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Law
4:36 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Criminal conviction check-off box to be removed from Ann Arbor city job applications

 

#155118225 / gettyimages.com

People seeking Ann Arbor city jobs will no longer need to disclose criminal convictions on their job application forms.

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That's What They Say
8:05 am
Sun May 4, 2014

Are you a one- or a two-spacer?

If you learned to type on a typewriter, you probably learned to put two spaces after a period.

On this week’s edition of That’s What They Say, host Rina Miller and University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan discuss the online debate raging about the number of spaces to place at the end of a sentence.

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Weekly Political Roundup
5:15 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

House Speaker Bolger balks at state support for Detroit bankruptcy

Credit User: mattileo/flickr

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

This week, Jennifer White, host of All Things Considered, examines the latest developments surrounding the Detroit bankruptcy case. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr spent two days in Lansing this week, trying to galvanize lawmakers to support a grand bargain to reinforce Detroit pensions while protecting the Detroit Institute of Arts. The state is being asked to contribute $350 million, but House Speaker Jase Bolger has balked at the proposal.

Ken Sikkema emphasizes that because it is an election year, Speaker Bolger will have a difficult time getting full Republican support to contribute state money to help with Detroit’s financial woes, and that in order for a deal to proceed where the state will contribute financially, it will rely on bipartisan support.

“The speaker is walking a fine line here, between driving a hard bargain to show that Republicans actually got something in the way of more accountability so that this doesn’t happen again,” Sikkema explains. “Down in Detroit, the pieces are starting to fall into place to make this happen and the last big piece is state participation. But he’s never going to get full Republican support for this, particularly in an election year, it’s going to have to be a bipartisan vote.”

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Politics & Government
5:42 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Some Detroiters complain about how Belle Isle is policed

Rum-runners bring alcohol across the frozen Detroit River in sleds in 1930.
Detroit News Staff Walter P. Reuther Library

In the 1920's, Belle Isle was a secret port for smuggling alcohol into the U.S. from Canada. The island was teeming with mobsters on little motor boats who brought liquor over by the jug-full. 

Now that Belle Isle is a state park, alcohol is back to being outlawed, and the place is being patrolled by state police and the Department of Natural Resources.

Many Detroiters have complained that the police are unfairly targeting drivers on the island.

According to Joe Guillen of the Detroit Free Press, since becoming a state park earlier this year there have been about 500 arrests. Among those who were pulled over were Detroit's city clerk, and even the city's mayor Mike Duggan. 

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Newsmaker Interview
4:53 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Republican state senator introduces bill to increase minimum wage

Credit Cedar Bend / Flickr

Michigan voters could see a question about increasing the minimum wage on the ballot this year. A petition drive is under way to collect enough signatures. But one Republican lawmaker has introduced a bill to increase the minimum wage in Michigan. Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, wants to increase the minimum wage from $7.40 to $8.15 an hour and an increase from $2.65 to $2.75 an hour for tipped workers.

“I’m suggesting that this is a good alternative," Jones says. "I don’t want to see all these waiters and waitresses lose these jobs; many of them are single moms who depend on this income and this is very good income for somebody typically with just a high school diploma."

Jones believes that minimum wage is intended as a starter job and that there are good jobs in Michigan, but that companies are having a difficult time filling those positions. Jones emphasizes that people need to understand the risks behind a possible ballot proposal to increase the minimum wage.

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That's What They Say
8:05 am
Sun April 27, 2014

Where did these “effing” euphemisms come from?

    

We have found many ways to say curse words without actually saying them.

On this week’s edition of That’s What They Say, host Rina Miller and University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan discuss euphemisms for taboo words.

The presence of euphemisms shows how impactful words can be. Curzan describes, "Words are enormously powerful and they can do a lot of damage, which is why with some of them, we find ways to get around actually saying them."

One of the first English-language euphemisms for a taboo word was "criminy," which showed up in 1681. Speakers used this word to avoid saying "Christ."

The origins of "gee," as in "gee willikers" or "gee whiz," are less clear. Some linguists believe these euphemisms came from "gee willikens" as a substitute for "Jerusalem," which was a common exclamation of surprise in the 19th century.

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That's What They Say
10:30 am
Fri April 25, 2014

Why a "spendthrift" isn't thrifty

Spendthrifts are more spendy than thrifty, so the word spendthrift doesn’t seem to make much sense.

This week on That’s What They Say, host Rina Miller and University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan discuss the seemingly oxymoronic word spendthrift.

While thrifty refers to being economical with money, spendthrift means the exact opposite—someone who spends money irresponsibly. Curzan explores the etymology of thrifty to get to the bottom of spendthrift.

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Law
4:50 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Bill mandates deadlines for rape kit testing

Evidence Collection Kit
Credit Office of the Washtenaw County Prosecutor

A bipartisan bill in the state Senate would speed up the testing of rape kits.

It proposes a set of deadlines for law enforcement agencies to pick up rape kits from medical facilities and have them tested at crime labs. The time limit from pickup  to completion of the lab analysis would be four months.

The bill is in response to the discovery in 2009 of about 11,000 untested rape kits in a Detroit police storage unit. The kits went back 25 years.

Kym Worthy, the Wayne County prosecutor, collaborated on the bill. 

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Offbeat
12:22 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Wake up, Ann Arbor! You're behind everybody else

Mornings are hard.
Credit user: Beverley Goodwin / Flickr

America, on average, gets to work at 7:55 a.m. People who are employed in Ann Arbor get to work at 8:15 a.m. That's not very impressive. Granted, it's better than New Yorkers, who leisurely arrive at 8:24 a.m. –nearly 30 minutes later than the national average.

All of these numbers are from Nate Silver's blog.  He analyzed and explained data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau's "American Community Survey."

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Families & Community
11:05 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Poverty rising in Oakland County

Credit Google Maps

People are getting poorer in Oakland County.

This is the major finding of a report released by Lighthouse of Oakland County today. After analyzing census data, Lighthouse President John Ziraldo says that between 2005 and 2012, the number of people living under the federal poverty line has grown about 77 percent. That's 118,000 people now living in poverty in a county whose overall population hasn't changed much in the same time frame, even if the socioeconomics of the people has.

On top of a rise in people living in poverty is a rise in the working poor – people whose income isn't enough to meet basic needs. Ziraldo says these folks often don't qualify for government programs, but they still need help paying bills and getting enough to eat.

"For all of Oakland County, there's probably between 15 and 20 percent of our overall population that really struggles, every month, to meet their basic needs," he says.

Oakland County is expensive, he says. It's the wealthiest county in Michigan, and the Michigan League for Public Policy says the amount of money a three-person family needs to cover the basics is $47,000.

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Education
10:35 am
Wed April 23, 2014

Michigan girls encouraged to become "digital divas"

Studies show that many girls lose interest in technology by the time they reach high school, a trend that Eastern Michigan University and its partners in the 4th annual "Digital Divas" conference are working to combat.
Credit gracey/morguefile.com

Hundreds of girls from across Michigan will have the chance to try out some hot technology this week in the hopes they see a fit for themselves in a high-tech career. Eastern Michigan University will host the fourth annual "Digital Divas" conference on Friday.

EMU Program Manager Bia Hamed says the free one-day event for middle and high school girls aims to help close the gender gap when it comes to careers in science, math, engineering and technology-related fields, often referred to as "STEM."

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Offbeat
5:52 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Humane Society asks Michigan drivers to watch out for turtles

Caution: Turtle Crossing
Credit Humane Society of Huron Valley / Facebook

Why did the turtle cross the road? The answer is that it is just that time of the year again. Michigan's turtles are hitting the roads to go and lay their eggs on the other side.

The Humane Society of Huron Valley is urging drivers to keep on the look out for these little guys making their way across our roads, and to avoid them as safely as possible. If the mood strikes you, get out and nudge them in the direction that they are headed. 

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Transportation
5:11 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Doggy bathroom is the newest, cutest fixture of Metro Airport

Service animal relief area at Detroit Metropolitan Airport
Credit Wayne County Airport Authority

Humans are not the only ones in the airport who need a restroom between flights. That's why Delta Airlines and Detroit Metropolitan Airport today opened the hub's first relief area for service animals.

Nicknamed "Central Bark" by some airport staff,  the area has two grassy sections called "porch potties," with a sprinkler system to wash away waste. It even has a fake fire hydrant.

It means passengers in transit will not have to take their service dogs outside to do their business.

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Education
5:27 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Poll says Michigan voters want to increase K-12 per-pupil spending

Michigan Capitol
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Three-quarters of Michigan voters support a state school budget proposal that increases per-pupil funding and gives local schools more control over how they spend the money.

That's according to a recent poll commissioned by the group that came up with the proposal.

The Classroom & Kids Coalition is made up of educators, administrators, and local school boards.

Its proposal would increase the per-pupil grant by $250-$291 by cutting $186 million from other parts of the School Aid Fund. (Gov. Snyder's proposal would increase the per-pupil grant by $167.)

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Buena Vista Township
3:31 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Buena Vista voters must repay debt from nonexistent school district

Residents of Buena Vista Township must decide how a $4 million debt will be repaid to the state for a defunct school district
Credit Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Buena Vista township has a debt to pay.

Though the Saginaw County community closed its school district last July, the non-existent district still owes more than $6 million to the state.

The district owes more than $2 million on a bond that voters approved in 2005 and more than $4 million on its general operating budget.

How exactly the $4 million from the general budget will be repaid is a question to be decided by voters next year.

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Environment & Science
12:00 pm
Sat April 19, 2014

Great Lakes residents concerned about water

The Great Lakes are the focus of a recent survey, carried out by the University of Michigan and other schools in the Great Lakes basin.
Credit NOAA

Residents of the Great Lakes basin are worried about their water.

Whether pollution, energy or invasive species like Asian carp, many of the 1,250 people surveyed in late 2013 by schools like the University of Michigan felt that the Great Lakes were ok, but could be better. This is despite tons of efforts to clean them up, says Barry Rabe, a public policy professor at U-M who was part of the survey.

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Offbeat
5:30 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Ann Arbor staple Blimpy Burger finds a new home

The burgers (and stomach aches) return.
Credit Blimpy Burger / blimpyburger.com

The Blimpy Burger lives on. 

According to MLive’s Lizzy Alfs, owners of Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger signed a lease on 304 S. Ashley Street — the former home to the Eastern Flame restaurant.

And more notably, right next store to the Fleetwood Diner.

As Michigan Radio’s Mark Brush reported in August, the 60-year-old restaurant shut its doors last summer after the University of Michigan bought the burger joint to make room for a new dormitory. 

Economy
2:56 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Gov. Snyder's approval rating improving

The approval rating for Gov. Snyder stands at nearly 40%. The numbers have been going up for about a year, and are about as high as they were when the first survey was done after he took office in 2011.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

About 40% of Michiganders think Gov. Rick Snyder is doing a pretty good job, according to survey results released today by Michigan State University.

His approval rating in the State of the State Survey has been improving for close to a year, say the folks behind the survey, and they come as Gov. Snyder throws his hat back in the ring for re-election. Survey director Charles Ballard says Gov. Snyder's numbers are similar to those of his immediate predecessor, Jennifer Granholm, around the time she decided to run for re-election eight years ago.

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Environment & Science
12:58 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

What you can do to help Michigan's bats

A little brown bat with symptoms of white-nose syndrome.
Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters / U.S. government

Things are not looking good for Michigan’s bats.

As Michigan Radio's Rebecca Williams reported earlier this week, bats infected with the deadly white-nose syndrome have been found in Michigan.

The disease, which has killed more than six million bats in North America since 2006, wakes up bats during hibernation once a week – twice the normal amount of hibernation disturbance.

According to Allen Kurta, a biology professor at Eastern Michigan University, when the fungus keeps the bats waking up, they use up their stored fat too quickly:

“So, by arousing much more frequently, they’re using up their fat much more frequently; they are then running out of that fat come February and March, and essentially they will die of starvation because there are no flying insects out there to give them food.”

And in short, the spread of the disease is threatening the livelihood of the state's bats. 

“I think that this is one of the worst wildlife calamities ever in the history of North America,” said Kurta. “You’re looking at potential extinction of multiple species of bats.”

Luckily, there are a few things we can do to help out the little guys.

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Business
6:08 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Detroit businesses vote to pay for supplement city services

Credit Peter Martorano / Flickr

Business owners in downtown Detroit voted this week to collectively contribute $4 million a year to keeping the downtown clean and safe.

The vote means a new Business Improvement Zone will be established downtown between the freeways and the Detroit River. Commercial property owners in the zone will pay an additional fee on top of their property taxes to pay for supplementary services.

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