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.

Read more
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. 

Read more
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.

Read more
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

60.2% of people in Michigan 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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.”

Read more
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.

Read more
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. 

Read more
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.

Read more
Politics & Government
1:07 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Detroit bankruptcy mediators announce a deal with police and fire pensions

The Theodore Levin United States Courthouse in Detroit.
Credit Andrew Jameson / Wikimedia Commons

Mediators for the federal court overseeing Detroit's Chapter 9 bankruptcy say a deal has been reached between the city of Detroit and the Retired Detroit Police and Fire Fighters Association over pension and health benefits.

The deal calls for no cuts to current pension benefits, but does cut future "cost of living" increases in their benefits.

The Association's members still need to approve the plan through a vote.

The potential deal is the first agreement the city has reached with a group of retired workers.

Read more
Opinion
11:29 am
Tue April 15, 2014

This is doing more damage to Detroit than a hundred drug murders could have

By now, millions know the story.

Thirteen days ago, on the east side of Detroit, a ten-year-old boy darted in front of a truck driven by a middle-aged tree trimmer named Steven Utash. He couldn’t help hitting the child, whose leg was broken.

When Utash got out to check on the boy, a mob beat him so severely he nearly died. He was in a medically-induced coma for days, and may end up with permanent brain damage.

All that is horrifying enough, but there is one additional terrible detail which is the main reason the story has gotten national attention.

The tree trimmer was white. His assailants were all black. And I can tell you that this is doing more damage to Detroit than a hundred drug murders could have. This may be more devastating to the city than Kwame Kilpatrick ever was. People are used to crooked politicians of all colors, shapes and sizes. Detroit had white mayors who wound up in prison long before Kilpatrick was born.

Read more
Environment & Science
10:32 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Whitefish shortage causing Passover meal problems

Whitefish filets.
Credit user Cheryl Q / Flickr

TRAVERSE CITY – Many fish markets in the Great Lakes region are running short of whitefish, and it's coming at a bad time: the Passover holiday.

Whitefish is a key ingredient in gefilte fish, a traditional Jewish dish that originates in eastern Europe. Recipes vary, but it often consists of ground fish, vegetables such as onion and carrots, and bread crumbs formed into loaves or balls.

The shortfall results partly from the bitterly cold winter that caused vast sections of the Great Lakes to freeze over. The ice cover kept some commercial fishing crews stuck in port. A drop in the whitefish population is also to blame.

Kevin Dean of Superior Fish Co. near Detroit says his latest shipment amounted to just 75 pounds, although he requested 500 pounds.

Politics & Government
8:57 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Where your federal tax dollars go

Credit stockphotosforfree.com

Tax Day is here, and as many Michiganders are racing to meet Uncle Sam's deadline, how many really know where their tax dollars are going?

Jasmine Tucker, research analyst with the National Priorities Project, encourages taxpayers to use the Tax Receipt Calculator, which breaks down the average taxpayer's federal return from last year and shows how the government spent those funds, down to the penny.

"This really gives people the opportunity to see, in numbers that they understand, what they paid in taxes and where those taxes went," Tucker said.

Read more
Politics & Government
6:00 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Detroit launches online auction site to fill vacant homes

One of the first Detroit homes up for auction in East English Village.
Credit via buildingdetroit.org

The city of Detroit has launched an effort to fill some of its vacant homes with new residents – an online auction site for city-owned properties.  

There are 15 houses listed on the site now. The plan is for the Detroit Land Bank Authority to start auctioning off one home a day, starting May 5.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says this is part of the city “moving aggressively” to deal with blight.

Duggan says the idea is to get the homes fixed up, and people living in them, as soon as possible.

Read more
Politics & Government
11:20 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Bankruptcy case delays Detroit's usual budget process

Detroit’s bankruptcy case is throwing a wrench in the city’s usual budget process.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan didn’t give his charter-mandated city budget address as scheduled Monday.

Rather, officials told City Council members that Detroit needs to update its plan of adjustment first. That’s the city’s restructuring blueprint for getting through bankruptcy.

Detroit chief financial officer John Hill said that since the plan will shape the city budget, it doesn’t make sense start talking now.

Read more
Law
5:15 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Gay couple trying to force state to recognize their marriage, “for our 13 kids”

Plaintiffs Clint McCormack (front), Bryan Reamer (back), and some of their 13 children.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

The ACLU of Michigan is suing the state to force it to recognize the marriages of about 300 same-sex couples who got married last month.

Clint McCormack and Bryan Reamer are one of eight couples named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed Monday.

McCormack and Reamer have ten adopted sons and three foster daughters they are raising together in Farmington Hills. They started taking in children in 1998, and McCormack says they only recently decided to stop at 13 kids.

Read more

Pages