Arts/Culture
6:20 pm
Fri July 15, 2011

Warm welcome for new director of Grand Rapids Arts Museum

Dana Friis-Hansen meets with community members at a reception for him Friday afternoon.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Dana Friis-Hansen started at the Grand Rapids Art Museum Wednesday.

He told those gathered at a reception Friday he wants to make the downtown museum into center for all creative thinking, not just art.

“I really believe that as we look to the 21st century museums need to be community conveners and to be sites for bringing together people of different interests, different ideas.”

Friis-Hansen says the museum’s spaces and location in the city center will provide a good platform for that goal.

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Politics
5:32 pm
Fri July 15, 2011

Longtime Michigan Congressman Dale Kildee retiring

Rep. Dale Kildee, (D) MI
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

UPDATE:

A number of Michigan politicians are responding to the news of Rep. Dale Kildee's retirement.

Here's the response from Mayor Dayne Walling of Flint:

"Congressman Kildee is an exemplary public servant with a distinguished record of accomplishments that is unmatched in Flint's history."

"Congressman Kildee has been a leader in education, human rights, and social justice. Our community has benefitted time and time again from his wisdom, dedication and hard work."

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Politics
4:42 pm
Fri July 15, 2011

Poll: Voters would reject emergency manager law

A survey of Michigan voters finds the majority would not approve the emergency manager legislation the state recently implemented.
mensastic MorgueFile

If Michigan voters were asked today whether they approve of the state’s new emergency manager law  the majority would say “no.”

That’s according to a poll released this week by Gongwer News Service.

Bernie Porn is with EPIC/MRA,  the Lansing-based firm that conducted the poll.

“A 53-34 percent majority would reject the law, except for Republicans who would support that. Democrats overwhelmingly said they would reject it," Porn says. " And even independent voters, by a 58-29 percent vote – a fairly solid majority – said they would reject it as well.”

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Arts/Culture
4:06 pm
Fri July 15, 2011

U of M Press to publish serialized books online

The U of M Press is bringing serialized books back.
user mconnors morgueFile

A Michigan book publisher is using social media to update a popular 19th century publishing method made famous by Charles Dickens.

The University of Michigan Press will serialize two new novels using Facebook, beginning July 18.

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Arts/Culture
4:00 pm
Fri July 15, 2011

A kind of intimacy, a kind of edge: An interview with Christopher T. Leland

Christopher T. Leland

Christopher T. Leland is a committed writer.

The author of nine books, Dr. Leland's most recent book includes stories that he began working on when he was 19 years old.

The story collection, Love/Imperfect, was released in April and is part of Wayne State University Press's "Made in Michigan Writers" series.

I spoke with Dr. Leland via phone. We talked about the centrifugal force of cities, the "edge" of small towns, and the seemingly inescapable Michigan stories of Ernest Hemingway.

Brian Short: Welcome Christopher T. Leland to Michigan on the Page. I wanted to start with something I noticed in reading Love/Imperfect, your most recent book. Many of the stories in Love/Imperfect deal with people who either leave or don’t leave the small towns they grew up in. And I was wondering if you grew up in a small town? Did you feel that same kind of gravity pulling at you, trying to keep you there?

Christopher T. Leland: Well, yes and no. I actually grew up in middle-sized cities. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, and then in Charlotte, North Carolina, and then in Huntington Beach, California, which is a suburb of LA.

But I think, just as in small town America, there is this center which is centrifugally pulling you toward it. And when I was a kid, actually, we would visit these places. We would go to New York and go to Chicago. But the city was always the place you ultimately wanted to end up.

I mean it was always, it was always what I aspired to. I mean, I’ve lived in New York, I’ve lived in Buenos Aires, I’ve lived in Madrid, I’ve lived in LA, I’ve lived in San Diego (laughs). I’ve lived in Detroit. I appreciate the attractions of the 'burbs and the attractions, actually of small towns. There’s a kind of intimacy and a kind of comfort and, also (laughs), frankly, a kind of edge that comes with these kinds of communities.

At the same time, I mean, what you love about cities is that you wake up one morning and go, I’m really bored with this, and so you can go, walk or drive or take the subway or the tram or whatever, three miles away and be in a different world.

BS: Do you think it’s easier to write in cities?

CTL: Hmm. Maybe not. Because it’s too easy to get away (laughs). As opposed to being trapped where you kind of go, okay, well, if I’m going to escape this then I have to write about it because I can’t just go to southwest (Detroit). I can go to southwest (Detroit) and speak Spanish and eat Mexican or Salvadorian or Peruvian food and feel like I’m away from the Detroit that I know. Whereas, if I’m in Charlevoix, I can’t do that.

BS: I was wondering, with Love/Imperfect, a number of the stories involve war. But the stories generally stick to telling what happened to people either before or after when the men went. Do you think of this book as at least partly a book about war?

CTL: I think, you know, sadly enough, I think for Americans, somehow, whether you’re a soldier or not, certainly throughout the twentieth century and certainly during the last half of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, our lives have been so over determined  by war. I can’t think of my adolescence and my college years without thinking of the Vietnam War. I mean, it was a constant presence.

BS: When you think of Detroit or Michigan books, what pops into your mind?

CTL: Inevitably, you go back to (Ernest Hemingway’s) “Up in Michigan.” Everybody has to. I mean, I read that as an undergraduate. And I think my favorite story is the one called “The Light of the World” in which nothing happens.

It’s the one that takes place in the railroad station and they argue about Jack Ketchum and Jack Johnson. They argue about boxing matches and all this as they’re all waiting for a train. And it strikes me in that book as the most complex and ambiguous or ambivalent story in the entire collection. Because the only person who ultimately emerges as honest and admirable is the character who everyone dismisses.

It’s just a great story and I mean it shows you because, poor Hemingway, he gets either lionized or bashed. And, I mean, he’s a wonderful writer. He’s better at stories than he is at novels, as everybody says, but a terrific writer and a terrific influence.

BS: Christopher T. Leland is a professor of English at Wayne State University. He is the author of nine books, the most recent of which is Love/Imperfect. Chris, thank you so much for talking with me today.

CTL: Okay! And one more thing I wanted to make sure I got in. 

BS: Go ahead.

CTL: I’ve taught at Wayne (State University) now for 21 years. I can’t imagine — I think this is true — I can’t imagine a better gig. For anybody out there who is sort of developing ambitions in this direction. If you’re going to teach somewhere, teach at a large urban university where you get everybody. Yellow brown and black and white (laughs). The whole nine yards.

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Politics
3:12 pm
Fri July 15, 2011

Public employee health benefits bills heading to conference

Capitol Building, Lansing, Michigan
Matthileo Flickr

A joint legislative panel is set to negotiate how much some public employees should be required to pay into their health insurance benefits.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says the payment structure for health benefits for public employees should have been overhauled several years ago.

But he says lawmakers should still work with public employee unions to find the savings.

“We want to try and be as flexible as we can and allow as much local input as we can, but the time to act is way past right now, this should have been dealt with 10 years ago or more.”

Ray Holman is with UAW Local 6,000. Holman represents state employees who won’t be affected by the proposed changes to public employee benefits.

He says that public employees have already made many concessions over the past few years.

“That’s been done at the bargaining table, and that’s been a proven place to find those savings.”

But, Holman says, if collective bargaining is compromised in the measure before the House and Senate conference committee, all public employees will be on alert and at risk of paying more for their health benefits.

Auto/Economy
3:00 pm
Fri July 15, 2011

Delta discontinues service to five Michigan cities

J. Miguel Rodriguez Flickr

Delta Airlines is discontinuing service to five airports in Michigan, including Alpena, Iron Mountain, Escanaba, Pellston and Sault Ste. Marie, according to the Detroit News:

"Delta Air Lines said today it plans to discontinue flight service in 24 underperforming markets around the country, including at five airports in Michigan."

"'While Delta would prefer to continue serving these communities, the new reality of mounting cost pressures faced by our industry means we can no longer afford to provide this service,' Delta said in a statement."

"Delta, which said it also plans to retire its Saab fleet of aircraft and halt $14 million in annual losses, said it would notify the Department of Transportation of its plans, which would affect Essential Air Service markets."

"The EAS program ensures small communities have access to passenger air service and includes subsidies by the government to airlines."

-Brian Short, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Offbeat
2:00 pm
Fri July 15, 2011

Oak Park drops gardening charges against local woman

Charges against an Oak Park woman relating to an illegal veggie garden have been dropped
Steve Cornelius Flickr

Charges relating to an illegal vegetable garden have been dropped against an Oak Park woman, according to the Baltimore Sun:

"Charges against an Oak Park, Mich., woman, who faced 93 days in jail for having a vegetable garden in her front yard, have apparently been dropped."

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Offbeat
1:04 pm
Fri July 15, 2011

Excavator falls over at site of Ford Auditorium demolition

A mishap occurred during the demolition of the Ford Auditorium (former home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra).
wikimedia commons

A large excavator fell over during the demolition of the Ford Auditorium in Detroit.

A minor injury to the operator was reported by the Associated Press.

You can see photos at the Detroit Free Press. And Jeff Wattrick at MLive received photos from his former co-workers  who were gawking out their window at the Renaissance Center.

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Politics
11:43 am
Fri July 15, 2011

Poll says Michiganders oppose changes to motorcycle helmet law

A poll indicates most Michiganders oppose changes to the helmet law.
user ivandub Flickr

Some legislators in Lansing are working on changing Michigan's motorcycle helmet law, but a recent poll of likely Michigan voters indicates a majority of people oppose the changes.

From the Detroit Free Press:

The poll from EPIC-MRA released today says 68% of those surveyed oppose proposed legislative changes that would allow some to ride without helmets. Thirty-one percent favored the legislation and 1% was undecided.

The telephone poll of 600 respondents was conducted July 9-11 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Motorcycle advocates who are working to repeal Michigan's helmet law have held rallies in Lansing.

A similar protest against New York's helmet law had a ironic tragedy. A helmet-less rider died in Onondaga, NY when he lost control of his motorcycle during the rally.

From ABC News:

Police said Philip A. Contos, 55, hit his brakes and his motorcycle fishtailed. Contos was sent over the handlebars of his 1983 Harley Davidson and hit his head on the pavement.

He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

"The medical expert we discussed the case with who pronounced him deceased stated that he would've no doubt survived the accident had he been wearing a helmet," state Trooper Jack Keller told ABC News 9 in Syracuse.

Some riders in the rally told ABC that it was a tragedy, but it wouldn't change their minds about riding without a helmet.

Politics
11:03 am
Fri July 15, 2011

Another challenger to Debbie Stabenow's Senate seat

John McCulloch, Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner, says he'll run for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
John McCulloch

Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner, John McCulloch, announced that he plans to run for the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan).

Stabenow is up for re-election in 2012.

From the Detroit Free Press:

McCulloch, 55, is a former Oakland County board chairman and CPA, said he decided to get into the race because Stabenow, President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats were “mortgage(ing) America’s future on the backs of our children and their children’s children with a national debt so large it is difficult to comprehend.”

So now there are several Republican candidates running for the nomination, none of which have strong name recognition at this point (that's bound to change as the election for the nomination ramps up):

  • John McColloch
  • former West Michigan judge Randy Hekman
  • northern Michigan businessman Peter Konetchy
  • And the Detroit News also lists two other candidates - "Rick Wilson, a retired autoworker who's run unsuccessfully against Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Flint; [and] self-described constitutional conservative Chad Dewey."
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Commentary
11:00 am
Fri July 15, 2011

Improving Train Travel

Here’s the problem with selling people on local mass transit: Everyone is in favor of it, and everyone thinks that everybody else should take it. Everybody, except for them, that is.

You understand, I really need to take my private car, because  uh, I might have an important stop to make. But when it comes to longer distances it’s different. People love trains.

Airline travel ceased being fun a long time ago, unless you like being groped by strangers before being packed in a sardine can. Driving gives you freedom, but not the freedom to read or surf the internet. Plus, it can be nerve-wracking and exhausting.

Compared to everything else, trains are relaxing and civilized. Yet for years, during the rise of the airliner and the expressway, we sort of forgot about train travel. Lines went out of service; some sections of track weren’t maintained.

Now, there’s a renewed interest in trains, so much so that the governor has made former Congressman Joe Schwarz his special advisor on rail, a job for which the emotional rewards are sometimes great and the salary is non-existent.

Michigan still has more than three thousand, five hundred miles of track. Schwarz told me that, by the way. Back when he was in the state senate, he was known for his expertise on higher education, but the insiders knew if you had a question about rail, Joe was the man.

Right now, Job One is improving the route from Detroit to Chicago.  Can you believe that six hundred thousand people may have traveled that route by rail in the last fiscal year?

If you’ve ever been hung up in a traffic jam on I-94 outside the city, you probably wished you were on a train instead.

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People buy more fuel-efficient cars
10:11 am
Fri July 15, 2011

Emissions from new cars drop since 2007

user: ifmuth flickr.com

Emissions from new vehicles dropped 12% between 2007 and this year, according to a new index by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. 

But it’s unclear if that trend will continue in the future.

For decades, there was little increase in the fuel efficiency of the new cars people bought. 

That changed starting in 2007.  Consumers turned to more fuel-efficient cars and they drove fewer miles, lowering overall emissions. 

But it probably wasn’t environmental concerns that caused the shift. 

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Sports Commentary
9:12 am
Fri July 15, 2011

Desmond Howard's career at Michigan

Desmond Howard strikes the Heisman pose after he returned a punt for a touchdown against Ohio State in 1991.
desmondhoward.com

Desmond Howard stands about 5-foot-8 – I don’t care what the program said.  When Bo Schembechler moved the Cleveland native from tailback to receiver, it virtually eliminated any chance Howard had to win the Heisman Trophy.

In its first 55 years, only one receiver had ever taken it home.

But then, just playing at Michigan practically knocked Howard out of the running in the first place.  Only one Wolverine, Tom Harmon, had ever won the award – and that was back in 1940.

Schembechler never promoted any player for any award – Heisman or otherwise.  Because, as he often said, “Nothing comes before The Team, The Team, The Team.”  When Bo stepped down in 1990, Gary Moeller took over, and followed the exact same policy.

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Arts/Culture
9:00 am
Fri July 15, 2011

Revitalizing Detroit with public art (with slideshow)

A group of people gather outside Chazz Miller's art studio in Old Redford.
Emily Fox Michigan Radio

Artists in Seattle and Philadelphia have been painting large murals on abandoned buildings in an effort to revitalize neighborhoods. Philadelphia for example, has around 2,000 murals to help brighten the city.

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News Roundup
8:51 am
Fri July 15, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Friday, July 15th
Brother O'Mara Other

Bid for Borders Falls Through

The Borders bookstore chain has gone from having a potential buyer to talk of liquidation in the last 24 hours, Jennifer Guerra reports. From Guerra:

The auction to sell Borders is still scheduled for Tuesday, July 19th.  But the lead bidder, known as a "stalking horse," has pulled out. That bidder was Najafi, a private equity from Arizona a firm. The New York Times reports creditors were "concerned that the agreement could allow Najafi to buy the company at a low price and then liquidate Borders later without letting creditors benefit."  So with Najafi out, the new stalking horse is a group led by Hilco Merchant Resources, and they want to liquidate Borders… About 400 Borders stores remain open.

Ford Laid to Rest

Former First Lady Betty Ford’s funeral took place yesterday afternoon at Grace Episcopal Church in East Grand Rapids. It is the same church where the Ford’s were married in 1948. Michigan’s Governor, former congressmen, ambassadors, and other politicians attended the services with Ford’s family and friends. Mrs. Ford died last week at the age of 93.

Head Start Funding

Detroit is in danger of losing millions of dollars in federal Head Start money, Sarah Hulett reports. “Head Start provides early childhood education for low-income kids. The city department that runs Head Start has been in trouble with the federal government for failing to fix problems uncovered in audits – including accounting errors and misspent funds. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is reportedly looking to Wayne County to take over the program,” Sarah Hulett reports.

State Legislature
6:44 am
Fri July 15, 2011

Senate to evaluate statute of limitations

Inside the state's Capitol Building, Lansing, Michigan
Cedar Bend Drive Flickr

A state Senate panel will hold hearings soon on whether Michigan should extend its 10-year statute of limitations for charging people with violent crimes such as kidnapping, assault, and murder.

Republican Senator Rick Jones says he understands that extending the statute of limitations does not mean every old crime will be solved.

“Well certainly the colder the case, the more difficult it is for a prosecutor to obtain a conviction. But if somebody comes forward, there’s evidence – whether it be scientific evidence or a confession, certainly they should be able to bring charges.”

Jones says he wanted to take up the issue after he learned the statute of limitations prevented the Ingham County prosecutor from filing charges in a manslaughter case.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin hearings when lawmakers return to the Capitol later this summer. Jones chairs the committee.

Arts/Culture
11:03 pm
Thu July 14, 2011

The Strange Sound Of Motown's Early Hollywood Years

Soul group The Nu Page was one of the few artists who released music on MoWest in its brief history.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu July 14, 2011 11:09 pm

Everyone has heard of Motown Records, but few probably remember its Los Angeles offshoot, MoWest. It didn't last long — only two years — but during its life span, MoWest allowed Motown to try out new styles and genres and create one of the most eclectic rosters in the label's long history. Most of MoWest's releases have been out of print the past 40 years, but a new anthology called Our Lives Are Shaped By What We Love: Motown's MoWest Story 1971-1973 finally highlights the label's life and legacy.

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Rememberance
6:56 pm
Thu July 14, 2011

Former First Lady Betty Ford laid to rest today

Photographers snap photos of the precession in East Grand Rapids.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Cameras shuttered but the crowds remained silent as uniformed officers’ took Betty Ford’s casket into Grace Episcopal Church Thursday afternoon. 

John Smith walked a few blocks from his home in East Grand Rapids to watch. Smith says despite their station in life, the Ford’s never lost touch with working Americans. 

“The Fords’ represent the Camelot of the common man, and what the regular guy could aspire to as a way to live and a way to be happy and they achieved it.”

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Rememberance
6:28 pm
Thu July 14, 2011

Video of former First Lady Betty Ford's funeral procession

The body of former First Lady Betty Ford is brought into Grace Episcopal Church in East Grand Rapids today.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio reporter Lindsey Smith watched and listened outside of Grace Episcopal Church in East Grand Rapids today when the military honor guard removed Ford's body from the hearse.

Here's her video of the event:

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