Politics
11:52 am
Tue November 29, 2011

Michigan legislature passes anti-bullying bill

Update 11:52 a.m.

Equality Michigan, an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues, released a statement in response to the passage of the anti-bullying bill:

We’re thrilled that we were able to eliminate the destructive ‘license to bully’ that the Senate first approved in October. National outrage provoked by the last-minute substitution to allow bullying based on religious beliefs is a clear indicator that our Senate majority is out of touch with the voters.

That being said, we’re disappointed by the weak version of the bill passed today. Directed by the biases of a few, our Senate missed another opportunity to do right by our kids. Today’s bill will do little to stem the tide of bullying because it doesn’t enumerate commonly targeted characteristics. Case studies have found that school employees are unlikely to recognize and report incidents when bias bullying is not placed deliberately on their radar. Both Oregon and Washington passed weak bills like this one and had to go back and revise them years later when data showed the initial bills had failed. This kind of delay is not an acceptable response to Michigan's bullying crisis.

11:19 a.m.

An anti-bullying bill has cleared the Michigan legislature after the Senate passed the House sponsored bill this morning.

The bill, HB 4163, steers clear of controversial language included in an earlier Senate version of the bill (SB 137). That bill protected statements based on moral or religious beliefs.

From SB 137:

This section does not prohibit a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil's parent or guardian.

The bill as passed by the Legislature would require all school districts to adopt anti-bullying policies.

Some Democrats say the bill does not go far enough to protect kids from cyber bullying or to protect gay and lesbian students.

The anti-bullying legislation now goes to the desk of Governor Rick Snyder.

Offbeat
11:48 am
Tue November 29, 2011

Yes, that snow plow is moving slower

MDOT South Haven Garage Plow truck with right hand wing
(photo by Jason Roland) fleetgod-snowice.blogspot.com

Michigan is getting its first significant snowfall of the year this evening. If you live in southwest Michigan, you may notice the snowplow in front of you is moving slower than you’re used to.  

When a snow plow is dumping salt on icy roads, state Transportation officials refer to it as "Bounce & Scatter".   

As the salt hits the road, faster truck speeds mean more salt tends to bounce and scatter, much of it landing off the road. 

MDOT spokesman Nick Schirripa says to reduce the scatter salt trucks in nine southwest counties will slow from 35 to 25 miles per hour this winter. The hope is slower speed will save money by using less salt.  

But Schirripa admits the slower speeds could put the trucks at greater risk of being rear-ended by inattentive motorists.   

“If we find out after a season, or a few weeks of it, the crash rate is simply too high, that safety is too much of a factor, the (pilot) program may in fact be dropped," says Schirripa.  

If the slower salt truck pilot program is successful, it may eventually expand to the rest of the state.

Arts/Culture
10:44 am
Tue November 29, 2011

U of M art museum receives $650K grant from Mellon Foundation

UMMA's director wants art to be a part of U of M students' everyday culture.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) is $650,000 richer, thanks to a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Joseph Rosa, director of UMMA, calls the grant a "dream come true" because it allows the museum to shift from an "oh, if we could" mentality to one of "now we can."

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Politics
10:40 am
Tue November 29, 2011

State Senator Glenn Anderson takes on Congressman John Conyers for Congress next year

State Senator Glenn Anderson of Westland likes to think of himself as a workhorse, not a show horse. In other words, as a guy more interested in getting it done than getting press attention.

That’s a little difficult to do these days in the Michigan Senate, where Democrats have less than a third of the seats and can’t accomplish anything, at least not on their own.

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Environment
10:17 am
Tue November 29, 2011

Upper Peninsula nickel-copper mine moves ahead

The Eagle Mine (aerial photo from October 2010).
Photo courtesy of Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co.

For ten years, Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company has been pushing to mine nickel and copper near Marquette. The company started underground blasting of the mine in September.

The Department of Environmental Quality issued permits for the mine in 2007. But several of those permits have been challenged in court.

A circuit court judge in Ingham County recently upheld the mining permit.

Michelle Halley is an attorney for the National Wildlife Federation. It’s one of the groups that challenged that permit. She says they’re concerned about the type of mining that will happen in the Eagle Mine. It’s sometimes called sulfide mining.

“The rock at Eagle is extremely acid producing, very high in sulfides and so once that rock is exposed to air and water, there’s really no debate it will begin producing acid.”

That acid is sulfuric acid. According to the Environmental Protection Agency... that acid can cause heavy metals to leach from rocks. The resulting fluid can be highly toxic to people and wildlife.

This is called acid mine drainage. On its website, Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company says there is a risk that it can happen. But the company says it’s taking a number of steps to reduce that risk.

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News Roundup
9:07 am
Tue November 29, 2011

In this morning's news...

user brother o'mara Flickr

More for-profit schools coming to Michigan?

The Republican-led legislature is planning to resume its push to allow more charter schools in the state. The Associated Press reports the discussions will start in the House Education Committee this week:

The education committee has scheduled hearings for Tuesday and Wednesday on the legislation that would end some numerical and geographical limits on charter schools. It narrowly passed the Republican-led Senate in October.

The state has roughly 250 charter schools. Supporters say more should be allowed to boost educational options in public schools.

Democrats say it appears to be an effort to help charter schools that are sometimes run by for-profit companies at the expense of other schools.

Democratic Sen. Rebekah Warren of Ann Arbor on Tuesday plans to propose a constitutional amendment to ban for-profit schools. It's unlikely that proposal would advance in the Republican-led Legislature.

Remembering Frederik Meijer

The man who started "Meijer Thrifty Acres" with his father in 1962 died last Friday at the age of 91 after suffering a stroke. Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith reported on today's public visitation:

Meijer spokesman Frank Guglielmi says they’re expecting at least 10,000 people to travel to Grand Rapids Tuesday for the public visitation.

“The Meijer family wanted to give the community an opportunity to pay their respects to Fred because he meant so much to so many people, not just in Grand Rapids but really in the state of Michigan,” Guglielmi said.

The public visitation will take place at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids from from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be a private funeral tomorrow at a Grand Rapids church.

Wet weather, rain turning to snow

The rain is falling, and the National Weather Service says snow is on the way.

Counties in the south and southeast part of the state have a mix of winter storm watches, flood watches, and flood warnings.

Rain will fall until late afternoon. That could turn to snow later with accumulations of around an inch.  Later tonight the winds will pick up and snow accumulations could be around 2 to 6 inches for much of the south and southeast part of the state.

Techincal Difficulties
7:14 am
Tue November 29, 2011

WVGR 104.1 on Reduced Power

There is ice on Michigan Radio's WVGR 104.1 West Michigan tower. The ice has reduced the output of the transmitter meaning people in West Michigan may be experiencing bad reception of the station. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Investigative
7:00 am
Tue November 29, 2011

Protecting yourself after changes to no-fault insurance

Michigan legislators are considering changing insurance benefits for people badly injured in auto accidents.  The sponsors of the legislation say it will lower the price of auto insurance.  Some analysts say it will mean people who are severely hurt won’t get the care they need and argue in the end won’t save much money at all.

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Arts/Culture
7:40 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

Around 10,000 people expected to pay final respects to Fred Meijer

Fred Meijer was 91-years old.
Meijer

Meijer spokesman Frank Guglielmi says they’re expecting at least 10,000 people to travel to Grand Rapids Tuesday for the public visitation.

“The Meijer family wanted to give the community an opportunity to pay their respects to Fred because he meant so much to so many people, not just in Grand Rapids but really in the state of Michigan,” Guglielmi said.

People have already flooded an online guest book with ‘thanks yous’ to Fred. They’ve shared memories of working with him; even simple stories like getting one of his signed Purple Cow cards (and Sandy the pony - rides still cost just a penny). The cards were good for one free ice cream cone at a Meijer deli. Meijer used to hand the cards out to people he met in his stores.

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Education
5:22 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

Albion College students to compete in Fed Challenge nat'l finals

Cret, Paul Phillippe: Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building. [Photograph]. In Encyclopædia Britannica.

Five students from Albion College believe they know how to fix the U.S. economy. The team will share their ideas tomorrow in Washington, D.C. at the national College Fed Challenge finals.

Albion will compete against the four other regional finalists: Harvard University; Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; Lafayette College; and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Politics
4:25 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

Michigan Governor Snyder could veto first bill this week

Governor Rick Snyder
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder could veto his first bill this week. He faces a Friday morning deadline to sign or a reject measure sent to him by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The bill would make it difficult for state agencies to enact rules that are stricter than federal standards without first getting permission from the Legislature.

Sara Wurfel is the governor’s press secretary.

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Lansing
4:07 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

Lansing police may soon get some help patrolling city streets

Downtown Lansing, Michigan (file photo)
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 Some Ingham County sheriff’s deputies may soon be patrolling Lansing city streets.   

The sheriff’s department wants to assign up to four deputies to work part time in the capitol city.   

Budget problems forced the city to lay off 36 police officers earlier this year.   

Teresa Szymanski is Lansing’s chief of police.    She says the added officers would be welcome.   

“Would we like more?  Absolutely.   Is it good?  It’s very good," says Szymanski.   

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Auto/Economy
3:59 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

Gas prices jump in Michigan

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 Gasoline prices spiked 20 to 25 cents across Michigan today.   

Patrick DeHaan is with GasBuddy.com.  He says the strong start to the holiday shopping season is pushing up speculation in the crude oil market and that in turn is affecting wholesale gasoline prices.   

“A lot of stations have just got close to the line where they’re no longer profitable," says DeHaan, "So, looking at a higher cost that they were paying for gasoline they decided that they had to raise their price.”    

Offbeat
3:53 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

Nonprofit, White Stripes bring music to Michigan deaf students

While the Detroit-based rock duo the White Stripes officially broke up early this year, they are still providing inspiration and encouragement to Michigan students, including some from Flint's Michigan School for the Deaf.

According to the Flint Journal, D-Pan (Deaf Professional Artists Network), an Oakland County-based nonprofit, is working to give deaf students the ability to enjoy music and one of the organization's recent projects was to create a music video set to the White Stripes “We’re Going to be Friends” featuring students signing the song's lyrics.

As the Journal reports, the White Stripes were not directly involved with the project, but some D-Pan supporters were personally acquainted with the band, who not only gave D-Pan their blessing  to use the song, but also gave the project a shout out on their website.

Check out the video below:

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Education
3:35 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

Kalamazoo Promise scholarship yields mixed results

Six years after Kalamazoo Public schools unveiled the Promise scholarship, the program's administrators say the program has had success, but maintain there is still a lot of work to be done, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette.

The program has provided tuition assistance to more than 2,300 district high school graduates to the tune of over $30 million.

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Politics
2:06 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

Long waits for hearings on welfare challenges

A Michigan Department of Human Services office in Detroit was the scene of protests, confusion, and anger this morning.  This was the day people losing welfare cash assistance had a chance to challenge that decision, but the hearings were delayed.

People losing cash-assistance were told to be at the Department of Humans Services office at 8 o’clock this morning and to be prepared to spend the day waiting for their teleconferenced hearing to be conducted.  Three hours later, the hearings had not started.

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Economy
12:53 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

Police layoffs in Inkster, Michigan

The city is facing a multi-million dollar deficit.
City of Inkster

The city of Inkster is laying off twelve police officers amid a budget crisis. WXYZ-TV confirmed the layoffs with Inkster Police Chief Gregory Gaskin:

From WXYZ-TV:

Effective today, Gaskin confirms twelve police officers will be laid-off. Two other officers have resigned and four civilians were laid-off last week.

Chief Gaskin says some lieutenants and sergeants have also been demoted as part of their reorganization plan to make sure there is still an adequate number of officers to respond to calls.

On November 9, the state Treasury Department announced that the city was in "probable financial stress." Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reported a state-appointed emergency manager could be next:

Treasury spokesman Terry Stanton says the city is having trouble solving a multi-million dollar deficit.  "And the review also found city official have proposed unrealistic budgets and failed to make budget revisions in a timely manner," Stanton says.

Culture of class
11:52 am
Mon November 28, 2011

A recap of Michigan Radio's "Culture of Class" series

Word cloud put together with feedback on our "Culture of Class" series.
Sarah Alvarez Michigan Radio

From November 14 through November 23, Michigan Radio reporters explored social class in our society.

We looked at how social class is defined, how people relate to it, and the diverse ways it affects our daily lives.

In case you missed any of these stories, here is a brief rundown of the topics we explored.

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Author Interviews
10:34 am
Mon November 28, 2011

Arc of Justice: A conversation with author Kevin Boyle

Every year the Michigan Humanities Council invites Michiganders to participate in a statewide initiative, the Great Michigan Read. This year’s selection, Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age, explores a crucial moment in the northern Civil Rights movement—the events leading to the trial of African American physician Ossian Sweet and his family.

On September 9th, 1925 Dr. Sweet and his wife Gladys moved into their new home, crossing the color line into an all-white neighborhood on the east side of Detroit.

Two days later, a crowd of whites gathered in the street to drive the family away. Dr. Sweet and 10 others chose to stay, armed and barricaded inside the house, to defend against the mob. Tensions reached their limit and someone fired into the crowd. Two whites were shot and killed, and the 11 people inside the Sweet home were charged with first degree murder.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White spoke with Kevin Boyle, author of Arc of Justice.

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Commentary
10:05 am
Mon November 28, 2011

Doing the Right Thing

Earlier this month, Wayne County Circuit Judge Prentis Edwards ruled that the privately held Ambassador Bridge company was guilty of contempt of court. This was not surprising.

Nearly two years ago, the judge found that the company and its owner, Matty Moroun, had violated its agreement with the state of Michigan concerning what is known as the Gateway project. This was a joint, two-hundred and thirty million dollar venture between the bridge company and the state to connect the bridge directly to I-75 and I-96 through a series of new roads and ramps.

Both parties agreed on where the roads were to be built. But Moroun violated the agreement. He built a money-generating duty-free shop and put fuel pumps where one of the new roads was to have gone. The Michigan Department of Transportation sued, and in February 2010, the judge issued a ruling.

He ordered the bridge company to tear down the pumps and the duty-free shop, and build the road as agreed. But nothing happened. Eleven months ago, the judge briefly jailed Dan Stamper, president of the bridge company for non-compliance.

He let him out when Stamper promised to get it done. But again, nothing happened. Finally, on November 2, the judge ruled the company guilty of civil contempt.

He set a hearing for Thursday to decide whether to have a court-appointed receiver take control of the project.

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