Environment
6:44 am
Thu February 16, 2012

New Enbridge pipeline leak found in northern Michigan

A company responsible for a 2010 pipeline rupture that spilled more than 800,000 gallons of oil in southern Michigan says it has discovered a small leak in an oil pipeline in the northern Lower Peninsula.

WOOD-TV reports that damage to the pipeline was discovered Tuesday in a section near the Arenac County community of Sterling. The pipeline runs through the eastern part of the state to the Upper Peninsula.

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Economy
1:01 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Michigan's home foreclosure rate improving

Home foreclosure filings in Michigan continued to slide last month.   

Realty Trac reports one in every 354 Michigan homes were in the foreclosure process in January.     That’s a 23% improvement over January, 2011.

Daren Bloomquist is with Realty Trac.   He’s been expecting Michigan’s foreclosure numbers to get worse for more than a year, but instead the numbers have been getting better each of the last 15 months.

“You can’t complain about that trend," says Bloomquist,  "we’re headed in the right direction.”

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Politics
5:28 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Oakland County redistricting loses in court

A judge has overturned a state law that scrapped Oakland County’s new commission map and gave Republican elected officials the power to draw a new one.

The challenge was filed by Democrats who say the law was simply a GOP power grab.

The ruling is the latest chapter in a struggle for political power in the former Republican bastion that’s now a battleground county.

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Politics
5:11 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Top Wayne County employee charged with extortion and other charges

A top aide to Wayne County executive Robert Ficano is facing federal extortion and bribery charges

Tahir Kazmi is Wayne County’s Chief Information Officer.   He’s been in that job since 2008, though he is currently on leave.

Federal prosecutors charged Kazmi this week with pressuring a county vendor to lie to FBI agents investigating possible corruption in Wayne County government.   Kazmi also allegedly demanded cash and expensive trips in return for county contracts.  

Kazmi and another Wayne County employee are charged with obstruction of justice as well. 

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Science/Medicine
5:09 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

"New-car smell" could be hazardous to your health

bluescreen Morguefile

An environmental watchdog group has released a report about toxins found inside new cars. It says that “new-car smell” can be harmful to your health. 

The Ecology Center in Ann Arbor says the interiors of the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander, Chrysler 200 S and the Kia Soul had the highest level of hazardous chemicals.

The Honda Civic, Toyota Prius and Honda CRZ had the lowest level of chemical hazards.

Jeff Gearhart of the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor says flame retardants and chemicals in plastics generate gases that can cause health problems.

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Education
4:37 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Detroit students launch new talk radio show for teens

user mzacha morgueFile

A new talk radio show hits the airwaves tonight. It's called "Can U Relate?" and it's produced by and for Detroit Public School students.

Ania McKoy is a junior at Detroit School of Arts, and is one of the handful of DPS students working on the new show. She says each episode of "Can U Relate?" will tackle a different topic - like teen pregnancy, bullying, homophobia.

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Science/Medicine
3:32 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

University of Michigan students holding bone marrow registry drive tomorrow

Tomorrow's bone marrow registry drive will take place in the Anderson room of the University of Michigan Union from 10am to 4pm.
AndrewH324 Flickr

University of Michigan students are harnessing the power of Facebook to promote a bone marrow registry drive to take place tomorrow at the Michigan Union.

A Michigan student who recently became ill with a severe bone marrow disease could potentially find the bone marrow donor he needs at tomorrow’s event.

Daniel Lee, a junior at the University of Michigan was diagnosed with aplastic anemia just over a month ago. His condition means his bone marrow no longer produces enough blood cells and he needs an emergency bone marrow transplant.

University of Michigan junior, Jessica Kaltz began planning the bone marrow drive several months ago. She organized the event in partnership with her sorority, Sigma Kappa, and DKMS, a non-profit organization that recruits bone marrow donors.

Kaltz, who says she was unaware one of her classmates might benefit when she came up with the idea, says, “It’s amazing to see how many people care when you put a face to the cause.”

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Economy
3:02 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Fewer new homes available for buyers in southeast Michigan

Two of the attendees at today's Building Industry Association of Southeast Michigan conference in Sterling Heights
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

There is a growing shortage of new homes in southeast Michigan.     That could be good news to the region’s home builders who have been struggling since before the recession began.

New home construction bottomed out in southeast Michigan in 2009 when few people were in the market for a home, new or not.

Last year, the number of home construction permits tripled, but still demand for new homes outstripped the supply.

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Your Family Story
1:19 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Esperanza’s Rock en Español playlist is way cooler than your Spanish textbook

Most Americans have ethnic and cultural roots outside of the U.S. We're asking you to share cultural traditions that are still important to you.

Changing Gears is looking for stories, recipes, songs, and pictures. We'll be collecting these stories  on the Your Family Story page. They'll also appear at changinggears.info and we'll even put some on the air. You can share your story here.

A lot of second and third generation Latinos have the idea that Mexico is this huge farm with cactus, but that is just a small part of Mexico. When your concept of Mexico is based on the stories that your grandparents tell you, your vision is so limited. 

I begged my parents for a satellite dish to watch popular music in Spanish to keep up with my cousins. I didn’t want them to know the lyrics to the songs we loved better than I did. My parents did cave and got the satellite. It opened a window to today’s Mexico. 

It was a very out there thing that many of my fellow Latino friends didn’t even know about. I wasn’t in California or Texas, I was way up in Michigan, so this was quite groundbreaking!

-Esperanza Rubio Torres, Michigan

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Politics
12:47 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Michigan AG Schuette still pushing for 1,000 new cops

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette hopes lawmakers will make room in the budget for his plan to hire 1,000 new police officers. Gov. Rick Snyder did not include Schuette’s plan in his executive budget proposal.

Schuette says state officials need to be forward-thinking with public safety.

“We have to be decisive, we need to be solution-oriented in this new Michigan, and that means in terms of this linkage between economic growth and public safety.”

Schuette would also like the state Legislature to toughen sentencing guidelines for repeat violent felons. Governor Snyder plans to deliver a special message on public safety next month.

Politics
12:09 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Ruling puts Michigan's Highland Park schools emergency manager in limbo

Jack Martin is the emergency manager of Highland Park public schools. The judges ruling puts his authority in question.
US Dept. Ed

Update 4:44 p.m.

From Michigan Radio's Rick Pluta

A judge has ruled that state-appointed review teams looking into the finances of the city if Detroit and the Highland Park school district broke Michigan’s open meetings law. The judge says review teams that can recommend state takeovers of local governments and school districts are public bodies that must operate in the public eye.

The ruling by Judge William Collette says the state needs to re-launch its review of the Highland Park school district, and do so in public. But there are no immediate plans to remove the state-appointed emergency manager who was placed in charge of the district two and a half weeks ago. The ruling also says future meetings of the Detroit review team – which has yet to make a recommendation -- must take place in public.

The lawsuit was filed by Highland Park school board member Robert Davis.

“This is a monumental victory for democracy,” Davis said.

It’s not clear what affect the ruling might have on the emergency managers already running four cities and the Detroit Public Schools. The state could appeal the ruling.

The emergency manager law is also facing a separate court challenge as well as a petition drive that seeks to put a referendum on the November ballot.

12:10 p.m.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - An Ingham County judge has voided decisions made by a review team whose recommendations led to the appointment of an emergency manager in the Highland Park public
school system.

The decision Wednesday by Ingham County Circuit Judge William Collette says the review team violated the state's Open Meetings Act.

The suit was filed by Robert Davis, a Highland Park school board member. Davis said the ruling means that Gov. Rick Snyder's appointment of an emergency manager for the district last month is wiped out.

Messages were left with the Snyder administration seeking comment. A spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office said the ruling would be reviewed.

Collette has ruled that the state-appointed review teams should be subject to the state's Open Meetings Act.

Snyder's administration disagrees.

Politics
11:56 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Voters' rights groups oppose Michigan's election law changeup

Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson called for some new election rules to discourage vote fraud.
usesr muffet Flickr

The state Senate has approved some prospective changes in Michigan voting laws.

The measures would require training for people who register voters, and make people who pick up absentee ballots show a photo ID or sign an affidavit affirming their identity.

Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson called for some new election rules to discourage vote fraud.

“Michigan has a good election system, a very good election system, but we want to improve that even more,” said Ruth Johnson’s spokesman Fred Woodhams.

The measures have raised concerns with voter-rights advocates.

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Commentary
10:46 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Romney and the Bailout

Usually, journalists are sent press releases before political events, because the organizers want reporters to cover them. Monday, I got one about an event that was already over.

That would normally strike me as a trifle unusual, until I saw that it was from the Green Party of Michigan. They had a meeting last weekend in Bay City which they said was “charged with enthusiasm.“

What did they talk about? Well, among other things, quote “the unrest palpable among the lower echelons of society.” and the “once-dismissed voters who opted to eschew either,” major party nominee.

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Auto/Economy
10:16 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Midwest leaders look to immigrants to rebuild our economy

Bing Goei came to the United States as a child. Now he runs a company with 60 employees and more than $5 million in annual revenue
Dustin Dwyer

In many ways, the headquarters for Eastern Floral in Grand Rapids, Mich. is like a factory. It’s in an old building with brick walls. The floor is smooth, cold concrete. A noisy printer rattles off new orders.

But of course, it smells amazing in here. Designers stand at long wooden tables, primping and pruning flowers. Red tulips. White daisies. Yellow roses. And just about any other flower you can imagine.

Bing Goei, the owner, says this work is more like artistry.

“I think you have to be born with that.” he says. “I was not. I admit it.”

Goei says this with a laugh.

But he was born with something else that turned out to be its own asset. He was born with a foreign birth certificate. His parents were Chinese. He was born in Indonesia, then moved to the Netherlands. From there, they moved to Grand Rapids, like a lot of Dutch people before them. Except, they have a Chinese name.

And like many of those immigrants before him, Goei worked hard. He started in the flower business in high school. Now, Eastern Floral has seven locations, about 60 year-round employees – twice that around Valentine’s Day – and the company has over $5 million in annual revenue.

Goei says being an immigrant, and being an entrepreneur, there’s a connection there.

“Almost every immigrant that comes to this country has come because they see America as that land of opportunity,” he says. “So immediately, their drive is to fulfill that dream.”

The data on this backs Goei up.

The Kauffman Foundation reports that immigrants are twice as likely as people born in America to start a business.

Richard Herman is an immigration attorney in Cleveland. Herman and Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Robert Smith wrote a book called Immigration, Inc.

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Politics
10:08 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Gov Snyder calls for new program to attract, welcome immigrants to state

Governor Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of Gov Snyder's office

Governor Snyder has said the state needs to do more to attract immigrants, and get them to stay once they’re here.

In his recent budget proposal, Governor Snyder calls for the creation of a Cultural Ambassador program to attract and welcome immigrants to the state, which is similar to a program he helped create when he worked at Ann Arbor SPARK.

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Economy
10:04 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Michigan's Kellogg Co. stepping in to snatch up Pringles

The Pringles Brand might become part of the Kellogg Company.
user thedeliciouslife Flickr

The Battle Creek based Kellogg Co. is moving to make more inroads into the snack world.

The company plans to purchase the Pringles brand, according to the Associated Press:

Kellogg has popped up to buy the Pringles chip brand from Procter & Gamble for $2.7 billion after a similar deal with Diamond Foods was derailed by accounting problems and an executive shakeup at Diamond.

The addition will help Kellogg with its goal of becoming as big globally in snacks as it is in cereal. The Pringles business will add to Kellogg’s stable of snack brands that include Keebler, Cheez-It and Special K Cracker Chips.

In a statement, Kellogg President and CEO John Bryant said:

"We are excited to announce this strategic acquisition. Pringles has an extensive global footprint that catapults Kellogg to the number two position in the worldwide savory snacks category, helping us achieve our objective of becoming a truly global cereal and snacks company. We are delighted to welcome the employees of the Pringles organization to Kellogg. Their collective passion and commitment has resulted in Pringles' well-deserved acclaim as one of the most recognized brands in the world."

Kellogg says it expects to complete the Pringles acquisition during the summer.

Politics
9:56 am
Wed February 15, 2012

The Week in State Politics

The Week in State Politics 2/15/2012
Matthileo Flickr

Every Wednesday we sit down with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry to take a look at state politics. On tap for today: Jack and I talk about the influence Michigan's Republican presidential primary will have on the national GOP race, new polling data that shows Rick Santorum ahead of Mitt Romney in the mitten state, and a look at Romney's recent Op-Ed in the Detroit News.

Politics
9:48 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Republican presidential contenders plan Michigan events

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Republican presidential contenders are turning more of their attention to Michigan ahead of the state's Feb. 28 presidential primary.

Mitt Romney is scheduled to be in Grand Rapids on Wednesday for a roundtable and rally at furniture maker Compatico Inc. The Michigan native also is scheduled to speak Thursday at a Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce event in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills.

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum speaks Thursday to the Detroit Economic Club at Cobo Center in Detroit. Later that day he's scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Oakland County Lincoln Day Dinner in the Detroit suburb of Novi.

Other events are expected leading up to the primary.

News Roundup
8:56 am
Wed February 15, 2012

In this morning's news...

user brother o'mara Flickr

Number of school districts in financial trouble increasing

The Detroit News reports on the number of Michigan school districts in financial trouble. 

In each of the last eight fiscal years, their graph shows, the number of Michigan school districts running deficits has risen:

Altogether, 48 districts — their finances battered by rising benefit costs and state aid cuts — are under monthly monitoring by the Michigan Department of Education. The number of school systems in the red has soared over the past decade after bottoming out at 10 in fiscal 2003.

The Detroit and Highland Park school systems are already under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager. Muskegon Heights might be next.

Detroit's bus system absorbing more cuts

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports that "1,000 city workers will be laid off next week, including 78 bus drivers and 25 mechanics, according to Naomi Patton, a spokeswoman for Detroit Mayor Dave Bing."

It's bad news for bus riders who have been dealing with poor service from the city's system.

Cwiek spoke with Megan Owens of the advocacy group Transportation Riders United about the cuts:

“I don’t know whether to be disappointed, or just outraged,” Owens said. “That cut after cut, promise after promise of improved service, that the people of Detroit can’t depend on the city to provide even the most basic bus service.”

A public hearing is scheduled for February 24.

Gov. Snyder signs bills aimed at stopping protests at funerals

Protesting a funeral is not something one thinks of doing everyday, unless your goal is to get attention. That's the goal of the Westboro Baptist Church when they display their hateful slogans directed toward the gay community at military funerals. The Supreme Court upheld their right to their speech, but Michigan has passed laws to put limits on it:

From MLive.com:

Snyder’s office announced late Tuesday that bills signed would make it a felony to protest or otherwise engage in disorderly conduct within 500 feet of a funeral, memorial service, viewing, procession or burial.

MLive reports the bills clarify an existing state law directed at funeral disruptions.

Sports
7:14 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Flint boxer wins again at U.S. Olympic trials

                                      

16 year old Claressa Shields dominated another more experienced fighter in Tuesday's Olympic women's boxing trials.   Shields is now a step closer to her goal of representing the United States at the London Olympics this summer.  

ESPN reports:

Claressa Shields kept up her surprising charge through the middleweight bracket with a 31-12 victory over Andrecia Wasson. The impressive 16-year-old built on her upset of Franchon Crews, the top American 165-pounder, a day earlier.

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