Jobs
3:11 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

Report: AT&T to cut jobs in West Michigan

AT&T says fewer people are using land lines these days.
flickr - photodu.de

The Grand Rapids Press reports that AT&T plans to cut 110 union jobs in West Michigan. The paper reports:

The West Michigan job losses are part of a total of 371 jobs being eliminated by the telecommunications giant in Michigan, said Ryan Letts, president of the Communications Workers of America Local 4034.

Letts is quoted as saying they saw the job cuts coming because the telecommunications industry is changing:

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Politics
2:41 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

Ted Nugent, Anderson Cooper, and Sarah Palin

In case you missed it, Michigan's Ted Nugent talked with CNN's Anderson Cooper about Sarah Palin's prospects for the presidency (spoiler alert - he wouldn't vote for her if she was running today). Here's the interview:

Environment
2:18 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

More coyotes in West Michigan

Canis latrans
user mayra wikimedia commons

Coyotes are opportunistic animals. They'll just as soon go after your cat as they would a rabbit in the wild.

So if you live in an area where coyotes are abundant, you might see them as a nuisance.

Kaitlin Shawgo of the Grand Rapids Press writes about coyotes on the rise in West Michigan.

In the piece, Sara Schaefer with the Department of Natural Resources and Environment says the numbers are up in that part of the state:

"There's no doubt that the coyote population is up. In almost all areas I cover in southwest Michigan, they’re up."

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Governor Snyder
12:10 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

Inside the Snyder administration

Governor Rick Snyder
Corvair Owner Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder has been appointing directors for various state departments over the past few weeks.  The announcement of Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan to the state Department of Human Services came just yesterday.

The Associated Press has put together a look at who is in charge at various state departments:

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Detroit
12:07 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

Bing forces Detroit fire officials out

Detroit Fire Truck. Slow response times was listed as one of the reasons for the resignations.
flickr - user cutedtownboi

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has forced the resignations of the city's fire commissioner, James Mack, and its deputy, Seth Doyle.

The Mayor did so after hearing about an alleged theft that occurred after a fire official visited a home in Detroit.

The Mayor's office said they heard about the alleged theft from media reports.

Dan Lijana, with the mayor's office, said the breakdown in communication with the fire department and the concerns over slow response times to emergencies were their reasons for forcing the resignations.

Mayor Bing is quoted in the Detroit Free Press as saying:

"When things aren't working, we will make the moves necessary to protect the services and citizens of the city. We have to peel this onion back and get the problem fixed."

U.S. Congress
10:58 am
Fri January 7, 2011

New members roughing it on Capitol Hill

The Rayburn House Office Building. Insiders say Dick Armey started the trend. Now, dozens of others are choosing to sleep in their Capitol Hill offices.
flickr - cliff1066

As a way of proving how fiscally conservative they are, some members of Congress are choosing to sleep in their offices on Capitol Hill.

Ashley Parker writes about the "Couch Caucus" in a New York Times piece today.

Michigan Democrat Hansen Clarke is featured in the article. He's a freshman Congressman from Michigan's 13th District (Detroit area).

Clarke is quoted in the article about why he's choosing to sleep in his office:

"Washington is not going to be a home for me — I’m only there to work. I need to be able to work up to 20 hours a day and still get some decent sleep, and if I sleep in my office I’ll be able to do that.

The Times reports the members choosing to sleep in their offices are spread across party lines, but mostly male members of Congress are choosing to do so. Parker writes about the critics of the practice:

They...complain that the practice can feel like a macho boys club, that it promotes a fierce anti-Washington sentiment that hurts bipartisanship and that, frankly, it just seems weird.

The offices are equipped with basic furniture, sinks, and bathrooms. But there are no sleeper sofas, and no showers. Members head to the gym in the office building to wash up.

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Commentary
10:50 am
Fri January 7, 2011

The Importance of Being Kelly

On election day last year, I talked to a senior citizen who is a proud, dyed-in-the-wool Democrat. I wondered how she had voted for state supreme court.

“For the Democrats, of course,” she said.

“I voted for Kelly and Davis,” she said, meaning newly appointed justice Alton Davis.

"You voted for a Republican", I said.

Alton Davis is indeed a Democrat, but Mary Beth Kelly is a Republican. “No, I didn’t,” the lady said. “I voted for Marilyn Kelly, the chief justice. You wrote about her in a magazine article I read.

“She is a Democrat. You said so."

Yes, she is, I said. But you voted for MARY BETH Kelly. She is  a Republican. Her party nominated her partly because she is named Kelly, and they were hoping a lot of people might do what you did.

Well, guess what. I don’t know how many other people were  confused, but Mary Beth Kelly won by a landslide, beating poor Alton Davis, who gave up a secure judgeship for less than six months on the state’s highest court.

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News Roundup
8:15 am
Fri January 7, 2011

In this morning's news...

Snyder Names Corrigan to DHS, Will Appoint New Justice by Next Week

As expected, Governor Rick Snyder yesterday named state Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan to head the state Department of Human Services.  The appointment means there will be a vacancy left on the state’s highest court.  Snyder said he plans to appoint a new justice by January 14th, the day that Corrigan will resign to begin her new job. Corrigan is one of four Republican justices on the seven-member state Supreme Court.

Republican Leaders Target State Employee Pay

The state’s four new legislative leaders sat down yesterday for an interview.  The four, also known as ‘The Quadrant,’ talked about the upcoming legislative session and what they hope to get done.  During the conversation, Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and Republican Speaker of the House Jase Bolger said public employees and local governments will have to share in the pain of budget cuts to help address Michigan’s fiscal problems. The two Democratic leaders, Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer and House Minority Leader Rich Hammel, said they want to work with their Republican counterparts but that they would fight efforts to cut state employee pay and benefits. The state currently faces an estimated $1.8 billion dollar budget shortfall for the next fiscal year.

Cut in Defense Department Spending Could Mean Michigan Job Losses

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said he wants to cancel a defense contract for an amphibious vehicle for the U.S. Marine Corps. That could mean a loss of potential jobs here in the state, Steve Carmody reports.  That’s because a Sterling Heights based division of General Dynamics is the contractor that has been developing the 40 ton vehicle. The marine vehicle has been plagued with budget costs and other problems since the Reagan administration.

Forecast: Snow to Continue

Forecasters are predicting the snow will continue through much of the state through early tomorrow morning. A Lake Effect Snow Warning is in effect for West Michigan and a Lake Effect Snow Advisory is in effect for Mid Michigan.  Both the warning and advisory will remain until Saturday morning. For today: West Michigan could see 2-4 inches; Mid Michigan 1-3 inches and just an inch or two is expected in the Southeast.  Temperatures are expected to reach the low 20s.

Weather
7:31 am
Fri January 7, 2011

Forecast: Snow to continue

Forecasters predict snow will continue to fall in much of the state through tonight
Jmenard48 Flickr

Forecasters are predicting snow will continue to fall across the state today with West and Mid Michigan seeing the most accumulation.

A Lake Effect Snow Warning is in effect for West Michigan and a Lake Effect Snow Advisory is in effect for Mid Michigan.  Both the warning and advisory will remain until early tomorrow morning.

Today: West Michigan could see 2-4 inches; Mid Michigan 1-3 inches and just an inch or two is expected in the Southeast.  Temperatures will reach the low 20s today.

Tonight: West Michigan could see another 2-4 inches of snow; across the rest of the state an inch or less is expected.  Lows overnight will be in the low to mid teens.

Tomorrow: More snow for the Holland area with about 2-3 more inches expected. Otherwise, scattered snow showers with light accumulations possible.  Highs in the low to mid 20's.

Michigan Legislature
7:21 am
Fri January 7, 2011

Members of 'The Quadrant' sit down and talk (on TV)

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo Flickr

Michigan's four new legislative leaders all sat down together yesterday for an interview.  The four include Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, Republican Speaker of the House Jase Bolger and Democratic House Minority Leader Rich Hammel.  The four are known as "The Quadrant."

In an interview on the public television program "Off the Record," the Legislature’s new Republican leaders said public employees and local governments will have to share in the pain of budget cuts to help address Michigan’s fiscal problems.

As Rick Pluta reports:

Richardville and Bolger said state employees will likely see reductions in their paychecks and benefits. The Democratic leaders said they want to work with Republicans, but will fight efforts to impose more cuts on public employees and local governments.

To find out more about the state's four new Legislative leaders check out Dome Magazine where columnist Susan Demas has a great profile of The Quadrant.

Michigan Supreme Court
6:43 am
Fri January 7, 2011

Snyder to name new state Supreme Court Justice by Jan. 14th

Goveror Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of the Snyder administration

Governor Rick Snyder says he'll name a new justice to the state Supreme Court by January 14th.  Whomever he picks will replace state Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan.  Snyder announced yesterday that he is appointing Justice Corrigan to head the state Department of Human Services.

Corrigan is one of four Republican justices on the seven-member state Supreme Court.  She has served on the court since 1999.

Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta sent this report detailing the announcement of Corrigan's new job:

Corrigan says serving on the court is a “dream job.” But she says she could not resist the chance to work on improving services for children and others in need.

We must leave no one behind. That includes the most-vulnerable among us – children who are abused and neglected, the poor, the disaffected.

One of Corrigan’s first jobs will be to bring Michigan into compliance with a court order that settles a lawsuit against the state’s foster care system.

Auto
8:43 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

Big 'techie' show attracts automakers

Reporters checking out the latest gadgets at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
CES

Automakers are getting ready for the big auto show in Detroit next week, but before they land there, many leaders in the auto industry are attending the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The show started today and will run through the 9th. Organizers says it's "the world's largest consumer technology tradeshow."

CNBC's Phil LeBeau says the show used to attract little attention from the auto industry, but that's changed since more electronic gadgets are finding their way into new cars and trucks.

LeBeau says the car makers are seeking new ways to increase their profits:

In car entertainment and connectivity, systems like Sync are increasingly must have add-ons for car buyers. And they have no problem paying for them. These systems drive higher transaction prices and greater profit margins.

Ford Motor Company President and CEO, Allan Mulally, will give a keynote address to the conference tomorrow at 11 a.m. CES Conference organizers say "Ford constantly innovates and launches new technologies, like SYNC with speech recognition, that make the driving experience safer through technology."

Education
5:33 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

Does solution to bullying lie in programs or parents?

Public forums on bullying will be held this month in Detroit and later this year elsewhere in the state.

But not everyone agrees that more school or government programs are needed to curb bullying.

Glenn Stutzky is with Michigan State University's School of Social Work. He says the solution lies in the home.

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Jobs
4:16 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

Defense Dept cuts contract, costing potential jobs in Michigan

The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle

The Secretary of Defense says he wants to cancel a defense contract that would eliminate hundreds of potential new jobs in Michigan. 

The contract would be for an amphibious vehicle for the U.S. Marine Corps. The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle was intended to replace a Vietnam era model. A Sterling Heights based division of General Dynamics is the contractor that has been developing the 40 ton vehicle.

Peter Keating is a company spokesman. He says canceling the program now will cost as much as moving forward with production. 

"We would expect our congressional delegation in Washington DC to take a look at that and in their wisdom decide if it’s something they’d like to support." 

The marine vehicle has been plagued with cost overruns and other problems since the Reagan administration.   Escalating costs prompted the U.S. Marine Corps to cut in half the number of Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles it planned to purchase. Keating insists past problems have been resolved. 

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Sports
4:14 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

Former UM football coach Rich Rodriguez speaks

Former Michigan head football coach, Rich Rodriguez, just issued this statement:

"I am proud of the dedication and commitment exhibited by the coaching staff and student-athletes who have represented the University of Michigan football program over the last three seasons.  While I am disappointed to depart Ann Arbor before we were able to reach the level of success we had in our sights, I am confident that the players who remain have the potential to do great things and to return the Wolverines to greatness.  I would like to thank our fans and our student body for their tremendous support. There is great passion for Michigan football and I have made lifelong friends through this experience."

Politics
3:45 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

State employee pay targeted in budget battles

Battles over the next state budget are heating up.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

The start of the new year often brings in a lot of talk of good will. For those in politics, it's talk of bipartisanship.

In Michigan, that spirit is likely to dissolve quickly as the state faces a $1.8 billion budget deficit in the next fiscal year (the state's next fiscal year will start October 1st, 2011).

Peter Luke on MLive.com highlights the discussion beginning to take shape among the leaders in the state legislature.

Republicans pretty much control everything in Lansing now, and the first item they say they plan to cut are salaries and benefits for state employees.

Jase Bolger, the new Speaker in the State House of Representatives, said state employee benefits are definitely on the table if the state is going to close the enormous budget deficit gap:

"There are significant dollars that need to be saved through our compensation models, not just salaries, but the entire compensation."

In his recent piece on the looming budget deficit, Michigan Radio's Lester Graham points out that slashing state employee salaries and benefits only gets them a small percentage of their overall $1.8 billion dollar goal.

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Sports
3:43 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

Love or hate Rich Rodriguez, coaching college football is tough

For the past three years I’ve had unfettered access to the Michigan football program, from the film room to the locker room, to write a book about what I’ve seen.

Before I walked into that first staff meeting, I thought I knew Michigan football as well as anyone.  But after three years of seeing everything up close, I can tell you this unequivocally: I had no idea.

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Education
3:41 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

DPS chief: Long-term strategy could include GM-style restructuring

Detroit Public Schools officials are getting ready to submit their latest plan for shoveling the troubled district out from under a crippling deficit.

The plan could include a proposal to split the district in two. It’s an idea Michigan Radio first reported last April, and the concept is similar to the way General Motors restructured.

Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb says he’s reduced expenses by more than $500 million in the last several months, but there’s still a “legacy” deficit that tops $300 million:

"We’re whittling away at it, but we have to create a long-term plan so that we’re not in this situation 12 months from now or two years from now."

 DPS officials say another option is a New Orleans-style overhaul that would convert many schools to charters. A third option is to use the state’s tobacco settlement money to erase the district’s debt, or the state could opt for some combination of all the above options. Lawmakers rejected a proposal last month to use the state's tobacco settlement to pay off the district's debt.

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Education
3:28 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

DPS wants businesses to adopt schools

Detroit Public Schools is recruiting businesses to adopt schools for academic and beautification projects. Angela Hoston heads the program:

"The goal is to have every school have a partner, and not just one partner but multiple partners. We want to raise the academic achievement levels of the bottom one-third of every classroom, and get them to the highest achievement level possible."

Hoston says each business can work with a principal to craft a unique program based on what the school needs and what the business can offer.

The initiative was announced at Gompers Elementary, where staff from the Doubletree Fort Shelby Hotel have built a garden and mentor students.

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Media
2:39 pm
Thu January 6, 2011

NPR's Ellen Weiss resigns after Juan Williams review

NPR's Senior Vice President for News Ellen Weiss resigned today
Jacques Coughlin for NPR

National Public Radio released two statements this afternoon.

One statement is about the independent review of the firing of NPR news analyst Juan Williams (ABC News did an interview with Williams after he was terminated).

The other is about the resignation of NPR's Senior Vice President for News, Ellen Weiss.

The two appear to be linked. Weiss was the NPR staffer who fired Juan Williams over the phone.

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