Stateside Staff

Gov. Rick Snyder.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Michigan has faced and tackled many issues in 2014. Zoe Clark talked to Gov. Rick Snyder about the past year, and what he'd like to achieve in the future.

A bill allowing suspicion-based drug testing for people on welfare has passed the Michigan House and Senate and is awaiting the governor’s decision.

Snyder says he still needs more time to review the bill in detail. A number of states have already passed similar policies, and Snyder says he is paying close attention to their effects.

the nyerges family
Courtesy of Jane-Ann Nyerges

It's been over 40 years since the Michigan Chemical Corporation/Velsicol made a catastrophic mistake that affected millions of Michigan residents.

The company from St. Louis, Michigan, shipped a toxic flame retardant chemical to the Farm Bureau Service instead of a nutritional supplement. That chemical was PBB or polybrominated biphenyl.

PBB was mixed into livestock feed, but it took a year to discover the accident. Millions of consumers ate contaminated milk, meat, and eggs during this time.

Jane-Ann Nyerges was one of the farming families whose lives were changed after the PBB contamination.

Today on Stateside:

  • Zoe Clark discusses the past year with Gov. Rick Snyder, and what Snyder hopes to achieve in the future.
  • Patrick DeHaan of Gasbuddy.com explains why gas prices are they lowest they’ve been in five years.
  • Former Kellogg lobbyist George Franklin discusses his memoir that details his time in Washington.
  • With the 40th anniversary of the terrible Michigan Chemical Corporation PBB contamination, we talk to Jane-Ann Nyerges about the effects her family is still living with
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics says teens need to sleep later. Ann Arbor is considering moving to a later high school start time. School Board secretary Andy Thomas talks to us about the pros and cons of the possible change.
School Bus
Nicolae Gerasim / Flickr

The American Academy of Pediatrics says teens need to sleep later. The Academy is challenging America’s schools to not start high school classes until at least 8:30 a.m.

user futureatlas.com / Flickr

Oil prices worldwide continue to slide. Gas prices haven't been this low in five years, with Michigan averaging $2.41 a gallon.

Kellogg logo
Flickr user EthelRedThePetrolHead / Flickr

Lobbyists aren't the most well liked people, but George Franklin, attorney and former lobbyist who became the Vice President of World Wide Government Relations for the Kellogg Company, would like to change your perception of them.

Franklin is currently the head of Franklin Public Affairs in Kalamazoo and recently wrote a memoir about his time in Washington entitled "Raisin Bran and Other Cereals: 30 Years of Lobbying for the Most Famous Tiger in the World."

Sander J. Rabinowitz / Wikipedia

His former boss remarked that Bill Bonds could "read the telephone book and make you pay attention." The legendary Detroit TV anchor died over the weekend at age 82.

User Motown31 / Creative Commons

The Education Achievement Authority has a permanent new leader. Some six months after being appointed interim chancellor, Veronica Conforme has been named to that permanent position. What has she seen in these first months, and what are her goals for the district?

*Listen to our conversation with Conforme below

pinehurst19475 / Flickr

To anyone who's taking a first-time drive, the border between Detroit and the city of Grosse Pointe Park provides a stunning contrast. Grosse Pointe Park is the western-most of the five Grosse Pointes. And driving east or west on streets like Jefferson, Charlevoix, and Kercheval will give you a real eye-opening lesson in racial and economic disparity.

But you cannot drive the main thoroughfare of Kercheval. That's because Grosse Pointe Park erected farmer's market sheds right in the middle of the street at the Detroit border. 

Luther College_Photo Bureau / Flickr

Is Michigan just too modest, too Midwestern in the way it treats its prominent entrepreneurs? Jeff DeGraff thinks the answer might be yes.

DeGraff is a clinical professor of management and organizations at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and our partner for the Next Idea. Jeff DeGraff has two questions for listeners:

How would you identify the best and the brightest? And what kinds of help would you give them?

Today on Stateside:

  • The EAA announces Veronica Conforme as its new chancellor after she spent six months as the district's interim chancellor. Conforme discusses what the EAA has done so far and what progress she hopes to make.
  • Legendary TV anchor Bill Bonds died this past Saturday at the age of 82. Dick Kernen of the Specs Howard School of Media Arts who had previously worked with Bonds briefly discusses his life and impact on broadcasting.
  • Is Michigan doing enough for its young entrepreneurs? Jeff DeGraff is here to talk about his thoughts on what Michigan can and should do to encourage economic growth and development through nurturing young entrepreneurs.
  • The border between Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park offers an eye-opening lesson in racial and economic disparity. Reporter Bill McGraw has written about the farmer’s market sheds in the middle of Kercheval at the Detroit border and what their construction says about the relationship between the two cities.
  • A new bar has opened up in Ann Arbor. The Brillig Dry Bar doesn’t serve alcohol. Its creator, Nic Sims, discusses why she decided to open a dry bar and the response she has received so far. You can visit the website here.
Detroit skyline.
user JSFauxtaugraphy / Flickr

Today a special edition of Stateside with the Detroit Journalism Cooperative on Detroit after bankruptcy:

  • We examine how the city is trying to get public services back on track with new initiatives for street light replacement and more buses on the road. 
  • Residents discuss the benefits of living in Detroit’s rich cultural environment and weigh these costs with continuing to deal with crime in the area.
  • Many of the issues that led the city of Detroit to bankruptcy are also affecting Detroit schools. We review how Detroit’s education system has adjusted to the decline in funding and enrollment.
  • Detroit’s central business district has gained attention after large acquisitions from private corporations, but many residents worry this growth is bypassing neighborhoods.
  • More companies are also seeing Detroit as an opportunity, establishing themselves in the area and hiring more residents of the city.

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan / Flickr

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr resigned today. Gov. Rick Snyder had a little send-off for him in Detroit. Here to discuss that and other Michigan politics is the It’s Just Politics team, Rick Pluta and Michigan Radio’s resident political junkie Zoe Clark.

Click on the link above to hear Rick and Zoe discuss Orr's resignation and Michigan politics 

David Shane / Flickr

It's been two years since hordes of people descended on the state Capitol to protest the passage of "right-to-work" legislation in the lame-duck session.

Lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder argued it was only fair that union workers decide whether they actually wanted to pay dues to the union. They also said businesses would move to Michigan if it became a right-to-work state. Labor leaders and others called it a ploy to weaken unions and Democrats.

Brad McGinley / Flickr

You’ve no doubt heard that eating red meat is not healthy, or that beef production is a big contributor to greenhouse gases. It’s been suggested often that we’d all be better off if we reduced or eliminated beef from our diet.

A new book challenges much of what we’ve been told about raising cattle, and consuming dairy and beef. Defending Beef: the Case for Sustainable Meat Production was written by Nicolette Hahn Niman,  an environmental lawyer and a vegetarian-turned-cattle-rancher. 

History Rewound / Flickr

We’re coming up on an anniversary this weekend. It’s probably not one you’ve noted before. On Dec. 14, 1799, the nation’s first president, George Washington, died at his home, Mount Vernon.

It was not an easy death, primarily because of the medical treatments he was given. Dr. Howard Markel is a physician and medical historian at the University of Michigan and he’s written an essay about that.

Listen to Dr. Markel discuss George Washington's treatment below.

Today on Stateside: 

  • Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr announced his resignation. Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark discuss this and more Michigan politics.
  • Nicolette Hahn Niman, vegetarian and environmental-lawyer-turned-cattle rancher, discusses her new book, Defending Beef: the Case for Sustainable Meat Production
  • Entrepreneurship is on the decline, and that’s not good for the economy. Listen to University of Michigan professor of entrepreneurial studies Stewart Thornhill discuss why entrepreneurship is so important for economic growth.
  • Two years have passed since the passage of the right-to-work law in Michigan. What has or hasn’t changed? Patrick Anderson, CEO of Anderson Economic Group, and Charles Ballard, economics professor at Michigan State University, discuss the first two years of right to work in Michigan.
  • On Dec. 14, 1799, the nation’s first president, George Washington, died in his home. Washington’s death wasn’t a particularly pleasant one, largely due to his treatment. Dr. Howard Markell, physician and medical historian at the University of Michigan, discusses Washington’s final day. 
xianrendujia / Flickr

With all the news about Silicon Valley startups, you could get the idea that entrepreneurship is thriving in the United States.

The reality is U.S. entrepreneurship has been in a pretty steep decline for 30 years. The Next Idea team got to wondering about that. So, we asked Stewart Thornhill to write an essay about entrepreneurship. He’s a professor who teaches entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan.

    

Today on Stateside:

  • The Michigan Supreme Court has decided some 52 cases this year and dealt with judicial misconduct, but we will soon see a change in the bench. Justice Bridget Mary McCormack joined us.
  • Kevyn Orr is expected to resign on Wednesday after signing the order sealing Detroit’s bankruptcy. Daniel Howes with the Detroit News wrote a column indicating Orr’s tenure as Detroit’s emergency manager could have been a lot more divisive.
  • Mean and hostile comments seem to be everywhere, and on every online story. Cliff Lampe is an associate professor in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. He’s worked with little outfits such as Facebook and Wikipedia, studying community engagement. We talk with him about snarky comments in the digital age.
  • It has been two years since the Michigan Legislature passed the right-to-work law in the lame-duck session. What effect has the new law had on the state? We talk with Patrick Anderson, CEO of Anderson Economic Group, and Charles Ballard, an economics professor at Michigan State University. 
  • On Dec. 14, 1799, the nation’s first president, George Washington, died at his home in Mount Vernon. It was not an easy death primarily because of the medical treatments he was given. Dr. Howard Markell is a physician and medical historian at the University of Michigan and he’s written an essay about Washington’s death.
  • To get high school students more excited about woodworking, an industrial arts teacher and a gym teacher got together and came up with a new kind of class. Kids can make their own longboard, skateboard, surfboard, snowboard, or skis. The class at Forest Hills Eastern High School in Grand Rapids is called Gone Boarding. We talk with shop teacher Bruce Macartney and gym teacher Bill Curtis.

*Listen to the full show above.

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget McCormack.
Bridget Mary McCormack for Justice

In 2014, the Michigan Supreme Court has decided 52 cases, dealt with judicial misconduct, and endured another contentious election cycle.

But despite widespread perception of the court as a politically-driven institution split along ideological lines, things behind the scenes are actually quite “collegial and high-functioning,” according to Justice Bridget Mary McCormack.

A long board.
user DieselDemon / Flickr

When I took wood shop in high school, the project was a step stool. I know. Not very exciting.

To get high school students more excited about woodworking and to get them more active, an industrial arts teacher and a gym teacher got together and came up with a new kind of class. Kids can make their own longboard skateboard, surfboard, snowboard, or skis.

The class at Forest Hills Eastern High School in Grand Rapids is called Gone Boarding.

Michigan Radio

Kevyn Orr is expected to resign tomorrow after signing the order sealing Detroit’s bankruptcy. And Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says Orr was judicious about wielding the power he had.

Howes is a regular guest on Stateside. He told host Lester Graham that Orr could have stripped pay and power from Detroit’s mayor and City Council, and could have been more aggressive about extracting concessions from the city’s unions in bankruptcy court.

Hands Typing
Flickr user Sascha Pohflepp / Flickr

Online comment sections are not always the most welcoming place, but apart from incendiary remarks, they still provide an important outlet for people to share their thoughts.

Cliff Lampe, associate professor at the School of Information at the University of Michigan has studied community engagement for a number of large online companies and shares his insights as to how to improve online discourse.

Dan Gilbert, Quicken Loans Founder and CEO
Quicken Loans

Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans, has become synonymous with downtown Detroit. 

He's been called "Detroit's savior" by the national media because of his purchase of about 60 buildings downtown, but two new articles argue for a more dynamic depiction of Gilbert.

Ryan Felton recently wrote a piece titled "Dan Gilbert, downtown Detroit's demigod" for Detroit MetroTimes. 

Anna Clark authored "Detroit's Dan Gilbert and the savior complex" for the Columbia Journalism Review.

Both articles question how Gilbert has been framed in the media and scrutinize this portrayal of Gilbert as Detroit's guardian angel.

"Journalists can sometimes conflate a private business person with a charity or philanthropic figure," Clark says. He says it's important to remember Gilbert is still an individual working for his own self-interest.

The abandoned Packard Automobile Factory is emblematic of the financial stress of many minority Michigan communities.
Albert Duce / Wikimedia Commons

When voters went to the ballot to kill the Emergency Manager Law, the state legislature responded in the lame duck session by passing a new emergency manager law that no voter initiative could remove. It was signed into law by Governor Snyder.

Opponents sued on several claims, but a federal judge recently ruled against those claims.... except for one.  

This claim alleged racial discrimination, citing the contrast between 52% of the state's African American population living under emergency managers compared to only 2% of white residents. 

Alexandra Hidalgo

    

There’s a new video documentary that looks at immigration from a woman’s perspective. The documentary is called Vanishing Borders. Alexandra Hidalgo directed and produced the film. She's an assistant professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures at Michigan State University.

The four women featured in Vanishing Borders are Teboho Moja, Melainie Rogers, Daphnie Sicre, and Yatna Vakharia. Hidalgo says she was looking for people who had compelling stories and who could be eloquent and not afraid of the camera.

Wilamoyo / Flickr

It’s the holiday shopping season and you’re probably being bombarded with the message "buy more, your loved ones deserve it", "Do your part to stimulate the economy", and "Just. Keep. Buying." 

NES Jumpman / Flickr

The Genesee Land Bank owns a lot of property in Flint and the rest of the county. Many of those are houses and other buildings that are vacant, and they have yards. The grass and weeds keep growing, and mowing is expensive. High grass is, at best, an eyesore. At worst, it’s a vector for pests and it increases fire risk.

Today on Stateside:

  • A lawsuit filed against the emergency manager law alleges racial discrimination against minorities. University of Michigan professor Reynolds Farley discusses why so many minorities find their communities and school districts in bad financial shape.

  • There are a number of vacant lots in Flint and many of these lots have grass. Continually having to mow vacant lots is a financial strain on the city. Doug Weiland, Executive Director at the Genesee County Land Bank discusses a recent solution to this problem.

  • A new documentary, Vanishing Borders, directed and produced by Michigan State University assistant professor Alexandra Hidalgo, explores immigration from the perspective of women. Listen to Asst. Prof. Hidalgo discuss her powerful documentary and what she hopes audiences gain from viewing it.

  • In Stateside’s project, The Next Idea, Prof. Rex LaMore, Director of Michigan State University’s Center for Community Economic Development pens an essay on consumerism in relation to economic growth. Listen to Prof. LaMore discuss this concept and why it needs to be reexamined. 

  • When Whole Foods opened in Detroit, there were questions on whether or not the vast majority of Detroit could afford the upscale grocer. Goals were set into place to make the grocer more accessible to the citizens of Detroit. The results, however, have been a mixed bag. Traci McMillan wrote a piece for Slate.com entitled ‘Can Whole Foods Change the Way Poor People Eat.’ Listen to McMillan discuss her piece.

*Listen to the full show above

Whole Foods vegetable aisle.
Erelster / flickr.com

When the popular organic grocer Whole Foods first opened in Midtown Detroit last year, there was loud applause that a major food seller would serve the city.

However, questions soon followed.

Why Whole Foods? Could the vast majority of Detroiters afford the upscale grocer? Whole Foods management indicated that it would work towards keeping its products affordable for low-income residents. Was is successful in executing this goal? 

Tune in to Stateside to find out the perspective of Tracie McMillan, author of the Food and Environment Reporting Network and  Slate.com piece “Can Whole Foods Change the Way Poor People Eat”, on these issues and more.

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