transit

Politics & Government
9:20 am
Thu November 29, 2012

Commentary: The transportation environment

Lessenberry essay 11/29/12

Someone once said that Americans will do anything for the environment except read about it or spend money on it.

I thought of that yesterday, when the governor delivered the latest in his series of special messages, this one on the environment.

Rick Snyder said we had to make better use of the resources we have, and called, among other things, for better recycling and for Michigan to develop a strategic national gas reserve.

Pretty much everyone nodded politely at most of what the governor said,  though not when he appeared to endorse fracking, at least so far as natural gas recovery is concerned.

However, I would be surprised if anyone in the legislature was still thinking about, much less talking about, what the governor said about the environment a week from now. In fact, the governor’s main priorities seem to be elsewhere, at least for the lame duck session.

But something else is going on in the Capitol that could be highly beneficial to the economic as well as the natural environment: Transportation reform. More than a year ago, the governor proposed a high-speed bus system for Metro Detroit. It was, and is, a great and politically brilliant idea. More than a third of the population of Detroit has no access to reliable private transportation, meaning cars.

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Politics & Government
7:40 am
Wed November 28, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Snyder wants to phase out property tax

Governor Rick Snyder and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley want the Legislature to enact a major tax overhaul before the end of the year. It would phase out Michigan’s tax on business and industrial equipment.

As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"The state's plan is to get rid of the tax on business equipment, furniture and supplies that brought in more than $1.2 billion in 2010, the most recent figures available, over the next 10 years. . . The phase out of the tax would begin in 2014 for small businesses and in 2016 for larger manufacturers. There would be no reimbursement to communities where personal property tax revenues are less than 2.5% of their total taxable value."

Southeast Michigan transit authority passes in Senate

Legislation to create a regional transit authority for southeast Michigan won approval from the state Senate Tuesday. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"The goal, backed strongly by Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, is a network of speedy, modern buses operated independently of Detroit Department of Transportation and the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transit. The plan is to give the transit authority the power to coordinate routes between the rapid-transit system and the existing city and suburban bus lines to eliminate duplication of routes. DDOT and SMART would instead feed into the faster bus lines, freeing up both to provide better, more efficient local service."

Ex-aids to former Detroit Congressman enter pleas in petition fraud

"A former top aide to a Detroit-area congressman has pleaded no contest to forgery in an election scandal involving bogus petition signatures. Don Yowchuang was deputy district director to then-U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, a Republican from Livonia. Yowchuang admits making copies of petition signatures to try to qualify McCotter for the August primary election. Separately, McCotter former district director Paul Seewald pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, falsely signing a nominating petition as a circulator. McCotter didn't make the ballot and quit Congress in July," the AP reports.


morning news roundup
7:04 am
Thu September 27, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Snyder against handgun bill

"Governor Rick Snyder says he won’t support new legislation to make it easier to buy handguns. The package of bills would no longer force people to license handguns before purchasing or carrying them. It would also get rid of a registry keeping track of handgun owners with criminal backgrounds. The Governor says he’s concerned it would make it too easy for the wrong people to buy handguns. His office says he’s working with bill sponsors to work through those concerns, but he doesn’t support the legislation in its current form. Critics of the proposal say there should be background checks on people who buy firearms gun shows, over the internet, or from private individuals. They say those account for nearly half of all guns purchased in the state. Representative Paul Opsommer is sponsoring the legislation. He told the Capitol news service Gongwer this week 44 other states have similar bills on the books, and haven’t seen any major problems as a result," Jake Neher reports.

Democrats say GOP have been violating Michigan Constitution

"Democrats are taking their challenge to how state House Republicans rule the chamber to the Michigan Supreme Court. They say the GOP majority has been violating the Michigan Constitution by refusing to count the votes on a procedural motion that determines when laws take effect. The motion requires two-thirds super-majorities. But many laws have been allowed to become effective right away on voice votes that are not counted or recorded. Lower courts have said the judicial branch should not tell the Legislature how to conduct its business. Republicans say the lawsuit is just pre-election politics," Rick Pluta reports.

State House hear proposals on transit in southeast Michigan

"A State House panel will hear pitches for better regional transit coordination in southeast Michigan Thursday. A proposed regional transit authority for the region has support from Governor Snyder, many business leaders, and transit advocates. But the proposal has languished in the state legislature. Federal transportation officials have indicated they’re willing to put lots of money into Metro Detroit’s transit system. But they’ve been clear that won’t happen without a governing authority to run it," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Science
7:37 pm
Sun June 3, 2012

"Once in a lifetime" transit of Venus viewing parties near you

The transit of Venus comes in pairs. This is a photo of the last transit of Venus in 2004. The next one isn't until the year 2117.
John Cudworth Creative Commons
  • Nicolle Zellner is a Physics Professor at Albion College. She shared great stories about early scientists who first saw the transit of Venus.

Star gazers in Michigan are preparing for a rare occasion Tuesday night when the path of the planet Venus can be seen crossing the sun.

The event is known as the transit of Venus and it only happens, in pairs, every hundred years or so. The next transit of Venus isn’t for another 100 years.

I stumbled across the transit while gulping down an awesome new beer at one of my favorite spots in Benton Harbor, The Livery Microbrewery.

I chose a Venusian Ale for the ingredients. I’m a sucker for “Michigan made” so the blend of “Michigan Red Wheat malts meet all Northern Michigan hops and 60# of Dark Michigan Honey” was right down my alley. Then co-owner Leslie Pickell told me all about the beer made especially for their transit of Venus viewing party – complete with an awesome art show inspired by the transit AND a keg-time-capsule for the people alive during the next transit. 

Once I started looking around, I discovered dozens of viewing parties across the state. Here's a short list:

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Politics
5:00 pm
Wed January 18, 2012

Troy City Council approves scaled-back transit center plan

Rendering of proposed transit center
troymi.gov

According to the Detroit Free Press, the Troy City Council has effectively reversed course from their decision last month to block construction of a transit center using federal dollars.

The Freep reports that during a meeting Tuesday night, council members voted 4-3 in favor of approving a plan with a slightly reduced cost---the new project will use roughly $6.3 million from a federal transportation grant as opposed to $8.5 million in the earlier proposal.

From the Free Press:

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