Economy
1:01 am
Thu May 12, 2011

Michigan's foreclosure process slows down

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan mortgage lenders are taking longer to foreclose on delinquent homeowners.  In 2007, the entire foreclosure process in Michigan took on average 78 days to complete.   This year, the average foreclosure is taking 235 days to complete.  The reason is a mixture of the economy and paperwork. 

According to Realty Trac, this is not just a Michigan issue:

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Education
10:44 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

Detroit looks to charters to avoid school closures

Detroit Public Schools is offering 45 schools to charter companies.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

In the past two years, Detroit has closed 59 schools and cut 30 percent of the school system's workforce. But the district is still staring at a deficit of more than $300 million, and thousands of students continue to flee every year. In a story produced for NPR's All Things Considered, we take a closer look at a plan to help the troubled district out of its downward spiral.

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Science/Medicine
7:58 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

University of Michigan loses stem cell researcher to Texas

One of the state’s leading stem cell researchers is leaving for a new job in Texas.

Sean Morrison was head of the Center for Stem Cell Biology at the University of Michigan.

He was also a vocal proponent of Proposal 2, which loosened restrictions on embryonic stem cell research in Michigan in 2008.

Morrison says the University is in a good position to continue important stem cell research without him.

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Auto/Economy
6:47 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

Toyota's profits plummet 77% in first three months of year

Toyota’s profits fell 77-percent in the first three months of the year.  That’s in part because the strong yen versus the dollar eroded the Japanese company’s profitability overseas. 

The company’s global production also plummeted after the tsunami damaged many Toyota parts suppliers in Japan.

Aaron Bragman is an analyst with I-H-S Automotive.    He says Toyota is, at least, on the mend from last year’s recall crisis.

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Politics
6:17 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

A conversation with Benton Harbor's Emergency Manager - Joe Harris

Benton Harbor continues to make headlines in national news as the city works to stabilize its finances.

Joe Harris was appointed as Emergency Manager last April by former Governor Jennifer Granholm.

Since then, Governor Rick Snyder has signed into law the expansion of an Emergency Mangers' power. Under the law, emergency managers can strip power from locally elected officials and dissolve union contracts.

Joe Harris is the first emergency manager to take advantage of the new law.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke with Harris. Here's the interview.

During the interview, Harris said he wanted to correct the record - that he didn't strip the elected officials in Benton Harbor of their power. Harris says their power was effectively stripped when the new Emergency Manager bill was signed into law by Governor Snyder:

"In that act... mayors, commissioners, and chief administrative officers of any city that was under the control of an emergency manager lost their authority.

I never stripped them. And so the news report that's all over the country that I stripped them of their authority is incorrect. They had no authority.

The only authority that they can have is the authority that's provided to them, or is given to them by the Emergency Manager."

On April 14th, Harris issued this order.

Economy
4:55 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

Snyder's "Reinventing Michigan" award goes to…

Governor Snyder hands memebers of the Slikkers family his first ever "Reinventing Michigan" award Wednesday. The Slikkers own Energetx Composites, a spin-off of Tiara Yachts.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder is honoring a West Michigan company for diversifying its business. Snyder presented Energetx Composites with his first “Reinventing Michigan” award. The award is part of a campaign promise to highlight more business success stories in the state.  

Energetx is a spin-off of Tiara Yachts. Luxury boats sales crashed during the recession.  In 2008 the company realized they could use the same strong but light-weight material used to make yachts to make other things, particularly parts for wind turbines. 

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Offbeat
4:26 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

Comics writer Geoff Johns debuts new series

Comics writer Geoff Johns
CNN

I was going to put the superhero The Flash's catchphrase here, but apparently he doesn't have one.

Geoff Johns' catchphrase might be "I earned it."

Johns, hailing from Detroit, MI, received his degree in Media Arts and Film from Michigan State University before moving to Hollywood, where he worked with film director Richard Donner on movies like Conspiracy Theory and Lethal Weapon 4.

All of this happened before he decided to be a full-time comics writer.

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Sports
4:02 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

Robert Traylor, former Michigan basketball player dead at 34

Former University of Michigan player Robert Traylor died in Puerto Rico today.
wingsofjustice.com

Robert "Tractor" Traylor died of apparent massive heart attack in Puerto Rico.

From ESPN:

Police in San Juan, Puerto Rico, said in a statement he was found dead Wednesday on the bedroom floor of his oceanfront apartment. Police and Traylor's team, the Vaqueros de Bayamon, said he had been missing for a few days and apparently died from a heart attack.

The Vaqueros said Traylor was rehabbing a heel injury and had not been playing. They suspended their game Wednesday night because of his death.

Traylor played for the University of Michigan from 1995 to 1998. Prior to that he played for Murray-Wright High School in Detroit.

He was selected by the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 1998 NBA Draft and traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. He went on to play for seven years in the NBA for 4 teams (Milwaukee, Cleveland, Charlotte, and New Orleans). After his NBA career, Traylor played for teams in Turkey and Italy before playing in Puerto Rico.

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Arts/Culture
3:56 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

NYT CEO: Paid online subscriptions can work for newspapers of all sizes

New York Times Company CEO Janet Robinson
david_shankbone flickr

The CEO of the New York Times Company says the Times’ decision to charge for some online content is going much better than expected. And Janet Robinson says she thinks similar models can work for smaller newspapers, like the Detroit dailies:

"Newspapers of all sizes really have the opportunity to have some kind of paid model. And the earlier they start to explore and test and experiment, I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised in regard to what the results may be."

The New York Times uses what’s called a “metered model.” That means people can read 20 articles for free each month before they’re required to pay for unlimited access. Home delivery subscribers also have unlimited access.

Robinson says from mid-March to mid-April more than 100,000 people signed up for paid online access.

Robinson spoke to the Detroit Economic Club in Birmingham today.

Economy
3:22 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

Report claims nearly half Detroit workforce is not prepared for workforce

Nearly half of the Detroit workforce lack the basic skills needed by employers
sideshowmom Morgue File

A recent report  describing the adult workforce in Detroit says that 47% are unable to read.

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Politics
3:03 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

State Senate debate continuing on Michigan tax proposal

A Michigan Senate committee isn't yet ready to make a decision on a broad plan that would significantly change business and income tax structures in the state.

The Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee adjourned Wednesday without a vote on the legislation.

It's still possible the proposal will be voted on in the Republican-led Senate as early as Thursday.

The plan backed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder would cut overall business taxes about $1 billion in the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 and $1.7 billion the following year. The key would be replacing the
Michigan Business Tax with a 6 percent corporate income tax while eliminating many types of tax credits and exemptions.

Some exemptions on retiree income would end, which has drawn opposition from some Republican lawmakers.

Offbeat
2:41 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

Local joker dressed as Batman arrested in Petoskey

The man arrested earlier today in Petoskey
Petoskey Department of Public Safety

A man dressed up as Batman was arrested in downtown Petoskey today after hanging off the wall of a building, according to the Petoskey News-Review.

The man was spotted while hanging off the wall of a building.

He was arrested and charged with trespassing and possession of dangerous weapons.

From the News-Review:

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Offbeat
1:51 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

Colbert mocks Benton Harbor EFM

From Colbert's "The Word" segment, which poked fun at Governor Snyder and Benton Harbor's EFM
The Colbert Report

National attention has been drawn to Michigan lately, largely due to continuing coverage of the Emergency Financial Manager law by MSNBC news show host Rachel Maddow.

On Monday, that national attention got a boost when Stephen Colbert made Governor Snyder and the controversial EFM law the focus of his “The Word” segment.

Colbert focused on the recent application of the new EFM managers powers in Benton Harbor.

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Lansing
1:11 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

Layoffs looming in Lansing

Downtown Lansing
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Lansing police officers are waiting to see if they will receive layoffs notices.  The city council next week is expected to approve a city budget that will include deep budget cuts in public safety.   The city is facing a 20 million dollar budget deficit.

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Commentary
1:00 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

Fast train to somewhere

We’ve had so much bad news for so long it’s sometimes hard to absorb when something goes right. But it did this week, when the federal government awarded Michigan $200 million dollars to improve railroad service between Detroit and Chicago.

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Traffic
1:00 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

Traffic deaths rise in Michigan. Is the economy to blame?

An accident scene on I-94
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan saw an increase in the number of traffic deaths in 2010.  It was the first increase in 7 years. 

According to a new report, 936 people died on Michigan roads last year.   That’s an 8% increase over 2009.

Traffic fatalities have been declining in Michigan since the early 2000’s when more than a thousand people were dying each year in car crashes. 

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Changing Gears
12:52 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

Across the region, shutting the local library

Zachariah, left, and Craig Boyd, Saturday morning regulars at Gary Public Libary's main branch.
Niala Boodhoo Changing Gears

What happens when your local library shuts its doors? That’s a question Midwestern towns from Evanston, Ill., to Troy, Mich., are asking as local libraries are targeted in budget cuts.

I went to Northwest Indiana, where the Gary Library Board has just decided to close its main branch, to find out the impact on a local community.

Gary has five library branches. The other four have names, like Kennedy, or Du Bois. This one is simply called the "main library."

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Science/Medicine
11:30 am
Wed May 11, 2011

Mobile field hospital drill to be held May 18

For the first time, Michigan will hold a disaster drill involving the state's complete mobile field hospital.

The drill will take place May 18 at The Summit at Capitol Centre in Dimondale, just southwest of Lansing.

It will be the first time that both a 100-bed mobile field hospital housed in southeast Michigan and a 40-bed mobile field hospital housed in southwest Michigan will be brought together in the same disaster drill.

The drill is intended to let emergency volunteer health professionals practice deploying the mobile field hospital, which can be set up virtually anywhere to treat patients.

The mobile hospital would be deployed if a disaster overwhelmed medical resources such as traditional hospitals and health clinics.

News Roundup
8:45 am
Wed May 11, 2011

In this morning's news...

In this morning's news, Thursday, May 11th, 2011
Brother O'Mara Other

GM Announces New Investments

General Motors announced yesterday it will invest a total of $2 billion in 17 of its U.S. plants. The investment means the automaker will re-hire its 1,357 laid-off workers, and possibly hire hundreds of new workers, especially if demand for GM cars continues to improve. The announcement was made at GM’s Toledo Transmission plant.

Unhappy With Snyder

A new EPIC/MRA poll is out and it shows Michigan voters are unhappy with Governor Rick Snyder. Snyder’s disapproval rating is at 60%, that’s compared with a disapproval rate of 36% percent just two months ago. And, disapproval of his job performance seems to have influenced how votes view Snyder personally. "More voters have an ‘unfavorable’ opinion of Governor Snyder today than they did back in February. In February, the poll showed 44% ‘favorable’ and 27% ‘unfavorable.’ Today, the poll shows 41% ‘favorable’ and 43% ‘unfavorable,'" Mark Brush reports.

EITC (Partially) Restored

Governor Snyder's administration has agreed to restore a reduced version of the state income tax credit for working poor families, Rick Pluta reports. From Pluta:

The reduced tax break will allow families that qualify to claim 6% of the federal earned income credit on their state taxes. In the past families could claim 20%. Snyder's original proposal called for elimination of the credit... Families eligible for the state credit in 2009 claimed an average of $432 per household. The Michigan League for Human Services says the reduced credit will still allow eligible families to take $140 off their 2011 tax bill, or add part of it to their return.

Politics
6:49 am
Wed May 11, 2011

Group begins effort to recall state Speaker of the House

Republican Jase Bolger, State Speaker of the House
Michigan Municipal League Flickr

A group trying to recall Governor Rick Snyder is now trying to remove Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger. The Associated Press reports:

The group cites Bolger's support for cutting school aid and for legislation making it easier to void public employee contracts during financial emergencies.

The Committee to Recall Rick Snyder says it hopes to collect 8,500 signatures to put Bolger's recall on the November ballot.

Language on a petition to recall the Marshall lawmaker was submitted Tuesday to the Calhoun County clerk.

Bolger says he'll keep focusing on job creation and sound fiscal management and says he's in touch with voters.

Chief Deputy Clerk Teri Loew tells the Battle Creek Enquirer there'll be a hearing this month.

If the language passes muster, backers will have 180 days to collect signatures.

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