Auto/Economy
2:15 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Growing West Michigan auto-supplier hiring big, again

Gentex’s rear-view mirror display is one of it's newer technologies that's in demand. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is considering federal regulations that would require all new vehicles to have back-up camera displays by 2014.
Gentex Corporation

Zeeland-based Gentex Corporation is the world’s largest supplier of auto-dimming review mirrors. The company has hired 1,200 people in the last two years. Now it’s looking to hire another 1,100 people in the next five years. That’s a 65 percent increase in its workforce since 2008.

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Economy
1:21 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Creating a master plan for Ecorse

Ecorse has received $40,000 in private grants to help the city develop a master plan for its future. The city is under state control because of its deficit. Partners like the Michigan Municipal League, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, and C.S. Mott Foundation are investing in the project called Envision Ecorse.

Joyce Parker is the emergency manager for Ecorse.  

"Part of what we would like to do is, as we move forward towards eliminating the deficit and getting the city stabilized, to work with elected officials and the community to sustain that success."

Parker says some of the money will help develop a plan for the city’s greenways. The planning project could serve as a model for other cities under emergency managers.

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Politics
12:04 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Effort to recall Governor Snyder continues to face uphill battle

Protesters in Lansing calling for a recall of Governor Rick Snyder.

It's never been done before - a successful statewide recall of a sitting governor in Michigan.

To put a statewide recall on a ballot, 1 in 7 registered voters in Michigan would have to sign a petition.

It's a daunting task and, as we've been reporting here at Michigan Radio, the Committee to recall Governor Rick Snyder did not collect enough signatures to get a recall on the November ballot.

It's something political commentator Jack Lessenberry called "impossible" last April.

I called up Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, to talk about the challenging logistics of a statewide recall effort and about what the Committee to Recall Rick Snyder is doing now.

You can listen to our conversation here:

The committee essentially needs around 807,000 valid signatures within a 90-day period to get on a ballot.

The committee collected around 310,00 signatures for the months of May, June, and July - short of the target for the November ballot.

So now the committee is rolling the goal posts forward.

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Commentary
11:15 am
Tue August 16, 2011

Sense of Decency

Back in the nineteen-seventies, Michigan Supreme Court Justice John Swainson, a former governor, was accused of having accepted a bribe. He was acquitted of that, but convicted of perjury.

There are plenty of people, including his biographer, Lawrence Glazer, who think Swainson was actually innocent of anything other than bad judgment and trying to be his own attorney.

But after the verdict, Swainson didn’t spend his life whining to the press about the injustice of it all.

The former governor, an authentic war hero who had his legs blown off in the Second World War, resigned from the court, lost his law license, did his time, and disappeared into obscurity.

Years later, he worked hard and diligently at rehabilitating himself, and became a highly respected head of the Michigan Historical Commission before he died in nineteen ninety-four.

I mention all this because I thought of him yesterday, when splashed across the papers were long stories about a self-justifying interview disgraced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick gave on an AM radio station yesterday morning.

Kilpatrick, you may remember, just got out of prison for violating probation. He is facing a new trial on a vast array of corruption charges that could send him to federal prison for thirty years.

Nobody disputes that his lies cost his impoverished city nine million dollars, or that he still owes nearly a million in court-ordered restitution. Nevertheless, the press feel compelled to give him a forum to criticize the present mayor, an indisputably honest man.

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Economy
11:07 am
Tue August 16, 2011

"For the People" Jobs Fair comes to Detroit

Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, announcing the jobs fair and town hall meeting on YouTube
screen grab from YouTube video

The Congressional Black Caucus' five-city "For the People" Jobs Fair is on its second stop in Detroit today. The fair kicked off in Cleveland last week and will end in Los Angeles at the end of the month.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek will head over to the fair at the downtown campus of Wayne County Community College and give us an update.

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Environment
10:28 am
Tue August 16, 2011

Deconstructing Detroit

This 1930's bungalow in Southwest Detroit is being deconstructed. But first, the team has to clear the home of everything inside.
Photo by Rebecca Williams

Nearly a quarter of the homes in Detroit are empty. That’s more than 79,000 vacant homes, according to the last Census.

Of those, Mayor Dave Bing’s office considers 12,000 to be dangerous. They’re burned out, or falling apart. They attract squatters and drug dealers. So the city is paying contractors to demolish them.

But another group of people says some of these homes don’t have to be demolished. They can be taken apart board by board... and the materials can be salvaged.

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News Roundup
9:10 am
Tue August 16, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, August 16th
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Fewer Schools Meet Federal Standards

The number of schools in Michigan meeting federal "Adequate Yearly Progress" goals dropped in the last academic year. Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett reports:

Fewer schools in Michigan met federal benchmarks for students’ academic progress this year, and state officials blame the slide on higher standards required by the federal government. Schools need to meet something called “adequate yearly progress,” or AYP, under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Failure to do so for multiple years can result in sanctions, including replacing school staff and principals, or closing a school. For the 2010-11 school year, 79 percent of public schools in Michigan made adequate progress. That’s down from 86 percent the year before.

Federal Pilot Program in DPS

All kindergarten through 12th grade students in the Detroit Public Schools will get free breakfast, lunch and snacks starting this fall semester under a federal pilot program. The Associated Press reports:

The district announced the program Tuesday, saying the goal is to "ensure all children receive healthy meals, regardless of income." Most Detroit schoolchildren also meet income rules for free lunch.

The district says the free meals are part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Community Eligibility Option Program. Michigan is one of three states selected to participate in the pilot program for the 2011-12 school year.

Customer Satisfaction Declines in Detroit Autos

Customers were less satisfied with some Detroit car brands this year, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. “Satisfaction declined from last year for Chrysler, Lincoln and Buick. Claus Fornell, founder of the index, says the decline is especially worrisome because satisfaction with most Asian brands rose. He says Detroit could be in trouble again if the trend continues. Not all Detroit car brands declined.  Satisfaction with Ford, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Dodge, and Jeep cars rose this year,” Tracy Samilton reports.

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Crime
12:31 am
Tue August 16, 2011

As shootings haunt Detroit, "Folks are starting to think they're on their own"

Raphael Johnson
thedetroit300.org

15 people were shot in about 24 hours this past weekend in Detroit. 7 of them died.

The bloody day has police and city officials scurrying to find ways to combat surging gun violence.

Overall, violent crime is down in Detroit this year. But that’s been overshadowed by a spike in homicides—more than 220 already. That’s almost one every day. The vast majority are shootings, and most of the victims and perpetrators are young men.

Two Detroit residents active in community policing agree the violence stems fundamental problems in the city’s broken communities.

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Politics
7:25 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Upton calls work to reduce long-term spending “an enormous task”

People who couldn't fit inside the forum (the building capacity was 200 people) tried to listen to Upton just outside the window. Eventually they began chanting and the windows were closed.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) discussed the U.S. economy, health care reform, and the future of Social Security at a forum in Kalamazoo Monday.

Upton is one of twelve lawmakers selected to serve on a special Congressional committee. That committee will try to determine a compromise on long-term spending to help reduce the federal deficit.

Upton says the federal debt is “unsustainable”. He says the way to fix it is to get the economy moving so more people can get a job.

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Auto/Economy
6:30 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Some Detroit brands slip in customer satisfaction

Customers were less satisfied with some Detroit car brands this year, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Satisfaction declined from last year for Chrysler, Lincoln and Buick.

Claus Fornell is with the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.  He's the founder of the index.

Fornell says the decline is especially worrisome because satisfaction with most Asian brands rose.

He says Detroit could be in trouble again if the trend continues.

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Ann Arbor may ban car idling
6:16 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Ann Arbor wants to end polluting practice of car idling

Ann Arbor may soon hand out tickets for leaving a car idling. 

Proponents of the ordinance say car idling adds to pollution and wastes energy. 

The ban wouldn't apply to cars sitting in traffic.  But Ann Arbor Energy Commission Chair Wayne Appleyard says a lot of times, people are idling their cars unnecessarily.

Politics
5:50 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

How do Wisconsin recalls differ from Michigan recalls?

Protests in Madison, Wisconsin on March 12, 2011.
Yuri Keegstra / flickr

Voters in Wisconsin on Tuesday will vote on the recall of two Democratic state senators. Wisconsin voters last week recalled two Republican senators.

Michigan is also embroiled in its own recall battles right now. Michigan Radio's Jennifer White talks with Political Analyst Jack Lessnberry about the differences between what’s happening in Michigan and Wisconsin.

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Politics
5:17 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Lawmakers' bus tour turns into debate over bridges

Matthew Maroun, whose family owns the Ambassador Bridge, outlined his opposition to a new public bridge between Windsor and Detroit.
Laura Weber Michigan Public Radio Network

A busload of lawmakers and state officials toured parts of Detroit today that would be affected by a proposed second bridge between Detroit and Canada.

The tour began at the privately owned Ambassador Bridge, where the owners defended their proposal to build a second span and prevent the state from building a publicly owned bridge.  

Matthew Maroun is a member of the family that owns the Ambassador Bridge. He says his company saves taxpayers from having to pay for a new bridge:

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Education
5:03 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

New federal mandate requires online aid estimators for colleges

A new federal mandate could make it easier for families to budget for college. Net price calculators will be required by all colleges and universities starting October 29th. At a minimum, net costs are based on a student’s income, how big their family is and their dependency status.

Keith Williams works in the financial aid office at Michigan State University. He says MSU’s net price calculator has been around for several years.

"It just allows a student to make a real, realistic comparison as to what the net price will be at one school versus another school," Williams said.

Margaret Rodriguez works in the financial aid office at the University of Michigan. She says the mandate is a good thing.

"The more information that we can make available to families about the availability of financial aid, the better it is," she said.

Schools can use their own system or the generic calculator provided by the federal government.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

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Education
4:53 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

CMU start date questionable

cmich.edu Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University classes may not start as planned on August 22nd. The faculty and administration have been fighting tooth and nail in contract talks since April. The two sides have not met since last month. Union members are expected to talk about informational picketing or a strike in a meeting 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Jeffrey Weinstock is a professor at CMU. He says he feels as if the faculty is being strong-armed by the administration.

"We have never not had an extension of the current contract during bargaining and we’ve never struck and nobody really wants to but … I get the sense we’re really being backed into a corner and being dared," Weinstock said.

The administration released a statement today welcoming students back for the start of school. The statement says students are moving in and freshmen are attending orientation activities to prepare for next week.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Culture
3:11 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Cell phones used to text, take pictures, and avoid others

Is she really texting someone, or does she just not want to talk to you?
user edenpictures Flickr

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has released its annual findings on how Americans use their cell phones. Other than talking on the phone (it was a phone survey, after all), most of us use our phones for texting and picture taking.

From Pew:

As in previous Pew Internet surveys of mobile usage, texting and picture-taking remain the most common mobile phone activities—73% of cell owners engage in each of these—followed by sending photos or videos to others (54%) and accessing the internet (44%). The two least prevalent activities (among the 15 we inquired about) are accessing Twitter and using one’s phone to take part in a video call or chat (6% of cell owners do each of these).

People interacting with younger cell phone users take note.

30% of cell phone users aged 18-29 say they pretend to use their cell phone to avoid interacting with people around them.

The avoidance technique is used significantly more by this age group than by others (11% of those 30-49 said they do this, 6% of those 50-64, and 2% of those 65 and older).

So younger users... teach the elders.

How is this best done? Do you pretend to take a call? Or do you just glance down at your device when you feel eye contact coming your way?

Or maybe you really are playing Angry Birds.

Environment
2:26 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

A settlement reached for part of River Rouge cleanup

An aerial view of the Ford River Rouge plant near Dearborn, Michigan, circa 1927.
Library of Congress

The U.S. government has agreed to pay $10.8 million for part of a cleanup at the River Rouge complex in Dearborn.

From the Detroit News:

The Dearborn automaker filed suit in May 2004 against the federal government in U.S. District Court in Detroit, arguing the government should pay a share of the costs of cleaning up the automaker's Rouge manufacturing complex that opened in 1917 stemming from military production from World War I.

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Science/Medicine
1:28 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

U of M poll finds parents worry about childhood obesity and illegal drug use most of all

Courtesy of Children First

A new poll from the University of Michigan shows parents have a growing concern about childhood obesity and illegal drug use.    The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital has been asking parents for five years what’s their greatest health concern when it comes to their children.   

Obesity has topped the list since it started.  But this year illegal drug use tied for the top spot.

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Economy
1:11 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Lansing city council to discuss the future of an old golf course tonight

In this artist's conception of future development along Michigan Avenue in Lansing, buildings on the south side of the road will take up a portion of the Red Cedar golf course
(Courtesy the Lansing Economic Development Corp.)

Lansing city council members tonight will discuss whether to ask voters to approve the sale of 12 acres of city park land for a future economic development deal.  The mayor’s office wants to include the Red Cedar golf course as part of a multi-million dollar development along US 127.  

The development is just speculative as this point, since the city has not settled on a developer or a specific plan.  Bob Trezise is the president of the Lansing Economic Development Corporation.  He supports making the land available for development.

“This is very neglected that shouldn’t be the way it is.  Its many vacant properties.  It’s a golf course that’s not a golf course anymore....nor is it even a park.”

The city council is being asked to put the potential sale of the old golf course on  the ballot in November.

Here's an artist's conception of future development along Michigan Avenue in Lansing from the Lansing Economic Development Corporation:

DTE adds electric vans to fleet
11:55 am
Mon August 15, 2011

Detroit Edison adds electric vans to its fleet

Transit Connect Electric Van
staff media.ford.com

Detroit Edison is taking the next step toward an electric car future. The electricity provider will power some of its own fleet using electricity.

Some of Detroit Edison's service calls will now be made by technicians driving Ford Transit Connect electric vans.

The van's range is about 80 miles - that's enough for an average day's worth of calls, says Detroit Edison President Steven Kurmas.

 Kurmas says more of the vans may be added to the fleet later.

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