Politics
4:02 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

State law quickly passed to allow Highland Park students to transfer

Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a law that allows students in Highland Park to transfer to another district or charter school now that the Highland Park district has run out of money. The Legislature approved the measure Thursday.

The Highland Park school district could not meet this week’s payroll, although at least some teachers still showed up for work.

The new law allows several hundred Highland Park students to make a mid-year transfer to another district or a charter school, paid for with a $4,000 state grant.

It’s not known how many students and their families could or would take the opportunity.

Highland Park schools were under the control of a state-appointed manager, but the manager had to step down after a judge ruled the review team that recommended a state takeover violated Michigan’s open meetings law.

It will be next week before the governor can re-appoint the emergency manager.

After that, the new law also allows the emergency manager to use the per-student stipend to pay another district or a charter school operator to hold classes in Highland Park schools.

Politics
3:15 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

Romney stops at Ford Field to address the Detroit Economic Club

Mitt Romney addresses the Detroit Economic Club at Ford Field in Detroit.
Laura Weber MPRN

Republican candidate for president Mitt Romney received a warm reception from the Detroit Economic Club today.

Romney and his rivals vying for the Republican nomination have just a few days left to woo voters before the state’s Republican primary on Tuesday.

Romney spoke to the group on the 30 yard line of the vast, mostly empty Ford Field about his proposals to reduce individual and corporate income taxes, and end federal subsidies for Amtrak and funding for Planned Parenthood if he is elected president.

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Science/Medicine
1:39 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

E. coli cases in Michigan linked to sprouts in fast-food sandwiches

flickr.com

Michigan health officials are warning people not to eat raw clover sprouts, because they may be contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

The Michigan Department of Community Health says two people were hospitalized after eating the sprouts at sandwich shops in mid and southeast Michigan earlier this month.

Five other people became sick.

Health officials say two confirmed cases of E. coli in Michigan had the same genetic fingerprint as cases in other states. All were  linked to raw clover sprouts eaten at Jimmy John’s restaurants.

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Your Story
12:24 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

Your Story: If you love Michigan, give stuff away for free

Kedron Rhodes displaying some of the Michigan-centric designs he's giving away each day in February.
photo courtesy of Kedron Rhodes

A lot of people like where they live, but there are also people like Kedron Rhodes-who love, love, love, where they live.

The 34 year-old professional designer lives outside of Grand Rapids.

He just can't think of enough ways to show his appreciation for Michigan. But he's trying. One of his ideas is to run a design challenge of sorts. 

Each day in February, Rhodes is making a new graphic design and posting it online.

Anyone can download the designs and use them as they see fit.

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Politics
11:17 am
Fri February 24, 2012

7 states challenge birth control coverage rule, including Michigan

Seven states are suing the Obama administration over its position on birth control.
user anna Flickr

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Michigan and six other states are asking a federal judge to block an Obama administration mandate that requires birth control coverage for employees of religious-affiliated organizations.

The lawsuit filed at a U.S. District Court in Lincoln, Nebraska alleges that the new rule violates the First Amendment rights of groups such as the Roman Catholic church that object to the use of contraceptives.

The rule announced as part of the federal health care law has come under fire not only from Catholic bishops but also the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention. In response to this criticism, Obama administration officials have said they will shift the requirement from the employers to health insurers themselves.

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning says the proposed change still fails to address their concerns.

Joining the lawsuit are Nebraska, Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and South Carolina.

Commentary
9:24 am
Fri February 24, 2012

Romney and the Bridge

If you’ve following the Michigan Republican presidential primary race, you probably know that Governor Rick Snyder has endorsed Mitt Romney. If you’ve been following politics in Michigan, you probably know that one of the governor’s top priorities is a new bridge over the Detroit River, the New International Trade Crossing.

Nearly the entire corporate and business community want this bridge. But the governor hasn’t even been able to get a vote on it in the legislature, where many of the members have taken campaign  donations from Matty Moroun, owner of the rival Ambassador Bridge. Moroun doesn’t want any competition, and so far, has managed to frustrate the governor and get his way.

This is not purely a local issue; this is America’s most economically important border crossing. Billions in heavy freight cross the Ambassador Bridge every month. Getting a new bridge is a top economic priority for Canada, our nation’s biggest trading partner.

So, how does Mitt Romney stand on the question of whether we should build a new international bridge? The answer seems to be that he doesn’t. He is apparently refusing to take a position on it.

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Election 2012
9:17 am
Fri February 24, 2012

Romney Tries To Connect With Mich. Tea Party Voters

Originally published on Fri February 24, 2012 2:43 am

Michigan holds its GOP primary next Tuesday, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney spoke at a Tea Party rally in Milford Thursday night. That's a segment of the party that he's had a hard time winning over in previous states during this primary season.

Commentary
9:13 am
Fri February 24, 2012

What's next after the Michigan primary? We don't know.

Lots of pontificating about the potential results of the Michigan primary, but now one really knows what will happen.
YouTube

One thing Americans like about presidential politics is the horse race – the fast-changing, up and down battle.

And on that score, the Republican primary this season has delivered.

The nutshell narrative goes something like this: Romney-the-inevitable has been muted by a series of flavor of the month challengers – Perry, Cain, Gingrich – and now Santorum.

And even if you’re just a mild political junkie, there’s a good chance you’ll turn on the radio or TV or go online next Tuesday - not just to find out whether Romney survived or Santorum surged.

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News Roundup
8:59 am
Fri February 24, 2012

In this morning news...

Morning News Roundup, Friday, February 24th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

4 Days To Go: MI Presidential Primary

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will speak at Ford Field today in Detroit as part of a speech to the Detroit Economic Club. The Detroit Free Press has an interesting article detailing how the Romney campaign and the DEC plan to make the stadium appear more crowded for the event. Meanwhile, Rick Santorum plans to be in Walled Lake and St. Clair Shores today and then travel to Troy tomorrow. Ron Paul has announced several visits throughout the state this weekend, including a stop at Central Michigan University tomorrow. Michigan's presidential primary is Tuesday.

Highland Park

The Highland Park school board has cleared the way for Governor Snyder to quickly re-appoint an emergency manager, Sarah Cwiek reports. From Cwiek:

The board chose not to appeal the state’s finding of a financial emergency in the district. It was the second time a state review team made that finding. But the emergency manager Governor Snyder had already appointed, Jack Martin, had to step down to comply with a court ruling that voided the appointment process. So the state had to quickly re-do the whole process this week. The board fought the decision and lost the first time, but decided not to appeal this time… In the meantime, the state has approved an emergency aid package that should keep Highland Park schools open--at least temporarily--and get teachers paid, though not until next week at the earliest. But that money would also follow students if they choose to leave the district.

Winter Weather

It appears winter might finally be making an appearance in Southern Michigan. A winter storm, “is bringing wet snow, slippery roads and school closings to southern Michigan, with up to 9 inches forecast in parts of the state. The National Weather Service says winter storm warnings were in effect for much of the southern Lower Peninsula on Friday. About 5 to 8 inches was expected in areas including Grand Rapids, Lansing, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek. Parts of southeast Michigan could get up to 8 inches,” the Associated Press reports.

Offbeat
7:59 am
Fri February 24, 2012

Michigan lawmakers take the plunge... polar plunge, that is

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley takes the polar plunge yesterday outside the Capitol building to raise money for Special Olympics Michigan
Photo courtesy of the Governor's office

Almost 30 Michigan lawmakers jumped into a cold pool yesterday outside of the state's Capitol building. They raised some $20,000 for Special Olympics Michigan. "Proceeds from these plunges help support year-round sports training and athletic competition for more than 20,670 children and adults with intellectual disabilities in Michigan," the Special Olympics Michigan website explains.

After Lt. Governor Brian Calley jumped into the chilly waters  yesterday afternoon, Governor Snyder (@onetoughnerd) tweeted: Who knew @briancalley had such mad hops?

And, just in case you want to see it to believe it, the Michigan Information and Research Service posted this video of many of the lawmakers (many dressed in costumes) taking the plunge:

Election 2012
7:09 am
Fri February 24, 2012

In Michigan, Obama Team Builds On 2008 Foundation

Originally published on Fri February 24, 2012 4:50 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, when Mitt Romney speaks today at the Detroit Economic Club, he will be met by protesters and a banner that reads: Romney Said Let Detroit Go Bankrupt. That was the headline on a 2008 opinion piece that Romney wrote opposing a taxpayer bailout for two of the Detroit car companies, GM and Chrysler.

And Democrats are missing no opportunity to remind voters of that, as we hear from Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta.

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Sports Commentary
7:00 am
Fri February 24, 2012

A sad step backward in Michigan football history

Willis Ward and Gerald Ford. "Willis was probably my closest friend on the football team," Ford once said. "We were the leaders." Ward was forced to sit during a 1934 game against Georgia Tech.

When Ann Arbor's own George Jewett, an African-American, made Michigan’s football team in 1890, he would not have predicted it would take more than four decades for another black player to follow him.

The biggest reason was Michigan’s head coach from 1901 to 1926, Fielding H. Yost, who had unequaled ambition and ego, and six national titles to back it all up.

But he also had a blind spot: he was a racist.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised.  His dad fought for the Confederates, after all.  But Yost was surprised decades later when his discriminatory decisions created a national controversy.

It started when he named Harry Kipke Michigan’s next head coach.

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Winter Weather
6:39 am
Fri February 24, 2012

Storm brings snow, slippery roads to S. Michigan

Sami Flickr

A winter storm is bringing wet snow and slippery roads to southern Michigan, with up to 9 inches
forecast in part of the state.

The National Weather Service says winter storm warnings were in effect for much of the southern Lower Peninsula on Friday. About 5 to 8 inches was expected in areas including Grand Rapids, Lansing, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek. Parts of southeast Michigan could get up to 8 inches. The weather service says areas closer to Detroit and southwest of the city toward the Ohio border could get 2 to 5 inches. Crews were on the road early Friday to put down salt.

The storm comes after parts of Michigan, including the Detroit area, haven't seen a lot of snow so far this winter.

Education
11:34 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Highland Park school board backs down from emergency manager fight

The Highland Park school board has cleared the way for Governor Snyder to quickly re-appoint an emergency manager.

The board chose not to appeal the state’s finding of a financial emergency in the district.

It was the second time a state review team made that finding. But the emergency manager Governor Snyder had already appointed, Jack Martin, had to step down to comply with a court ruling that voided the appointment process.

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Politics
11:29 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Mitt Romney courts Tea Party groups in Milford

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney stumped for primary votes in Milford last night, at an event sponsored by eight different Tea Party groups.   

Wes Nakagiri is the founder of one Tea Party group called Retake Our Gov.  Nakagiri says all Tea Party members share some common beliefs.

"We believe that piling mountains of debt on our children and grandchildren is immoral and absolutely wrong," he told the crowd in a short speech, before introducing Governor Romney without fanfare.

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Politics
11:07 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Commission hopes to offer alternatives to emergency managers

Opponents of Michigan’s emergency manager law say they’re ready to tackle the problems underlying the financial distress of many Michigan communities.

Members of the  Financial and Academic Reinvestment Commission (FARC) met in Highland Park Thursday night.

State Senator Bert Johnson, who helped launch FARC last month, says they have a plan to help communities fix fiscal problems without emergency managers.

Johnson says the point is to draw attention to what he calls the “real, human issues” underlying communities in financial crisis.

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Politics
5:39 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Emergency legislation to keep kids in school, Highland Park school board meets tonight

The Highland Park school district is almost out of cash. The state is working on a solution to keep kids in school.
user alkruse24 Flickr

Lawmakers at the state Capitol have approved a proposal to make sure students from Highland Park schools are able to attend classes next week.

The school district is on the brink of immediate shutdown after the district’s state-appointed emergency manager was removed.

A circuit court judge ruled the district’s financial review team violated the Open Meetings Act and must begin its work over again.

Ari Adler is the spokesman for state House Speaker Jase Bolger. He said the emergency legislation is necessary to protect students.

“We’re trying to set this up so parents and students will have a choice; they will have some options of where they can continue their education for the school year. Speaker Bolger has drawn a clear line of distinction between the Highland Park district and the Highland Park students. We’re done trying to save the Highland Park school district, we don’t believe it can be saved, but we are trying to save the students,” said Adler.

Adler said a payless payday tomorrow appears to be a foregone conclusion for employees in the destitute district.

Republican leaders say they are not willing to forward more money to the district while the school board remains in control of its finances.

Democratic House Minority Leader Rick Hammel said the Republican plan to provide money for kids to attend other public or charter schools in the area will hurt the students of Highland Park.

Hammel thinks a local intermediate school district should be allowed to take over Highland Park schools until a more permanent solution is found.

"The number one thing is those kids stay in that school – that’s the number one thing for us," said Hammel. "Now, the devil’s in the details. And we have taken an opportunity to just fund Highland Park schools through a responsible source, and created law with lots of stuff that goes in there that doesn’t have anything to do with taking care of Highland Park.”

The Highland Park school board will meet tonight to decide its next move.

Education
5:10 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Muskegon Heights schools face dramatic cuts and wait for emergency manager

A new plan to eliminate a running deficit at Muskegon Heights Public Schools would close schools and cut teacher pay by 40-percent. That means a teacher with a PhD and 20 years of experience would make around $40,000 a year. New teachers would make around $20,000.

But school leaders admit the plan is still unlikely to work.

Unions haven’t even voted on the concessions. But interim superintendent Dave Sipka had to submit the plan anyway to get the money the district needed from the state in order to make payroll.

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Education
4:49 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

EMU to offer new degree in Jewish Studies

Eastern Michigan University students who want to immerse themselves in Jewish history and culture will now be able to get credit for it; the school now offers a minor in Jewish Studies.

Marty Shichtman is director of Jewish Studies at EMU. He says classes will range from the history of Judaism to the Holocaust to the state of Israel and the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

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health care
4:48 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Holland wins $1.6 million in Blue Cross Blue Shield lawsuit

An Ottawa County Circuit Court judge is ordering Blue Cross Blue Shield to pay the City of Holland $1.6 million. Holland is one of dozens of communities that sued Blue Cross over variable fees charged on insurance claims filed by employees.  The city claims the insurer didn’t tell them about the fees for 17 years.

Blue Cross Blue Shield spokesperson Helen Stojic says the fees were not hidden.“As the lawsuit proceeds to the appellate courts we’re confident that the legal process will result in a finding that our access fee were known to our customers,” Stojic said.

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