/gop

Add State Senator Mark Jansen to the growing list of republican lawmakers in Michigan facing a recall effort.

Kent County election officials approved the recall language this morning. Now volunteers can begin collecting signatures. They’d need 26,611 voter signatures to get the recall on the ballot.

Jansen says he’s taking the challenge seriously and is prepared to run a reelection campaign if he has to.

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Commentary
9:23 am
Mon June 20, 2011

Redistricting Woes

You have to admit that in Michigan, Democrats have been supremely unlucky when it comes to redistricting. For the last fifty years, Republicans have controlled the governor’s office whenever it was time to draw new districts.

This time they control everything - house, senate, and a majority on the state supreme court. That means they can impose  whatever plan they like, as long as it does a couple things.

First of all, all districts have to have more or less equal population. For Congress, that means exactly equal population. Based on where the census showed people lived, each Congressional district has to have seven hundred and five thousand, nine hundred and seventy-four people, give or take one.

There’s more wiggle room for legislative districts, but still, each one has to have within five percent of the target number of roughly ninety thousand per house and two hundred and sixty thousand for senate. There’s also the Voting Rights Act to consider.

Courts have held that means that a certain number of seats have to include a majority of voters who are members of the dominant minority group. Other than that, Republicans had a free hand. They finally unveiled their work at the end of last week.

And on the whole, I was pleasantly surprised. Naturally, since Michigan has to lose a seat in Congress, they combined the seats of two Democrats, Sandy Levin and Gary Peters, meaning one has to go. They also redrew the legislative lines to make it harder for Democrats to win back the state house and senate.

But some of what they did in terms of Congress is actually an improvement. For example, they took Calhoun County, which includes Battle Creek, out of the Seventh District, and put it into the Third, based on Grand Rapids. In terms of uniting communities of interests, Battle Creek would have been better off in the Sixth District, with Kalamazoo. But it is better off than where it was.

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State Legislature
6:39 am
Mon June 20, 2011

Busy week scheduled at the Capitol

Capitol Building, Lansing, Michigan
Matthileo Flickr

State lawmakers have a busy two weeks ahead of them before they take a two-month summer break. This week, legislators will debate the threat of feral pigs to woods and farmland, whether the state should mirror a federal ban on so-called “partial birth abortions,” and how the state’s new political maps should be drawn.

Perhaps the most contentious issue at the Capitol right now is whether the state should build a publicly owned bridge from Detroit to Canada. State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says the Detroit bridge issue impacts everyone in the state. One reason for that is the bridge project is linked to federal road money that would go to every region of the state.

“This is part of a bigger issue in Michigan, and that’s infrastructure, period. I look at the roads in the state – whether they’re county roads, local roads, state highways – that infrastructure is important to people too. And I really think this is one piece of a much bigger issues that we have in Michigan.”

But Richardville says the Senate will not vote on any bridge legislation until lawmakers return from the summer break. Governor Rick Snyder had hoped to approve the bridge legislation before July. Snyder will, however, get to sign the state budget for the coming year into law. The governor is expected to sign the budget bills this week.

What's Working
6:31 am
Mon June 20, 2011

A 'Master Plan' for Midland's youth

The city of Midland has a plan.  A “Youth Master Plan.” It was created by educators, clergy, police, parents, and others in the community to help kids in Midland. As part of Michigan Radio's What's Working series, we speak with Dick Dolinski, one of the founders of the Plan.  He’s president of the Legacy Center for Student Success. For more information, and to contact Dick about starting a Master Plan in your community, click here.

 

Detroit Public Schools
6:21 am
Mon June 20, 2011

School reform announcement scheduled for Detroit

Governor Rick Snyder, state Superintendent Mike Flanagan and Detroit Public Schools emergency manager Roy Roberts are scheduled to make an announcement regarding school reform later this morning in Detroit. The Detroit Free Press reports:

Gov. Rick Snyder will create an authority to run several failing Detroit public schools as part of sweeping changes to be announced today for the city's struggling school system, sources said Sunday.

The plan would restructure the failing Detroit Public Schools, which has a $327-million deficit on an operating budget of about $1.5 billion, by moving its underperforming schools under an authority to be run by the district's emergency manager, Roy Roberts, according to sources. Schools would qualify for the new system if they are deemed below certain academic standards by the Michigan Department of Education…

It's unclear exactly how many DPS schools would be transferred to a new authority. DPS already has a program under way that would close or convert to charter about half its schools.

Under the plan to be announced Monday, DPS schools not labeled as underperforming would remain under the authority of Roberts, a former top executive at General Motors, in the same manner as they are today. There are no plans to dissolve the school board, sources said.

Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, is scheduled to take part in the announcement via a live feed from Washington, D.C..

Auto/Economy
1:33 pm
Sun June 19, 2011

Teens have tough time finding summer jobs

Slinging coffee is one option for teens looking for work
Creative Commons/capl@washjeff.edu

The summertime blues have arrived for thousands of Michigan teenagers, who face a tough job market this year. That’s despite some improvement from last year.

Teens face a 30% unemployment rate this summer. That’s a 4 percentage point drop from 2010. A spokesman with the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget says much of the improvement is because fewer teens are trying to find work this summer.

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