Economy
11:24 am
Thu May 10, 2012

Moving up the economic ladder in Michigan

Despite a tough state economy, people in Michigan are better able to move up the economic ladder than people in almost every other state. That's according to a report released by the Pew Research Center today.

The study found overall economic status doesn't change much over people's lives.

Erin Currier is from the Pew Center. She says the study did not look at why certain states did better than others. But she says there are some general lessons.

“Certain drivers of mobility are extremely powerful and those drivers include things like educational attainment, savings and asset building, and neighborhood poverty during childhood among others,” Currier.

The study found states with the most economic mobility are New York, New Jersey and Maryland.

News Roundup
8:38 am
Thu May 10, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, May 10th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Tuition Breaks for Veterans

Veterans who come to Michigan after retiring from military duty could soon get a tuition break at community colleges and universities. “A state House committee approved legislation yesterday that would waive the residency requirement for veterans to qualify for in-state or local tuition rates. State Representative Holly Hughes is one of the sponsors. Hughes says the tuition break would also encourage veterans to settle in Michigan once their service is complete. Universities and community colleges say the legislation does not make up for their lost revenue from the tuition breaks,” Rick Pluta reports.

Mandatory Sentences?

A bill in the Michigan Senate would impose tougher penalties on habitual criminals. Rina Miller reports:

A three-time felon who commits a fourth serious offense in Michigan would get a mandatory 25-year sentence under the proposal. The bill has the backing of State Attorney General Bill Schuette as well as law enforcement groups. The Attorney General's office says the mandatory sentence for fourth offenses would include assault with intent to murder, second-degree murder, kidnapping and manslaughter. State Senator Steve Bieda says he'd like to refine the bill to give judges more sentencing discretion depending on the severity of the crime.

DNR Auction

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources auctioned off state-owned oil and natural gas drilling rights yesterday. More than $4 million dollars was made by leasing some 91,225 acres of land. “The money raised from these biannual auctions has been steadily increasing since 2000, hitting peaks in 2008 and 2010. In the first auction of 2008, the state leased all of the 149,000 available acres for more than $13 million. The last time the state had a 100 percent lease rate was in 1981. The first auction in 2010 had a 99.6 percent lease rate and raised an unprecedented amount: more than $178 million,” Suzanne Jacobs reports.

Auto
6:12 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

Chevy Volt vs. Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf plug (left) and the Chevy Volt plug (right).

There's a lot of excitement around electric vehicles. But so far sales have not been great.

Michigan Radio’s auto beat reporter Tracy Samilton decided to get some firsthand experience driving two electric vehicles - the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt.

JW: So while we are calling them electric cars there are some fundamental differences in how they work.

TS: The Leaf is a pure electric vehicle it only runs on the battery and when it runs dry you have to recharge the battery to get more out of the car. And the Volt has a battery, and you run on that as an electric car for about 35 miles, and then after that it has a generator that runs on gasoline that provides more electricity so the car can keep running. So Chevy calls it an electric car with extended range.

JW: And after spending that week with the Leaf and the Volt, what did you think?

TS: Well, they’re two totally different cars and I had two totally different experiences as you can imagine. When I got the Volt, that week that they gave it to me I actually have a vacation arranged in Pennsylvania. Well because it has the extended range I could actually take the volt to the camp sight, some 400 and some miles away. And I plugged it into my cabin, which had electricity. You know most of this was done on the gasoline but I was able to get it recharged in my cabin.

When it comes to the Leaf, it’s a different kind of vehicle, I could not have done that.

Read more
Politics
5:35 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

Detroit union asks feds to withhold transit money

A union that represents some Detroit transit workers is asking the U.S. Department of Labor to withhold federal transit money from the city. In a letter to labor secretary Hilda Solis, the union says the money should be withheld until Detroit and the state get rid of a provision in a recent consent agreement that suspends collective bargaining requirements. 

Attorney George Washington represents AFSCME Local 312. He says the Urban Mass Transit Act spells out that the preservation of transit employees' collective bargaining rights is a condition for getting federal mass transit money.

Washington says that flies in the face of the consent agreement Detroit recently entered with the state. That agreement lays out a series of conditions the city is expected to impose unilaterally by July 16.  

"Nobody has talked with the union about any of that, and there's no bargaining going on. They're just trying to issue orders and dictates," said Washington.

In a statement, Michigan Treasury spokesman Terry Stanton said this:

"It is unfortunate that, at a time when the city and state are working collaboratively to address the city’s financial crisis and delivery of key services, some are willing to take actions that promise only to further erode the city’s bus service and, perhaps more critically, its fiscal condition."

Environment & Science
4:36 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

Drilling rights auction brings in more than $4 million

A natural gas well.
World Resources Institute

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources auctioned off state-owned oil and natural gas drilling rights on more than 90,000 acres yesterday.

Here’s a recap of the auction results:

  • Total acres up for auction: 108,164.70
  • Total acres leased: 91,225.42
  • Total money raised: $4,118,848.60
  • Average bid per acre: $39.90

These auctions are typically held twice per year, in May and October.

The money raised from these biannual auctions has been steadily increasing since 2000, hitting peaks in 2008 and 2010.

In the first auction of 2008, the state leased all of the 149,000 available acres for more than $13 million. The last time the state had a 100 percent lease rate was in 1981.

The first auction in 2010 had a 99.6 percent lease rate and raised an unprecedented amount: more than $178 million.

The average bid per acre for that auction was $1,507, which far exceeds the average bids at any other auctions over the last 10 years, all of which have been under $100.

-Suzanne Jacobs, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics
3:27 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

Habitual offenders could get mandatory 25-year sentence

kconnors MorgueFile

A proposed law in the Michigan Senate would impose tougher penalties on habitual criminals. 

A three-time felon who commits a fourth serious offense in Michigan would get a mandatory 25-year sentence under the proposal.

The bill has the backing of State Attorney General Bill Schuette, as well as law enforcement groups.

Robert Stevenson is Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. He says police get frustrated when criminals they put behind bars are back on the street again.

Read more
Transportation
2:36 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

Making public transit easier for Washtenaw Co. Spanish speakers

The Ride Facebook

Casa Latina, a new non-profit organization supporting Washtenaw County's Latino residents, has some interesting figures:

  • According to the US Census Bureau, nearly 30 percent of Washtenaw County community members who speak Spanish at home speak English ‘less than well’
  • Latinos make up 4 percent of Washtenaw County, yet 7.4 percent of those who use public transit are Latino
  • More than 70 percent of Spanish speakers in Washtenaw County are native-born US citizens, and 6.5 percent are naturalized citizens

With that in mind, Casa Latina has partnered with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (The Ride) to begin publishing a bus route and scheduling guide in Spanish.

In a press release, Charo Ledón, Executive Director of Casa Latina, commented, "This effort will help many of our fellow community members effectively use the bus system to get to and from work, school and the grocery store. It's a big step for Spanish-speakers to be able to fully participate in our community."

And a Spanish translation might just be the first step.

Carrie Rheingans, also with Casa Latina said, "In working with TheRide, we learned that there are folks who would like to see the Ride Guide published in other languages, too, and we applaud TheRide for trying this pilot project in Spanish first with Casa Latina." 

According to the release, The Ride's new website will allow users to find information in several languages.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

This story was informed by the Public Insight Network. If you want to learn how to be a part of our network, click here.

Transportation
2:07 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

Traffic deaths fell by 5 percent in Michigan last year

user dori wikimedia commons

Traffic deaths in Michigan fell by 5 percent last year, according to the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning.

  • 937 people in Michigan were killed in 2010,
  • 889 in 2011.

Nationally, road deaths fell by almost 2-percent during 2011.

Communications manager for the Office of Highway Safety Planning Anne Readette said a decline in drunk driving and high seat belt use helped the situation.  

"Just a few years ago, Michigan had a 98 percent [seat] belt use rate... and we know that certainly has played a significant role in what we're seeing in traffic deaths," said Readette. 

Readett said her office focuses on communicating their latest safety messages to young men - the drivers most likely to drink and drive and to not wear seat belts.

Here are a few more notable items from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning's press release:

  • Cell phone-involved crashes decreased from 881 in 2010 to 821 in 2011. Cell phone-involved fatal crashes increased from four in 2010 to six in 2011. (Michigan cannot track crashes involving texting specifically.)
  • Commercial motor vehicle-involved fatalities fell 23 percent, from 95 in 2010 to 73 in 2011.
  • Motorcyclist fatalities dropped 13 percent, from 125 in 2010 to 109 in 2011.
  • Bicyclist fatalities were down 17 percent, from 29 in 2010 to 24 in 2011.
  • Pedestrian fatalities increased 6 percent, from 131 in 2010 to 140 in 2011.
  • The number of car-deer crashes declined 4 percent, from 55,867 in 2010 to 53,592 in 2011.
Developing: Detroit Police
1:15 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

Detroit police station evacuated

Update 1:55 p.m.

The Detroit News reports that three police officers have been temporarily quarantined, including the officer who handled the letter and two who were in the immediate vicinity.

The News quotes Inspector Don Johnson of the Homeland Security Unit of the Detroit Police Department:

"The officer who was exposed doesn't appear to be in any pain or distress at this time. At this point, we are treating it more as a hazmat situation rather than a bomb situation."

1:15 p.m.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are responding to a situation at a Detroit Police Station.

The police station at the corner of Schaefer and Grand River was evacuated and a Hazmat team dispatched after a suspicious powder fell out of a mailed envelope.  The envelope had no return address.

Hazmat crews are still analyzing the substance.

Commentary
11:12 am
Wed May 9, 2012

Commentary: Slight increase in manufacturing jobs in Detroit

There’s a phenomenon that happens sometimes after a major stock market crash which is known by the ghastly name, “Dead Cat Bounce.”  We saw a lot of that back in the fall of 2008.

The Dow Jones averages would plunge 500 one day. The next day, they’d recover, say, 50 points, before falling even further later in the week. What was that brief rally all about? Well, it wasn’t about any real improvement in the market.

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Election 2012
9:01 am
Wed May 9, 2012

Road To The White House Goes Through Michigan

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 6:21 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

George Orwell once said that those who control the past, control the future. If you can revise history to fit your point of view, it gives you power. So, it should be no surprise that presidential candidates are struggling over some recent history - the auto bailout.

Read more
News Roundup
8:52 am
Wed May 9, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Election Results

Voters from more than 200 communities turned out yesterday for local elections. In West Michigan, the nearly $100-million-dollar Grand Rapids Community College millage failed. Voters in other parts of the state, however, seemed more willing to spend on education. The Ann Arbor Public Schools technology bond passed with 70 percent in favor of the bond. Voters also approved a bond proposal in the Bloomfield Hills School District. In Brighton, voters narrowly approved an $88 million bond issue. A one-percent city income tax was defeated in Ypsilanti. And, voters in the Lansing area defeated a proposal that would have added a surcharge on their water bills to pay for a sludge dryer in Delhi Township.

Romney Campaigns in Lansing

Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney returned to Michigan yesterday to deliver an address at Lansing Community College. Rick Pluta reports:

Romney spoke to a crowd of about 500 people. He went on the attack against President Obama’s handling of the economy. Michigan is outpacing the nation in new hiring, but Romney says the recovery is anemic, and the President mishandled the rescue of the domestic auto industry. He says the President’s rhetoric has not matched his results. The Obama campaign says the resurgence of the auto industry and hiring in the manufacturing sector are proof the president’s policies are working. The Obama and Romney campaigns say they intend to wage a battle for Michigan, which has voted with the Democratic nominee for president in the last five elections.

Snyder Signs Taser Measure

People with concealed pistol permits in Michigan will soon be able to carry Tasers. “Governor Snyder signed the bill into law yesterday. The rules will be the same as those that apply to people authorized to carry firearms in Michigan. More than a quarter-million people in Michigan have concealed pistol licenses. Michigan joins 44 other states that allow people to carry Tasers in public,” Sarah Hulett reports.

Politics
7:47 am
Wed May 9, 2012

The week in Michigan politics

The Week in State Politics, May 9th, 2012
The Toad Flickr

Every Wednesday, we take a look at the week in state politics with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry. Today, we talk about what yesterday's election results mean for communities across the state and what Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had to say during a campaign visit to Lansing yesterday.

Politics
5:37 am
Wed May 9, 2012

Find more May 8th, 2012 election results

This is just an image. Follow the link below to find the clickable map.
Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio's Zoe Clark gave us a nice overview of some of results from yesterday's election.

To find more local election results, you can visit your county's election results webpage.

We've gathered up these county pages for our listening area below.

Select your county and look for "election results" to find more information, or you can select your county from our clickable map.

List of southern Lower Peninsula Michigan counties:

Politics
4:58 am
Wed May 9, 2012

Election Results: May 8th, 2012

Election Results: May 8th, 2012
Lower Community College Flickr

Election results from across the state are in as voters from more than 200 communities held local election’s yesterday.

In West Michigan, the nearly $100-million-dollar Grand Rapids Community College millage failed.

Voters in other parts of the state, however, seemed more willing to spend on education. The Ann Arbor Public Schools technology bond passed with 70 percent in favor of the bond. As AnnArbor.com reports, "the bond plan will be phased-in over the course of 10 years in three separate series, spending $27.27 million in 2012, $10.57 million in 2015 and $8.01 million in 2018. The first series will be for equipment and infrastructure improvements primarily, while the final two series are not entirely planned out yet. More than half of the $45.8 million, about $25 million, will be spent to replace the district’s nearly 8,250 computers — both laptops and desktops."

Voters also approved a bond proposal in the Bloomfield Hills School District. "The result followed a decade of debate and previous votes on the district's two aging and shrinking high schools. With 61% of voters saying yes, residents of the Bloomfield Hills School District voted 7,817-4,998 to pass a proposal that will fund a single high school," the Detroit Free Press reports.

In Brighton, voters narrowly approved an $88 million bond issue. The unofficial vote was 4969-4476.

In, other results, a one-percent city income tax was defeated in Ypsilanti. Only about 35 percent of voters were in favor of the tax.

Voters near Lansing defeated a proposal that would have added a surcharge on their water bills to pay for a sludge dryer in Delhi Township. As the Associated Press reports, "the proposal would have created a system to dry sludge from the community's wastewater treatment system. The unofficial final vote count shows it failing 2,471-1,726. Michigan State University said it was willing to buy a ton a day for its power plant."

And, in Hudsonville, a suburb of Grand Rapids, voters defeated a proposal to join a regional transit system.

Environment & Science
6:24 pm
Tue May 8, 2012

Feds say they'll act quicker to release study on keeping carp out of Great Lakes

Asian Carp at Chicago's Shed Aquarium
Kate Gardiner Creative Commons

The federal government says it will speed up a decision on how to protect the Great Lakes from invasive species in the Mississippi River basin. The Obama administration announced the new timetable Tuesday.

Read more
Arts & Culture
6:02 pm
Tue May 8, 2012

Water Hill 2012: Creating a new spring music tradition in Ann Arbor (Video)

The Appleseed Collective performs during the Water Hill Music Festical in Ann Arbor
Meg Cramer Michigan Radio

This past Sunday marked the second successful Water Hill Music Festival.

Named after the west-side Ann Arbor neighborhood that hosts it, the festival features local musicians playing on porches while visitors wander and listen.

While some acts were invited by friends who lent their stoops for the afternoon, many live in the neighborhood and simply took the opportunity to show off their musical talents to the community.

Take a look at the video below to hear from a few of the bands and see the crowds of kids, parents and dogs enjoying music and sunshine.

Newsmaker Interview
5:53 pm
Tue May 8, 2012

Supporting small business in the alternative energy sectors

Democratic State Rep. Marica Hovey-Wright. She represents the 92nd House District, which includes the cities of Muskegon, North Muskegon and Muskegon Heights, and Fruitland, Laketon and Muskegon townships.

Legislation is being introduced in the state house aimed at supporting small businesses and startup companies in the alternative energy sectors.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Democratic State Representative Marcia Hovey-Wright. She spoke with Jennifer White.

Hovey-Wright says, "Basically it’s a revolving loan fund for alternative energy, green manufacturing which includes, wind, solar, advanced battery and biomass. The intention is to create good paying jobs with good benefits."

Politics
5:40 pm
Tue May 8, 2012

Democrats attack Romney at Lansing campaign stop

Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer (right) and Flint State Representative Jim Ananich talk to reporters after Mitt Romney's speech in Lansing
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Democrats were waiting outside of Mitt Romney’s speech, ready to criticize the Republican presidential contender.

Michigan Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer says Romney's policies will take Michigan in the wrong direction.

“Romney wants to go back to the days of George W. Bush,” says Whitmer, “We need progress in the state of Michigan.  Thank god we had someone like President Obama when the autos needed help.”

Democrats also claim the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s budget plans would hurt college students, like those in his audience at Lansing Community College.

Politics
5:36 pm
Tue May 8, 2012

Romney in Michigan, delivers speech on the economy

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney at Lansing Community College today.
WKAR

Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney gave a speech at Lansing Community College on the economy.

The New York Times blog "The Caucus" Ashley Parker writes that Romney cast the presidential election as a choice between the past and the future:

“President Obama chose to apply liberal ideas of the past to a 21st century America,” Mr. Romney said. “Liberal policies didn’t work back then, they haven’t worked during these last four years, and they will not work in the future. New Democrats had abandoned those policies, but President Obama resurrected them, with the predictable results.”

Standing in front of a backdrop a [sic] six flags — two Michigan state flags, and four American flags, one of which bore a steel border meant to invoke manufacturing strength — Mr. Romney seemed to prefer the “New Democrat” policies of President Bill Clinton, whom he touted as counterpoint to Mr. Obama.

Romney said “Americans are tired of living on the edge, tired about wondering about what kind of country they’re going to leave their children. They’re tired of being tired. This wasn’t what we expected from President Obama. He promised change and hope, and he said we could do anything we wanted together. But rhetoric met reality and reality won.”

Here's the text of Romney's speech.

And here's some reaction from those who came to see Romney speak at Lansing Community College today:

Romney supporter Harry Kost of Lansing says he liked the candidate’s remarks about business creation.

(He’s) Gonna make it easier for businesses to start and then not be taxed to death in that.  And I think he’s going to give us the chance to have more people go to work,” said Kost.

Kost also agrees with Romney about ending so-called ‘Obamacare’ and building a U.S./Canada oil pipeline.

Norma Jean Wiley voted for Newt Gingrich in the Michigan primary.  But the Hillsdale County resident says Governor Romney is growing on her.

“The more that I see of him, I can see that he has a more human, conservative side that I appreciate,” said Wiley.

She feels he has “a good plan for the future.”

Lynn Taylor of Ann Arbor says she plans to follow the details of Romney policies as they take shape.  For now, she is solidly behind the republican.

“He promised he’d end Obamacare and that’s important to me.  And he will fix it.  He said he would do a partnership with the government and the private industry, so I thought that was good,” said Taylor.

Taylor says she thinks Romney is committed to innovation and moving forward.

In a speech in Ohio yesterday, Romney brought up his position on the auto bailouts, going so far as to take credit for the U.S. auto industry's comeback.

It was a topic that The Caucus' Parker says he did not mention once in his speech today.

He did, however, make sure to say that he would “help usher in a revival in American manufacturing.”

“I’m convinced, if we take an entirely new direction in energy and in trade policy and in labor policy, we’re going to see more manufacturing jobs come back to America than those that have left America,” Mr. Romney said. “I am absolutely convinced of this. This is real. With the right policies and the right leadership we can see a resurgence in American manufacturing.”

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