Politics
3:59 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Lawsuit over pay cuts to Detroit school employees settled

Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - Unions representing about 10,000 Detroit Public Schools employees and the district's state-appointed emergency manager have reached a settlement in a federal lawsuit over pay
cuts and health insurance contributions.

The school district says the settlement was approved Wednesday.

The unions filed the suit last year after Roy Roberts used new powers given emergency managers by state law to impose a 10 percent pay cut and 20 percent contribution to their health insurance.

State Treasury Andy Dillon approved the cuts and also was named in the suit.

Settlement terms include partial payment of accumulated sick days for employees who submit an irrevocable notice of retirement by March 19, a one-time lump sum payment of 2.5 percent of the
employee's 2011/2012 earnings and limited reinstatement of step increases.

Politics
2:56 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Emergency manager opponents in Michigan aim to suspend law

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A coalition seeking to overturn Michigan's law giving more power to state-appointed emergency managers says it's submitting more than 226,000 voter signatures in hopes of
eventually overturning the law.

The Stand Up for Democracy coalition turned in petitions to state election officials Wednesday.

Roughly 161,300 valid voter signatures are needed to temporarily suspend the law and get it on the November ballot. It could take two months for state officials to verify the signatures.

Critics say the law gives unconstitutional power to state-appointed emergency managers, who have authority to toss out union contracts and strip power from locally elected officials.

Supporters of the law say it's needed to provide the tools to fix financial problems that locally elected leaders have been unable to fix themselves.

Arts/Culture
2:50 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Grand Rapids Art Museum scores 3-year partnership with NY museum

Pamella DeVos and GRAM CEO Dana Friis-Hansen in front of part of the "Robert Rauschenburg: Synapsis Shuffle" exhibit on loan from the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. It opens to the public Friday.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

This week the Grand Rapids Art Museum opens a new exhibit on loan from the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. The “Robert Rauschenberg: Synapsis Shuffle” exhibit is part of a new 3-year partnership between the two museums. It opens to the public on Friday.

Pamella DeVos spends a lot of time in New York as a fashion designer. She is a board trustee at the Whitney Museum and helped make the partnership a reality.

“We’re not a huge city but we certainly have such an amazing art museum,” Devos said. DeVos is a GRAM Honorary Life Trustee. She says she’s had a passion for the GRAM since she was 25 years old. DeVos says she’s brought the director of the Whitney Museum to Grand Rapids many times.

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Election 2012
1:09 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Michigan's primary is over, but the delegate count isn't

Did Mitt Romney really "win" Michigan?
Gage Skidmore Flickr

Mitt Romney won the state's popular vote in Michigan's presidential primary last night, which is why many media organizations across the state, and nationally, are reporting a Michigan "win" for Romney.

But the picture on the final delegate count is still not clear.

The unofficial results are not in, but Rick Santorum's campaign held a conference call just a few minutes ago to report that they have unofficial voting data from the state.

A spokesman for Santorum says their numbers show that Santorum and his main rival in yesterday's presidential primary, Romney, will both be awarded one delegate each based on the state's popular vote.

The campaign spokesman went on to say that the latest numbers that they have (again, let's be clear, these have not been certified by the Secretary of State) show that both Santorum and Romney each won 7 congressional districts.

This would mean that each candidate won 14 delegates from those districts (because each congressional district delivers 2 delegates)... plus one delegate each from the popular vote. This, of course, would be a tie: 15 delegates each.

Commentary
11:02 am
Wed February 29, 2012

Romney’s Win

Significantly perhaps, it was Mitt Romney’s old home turf of Oakland County that was most responsible for saving him in the end.

Romney beat Rick Santorum statewide by about 32,000 votes. He won Oakland County, the place where he grew up, by more than 31,000. The other two major metropolitan Detroit counties, Wayne and Macomb, gave him a combined margin of 18,000 more votes.

He lost the rest of the state, but the tri-county area was just more than enough to save him from a defeat that could have destroyed his campaign. Now, Romney is the clear front-runner.

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Changing Gears
10:44 am
Wed February 29, 2012

Student debt: The cost of learning a trade

For $2, this little guy gets a “college boy” cut from barber student Tom Amundson.
Kate Davidson Changing Gears

America’s student loan debt is now bigger than its credit card debt. It’s about a trillion dollars. Student loan default rates are rising. While many families struggle to afford traditional colleges, a lot of student debt comes from attending private, for-profit schools that focus on vocational training. These students default on their loans twice as often as students from public colleges.

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Agriculture
10:24 am
Wed February 29, 2012

45 Michigan counties get disaster designation

A farm in Michigan
Maureen Reilly Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 45 counties in Michigan as natural disaster areas for three separate sets of disaster conditions last year.

Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday announced the designation after periods of weather that occurred starting in February 2011 and May 2011. The designation made earlier this year means qualified farm operators are eligible for low-interest emergency loans.

Twenty-nine counties were designated primary natural disaster areas for weather including rain, wind, snow, flooding and tornadoes that started in February 2011. Ten got the designation for similar weather, drought and excessive heat starting at that point.

Six counties were designated primary natural disaster for drought and excessive heat starting in May 2011.

Lists of the counties are on the USDA's website.

Lansing
9:01 am
Wed February 29, 2012

Lansing residents will hear more tonight about the proposed casino project

Artist's conception of the proposed Kewadin Lansing casino
(courtesy of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians)

A controversial plan to build a casino in downtown Lansing goes before the public tonight.     A large turnout is expected at the first of two community meetings on the casino project.

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians wants to build a $245 million casino next to Lansing’s convention center.     The tribe will ask the federal government to approve the project this summer.   

But first, the Lansing city council must vote on the development deal by the end of next month.

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Primary News Roundup
8:42 am
Wed February 29, 2012

The national media's 3 week love affair with Michigan is over (almost)

Post-primary Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, February 29th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Well, the Michigan primary is over. Mitt Romney eked out a win in the state's popular vote (the delegate count is still being tallied). So, now it's time for the national media to move on to Super Tuesday states. But, it wouldn’t be a true morning-after-election without a little post-primary analysis, right?

  • Politico: Mitt Romney wins Ugly - "Romney could have been summing up his own candidacy when he said in his victory speech here: “We didn’t win by a lot but we won by enough and that’s what counts.”
  • Politico: 5 Takeaways from Arizona and Michigan - "It wasn’t pretty, and [Romney] carried Michigan by a smaller margin than in 2008, but the bottom line is that Romney was in a major political fight Tuesday — and he won... If he had lost Michigan, it’s hard to gauge the level of panic that would have unfolded within GOP ranks."
  • The New York Times: Romney faces stubborn question, despite victories - "[Romney] continues to face questions about whether, should he win the nomination, he will be able to capture the energy of the conservative constituencies that have propelled the party when it has had electoral success in recent years, especially evangelicals and the Tea Party movement."
  • Wall Street Journal: Santorum looks for silver lining - "Santorum must hope that keeping it close in Michigan still will provide a jolt of momentum—not to mention an infusion of cash and volunteers —as he turns his attention to Saturday's caucuses in Washington state and the 10 Super Tuesday contests that loom less than a week away."
  • Marketplace: Post-primary, what Michigan voters are concerned about - "We heard so much about the bailout... What we didn't hear about was the fact that there are still a ton of people in Michigan who owe more on their homes than they're worth... that's going to be a really, really important issue among Michigan voters come November."
  • NPR.org: Santorum left to mourn what could have been in Michigan - "Santorum and his campaign will likely look back on Michigan's 2012 primary not only as a heartbreaking loss in the battle against Mitt Romney but also as a historic lost opportunity."
Politics
12:16 am
Wed February 29, 2012

Emergency manager law opponents, armed with petitions, head to Lansing

Opponents of Michigan’s emergency manager law will descend on Lansing with petitions Wednesday.

The coalition fighting Public Act 4 says they’ve collected more than 218,000 signatures to put the measure up for voter referendum in November.

They need the state to certify about 161,000 of those signatures for that to happen—and for the law to be suspended until the vote.

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Election 2012
11:55 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Election Results: Michigan's Republican Presidential Primary

Romney's campaign is watching results in Novi, Santorum's is in Grand Rapids.
Rick Pluta/Laura Weber MPRN

Mitt Romney has won the popular vote in Michigan.

Precincts Reporting - 96%

  • 41.0%   Mitt Romney - 395,360 votes
  • 37.9%   Rick Santorum- 366,146 votes
  • 11.6%   Ron Paul - 112,232 votes
  • 6.5%      Newt Gingrich - 62,858 votes

As we reported earlier, Michigan's 30 delegates will be awarded by the popular vote (2 delegates), and for winning each of the 14 congressional districts (2 delegates for each district).

As of 11:55 this evening, the Michigan Republican Party is still determining the final delegate count.

10:34 p.m.

NPR has projected that Mitt Romney has won the popular vote in Michigan. The delegates for the 14 congressional districts in Michigan still remain to be tallied.

10:13 p.m.

Rick Santorum has taken the stage in Grand Rapids, saying they've put up a good fight in his opponent's backyard.

"The people of Michigan looked into the hearts of the candidates in Michigan... and all I have to say is, I love you back," said Santorum.

10:05 p.m.

The New York Times reports that "Mitt Romney has received a larger share of the vote than in 2008 in 62 of the 76 Michigan counties to have reported at least some results so far."

A good sign for Mitt Romney.

More from Mark Memmott at NPR.org:

  • From NPR's Don Gonyea: "Santorum crowd's hope for knock-out punch in MI fading as incoming vote totals now trending wrong way for them." (link) 3 minutes ago
  • Here's how the AP is characterizing the race in Michigan: "Mitt Romney ... is pulling ahead of Rick Santorum." 4 minutes ago
Read more
Election 2012
11:49 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Mitt Romney wins popular vote in a close race in Michigan

Mitt Romney address supporters after his victory in Michigan.
Laura Weber MPRN

Mitt Romney pulled out a close victory over Rick Santorum in Michigan tonight. The win gives Romney momentum heading into his next challenge - "Super Tuesday" - when 10 states will hold primaries next Tuesday.

Update 11:49 p.m.

An analyst for the New York Times says Romney's "anti-bailout position" did not hurt him in this race:

Even Mr. Santorum's campaign made a last-minute push to get disgruntled union workers to vote against Mr. Romney for this reason. While primary voters were almost evenly divided on the issue, those who supported the bailout were no more likely to back Mr. Santorum over Mr. Romney.

11:25 p.m.

The Michigan Republican Party is tallying the results for Michigan's congressional districts. There are 30 delegates up for grabs in the state.

Even though Romney won the popular vote, Santorum can still pick up delegates by winning in a district. The delegate distribution will be determined after the Party crunches the numbers.

Read more
Election 2012
11:07 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Voters in Genesee and Oakland Counties fill vacant state house seats

State Representative-elect Joe Graves talks to his supporters after winning Tuesday's special election
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Tuesday’s election did not change the balance of power in the state house. 

Two vacant state house seats were up for grabs.

Voters in Genesee County filled a vacant state house seat on Tuesday.   The seat was made vacant last fall by a union-backed campaign that succeeded in recalling Republican Paul Scott.

Last night, Republican Joe Graves defeated Democrat Steve Losey to serve out the final year of Scott’s unfinished term.     

Graves says his message of jobs lead to the victory.

Read more
Election 2012
10:43 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Santorum speaks to campaign gathering in Grand Rapids

Rick Santorum speaks to his campaign gathering in Grand Rapids.
Rick Pluta MPRN

Rick Santorum gave a speech to his supporters at the Amway Grand Hotel in Grand Rapids.

He said his campaign put up a good fight in his opponent's backyard.

"The people of Michigan looked into the hearts of the candidates in Michigan, and all I have to say is I love them back," said Santorum.

NPR's Don Gonyea characterized the speech as a concession speech even though he didn't formally congratulate his opponent in the speech. Santorum could pick up Michigan delegates depending on how votes in Michigan's 14 congressional districts shake out.

Santorum spent part of the speech talking about energy and how President Obama is keeping a lid on traditional energy exploration in the U.S. to the detriment of the economy.

We'll have more later from MPRN's Rick Pluta.

Election 2012
9:15 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Mitt Romney wins Arizona, Michigan race tight

Mitt Romney.
Matthew Reichbach Flickr

As predicted, Mitt Romney has won the Arizona primary.

From the New York Times:

Mitt Romney has won the Republican presidential primary in Arizona, based on preliminary exit polling, but is locked in a tight battle with Rick Santorum in Michigan, a crucial electoral battleground where Mr. Romney's home-town advantage has all-but evaporated.

Mr. Romney's victory in Arizona will earn him 29 delegates, extending the lead he already enjoys over his rivals. The win comes after his rivals largely conceded that the former Massachusetts governor would win the border state.

The race is Michigan, also as predicted, is neck and neck.

Election 2012
8:51 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Romney camp feeling good about the odds tonight

Waiting for results at Romney's campaign party in Michigan.
Laura Weber MPRN

Vote tallies are starting to come in for Michigan’s Republican primary election.

Early results show Rick Santorum with a slim lead over his rival Mitt Romney.

But Romney’s supporters in southeast Michigan say they’re optimistic and feeling good about the Michigan-native’s odds.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is heading up Romney’s campaign efforts in the state. Schuette says he is disgusted that Santorum encouraged Democrats to vote in the GOP primary against Romney.

“I think that’s stupid, and I think most people view that as cynicism or hypocrisy in its worst form. I don’t get too stressed by it. What it really does show is there’s something in the air of desperation from the other side,” said Schuette.

But Schuette says he thinks Romney will walk away with a win in Michigan tonight.

Election 2012
6:30 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Picking a winner in Michigan's primary: not as simple as you might think

In a race that's as close and contentious as Michigan's Republican primary has shaped up to be, one would hope that after the dust settles at the end of election day, a winner will have emerged and we can all start speculating about the next group of states set to vote on Super Tuesday (even if Michigan has secretly been enjoying all the extra media attention).

But as MPRN's Rick Pluta told Michigan Radio's Zoe Clark earlier today, it's not quite that simple.

According to Pluta, "winning"  in Michigan really depends on whether you're talking about taking the popular vote  or the delegate count.

With the way the State's primary is set up, the two don't necessarily have to be won by the same candidate.

Pluta explains that Michigan's 30 delegates will be apportioned as follows:

  • 2 delegates will be awarded for the candidate who wins the popular vote
  • 2 delegates for each of the 14 congressional districts* in Michigan, 28 delegates  in total (*Note: Michigan currently has 15 congressional districts but the state is losing a district this year because of the state's population decline in the 2010 Census).

So say, for example, that Mitt Romney, who has focused a lot on the relatively populous southeast part of the state, wins the popular vote.

He'll pick up 2 delegates for the popular vote and delegates for the districts he won.

But Rick Santorum, who has been courting conservatives outside of southeast Michigan, could pick up more delegates by winning in more districts.

It could mirror the 2000 election results where one candidate wins the popular vote, but the other picks up more delegates.

This is just one possibility - one exciting possibility, especially for political junkies.

According to Pluta, a lot of permutations are conceivable  including a full on tie with delegates evenly split. (For you hard-core political junkies, Nate Silver at the New York Times has a detailed breakdown of likely outcomes broken down by district)

With all this possible ambiguity, how is a winner decided? Are delegates or total votes more important?

Depending on who takes what, the candidates will no doubt try to spin the results in their favor, but Pluta says that at this point, just a week before Super Tuesday when roughly a third of all delegates are set to be awarded in a ten-state contest, perceived momentum from the popular vote could likely trump the relatively small number of delegates available in Michigan.

That is, of course, unless things drag on all the way to a brokered convention in which case every delegate could be crucial.

Either way, after today Michigan can sit back and watch the horse race continue.

- John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Election 2012
6:28 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Stage is set in Michigan, waiting for results as last votes are cast

The stage for the Mitt Romney campaign party in Novi.
Laura Weber Michigan Radio

The campaigning is wrapping up. The last votes are being cast. Soon the candidates will sit back and watch the results.

And they won't be the only one's watching what happens in Michigan.

The nation's eyes are on the state. The results for the Arizona primary are coming in tonight too, but Michigan's race is much more competitive (Romney is expected to win in Arizona).

The Michigan results will be one more tea leaf - one more piece of evidence of who Republicans want facing President Obama in November's general election.  

The Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta will be covering things in Grand Rapids, where Rick Santorum and his campaign are holding a party at the Amway Grand Hotel.

And MPRN's Laura Weber will be with the Mitt Romney camp at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

We'll bring you results and updates as we have them.

Politics
5:15 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Detroit state review team opens its doors--then closes them again

State Treasurer Andy Dillon
AP File Photo

The state review team looking into Detroit’s finances met in public for the first time Tuesday.

But the meeting was short—less than 20 minutes--and revealed almost nothing about the process behind the review.

The team, led by State Treasurer Andy Dillon, briefly reviewed Detroit’s bleak financial picture--without major changes, the city will run out of cash before the end of the fiscal year. There was also a brief public comment period.

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Auto/Economy
4:33 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Kent County hotels bring in record revenue in 2011

The Amway Grand Plaza, JW Marriott, and the Courtyard by Marriott hotels sit along the Grand River in Grand Rapids.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids-area hotels made record income last year. Hotel revenue in Kent County grew at a faster rate than the average for hotels in Michigan and the United States. That’s according a report released by the convention and visitors bureau – Experience Grand Rapids.

Experience Grand Rapids president Doug Small says the city attracted larger conventions and more leisure travelers this year. “It’s a combination of very creative marketing, collaboration, wonderful events that continue to dot our landscape,” Small said, noting ArtPrize and Laughfest as examples. “It’s all good; it’s the perfect storm.”

Small says the ‘Pure Michigan’ marketing campaign deserves some credit too. “We’re a big partner with them – we’ve always been since day one. They’ve helped drive a lot of our summer business,” Small said.

Kent County’s 70 hotels made a combined $114 million dollars last year, a 10-percent increase from the year before. In 2009 it was just $93 million. The hospitality industry employs 24,000 people in Kent County.

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