Education
4:21 pm
Fri March 11, 2011

University of Michigan reviews trespass policy

Flickr user Dextera Photography

The University of Michigan is reviewing its trespass policy after faculty members have requested an update.  The review follows an incident last fall when former assistant state attorney general Andrew Shirvell was banned from campus. He allegedly harassed the U of M student body leader in person and online. The ACLU has complained about banning Shirvell from campus.  

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Politics
4:20 pm
Fri March 11, 2011

Judge weighs victims' rights against... victims' rights

Shayan Sanyal Flickr

A Washtenaw County judge is trying to broker an agreement that would allow the state and two counties to collect back child support and restitution from hundreds of women, while still protecting their identities.

More than 500 women were part of $100 million settlement from the state because they were sexually abused while in Michigan prisons. Attorneys for the state and Oakland and Wayne counties want to know whether any of them owe child support or restitution.

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On the Radio
4:05 pm
Fri March 11, 2011

In case you missed it...

user cpstorm Flickr

Michigan Radio broadcasts hundreds of stories, interviews, and commentaries every week.

One person can't possibly hear them all.

Here, you'll find a few stories we think you might like to hear:

Oh You Shouldn't Have... no really - This American Life

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Auto/Economy
2:32 pm
Fri March 11, 2011

Highland Park ex-treasurer charged with embezzlment

User the commedian Flickr

A former Highland Park charter school treasurer named Shantell Bell has been charged with embezzlement, the Associated Press reports:

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's office says in a release that 37-year-old Shantell Bell was arrested Friday and was expected to be arraigned in Highland Park District Court.

Authorities say a $25,000 check request was made in 2009 for textbooks at George Washington Carver Academy.

The money later was paid to an Ohio title company. Bell's ex-boyfriend reported it to
the school, which contacted Michigan State Police.

Bell no longer works at the school.

Defense attorney Karri Mitchell declined Friday to comment on the case.

Schuette made comments to the Detroit News following the arrest:

"The theft of resources from Michigan's children will not be tolerated" 

"We must root out corruption at all levels of government to ensure the public is served. Nobody will get a free pass when they break the law."

Bell's arraignment was expected to occur this afternoon, in the 30th District Court.

Politics
1:44 pm
Fri March 11, 2011

Report: Psychotropic drugs "dominating" cost of prescriptions in prisons

Prison fence. State auditors say Michigan prisons could have saved millions in prescription costs.
Simon Brass Flickr

The state's prison system is in line for some budget cuts like a lot of other parts of the state government.

Now, a recent audit says the prison system could save more in prescription costs.

From the Associated Press:

DETROIT (AP) - State auditors say Michigan could have saved millions of dollars by choosing lower-cost alternatives to a mental-health drug that is widely prescribed in prisons.

The audit released Friday says psychotropic drugs are dominating the cost of prescriptions in the prison system. They added up to more than $8 million from January through July last year - 41 percent of all pharmaceuticals.

Seroquel is the most prescribed antipsychotic drug. Auditors say the Corrections Department could have saved $350,000 a month by switching just half of those prescriptions to a drug called Risperdal.

The Corrections Department says it's taking steps to control costs. The audit also found that prisoners are not being charged for over-the-counter medicine even if they can afford it.

Developing: Japan
12:05 pm
Fri March 11, 2011

Finding friends in Japan

The American Red Cross is not accepting inquiries to contact friends or family at the moment.
wikimedia commons

After the devastating earthquake and resulting tsunamis in Japan, many people in the U.S. are trying to locate friends an family in Japan.

The Red Cross reports that they are unable to help at the moment but point to some resources:

At this time the Red Cross in unable to accept inquiries to contact or locate family and friends in Japan. However, there are several resources available as follows.

Inquiries concerning U.S. citizens living or traveling in Japan should be referred to the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747 or 202 647-5225.

For inquiries about relatives living in Japan who are not US citizens, encourage the members of your community to keep calling or to try contacting other family members who live in the region. Even though communication networks overloaded right now, the situation may change and access to mobile networks and the internet may improve.

The Red Cross also points to the Google Person Finder as a good resource. People can post that they are looking for someone, or that they have information about someone. You can find it here: http://japan.person-finder.appspot.com/?lang=en - it's tracking around 7,200 records at the moment.

There's also a Facebook page now up for sharing information.

Commentary
11:40 am
Fri March 11, 2011

Wacky Weather

You don’t need me to tell you this, but we’ve had a rough winter. Not nearly as tough as they’ve had in New York, or almost anywhere on the eastern seaboard. But it’s been cold and snowy.

How snowy? Well, in Detroit, we are already in the top dozen winters of all time, with more than sixty inches. Last month was the third snowiest February in recorded history.

But it could always be worse. If you have any interest in the weather, by the way, there’s a fascinating little book that just came out last year: Extreme Michigan Weather: The Wild World of the Great Lakes State, published by the University of Michigan Press.

Author Paul Gross is a longtime meteorologist who now works for WDIV-TV in Detroit.  His book looks at the strange and constantly changing weather we have in this state, or, as he puts it, everything from heat waves to bitter snows, ice storms to tornadoes to floods.

We don’t, however, have hurricanes, and his book will tell you why. (Not having any tropical ocean waters around here is a big part of it.)  Ice we do have -- in abundance.

Ice and snow. But if you are feeling so tired of snow you can’t stand it, consider this. We lucked out today. Grand Rapids once got almost seven inches of snow on March 11. In Flint, it’s been as cold as seven below zero this day, which I found in Paul Gross’s book.

He includes all these tables for fun in Extreme Michigan Weather. So, just in case you were burning to know, it was once twenty below zero on this date in Ironwood.

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Environment
11:33 am
Fri March 11, 2011

Lake St. Clair fish kills blamed on cold weather

Big fish kills in Lake St. Clair and along the St. Clair river this winter puzzled some residents and scientists in the area. The Detroit News reported that, "the cause of the massive fish die-offs, which began in mid-December, remains a mystery to state investigators...Dead gizzard shad is a common sight this time of year — but not in the tens to hundreds of thousands being reported this winter."

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Education
11:12 am
Fri March 11, 2011

Residency of Detroit School Board president called into question

The Detroit News reports that court records show DPS Board president Anthony Adams is not meeting the Board's residency requirements.

From the Detroit News:

The estranged wife of Detroit school board President Anthony Adams has accused him of living outside the city — a violation of board policy.

Deborah Ross Adams, a judge in Wayne County Circuit Court, contends Adams lives in Oakland County, according to court records related to their divorce proceedings, and that he is improperly using their marital home in Detroit's Palmer Woods as the basis of residency for his school board seat.

Adams filed for divorce from his wife in June 2009 in Wayne County after 31 years of marriage. In his filing, he says the couple separated in January 2009.

One board member is quoted as saying she doesn't have any concerns about the matter.

The board's vice president, Tyrone Winfrey, says the school district has more important things to worry about at the moment.

Sports Commentary
10:49 am
Fri March 11, 2011

Ohio State's Jim Tressel and the NCAA: the sheriff is now the saloon keeper

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. Ohio State has suspended the coach for two games next season.
user johntex wikimedia commons

It looks like Jim Tressel has gotten himself into a bit of hot water.

That’s why his boss, athletic director Gene Smith, flew back to make sure everyone said they were “taking responsibility” – a phrase which changed some time in the last decade, and now means the exact opposite.

It was fine theater.  

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Japanese Earthquake
10:15 am
Fri March 11, 2011

8.9 magnitude earthquake strikes Japan

Tsunami travel times map from NOAA
NOAA

Update 10:15 a.m.

Updates from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center

Update 9:23 a.m.

Reports that Tsunami waves have reached Hawaii. This from ABC news:

Tsunami waves reached Hawaii early today, following a massive 8.9 magnitutde earthquake in Japan, that triggered tidal wave warnings as far away as Oregon as the giant wave makes its way to the West Coast of the United States.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says Kauai was the first island hit early by the tsunami, which was quickly sweeping through the Hawaiian Island chain.

Screeching tsunami warning sirens woke residents through the night and Hawaiians were warned to seek higher ground and officials braced for the first 6 foot waves to make landfall just before 3 a.m. local time, 9 a.m. EST

Update 8:04 a.m.:

Hawaii is bracing for a possible tsunami following the magnitude 8.9 earthquake that hit Japan early this morning (Eastern time). The AP reports:

Warning sirens have been sounding and coastal areas are being evacuated. The first waves are expected to hit around 9 a.m. Eastern time today. Waves are predicted to hit the U.S. Western Coast between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Eastern.

Update 7:46 a.m.:

President Obama has issued his condolences for the people who died in the earthquake in Japan. The President said the United States, "stands ready to help" in any way it can. The Associated Press reports:

At the same time, Obama said in a statement early Friday that his administration will "continue to closely monitor tsunamis around Japan and the Pacific going forward."

The largest earthquake in Japan's history - measured at a magnitude of 8.9 - pummeled the eastern coast of Japan Friday, accompanied by a towering tsunami. A rising death toll is in the dozens.

Obama said he has told the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be ready to assist Hawaii and any other U.S. states and territories that might be affected. He said he's ready to support the Japanese people "in this time of great trial."

6:59 a.m.:

Officials in Japan say more than 30 people have died in the magnitude 8.9 quake and 13-foot tsunami that hit the northeast part of the country, the Associated Press reports:

People, boats, cars, buildings and tons of debris were swept away by the wave. The death toll has been rising.

Fires triggered by Friday's quake are burning out of control up and down the coast, including one at an oil refinery.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was a magnitude 8.9, while Japan's meteorological agency measured it at 8.8. It was followed by more than 19 aftershocks, including several at least 6.3, the size of the quake that struck New Zealand recently.

Dozens of cities and villages along a 1,300-mile stretch of coastline were shaken by violent tremors that reached as far away as Tokyo, hundreds of miles from the epicenter.

A tsunami warning was issued for the entire Pacific, including areas as far away as South America, the entire U.S. West Coast, Canada and Alaska.

Offbeat
8:36 am
Fri March 11, 2011

Grand Rapids tosses world record 925 rubber chickens at once

Organizers stack rubber chickens in front of the Grand Rapids Arts Museum.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids smashed the former world record for rubber chicken chucking set last April in a town near Boston. They got 265 people to toss rubber chickens at once. Last night Grand Rapids tossed an impressive 925.

The world record title marked the beginning of LaughFest. An event that'll take over much of Grand Rapids over the next 9 days. Those little yellow smiley faces representing the festival dot billboards, bar windows, churches; people even wear them as lapel pins.

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Winter Weather
6:58 am
Fri March 11, 2011

Snow brings dangerous driving conditions to early commute

A winter storm has hit parts of the state this Friday morning
LisaW123 Flickr

A winter storm has brought a few inches of snow and dangerous early-morning driving conditions to parts of the state. The Associated Press reports:

The National Weather Service says southeast Michigan was feeling the effects of the storm Friday morning, with an inch or more on the ground as the morning commute began. The snow left slippery driving conditions in its wake and numerous weather-related spinouts and crashes were reported.

The state's Thumb area and Port Huron were expected to get the most snow. The weather service says 5 to 7 inches could fall in that area. Winds contributed to hazardous conditions.

The Detroit News reports:

As much as 4 inches of snow fell overnight as a fast-moving system heads from the Ohio Valley into Canada, with Metro Detroit on the outer edge of the system.

The snow is expected to taper off this morning, but not before some parts of the region see a total of as much as 7 inches snow, said meteorologist Steve Considine of the National Weather Service reporting station in White Lake Township.

"It is winding down now," he said about 6:15 a.m. today. "About 2-4 inches will fall in much of Metro Detroit and higher in Macomb County."

St. Clair and Sanilac counties could see a total of 5-7 inches, Considine said, because of how the storm is moving.

Blowing snow could be a problem this morning because winds are blowing at 25-30 mph, Considine said.

Temperatures were in the 20s this morning but expected to climb near 40 degrees this afternoon, Considine said. A snowy rain is expected later this evening.

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stanford v. roche
6:28 pm
Thu March 10, 2011

Big research dollars at stake in Stanford v. Roche

Michigan’s research universities could have a lot at stake in the outcome of a Stanford University lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ruling could affect who gets the rights to nearly two billion dollars’ worth of patents that are developed as part of university-private partnerships.

Stanford sued after drug company Roche claimed the rights to a lucrative medical test.

A Stanford researcher developed the test using research techniques he learned at a private company later acquired by Roche.

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Politics
5:45 pm
Thu March 10, 2011

Pure Michigan campaign gets funding

The Pure Michigan campaign is a good investment in Governor Snyder's eyes.
www.michigan.org

Governor Rick Snyder signed full funding into law for the Pure Michigan ad campaign.

He signed the funding plan at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn today, saying his plan to pay for the Pure Michigan ad campaign through a venture capital fund will work this year and next year.

He says he will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of the ad campaign over the next two years:

“I’m the metrics and dashboard person, so we’re going to focus on metrics and dashboards on everything we do,” said Snyder.

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Politics
5:25 pm
Thu March 10, 2011

Michigan congressman wants broad opt out waiver for health care law

Congressman Mike Rogers (R)-Michigan
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Republican congressman Mike Rogers says more than a thousand major corporations,unions and other groups have obtained waivers to the new national health care law, so they will not be immediately mandated to carry health insurance or pay a fee instead.    He says they shouldn't be the only ones with that option. 

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Pontiac
5:03 pm
Thu March 10, 2011

Policing Pontiac: Oakland County Sheriff preparing to move in

A Pontiac police car
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard  is making plans to take over the policing duties in Pontiac.  The city of Pontiac is shutting down its police department as the city deals with severe budget problems. 

The city’s rank and file police officers voted to dissolve their union contract this week.    Other public safety unions must also do the same before the Sheriff’s department takes over.  Sheriff Bouchard says policing Pontiac will pose some public safety challenges to his office. 

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Politics
4:13 pm
Thu March 10, 2011

Detroit civil rights group responds to anti-terror hearings

The Council on American-Islamic Relations in Southfield says Muslims are unfairly targeted in hearings by the U.S. Homeland Security Committee.
islamizationwatch.blogspot.com

The head of a Detroit-area civil rights organization says hearings by the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee unfairly target Muslims.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., is investigating what he calls the radicalization of the U.S. Muslim community.

Dawud Walid is director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Southfield.

He says the scope of the hearings is too narrow, and ignores what he considers the biggest threats to national security.

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Economy
4:10 pm
Thu March 10, 2011

Nevada joins Michigan, axes State Fair

Boy roping a plastic calf at the 2008 Michigan State Fair
Bob Vigiletti Michigan Radio Picture Project

Michigan and Nevada seem to be linked in some not-so-good ways.

High unemployment rates, high home foreclosure rates, and declining housing prices.

And now... add the lack of a State Fair to that list.

In this age of austerity, Nevada has decided to cut its State Fair. Michigan cut its Fair back in 2009.

The Associated Press reports Nevada and Michigan are the only two states without a State Fair.

From the AP:

The board of directors for the Nevada State Fair says there won't be one this summer.

Board members say budget shortfalls leave them no choice but to bring an end to the fair for the first time in 136 years.

Executive director Rich Crombie said in a statement Wednesday that a last-ditch fundraising effort had produced only a fraction of the estimated $250,000 needed to keep the fair from folding up
its tent.

It means Nevada will join Michigan as the only states in the nation without state fairs.

Crombie says they are debt but don't intend to file bankruptcy. He says the hope is to continue to raise money for another state fair in the years ahead. The first Nevada fair was held in 1874.

The Michigan State Fair, said to be the country's oldest, was closed in 2009 because of declining attendance and budget shortfalls.

Michigan Radio's "Picture Project" has some fantastic images of Michigan's now defunct State Fair.

Education
3:55 pm
Thu March 10, 2011

Lawmaker suggests schools use rainy-day funds

State Sen. Jack Brandenburg may propose schools use their rainy-day cushion before they can get more taxpayer money.
senate.michigan.gov

A Michigan lawmaker says school districts that have set aside a rainy-day fund should use that money, rather than use more taxpayer funds. 

But some school administrators say  that would end up costing districts more in the long run. 

It’s common practice for Michigan school districts to aim for a 15 percent budget surplus for their rainy-day fund.

But the economy has drained those funds for about 300 districts.

About 200 traditional, non-charter districts do have reserves of 15 percent or more.

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