Failure:Lab
2:30 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Michigan native fails to make it in NYC

Rick Beerhorst tells the story of his failed New York City move.
Credit Failure:Lab / YouTube

It was Bill Gates who declared,"It's fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure."

And it's good to realize that we all fail at times. It's just that most of us try to cover that up, or, at the very least, we don't broadcast our failures.

But that’s not how it works at Failure:Lab.

It’s a program designed to get us thinking about the meaning of failure – to realize that failure happens to everyone and to inspire us to take intelligent risks.

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Environment & Science
2:05 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Spring from the air in Munising, Michigan

One of the aerial images near Munising, MI capture from the video.
Credit Roam, Inc. / YouTube

Spring in Michigan's Upper Peninsula means watching the layers of snow melt. Thomas Dolaskie of Roam, Inc. in the UP put together this video of a spring weekend in Munising, Michigan. He writes:

Filmed the first weekend of April, 2014 - we got in the last snowshoe and frozen lake roaming of the year, and watched the waterfalls start to flow. Relax, it's spring. 

Here's the video:

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Law
11:48 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Former Detroit Public Library official pleads guilty to bribery charges

The Detroit Public Library.
Credit DPL / Facebook

Forty-seven year old Timothy Cromer was the focus of the FBI’s raid of the Detroit Public Library back in November 2012. Cromer was the library’s chief administrative and technology officer.

Christine MacDonald of the Detroit News has writing about this case for some time. She reports that Cromer plead guilty to taking $1.4 million in kickbacks from contractors. Two Detroit Public Library contractors were also charged in the FBI’s case.

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Opinion
11:29 am
Wed April 16, 2014

You don’t want to play poker with Kevyn Orr

Here’s the one thing certain about Detroit’s bankruptcy: You don’t want to play poker with Kevyn Orr.

The state-appointed emergency manager had everyone convinced city workers and retirees were facing a steep 26% cut in their pensions – a cut that would jump to 34% if they didn’t quickly approve the smaller amount.

The city was getting ready to mail them all ballots explaining the cuts and asking for their approval.

Then, voilà – yesterday, everything changed. Suddenly, negotiators came up with a deal whereby most pensions would be cut by less than 5%. Police and fire retirees pensions won’t be cut at all.

There seems little doubt that the 32,000 employees and retirees will approve this deal. Yet we need to remember two things. First of all, this is not final yet – not by a long shot.

Something else that’s still very uncertain has to happen first. The Michigan Legislature has to approve contributing $350 million to a fund designed to shore up the pensions and protect any of the work in the city-owned collections in the Detroit Institute of Arts from being possibly sold for the benefit of the creditors.

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Politics & Government
9:41 am
Wed April 16, 2014

The Week in Michigan Politics

Credit JSFauxtaugraphy/Flickr

Week in Michigan Politics interview for 4/16/14

This  Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss a drop in local revenue sharing, a retiree deal in the Detroit bankruptcy, a new controversy over Belle Isle and management changes in General Motors.

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9:16 am
Wed April 16, 2014

New State of Opportunity series featuring "One Person Who Cared"

Lead in text: 
"Beating the odds doesn't just happen." In the two years since Dustin Dwyer's been reporting for the State of Opportunity project, he's finding breaking the cycle of poverty involves more than luck. We're starting a series on people who've broken the cycle and the person who helped them get ahead. Today, Dustin speaks with Jamie Alexander, a social worker who credits her grandparents with letting her know that "not going to school was not an option."
7 million: the number of grandparents whose grandchildren younger than 18 were living with them in 2010.Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 American Community Survey
Environment & Science
7:06 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Deadly pig virus reported on 93 Michigan farms

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus dehydrates and kills baby pigs.
Credit Steve Sawyer / Flickr

If you eat bacon, prepare for higher prices at the grocery store soon.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus is deadly to piglets, and it’s shown up on at least 93 Michigan farms. The virus was first seen in the U.S. about a year ago. It causes severe diarrhea in baby pigs that eventually dehydrates and kills them. It is extremely infectious  and so far little is known about how it spreads.

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Politics & Government
6:00 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Detroit City Council approves massive property transfer to city land bank

The Detroit Land Bank Authority is a key part of Mayor Mike Duggan's anti-blight efforts.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit City Council has agreed to transfer more than 16,000 city owned properties to Detroit’s land bank authority.

The transfer allows Mayor Mike Duggan’s ambitious blight eradication efforts to move forward.

Duggan wants to use the non-profit land bank as a key tool in the fight against blight.

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Newsmaker Interviews
5:20 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Flint's Amir Hekmati retried and sentenced to 10 years in Iranian prison

Amir Hekmati has been convinced and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Credit Hekmati family

Amir Hekmati is a former Marine from Flint, Michigan.

More than two and a half years ago, while visiting family in Iran, Hekmati was arrested and charged with espionage. His initial death sentence was overturned, but now reports have surfaced that Hekmati was secretly retried in December 2013.

He was convicted of "partial collaboration with the American government," and sentenced to 10 years in prison. 

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Politics & Government
5:13 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Local governments: Tax Day study shows state not paying fair share

The Citizens Research Council says revenues to local governments in Michigan have dropped by about $1 billion in recent years, while state tax revenues have grown by about the same amount.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Local officials say not enough of the revenue Michigan takes in around Tax Day goes to cities, towns, and counties.

The nonpartisan Citizens Research Council released a study Tuesday that shows state revenue grew by more than $1 billion between 2009 and 2012. At the same time, local government revenue dropped by about the same amount.

The Michigan Municipal League (MML) says the disparity between local and state revenue is partly because the state has cut aid to Michigan communities.

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Economy
5:10 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Why you should care if your neighbor doesn't have a job

Men work on a WPA construction project during the Great Depression
Credit Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

In Michigan, 60.2% of people are in the labor force, according to a new state report.

The number is essentially unchanged from a year ago.

University of Michigan economist Don Grimes says at least 67% of Michigan's population should be in the labor force this many years after a recession.

He says people in their 20s, and people in their mid to late 50s, are having the most trouble finding work, both in Michigan and nationwide.

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Environment & Science
5:08 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

UP cattle farmer linked to wolf hunt accepts plea deal in animal neglect case

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission hears evidence for a wolf hunt in Michigan.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

When the Michigan Natural Resources Commission voted to allow a wolf hunt in Michigan, they did so with the idea that the hunt would help curb the number of so-called "problem wolves" in the Upper Peninsula – wolves that preyed on livestock owned by cattle farmers.

But MLive reporter John Barnes looked at the wolf predation records in the Upper Peninsula and found that one farmer accounted for the majority of predation reports.

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The Environment Report
5:05 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Biologists expect the worst for Michigan's bat population

Credit Ryan Von Linden / New York Department of Environmental Conservation

Allen Kurta, PhD, talks about discovering bats with white-nose syndrome.

Bats with white-nose syndrome have been found in Mackinac and Dickinson counties in the Upper Peninsula and Alpena County in northern lower Michigan.

The fungal disease has killed more than six million bats in 27 states and five Canadian provinces since 2006.

Allen Kurta is a biology professor at Eastern Michigan University. He’s one of the researchers who found the infected bats. I spoke with him for today's Environment Report (you can hear him talk about white-nose syndrome above).

Kurta compares the discovery of white-nose syndrome in Michigan bats to "every member of your extended family receiving a terminal diagnosis."

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

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Stateside
4:58 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

How effective are online classes for K-12 students in Michigan?

Credit Sarah M. Stewart / Creative Commons

Online learning. Make no mistake about it: It is here and it is growing.

The number of students taking online courses has grown 52% in the past three years. In the 2012-2013 school year, some 55,000 students in Michigan took a virtual course.

A new report from the Michigan Virtual University looks at virtual learning for K-12 students –who’s taking online classes, what kinds of classes and how effective the classes are.

The results are mixed.

Jamey Fitzpatrick is president and CEO of Michigan Virtual University, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
4:57 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

New Ken Burns film documents students learning the Gettysberg Address

Ken Burns.
Credit Wikipedia

Ever since a student at Ann Arbor's Pioneer High School got his first 8mm camera for his 17th birthday, he has searched for good stories to tell.

And tell them he does. That Ann Arbor high school kid was Ken Burns. And since getting that first camera in 1970, Ken has turned his camera and his storyteller's eye to subjects like World War II, the Civil War, the Brooklyn Bridge, baseball, jazz, the West, the Brooklyn Five, and so much more.

Tonight on PBS, Ken Burns brings us his newest story. It's called "The Address."

The film follows the students at a tiny school in Vermont where students are challenged each year to learn and recite Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

As he follows these boys, Ken uncovers many powerful individual stories and, at the same time, brings us a much-needed reminder of the power of Abraham Lincoln's words.

Ken Burns joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Economy
4:56 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Michigan's innovative past could be key for its future

The typographer is one of the earliest innovations in Michigan.
Credit user clbinelli / Wikimedia Commons

As Michigan struggles back to economic health, there is plenty of talk about innovators, entrepreneurs and risk-takers being a big part of our recovery. 

And that fits right in with Michigan's history.

Writer R.J. Kind recently wrote a piece for DBusiness looking at Michigan's history of innovations and inventions. He joins us today. 

Listen to the full interview above.

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Stateside
4:54 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Visiting loved ones at Beth Olem cemetery is complicated

A cemetery.
Credit Flickr user afagen / Flickr

As we get together with our families to celebrate the holidays, we often think about those who are no longer with us. For many, a trip to a cemetery to visit loved ones is easy, but for others, it’s impossible.

For families with relatives buried in the Beth Olem cemetery in Detroit, they can’t go pay their respects.

The cemetery is hidden within GM’s Poletown plant, and is only open to the public two days every year: the Sunday before Passover and Rosh Hashanah.

People are able to visit the cemetery if they go on a private tour offered by the Michigan Jewish Historical Society. We heard from some of the visitors today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
4:54 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Southwest Detroit is Michigan's most-polluted area

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Studies by environmental scientists find that 48217 is the most polluted zip code in the entire state of Michigan.

It's the zip for the Boynton neighborhood in southwest Detroit, perched next to the Marathon Refinery, which refines tar sands oil that comes from Canada.

The byproduct of that tar sands refining? Those huge piles of pet coke that appeared along the banks of the Detroit River last year before being removed.

For many people who call the Boynton neighborhood home, life is about belching smoke stacks, terrible odors, worries about what chemicals they're being exposed to, and declining property values.

Renee Lewis recently reported on "Life in Michigan's Dirtiest Zip Code" for Al Jazeera America, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Economy
4:54 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Detroit bankruptcy: No pension cuts for police and fire retirees

Pension decisions made today in Detroit.
Credit Peter Martorano / Flickr

A major piece of the Detroit bankruptcy puzzle fell into place today.

The city reached a deal with the group representing Detroit's police and fire retirees. The deal means no cuts to monthly pension checks for retired officers and firefighters. 

We were joined by Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek in Detroit. 

Listen to the full interview above. 

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Politics & Government
2:02 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Lincoln Park joins growing list of cities in financial emergency

Lincoln Park had $4.5 million dollars in its general fund three years ago.

Today, the city has a deficit of nearly $90,000, raising alarm among state officials about how fast it has spent all its money.

Gov. Rick Snyder says he agrees with the Michigan Treasury that a state of financial emergency exists.

Lincoln Park officials say the city is on track to run up at least a $1 million deficit this year. The amount will be higher if the city can't strike a deal on concessions from city workers.

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