Newsmaker Interview
5:29 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Central American children destined for Michigan?

Derrick McCree, Senior Vice President of Residential Services at Wolverine Human Services

There has been a recent influx of undocumented children who are crossing the Mexican border into the U.S. Many of these children hail from Central American nations where violence is prevalent. Recent news that some of these children could be housed here at a facility in Vassar, Michigan while awaiting immigration hearings has received mixed reactions.

Wolverine Human Services is an organization that owns and operates a facility in Vassar and might house some of the Central American children. Jennifer White, host of All Things Considered, is joined by Derrick McCree, senior VP of Wolverine Human Services.

McCree says as it stands right now, the contract is still under consideration by the Office of Refugee Settlement. The contracting company, Heartland Alliance of Chicago, Illinois, has been providing services for children in similar circumstances for the past 19 years. Due to the humanitarian crisis at the national level, Heartland Alliance reached out to other providers, particularly in Michigan, to inquire about providing assistance.

The services provided are essential, basic shelter services, medical care, education in the format of ESL, recreational activities, and trauma counseling. Heartland Alliance would cover the reunification fees to help seek relatives or family members within the U.S. where the child could stay while the court proceedings play out. If no family member or relative is located, the option of a foster family exists.

According to McCree, funding for the program comes from the federal government. And while there has been vocal opposition to the idea of housing children in Vassar, McCree says the Vassar community has been largely supportive, and he's heard from people who are interested in helping the Central American children. McCree says the children making their way to the southern U.S. border are escaping what are often very dangerous situaations, and they are in need of help.

Omar Saadeh - Michigan Radio Newsroom 

Stateside
5:27 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

GVSU tries to bring new technologies into the classroom

Technology showcase at Grand Valley State University
Credit gvsu.edu/techshowcase / gvsu.edu/techshowcase

How can cutting-edge new technologies be used in the classroom?

Sure, devices like Google Glass or a 3-D printer are cool.

But how can they be used to teach and to learn?

Eric Kunnen is the emerging technologies coordinator at Grand Valley State University.

"Trying to find that sweet spot there between teaching learning and technology is where we are focused and having access to the technology is one piece," Kunnen said.

Kunnen said that Google Glass could be useful in the classroom by providing hands free operations.

“Think in terms of a visual demonstration maybe in a science classroom, where you need both hands as the instructor,” Kunnen said. “Also the ability in wearing the glasses and having information on top of what you are seeing has a lot of potential as well.”

But where is the boundary in using technology for a good purpose, versus using it because it’s cool?

Kunnen said when figuring out when to use the technology, they start with trying to solve an instructional problem.

“How do we address a difficult concept that is very challenging to explain perhaps, or very difficult to visualize, and how do we apply technology to that as a solution?” Kunnen said.

An example he gave was difficulty in visualizing 3D protein molecules, but a 3D projection image could help solve that problem.

New technology are on display in Grand Valley’s Technology showcase, located in the Mary Idema Pew Library on campus.

“The concept really is to interact, learn, discover, and share how technology can transform teaching and learning at the university,’ Kunnen said.

*Listen to full interview above. 

Law
5:20 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Future of medical marijuana bills uncertain after clearing state Senate panel

Credit user elioja / Flickr

Two bills that would ease restrictions on medical marijuana in Michigan are one step closer to becoming law. A state Senate panel approved the legislation Wednesday.

But it is not clear what will happen to the bills now that they are going to the full Senate.

House Bill 4271 would let communities decide to allow and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. House Bill 5104 would allow patients to use edible and other non-smokable forms of cannabis.

Read more
Politics & Government
4:01 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Michigan's campaign for governor gets weird as Republicans deploy spyglasses

From the video put together by Mark Schauer's campaign. The alleged "spy cam" on a Republican staffer.
Credit Mark Schauer / YouTube

I guess we should expect it in our politics these days.

Recording technology is getting smaller and some recordings have been seen as game changers.

When David Corn of Mother Jones released Mitt Romney's "47% video," the predictions came in:

"You can mark my prediction now: A secret recording from a closed-door Mitt Romney fundraiser, released today by David Corn at Mother Jones, has killed Mitt Romney's campaign for president."

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Politics & Government
3:02 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Candidates using deep pockets to bankroll Congressional campaigns

4th Congressional District candidate Paul Mitchell has spent nearly $2 million of his own campaign. Mitchell’s campaign has actually spent more money than his two GOP rivals to replace outgoing Congressman Dave Camp have raised.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

New data show Michigan congressional candidates are digging deep into their own pockets to pay for their campaigns.

A trio of businessmen running for Republican congressional nominations have dug the deepest, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission this week.

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Auto safety
2:36 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Teens should not be driving old, small cars, says safety group

IIHS says parents should "buy as much safety as you can afford" when shopping for a used car for a teen driver.
Credit IIHS / Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

A new analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety finds that a disproportionate number of teenagers who died in car accidents were driving older, smaller cars.

Small, older model cars tend to be lightweight and lack electronic stability control and side air bags. 

Yet these are the cars parents typically buy for their teens, who are the least experienced drivers on the road. 

Russ Rader of IIHS says cost shouldn't be the only factor when choosing a car for a young driver.

Read more
Stateside
12:43 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Berrien County's program is reducing juvenile recidivism

Credit Wikimedia Commons

In a story we aired yesterday on European prisons, we learned the apparent key to reducing recidivism. In Europe, keeping family ties intact is priceless.

There’s a juvenile justice plan in Berrien County that’s been applying these principles since 2001, strengthening family ties, and keeping young offenders out of jail when possible.

And their approach is paying off.

Elvin Gonzalez is the family Division Administrator for the Berrien County Trial Court.

He said that when looking at the youth who come into to court to look at their family system.

“Many of the factors that contributed to them being logged with delinquency came from two primary domains, their family domain and their school domain,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said that it was important to address both of those domains and provide interventions that target those areas, strengthen the families’ ability to supervise, effectively monitor and discipline, and support their children.

“Our belief is, is that kids live in an ecology. That ecology is their family system, their neighborhood, their community, their school and we needed to impact those areas to help youth be successful in our communities," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez added that while they are trying to fix the source of the youth’s actions, accountability for those actions are not forgotten.

The county has seen a lot of success with their programs. In 2001, more than 125 youths were in out-of-home residential placements throughout Michigan. Today, that number has dropped to about 40 youths.

Recidivism has dropped from more than 58% in 1998 to 17.5% in 2012. 

“It’s important that we help kids learn various skills, be more effective in managing conflict, make better decisions – but ultimately, at the end of the day, we need to move the needle on recidivism,” Gonzalez said.

*Listen to full interview above.

11:58 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Teaching students how to switch between Black English and Standard English can help them get ahead

Lead in text: 
Instead of using "right" and "wrong" to describe Standard American English versus African-American English, Craig’s model uses "formal" and "informal" designations, so there’s no judgment attached to either language.
Last week we did a story about whether people judge others based on how they speak. (Spoiler alert: Yep, they do.)
Opinion
10:51 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Some think their immigrant ancestors were the last that should be allowed in the U.S.

I’ve always had a warm place in my heart for the sugar beet country of Michigan’s Thumb.

Years ago, I used to take graduate journalism students to Caro for a day where they would put out a special edition of the Tuscola County Advertiser.

The folks there were open, friendly, warm-hearted, and hard-working, but I have to say I’m ashamed of some of them today.

They are disgracing our state and reminding us of some of the ugliest chapters in American history.

Here’s why: Thousands of children and teenagers have been turning up at the United States’ southern border over the last few months. We are, if you’ve forgotten, a nation founded by refugees and which, to this very day, has remained open to those seeking political asylum.

That’s the beautiful part of our legacy.

The ugly part is that far too many of us think our ancestors were the last immigrants who should have been allowed in. That’s been reflected throughout our history in signs that said “No Irish need apply,” communities that refused to allow Jews, and the entire history of black America.

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Arts & Culture
10:40 am
Wed July 16, 2014

A delicate piece of art history in Jackson, Michigan is geting a little help

Glass mural with moving lights from the foyer of the old Consumers Energy building in Jackson, Michigan, shortly before the building was demolished
Credit Chrystal Weesner / Pinterest

A piece of Jackson’s art history, which narrowly avoided the wrecking ball, may soon have new life.

The 28' x 9' glass mural depicting the history of electric power hung in Consumers Energy’s old Jackson headquarters for more than four decades.   

Preservationists were able to save it from the wrecking ball that brought the building down last year. The mural was disassembled and has been in storage ever since.

The plan now is to reconstruct the glass mural, replace its internal lighting system, and build a new outdoor display to house the mural.

The mural would be placed on the grounds of a new city park being built on the site of the old Consumers Energy headquarters.

“We hope to be able to have the new mural in place by….this time next year,” says Grant Bauman, whose part of the team working on the project.

He says the glass mural will add to the mix of public art in downtown Jackson.

This month, the project received a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Organizers still need to raise about $200,000 for the glass mural project.

A Consumers Energy spokesman says the company has contributed to the preservation of the mural in the past, but has not committed to donating to the current project.

Education
5:49 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Public can tell state review team what they think about Benton Harbor schools’ finances tonight

Benton Harbor High School
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A state review team is hosting a public meeting today in Benton Harbor. The six-member team is trying to determine if Benton Harbor Area Schools is in financial stress.

The Benton Harbor school district has been running a deficit since 2006. It's cut costs, but at the same time, it also has low-performing schools that need to improve test scores to meet state and federal standards. Plus, it’s lost students every year.

It’s already closed buildings, privatized support services and gotten concessions in wages and benefits from teachers.

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Politics & Government
5:43 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

State lawmakers to talk cash-strapped schools, marijuana, traffic fines

Credit user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

The state Legislature returns briefly from its summer break Wednesday for its only scheduled session day in July.

No full floor votes are expected in either the House or the Senate. But a number of legislative panels will meet to discuss a wide variety of issues.

The state Senate Government Operations Committee is expected to approve two high-profile medical marijuana bills. House Bill 4271 would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in Michigan. House Bill 5104 would allow patients to use edible and other non-smokable forms of marijuana.

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Labor
5:40 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Non-union builders challenge local wage floors

Many Michigan cities have prevailing wage ordinances.
Credit Daniel Parks / Flickr

An association of non-union construction companies has asked the state Supreme Court to strike down local prevailing wage laws. The Associated Builders and Contractors says a state law preempts the ordinances.

Nearly two dozen Michigan communities have their own prevailing wage ordinances. They’re supposed to ensure that workers on city-financed projects are paid something close to union wages.

Read more
Business
5:19 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

DTE, Consumers should spend excess surcharges on solar, say solar proponents

Costs for solar panels are dropping rapidly, according to solar energy proponents
Credit Photo by Haris Alibasic / City of Grand Rapids

Michigan's two largest utilities, Consumers Energy and DTE Energy, have about $26 million in renewable energy surcharges in the kitty, after both companies overestimated how much their renewable energy projects would cost.

Now, a solar work group convened by the Michigan Public Service Commission recommends, rather than returning it to taxpayers, the companies should invest the money in new solar projects.

Only about 1/4 of 1% of Michigan's energy comes from solar.

Read more
Stateside
5:14 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Grab your surf board and hit...Lake Michigan?

Surfing on Lake Michigan
Credit Ben Gauger / Flickr

Surfing in Michigan?

It turns out good surfing is not found just on the North Shore of O’ahu or along the California cost. Try freshwater -- Lake Michigan.

Ella Skrocki is a surf instructor at Sleeping Bear Surf and Kayak.

“Compared to the ocean, it’s not as consistent, but here on the lakes we get a really, really wonderful swell, through the fall is even greater than right now,” Skrocki said.

Skrocki said the inconsistency is actually what makes it special, because on the rare days when the waves start coming in everyone gets excited.

“We have a teeny, tiny community here and everyone gets to connect with each other,” she said.

Skrocki said the best days for a swell is actually when beach goers are in their homes.

“You get these giant storms that bring in on and off shore winds and that creates the waves," she said.

It’s best to wear a wetsuit when surfing on the lakes to protect from the cold water. The surfing season is mainly in the fall, late September through late November.

Skrocki said her best spot to surf really depends on the wind direction, but she prefers Frankfurt, Leland, and Marquette.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Stateside
5:09 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Congressman Conyers says Detroit's water shut off is a human rights issue

Detroit's vigorous effort to collect some $90 million in unpaid water bills has resulted in water being shut off to thousands.

That's drawn angry attention from the United Nations and Congressman John Conyers. He calls this a human rights issue.

Conyers believes that the causes of this crisis include the economic problems with the country, deindustrialization, higher unemployment rates, population decline, and the number of families who cannot afford water.

“We want assurances that households won’t have their water cut off because they cannot afford to pay it, because water is a human right,” Conyers said.

Conyers said that when he advocates to keep water on in every household, he is not including the people who can afford water and simply are not paying the bill. He said 44% of households in Detroit live below the poverty line. These are the ones who need water.

“This is not an appeal for them to get free water. I think everyone that gets water should get a bill and should be held accountable for it,” Conyers said.

Conyers said the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is thinking of increasing shutoffs to 3,000 a week to help recoup financial losses.

He added that increasing shutoffs as a way to reducing the debt is counter-productive. If a disease breakout occurs because of lack of water, the city will end up with a health bill that will exceed the amount of money that is owed.

He wrote a letter to the president, asking for help from the Hardest Hit Fund.

The fund was set up in 2010 to provide targeted aid to states that were hit the hardest by the recession.

Conyers noted that Michigan has drawn down 41% of its total "Hardest Hit" allocation of more than $498 million.

Conyers said he would like to see the money used to on repairs and upkeep of the water pipes.

Conyers said he received an indirect response from the administration saying the Governor, the state treasury department, and others need to present a united proposal for the funds.

*Listen to full interview above. 

Stateside
5:07 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Sci-Fi and fantasy convention, "DetCon1," is coming to Detroit

Author Jim C Hines will be at the 2014 North American Science Fiction Convention from July 17th to the 20th. He is one of the Masters of Ceremonies.
Credit jimchines.com

This week the science fiction spotlight will shine on Detroit.

The Motor City will host the 2014 North American Science Fiction Convention from July 17 to July 20.

Jim Hines is a fantasy novelist from Michigan who is also serving as one of the three Masters of Ceremonies for the big convention that’s known as "DetCon1."

“You’ve got a convention center full of authors and fans, and basically just a hotel packed full of geeks,” Hines said when describing DetCon1.

Hines said this is different from ComicCon, who focuses more on the media and anime, where DetCon1 focuses on the literary, novels, stories and authors.

Hines won a Hugo Award in 2012. He said what he loves about science fiction and fantasy the most is the possibility.

“Whether it’s reading or creating the story, those moments when you just have to ask, ‘well what if this?’ And run with an idea that creates that sense of wonder. There’s nothing like it,” Hines said.

Hines is currently working on a series based in Michigan about a librarian from the Upper Peninsula who can pull anything from books that can fit through the pages.

The 2014 North American Science Fiction Convention will be at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center. You can get details at their website here.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Stateside
4:50 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Lawmakers are back in session for one day, taking up medical marijuana changes

Credit www.misenategop.com

Michigan's Senators are taking a break from their summer break.

They'll be back in Lansing tomorrow.

The day will bring meetings of several committees and the full Senate might take a vote on a pair of bills dealing with medical marijuana and how to get it.

Jake Neher is the Lansing reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.

He said the first bill will allow local communities to say whether or not they want medical marijuana dispensaries and how to regulate them.

The second bill will change the state's medical marijuana act to allow patients to use edible and other non-smokeable forms of medical marijuana.

Neher said that the Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville originally was not interest in expanding the medical marijuana act, but after months of speaking with communities, he changed his mind.

The bills will be voted on in committee, but not in the full Senate.

Neher said there won’t be any movement towards fixing roads. They will look at trying to set up an early warning system for deficit school districts. Another bill being looked at tomorrow would ease driver responsibility fees.

*Listen to full show above. 

Stateside
4:50 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

A large natural gas pipeline might be coming to Michigan

Credit Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

"Here we go again."

That's what some in Michigan are undoubtedly thinking as they learn of a proposed natural gas pipeline that could run through Michigan on its way to Ontario, Canada.

The proposed Rover Pipeline would carry natural gas through about 180 miles of Michigan. Some of it would track the very same route as the controversial Enbridge 6B oil pipeline that was recently replaced.

Keith Metheny is a reporter with the Detroit Free Press.

Metheny said the pipes will take natural gas from areas in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio and ship it westward into Michigan, through the southeast corner, spanning through six counties, and ending up in a hub in Ontario for distribution. The pipeline might follow a portion of the 6B route, around Oakland, Macomb, and St. Clair counties and possibly others.

“It’s going to be the very same people, the very same route, the people who saw their backyards torn up for a year, the people who occasionally had their roads inaccessible,” Metheny said.

Metheny said this pipeline would be large, 42 inches in diameter that will transfer more than 3 billion cubic feet of gas per day.

“In the highest gas demand day ever for Consumers Energy, which was in January 2013, they pushed out less natural gas across the entire state of Michigan than the amount that would pass through this pipeline every day,” Metheny said.

He added that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will determine if the pipes go down, but a decision may not be made until 2015.

Energy Transfer will hold a series of public meetings along the path of the proposed Rover Pipeline.

There will be a meeting this evening in Chelsea at 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the Comfort Inn Village Conference Center on Commerce Park Drive in Chelsea. And there's a meeting tonight in Richmond at the Lois Wagner Memorial Library, again, from 5:30 pm-7:30 pm.

*Listen to full story above. 

Business
4:50 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Former Ford CEO Alan Mulally appointed to Google Board of Directors

From left, Mark Fields, Alan Mulally, and Bill Ford
Credit Ford Motor Company

Alan Mulally has at least one part-time job now, after leaving Ford Motor Company in late June.

Mulally was the Dearborn automaker's CEO from September, 2006 until June 30, 2014.

Mulally was appointed to serve on Google's Board of Directors on July 9. 

The announcement was made on July 15.

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