Commentary
1:17 pm
Tue January 18, 2011

State of the State: A History

Tomorrow Governor Rick Snyder will deliver his first state of the state speech to a joint session of the legislature and a statewide television audience. I’ve seen a lot of these speeches, and believe this may be the most eagerly anticipated one ever.

Michigan is stuck in twin enormous economic crises, one affecting state government, which has a perennial massive deficit, and the other affecting hundreds of thousands without jobs.

Governor Snyder is brand new, and we are still getting to know him. We want to have a better sense of who he is, and, especially,  how he plans to get us out of the mess we’re in.

But all this got me wondering: Who was the first governor ever to give a state-of-the state speech?  The first I remember was Governor Milliken, but how far back did the tradition go before him?

I knew that in the old days, governors just sent an annual written message to the legislature. U.S. Presidents used to do the same, until Woodrow Wilson started the tradition of showing up at the capitol and delivering a speech in person.

Since then, almost every president has done so. But who was the first governor to do so? I asked Bill Ballenger, the publisher of Inside Michigan Politics. “Wow,” he said. “I don’t know.”

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State of the State
12:23 pm
Tue January 18, 2011

AP: No text copy of Gov. Snyder's State of the State speech

Governor Rick Snyder delivering his first inaugural address in Lansing, MI
Corvair Owner Flickr

What's the "State of the State"?

We'll all find out what the new governor thinks tomorrow night, but not before.

The Associated Press reports:

Gov. Rick Snyder will deliver his first State of the State address Wednesday, but he won't be putting out a written copy of the speech. His spokesman says the new Republican governor doesn't tend to work off a prepared text, so there's no written copy to release. The governor's office also doesn't expect to provide a transcript of the 7 p.m. speech immediately after Snyder delivers it at the Capitol. The talk will focus on economic development and job creation and is expected to be about 40 minutes long. It will be broadcast live statewide. Former Govs. Jennifer Granholm and John Engler usually released embargoed copies of their remarks before their State of the State speeches. Their speeches also were posted online after they spoke.

You can hear a live-broadcast of tomorrow night's "State of the State" on Michigan Radio starting at 7 p.m.

Pay close attention!

Science/Medicine
11:36 am
Tue January 18, 2011

MSU's new accelerator attracting talent and jobs

A group touring the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory at MSU.
MSU - NSCL

We hear a lot of talk about people and talent leaving the state.

Today, a story about people and talent coming to the state.

Lorri Higgins writes in today's Detroit Free Press about Michigan State University's National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory.

Today, the lab has two superconducting cyclotron accelerators that attract a lot of nuclear physicists to the program. And construction on a new accelerator will begin in a couple of years.

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News Roundup
8:49 am
Tue January 18, 2011

In this morning's news...

A Trashy Story

Senator Debbie Stabenow announced yesterday that Michigan is no longer receiving Ontario’s municipal trash. The Democratic senator credited an agreement that she and Senator Carl Levin made with Ontario officials in 2006. However, Canadian garbage could still be shipped into the state as the agreement doesn’t apply to non-municipal trash. As Sarah Cwiek reports, commercial and industrial waste accounts for about 60-percent of the trash that's shipped from Canada to Michigan.

NAIAS Sees Increase in Visitors

Attendance is up at the North American International Auto Show so far this year, the Detroit Free Press reports. The Freep says:

Attendance Monday was 64,520, up from 61,112 from the same day last year, said NAIAS spokesman Sam Locricchio. On opening day Saturday, 86,622 attended the show, compared with 83,715 on the opening Saturday last year, he said. Sunday's attendance was 99,111 -- up from 96,623 for the opening Sunday in 2010, he said.

DSO, Management Back to Bargaining Table

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians and the DSO’s management are headed back into negotiations. The players have been on strike since Oct. 4th. Both sides have submitted new proposals that revolve around a $36 million compensation package, Jennifer Guerra reports. Neither side has publicly commented on the new proposals. The DSO reported an $8.8 million budget deficit for the 2010 fiscal year.

Ice, Sleet, and Snow (Oh, My)

Drivers should prepare for an icy commute this morning across the state. Forecasters are predicting rain, freezing rain and snowfall in many parts of west, mid, and southeast Michigan.  A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect until 11 a.m. today for much of west and mid-Michigan and until noon for parts of the southeast. Temps are expected to be in the low to mid 30s.

Winter Weather
7:26 am
Tue January 18, 2011

Prepare for an icy commute around the state today

Prepare for slick roads around the state this morning
LisaW123 Flickr

If you're commuting this morning, expect slick roads across the state. This morning we'll see a mix of rain, freezing rain and sleet.  A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect until 11 a.m. today for much of west and mid-Michigan and until noon for parts of the southeast.

Today: Snow in west Michigan. Snow mixed with sleet and freezing rain in mid and southeast Michigan. Highs in the low to mid 30s.

Tonight: Cloudy, a slight chance of snow in Holland and southeast Michigan. Lows between zero and 10 degrees.

Tomorrow: Mostly cloudy with a bit of sun in southeast Michigan. Scattered light snow in west and mid-michigan. Highs around 20.

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Detroit Auto Show
6:59 am
Tue January 18, 2011

Attendance up at the Detroit Auto Show

Attendence is up at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this year
Jdpowers65 Flickr

Attendance is up at the North American International Auto Show so far this year, the Detroit Free Press reports. The Freep says:

Attendance Monday was 64,520, up from 61,112 from the same day last year, said NAIAS spokesman Sam Locricchio. On opening day Saturday, 86,622 attended the show, compared with 83,715 on the opening Saturday last year, he said. Sunday's attendance was 99,111 -- up from 96,623 for the opening Sunday in 2010, he said.

The show, at Detroit's Cobo Center, is open until Sunday.

State Legislature
6:46 am
Tue January 18, 2011

Bill to repeal Driver Responsibility Fee is expected this week

Michigan's Captiol Building, Lansing, MI
Terry Johnston Flickr

A bill that would repeal Michigan's unpopular Driver Responsibility Fee is expected to be introduced in the state Senate this week, Laura Weber Reports. The annual fee goes to Michigan drivers who have seven or more points on their license. A repeal of the fee was approved by the state House last year but it stalled in the state Senate.

Democratic state Senator Bert Johnson says most lawmakers want to get rid of the fee, but don’t want to lose the money it brings in to the state, Weber reports.

Environment
6:36 am
Tue January 18, 2011

Ontario cities no longer sending garbage to Michigan

Ontario cities are no longer sending their municipal waste to Michigan
Nio_nl Flickr

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow hailed what she called a "major milestone" in the fight to stop Canadian trash shipments to Michigan. Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek was at a press conference that the Senator held yesterday in Detroit. Cwiek sent this report:

Michigan charges only 21 cents a ton to dump trash in landfills. That's far less than other Great Lakes states.

As a result, Ontario, as well as some U.S. states, export some of their trash to Michigan. But, Stabenow says as of January first, Ontario cities are no longer shipping their municipal waste. She credits a voluntary agreement she and Senator Carl Levin reached with Ontario officials in 2006.

But, Stabenow says that's not the end of the story because the agreement doesn't apply to non-municipal trash.

Commercial and industrial waste accounts for about 60-percent of the trash that's shipped from Canada to Michigan.

Arts/Culture
5:07 pm
Mon January 17, 2011

$250 from New York woman inspires kindness in Holland, MI

Holland Mayor Kurt Dykstra reads from Ramona Scott's letter that inspired the new program.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

City leaders in Holland are launching an initiative they hope will inspire random acts of kindness. The city will distribute ‘pay it forward’ cards that people can give to others after doing them some kind of favor. It could be monetary, like paying for their cup of coffee, or something simpler, like letting them go ahead at the store checkout line. The cards encourage that person pass the card, and a new favor, forward to a second person.

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Education
4:57 pm
Mon January 17, 2011

Detroit school board to talk about district's academic plan

A Wayne County judge says the Detroit school board has the final word when it comes to academics in the district, not state-appointed financial manager Robert Bobb.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

The Detroit Board of Education will meet Tuesday to go over a proposed settlement with Robert Bobb, the district’s emergency financial manager.

A Wayne County judge ruled last month that the Detroit school board is in charge of academics for the district, not the district’s financial manager. But both sides have to come to an agreement on how to implement the ruling, since Bobb’s team implemented several classroom reforms while the lawsuit was pending.

Anthony Adams is the school board’s president. He says it’s in the district’s best interest to keep most of  Bobb’s reforms in place:

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Arts/Culture
4:44 pm
Mon January 17, 2011

Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians, management to head back to bargaining table

DSO players and management submitted $36 million proposals to a federal mediator
Nate Luzod Creative commons

Detroit Symphony Orchestra management and its striking musicians are headed back to the bargaining table.

The players have been on strike since Oct. 4.

DSO management and the musicians have submitted new proposals to a federal mediator. Both sides’ proposals revolve around a $36 million compensation package. That dollar amount roughly splits the difference between the two sides’ previous proposals and was suggested by U.S. Senator Carl Levin and then Governor Jennifer Granholm last month.

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What's Working
10:55 am
Mon January 17, 2011

Time-banking in Michigan

All throughout 2010, Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Christina Shockley asked people for their ideas on what we can all do to help our state. This year, she'll find out What's Working. Every week, we'll explore a new idea that's working to improve the state's economy and our lives. The series is called, "What's Working."

Today, we heard from Kim Hodge, Executive Director of MI Alliance of TimeBanks, about the rising popularity of time-banking in the state. So, maybe you're wondering just what time-banking is. The Alliance's website explains it like this:

At its most basic level, Time banking is simply about spending an hour doing something for somebody in your community. That hour goes into the Time Bank as a Time Dollar. Then you have a Time dollar to spend on having someone doing something for you. It’s a simple idea, but it has powerful ripple effects in building community connections.

Each Time Bank has a website where you list what you would like to do for other members. You look up Time Bank services online or call a community coordinator to do it for you. You earn Time Dollars after each service you perform and then you get to spend it on whatever you want from the listings.

With Time Banking, you will be working with a small group of committed individuals who are joined together for a common good. It connects you to the best in people because it creates a system that connects unmet needs with untapped resources. To see what happens each week when you are part of Time Bank is deeply fulfilling, especially if you are helping to make it run.

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Commentary
10:18 am
Mon January 17, 2011

Living the Dream

Last week I talked to a woman in an accounting office about an issue involving an electronic tax payment.

“I’ll take care of that Monday,” she told me.

"I don’t think you can," I said. "Monday is the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday."

“What?“ she said. “Oh, that. I don’t celebrate that,” she said with a tone of annoyance.

It wasn’t her holiday, she wanted me to know, and she thought it was highly inappropriate for anybody to get a day off, and for government offices and banks to be closed.

You won’t be surprised to learn that she wasn’t African-American. Nor that she didn’t know much, really, about Dr. Martin Luther King. However, I’m not sure that a lot of the people who do enthusiastically celebrate it know much about him either.

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News Roundup
8:49 am
Mon January 17, 2011

In this morning's news...

Awaiting the SOS

Governor Rick Snyder delivers his first State of the State address on Wednesday night to a joint session of the Michigan Legislature. There’s a lot of anticipation for details about how the governor plans to revive the state’s economy but, Snyder is not expected to give specific plans for the state budget until next month, Laura Weber reports. Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer will deliver the Democratic response after Governor Snyder’s address.

UAW Members to D.C.

Some 1,000 members of the United Auto Workers union will be in Washington, D.C. today for the beginning of a four-day conference.  The UAW says attendees will discuss the union’s legislative and political priorities for the coming year and prepare for the 2012 electoral campaign. The meeting will open with a speech from UAW President Bob King and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-D) is also expected to speak.

Remembering MLK, Jr.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  The day, which falls on the third Monday of each January, is a federal holiday that marks the January 15th birthday of Dr. King. Mark Brush has a nice piece this morning that explores the legacy of Dr. King, particularly in the light of the Arizona shooting that killed 6 and injured U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords among others. Brush is asking for your thoughts about the day and it what means to you.

Politics
8:00 am
Mon January 17, 2011

The legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. online

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King in 1964.
Library of Congress

The recent attempt on Representative Gabrielle Giffords life sparked new debate about the state of public discourse in our country. How could this have happened? What does this type of violence say about us? Have we reached a breaking point?

As the news rolled in, and it appears the violence might have been the work of a mad-man, hearts were still broken, but there seemed to be some relief that the act seemed less about our politics, and more about a lost soul.

Events like these are unsettling, and it often makes me wonder what it was like for Americans when the violence was more directly tied to our political discourse.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King was shot and killed in Memphis in 1968. Violent riots followed in what surely must've felt like an unraveling of American society.

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Economy
7:37 am
Mon January 17, 2011

Two chambers of commerce promoting online coupon deals

Two communities in West Michigan are trying an online coupon program to help spur the economy. The program called ‘Try it local’ is similar to Group-on.

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Governor Snyder
7:23 am
Mon January 17, 2011

Countdown to Snyder's first State of the State address

Governor Rick Snyder giving his inaugural speech on January 1st, 2011.
Corvair Owner Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder will deliver his first State of the State address to a joint session of the state Legislature on Wednesday evening. Laura Weber is in Lansing and sent this report:

Governor Snyder is expected to focus his speech on Michigan’s economic future. But the governor is not expected to give specific plans for the state budget until next month. Democratic House Minority Leader Richard Hammel says he has not heard enough details yet from Snyder.

I mean, there’s been a whole lot of talk about moving Michigan forward, and not looking in the rearview mirror and reinventing Michigan, and I think that’s wonderful. We all feel that way. But we’re waiting for details before we can really react.

Snyder has said all areas of state government will be considered for further budget cuts to close a nearly $2 billion dollar estimated deficit.

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Auto
6:46 am
Mon January 17, 2011

UAW members head to D.C.

Members of the UAW union will attend a four-day legislative conference in Washington, D.C. beginning today
UAW

Members of the United Auto Workers union will be on Capitol Hill today in Washington, D.C.. Some 1,000 union members will be there for a four-day legislative meeting.  As the Associate Press reports:

They'll be hearing from UAW President Bob King on Monday on the start of the four-day conference. The Detroit News says King plans to talk about efforts to persuade non-U.S. automakers to make it easier to unionize their U.S. plants.

In a statement, the UAW said, those at the meeting will:

...discuss the union's legislative and political priorities for the coming year, meet with members of Congress to advocate on behalf of working families and prepare for the union's 2012 electoral campaign.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to speak at the conference.

Investigative
6:12 am
Mon January 17, 2011

Will cities, villages and townships lose revenue sharing again?

Lawmakers in Lansing may have to cut revenue sharing with local governments to fill the $1.8 billion budget hole.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

The money the state sends to local governments is called revenue sharing.  But "sharing" might not be quite the right word.  It’s actually a promise, a deal the state made with the towns we live in. 

Summer Minnick is with the Michigan Municipal League.  It represents the interests of the cities, villages and townships to state leaders.  She says decades ago, local governments gave up the power to charge their own sales tax to raise money.

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Arts/Culture
4:48 pm
Sun January 16, 2011

MSU exhibit uses art to explore racial equality

MSU professor James Lawton created "Evolutionary Artifacts," a multimedia exhibition that focuses on human equality and social justice.
G.L. Kohuth

Michigan State University will unveil a new exhibit on Monday that uses art and sound to explore Martin Luther King Junior’s dream of racial equality.

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