News Roundup
10:36 am
Tue February 21, 2012

In this morning's news...

user brother o'mara Michigan Radio

Santorum makes stops in West Michigan

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith reports Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum made stops in Muskegon, Holland, and Grand Rapids yesterday. While in Muskegon, Santorum talked about producing more oil and natural gas in the U.S.

Smith reports he criticized President Obama for voting against the Keystone XL pipeline:

“(Obama and environmentalists) see an opportunity to go out and scare people. ‘Oh look at what’s going on - they’re producing all this dangerous stuff near you and they’re drilling wells. Oh and they’re going to pollute this and pollute that,” Santorum said sarcastically. “It’s a bunch of garbage.”

Mitt Romney is expected to be in Macomb County later today, and Ron Paul will be in the state later this week. We'll bring you more coverage of both these candidates. Newt Gingrich's campaign has not made any announcements of Michigan appearances for the candidate.

UM Regents hold emergency vote on graduate student union hearings

The decades long effort to unionize University of Michigan graduate students has largely been a local one - debated between students, the administration, and UM Regents on the campus in Ann Arbor.

But in the last year, the fight has been reaching into state politics with Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette stepping into the fray and now Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville.

Richardville has introduced a bill that would ban graduate student unions. He's holding hearings on the bill today, and in a symbolic show of support of the organizing graduate students, the University of Michigan Regents held a vote this morning.

From the Detroit Free Press:

The University of Michigan Regents, in an emergency meeting this morning, opposed a bill up for debate later today in a state Senate committee that would ban graduate student research assistants from unionizing.

In doing so, the Regents, in a straight party line vote, passed the motion, recognizing the more than 2,000 GSRAs as employees... Today's vote reaffirmed a motion first passed in May.

Snow in February? What is this world coming to?

With this year's unusually mild winter, news of closed roads and heavy snowfall seems unique. This morning's snowfall has led to some road closings.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Snow began falling shortly after 9 a.m. around metro Detroit, including spots in Wayne County and downtown Detroit, presenting some problems for late-morning commuters.

Westbound I-94 at Scio Church Rd. in Washtenaw County was shutdown due to an accident involving a car and a semi-truck. Motorists were being diverted onto Ann-Arbor Saline Rd.

Earlier, police shut down M-14 in both directions to clear an accident. It has since been reopened, but Washtenaw County police dispatchers warn that the area is still icy and to use precaution.

Commentary
10:30 am
Tue February 21, 2012

What if Romney Loses?

Four years ago, Michigan politicians believed their presidential primary would be meaningful and influential. It was anything but. The state broke both parties’ rules by holding it too early.

Barack Obama’s name was not on the ballot, and it was won by two candidates who ended up not winning their nominations.

This year’s primary was supposed to be a big yawn. Democrats have only one candidate, and on the Republican side, this was supposed to be just a brief stop in native son Mitt Romney’s coronation parade. Except that’s not how it is working out.

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Environment
9:01 am
Tue February 21, 2012

Visiting a black bear den

An 11-year-old male black bear that was just placed back in his den after a checkup by DNR bear experts. He's still under the effects of the tranquilizer in this photo, but the drugs will wear off soon.
Mark Brush/Michigan Radio

Black bears are doing really well in Michigan. The Department of Natural Resources estimates there are somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 black bears in the state. They’re mostly in the U.P. and the northern lower peninsula. But in recent years... bears have been heading south and pushing into new territories.

Bears have been spotted in the Thumb, and around Flint, Grand Rapids, Battle Creek and Lansing.

Dwayne Etter is a bear researcher with the DNR.

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Environment
9:00 am
Tue February 21, 2012

WATCH: Biologists dart hibernating black bear in Michigan

Biologists have been following this black bear in Michigan since 2010. They're tracking him, and other bears to find out how bears are moving southward in the state.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Rebecca Williams and I recently tagged along with biologists from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to watch them tranquilize and re-collar an 11-year-old black bear in Oceana County.

The bear is one of many bears researchers are watching as part of the Southern Michigan Bear Habitat Use and Movements study.

Here's the video we made from that trip:

Investigative
7:00 am
Tue February 21, 2012

Money and politics: when the fix makes it worse

Jimmy Stewart's character in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" receives a lesson on the role of special interests in politics.

Many voters suspect politicians are corrupted by money. Campaign contributions and cozy relationships with lobbyists make voters wonder if their elected officials have their best interests at heart. That’s led to attempts to fix the problem in Michigan, but observers say sometimes the ‘fix’ makes the problem worse.

Politicians need money to run campaigns to win elections. And often that money comes from the rich and powerful. But what do those politicians get in return?

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Lansing
11:48 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

Lansing city council expressing frustration at flow of information on casino project

An artist's conception of the proposed Kewadin casino in downtown Lansing
(courtesy of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians)

Lansing city council members are expressing growing frustration at not getting the information they want about a proposed Indian casino project.

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians wants to build a $245 million casino in the capitol city.   The casino would be built adjacent to the city's downtown convention center. The city council’s approval of the deal is necessary before the tribe can ask the federal government to place the land in trust.

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Religion
9:54 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

Detroit Archdiocese releases downsizing plan

Allen Vigneron
Archdiocese of Detroit

The Detroit Archdiocese has officially released streamlining plans reduce the number of parishes, in order to accommodate what its leaders call “demographic changes.”

This second phase of the “Together in Faith” plan is years in the making.

Over the next four years, Archdiocese will close, merge, or cluster dozens of its 267 current parishes over the next four years.

 

·        2 parishes will close.

·        8 parishes will merge into 4 by the end of 2012.

·        30 parishes will merge into 14 by 2016.

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Politics
7:01 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

Kalamazoo County Commission takes up 'homeless' tax

(GothamGazette)

The Kalamazoo County Commission Tuesday will discuss taxing home owners to help others avoid homelessness.

A coalition of groups wants the commission to agree to let voters decide later this year on a proposal to add a one-tenth mil increase on their property tax bills.    The  added property tax would raise about $800 thousand  over four years.

The money would fund programs to prevent evictions, as well as provide vouchers for short-term and long-term housing.

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Politics
6:32 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

Rick Santorum stops in Muskegon, Holland and Grand Rapids

Santorum greets guests and signs autographs after the rally in Muskegon Monday.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is finishing his last stop in West Michigan Monday evening.

At a rally in Muskegon Monday afternoon Santorum mostly criticized President Obama, rather than his republican rivals in the presidential primary.

“Ladies and gentlemen this president is doing everything he can to shut down the manufacturing sector of this economy; from an environmental, energy, regulatory, and tax position,” Santorum said.

Santorum spent a lot of time talking about producing more energy in the United States by drilling for oil and natural gas. Santorum criticized President Obama for voting against a pipeline that would’ve sent crude oil from Canada to the southern U.S. for refining.

“(Obama and environmentalists) see an opportunity to go out and scare people. ‘Oh look at what’s going on - they’re producing all this dangerous stuff near you and they’re drilling wells. Oh and they’re going to pollute this and pollute that,” Santorum said sarcastically. “It’s a bunch of garbage.”

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Arts/Culture
3:00 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

Detroit Symphony to host summer camp for metro Detroit teens

DSO musicians rehearse on stage at Orchestra Hall
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians will share their expertise with metro Detroit teenagers at a new summer music camp.

The six-day camp is part of the DSO's new Avanti Summer MusicFest, and is open to musicians ages 14 - 18.

Shelley Heron is an oboist with the orchestra, and she’ll be one of the instructors. Heron has taught at similar camps in Canada for decades. She says "the biggest thrill is hearing them the first day and wondering, oh my gosh how are we ever going to get these kids to produce a concert at the end of the week? And then a little miracle happens."

In addition to master classes and workshops, the campers will perform side by side with DSO musicians on stage at Orchestra Hall.

There are no auditions for the camp; the first 140 students to apply will be accepted.  It costs $300 to attend the camp, but Heron says "we have raised financial aid funds in order to help those students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate in an activity like this." Financial aid is available on a first come, first serve basis.

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Arts/Culture
2:16 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

New $1M 'Pure Michigan' ad to feature Ann Arbor as business destination

Michigan Radio

2012 is shaping up to be a busy year for the people who produce the Pure Michigan ads.

Harbor Springs, Gaylord, Charlevoix and Jackson are the latest cities to pony up $20,000 each to be part of the popular tourism campaign. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation matches the money, bringing the total to $40,000, which gets each city its own radio ad and a spot on the Pure Michigan website. 

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Seeking Change
11:41 am
Mon February 20, 2012

Rescuing dogs in Detroit

Courtesy of Detroit Dog Rescue

As we continue our Seeking Change series, Michigan Radio’s Christina Shockley spoke with Daniel "Hush" Carlisle, co-founder of Detroit Dog Rescue (DDR). The former hip-hop artist and producer drives through the streets of Detroit looking for stray dogs, which are then vetted, housed, boarded, and fostered before beginning the adoption process.

How do these dogs get into this situation? Carlisle told us:

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Commentary
11:08 am
Mon February 20, 2012

Parents Making a Difference

Just over a month ago, I talked about an interesting controversy in the Plymouth-Canton Community School district, a middle-to-upper-middle area of western Wayne County.

The superintendent suddenly banned a popular novel, Graham Swift’s "Waterland", from the Advanced Placement, or AP English curriculum. "Waterland", first published almost 30 years ago, is a highly acclaimed book which has to do with storytelling and history, and which shows how everything is influenced by what came before.

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Morning News Roundup
7:44 am
Mon February 20, 2012

In this morning's news...

Archbishop says he'll discuss parish closing plan

The leader of 1.3 million Roman Catholics in southeastern Michigan says he's releasing the results of a review of a proposal to merge or close dozens of parishes in the face of population shifts within the Archdiocese of Detroit.     

The archdiocese says that Archbishop Allen Vigneron will talk at 4 p.m. today about the plans for the realignment of the 267 parishes. 

On Dec. 1, Vigneron said the archdiocese would review a plan to close nine parishes and merge 60 others into 21. A committee of lay leaders helped draft that plan. The archdiocese says Vigneron  completed the plan earlier this month, and its results were mailed out this week to priests and lay members.

Santorum to speak at Kent County Republican dinner 

Rick Santorum is scheduled to bring his presidential campaign to West Michigan on Monday with a speech to Kent County Republicans. Santorum's staff said Sunday that the ex-Pennsylvania U.S. senator will address the Kent County Lincoln Day Dinner. It's set for 7 p.m. at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids. 

Santorum has been surging in the Republican presidential polls nationwide and in Michigan, which holds its primary Feb. 28. A Feb. 11-13 poll of 500 likely Michigan GOP primary voters found 34 percent backing Santorum and 30 percent backing Michigan native and ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mott Romney. The 4 percentage point difference is within the 4.4 point margin of sampling error. Glengariff Group Inc. did the polling for The Detroit News, WDIV-TV and WZZM-TV.

Snyder to sign Michigan road commission bills

Legislation that will allow county boards of commissioners to take over duties of county road commissions is expected to be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder. Snyder is scheduled to sign the legislation Tuesday at the state
Capitol. 

The bills were approved by the Michigan Legislature earlier this month. Supporters say the measures would save money by eliminating duplicative administrative costs. Appointed county road commissions could be dissolved by a majority vote of a county's board of commissioners.

Voters would have the final decision on whether to dissolve road commissions in counties where road commissioners are elected. Some critics say a vote of the people should be required in all counties because each road commission was created by such a vote,
not just those with elected commissioners.

Investigative
7:00 am
Mon February 20, 2012

Money Talks: But is it free speech?

user tobym Flickr

This election year, money will drive the conversation in politics more than usual because of  recent Supreme Court decisions. They opened the floodgates of cash, allowing groups called Super PACs to spend unlimited amounts in support of federal candidates. We’re getting just a small sampling during the presidential primary.  This fall, Michigan will see a lot of money from outside the state coming in to buy tons of ads—most of them negative—to sway voters here.

Money can’t vote. But it certainly can affect the outcome of an election. And that bothers voters such as William Mayor.

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Politics
1:56 pm
Sun February 19, 2012

Michigan Governor to sign bill that will be the end of the road for some county road commissions

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R)
(Official state portrait)

Legislation that will allow county boards of commissioners to take over duties of county road commissions is expected to be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Snyder is scheduled to sign the legislation Tuesday at the state Capitol.

The bills were approved by the Michigan Legislature earlier this month.

Supporters say the measures would save money by eliminating duplicative administrative costs.

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The law
1:35 pm
Sun February 19, 2012

U-M Regents call for external investigation into child pornography reporting delay

Steven Jenson is a former University of Michigan Hospital pediatric resident. He was charged in federal court with receipt and possession of child pornography.

The University of Michigan Board of Regents has ordered an external investigation into the case of a former pediatric resident accused of having child pornography.

In May of last year, a University of Michigan Hospital resident found child pornography on a computer in an employee lounge. She reported it to hospital security, but a hospital attorney -- who no longer works for the university -- did not pursue the case.

It wasn’t reported to police until six months later.

Steven Jenson, 36, is facing federal charges of receipt and possession of child pornography.

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Sports
12:10 pm
Sun February 19, 2012

Flint Boxer wins Olympic trials

February 19, 2012 Marlen Esparza, Queen Underwood and Claressa Shields (middle) made history on Saturday by becoming the first-ever U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Women's Boxing Champions
(USA Boxing)

Flint boxer Claressa Shields took a big step toward her Olympic dream Saturday night, winning the middleweight title at the USA boxing trials.

USA Boxing summed up Shields performance in the championship final:

Teenage sensation Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) continued her amazing run through the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in her rematch with fellow middleweight Tika Hemingway (Pittsburgh, Pa.). She once again got off to a quick start in the bout, racking up 13 points to 9 for Hemingway in the opening two rounds. She continued to build on her lead in the third to claim at 19-13 advantage with one round remaining. Hemingway could not dent her deficit and Shields went on to win a 23-18 decision. The victory gave Shields the first-ever middleweight crown and completed the trio of boxers who will vie for spots in London. Yet Shields accomplishments didn’t end there, she was also named Outstanding Boxer of the Tournament, only her second in the open division. 

Shields must now prepare for the World championships.  The top eight women boxers at the world championships will qualify for the Olympic tournament in London.

Detroit
6:38 am
Sun February 19, 2012

Detroit's mayor reaches tentative deal with city firefighters

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The mayor's office and firefighters' union have agreed to a tentative deal on concessions aimed at cutting the city's budget deficit. Both sides say they wanrt to keep Detroit's finances out of the hands of a state-appointed emergency manager.

Mayor Dave Bing's office says Saturday in a release that the agreement still must be ratified by the 1,014 members of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association.   Bing's office issued a written statement Saturday:

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Politics
7:44 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

Michigan National Guard leader warns against cuts

US Air National Guard

The general who runs Michigan’s Army and Air National Guard is warning about what he calls ill-advised cuts.

The Air Force wants to retire 286 aircraft over the next five years to accommodate a new national defense strategy and shrinking budget.

Major General Gregory Vadnais told reservists at the Battle Creek and Selfridge Air National Guard bases Friday that those bases would lose 673 positions because of proposed Air Force budget cuts.

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