Detroit
6:45 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Detroit City Council continues hearings on budget

Budget hearings continue today in Detroit. The Detroit City Council’s budget, finance and audit standing committee will discuss the city's Finance Department budget later this afternoon, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

The Detroit City Council is continuing hearings on Mayor Dave Bing's proposed 2011-12 budget…

Bing presented his proposed $3.1 billion budget to the council last month. He says the city faces a $155 million deficit that could swell in several years unless there are more cuts, and payments to two city pensions and health care expenses are reduced.

Bing met Monday with union leadership where he detailed needed concessions to help cut into the deficit.

The council is expected to make recommendations or changes to Bing's proposal. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

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Economy
3:01 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Michigan gas prices hit record high

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan gasoline prices have reached a record high. According to GasBuddy.com, the price for a gallon of gasoline has never been this high in Michigan. 

Patrick DeHaan is a senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. He says the old record was $4.25 a gallon. DeHaan says the price at the pump in large parts of Michigan is now higher than $4.29 a gallon. He says refinery problems are causing gasoline supplies to drop in the Midwest.

DeHaan says Michigan motorists should be aware, we may not have reached that peak pump price yet. 

 “Whatever you expect…can change.  And so, if there is another issue like this we could see prices continue higher.   But history tells us that prices will reach a new peak sometime in May.”

DeHaan does not expect the death this week of Osama bin Laden will have an affect on gas prices.

May 3rd Election
2:01 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Election day in Michigan

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

It’s election day in Michigan. But few people expect long lines at polling stations across Michigan.

There are dozens of school millage votes and school board elections taking place today in Michigan.  But school races rarely draw large crowds of voters.

There are a few communities voting on controversial, or at least well publicized, issues.

Flint voters are casting ballots on two millages.  One would generate $2 million a year to reopen the city jail. The other would continue to fund a dozen police officers.

Lansing voters are deciding if they want to increase their property taxes to trim their city’s projected 20-plus million dollar budget deficit nearly in half.

And in Jackson, voters will decide if they want to merge their city police and fire departments into one public safety department.

Education
1:01 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Poll: Most Michiganders want education spared state spending cuts

There is some good news for Michigan school administrators worrying about the outcomes of today’s  school millage votes. A new Michigan State University poll of nearly a thousand state residents finds  most want education protected from state budget cuts.   

The State of the State survey finds education is the highest priority among Michiganders. The poll found support for state education funding consistent across all demographic groups and political affiliations.

William Schmidt is a statistics and education professor at MSU. He says the poll shows the importance that people place on education. Though he admits people often vote their own economic interest when asked to decide on school millages. 

 “They seem…conceptually at least…to think education is important.   And should be front and center.  But then…very often they vote their economic concerns…which is they don’t want their taxes raised.”  

Education spending is expected to take a big hit as state lawmakers deal with Michigan’s massive budget deficit. They are talking about slashing per-pupil funding by $300 to more than $400.

Changing Gears
5:53 pm
Mon May 2, 2011

Detroit census challenge

Hard to Count: The Barbara in Southwest Detroit
Kate Davidson Changing Gears

Imagine trying to prove that thousands of people exist, when you have no idea who they are.

That’s the dilemma facing officials who think their communities were undercounted in the 2010 Census.  But for Midwest cities preparing to challenge those numbers: How do you find people the Census Bureau missed?  We went looking for answers in Detroit.

When Detroit’s numbers came out in March, Mayor Dave Bing quickly summoned the press.  The tone was crisis — as if a natural disaster had struck.  And in a way, it had.  Detroit had lost a quarter of its people over the last ten years.

As cameras whirred, the mayor explained that Detroit’s population now stood at 713,777. 

"Personally I don’t believe the number is accurate,” he said.  “And I don’t believe it will stand up as we go through with our challenge."

Cleveland, Akron and Cincinnati are also considering challenges. 

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Auto/Economy
5:31 pm
Mon May 2, 2011

Japanese parts shortages will likely show up in April car sales

Car sales in the U.S. likely went up about ten percent last month, compared to the same month a year ago. 

U.S. sales for April will be reported Tuesday.

Analyst Jesse Toprak of Truecar.com says sales would have been better, but the disasters in Japan greatly diminished the supply of car parts, especially for Honda and Toyota.

Both companies have drastically slowed production of cars, and the slowdown could continue through the rest of the year.

Toprak says Japanese car companies typically do well when gas prices increase.

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The Death of Osama bin Laden
5:04 pm
Mon May 2, 2011

Mike Rogers praises work of U.S. intelligence agencies in death of Osama bin Laden

Rep. Mike Rogers, Brighton, Michigan (R)
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Brighton congressman Mike Rogers says the death of Osama bin Laden this week shows the growth of the nation’s intelligence agencies since September 11th.

Rogers chairs the U.S. House Intelligence Committee which oversees the  nation’s spy agencies.  

"I think this clearly demonstrates the new intelligence community, after 9/11, and their ability to find and reach out…anywhere in the world and take care of people who threaten the United States."

Rogers says the operation that ended with the death of bin Laden was one that few other nation’s could accomplish.

Politics
4:06 pm
Mon May 2, 2011

Michigan Legislature to discuss Snyder tax plan this week

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder
Russ Climie Tiberius Images

This week lawmakers in the state Senate will discuss a tax-reform plan agreed upon by Governor Rick Snyder and Republican leaders in the Legislature.

Just a couple months ago Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said it would be impressive if the Legislature could wrap up the budget before the summer, let alone before June.

But since then the Republican-led Senate has approved a spending plan, and is ready to work on a tax-reform proposal.

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Politics
3:45 pm
Mon May 2, 2011

Metro Detroit residents react to Osama bin Laden's death

James Marvin Phelps Flickr

Metro Detroiters are responding to the news that Osama bin Laden, the terrorist leader behind the September 11th attacks, has been killed.

Reactions ranged from noisy celebrations, to avowals of renewed vigilance, to somber relief.

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Politics
2:48 pm
Mon May 2, 2011

How they found bin Laden

The scene inside of bin Laden's compound
ABC News

The lead up to Sunday’s assault on the compound which held Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, less than a hundred miles from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, involved the work of multiple governmental agencies, including the CIA and JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command, and the elite counterterrorism unit Seal Team 6.

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Auto/Economy
2:03 pm
Mon May 2, 2011

Chrysler makes money for the first time since 2006

Chrysler posted a profit in the first quarter of this year:  $116-million.

It's not a lot of money.   But any amount of profit is a morale-booster when a company has been through the ordeal of bankruptcy.

The profit compares to a loss in the first three months of 2010 of $197-million.

Chrysler has been steadily reducing its losses every quarter since it went through bankruptcy in 2009. 

But this is the first clear indication that Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne's turnaround plan for Chrysler is getting the company back into reasonable financial shape.

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The death of osama bin laden
1:48 pm
Mon May 2, 2011

GVSU expert: bin Laden death ‘symbolic victory’

Jonathan White speaks to reporters during a press conference at Grand Valley State University.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Counter-terrorism expert Jonathan White heads GVSU’s Homeland Defense Initiative. White consults for local, state and federal groups involved in counter-terrorism efforts.

White says bin Laden’s death will inspire those planning terrorist attacks, but he says they’d still be planning those attacks if bin Laden was alive.

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Crime
12:36 pm
Mon May 2, 2011

Former Detroit Public School executive pleads guilty in scandal

Of the nine people indicted in the Detroit Public School scandal last fall, the Detroit Free Press reports there have been seven guilty pleas.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Stephen Hill, the former executive director of the Detroit Public School's Risk Management Department could be facing prison time for his role in a scheme that stripped millions from the Detroit Public School system.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Hill was one of 9 people indicted last fall in the scandal. Officials charged him with taking kickbacks "in the form of a new Mustang GT convertible in 2005 and a new Dodge Durango SUV in 2006...[and] using DPS funds to pay for his $40,000 retirement party when he temporarily left the district in September 2005."

Here's more from the Free Press:

Stephen Hill, a former Detroit Public Schools executive, is facing up to 9 years in prison after pleading guilty today to his role in a scheme that looted more than $3 million from the cash-strapped district.

Hill, who admitted that he accepted roughly $150,000 in kickbacks from a vendor that overbilled district for inadequate work, pleaded guilty to extortion and conspiring to commit program before U.S. District Court Judge Paul Borman.

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May 3rd Election - Commentary
11:41 am
Mon May 2, 2011

Testing Time

Everyone understands that our cities are going to have to make do with less help from Lansing. In fact, nearly every city, village and township  in Michigan has had a harder time the last few years.

Not only has revenue sharing been cut; declining property values and more foreclosures has meant less tax revenue.

Now, we are about to find out the answer to a crucial question:  Are the residents of hard-hit cities going to be willing to pay a little extra to keep up services and their quality of life?

Tomorrow, a number of cities around the state will ask their residents to do just that. Perhaps the most important of these elections is in Southfield, just north of Detroit in Oakland County, one of the many suburbs that exploded after the coming of the freeways.

Southfield’s gleaming office towers hold a daytime population of perhaps two hundred thousand. But at night, seventy-one thousand people call Southfield home. The city is one of well-kept split levels and ranch houses, with a lovely city center complex and one of Michigan’s newest and largest libraries.

Thirty years ago, Southfield was populated largely by young Jewish families. Today, it hasn’t lost its leafy character, but is now seventy percent African-American. Thanks largely to the recession, housing values have crashed, and so have sales tax receipts.

Mayor Brenda Lawrence and the other city leaders know they are on the point of a knife. They have to keep services up and crime down, or their city could topple into urban decay. They don’t say it aloud, but their biggest fear is that Southfield could become Detroit.

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The Death of Osama bin Laden
11:34 am
Mon May 2, 2011

Detroit area imams "welcome" Osama bin Laden's death

Dawud Walid of the Council on American Islamic Relations is flanked by Detroit area imams at a news conference in Southfield.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A group of Detroit area imams say they are glad U.S. Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden over the weekend. The imams representing different groups within southeast Michigan’s Muslim community say Osama bin Laden’s death was justified.       

Dawud Walid is with the Council on American Islamic Relations. He says bin Laden was a criminal for his acts of terrorism. Some have  questioned whether bin Laden's burial at sea may have disrespected Islamic tradition. Dawud Walid disagrees.

“Osama bin Laden did the ultimate disrespect  when he attacked churches and mosques…and when he killed thousands of Americans at the  World Trade Center.  That’s the ultimate disrespect.  Not whether he was buried on  the water or under the earth.”

The imams agree that the U.S. government should release as much information as possible about the hunt and death of Osama bin Laden. Not toconvince them. But to keep Osama bin Laden's followers from refusing to believe he’s dead.

They are concerned that Osama bin Laden could otherwise become something of an "Elvis Presley"-like figure among his followers.

National
11:20 am
Mon May 2, 2011

Homeland Security says no increased security threat

The head of the Department of Homeland Security says they are not issuing a threat warning in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death.

Here's the statement by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano:

The death of Osama bin Laden is an important success not only for the United States, but the entire world. Our efforts to combat terrorism, however, do not fixate on one individual, and we remain completely focused on protecting our nation against violent extremism of all kinds.

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News Roundup
9:45 am
Mon May 2, 2011

In this morning's news...

Osama bin Laden is dead, Detroit reacts

The Detroit Arab American and Muslim communities reacted last night as news of Osama bin Laden's death spread. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan are holding a press conference this morning at 9:30. Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody is there and will have an update for us. Here's a statement from CAIR:

In a statement issued following President Obama's announcement of bin Laden's death, CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid said, "We welcome the announcement that Osama bin Laden has been eliminated as a threat to our nation and the world through the actions of our military personnel. In addition to the killing of thousands of Americans, he and Al Qaeda caused the deaths of countless Muslims worldwide. We also welcome President Obama's clear statement tonight that the United States is not at war with Islam."

Chrysler records its first profit since emerging from bankruptcy

The good economic news continues for U.S. automakers as Chrysler announced a first quarter profit. From the Detroit Free Press:

Chrysler said today it earned $116 million during the first three months of the year, giving the company its first profit since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009, as well as details about its debt refinancing plans.

The profit compares to a $197-million loss for the same January-March period last year.

Collusion between bridge-owner Moroun and former Detroit Mayor?

A WikiLeak cable reveals the Detroit & Canada Tunnel Corporation felt shut out of negotiations between former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun. From the Windsor Star:

The former president of the company that manages the Windsor-Detroit tunnel complained to the U.S. embassy in Ottawa in 2005 about backroom dealings between Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, correspondence released by WikiLeaks this week shows.

In a cable he sent to the State Department on Nov. 10, 2005, David Wilkins, former U.S. ambassador to Canada, said Gordon Jarvis complained he had been "shut out of negotiations" as he tried to get the Detroit & Canada Tunnel Corporation's lease arrangement renewed. Moroun had offered to pay $30 million to gain control of the U.S. side of the Windsor-Detroit tunnel for 100 years and the tunnel corporation was trying to make a counter offer.

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Breaking
7:14 am
Mon May 2, 2011

President Obama confirms the death of Osama bin Laden

President Obama announcing to the nation that Osama bin Laden has been killed.
White House

Late last night, President Obama announced to the nation that Osama bin Laden had been killed by a small team of American forces at a mansion in Pakistan.

Obama called Bin Laden "a terrorist who was responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children."

Update 7:14 a.m.

The Detroit Free Press reports on the celebrations from the Muslim and Arab-American community in metro Detroit upon hearing the news of Osama bin Laden's death:

"The world is definitely a better place without the patron of all terrorists," said Imam Hassan Al-Qazwini, head of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, the largest mosque in a city that has the highest concentration of Arab-Americans in the U.S. Qazwini called bin Laden "the world's most infamous thug."

"It is so comforting to see justice being served while the families of the thousands of his victims rejoice," he said.

Ibrahim Aljahim, 29, of Detroit, said of bin Laden: "He never represented Muslims or anyone else."

..."As gratifying as it is to see this, we should continue to be on alert," said Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. "Executing the symbol of bin Laden does not execute the ideology (of extremism). It's a vital mistake to focus on the person and ignore the ideology."

12:09 am

NPR reports:

Osama bin Laden, who created the al-Qaida terrorist network that killed 3,000 people in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, is dead.

He was killed, President Obama announced to the nation late Sunday night, in Pakistan by U.S. forces. During a firefight with bin Laden's guards, which the president said happened earlier in the day, no American personnel were injured.

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Crime
1:00 am
Mon May 2, 2011

Looking for ways to improve border security

The view of Windsor, Ontario from the Detroit riverfront
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Congresswoman Candice Miller is chairing a hearing this week  on the need for greater coordination of law enforcement resources on America’s borders.   Miller says Mexico’s expanding drug war poses a growing threat to border states.

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Breaking: Terrorism
11:31 pm
Sun May 1, 2011

Osama Bin Laden is dead

Osama bin Laden, who created the al-Qaida terrorist network that killed 3,000 people in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, is dead.

President Obama is about to announce that news to the nation, NPR and other news outlets have been told by U.S. officials.

With the al-Qaida leader's death, a new and dramatic moment has occurred in a long struggle that has seen the U.S. go to war first in Afghanistan — where al-Qaida was based — and then in Iraq.

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