Lansing
12:12 am
Tue October 4, 2011

Fast Track or Prudent Pace?

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Lansing city council is facing November deadlines to act on a pair of high dollar agreements.   But at least one council member complains they are not getting all the information they need about the deals.  

The Lansing city council scheduled time last night to discuss a proposed tax deal involving the capital city’s airport and a land swap deal with a local college. But both discussions were cut short because of a lack of information.  

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Auto/Economy
11:42 pm
Mon October 3, 2011

Coalition wants Michigan incentives for electric vehicle charging stations

An electric vehicle charging station at a cafe in Grand Rapids that was purchased through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A coalition of businesses, non-profits and environmental groups are working to get more electric vehicle charging stations located in Michigan.

The group “Built by Michigan” is asking voters to petition Governor Rick Snyder to create incentives for installing charging stations. It’s also pushing for the state to buy more electric vehicles and tougher regulations requiring “clean fuel standards”.

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Crime
8:43 pm
Mon October 3, 2011

Michigan State Police scaling down posts

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Michigan State Police says it is implementing a new ‘regional’ plan that will result in more troopers on the road.   The new ‘regional’ plan was announced in March.   The idea behind scaling back, from 62 state police posts to just 29, is to give the state police more flexibility. 

The changes will also mean more members of the command staff will be on the road supervising state troopers.   Lt. Colonel Gary Gorski says it’s a change that hopefully will be noticed. 

Flint
8:28 pm
Mon October 3, 2011

Flint looking at ways to prevent crime

A banner hanging at last night's public meeting on gun violence in Flint
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Citizens of Flint are talking about ways to reduce their city’s violent crime rate.    It’s all part of a special series of public meetings on crime prevention.   

Flint recently topped a list of the nation’s cities with the worst violent crime rates.    Gun violence is a chief problem.    Police say 90% of Flint’s homicides involve firearms.  

Donna Gallo was among dozens of Flint residents at a special public meeting on violent crime last night.  

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Politics
5:58 pm
Mon October 3, 2011

Former Michigan lawmaker: No-fault insurance bill attempts to circumvent voters

Toby Oxborrow Flickr

A state House panel will begin public hearings tomorrow (Tuesday) on whether Michigan should make some big changes to the mandatory no fault auto insurance law.

The controversial proposal would let drivers choose their level of coverage.

The proposal also includes a $50,000 appropriation to implement the law in such a way as to make it referendum-proof.

Former state Representative Jim Howell says that money is in the bill to prevent voters from overturning the measure on the ballot.

"You know, I saw that appropriation, I knew what was going on with it. Very honestly – unless some of the current representatives have read about it some place, or heard it in the media, they wouldn’t have any clue," said Howell.

Howell said he thinks term limits prevent new lawmakers from understanding the content of a major proposal such as the no fault elimination bills.

Howell said they probably don’t remember that voters rejected similar changes to no fault insurance by a significant margin in the early 1990s.

The former Republican lawmaker will testify against the proposal tomorrow (Tuesday).

Transportation
5:38 pm
Mon October 3, 2011

Michigan close to buying rail line for higher-speed travel

The state is close to finishing a deal with a freight rail company to buy a 140 mile stretch of track between Detroit and Chicago.
user amtrak_russ Flickr

The state is very close to finalizing a deal to buy almost 140 miles of railway that would complete a high-speed connection for passengers traveling between Detroit and Chicago.

The state could announce a bargain with the Norfolk Southern Railroad as soon as this week.

The cost will be about one million dollars per mile of rail. Most of the money will come from the federal government.

Hugh McDiarmid is with the Michigan Environmental Council, one of the groups supporting the project. He said the rail line could be the first leg of an eventual statewide rapid transit network.

"Right now, someone from Traverse City would have to drive down to Kalamazoo or Detroit or something to hop a train to Chicago and that’s not very convenient," said McDiarmid. "But this is moving us a little bit closer to the day when hopefully we’ll connecting Traverse City to Detroit; we’ll be connecting Kalamazoo to Traverse City to Chicago."

Once the purchase is wrapped up, the state will go to work on upgrades that will allow trains to travel at speeds of up to 110 miles per hour between Dearborn and Kalamazoo. The Kalmazoo-to-Chicago stretch is already upgraded.

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Science/Medicine
5:10 pm
Mon October 3, 2011

State adds "bubble boy disease" to newborn screening panel

The state of Michigan will now screen newborns for Severe Combined Immunodificiency.
Stevenfruitsmaak wikimedia commons

The state of Michigan is now screening newborn babies for a deadly disorder that affects the immune system.

Severe Combined Immunodeficiency – or SCID – is often called “bubble boy disease.” It became widely known after a Texas boy lived with the illness for 12 years, most of it in a sterile bubble to avoid infections.

The disorder affects one in every 50,000 children. If it’s left untreated, the disease usually kills children before their first birthday. But bone marrow transplants in the early months of life can allow children to live into their 20s and sometimes much longer.

The Michigan Department of Community Health says six other states already screen for the disorder.

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Politics
4:27 pm
Mon October 3, 2011

Detroit braces for impact of welfare cap

People looking for help with rent, utilities and other monthly bills crowded a resource fair Union Grace Baptist Church in Detroit over the weekend.

Many of them faced their first month without cash assistance from the state. A four-year welfare benefit cap kicks in this month.

One such person is Tamika Thomas. She says she’s been getting assistance on-and-off for four years, using it to pay the bills while she goes to school.

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Politics
4:08 pm
Mon October 3, 2011

Stabenow pushes for action on trade violations

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says it’s time to get tough with countries that flout international trade rules.

She’s pushing a three-part legislative package, the American Competitiveness Plan, that aims to crack down on those countries.

Stabenow singles out China as the worst offender when it comes to manipulating international trade rules to its advantage. But the U.S. government has generally been reluctant to take action.

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Politics
2:36 pm
Mon October 3, 2011

Michigan AFL-CIO elects new leader after 12 years

DETROIT (AP) - Karla Swift is the new president of the Michigan AFL-CIO, succeeding Mark Gaffney who led the labor group for 12 years.

Swift is described as a lifelong trade unionist and a leader in the United Auto Workers. Delegates at the state convention in Detroit on Monday chose her and new secretary-treasurer Daryl Newman.

National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says Swift and Newman will "bring energy, fresh ideas and focus." The Michigan AFL-CIO is affiliated with unions that represent roughly 350,000 active members and nearly as many retirees.

Swift says Michigan's "job crisis" is her top priority. She says she'll fiercely defend the right of workers to engage in collective bargaining. Gaffney did not run for re-election as AFL-CIO leader.

Arts/Culture
1:52 pm
Mon October 3, 2011

My part of the country: Michigan on the Page

A shot of cherry blossoms in Leelanau County.
User farlane Flickr

Well, summer's over.

Over the course of the last six months, Michigan on the Page has talked with a number of Michigan writers about who, what, why, and most importantly where they write about.

And we heard from writers who work in Southeast Michigan (Christopher T. Leland) and writers who live in Western Michigan (Patricia Clark, Marc Sheehan).

Today, we hear from novelist and short story writer Phillip Sterling about a novel about Michigan which is important to him, one that takes place in Northern Michigan, in Leelanau County.

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Environment
12:31 pm
Mon October 3, 2011

Michigan company seeks permits for new copper mine in UP

A nugget that is a mixture of copper, domeykite, and algodonite from the Mohawk Mine in Keweenaw County, Michigan. The AP reports that a Canadian company wants to open a new mine in the UP.
user Alchemist-hp wikimedia commons

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - A company is applying for state permits to construct a copper and silver mine in Michigan's far western Upper Peninsula.

Orvana Minerals Co., a subsidiary of a Canadian company, is proposing to build a mine near Lake Superior in Gogebic County. Orvana is targeting 798 million pounds of copper and 3.5 million
ounces of silver.

Company president Bill Williams says the mine would operate about 14 years and have about 250 people on the payroll.

Orvana will need 13 permits from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, including one to build and operate the mine. The others would deal with issues such as air quality, wastewater discharges and wetlands development.

DEQ officials say the mine will have to meet strict environmental standards to qualify for the permits.

School closing
11:54 am
Mon October 3, 2011

Students sent home after possible school threat

CANTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Students were being sent home early at Plymouth-Canton Community Schools' high schools after police say a note containing a possible threat was found.

Police in Wayne County's Canton Township said in a statement that a "note indicating possible retaliation" was found before the start of classes at the suburban Detroit high school complex. Details of the note containing the "possible threat" weren't released by police.

Police say the high schools went into semi-lockdown and students were being sent home out of an abundance of caution. An investigation was under way.

The district announced the early dismissal for students at the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park on its website.

Politics
10:57 am
Mon October 3, 2011

Best government money can buy?

Once upon a time, I was in a social studies class in eighth grade, and we were studying how our system of government works. We were told that in America, we had free elections.

Candidates ran for various offices, and in each case the people decided which had the best ideas and seemed to be the best qualified. We then voted, and the candidate who convinced the most people they were the best man or, occasionally, woman, won.

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Arts/Culture
10:09 am
Mon October 3, 2011

Detroit Symphony's new season starts this weekend

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra rehearses on stage
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s new season officially starts this weekend.

DSO executive vice president Paul Hogle says ticket sales for the orchestra’s 2011-12 season are going pretty well as of right now. That's good news for an organization that lost around $1.8 million last year due to a six-month musician’s strike.

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Politics
7:08 am
Mon October 3, 2011

Supreme Court won’t hear drugmaker immunity challenge

Michigan Supreme Court Building
Subterranean Wikimedia Commons

Michigan will be not able to recover millions of dollars by spent by the Medicaid program on the drug Vioxx. The Michigan Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of a lower court ruling that said the lawsuit is barred by the state’s drug company immunity law.

Michigan has a one-of-a-kind law that shields drug manufacturers from product liability lawsuits as long as the medication was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The law was enacted in the 1990s to help make Michigan more attractive to drug makers. Vioxx was a controversial medication used to treat asthma, but it was pulled from the market in 2004 after it was linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and complaints that Merck tried to cover up the dangers posed by the drug.

Michigan’s lawsuit claims Merck failed to warn the state of the potential dangers when the drug was approved for use by Medicaid patients. The Supreme Court’s rejection lets stand a lower court decision tossing the case.

Investigative
6:00 am
Mon October 3, 2011

No-fault insurance changes could shift cost to taxpayers

Tomorrow, the Michigan legislature will hold hearings on bills that seek to change the state's no-fault insurance policies.
user H.L.I.T. Flickr

Tomorrow (TUES.) the Michigan legislature holds the first hearings on bills that would change the state’s no-fault auto insurance.  Legislators say auto insurance is too high and they want to allow people to buy less coverage. 

Right now, people who buy car insurance in Michigan also have to purchase something called Personal Injury Protection.  But, Representative Pete Lund says drivers who don't want the coverage should by law be able to pay for something less.

“I think it’s good to give people the options in life.”

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Nuclear Energy
5:49 pm
Sun October 2, 2011

Palisades nuke plant restarts after week shutdown

Operators of the Palisades nuclear plant say they've restarted the power generator on the Lake Michigan shoreline after a one-week shutdown following a mechanical problem.
    

Authorities say the plant shut down automatically September 25 when two small pieces of metal inside the breaker panel touched, causing a short circuit.
    

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said last week that the plant would remain offline until workers determine what happened and fixed the problems.
    

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Auto/Economy
4:01 pm
Sun October 2, 2011

Big boost in September auto sales expected

Analysts expect the auto industry to post very good sales numbers on Monday.  

IHS Global Insight automotive analyst Rebecca Lindland says September was a very good month at car dealerships.   She says the number of car buyers increased last month.  At the same time, Honda and Toyota were finally able to get more vehicles to showrooms, as the disruptive effects of last March’s earthquake and tsunami began to fade.

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Weekend Edition Sunday
11:25 am
Sun October 2, 2011

'The Gift Of Detroit': Tilling urban terrain

Greg Willerer (right) has a business that provides produce to 27 families through his community supported agriculture co-op in Detroit.
Jon Kalish

Originally published on Sun October 2, 2011 4:58 am

Detroit is a surprisingly green landscape during the spring and summer months. The site of many houses that are crumbling, boarded up or missing altogether is tempered by community gardens and even some urban farms.

There are some serious urban gardeners in this country, but few can match the agricultural output of Paul Weertz.

"I farm about 10 acres in the city, and alfalfa's my thing. I bale about a thousand bales a year," he says.

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