Auto/Economy
12:03 am
Wed October 26, 2011

Unlikely West Michigan foes debate bridge in Detroit

State Representative Dave Agema (R-Grandville) and staff from the Grand Rapids Area Chamber talk to residents after the forum.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Supporters and opponents of the new international bridge from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, are still debating the merits of the proposal nearly a week after the bridge plan failed to get enough support in the state legislature.

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Politics
6:00 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Detroit gears up for annual Angels' Night campaign

Detroit officials are finalizing plans for the city’s annual Angels' Night campaign.

That’s an effort to put a damper on the arson sprees that once characterized the  “Devils' Night” period around Halloween.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Michigan Senate looking to retool state film incentives

user reinistraidas Flickr

Michigan’s film industry will take center stage before a state Senate panel tomorrow.

The Economic Development Committee is expected to discuss a proposed new funding structure for rewarding film companies that want to shoot in Michigan.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said a generous film tax-incentive program under Governor Jennifer Granholm’s administration was not sustainable, but he said it helped initially attract the movie industry.

“We got a lot of attention by bringing Hollywood here, so to speak, now we’re going to spend a lot less on famous actors and big names and more on providing credit if you’re shooting here in Michigan, [and] if you have a Michigan studio,” said Richardville.

Richardville said film companies want to work in Michigan, but he said many feel the state forced them out when it scaled back its once-generous incentive program.

“You talk to producers, you talk to directors, you talk to movie makers that have been all around the country – they really like Michigan, they’re excited to come back to Michigan. And even the film that we lost recently, I heard a lot from the companies involved that they were very disappointed because those up close wanted to stay in Michigan and film Iron Man 3,” said Richardville.

Governor Snyder approved a less aggressive, $25 million grant program for film projects, but the state Film Office stopped taking applications earlier this month, saying there were no rules for projects to qualify.

The Richardville legislation would put those rules in place.

Ford falls in reliability, Chrysler rises
5:22 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Ford Motor Company falls, Chrysler rises in reliability survey

Ford Motor Company fell from grace in a Consumer Reports survey this year.

The survey predicts reliability of new models, based on past performance of older versions of the cars.

Ford dropped from 10th place to 20th.

David Champion is with Consumer Reports. 

He says the MyFordTouch and MyLincoln Touch in-car communications systems work poorly.

And a new transmission in the Ford Focus and Fusion doesn’t work well, especially at parking lot speeds.

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Political
5:03 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, vocal supporter of the Occupy movement (audio interview)

Michigan Municipal League

The Occupy movement has expanded beyond Wall Street. A number of cities in Michigan have Occupy demonstrations, including Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Lansing.

Lansing Mayor, Virg Bernero says he's been "..protesting Wall Street since before it was fashionable." He welcomes the demonstrators.

"It costs money to arrest people and to cordon off areas. And so our goal was to not arrest anybody, and we made that clear when they got here."

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Politics
5:01 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Michigan Senate passes missing children bill

A proposal that would require parents to report missing children immediately to authorities was approved by the state Senate today.

The bill was named “Caylee’s Law” by supporters, in response to the controversial Casey Anthony case in Florida.

The child’s mother waited 31 days before reporting her daughter missing.

State Senator Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) says he was surprised to learn Michigan does not have an early-reporting law in place for missing children.

“I think it’s very important that parents report their children missing in a timely fashion. The outrageous case that drew this to our attention was the one of little Caylee, that the mother didn’t report her missing for over 30 days."

Jones added:

“As a former sheriff of Eaton County and 31 years of law enforcement, I don’t believe there is any reason for a parent to delay reporting their child missing.”

Under the bill, parents or caretakers would have 24 hours to report missing children under the age of 13 or could face up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The bill has been sent to the state House.

Politics
4:36 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Governor Snyder to speak on improving Michigan infrastructure

user ardee4 Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder will deliver an address in Southfield tomorrow on improving roads and other infrastructure.

Geralyn Lasher is the governor’s communications director. She said the address will touch on a wide variety of topics that are critical to improving the state’s economy and protecting public health.

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Environment
3:40 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Northern Lights in Michigan... in case you missed the show last night

Last night's northern lights as seen in near Martin, Michigan.
user lakefxnet YouTube

Last night, some people in Michigan and in states as far south as Arkansas looked up and saw a spectacular aurora borealis display.

Here's a time lapse look at the lights that were visible last night near Martin, Michigan:

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Politics
1:46 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

State appealing ruling against privatization in home for veterans

The Grand Rapids Home for Veterans was built in 1885 'in response to the needs of Michigan's veterans in the aftermath of the Civil War.'
michigan.gov

Michigan’s Attorney General is appealing a ruling that prevents the privatization of nursing assistants as a state-run home for veterans.

The Grand Rapids Home for Veterans is one of two state-run hospitals (the other, much smaller one, is in Marquette) for veterans in Michigan. More than 700 veterans are housed there.

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housing
1:22 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Landlords will face tougher regulations in Grand Rapids

There are about 4,000 vacant homes in the city of Grand Rapids. In February, Grand Rapids Schools had to cancel classes for several days after a major snow storm because of unplowed sidewalks. Under new rules, owners will need to register vacant homes.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

City Commissioners voted today in favor of controversial changes to the housing code.

“In light of the foreclosure crisis and the 70-percent increase in the number of single family rentals in the city, we recognize that we’ve got to do something to protect our housing,” Grand Rapids City Commissioner Ruth Kelly said prior to the vote, “It’s our family infrastructure; it’s what we live in.”

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Education
12:56 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Head of new education authority talks priorities

user Woodley Wonderworks Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - The chancellor of Michigan's new Education Achievement Authority says his office has posted nine leadership positions that need to be filled before the start of the 2012-13 academic year.

John Covington met Tuesday with the authority's executive committee to review what he has done since taking the job last month.

The authority will oversee Michigan's Education Achievement System, announced in June by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The system will include the bottom 5 percent of public schools in Detroit. A few dozen Detroit Public Schools are expected to fall under the new system. It will expand statewide the following year.

Covington says his leadership team will include a deputy chancellor for Instructional Support and Educational Accountability, a deputy for Business and Fiscal affairs and a chief officer for Human Capital.

commentary
11:08 am
Tue October 25, 2011

New Detroit Bridge: Legislative Breakdown

There now seems to be an increasing likelihood that Governor Snyder may bypass the legislature and find another way to build a new bridge across the Detroit River. Late last week, a spokesman for the Ambassador Bridge Company said that would be outrageous.

He said it would be a perversion of the process to build a new bridge after the legislature said no. If that were the case, he might have a point. But that’s not at all what happened.

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Chrysler UAW voting ends soon
9:28 am
Tue October 25, 2011

Chrysler UAW voting on contract ends soon, could be close

The United Auto Workers is expected to announce the results of voting on a tentative contract with Chrysler by Wednesday.

Chrysler is the last of the Detroit Three to reach a settlement on a new, four-year contract.

Kristin Dziczek is with the Center for Automotive Research.

She said so far, the vote looks very close.  Union members with Chrysler may have been expecting more than they got, she said.

This is coming on the heels of two very strong agreements with General Motors and with Ford that had more cash and fewer contingencies.

Entry-level workers, who receive about 1$14 an hour now, would get a raise of about $4 an hour, phased in over the four years of the contract.

Workers would get an immediate signing bonus of $1,750.00, with the promise of another $1,750.00 dollars if Chrysler meets certain financial goals.

If the contract is rejected, it goes to binding arbitration, because of an agreement the union made with Chrysler during the company’s bankruptcy.

UMHS nurses have tentative contract
9:20 am
Tue October 25, 2011

UMH nurses have tentative contract after big rallies

Four thousand University of Michigan Health System nurses will vote on a tentative contract next week.

Nurses have been working under an expired contract since June 30th.

Nurses’ union president Katie Oppenheim said details of the new contract will be released later, saying only, "We believe it’s an agreement that will provide improvements for our members."

The union reached an agreement after nurses held several large protest rallies in August and September. 

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Politics
1:01 am
Tue October 25, 2011

Republican recall target wants to move election to February's GOP presidential primary

Rep. Scott (R-Grand Blanc) appeals to lawmakers to approve the Teacher Quality Package.
Rep. Paul Scott's official website

We may hear as early as today whether a recall election targeting a state Republican lawmaker will be rescheduled from next month to next year.    

State Representative Paul Scott asked the Michigan Supreme Court to order a vote on recalling him from office moved from November 8th to next February. 

Next month’s recall has been bouncing around the courts this month as Scott has tried to get the entire recall election cancelled.   A judge did issue a temporary injunction stopping the vote only to be overruled by the Michigan Supreme Court.   In its decision, the high court ruled that judge's order cancelling the November recall created ‘practical problems’,  like what to do with absentee ballots that had already been mailed.  

Scott’s attorney is now arguing that the Supreme Court’s own ruling is adding to the confusion. 

The recall campaign says Scott only wants to reschedule the recall vote to February, so it can be held on the same ballot as the Republican presidential primary.   

A spokesman for state House Republicans insists the February date was only proposed since it’s the next regularly scheduled election.

Lansing
10:55 pm
Mon October 24, 2011

Airport tax deal gets approval from Lansing, DeWitt Township

Inside the terminal building at Lansing's Capital Region International Airport
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

A proposed expansion plan for Lansing’s airport took a big step forward Monday night.  

The Lansing city council and DeWitt Township both approved a deal to share tax revenues from the airport.  

 Some city council members say they’re concerned Lansing is giving up control as part of the deal.   

Bob Trezise is the city’s economic development director.   He says the deal shows what must be done to make regional cooperation work. 

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Education
6:53 pm
Mon October 24, 2011

Union survey says overcrowding is a continuing problem in Detroit schools

Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Nearly two months into the school year, more than a quarter of Detroit Public Schools are reporting overcrowding issues in some classrooms.

That’s according to an annual survey by the Detroit Federation of Teachers. The union’s contract caps class size at 35 students.

Some schools reported classrooms with more than 50 students. Some also reported lacking supplies like textbooks.

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Auto/Economy
2:01 pm
Mon October 24, 2011

Senator Stabenow wants to expand tax break for bio-manufacturers

Senator Debbie Stabenow stopped at Zeeland Farm Services to announce her push for the tax break Monday. ZFS would get the incentive for their investments in bio-based manufacturing.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow is hoping to provide a 30-percent federal tax cut to companies expanding in bio-based manufacturing.

Congress approved the tax cut for advanced manufacturers in 2009. Stabenow wants to renew that tax break and expand it for companies developing bio-based products. Bio-manufacturing covers dozens of products. The idea is to use crops like soybeans and corn to create prescriptions drugs, plastics, and soaps instead of refined crude oil.

“If we can get to 20-percent,” Stabenow said, “This will make a huge difference.”

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Politics
11:16 am
Mon October 24, 2011

Sex Offender Registry: First, Do No Harm

For months, I’ve been corresponding with a lady named Virginia Hernandez, whose twenty-three year old son Elio is on Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry. He was accused of accosting a minor for immoral purposes, and pled guilty on the advice of his court-appointed counsel. His mom believes he is innocent, and was pressured into a plea. She says his attorney told him that he was poor, uneducated, and black, and a jury would never believe him.

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Politics
9:45 am
Mon October 24, 2011

Michigan House could vote on no-fault auto insurance changes this week

State Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Ifmuth Flickr

A proposal to drastically alter the state’s auto no-fault insurance law could come up for a vote as soon as this week in the state House. The House proposal includes a $50,000 appropriation that protects the measure from a voter-led ballot initiative to overturn the law via a referendum.

Democratic state Senator Bert Johnson says using referendum-proof language to shield controversial measures from being overturned by voters is a dangerous political game.

“We think that that limits voter protection as well. People should always be able to come and petition their government for what they believed the right thing is. And that’s the foundation of democracy in America, that’s what we’re built on," Johnson says.

If the proposed changes to the no-fault insurance law are approved as currently written, it would be the fourth time this year the Republican-led Legislature passed referendum-proof bills that were not part of the state budget.

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