Opinion
1:30 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Giving kids a better education matters; our future is doomed if we don't

You probably know that Metro Detroit was hit by an amazing rainstorm last night that completely paralyzed traffic.

I may know this better than most people, since I spent several hours in a rather unexciting Coney Island in Warren.

Sometimes, it is probably good to be reminded that there are things we really can’t control, such as the weather. But there are other things we can do something about, such as education.

This occurred to me in the Coney at one o'clock this morning, as I was reading an order Mike Flanagan, the state superintendent of public instruction, issued about charter schools.

Last month, the Detroit Free Press issued a massive investigative report on the state’s charters, a study so intensive it took the newspaper eight days to publish all of it.

The newspaper series revealed that some charter schools were indeed doing well. But it also found a pattern of widespread abuses, financial irregularities, and a lack of accountability. The reporters also found schools that had been failing for years, but which nobody moved to close down.

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The Environment Report
11:25 am
Tue August 12, 2014

MSU study finds partisan politics influence public views on environmental policy

Credit Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Aaron McCright, PhD, talks about how we've become so divided over environmental issues over the past few decades.

These days, getting pretty much any kind of environmental policy made into law involves a lot of fighting and delay.

New research from Michigan State University finds Americans are becoming more divided over environmental protection and they seem to be getting their cue mainly from Congress.

Aaron McCright is a sociologist at MSU and the lead author of the study. He writes that things weren’t always so partisan. In fact, many landmark environmental laws were born during the Nixon Administration.

From 'Red Scare' to 'Green Menace'

But then the Soviet Union fell and, according to McCright's research, the American conservative movement (consisting of major conservative think tanks, wealthy families, and conservative foundations) moved its focus away from former communists toward what they saw as the 'green menace'.

"This really came through in the late 80s and early 90s, so this anti-environmentalism of the conservative movement was driving the changing policy stance of the Republican party and it's mostly because of a significant drop off in pro-environmental voting among Republicans in both the House and the Senate,"said McCright. "Whereas the Democrats just sort of continued on a light, upward trend in pro-environmental voting."

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Weather
6:00 am
Tue August 12, 2014

Metro Detroit slammed by historic rainfall, flooding

A half-submerged truck on I-94 near Allen Park
Credit Lex Dodson / via Instagram

Late yesterday afternoon, it started raining hard over much of southeast Michigan.

When it finally let up over 3 hours later, a record-breaking 4.57 inches of rain had fallen at Detroit Metro Airport. Some spots got even more.

According to WDIV meteorologist Paul Gross, it was “one of the heaviest single rainfall totals in Detroit weather history.”

The National Weather Service had anticipated heavy afternoon showers, and warned of possible flooding in some areas.

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Politics & Government
8:51 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Big crowds expected at Flint's Back to the Bricks this week (but teens face curfew)

Flint Police Capt. Collin Birnie speaks at a news conference featuring members of the task force handling Back to the Bricks security
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Starting tomorrow, the city of Flint will be welcoming more than a half million car enthusiasts to the city’s annual downtown showcase of classic cars.  But the city won’t be as welcoming to unaccompanied teenagers.

The city today announced a 6pm teen curfew downtown during “Back to the Bricks”.

Captain Collin Birnie is with the Flint Police Department.   He says the curfew is in response to problems with unruly teens from past years.

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Education
5:50 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

11 Michigan charter school authorizers face suspension

Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

​Michigan’s top education official says he might stop 11 charter school authorizers from opening new schools. 

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan says they would be able to continue to operate the charters they already oversee. It’s a reaction to a recent Detroit Free Press series that suggested conflicts of interest, a lack of transparency, and mixed academic results in Michigan charters.

Gary Naeyaert directs the Great Lakes Education Project – a lobbying group which advocates for charter schools. He says Flanagan did not evaluate the authorizers fairly before putting them on the list.

“To take all of the students of an authorizer’s portfolio and lump them all together and treat them as if they’re one big school building, that’s just not the way that it is out there,” Naeyaert said.

Some charter school critics say Superintendent Flanagan’s warning does not go far enough. They say bad charter schools and their authorizers should be shut down right away.

Environment & Science
5:45 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Group challenges Grayling fish hatchery expansion

Rainbow trout at a Michigan fish hatchery facility
Credit User: All Things Michigan / Flickr

​Environmental groups are asking the state to take back permission for a fish hatchery to expand its operations on a legendary trout stream. The operator has been given permission to raise as much as 300,000 pounds of rainbow trout in the facility. 

The complaint says there are not enough protections to ensure the Grayling Fish Hatchery won’t allow diseases and parasites to escape into the Au Sable River.

Marvin Roberson is with the Sierra Club.

“The permit doesn’t require those pools to be monitored to see whether or not fish or parasites or diseases are escaping from the facility, and we think it’s outlandish to say 'you don’t have to check to see whether those things are getting out,'” Roberson said.

A spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Quality says the agency is closely monitoring the water around the hatchery, and will act quickly if there’s a problem.

Politics & Government
5:25 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Bay City may have located elusive water main break

This sign greeted people entering the Bay City YMCA today.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Bay City officials believe they have finally found a water main break that has drained the city’s water system.

City officials estimate that between 15 and 20 million gallons of water have leaked from the city’s water system since Saturday.

Ryan Manz is Bay County’s emergency management coordinator. He says late today they identified a 36-inch water main which appears to be the source of the leak.

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Stateside
4:36 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

The creatures you're most likely to encounter in the Great Lakes

Credit NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Flickr

Ever wonder what you can find below the surface of our Great Lakes? David Jude tells us on today's Stateside.

Jude is a research scientist emeritus at the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan.

Jude says the most fish-populated lake is Lake Erie. It’s shallow, has very diverse habitat, and as a result, has high species diversity. The least-populated lake is Lake Superior because of its cold temperatures and depth.

In his experience, Jude says the species you are most likely to see in each of the lakes are:

  • Lake Erie – round goby, yellow perch, gizzard shad, brook silverside, largemouth and smallmouth bass;
  • Lake Huron – spottail shiner, quagga and zebra mussels, emerald shiner, walleye, and lake herring;
  • Lake Ontario – Atlantic salmon, round goby, gizzard shad, spottail shiner, yellow perch, and white perch;
  • Lake Michigan – spottail shiner, round goby, and yellow perch;
  • Lake Superior – lake herring, emerald shiner, and longnose dace.

*Listen to the full interview with David Jude above.

Stateside
4:27 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

The "It's Just Politics" team takes on the week's big news

Credit Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta of Michigan Radio’s "It's Just Politics" joined Stateside to discuss two big stories buzzing around Lansing late last week.

First, the head of the state’s Housing Development Authority, Scott Woosley, resigned after he was accused of wasting more than $200,000 in public funds on lavish travel expenses. This included pricey hotel rooms, massages, and fancy dinners.

At first, Woosley said he would not step down, as he thought the state would just not reimburse him for things that aren't supposed to be covered. 

Second, Aramark, the private company contracted to provide food to Michigan prisons, will not lose its contract, but instead will be fined $200,000 by the state for issues ranging from maggots in the food to employees having sexual relations with the inmates. 

*Listen to the full interview with Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark above. 

Stateside
12:03 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Do you really know Lewis Cass?

Lewis Cass
Credit Wikimedia Commons

We’ve got Cass County, Cass City, Cassopolis, and Cass Tech High School in Detroit.

There's also Cass Lake, and many other cities, townships, and streets around the country all named after Lewis Cass, a towering figure in Michigan and the United States in the 19th century.

But most of us don't know much about Lewis Cass.

Historian Bill Loomis wrote a story published in the Detroit News titled "Lewis Cass, the titan of Michigan’s early years."

“His writing was not as fiery as lot of other people, so he wasn’t quoted often,” Loomis says. “He was also temperate; he didn’t drink, so he wasn’t a real sociable type of person.”

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Education
11:12 am
Mon August 11, 2014

State Board of Education to unveil plans this week on charter school issues

Credit Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The state Board of Education will urge the state Legislature to revisit Michigan’s charter school law. It’s a reaction to a recent Detroit Free Press series that suggested conflicts of interest, a lack of transparency, and mixed academic results in Michigan charters.

John Austin is the president of the state Board of Education.

“We need clarity on who’s policing the system and when they pull the trigger and who’s responsible for shutting down schools or preventing authorizers from authorizing new schools.”

State Superintendent of Schools Mike Flanagan says he’s already considering using his authority to stop some institutions from authorizing charters. Charter school supporters say Michigan already has some of the toughest regulations on charters in the country.

Stateside
10:42 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Innovators are all around us; maybe you're one of them

Credit Missy Schmidt / Flickr

Cass Community Services in Detroit has come up with a design that repurposes old tires and turns them into sandals and mud mats.

The city gets rid of some of the illegally dumped tires and folks who need a job can get one. They've got 80 people working on the mats and sandals and plan to add another 20.

That led us to wonder: Where does innovation come from and can you teach it?

Richard Price is the Stanley Seashore Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Organizational Studies at the University of Michigan. He taught a class called “The Psychology of Innovation: Creating a New Enterprise.”

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Politics & Government
10:25 am
Mon August 11, 2014

The Snyder scandals

 

Nobody can say Governor Rick Snyder vacillated, when it was learned last week that Scott Woosley, his appointed head of the Michigan State Housing Authority, had been racking up expense account charges fit for a European monarch.

Well, figuratively speaking, that is. I can’t imagine even the last king of Albania paying twelve hundred dollars to have a stretch limo take him across Nebraska. And state officials did deny payment for a “dinner” that consisted only of three glasses of expensive rum.

Enterprising Democratic Party activists used the Freedom of Information Act to ferret out this information. But within 24 hours after it hit the papers, Scott Woosley was unemployed.

The governor didn’t move nearly so quickly when it came to the Aramark Correctional Services abuses. For weeks, there have been stories about maggots on the chow line and scores of Aramark employees fired or suspended for inappropriate behavior. 

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Politics & Government
6:01 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Wolf hunt debate returns to the state capitol this week

Last year, nearly two dozen wolves were shot and killed by hunters during the state’s first wolf hunt in the Upper Peninsula. The number of wolves killed was well below the 43 state wildlife officials had set as a target.
Credit USFWS

The State Senate may vote this week on a proposal that could once again open the door to wolf hunting in Michigan.

Hunting groups collected enough petition signatures on a proposed law giving state wildlife officials total control on which animals will be hunted in Michigan.

Drew YoungeDyke is with Michigan United Conservation Clubs. He insists the hunting groups are not trying to outflank groups opposed to hunting wolves in Michigan.

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Offbeat
5:35 pm
Sun August 10, 2014

Michigan Women's Commission surveys female veterans on needed services

Credit Flickr/jnn1776

Michigan's female veterans can now take a survey to help policymakers develop services that will better fit their needs.

The Michigan Women's Commission is conducting the survey.

Susy Avery is the executive director of the commission. She says the main goal of the survey is identify service gaps, and fix them.

"I think awareness is critical," Avery said. "So many times when you're hearing a lot of stories about veterans, women are kind of left out of it because they just don't realize that there are so many of them."

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Politics & Government
5:33 pm
Sun August 10, 2014

New 'Detroit Dashboard' gives weekly report on city projects and improvements

The Detroit Dashboard webpage aims to keep people updated on progress made via city services. Features include a count of the number of blighted homes removed, streetlights installed and vacant lots mowed.
www.detroitmi.gov/detroitdashboard City of Detroit

The City of Detroit's website has launched a new performance measurement feature. 

The Detroit Dashboard tracks the progress and outcome of improvements across the city.

The data is gathered from various city departments such as the Lighting Authority or EMS. Each colored section of the infographic on the side of the page is a clickable link to a department's website or information page. 

Health
4:10 pm
Sun August 10, 2014

Water taps may run low by Monday in Bay City, if the source of a water main break is not found

City officials are busy here at Bay City city hall and around town trying to find the source of the water main break.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

BAY CITY, Mich. (AP) - Bay City officials are searching for the source of a water main break that is draining 10 million gallons of water a day and threatening to empty reserves by Monday in the Michigan city of 35,000

The Bay City Times says public works Director Dave Harran is urging residents and businesses to avoid all unnecessary water use.

Harran says crews discovered Saturday afternoon that there was a major water main break and searched all night for its location without success.

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Environment & Science
1:23 pm
Sun August 10, 2014

Farms are focus of studies on drinking water toxin

Cyanobacteria in Lake Erie
Credit Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

TOLEDO, Ohio – The findings of a toxin in the drinking water supply of 400,000 people in Ohio and southeastern Michigan a week ago is putting a big spotlight on how it got there.

Scientists and farmers agree that phosphorus from agriculture runoff is feeding the cyanobacteria blooms on Lake Erie linked to the microcystin toxin.

Political leaders are calling for more studies to find out why the blooms are increasing and how to control them. But a number of environmental groups say it's time for strict regulations on the agriculture industry.

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Business
3:37 pm
Sat August 9, 2014

Should women "man up" during a job interview? Maybe so

Credit Michigan State University

Michigan State University researchers suggest women should “man up” when applying for a job in a male-dominated field.

MSU researchers say gender bias is “pervasive and persistent” in many male-dominated career fields.

Often female applicants have trouble just landing a job interview.

But when they do, their own words can work against them.

`

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Environment & Science
1:19 pm
Sat August 9, 2014

Michigan parks offer unique view of Perseid meteor shower

The annual Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak during the next few days. Nearly two dozen state parks will have special viewing parties between now and August 16th
Credit NASA

Beginning this weekend, state parks are hosting a special weeklong stargazing event.

The annual Perseid meteor shower will reach its peak during the next few days.

Elissa Dennert is with the Department of Natural Resources. She says nearly two dozen state parks will host stargazing events to give people a great view of the heavens.

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