Politics
5:06 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

State will institute furloughs in lieu of concessions

Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder’s administration has ordered that 367 unfilled jobs with the state remain vacant. The order comes as a result of no bargaining agreement with state worker unions to cut costs.

The governor’s administration will order state workers to take four unpaid vacation days in the coming fiscal year.

Some say the furlough days won’t save the state as much money as expected.

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Science/Medicine
4:57 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

A new call for organ donors in Michigan

The pictures and stories of donor & tissue donors and recipients were on display on the state capitol grounds today in Lansing
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

There’s a new push underway to get more Michiganders to sign up as future organ donors.  

Michigan ranks 44th in the percentage of adults who are registered organ donors.   

Richard Pietroski says that’s not good enough.  He’s the chief executive officer of Gift of Life Michigan.   Pietroski says the 3 thousand critically ill Michiganders waiting for an organ or tissue transplant have to wait longer than they should.  

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Politics
4:52 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

Political Roundup with Debbie Dingell and Ken Sikkema

Michigan State Capitol.
user: Matt Katzenberger / Flickr

So far, this session of the Michigan legislature has been busy. Governor Snyder is expected to sign legislation that creates a state ban on dilation and extraction abortions despite there already being a federal ban. We’ve seen a proposal to block foreign laws from being used in Michigan. And there’s a proposal that would allow Michigan companies to produce incandescent light bulbs. That’s despite a federal ban and despite the fact that no Michigan companies currently produce incandescent light bulbs.

Culture
4:36 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

Census releases numbers on the black population in the U.S.

The black or African American population as a percent of a county's population in 2010.
U.S. Census Bureau

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released its report "The Black Population: 2010."

The 2010 Census found that 14 percent of the U.S. population identified themselves as black, "either alone or in combination with one or more other races."

From a U.S. Census Bureau press release:

Of the total U.S. population of 308.7 million on April 1, 2010, 38.9 million people, or 13 percent, identified as black alone. In addition, 3.1 million people, or 1 percent, reported as black in combination with one or more other races. Together, these two groups comprise the black alone-or-in-combination population and totaled 42.0 million.

Detroit has highest concentration of blacks living in an urban area

Census officials report that of the major cities in the U.S. (cities with 100,000 people in them or more), Detroit had the highest percentage of people identifying as black, or black in combination with other races, at 84 percent.

Here are the top ten:

  1. Detroit, Michigan (84.3 percent)
  2. Jackson, Mississippi (80.1 percent)
  3. Miami Gardens, Florida (77.9 percent)
  4. Birmingham, Alabama (74.0 percent)
  5. Baltimore, Maryland (65.1 percent)
  6. Memphis, Tennessee (64.1 percent)
  7. New Orleans, Louisiana (61.2 percent)
  8. Flint, Michigan (59.5 percent)
  9. Montgomery, Alabama (57.4 percent)
  10. Savannah, Georgia (56.7 percent)
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Economy
2:23 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

Activists: Stop delaying fair farm rules

Activists are calling for the implementation of rules that allow small and medium-size farmers to compete more fairly with large and corporate farms.
jschumacher Morguefile

Activists are pressuring U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow to implement new rules to support small and medium-sized farms.

A group called Food and Water Watch says corporate farming dominates America’s food system.

Spokeswoman Lynn Kaucheck says the 2008 Farm Bill has rules designed to level the playing field, but they haven’t taken effect yet.

They want Sen. Stabenow, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, to do something about it

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Auto/Economy
2:14 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

In Lansing, Michigan, little jubilation over UAW-General Motors deal

Members of the Local 602, employed at the Lansing Delta Township Assembly plant above, voted against ratifying a new contract between UAW and General Motors.
Photo courtesy GM

DELTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Auto workers at the Lansing Delta Township Assembly plant make some of General Motors’ most popular vehicles.

The GMC Acadia, Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave are all produced inside this 3.4-million square-foot facility on the outskirts of Lansing, which is Michigan’s state capital.

In August, when GM announced an 18 percent sales increase from 2010, GMC led the turnaround with a 40.3 percent increase. Chevrolet had gained 15.8 percent.

So when contract negotiations began last month, the plant’s 3,430 hourly workers expected they’d be sharing in the company’s improved position. But when they saw the proposed deal between the United Auto Workers and GM, many members of UAW Local 602 here felt jilted instead.

They rejected the deal — a rarity for a contract approved by two-thirds of GM workers nationwide.

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Environment
1:18 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

Citizens' group raises concerns about wind turbines' proximity to gas pipelines

(*We're experiencing technical problems with one of the above audio files. Please ignore the "audio processing" message above.)

By Bob Allen for The Environment Report

Officials in Mason County have given the green light to the first large scale wind farm near the Lake Michigan shore. Consumers Energy wants to have fifty-six turbines built and running before the end of next year. But some residents say in its rush to get going Consumers and the County are downplaying a serious threat to public safety.

Natural gas pipelines run through the site of Consumers Energy’s wind park south of Ludington.

A group of residents says at least half a dozen of the windmills are within falling distance of a gas line. And they say if a turbine falls it could cause a pipeline to break with the risk of an explosion.

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Changing Gears
11:52 am
Thu September 29, 2011

Detroit, Milwaukee Get Ready For Post-Season Economic Boost

The Detroit Tigers drew 2.6 million fans to Comerica Park during the regular season, good for 13th place among major league teams.
Flickr

There may be no joy in Boston or Atlanta, but there is plenty among baseball fans in the Great Lakes.

The Detroit Tigers and Milwaukee Brewers are headed to division playoff series in the American and National Leagues, respectively.

The Brewers have a leg up on their neighbors across Lake Michigan: they’ve clinched home field advantage in the best of five series. They play the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday and Saturday at Miller Park in Milwaukee.

The Tigers face the New York Yankees those same days at Yankee Stadium in New York, then return to Comerica Park on Monday.

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Environment
11:39 am
Thu September 29, 2011

NRC inspectors back at Palisades after 2nd shutdown in 2 months

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in South Haven.
nrc.org

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is conducting a second special inspection within two months at Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in South Haven.

NRC inspectors were at the 40-year-old Palisades plant in August after a water pump part failed, leading to a plant shutdown.

The team is back in South Haven, after workers performing maintenance on an electrical panel caused the plant to shut down again on Sunday.

“Did it involve maintenance issues, human performance issues, design concerns? What happened? Why did the plant trip after that electrical arc?"

Those are some of the the questions the inspectors will ask, according to NRC spokeswoman Victoria Midlyng.

The inspection could take up to two weeks.

Palisades spokesman Mark Savage says the plant and its owner, Entergy, are conducting their own investigations. He says employees and the public were never in danger.

interview-with-governor-granholm-dan-mulhern
11:35 am
Thu September 29, 2011

A Governor's story: An interview with former Governor Jennifer Granholm and Dan Mulhern

www.danmulhern.com

Less than nine months after leaving office, Michigan former Governor Jennifer Granholm has published an account of her administration. The book was co-authored by her husband, Dan Mulhern.

In "A Governor's Story, The Fight for Jobs and America's Economic Future," Granholm recounts the many challenges the state faced during her term as Governor from 2003 to 2011.

The book details job losses, globalization, a shrinking auto industry, and Granholm's efforts to combat how those issues affected the state and its residents.

Politics
11:32 am
Thu September 29, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake

A while ago, somebody asked me what the biggest thing was that I had learned from a lifetime in journalism.

What instantly popped into my mind was this: Common sense is a very uncommon thing. And that keeps a lot of journalists in business. You don’t need fancy degrees to know that it risky, not to mention wrong, to steal money, tell lies that can be easily uncovered, or cheat on your dying wife when you are running for president.

However, that doesn’t stop brilliant, well-educated people from doing such things and self-destructing, all  the time.

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Auto/Economy
11:07 am
Thu September 29, 2011

GM to offer center air bag on 3 models

GM says center airbags will be standard on all 2013 Buick Enclaves as well as some other models.
user alins Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors Co. said Thursday it will install a center air bag on three of its models next year to better protect drivers and front-seat passengers.

The new bag inflates from the right side of the driver's seat and is designed to protect people when their vehicles are hit on the opposite side of where they are sitting. They serve as a cushion between a driver and front-seat passenger in a collision, GM said in a statement.

The bags will come standard on all Buick Enclave crossover vehicles starting in the 2013 model year, and they'll be on the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia crossovers that are equipped with
power seats. The 2013 models will come out in the fall of 2012. Crossovers are like SUVs but are more efficient because they're built on car underpinnings rather than trucks.

GM said in the statement that the center air bags, developed with parts supplier Takata Corp., are the first in the industry. It has plans to put them in more of its models, but the company would
not say which ones.

GM said it analyzed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's database of fatal auto accidents and found that crashes on the opposite side of where people sit accounted for 11 percent of deaths in non-rollover crashes from 2004 through 2009. The company said it checked crashes involving passengers wearing seat belts in vehicles from the 1999 model year or newer models.

The center air bag also is expected to help protect passengers in rollover crashes, the company said.

Shares of GM rose 11 cents to $20.52 in morning trading. They are down 38 percent from the November initial public offering price of $33 per share.

Politics
9:20 am
Thu September 29, 2011

In this morning's news...

user brother o'mara Flickr

Bid to recall Governor Snyder ends

The organization behind recalling Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says its effort has fallen short of collecting the more than 807,000 valid signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot. From the Detroit Free Press:

The campaign to recall Gov. Rick Snyder is calling it quits after falling short of collecting the number of petition signatures needed to put the issue before voters, campaign spokesman Tom Bryant said in an e-mail to the Free Press. Bryant did not specify how many signatures had been collected, and could not be reached for further comment today.

Detroit moves forward with targeted effort to support "healthier" neighborhoods

The city of Detroit is tight on resources, so providing services to all the neighborhoods in the city's footprint is a challenge. Mayor Bing's "Detroit Works Project" is aimed at providing more services to neighborhoods considered healthy, and cutting back on other neighborhoods. The Detroit News reports the targeted effort is beginning:

The strategy is the first phase of a larger Detroit Works Project that eventually could encourage residents to leave some neighborhoods. That plan is still being formed, and Bing announced the service changes in July that will be rolled out in the next several months.

Under the plan, neighborhoods identified by City Hall as healthy, such as East English Village and Palmer Park, would get more code enforcement, commercial code improvements, home rehabs, streetlight fixes, tree trimming and dump cleanups, but fewer housing demolitions.

That would be reversed for those deemed distressed, such as Brightmoor and the east side surrounding Coleman A. Young International Airport, where demolitions would be focused and some services reduced.

Grant means 35 police officers in Michigan can be retained or hired

An $8.18 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will cover full salaries and benefits for 35 police officers for three years. The Associated Press reports that U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow say the Department of Justice is giving the grant to four Michigan police agencies in Michigan. The grant comes form the Community Oriented Policing Services program (COPS):

They say Detroit is getting $5.69 million for 25 officers, Flint is getting $1.23 million for six officers, Wayne County's Redford Township is getting $936,000 for three officers, and Roseville is getting $320,000 for one officer.

Arts/Culture
7:00 am
Thu September 29, 2011

North Woods: Calumet, a frontier community

All this week, we're bringing you stories from the North Woods. Yesterday, we visited the town of Calumet in the western tip of the U.P., where copper was once king.

As we reported, the town is experiencing a kind of resurgence:

Tom Tikkanen runs the Main Street Program, a nonprofit focused on redeveloping Calumet. His group did a study a couple years ago to figure out what’s driving the town’s relatively recent upswing. The answer? Culture economic development.

"It starts with our artists," explains Tikkanen. "It’s a natural development that’s taking place. The more art that’s displayed and that’s created here, the more that attracts other artists."

Tikkanen also described the town as a "frontier community" that's redefining itself. We conclude our stories on Calumet with a look at what happens when new folks move in to an old town.

Meet Calumet's newest residents

Stephanie Swartzendruber is one of the bartenders at Shute's Bar in downtown Calumet. Outside, the bar looks like your typical dive bar. Inside, it's beautiful. Nearly everything is original from the 1890s: the rich, dark wood bar, the 1895 liquor license, the beautiful, Tiffany-like stained glass canopy above the bar.

Swartzendruber moved to Calumet last November, and she’s says the town is on the verge:

"I feel like it’s coming back! We have cute little coffee shops and art galleries and awesome bars like [Shute's] in a place where you can buy a house for under $20,000," says Swartzendruber.

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ArtPrize 2011
10:14 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

ArtPrize update: “performance” art features real wedding and website snag extends voting

Karynn and Michael Gregory got married Saturday on the Blue Bridge before running through River City's Improv's 'Congratulations' Saturday afternoon.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Voting for ArtPrize was supposed to end today. But the website has been down on and off throughout the day.  So voting to narrow down the “top ten” continues until tomorrow at 4p.m.

There are a lot more ‘sound’ and ‘performance’ art in ArtPrize this year. I highlight ‘sound’ last week, so over the weekend I caught River City Improv’s performance called “Congratulations”.

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housing
5:51 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

Landlords, renters debating tougher housing regulations proposed in Grand Rapids

West Michigan Environmental Action Council Executive Director Rachel Hood addresses city commissioners at the public hearing Tuesday. Landlords against the changes are wearing red.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The proposed changes would require landlords to register rental properties every year, instead of every four years. They would also require inspections of single family rental units. Right now only rental properties with two or more units get inspected.

This week hundreds of people turned out to speak at a public hearing. Mayor George Heartwell guessed the commission has received as many comments on this as they did on a proposed ordinance to allow residents to keep backyard chickens a little more than a year ago.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

Abortion bill heads to Governor Snyder

A bill to enact a state ban on a controversial abortion procedure is on its way to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature. The procedure is already illegal under federal law, and the governor has gone on record saying he’d rather avoid controversial social questions while he focuses on a jobs-creation strategy.

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Sports
5:29 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

History: Detroit Tigers

Comerica Park in Detroit.
user: Urban Adventures / flickr

(*We're experiencing technical problems with one of the above audio files. Please ignore the "audio processing" message above.)

In 1935, the Detroit Tigers won the World Series. The last time the baseball team won their Division was back in 1987. And now the Tigers will open the playoffs this Friday. While it’s certainly exciting for the team and its fans, is there a larger impact the city and the state can enjoy from a successful sports team?  Michigan Radio's Jack Lessenberry gives us a historical perspective.

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Politics
5:26 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

Senate panel OKs controversial education measure

A state Senate panel has approved a measure that would allow school districts to hire teachers through private companies. The proposal is part of a controversial education-overhaul package.

“It’s something they can do as a tool to contain costs, if that’s what they want, if they want to take a different approach to how they hire their instructional service, they have that opportunity. It’s not a mandate, it just makes it permissive,” said Senate Education Committee Chairman Phil Pavlov.

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Auto/Economy
5:26 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

At auto plants, a reversal of fortune

Auto workers and brothers - Justin (left) and Derick Jewell. In September of 2010, Justin Jewell made $16 an hour. Derick Jewell, his older brother, made $28 an hour.
Kate Davidson Changing Gears

*Editors note - This story by Kate Davidson of Changing Gears was first broadcast last year (September 22, 2010). Now that GM and the UAW have agreed to a new contract that will allow GM to hire more "two-tier" workers (newly hired workers paid a lower wage than traditional workers), we thought we'd bring her story on "two-tier" workers back. As Micki Maynard of Changing Gears points out, only about 4 percent of GM's workforce is "two-tier" now - under the new contract, that number could go up to 25 percent.

The American Dream is that each generation will do better than the last.  But many families of auto workers no longer have that expectation.  As Detroit car makers sped towards financial ruin, their union agreed to a dual wage structure, plus deep cuts in benefits.

Now, new hires earn about half what traditional workers make.  This reversal of fortune has altered their lives.

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