Arts & Culture
1:04 pm
Sat April 19, 2014

Holland, Michigan, windmill reopens after restoration

The 252-year-old DeZwaan windmill is back in operation after a $260,000 restoration project.
Credit Windmill Island Gardens

HOLLAND  – A southwestern Michigan landmark has been revived – and now it's been rededicated. WZZM-TV reports the blades of Holland's 252-year-old DeZwaan windmill began turning again Saturday morning during a community celebration and open house.  The windmill underwent about $760,000 in restoration and repair work after a fundraising effort. The windmill is part of Windmill Island Gardens, a popular tourist destination that's also undergoing improvements. Project consultant Jodi Syens tells The Grand Rapids Press the windmill is open for daylong tours.

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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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Politics & Government
9:07 am
Sat April 19, 2014

The week in review

Credit Jarrad Henderson / Detroit Free Press

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss the latest with the Detroit bankruptcy, road funding and the state's foreclosure rate.

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It's Just Politics
6:12 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Can the GOP maintain that Tea Party love and win mid-term elections?

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick pluta

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

History suggests that this election year should be friendly to Republicans. That’s because Republicans are more likely to turn out in mid-term elections than Democrats, and the party out of the White House, especially in a president’s second term, tends to have an advantage. With about six and a half months to go before the November election, a lot of Republicans are harboring hopes that this is going to be a good year to be a Republican.

But here’s a question: Which kind of Republican is it best to be this year?

In Michigan -- just like nationally -- there’s some tension between the three threads of the GOP coalition. That’s the  Establishment Republicans, the Tea Party, and the Liberty Movement.

We’ll get a better idea of how big this fight is (and if it’s a fight at all worth talking about) after this coming Tuesday’s filing deadline. We’ll see exactly where and how many Tea Partiers will “primary” an establishment Republican figure, and where the Republican establishment (and by that we mean chamber of commerce Republicans) will try to dislodge a Tea Partier from Congress or the Legislature.

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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
3:28 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

USDA takes new steps to combat deadly pig virus

93 PEDV-positive tests have come back from Michigan farms, but more cases could be unreported
Credit TheHuxCapacitor / Flickr

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday that farmers must report all cases of a highly infectious pig virus as part of a new monitoring and control program.

The virus is known as porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, or PEDV. It does not pose a threat to human health or food safety, nor does it kill affected adult pigs. But it is nearly always fatal to piglets – who are less resistant to severe dehydration – and that's a big problem for pork producers.

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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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Opinion
11:28 am
Fri April 18, 2014

The future of Detroit's second bridge now hangs on the Obama administration

So whatever happened to the New International Trade Crossing Bridge?

For years, an epic battle raged between those who knew we needed a new bridge across the Detroit River, and Matty Moroun, the 86-year-old man who owned the 85-year-old Ambassador Bridge, the only game in town.

Moroun held up a new bridge for years, mostly by buying off Michigan legislators with bribes thinly described as campaign contributions, but that ended when Rick Snyder became governor.

Snyder found a way to bypass the lawmakers and conclude an agreement with Canada. That was almost two years ago, however, and ground has yet to be broken.

So what’s happening?

This time the culprit is not Matty Moroun, but, bizarrely, Barack Obama.

President Obama has been supportive of a new bridge. There was no difficulty gaining a presidential permit to build it. Money was not a problem, because our friends the Canadians are paying for almost all of it. They are advancing Michigan’s share of more than half a billion dollars, which we don’t have to pay back until the bridge is up and tolls are being collected.

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Law
7:00 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Former Wayne State medical professor sues, accuses university of defrauding US government

Credit Wayne State University medical school / via flickr

A former Wayne State University medical professor is suing the school over alleged “system-wide” fraud.

In a federal lawsuit, former assistant professor Christian Kreipke alleges the university scammed the US government out of $169 million through fraudulent research proposals.

Kreipke filed the lawsuit in 2012, but court documents were only unsealed recently.

They lay out Kreipke’s claims that Wayne State and its physician group made fraudulent claims to get more government grant money.

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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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Law
5:59 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Legislation to address drugged driving includes saliva testing

A traffic stop in Grand Rapids.
Credit PPWIII / Flickr

State lawmakers are debating a package of bills intended to get repeat drug offenders off the road.

Under the bills, drivers pulled over for erratic driving could be asked to submit to a saliva test. Current law provides for blood, breath and urine testing.

State Representative Dan Lauwers sponsored the legislation. He acknowledged critics who dispute the accuracy of the saliva tests.

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Law
5:46 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Legislature begins debate over $500 million road funding plan

Credit SDOT Photos / Flikr

A plan to boost state road spending by about half-a-billion dollars a year is taking shape. State lawmakers introduced four bills Thursday that are now part of the package.

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Economy
3:55 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Michigan's unemployment rate falls and the labor force ticks upward

Michigan's unemployment rate charted with the state's labor force.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

The state's unemployment rate fell for the seventh consecutive month to 7.5% for the month of March 2014.

The unemployment rate is the measure of people who are out of work, but are counted as part of the overall labor force. The labor force is a measure of those folks who are actively looking for work in the last month. See my explanation of the rate here.

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Station news
1:54 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Michigan Radio Reporter named Young Journalist of the Year

Michigan Radio reporter Lindsey Smith

The Detroit Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has named Michigan Radio reporter Lindsey Smith the Young Journalist of the Year. Based in Grand Rapids, Lindsey is Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. She has worked at the station since 2010.

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Auto
1:43 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Judge won't order recalled GM cars to be parked

A consumer alert from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
NHTSA

DETROIT (AP) - A federal judge in Texas has denied an emergency motion that would have forced General Motors to tell owners of 2 million recalled cars to stop driving their vehicles until their ignition switches are repaired.

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos issued her order Thursday in Corpus Christi. Attorney Robert Hilliard, who represents some owners, had argued that the GM cars could at any moment lose power and expose their occupants to serious injury or death.

GM had urged the court not to intervene and instead let a recall overseen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proceed. The carmaker said extensive testing had shown that if the recall instructions were followed, there was no risk that the ignition switch would fail.

GM has linked the switch to 13 deaths.

Economy
12:24 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

1 in 3 Michiganders are seriously underwater on their homes

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

At first it doesn't sound that great: 1 in 3 people who have mortgages still owe at least 25% more on their house than it's actually worth.

But a year ago, it was even worse. At that time, more than half of all Michiganders with mortgages were in that position.

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The Environment Report
12:19 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Restaurants and markets running low on a popular Great Lakes fish

Bernie Fritzsch gets ready for the lunch rush at Monahan's Seafood Market.
Credit Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

You can listen to today's Environment Report above.

Monahan’s Seafood Market in Ann Arbor carries soft-shell crabs from Maryland, Alaskan salmon, and Florida red snapper.

But at the moment, they’re fresh out of Great Lakes whitefish.

Bernie Fritzsch manages the fish market.

“We’re hoping to see it today, but we haven’t seen it for the last week,” he says.

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Politics & Government
10:58 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Detroit bankruptcy judge revives talks on regional water agency

A Detroit Water and Sewerage manhole cover.
Credit user rob zand / Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - A judge has ordered the city of Detroit and the suburbs to further explore the creation of a regional water department.

Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes granted Wayne County's request Thursday to have the parties sit down with a mediator.

Detroit's water department provides water to Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr has expressed interest in spinning off the department as a regional agency.

But some suburban leaders are concerned about future financial burdens on their residents.

The judge says the bankruptcy case is a "unique opportunity" to keep negotiating. Otherwise, Rhodes says the opportunity "will be lost forever."

Opinion
9:53 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Journalists work hard to tell you everything you don't want to hear

To put it mildly, journalists are not the most beloved group in society. They never have been. We show up to tell you all sorts of unpleasant truths about life, society, your leaders and yourselves.

“Good afternoon. The mayor’s a crook, the governor is owned by special interests, your city is broke and your water polluted.”

“The country is involved in a ridiculous war it isn’t winning, your child is getting a lousy education, your roads will cost billions to fix and your representatives sold out to corporate interests. By the way, your kids are binge drinking and you are too fat. Have a nice day.” 

It’s no wonder people aren’t all that happy when they see us coming. Like any other profession or family, we also have our share of black sheep. Journalists who lie or make things up are very rare, but nobody forgets it when they do.

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