State Universities
6:49 am
Thu January 13, 2011

Snyder meets with university presidents

Governor Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor Rick Snyder met yesterday with the presidents of the state's universities.  They told the governor they are ready to help improve Michigan's economy. The Associated Press reports:

...Snyder says universities likely will have to sacrifice in the short run, but he wants to invest more in higher education when times get better. Michigan Technological University President Glen Mroz said in a statement that the meeting set a positive tone for the relationship between universities and the new Snyder administration.

Reports say Snyder did not give any specific details on what he plans to do for universities in the state's next budget. Michigan faces a projected $1.8 billion dollar budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins October 1st.

Arts/Culture
8:07 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

DSO musicians urge compromise, say strike is hurting area businesses

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra playing in Greenfield Village in 2002
flickr - user paintitblack22

Update Thursday, 9:57 a.m.:

DSO management wrote to us saying the information provided below regarding the DSO contract proposal was dated. We've updated the copy to clarify that this was one of management's original proposals.

Update 6:45 p.m.: 

At today's press conference, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians urged management to return to the bargaining table. They say the strike is hurting area businesses, especially restaurants.

David Zainea co-owns the Majestic Cafe in Midtown, and he says business has taken a big hit since the musicians went on strike Oct. 4: 

"We’re down almost 25% in the course of three months."

The musicians said they wanted to use the suggested proposal U.S. Senator Carl Levin and then-governor Jennifer Granholm had issued as a roadmap. 

That proposal called for a $36 million, 3-year contract that would require sacrifice from both sides. 

DSO management issued a statement this afternoon saying they would submit a proposal to the federal mediator "detailing how it would spend $36 million over three years once it secures additional, sustainable funding that would both close the gap between its position and the union's and support the enhanced communal and educational activities that are now even more important for the orchestra to revive and thrive."

DSO board chair Stanley Frankel had originally said he took the Granholm-Levin recommendation seriously, but:

"A $36 million compensation package is beyond what every consultant and our Board have said is feasible."

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Education
6:23 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

New fund to send Haitian high school grads to college in MI

GVSU professor Peter Wampler talks about the new fund inside Chez Olga, a Haitian restaurant in Grand Rapids.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A couple of geology professors conducting research in Haiti want to help the people they met there. And on the one-year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, their idea to give young Haitians a college education is becoming reality. Grand Valley State University is launching a fundraising effort to offer scholarships to promising high school students in Haiti.

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Education
4:50 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

State may raise academic performance requirements

Michigan students may have more rigorous performance expectations on MEAP and other standardized tests.
Alberto G. / Creative Commons

Michigan students who think standardized tests are tough now may be in for a rude awakening.

The Michigan Board of Education is considering tough new performance requirements on the MEAP and merit exams.

Joseph Martineau is with the Michigan Department of Education. He says this is the last step in a plan the state’s been working on for the last seven years.­

“It really is time for us to look at the end result of K-12 education being readiness for college and career, and not readiness to perform in what we might term the old manufacturing economy.”

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Politics
4:38 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

Bing sues City Council over public-access TV

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is suing City Council over control of the city's public access television channels.
Wikipedia

 There’s a tug of war over control of Detroit’s public access television channels. Mayor Dave Bing wants to expand programming, but City Council says the service is fine as it is.

Mayor Bing is suing the Detroit City Council because it voted to give itself control over the city’s public access TV programming.

The channels are used mostly to broadcast and re-run council meetings. Bing says the resource could be better used.

Councilman Kwame Kenyatta says the mayor’s suit is disrespectful of council.

Bing spokeswoman Karen Dumas disagrees.

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Health
3:47 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

Study: asthma rates on the rise

Asthma inhaler
flickr - Jennifer Durfey

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control released a report today identifying another increase in asthma rates across the country.

They looked at data from 2009 and pegged the rate at 8.2%. That's up from 7.8% in 2008.

The report says the rate has grown, on average, by 1.2% since 2001.

A Los Angeles Times report says improvements in identifying the disease could account for some of the increase:

Better diagnostic efforts could be part of the reason for the increase. They were believed to be a main reason for an increase in asthma seen from 1980 through 1995, said Dr. Lara Akinbami, a medical officer at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

The asthma rate in the Midwest is higher than the national average at 8.8% (that's more than 6 million asthma sufferers in the region). 

The northeast has the highest rate at 9.9%.

Blacks, Puerto Ricans, and those living below the poverty level have higher than average rates as well (all higher than 11%).

A report from the European Respiratory Journal says asthma is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

The CDC say sufferers of asthma are more at risk when these triggers are present:

  • tobacco smoke
  • dust mites
  • outdoor air pollution
  • cockroach allergen
  • pets
  • mold
  • and other things like colds, viruses, chemicals, and strenuous exercise
Education
3:28 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

State officials hope more adults will mentor young people

Michigan is in need of more volunteers, especially men State of Michigan

Plenty of kids in Michigan need an adult mentor.  That’s according to Paula Kaiser VanDam, executive director of the Michigan Community Service Commission.

“This year the network of mentoring organizations that we work with are serving about 24,000 children. What we know is that there are thousands more kids that want a mentor that currently do not have one.”

Kaiser VanDam says the time commitment is one hour per week. Mentors are expected to spend time with their young person and listen to them.

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Economy
2:47 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

Study: Michigan ranks no. 2 in outbound migration

Map showing outbound migration (yellow), inbound migration (blue), and stable migration (gray).
United Van Lines

One sign of a tough economy is the sight of a big moving truck out in front of the neighbor's house.

And according to one moving company's study, Michigan has seen more of those moving trucks leaving the state than entering the state.

In it's 34th annual "migration" study, United Van Lines says Michigan ranked second in outbound traffic in the country.

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State Legislature
2:08 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

New and returning state lawmakers being sworn-in at the Captiol

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Terry Johnston Flickr

Michigan lawmakers, both new and returning, are at the state Capitol today being sworn into the state Legislature. The 2011 session began at noon. Laura Weber is at the Capitol and filed this report:

Dave Hildenbrand is a Republican who will be sworn in as a state Senator. He served six years in the state House. He says House and Senate Republican lawmakers are focused on the same things:

The public spoke very clearly that they want things done differently here in Michigan, and so we’re ready to get to work to help strengthen our state and just make it a better place for the people who live here.

Hildenbrand says lawmakers want to deal the state’s complicated business tax quickly. He says the Legislature needs to help create a better business climate in Michigan.

Lawmakers will begin the new session with a new Republican Governor and a projected $1.8 billion dollar budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins October 1st.

Detroit Auto Show
1:46 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

Mayor Dave Bing visits NAIAS

The North American International Auto Show, 2008
Corvair Owner Flickr

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing visited the North American International Auto Show today in Detroit. As the Associated Press reports:

The former NBA great toured Cobo Center... checking out the latest offerings from companies including General Motors and Ford. He says a comeback for automakers such as GM, Ford and Chrysler is positive for the city and the state.

Bing is just one of many politicians who have visited the show over the past few days.  Governor Rick Snyder visited the show yesterday and members of Michigan's Congressional delegation, including Democratic Representatives John Dingell, Sander Levin and Gary Peters, have also visited Cobo Center this week.

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Sports
1:25 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

UM introduces Brady Hoke, new head football coach

Brady Hoke, the new head coach at the University of Michigan
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan's athletic department held a press conference to introduce the program's new head football coach, Brady Hoke.

David Brandon says he spent a lot of time in the past few days crisscrossing the country interviewing coaches. He said he spent hours interviewing coaches saying despite what is often reported in the press, "all that glitters is not gold."

Brandon introduced Hoke saying he's "a player's coach" and said he's someone who knows Ann Arbor and someone who loves the University of Michigan.

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Economy
1:15 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

Steelcase to close three North American manufacturing plants

kvanhorn Creative Commons

Grand Rapids office furniture maker Steelcase says it will close three manufacturing plants in North America. 400 workers will be laid off at a plant in the Grand Rapids suburb of Kentwood.

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Commentary
1:10 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

The Governor and The Auto Show

Governor Rick Snyder visited the Detroit auto show yesterday, something governors traditionally do. They greet the CEOs, make nice comments about the new models, and disappear.

I can’t recall a single thing any politician has said at the auto show that was worth remembering.  But this year is a little different. Two years ago, it was highly uncertain whether there would be either an domestic auto industry or an auto show in 2011.

What’s more, almost nobody in the industry or the state had ever heard of Rick Snyder, and nobody imagined he’d be governor.

Well, the auto industry is a good bit healthier today, and the state is getting used to a governor who doesn’t like to wear a tie, and doesn’t mind being called a nerd. Like other governors before him, Snyder didn’t say anything especially stirring at the auto show. But he did a few things worth noting. He didn’t just visit what we might now call the not-so-big three, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. He stopped by Kia and Hyundai and Toyota too.

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Artpod
12:07 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

Artpod: Art vs. ruin porn

Detroit's abandoned landscape is a muse for many photographers
Photo courtesy of Andrew Moore

Photographers from around the world parachute in to take pictures of Detroit’s abandoned landscape. Some call it journalism or art, others call it ruin porn. On today's podcast, we talk with photographers about how and why they use Detroit as a muse.

You can see some of the photographers' photos of Detroit here.

Listen to the podcast:

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Event
10:57 am
Wed January 12, 2011

Reports: Natural gas explosion in St. Clair County

There was a explosion at a natural gas storage facility in St. Clair County this morning.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

An equipment malfunction lead to the explosion just before 9 a.m. at Blue Water Gas Storage on Wales Center Road near Rattle Run in Columbus Township, said Joanne Alberty, who works in the assessing office for Columbus Township.

“There was a loud boom at the township hall,” Alberty said. “The whole building shook.”

The Times Herald reports that "eleven people — six employees and five contractors — were at the facility when the incident happened."

One person was treated for minor injuries. The Michigan Public Service Commission has been called to investigate.

St. Clair county Emergency Management Director Jeff Friedland is quoted as saying the explosion was a "very minor event."

News Roundup
8:26 am
Wed January 12, 2011

In this morning's news...

Legislature Returns to Lansing

Michigan lawmakers will be at the state Capitol today for the first day of the new 2011-2012 legislative session.  Lawmakers will be sworn-in and adopt new rules. Due to term limits and a strong Republican showing in last November’s election, the majority of lawmakers in both the state House and Senate will be new to the job. The legislature is facing a projected $1.8 billion dollar budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins October 1st.

Snyder Visits NAIAS

Governor Rick Snyder visited the North American International Auto Show yesterday in Detroit. Snyder was joined by his Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, among others. The Governor toured the Ford and Prius pavilions and sat in a Chevy Volt. Snyder told reporters:

The role of manufacturing and the auto industry in Michigan’s future is critical. I don’t walk away from it all. Actually, I embrace it. That is part of our heritage. That is something we have world-class people in.

The show opened to the media for previews on Monday and opens to the public on Saturday.

Proposed Closings for Detroit Schools

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb has submitted a plan to state education officials that calls for the closing of 70 Detroit Public School buildings by 2013. The closings are part of Bobb’s proposed deficit-elimination plan for DPS. The school district currently faces a $327 million budget deficit. The Detroit News reports that in the past year alone, the district’s debt has increased by more than $100 million.

New Football Coach for UM

University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon announced yesterday afternoon that Brady Hoke will be the new University of Michigan football coach.  Hoke will be the 19th coach in the football team’s 131-year history. Hoke is no stranger to Ann Arbor, Steve Carmody reports. He worked as an assistant coach for the Wolverines for 8 seasons including during the 1997 national championship season. Hoke’s 28 year career includes stops at Grand Valley State, Western Michigan, and Toledo.

Governor Snyder
7:53 am
Wed January 12, 2011

State Department of Agriculture gets a name change

Michigan farm
Prima Civitas Foundation Flickr

The Michigan Department of Agriculture is, now, officially the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Governor Rick Snyder announced in November that he would make the change.  He signed an order, yesterday, making it official.

The Associated Press reports, "the governor says the new name is 'a clear signal' his administration plans to help the agriculture industry grow so rural areas gain new and better jobs."

Governor Snyder appointed Keith Creagh to head the Department. Creagh used to be the Department's deputy director.

In a statement released yesterday, Creagh said:

Agriculture today is a high tech industry that relies on trained professionals with knowledge of the newest methods from biology and chemistry to packing and shipping. Expanding educational opportunities will give Michigan's agricultural producers a competitive edge and ensure jobs are available for recent graduates who want to stay in their home communities.

State Legislature
7:37 am
Wed January 12, 2011

Lawmakers begin new legislative session

State Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo Flickr

Michigan lawmakers return to the state Capitol today for the first day of the 2011-2012 legislative session. Lawmakers will be sworn-in and adopt rules, including a dress code.

As the Associated Press reports, the majority of lawmakers in both the Senate and the House will be new to their jobs:

The turnover is caused partly by the state's term limits law and a strong showing by Republicans in last year's elections. Republicans built on their advantage in the Senate and grabbed control of House from Democrats.

Lawmakers will begin the new session with a new Republican Governor and a projected $1.8 billion dollar budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins October 1st.

Both the Senate and House will also see new legislative leaders. Republican Randy Richardville will be Senate Majority Leader and Democrat Gretchen Whitmer will be the Senate Minority Leader.  In the House, Republican Jase Bolger will be Speaker and Democrat Richard Hammel will be the House Minority Leader.

Education
6:39 am
Wed January 12, 2011

New president for Michigan's State Board of Education

For the first time in a decade, Michigan's State Board of Education has a new president. Yesterday, John Austin was unanimously elected to lead the board.  He replaces fellow Democrat Kathleen Straus. Democrats have a 5-3 majority on the board.

Austin was first elected to the board in 2000 and re-elected in 2008.

In a release sent out yesterday, Austin said he is, "proud that during his 10 years on the State Board... the Board has functioned as a bi-partisan change agent for education reform and improvement"

As the Associated Press reports:

Democrat Casandra Ulbrich was elected vice president, Republican Nancy Danhof was elected secretary and Democrat Marianne Yared McGuire will continue as treasurer. Republican Richard Zeile will represent the state board on the National Association of State Boards of Education.

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