Politics
6:55 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Bing: "Time for talk is over" on Detroit budget

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says there’s no more reason to negotiate with City Council over the budget. That means he’ll implement the Council-approved budget, even though he maintains it will mean devastating cuts.

Bing and the Council have been wrestling for months over how much money to cut from next fiscal year’s budget. Council wants to cut $50 million more than Bing.

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Politics
5:34 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Congressman Levin testifies against proposed political maps

The 15 Michigan U.S. House districts as they exist today.

Congressman Sander Levin doesn’t like the proposed redrawn political maps that are based on new census data.

Levin says the maps drawn by Republican state lawmakers are grossly skewed in favor of Republican candidates.

“That so arrogantly places partisan interests ahead of voter interests. And whether the governor, who came to office pledging to put the interests of Michigan citizens ahead of partisan interests, will send a clear message right here and now, that his message is a real one.”

“I don’t think anyone can show a map that has come forth in this state, at least one in recent memory, that so distorts the ability of citizens to have the right to choose, and for the parties to compete with ideas.”

He wants the Michigan Senate to reject the maps approved by the state House last week.

Republican lawmakers say the G-O-P redistricting plan is fair and takes population shifts into consideration.

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Education
5:29 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Michigan Merit Exam shows improvement in some, not all, subjects

Nearly half the students who took this year's Michigan Merit Exam tested not proficient in math and writing.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Education has released the results of the Michigan Merit Exam.

All Michigan high school juniors take the test in the spring to see how well-prepared they are for college. The MME tests students in reading, writing, math, science and social studies.

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Politics
5:13 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Republicans say tougher medical marijuana regulations needed

K Connors Morguefile

Republicans in Michigan say there need to be more regulations surrounding the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

They say dispensaries, growers and many doctors are taking the law too far.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette stood next to a map of the greater Lansing area, with 84 pushpins marking locations of medical marijuana dispensaries. He says new proposed regulations would shut down most if not all of those locations.

“No more marijuana farms. No more collective grow ops. It violates that law – making that very clear.”

 Schuette says most caregivers and dispensaries undermine the needs of terminally ill patients who need marijuana treatment by pushing the limits of the law. Legislation proposed by lawmakers in the House and Senate would further regulate who could grow medicinal pot, where it could be grown, and how it could be distributed.  

They say they have not worked with the medical marijuana community to help craft the proposals yet, but they hope to get that input over the summer.

Environment
4:43 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Legal battle between Saugatuck Twp and private developer could be settled outside of court

Dunes near Saugatuck
Norm Hoekstra Creative Commons

A proposed deal would allow a smaller scale development along the Lake Michigan shore. Aubrey McClendon owns more than 300 acres north of where the Kalamazoo River empties into Lake Michigan. He wants to build a marina, condos, houses, and a golf course there.

McClendon argues Saugatuck Township officials unfairly singled him out because they banned any development on the property without special permits. So he sued them in federal court.

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Politics
4:32 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Budget Workshop (audio)

http://peters.house.gov/

Michigan Democratic Congressman Gary Peters is partnering with the non-partisan Concord Coalition to present a town hall forum tonight.

Peters and the Coalition will lay out some facts and details of the federal government’s revenue and expenses, and then people will break into groups to talk about how to balance the budget. Michigan Radio's Jennifer White sat down with Peters to get more on the forum.

Democratic and Republican leaders are locked in an ongoing struggle over the federal budget.

Congressman Peters says:

"We’ve got a standoff in Washington. People aren’t working together. There are a lot of special interests involved pulling and tugging there."

The goal of the forum is to introduce some non-partisan, common-sense problem solving in to the mix, according to Peters.

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Education
4:10 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Michigan woman gives a face to the Dream Act

Ola Kaso, (right), poses with Michigan U.S. Senator Carl Levin.
(courtesy of U.S. Sen. Carl Levin's Office)

An incoming University of Michigan student has taken her fight against being deported to Washington D.C.  Ola Kaso testified before a U.S. Senate committee in favor of the Dream Act.   The bill would allow the children of undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. to pursue their educations. 

Kaso says she has tried to take advantage of the education opportunity given to  her, an opportunity now threatened by deportation to Albania.

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Arts/Culture
4:06 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Your Story: images of Detroit

One picture in our Changing Gears slideshow.
Photo submitted by John George

For the past few days, we asked people whether they thought Detroit's image was on the rebound. We heard about the best and worst in the city. And people shared their visions of Detroit's future. Some people chose to show us their own Detroit in pictures.

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Education
3:16 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Fourteen private colleges getting ready for fall campaign

User: Jayel Aheram Flickr

Fourteen Michigan colleges and universities are getting ready for a fall campaign to encourage college students to stay in Michigan after graduation. This campaign, which includes private schools like Calvin College and Marygrove College, stems from research that showed students’ negative perceptions of Michigan. 

Bob Bartlett is President of the Michigan Colleges Foundation.  Bartlett says it will take some effort to change the perceptions of students.

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Science/Medicine
2:58 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Traditional drop-side cribs now illegal

The ban on the sale and manufacture of drop-side cribs starts today.
User: scariepants Flickr

You can no longer sell or give away a traditional drop-side rail crib in Michigan or in the rest of the country.

Drop-side cribs are one of the most popular crib designs. They have a side rail that can be raised and lowered for easier access to the child.

Drop-side cribs have caused more than 30 deaths since 2000.

Crystal Phillips is the Safety Center coordinator at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. She says she is telling parents to stop using the drop-side cribs immediately.

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Environment
12:08 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Beach closure information is a click away

BeachGuard tracks the water quality and closures of Michigan's public beaches.
Tom Gill Flickr

Michiganders don’t have to take a trip to see if their favorite beach is closed. 

BeachGuard is a website run by Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality. It tracks the water quality and closures of all public beaches in the state. 

Shannon Briggs is with the DEQ.

Redistricting
11:49 am
Tue June 28, 2011

Democrats have a redistricting map of their own

Michigan Capitol Building, Lansing, Michigan
Thetoad Flickr

Update 11:41 a.m.:

Democratic Congressman Sander Levin will testify at a state Senate hearing in Lansing this afternoon about the proposed redistricting maps. The Congressman is set to testify at 2:30 p.m..

Original post 6:59 a.m.:

Michigan Democrats have drawn a new congressional map that would pit Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter of Livonia against Democratic Congressman Gary Peters of Oakland County's Bloomfield Township, according to the Associated Press. A copy of the map was obtained by the AP from the Michigan Democratic Party.

Michigan is losing one of its 15 congressional seats due to a loss of population in the past 10 years. From the AP:

Republicans control the redistricting process with majorities in the state House and Senate. State Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer says the map shows how Detroit's two black-majority districts can be extended into Detroit's northern suburbs while remaining compact. Democrats say they'll introduce their map as a substitute to the Republican plan during a Senate hearing Tuesday. The GOP map pits Peters against fellow Democratic incumbent Sander Levin.

Representatives Peters and Levin issued a joint-statement after the GOP map was released:

“Voters in Michigan have never before faced such a shamelessly partisan redrawing of congressional boundaries. Instead of drawing fair lines that follow community and county borders in a logical way, the Republican legislature has drafted a map so skewed that it exploits every trick in the book to gerrymander districts in ways that benefit Republican incumbents. The Legislature and Gov. Snyder should reject this gerrymandered map and draw congressional boundaries in a way that puts Michigan voters’ interests squarely ahead of flagrant partisan advantage."

Education
11:35 am
Tue June 28, 2011

Teachers' union is trying to change the direction of the legislature's push to alter tenure laws

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The state Senate may soon consider bills to make it easier to fire veteran teachers.   The state House has already passed the bills.  

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Auto/Economy
11:00 am
Tue June 28, 2011

Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce is rebranding itself

Muskegon's downtown sits right on the water's edge.
BigMikeSndTech Creative Commons

President Cindy Larsen says they’ll now be known as the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce.

“It does seem simplistic in a way that a name change could make such a difference. But people put a lot of time and energy when they think about the names of their companies of their children, of anything that they name. So a name does make a difference.”

Larsen says they hope adding ‘lakeshore’ to their name will give people a positive visual image that better reflects the region’s identity.

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Commentary
10:46 am
Tue June 28, 2011

China Daze

In many ways, the Toledo area just south of the border is more like Michigan than Ohio. It features an aging industrial city based on the automotive economy and suffering from its decline.

Beyond that are leafy suburbs, and then smaller towns, farms, and a significant agricultural sector. Yet there is one way in which Toledo is very different from us. The mayor and the chamber of commerce have been actively and aggressively courting China.

And their efforts are paying off. Earlier this year, the Chinese investment firm Dashing Pacific Group Ltd. bought a restaurant complex for more than $2 million dollars. Then this month, they paid the cash-strapped city even more to buy sixty-nine acres of land in what is known as the Marina District, along the Maumee River.

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Politics
10:30 am
Tue June 28, 2011

Michigan Attorney General releases opinion on medical marijuana

Eggrole Flickr

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has issued a formal opinion that says medical marijuana growers cannot have more than 12 plants. The opinion could put out of business growing cooperatives that raise pot for multiple patients. The opinion carries the force of law unless overturned by a court. State lawmakers have also rolled out bills that would put more regulations around the voter-approved law to allow marijuana for patients with terminal or chronic conditions.

Elections
10:21 am
Tue June 28, 2011

Next Tuesday is the last day to register to vote in August primary

Next Tuesday, July 5th, is the last day to register to vote in the August 2nd primary.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says July 5 is the deadline to register to vote in Michigan primary elections Aug. 2.

Cities, townships and school districts are holding votes in August.

Voter registration can be done by mail, at county, city or township clerk's offices or by visiting any secretary of state branch office. The mail-in form is available on the Department of State's website at www.Michigan.gov/sos.

Residents can check their registration status on the Michigan Voter Information Center website at www.Michigan.gov/vote. That site also has information on voting by absentee ballot and the state's voter identification requirement, along with maps to polling place and sample ballots.

Those who wish to receive their absentee ballot by mail must submit their application by 2 p.m. July 30.

Environment
10:18 am
Tue June 28, 2011

Swimming Upstream: Fending off sturgeon poachers (part 4)

A juvenile lake sturgeon.
Photo courtesy of USFS, Rob Elliott

This week, we're focusing on fish for our series Swimming Upstream. And today, Dustin Dwyer has a story about one of the most fascinating fish in the Great Lakes. Sturgeon have been around for more than 100 million years.  Each fish can live more than a hundred years, weigh more than a hundred pounds and stretch eight or nine feet long. But sturgeon have also been the target of overfishing and poaching. Dustin caught up with one group in northern Michigan that's trying to save them.  Here's his story:

So about a month or two ago, I was sitting along the bank of the Black River, way up near Onaway. And I was next to Jesse Hide, who has lived in this area all his life, and watched sturgeon all his life. We were keeping an eye out for sturgeon heading up the river to spawn.

“There's one coming up right there ... he's coming back down now.”

The long, spear-like fish occasionally poke their heads out of the water, like a submarine coming to the surface.

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News Roundup
8:49 am
Tue June 28, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, June 28th
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Redistricting Continues

Michigan Democrats plan to introduce their own redistricting map at a state Senate hearing today.  Republicans have already released their maps and pretty much control the redistricting process as they hold majorities in both the state House and Senate. Michigan will go from 15 to 14 U.S. Representatives because of the state’s population loss. A copy of the Democrat's map was obtained by the Associated Press. The map, as the AP notes, would, “pit Republican incumbent Thad McCotter of Livonia against Democratic incumbent Gary Peters of Oakland County's Bloomfield Township and avoid extending a Detroit district up to Pontiac…The GOP map pits Peters against fellow Democratic incumbent Sander Levin.”

Dems to GOP: Restore School Funding

House Democrats are once again calling on Governor Snyder and state GOP lawmakers to restore money cut from public schools. Democratic lawmakers are traveling the state to bring attention to the funding issue. Lindsey Smith reports:

The state will provide K -12 schools about 2 percent less money than last fiscal year. The state public education fund had a surplus this spring. Some of the surplus money from the state’s school aide fund is being used for the first time to fund community colleges and public universities.

Coal Costing the State?

A new report from the Michigan Environmental Council says Michigan’s oldest coal-burning power plants are costing state residents $1.5 billion dollars in health care costs each year, Rebecca Williams reports. From Williams:

The report focuses on the state’s nine oldest coal-burning power plants.  It highlights particle pollution.  This type of pollution comes from power plants and factories as well as car and trucks. James Clift, policy director for the MEC, says these tiny particles are linked to a variety of heart and lung problems, including asthma. DTE Energy owns four of the power plants targeted in the report.  John Austerberry, a spokesperson with DTE, says,“all Detroit Edison power plants meet or exceed federal standards for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.  And it’s those constituents that can contribute to the formation of fine particles under certain atmospheric conditions.” The report calls on DTE and Consumers Energy to gradually phase out the oldest coal-burning power plants.

Detroit Public Schools
6:43 am
Tue June 28, 2011

Roberts holds public hearing on Detroit schools

Emergency Manager of Detroit Public Schools, Roy Roberts.
Photo courtesy of Detroit Public Schools

Detroit Public Schools emergency manager Roy Roberts says he’s on a mission from the Governor to make the schools work.

Roberts spoke at a public hearing Monday night to discuss next school year’s proposed district budget.

Roberts spoke only briefly about his budget proposal. It calls for cutting more than 850 positions, and all wages by 10-percent.

Roberts then listened silently to concerns from parents, teachers, and other school staff…some of whom took the opportunity to shout at him.

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