Politics
5:18 pm
Sat May 19, 2012

Anuzis, Hughes out: Shakeup at GOP state convention

There was a shakeup in the leadership of the state Republican Party at a convention today in Detroit. GOP delegates voted to replace the state’s two representatives on the Republican National Committee. Both new committee members promised to push for a more conservative direction.

“I think the convention wants to move to the right, they want constitutional conservatives, moral conservatives, and fiscal conservatives in office,” said State Rep. Dave Agema (R-Grandville), one of the winners. 

Agema is ranked as the state House’s most-conservative lawmaker. He unseated veteran Republican activist and former state party chairman Saul Anuzis.

Former Secretary of State Terri Lynn beat state Representative Holly Hughes for the other Republican National Committee spot. Land says the convention was looking for new faces.

 “You know, I’m a term limits fan, and eight years is good and that’s what a lot of others have served in the past and I think people just wanted to see a change,” Land said.

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Environment & Science
1:11 pm
Sat May 19, 2012

Toledo Zoo opens new elephant space

Lucas the elephant
Toledo Zoo

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The elephants at one Ohio zoo have a new home to roam.

The Toledo Zoo is showing off its new $15 million elephant exhibit this weekend. Zoo officials say the new area will give its four elephants more places to move and stretch their trunks.

The area called the Tembo Trail also has spruced up the zoo's home for its lions, rhinos and hippos.

The zoo's director tells The Blade newspaper in Toledo that zookeepers will be able to raise and lower the food hanging from man-made trees to give the elephants a little extra physical and mental stimulation.

The exhibit also gives visitors a better view of the elephants, including the baby of the group, 800-pound Lucas who was born last June.

Politics
12:30 pm
Sat May 19, 2012

Ron Paul supporters unhappy with results of Michigan Republican Party Convention

Republican presidential canidate Ron Paul

The Michigan Republican Party holds its convention in Detroit today.

The state GOP is choosing delegates to the party’s national convention in Tampa-Florida this summer.

Supporters of Ron Paul say they were denied delegates they deserved.

Paul failed to win a single committed delegate in Michigan’s February 28th presidential primary. But Paul supporters hoped to lay claim to a large share of the state’s officially uncommitted delegates. They got six out of 30 voting delegates headed to Tampa. But Paul supporter John Ettinger of Linden in Genesee County says they deserved more.

"It was a completely rigged numbers game no matter what," says Ettinger.

Matt Frendeway is the Michigan Republican Party spokesman. He says Paul supporters simply failed to win enough delegates to the state convention to get what they want.

“That’s what campaigns are about," says Frendeway.

Frendeway says the party followed long-established rules for allocating national convention delegates. Most of Michigan’s delegates went to Mitt Romney, who won the state’s GOP primary.

Health
9:00 am
Sat May 19, 2012

Van Andel Institute develops a new diagnostic test for cancer

MSU Physical Plant flickr

The Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids has developed a new diagnostic test for cancer, based on the discovery of a gene that contributes to the illness.

George Vande Woude is the founding research director at the Van Andel Institute. He discovered what is called the MET gene in the 1980's. He says the MET gene is frequently activated in many cancers.

"What is important in this discovery is the diagnostic tests can be performed to determine whether patients' tumor is positive for the gene or not," he says.

The diagnostic test may be able to diagnose as many as 30 forms of cancer.

It's Just Politics
8:00 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Who's in and who's out in Michigan's August primary

Immortal Poet Flickr

Every week, Rick Pluta and I take an inside look at state politics in It's Just Politics. This week we focused on the defection of Representative Roy Schmidt. But, there's SO much more going on in politics this week: Wednesday was the filing deadline for local and state races across the state and, so, Pluta and I thought it was only right to do a little round-up of who's in and who's out...

Education
5:02 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Flint to consolidate middle, high schools

Flint Community Schools today announced it will consolidate all of its middle and high schools.

Superintendent Linda Thompson says there will be three schools for seventh through 12th graders.

Thompson says the plan will benefit younger students because they'll have access to higher-level language, math and science teachers and labs.

Some parents expressed concerns about younger students' exposure to upperclassmen, but Thompson says the district has a plan to avoid that.

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Politics
4:50 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Child abusers could face longer prison terms

The Michigan House has unanimously passed two bills that require tougher penalties for child abusers.

The bills are named after Dominick Calhoun. In 2010, the four-year-old boy was beaten to death by his mother's boyfriend. Brandon Hayes was convicted of first-degree murder and got a life sentence.

The boy's mother says her son was tortured for four days before he died. She claims she was beaten while trying to defend him, but she was convicted of second-degree murder.

Dominick's older brother witnessed the beatings.

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It's Just Politics
3:10 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Machination in Michigan: Rep. Roy Schmidt and the offer he couldn't refuse

Politics can be messy. Politics can be confusing. But, that certainly doesn't mean politics can't be a total thrilling joy-ride. Every Friday afternoon Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta  sit down for a fast-paced spin around Michigan politics.

ZC: It’s Just Politics. I’m Zoe Clark.

RP:And, I’m Rick Pluta.

ZC: We start this week with a tale of intrigue, deception,  and – dare I say it? Betrayal.

RP: Yes, Zoe. A defection. This has not happened in Lansing since the 1990s. Democrats thought they had a reasonably safe seat in the 76th state House District in Grand Rapids... Competitive but marginally Democratic with a strong incumbent in Representative Roy Schmidt.

ZC: But then….A tergiversation,  a flip.

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Immigration
2:31 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Dearborn immigration town hall tries to bridge gap between law enforcement, public

Top federal law enforcement officials took questions on immigration laws at a Dearborn town hall Thursday night.

Organizers say the event was meant to break down barriers between law enforcement and the public on a particularly complex and emotional topic: immigration.

Special Agent in Charge Brian Moskowitz from the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Detroit ICE field office director Rebecca Adducci, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Detroit office director Mick Dedvukaj fielded questions on a range of topics.

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Sports
1:57 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Young Flint boxer qualifies for London games

Screengrab from a New York Times Magazine video

Flint's hometown darling, 17-year old boxer Claressa Shields, will be heading to London this summer to compete for Olympic gold.

The Detroit Free press reports that Shields confirmed the news from  Qinhuangdao, China where she had been competing in the AIBA women's world championships.

From the Freep:

Shields earned her spot into the Games when England's Savannah Marshall -- who defeated Shields in the second round earlier this week -- won her semifinal match today and advanced to the finals of the middleweight division.

Despite her early round loss, the Free Press writes, standings worked in Shields' favor and she earned one of the few Olympic berths from continental America.

Women's boxing will be making it's Olympic debut in London.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics
12:32 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Roy Schmidt party switch prompts Dems to call for perjury investigation

Rep. Schmidt at a rally against Governor Rick Snyder's budget cuts to education funding in June of 2011. He's now switched to the GOP.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Democrats in Kent County are asking for an investigation after a state representative switched political parties this week.

Longtime Democrat Roy Schmidt from Grand Rapids switched parties to run as a Republican Tuesday.

22-year old Matt Mojzak filed to run in the district which includes Grand Rapids. The Secretary of State’s office says Mojzak changed his address from one in neighboring Ottawa County to one within the district just this week. But the affidavit says Mojzak had lived at the Kent County address for 22 years.

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Arts & Culture
12:00 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

East Lansing Art Festival takes to the streets despite construction

user: CedarBendDrive flickr

The East Lansing Art Festival is kicking off Michigan's outdoor festival season this weekend. Corinn VanWyck is the festival organizer. She says there have been a few changes to this year's festival because of construction going on in the downtown area.

"We've had to move the festival, slightly shifting it to the west and the north, so that has changed the footprint a little bit," she says.

Road closures can be found on the Michigan Department of Transportation's website.

Commentary
11:41 am
Fri May 18, 2012

Commentary: New wrinkle in the Detroit Consent Agreement process

When I was growing up back in the nineteen-sixties, there was a famous saying about the economic health of Michigan’s largest city:   When the nation catches cold, Detroit gets pneumonia.

That meant the effects of even the slightest economic downturn were magnified in the Motor City. Why? Well, the easiest big expense to put off is usually a new car.

You have to buy food and make your house payment, but if you lose your job, or the plant cuts back on overtime, you can generally put off replacing your current Tin Lizzie for another year.

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News Roundup
8:59 am
Fri May 18, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Friday, May 18th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Court of Appeals Takes Up EM Repeal

It’s now up to the Michigan Court of Appeals to determine whether voters will have a chance to approve or reject the state’s emergency manager law. Rick Pluta reports:

The court held an hour-long hearing on the question yesterday. The referendum drive wants the court to order the question onto the November ballot. That’s after a state elections panel deadlocked along party lines, effectively blocking the referendum. The board’s two Republicans said the print size on the petition was too small. Attorney Herb Sanders says if the court lets that decision stand, it would send a grim message to more than 200,000 people who signed the petitions. Opponents of the referendum say if the rules were not followed to the letter, the question should not be allowed on the ballot.

Detroit Consent Agreement Legal?

Detroit’s top lawyer says the city’s consent agreement with the state is not legally binding. “Corporation counsel Krystal Crittendon sent a letter to Governor Snyder’s office calling the agreement “void and unenforceable.” The letter cites money the state owes the city—and says Detroit’s charter forbids it from entering into agreements with debtors. State officials called Crittendon’s letter “confusing.” They say city officials must have known these things before entering into the consent agreement,” Sarah Cwiek reports.

MI “Stand Your Ground” Law

More than a dozen Democratic Michigan House members have introduced legislation to repeal the state's "stand your ground" self-defense law after the fatal shooting of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, the Associated Press reports. "The lawmakers on Thursday announced the measure to repeal 2006 laws passed by bipartisan majorities in the Legislature and signed by then-Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Backers say such laws protect innocent lives. Detractors say they can become a license to kill and are prone to misuse. Michigan is among several states with laws similar to Florida's targeted by civil rights and anti-gun violence groups," the AP reports.

Sports
7:00 am
Fri May 18, 2012

Cut from the team: Some lessons for players and parents

U.S. National Archives Flickr

Teresa Bloodman’s son was thrilled to play on his freshman basketball team for two months.  But, when the coach held a third round of tryouts so the football players could come out for the team, he cut Bloodman’s son.

Teresa Bloodman was so livid she sued the school, the district and the state.  She claimed cutting her son was arbitrary, that the lack of a formal appeals process was a violation of due process, and that her son has a constitutional right to participate in school sports.

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State Legislature
6:56 am
Fri May 18, 2012

Mich. Dems seek repeal of 'stand your ground' laws

More than a dozen Democratic Michigan House members have introduced legislation to repeal the state's "stand your ground" self-defense law after the fatal shooting of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

The lawmakers on Thursday announced the measure to repeal 2006 laws passed by bipartisan majorities in the Legislature and signed by then-Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Backers say such laws protect innocent lives. Detractors say they can become a license to kill and are prone to misuse.

Michigan is among several states with laws similar to Florida's targeted by civil rights and anti-gun violence groups.

Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman fatally shot Martin Feb. 28 in Sanford, Fla., but wasn't arrested for weeks. Zimmerman has invoked the law that doesn't require a person to retreat in the face of a serious threat.

Business
11:02 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

Officials break ground for new retail complex in Detroit

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Governor Rick Snyder and the Gateway Shopping Center groundbreaking ceremony.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Calling it the first such new retail development in the city in decades, officials broke ground on the site of a future 36-acre shopping center Thursday.

Detroiters have long noted the city’s lack of many quality shopping options—especially when it comes to buying groceries.

Officials hope the Gateway Shopping Center--on the former Michigan State fairgrounds at 8 Mile and Woodward-- will help fill some of that void.

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Politics
6:10 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

Governor Snyder, Mayor Bing dismiss letter calling Detroit consent agreement "null and void"

Detroit’s top lawyer says the city’s consent agreement with the state isn’t legally binding.

Corporation counsel Krystal Crittenden sent a letter to Governor Snyder’s office calling the agreement “void and unenforceable.”

The letter cites money the state owes the city—and says Detroit’s charter forbids it from entering into agreements with debtors.

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Business
5:50 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

State AG officially wades into Lansing casino fight

State Attorney General Bill Schuette has officially lodged his opposition to a proposed Lansing casino with the federal government.

The attorney general sent a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior about the Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians' casino plan.

The tribe is in the middle of a land deal with the city of Lansing. That's the first step toward a planned $245 million casino near the state Capitol.

In the letter, Schuette says the state "is gravely concerned about the consequences" of allowing the casino to operate. He says it would justify the operation of a casino far from the tribe's reservation lands. The same tribe - which is based in the Upper Peninsula - already operates a casino in Detroit.

Schuette's letter says the tribe's plan violates state and federal law.

The tribe disagrees. A spokesman says the tribe plans to vigorously pursue its right to do the project.

Once the land sale is complete, the tribe will ask the federal government to take the land into trust. That would allow the tribe to conduct gaming on that land. A court fight is expected.

Politics
5:35 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

What does Roy Schmidt's switch say about politics in Lansing?

Michigan State Capitol building, in Lansing.

Every Thursday we take a look at Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

The big political story in Michigan this week was the decision from Representative Roy Schmidt to switch his party affiliation from Democratic to Republican, about 10 minutes before the filing deadline for this fall’s election.

This November, Schmidt will try to hold onto his House seat in Michigan’s 76th district, which includes Grand Rapids.

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