Breaking: Jim Tressel resigns
10:38 am
Mon May 30, 2011

Buckeye football coach Jim Tressel resigns; good for Wolverines?

The man who led Ohio State to victories over the University of Michigan in nine out of the rivals' last ten games has resigned.

Football coach Jim Tressel faced an NCAA investigation into possible corruption in his program, including claims that players received cars from local dealerships. 

Sports analyst John U. Bacon says there have been allegations of corruption for years.  So he's not surprised that a scandal finally brought the Tressel era to an end, despite his stellar performance.

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Environment
3:01 pm
Sun May 29, 2011

Mosquito Invasion!

Mosquito picando
user trebol-a Flickr

Mosquitoes are expected to be an even bigger annoyance than usual for Michiganders this summer.  Heavy rains in April and May have set the stage for a big burst of mosquitoes in Michigan this year. 

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Economy
3:01 pm
Sat May 28, 2011

Free gas giveaway in Battle Creek Sunday

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Sunday afternoon in Battle Creek a religious group plans to help about 20 poor families gas up their cars and trucks.  The group,  Free Gas USA, is providing 50 dollars-worth of gasoline to pre-selected families. 

Reverend William Stein founded Free Gas USA in 2008.    He says having some form of transportation is essential for struggling families. 

Memorial Day
2:17 pm
Sat May 28, 2011

Author Wade Rouse remembers Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was declared in 1868 to honor the memory of deceased military service members. Michigan-based author Wade Rouse shares his perspective on Memorial Day, from his memoir, "It's All Relative."

Listen for more stories from Rouse throughout the year on Michigan Radio.

 

 

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Medicine
5:02 pm
Fri May 27, 2011

School health clinics in Michigan to get a boost

Primary Care Doctor Lisa Lowery shows off the health clinic’s laboratory, patient rooms, and the dental clinic (behind her).
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Health clinics based inside 3 Grand Rapids high schools will get $2.6 million over the next five years. Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids Schools, and the Michigan Department of Community Health pay for the program. The state is expected to announce grants for other school clinic programs soon.

Lisa Lowery is a primary care doctor at Spectrum Health. She shows off the health clinic’s laboratory, patient rooms, and the dental clinic. A high school senior getting his teeth cleaned gives us a thumbs up.

“It’s just not ‘oh here’s an ice pack’ cause you hurt your knee.”

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U.S. Treasury to sell Chrysler stock
4:49 pm
Fri May 27, 2011

Chrysler to be free of government ownership before General Motors

Fiat says it will buy the U.S. Treasury’s 6% stake in Chrysler.   

The announcement means Chrysler will be free of government influence long before General Motors will be. 

Fiat and the U.S. Treasury will negotiate the price over the next ten business days.   Fiat will own 52% of Chrysler once the deal goes through.     

Sheldon Stone is a restructuring expert with Amherst Partners.  He says the negotiations should go smoothly, since the federal government is highly motivated to get out of the car business.

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Politics
4:20 pm
Fri May 27, 2011

Political Roundup

Photo by: contemplative imaging

The State Legislature completed work on a $46.5 billion state budget this week. It’s the quickest budget process since the 1960’s.

Michigan Radio’s Jenn White spoke with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Bill Ballenger, editor and publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.  You can hear the interview here:

Ballenger says  Governor Snyder had a clear plan coming into office, which helped get this budget passed so quickly. He also points to the strong Republican control.

These are the biggest margins of control since the years after World War II ended. This is how strong the majority is in the House and Senate with a Republican Governor. That is incredibly important.

Certain items in the tax structure and in this budget have gotten lots of attention from the public. Tax on pensions, the reduction of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the cuts to K-12 schools all have been on people’s minds.

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Politics
4:12 pm
Fri May 27, 2011

Election of President Obama changed perceptions of racism

Study shows election of President Obama changes perception of racism, not, not reality of racism
Pete Souza White House

The election of President Obama in 2008 made some believe racism in the United States had declined. That's according to a study from the University of Michigan. It measured perceptions of racism amongst Americans before the 2008 election and again in 2010.

Nicholas Valentino is a professor with U of M. He says it’s difficult to know how perceptions about racism are formed. But he thinks it might have to do with obstacles different racial groups face:

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Investigative
3:37 pm
Fri May 27, 2011

Evidence abandoned in closed Detroit crime lab

Detroit's former crime lab, shut down in 2008, still contained evidence that should have been cataloged and removed. Vandals apparently broke into the building after it was left unattended for at least a week, according to The Detroit Free Press.
dreamstime.com

A Detroit newspaper says a Detroit police lab closed two years ago was left unsecured,with evidence and live ammunition still inside.

The Detroit Free Press reports the lab recently had been left open for at least a week.

The report says evidence kits, personal information of rape and assault victims and live ammunition were scattered around.

The newspaper reported that the lab, housed in a former elementary school, also contained bulletproof vests, gunpowder and bottles of toxic chemicals.

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Economy
12:01 pm
Fri May 27, 2011

Ready....Set.....SUMMER

A view of Front Street, Traverse City, Michigan
(flickr farlane)

More than a million Michiganders are expected to spend part of the Memorial Day holiday weekend travelling to popular tourism destinations.  But they are expected to watch their spending too.  

A AAA Michigan survey found Michiganders plan to spend about 14% less on things like food and other amenities during their Memorial Day holiday travels this year.  The main reason - 4 dollar a gallon gasoline.

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commentary
10:30 am
Fri May 27, 2011

Now for the Hard Part

When Governor Rick Snyder took office in January, he said he wanted to have the state budget signed, sealed and delivered by the end of May.

Nobody in Lansing took that seriously. In fact, if the budget had in fact not been completed until July, that would still have been seen as a remarkable victory. 

After all, we’ve become accustomed to lawmakers frantically struggling on September 30th, the last day possible, to pass a budget before the state would have to shut down.

True, this year is different in that the governor’s party controls both houses of the legislature. But the reforms that Snyder was calling on them to make were so revolutionary it was hard to see how he could possibly win early passage.

Well, we were wrong. Rick Snyder may officially be a “non-politician.” But he is in fact one of the shrewdest political operatives I have ever seen. People have consistently underestimated him, beginning with the famous “nerd” commercial which launched his candidacy. Everybody scoffs at Snyder, and he smiles and keeps on winning. Primaries, general elections, legislative fights. The governor got virtually everything important he wanted here.

Where he did have to compromise - on the pension tax, for example - one got the feeling that he had planned on compromise all along. With a series of wrenching moves, he changed the way the system works. He seems to have eliminated the structural flaw that for years has caused automatic billion dollar deficits. He did so at a terrific cost, balancing the budget, and providing huge tax breaks for business by cutting aid to the poor, to children, and to education.

But he got what he wanted, and now we’ll see what happens. Make no mistake: This is entirely a Rick Snyder, Republican Party budget. It did not get a single Democratic vote. If this pays off, if the lowered business taxes do create new jobs, Snyder should be able to waltz to re-election, and the political culture of this state may be forever changed. But if it fails - if the promised new jobs don’t materialize, and people keep falling through the tattered safety net - well, it will be clear who to blame. It will take awhile to know exactly what’s happening. But what does the governor do next?

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On-air note
9:19 am
Fri May 27, 2011

WFUM 91.1 off the air

Our technical staff is making electrical repairs at our WFUM transmitter. This work means WFUM 91.1 in the Flint area will be off the air for about an hour.

News Roundup
8:34 am
Fri May 27, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Friday, May 27th

Legislature Completes the Budget

The Michigan Legislature completed work yesterday on a $46 billion state budget for the fiscal year that begins October 1st. The process lacked all of the long hours and heated floor debate of recent years, Michigan Public Radio Network's Laura Weber reports. Much of that can be attributed to a Republican majority in both the state House and Senate. In fact, not a single Democrat voted in favor of the budget. The budget includes cuts to K-12 education and public universities. It lifts the exemption on taxing some retiree pensions and reduces the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit. Governor Rick Snyder is expected to sign the budget bills in the next few weeks.

Feds Eye Flint

Investigators from the U.S. Department of Energy are auditing records from Flint City Hall, according to the Flint Journal. Reporter Kristin Longley writes a "city source" says the FBI accompanied the USDOE investigators:

The investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Energy is auditing the city's use of federal energy grant funds, a federal official confirmed today, following reports that federal officials are investigating Flint City Hall.

The DOE's Office of Inspector General has investigators in the city of Flint examining how a federal grant for weatherization of low-income housing is being spent, said Rick Hass, deputy inspector general for audits and inspections.

Detroit School Closures to Increase

The Detroit Public Schools says it’s increasing the number of school closures to 20 by the fall of next year, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

That's up from the previously announced 14.  The Detroit Free Press reports district officials decided to keep open some schools that had been proposed for closure, and some proposed school mergers were changed. The district said Thursday the changes are the result of public input at more than 40 community meetings since April. DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts says the district still has too many schools for its shrinking student population, even though it has closed 130 buildings since 2005. That's half its schools.

Sports Commentary
8:10 am
Fri May 27, 2011

The Almighty Cleavers: a softball team built to lose

A softball season to remember.
Zach Chrisholm Flickr

I went to Ann Arbor Huron High School, considered by all objective sources to be the greatest high school in the history of the universe. And one of the things that made it so great was an intramural softball league.

Maybe your clearly inferior high school had one, too.  But the IM softball league at Huron was created and run entirely by students – the burnouts, no less.  That meant the adults, perhaps wisely, wanted nothing to do with it.

So the burn-outs got the park permits – God bless ‘em -- and every clique had a team, with names like the Junior Junkies, the Extra Burly Studs, and – yes – the ‘Nads.  If you pause to think of their cheer, you’ll get the joke.

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Education
8:25 pm
Thu May 26, 2011

No one comments on Grand Rapids schools’ plan to deal with biggest budget shortfall

There were more reporters and school officials than members of the public at a public hearing on Grand Rapids Public Schools budget for the 2011-2012 school year.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids Public Schools is facing a $22 million dollar budget deficit for next school year. That’s the largest shortfall Michigan’s third biggest school district has faced.

The plan to close the gap includes eliminating close to 140 positions and use $5 million in savings. Despite that, no one showed up to speak at a public hearing on the school budget Thursday night.

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Education
5:56 pm
Thu May 26, 2011

School superintendent challenges lawmakers to "make my school a prison"

Ithaca Public Schools Superintendent Nathan Bootz wrote an open letter to Michigan lawmakers asking them to make his school a prison. He says prisoners have more advantages than students.
facebook.com

A Michigan school superintendent’s open letter to lawmakers makes a startling request and it’s getting national attention.

Nathan Bootz runs Ithaca Public Schools,  a district with about 1,300 students.

Bootz wrote a letter to the Gratiot County Herald newspaper and suggested that the state turn his school district into a prison.

He says the state spends a lot more money on inmates than students.

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Politics
5:46 pm
Thu May 26, 2011

Proposal calls for inmates to pay state sales tax

Inmates would have to pay 6 percent sales tax on many items purchased from a prison commissary under a new proposal.
ruvilla.com

A Michigan lawmaker is proposing the state’s prisoners pay sales tax on items they buy from the prison commissary.

State Rep. Anthony Forlini, a R-Harrison Township, says inmates should not be exempt from the six-percent tax.

Forlini  laughs at the suggestion that it would be unfair to tax inmates because they’re not allowed to vote.

"To say that the regular public pays a sales tax and the inmates do not pay a tax is what's really unfair," Forlini says. "The fairness issue is treating us all alike."

Politics
5:34 pm
Thu May 26, 2011

Court rules against Dearborn in leaflet case

A federal court has ruled that the city of Dearborn may not prevent people from distributing leaflets encouraging conversion to Christianity at an annual Arab-American festival.
The Arab American News.com

A federal court says Dearborn should not have prevented a Christian evangelist from handing out leaflets at an Arab-American festival last year.

The court ruled that the city of Dearborn violated the First Amendment rights of George Saieg of California at last summer’s event.

Saieg wanted to distribute leaflets encouraging Muslims to convert to Christianity.

Jack O’Reilly is Dearborn’s mayor.

He says the court made its decision because the Arab-American Festival does not charge an entry fee, and is not restricted to just festivalgoers.

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Arts/Culture
4:18 pm
Thu May 26, 2011

The Grand Rapids lip dub video released

Politics
4:11 pm
Thu May 26, 2011

Budget done early, schools and local governments can plan for cuts

The State Legislature has passed a budget, the earliest a budget has been passed in decades.
user aunt owwee Flickr

The Michigan Legislature has wrapped up its financial planning for the future.

The $46 billion state budget is done - they'll start spending the money October 1st (that's when the fiscal year starts).

The Associate Press writes:

The Republican-led Michigan Legislature has finished approving a new state budget that will cut state aid for education and many state departments...The quick resolution of next year's budget is a victory for Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who wanted lawmakers to wrap up votes by May 31.

This is the earliest the state budget has been completed in 30 years, according to the Detroit News.

Early passage gives school districts, agencies, and local governments time to plan for their next fiscal years.

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