Politics & Government
1:35 pm
Sun July 6, 2014

Deadline approaches for bankruptcy plan vote

Credit JSFauxtaugraphy/Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - The most anticipated vote in Detroit this summer isn't for a city office.

Instead, ballots due by Friday from city retirees could determine how quickly Detroit exits its historic bankruptcy and how much of the financial weight pensioners will bear.

Non-uniformed retirees are being asked to take a 4.5 percent pension cut and no cost-of-living allowances. Police and fire retirees are faced with reduced cost-of-living payments.

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That's What They Say
8:05 am
Sun July 6, 2014

Various pronunciations of common words

You say potato and I say ... well, that depends.

On this week's edition of That's What They Say, host Rina Miller and University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan investigate the  various pronunciation of commonly used words.

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Arts & Culture
1:21 pm
Sat July 5, 2014

Cherry festival features air shows, orchard tours

The festival runs from Saturday through July 12. Also scheduled are concerts, races, parades and fireworks. Visitors can tour a nearby cherry orchard and research station.
Credit Pure Michigan

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - The National Cherry Festival is getting underway in Traverse City, with the opening weekend featuring a return appearance by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and several events linked to the region's growing reputation as a foodie haven.

On Saturday, the headliner is a "Blues, Brews and BBQ" program featuring beers and ciders from Michigan microbreweries and a wide selection of barbecues, with some recipes featuring cherries.

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Law
11:11 am
Sat July 5, 2014

Michigan man with odd sentence stuck with life in prison

Leon Echols was convicted of second-degree murder in 1989 for shooting a man in a dispute over a used car. He says it was self-defense.
Credit Michigan Department of Corrections

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) - Leon Echols has spent his adult years in Michigan prisons for killing a man when he was 18. He's not eligible for parole until he's in his 80s, but he's been trying to convince authorities that his punishment doesn't fit the crime.  

Echols was convicted of second-degree murder in 1989 for shooting a man in a dispute over a used car. He says it was self-defense.

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Politics & Government
8:00 am
Sat July 5, 2014

Some children fleeing Central American violence may be headed to Michigan

Credit via Center for American Progress

Michigan will probably receive some refugee children from Central America—but not an “overwhelming number” of them, according to one immigrant rights advocate.

About 50,000 unaccompanied minors, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, have overwhelmed the southern border in recent months. Most say they’re fleeing mounting gang violence, chronic poverty, and social breakdown in those countries.

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Business
11:22 am
Fri July 4, 2014

Fireworks business booming in Michigan

“It has been a good fireworks state. And now with the laws having been relaxed, Michigan is on its way to becoming a great fireworks state," says Bill Weimer with Phantom Fireworks.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Business is looking up for people selling fireworks in Michigan.

Since state lawmakers expanded the kinds of fireworks that can be sold in Michigan, fireworks are a growing business in the state.

Bill Weimer is a vice president with Phantom, one of the nation’s largest fireworks retailers. He says Michigan is a ‘developing’ market since the state loosened the rules on ‘consumer” fireworks starting in 2012.

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Stateside
10:56 am
Fri July 4, 2014

Duggan’s results in 6 months not going unnoticed

Credit Mike Duggan

There seems to be little doubt that Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is making his mark.

His bulldog nature and savvy political instincts have combined to make Mike Duggan a force to be reckoned with, even as he serves under a state-appointed emergency manager.

Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes reviewed Duggan's progress in his first six months. He said that people should not expect that he change the world in 6 months. What’s important here is the process and the direction.

“The direction is positive and bipartisan, and he’s clearly repaired relationships with city council,” he said.

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Michigan's Silent Poison
10:16 am
Fri July 4, 2014

What researchers are finding out about low-level exposure to arsenic

New research suggests low levels of arsenic in drinking water may impact your health.
Credit jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

This week, the Environment Report is taking a look at Michigan’s silent poison — arsenic.

Federal standards allow public drinking water supplies to have arsenic levels of up to 10 parts per billion (ppb), but these standards do not apply to private well owners (that's left up to the well owner to determine).

And in counties throughout Michigan, some wells have much higher levels of arsenic than this "maximum contaminant level" set by the EPA.

Higher levels of arsenic in drinking water have been linked to skin cancer, lung cancer, and bladder cancer, among others.

But are lower levels of arsenic a threat to human health?

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Stateside
9:49 am
Fri July 4, 2014

One week until deadline to vote on Detroit's bankruptcy settlement. Where do things stand?

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The clock is ticking.

Detroit's bankruptcy settlement has gotten through the State Legislature and the private foundations. Now it's all up to 32,000 city employees and retirees.

They're being asked to say "yes" to having their pensions cut, and promising not to sue the city.

In return, the pension cuts will not be as severe as they would be under what's become known as the Grand Bargain.

Michigan Radio's Detroit reporter Sarah Cwiek joined us on Stateside. She explained the transparency issue surrounding the voting process, what the different classifications of retirees mean, and what we should keep our eyes on, during next week leading up to the July 11th deadline.

*Listen to full interview above.

Offbeat
8:31 am
Fri July 4, 2014

The search begins for Michigan's official Christmas tree

It may only be July, but Michigan has already begun its search for this year's official Christmas tree.

People can nominate their picks for trees that could fit the bill.

Usually 10 to 15 trees are nominated, and the one that's chosen must be easy to access.

But the process isn't a quick one.

The search begins in the summer to allow enough time to prepare, choose, harvest, and transport the tree to the Capitol.

Lauren Leeds is a spokeswoman for the state. She says cutting down these trees often also helps the surrounding area.

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Stateside
8:30 am
Fri July 4, 2014

Outside groups outspend Michigan candidates on campaign TV ads

Credit User: Keith Ivey / flickr

A new report finds that for every dollar spent by a Michigan candidate in campaign ads, outside groups have spent $3.50.

Looking at it another way: of the $18 million spent on campaign TV ads over the first half of this year, outside groups paid for $14 million of that.

Rich Robinson, executive director of the campaign spending watchdog group Michigan Campaign Finance Network, talked about the consequences of outside money in Michigan political campaigns.

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Michigan's Silent Poison (Part 5)
8:30 am
Fri July 4, 2014

One congressman has kept us in the dark about the health risks of arsenic

Rep. Michael Simpson, R-Idaho, delayed the U.S. EPA's health assessment on arsenic.
Credit wikimedia commons

Michigan's Silent Poison Part V

Arsenic occurs naturally, and Michigan is one of a handful of states with unusually high arsenic concentrations in groundwater.

Arsenic was also used in insecticides for many years and it's still being used in some weed killers.

David Heath is a senior reporter at the Center for Public Integrity, and he investigated why a health assessment on arsenic from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been delayed.

Why does this health assessment matter?

Heath said when the EPA first wants to determine how dangerous a toxic chemical is, they first do the science. These assessments can take a long time and the arsenic assessment has been going on for more than a decade.

"It's not until they have done the science to figure out exactly how dangerous a chemical is that they can really take action on it," Heath said. "So it really does come down to 'this is how they protect your health.'"

A single member of Congress, Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, was able to intentionally delay the EPA's health assessment for years.

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Politics & Government
10:46 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

After rejecting consent agreement, Lincoln Park gets an emergency manager

Credit Andrew Jameson

Governor Snyder has named Brad Coulter as emergency manager for the city of Lincoln Park.

Coulter will take a leave of absence from his job as a consultant with O’Keefe & Associates, a firm specializing in turnaround restructuring and corporate finance services, to try and balance the downriver Detroit suburb’s books.

Lincoln Park’s mayor and city council asked the Michigan Department of Treasury to review its finances last year.

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Stateside
5:20 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

University of Michigan professor uncovers surprising history of "The Star-Spangled Banner"

U of M School of Music, Theater and Dance Professor Scott Piper and pianist Michael Carpenter at Stamps Auditorium, performing "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Credit Courtesy of Mark Clague

It’s one of the most stirring and glorious melodies ever sung – and it can be one of the easiest tunes to sing badly.

But did you know that our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” started out as an English club song? And it has officially been the national anthem for less than a century?

Mark Clague is a musicologist with the University of Michigan. He’s been working on a project, “Poets and Patriots: A Tuneful History of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’” 

Today, he shared some of that history with us.

* Listen to the full interview above. 

This segment originally aired on February 12, 2014.

Prisons
5:02 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Problems pile up for Jackson-area prison as state puts it under quarantine

150 inmates are sick with stomach flu at the Parnall Correctional Facility - the same prison where maggots were found in on the cafeteria food line last week.
Credit Matt / Flickr

Problems keep piling up at Parnall Correctional Facility near Jackson.

Last week, maggots were found on the serving line in the prison's cafeteria.

Over the weekend, inmates started getting sick with a stomach virus.

And the problems have gotten worse. Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan says the number of sick prisoners is now up to 150, and the prison's been put under quarantine.

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Environment & Science
5:01 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

State approves oil well permit for Scio Township

An oil well.
Credit morguefile

The state has approved a permit for a controversial exploratory oil well in Scio Township close to Ann Arbor.

The approval came despite fierce opposition from residents and Scio Township's board of trustees.

Adam Wygant is with the state Department of Environmental Quality.

He says because of the public comments, the state took two months to study the application - much longer than the 24 days it normally takes to approve a permit for an exploratory oil well.

Wygant says oil wells tend to be less disruptive than people fear, and often, they get used to them.

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Weekly Political Roundup
4:27 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Weekly Political Roundup: Outside money targets campaign ads in Michigan

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

    

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

We’re still about a month out from the primaries and four months out from the general election. Yet, the Michigan Campaign Finance Network this week reports that $18 million have already been spent in the Michigan gubernatorial and senate races. And such of this money is coming from outside groups.

Is it surprising that this much outside money is coming into Michigan so early or is this election politics as usual?

Health
4:21 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

State efforts to combat West Nile have reduced cases

West Nile is a virus transmitted by mosquitos. The virus often causes no symptoms in infected humans, but in some cases serious illness and death can occur.
Credit Centers for Disease Control

Michigan is making progress against West Nile.

600 people were infected with West Nile in 2002 when the mosquito-borne virus first appeared.

Last year, there were only 34 cases.

Angela Minicuci is with the state Department of Community Health.

She says many cities now regularly flush out the stagnant pools of water where mosquitos that carry West Nile  breed.

She says individual homeowners' efforts are also contributing to fewer cases.

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Education
4:15 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Cooley Law School plans faculty and staff cuts after low enrollment

Credit Cooley Law School

The Thomas M. Cooley Law School is battling low student enrollment with faculty and staff cuts.

The Michigan-based law school said it needs to reduce expenses. That means it will also not enroll incoming first-semester students at its Ann Arbor campus this fall.

It hasn't yet determined just how many people it will let go.

That decision will come after the school does a systemwide review of all programs and facilities throughout its five campuses. Low enrollment, according to the university, is to blame. 

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Stateside
1:07 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Why this Detroit-area man refuses to say nice things about his city

One of the photos archived on Dickson's blog. This graffiti, in Dickson's word, "does a pretty solid job depicting the city’s main roads."
Credit James David Dickson / Down I-94: a blog about Detroit

"Say Nice Things About Detroit."

That cheery slogan was first launched in the '70s by Emily Gail. She had a shop in downtown Detroit when it was the murder capital of the country, and she grabbed a lot of attention with that slogan.

Now it’s been revived, as Detroit has been under the spotlight of bankruptcy and the "Grand Bargain."

James David Dickson, a commentary editor at the Detroit News, believes the chirpy slogan isn't helping anyone in Detroit or the city itself. His opinion piece "Why I refused to say nice things about Detroit" was on the Detroit News blog.

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