Politics
3:02 pm
Sat May 21, 2011

Congressmen from opposite sides of MI, political aisle, make friends

Congressmen Justin Amash (right) and Hansen Clarke (left) host a town hall meeting at the Gerald R. Ford Mueseum in Grand Rapids Saturday.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A republican congressman from West Michigan and a democrat from Detroit held a joint town hall meeting today Saturday in Grand Rapids. The two freshmen lawmakers have bonded in the nation’s capitol and want to show people some politicians do get along.

Congressman Justin Amash is a tea party favorite from West Michigan. Congressman Hansen Clarke is a democrat from Detroit.  

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Economy
3:01 pm
Sat May 21, 2011

Memorial Day weekend may mean a little less 'green' for Michigan's tourist destinations

A couple goes for a walk on a pier over Lake Huron in Alpena, Michigan
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

More than a million Michiganders are expected to get-a-way to some of the state’s favorite tourist spots next weekend.  But they are not expected to spend much money Memorial Day weekend.  

The AAA surveyed its members recently and found many plan to spend less of their vacation budget on restaurants and other amenities.  

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Environment
2:15 pm
Sat May 21, 2011

20,000 gallons of sewage flows into Kalamazoo River

A blue heron in the Kalamazoo River
Flickr user NHN_2009

Authorities say about 20,000 gallons of raw sewage flowed into the Kalamazoo River following a power outage at a Battle Creek wastewater plant.
    

The Battle Creek Enquirer and the Kalamazoo Gazette report that officials on Friday issued a public health advisory following the overflow. Battle Creek Utilities Director Ken Kohs says an electrical short caused a power outage that lasted for a few hours.
    

Environment
10:53 am
Sat May 21, 2011

Trio of agencies pledge to protect Kirtland's warbler

By 1974, the population of Kirtland's Warbler had plummeted to 167 singing males.
Wikipedia.org

A bird once common to Michigan nearly became extinct. Three agencies say they'll work together to make sure work to save the bird continues. The following information comes from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

"The U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Michigan Department of Natural Resources have signed a memorandum of agreement pledging to continue conservation efforts for the endangered Kirtland’s warbler, regardless of the warbler’s status under the Endangered Species Act.  

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Education
11:48 pm
Fri May 20, 2011

Kent County Republicans, Democrats field questions about paying for public education

State Rep. Dave Agema, left, and Rep. Brandon Dillon react to a woman who stood and demanded Agema "speak to us in a professional manner."
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

About 500 people in West Michigan spent a couple hours Friday night in Grand Rapids, talking with their state representatives about how to fund public education. 

The forum was rescheduled from last week after a fire marshal shut it down in Lowell (20 miles west of Grand Rapids) because so many people showed up it broke the fire code of the building.

Last night the crowd was  passionate, at times interrupting and booing Republican lawmakers.

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Politics
5:33 pm
Fri May 20, 2011

Budget deal reduces dollars for redevelopment

The new budget deal struck this week between Governor Rick Snyder and Republican legislative leaders cuts the amount of money for redeveloping abandoned factories and preserving historic buildings.

The governor says the state won’t need to rely so much on targeted incentives in the future.

The new budget will zero out brownfield and historic preservation tax credits, and replace them with a new fund to offer economic development grants.

$50 million will be set aside for brownfields and historic preservation.

That’s $15 to $20 million dollars less than the state targets now.

But Governor Snyder says the state can do a better job of choosing projects "and hopefully make those dollars go farther than they are today."

Mark Morante, with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, says the state will target only projects most likely to be completed.

In the past, many tax credits that were awarded went unclaimed. He also says the state won’t need to rely on incentives as much because tax changes will bring down the cost of doing business.

"With this six percent corporate income tax and roughly an 80 percent cut in corporate taxes in general, our job will be a little easier on that side of the table, so we will probably need less incentives," said Morante. 

Those tax reforms have been criticized as a tax shift onto individuals. But the governor and his Republican allies in the Legislature say that will be worth it if it creates new jobs.

Economy
5:18 pm
Fri May 20, 2011

Michigan teens face (slightly less) high unemployment this summer

About a third of teens looking for work this summer won't find it.
Thewmatt Flickr

30% of Michigan teens hoping to find work this summer…won’t. That’s according to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget.

Bruce Weaver is an analyst for the state. He says the rate has actually declined from last year:

“ The unemployment rate for teens reached a thirty year high, in the summer of 2010.”

He says teens will have a tough time finding jobs because of the high unemployment numbers for adults:

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Offbeat
4:22 pm
Fri May 20, 2011

Don't they know it's the end of the world?

The Dam Site Inn in Hell, MI, is prepared for end-of-the-world visitors.
Rina Miller Michigan Radio

Harold Camping runs the Family Radio network of religious stations. He wants you to know that the end is near.

Camping says Judgment Day will be May 21, 2011.

The 89-year-old broadcaster has created quite a stir. Some people are taking his warning literally and they're trying to persuade the rest of us to take heed.

But others are having fun with the idea. They're throwing end-of-the-world parties and planning for post-Rapture looting.

And then there are the folks who take it all in stride -- no more so than in Hell, MI.

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On the Radio
4:17 pm
Fri May 20, 2011

In case you missed it...

user cpstorm Flickr

Turn your radio dial to public radio and you're bound to come across some great stories and interviews. It's impossible to hear them all, but here are a few I caught in that last week that I thought I'd share with you.

Fresh Air - 'Book of Mormon' Creators on their Broadway Smash

The creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker are known for making fun of just about everybody on their show.

Mormonism has been one religion that often seems to be a target of ridicule on South Park.

So when Stone and Parker decided create a musical about Mormons, I'd assumed it would be a musical that would take a cynical look at the religion - but it doesn't - from NPR's Fresh Air:

If you think the musical skewers Mormons, though, think again. Parker and Stone do challenge the literal credibility of the story of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But the Mormons they write about come across as lovable and optimistic.

"I don't think anybody would want to see a two-hour-long Mormon-bashing, and we wouldn't want to see that either," Parker tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Stone and Parker said that in musicals, "everyone wants to see a piece of themselves up there."

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Economy
4:00 pm
Fri May 20, 2011

Michigan's gas pain easing

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A gasoline industry analyst expects Michigan’s gas prices will continue to decline through the Memorial Day weekend. Gas prices peaked at well over $4.25 a gallon this month.  But for the past few weeks, gas prices have declined steadily. 

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Offbeat
2:16 pm
Fri May 20, 2011

US won't pay for Ferrari wrecked by FBI agent

DETROIT (AP) - The U.S. Justice Department is refusing to pay $750,000 to a Michigan insurance company for a Ferrari that was wrecked in Kentucky during a drive by an FBI agent.

In a recent court filing in Detroit, the Justice Department says it's immune to tort claims when certain goods are in the hands of law enforcement.

The 1995 Ferrari F50 was being stored in Lexington, Ky., as part of an investigation into stolen vehicles. A prosecutor says he was invited by an FBI agent to ride in the vehicle in May 2009. He says the agent lost control, and the car landed against bushes and a small tree.

Southfield-based Motors Insurance Co. says the Ferrari is a total loss. The next court hearing is June 13 in Detroit.

Arts/Culture
12:23 pm
Fri May 20, 2011

DSO announces its 2011-2012 season

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra announced its 2011-2012 season today.   The DSO is trying to recover from a contract dispute between its management and musicians that scuttled much of the 2010-2011 season.   The DSO is late in announcing its 2011-2012 season plans.   A Chicago based arts consultant says the late announcement will probably not help the DSO overc

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Economy
11:50 am
Fri May 20, 2011

U of M planning health care policy institute

The University of Michigan has announced that it's planning a new health care policy institute in the
complex that once belonged to drugmaker Pfizer Inc.

The university said Thursday the Institute for Health Care Policy and Innovation aims to inform and influence public policy and enhance efforts to improve health care services.

More than 500 researchers eventually could be part of the new institute at the North Campus Research Complex, Pfizer's former research and development center the Ann Arbor school bought in 2009
for $108 million.

The university says it will launch a national search for an institute director. It expects a $13.7 million renovation project to be completed next spring.

Commentary
11:47 am
Fri May 20, 2011

A Life Remembered

Al Fishman called me last week, full of energy as ever, wanting some advice. He wanted to put together a big debate over the national budget  in Michigan. Wanted to show people things could be more fair. I told him I thought people here were more concerned with the state budget crisis right now. “I know that,” he said.

“But state and local budgets also reflect the spending priorities of the federal government,” he explained. What he wanted me to do was to suggest a television personality who could moderate the forum, someone who might help boost attendance.

I suggested a few names. Yesterday morning, Al, who was eighty-two and big on physical fitness, went to the doctor to have a tricky knee looked at. He was in the waiting room when the heart attack came. He may never have known what hit him.

Fishman wasn’t a big name, outside of what his opponents would have called the “left-wing labor community.” There, he was revered, though he didn’t seem to know that.

He acted like just another guy who had just discovered something was wrong in society, and had decided to try to fix it. What was most unusual about him was his energy level and his attitude.

No matter how many times the system disappointed him, no matter how many new wars or atrocities or unfairnesses he lived through, Al never stopped fighting. There was injustice in the world, and he thought it was up to all of us to do something about it.

What he wanted most of all was to abolish war, the nuclear threat, and any kind of discrimination. He grew up in New York City and saw all those things in the army right after World War II.

He came to these parts to attend the University of Michigan, but got involved in politics, and never finished. Perhaps his biggest success came by accident. He married a Serbian-American girl from Detroit, and their political activity caused the Air Force, back in the Red Scare days, to try to kick out her brother, who wasn’t political at all. Edward R. Murrow took up his cause and did one of the most famous programs in television history about it: The Case of Lieutenant Milo Radulovich. That show enabled Murrow to go on to help destroy the demagogue Joe McCarthy.

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State
9:32 am
Fri May 20, 2011

Secretary of State computer problem fixed, hours extended

A mainframe computer system problem that interrupted business at Michigan Secretary of State offices was fixed.

Now the Secretary of State offices will hold extended hours to sort through a backlog.

From the Associated Press:

Secretary of state branches across Michigan are extending their hours through Monday after a computer system problem interrupted transactions over the past several days.

State officials say it will take time to address the backlog created by the outage, which suspended operations for parts of this past Monday and Wednesday and nearly all of Thursday.

As a result, branch offices will stay open later on Friday, Saturday and Monday.

The secretary of state's office also says late fees will be waived for affected customers coming into branches through the end of business on May 27.

The office has alerted law enforcement that some customers were unable to renew their vehicle tabs or driver's licenses during the computer outage.

Commentary
6:30 am
Fri May 20, 2011

Prom night tip: check those coat buttons

Looking good on prom night.
Aaron Alexander Flickr

It was ninth grade, back when ninth graders still stayed in junior high. 

I had detention. I don’t remember why.  But so did the best looking girl in the class, whom I’ll call Rhonda—because, that was her name.

The catch was, she was dating Benny, the captain of the football team.  But, at detention, I learned there was trouble in paradise.  Oh yes.  They had broken up, with just four days to go before the big ninth grade dance. 

Tragic! 

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Politics
1:01 am
Fri May 20, 2011

Recall battle

Gov. Rick Snyder (R) Michigan
(Official state portrait)

Thousands of people are expected to descend on the state capitol on Saturday to protest Governor Rick Snyder’s policies.    Organizers plan to kick off a petition campaign to have the governor recalled from office.  

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Economy
6:25 pm
Thu May 19, 2011

Michigan economist on state's new tax structure

Charles Ballard, economist Michigan State University
Michigan State University

Governor Snyder and the legislature have come to an agreement on the state’s new tax structure. Does it make fiscal sense?

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke with Charles Ballard, an economist at Michigan State University and author of “Michigan’s Economic Future.” Here's the interview.

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Auto/Economy
6:03 pm
Thu May 19, 2011

Energy-efficient GM Orion plant ready to build fuel-efficient (and profitable) cars

Orion Assembly workers will be producing a new subcompact car for General Motors in about a month at the automaker's newly-renovated plant in Lake Orion. 

GM doesn’t plan to lose money on the Chevy Sonic, even though small cars are less profitable --which is why other major car companies make their smallest cars in lower-cost countries.   

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Politics
3:48 pm
Thu May 19, 2011

Detroit pension board agrees to debt payment changes

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Trustees of Detroit’s general retirement system have agreed to let the city spread out its debt payments over a longer period. It's just one of the changes the city’s mayor is seeking to balance the budget.

The change will save the city about $13 million, and if Detroit’s police and fire pension board trustees agree to a similar move, it bring the total savings to $65 million.

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