Special Program
4:00 pm
Fri December 17, 2010

Three things to fix Michigan (call-in show)

(Written by Eliot Johnson, and Zoe Clark)

Every Michigan resident is familiar with the economic challenges facing the state. From job losses to foreclosures. The challenges we face are daunting. No single person can fix all the broken pieces of the state. But Michigan Radio has been on a quest this year to learn about the little things each of us can do to make a difference.

All this year, Michigan Radio's Morning Edition Host Christina Shockley has been talking to people from across the state about ways to improve Michigan. We call it the Three Things Series because we asked each person for three ways that ordinary Michiganders could help the state.

The response has been amazing, generating hundreds of ideas for each of us to consider and act upon. From recycling to community organizing to drinking more Michigan beer, the ideas we've received have been a diverse collection of potential ways to improve both the state and our attitudes towards it.

Today, we concluded the Three Things Series with an hour-long call-in show. It will air again tonight at 8 p.m., or you can hear it here:

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Education
2:32 pm
Fri December 17, 2010

Study: Michigan among the worst at improving, closing failing schools

New study says Michigan has one of the worst turnaround success rates for failing schools
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Michigan has one of the worst success rates when it comes to turning around failing schools, according to a new report.

The study by the Fordham Institute, an education policy think tank, looked at the lowest-performing public schools in 10 states, including Michigan. The goal of the study was to see if a failing school could improve its test scores over a 5-year period.

Mike Petrilli is the think tank's executive vice president:

"What we see in the study is that Michigan, compared to other states, was reluctant to close low-performing schools, and didn’t have much success in improving these low-performing schools either."

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Politics
2:18 pm
Fri December 17, 2010

Detroit indictment puts water dept. future in question

Ruben Diaz Alonso Flickr

This week’s indictment against Detroit’s former mayor and others is likely to renew interest in changing the way the region’s massive water system is run. The federal government identified 13 scams in which water department contracts worth tens of millions of dollars were steered to a friend of former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

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Offbeat
1:05 pm
Fri December 17, 2010

Abramoff wraps up his prison term at a pizzeria

Video capture of Jack Abramoff testifying at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee Hearing in 2004.
U.S. Senate

Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist who bilked millions from several Indian tribes including Michigan's Saginaw Chippewas, has officially been released from the Federal Bureau of Prisons

The Associated Press reports Abramoff spent the last several months of his four-year prison sentence on home confinement with an electronic monitoring bracelet. The halfway house he was assigned to set Abramoff up with a job at a kosher pizzeria in Baltimore.

The AP reports that Abramoff worked at Tov Pizza, "a modest kosher pizzeria in a heavily Jewish section of northwest Baltimore. Abramoff, 51, is an Orthodox Jew and wore a yarmulke to work."

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Prisons
12:11 pm
Fri December 17, 2010

More snooping needed at Michigan prison

Ken Mayer Flickr

Updated 2:23 p.m.:

Michigan Department of Corrections public information officer John Cordell  reacted to the report by saying, "This is why we do audits. It looks like we came up short. We'll be sure to correct our procedures in the future."

12:11 p.m.:

Auditors say officials at Newberry Correctional Facility in the upper peninsula haven't been listening in enough on their prisoners.

The Associated Press reports:

The prison is supposed to document that it monitors at least 50 phone calls a month by inmates. State auditors say they fell short of that target by half during a three-month period earlier this year.

The auditors said phone monitoring is an important part of keeping prisoners from violating prison policies or state law.

The medium security prison in Newberry can hold 1,072 people.

The Michigan Department of Corrections holds more than 43,960 prisoners in 34 correctional facilities around the state.

Economy
12:06 pm
Fri December 17, 2010

United Way holds 'Triple Money Monday' fundraiser for needy in Livingston County

Poverty has doubled in Livingston County over the last 5 years
SamPac creative commons

The Livingston County United Way is doing a 1-day only fundraiser to try to alleviate the growing need in the area.

It's called Triple Money Monday: On Dec. 20, from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m., all donations made to nonprofit will be tripled, thanks to the Ted and Jane Von Voigtlander Foundation and two anonymous donors.

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Governor-elect
11:40 am
Fri December 17, 2010

Snyder names Director for state's Department of Community Health

Governor-elect Rick Snyder announded today that Olga Dazzo will head the state's Department of Community Health
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor-elect Rick Snyder has appointed Olga Dazzo to head the state's Department of Community Health. The Associated Press reports that Dazzo is:

...a veteran of the health insurance industry, most recently working as president of a company called Health Reform Innovations LLC in the Miami area. Dazzo previously worked in Michigan and is a past president of Physicians Health Plan.

In a written statement released today, Snyder said:

“There is an attitude that the only way to lower costs is to reduce the level of care.  I reject that premise. Olga understands that the decisions she makes will directly impact the wellbeing of Michigan’s most vulnerable citizens, and she will always have an eye toward delivering services more efficiently so those who need treatment are able to get it.”

Dazzo's bio says she received a bachelors degree in accounting and a masters degree in finance from Michigan State University.

Arts/Culture
11:33 am
Fri December 17, 2010

Grand Rapids Symphony posts $65K budget surplus

The Grand Rapids Symphony posts a $65K budget surplus for FY10
Photo courtesy of the Grand Rapids Symphony

It's not all bad news coming out of the symphony world.

The Grand Rapids Symphony is the second largest orchestra in Michigan, after the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. And yet the two arts organizations finances couldn't be farther apart. The GR Symphony posted a $65,000 budget surplus for the 2010 fiscal year; the DSO posted an $8.8 million deficit.

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Economy
11:10 am
Fri December 17, 2010

Retailers expect a surge in sales this weekend

Holiday shoppers will be making the rounds this weekend.
Jenn Forman Orth Flickr

Michigan retailers were optimistic that this would be a better holiday shopping season than they’ve had the last few years.

And so far, those expectations appear to be warranted.

The National Retail Federation upped its prediction for holiday sales from a 2.3% increase to a 3.3% increase over last year.

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Arts/Culture
10:19 am
Fri December 17, 2010

Detroit Symphony management: Granholm, Levin proposal not "feasible"

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians have been on strike since Oct. 4
Nate Luzod creative commons

Governor Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Senator Carl Levin issued a joint letter Thursday detailing the framework for a possible resolution between Detroit Symphony Orchestra management and its musicians who have been on strike since October 4.

Granholm and Levin's proposal called for a 3-year deal that would cost a total of $36 million.

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Governor-elect
8:09 am
Fri December 17, 2010

Snyder names northern Michigan liaison

Governor-elect Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor-elect Rick Snyder has named Greg Andrews as his representative to northern Michigan. Andrews will help the incoming Republican governor stay connected with that part of the state. Snyder announced the appointment yesterday.

A press release posted on the Governor-elect's website says:

Andrews previously served as Snyder’s northern Michigan field representative during the campaign.  In that role, he built relationships with local leaders in 37 counties – relationships Snyder will rely on to stay in touch with the concerns of residents across northern Michigan. “Greg’s number one priority is to end the disconnect between Lansing and northern Michigan,” Snyder said.  “He will have a direct line to the governor’s office.”

Andrews' office will be based in Marquette.

News Roundup
7:22 am
Fri December 17, 2010

In this morning's news...

U.S. House Passes Tax-Deal

Late last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed President Obama’s tax-deal that would extend Bush-era tax cuts and extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.  President Obama negotiated the deal with both Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate.  The Senate passed the bill earlier this week.  The measure now goes to the President for his signature.

More Charges for ‘Underwear Bomber’

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the young Nigerian man accused of trying to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner last Christmas, was arraigned on new charges yesterday in federal court.  The charges include conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism.  As Sarah Hulett reports, Abdulmutallab’s initial indictment, filed almost a year ago, did not contain the word “terrorism.”  It’s alleged that Abdulmutallab tried to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 by igniting explosives that were hidden in his underwear.

Electric Cars Getting Noticed

The North American International Auto Show doesn’t happen until next month in Detroit, but the semi-finalists in the North American Car of the Year competition are already being announced.  As Tracy Samilton reports, two of the three semi-finalists are electric cars:

The Nissan Leaf is an all-electric car and the Chevy Volt is a part-electric, part-hybrid car. Aaron Bragman is an analyst with IHS Automotive. He says, even though most people won't be buying electric cars for a long time, the selections make sense this year. It is a trend that is coming," says Bragman. "The technology is going to improve, the costs are going to come down. But it has to start somewhere and it's really starting here, and the reason these vehicles are being chosen is they are SO different."

The winner of the award will be announced during the North American International Auto Show in early January.

More Money to Fight Asian Carp

The Obama Administration announced that it will spend almost $50 million dollars more next year to try to keep the invasive Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes. Yesterday, a group of state and federal agencies released the 2011 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework.  The money is expected to come from funds that were originally allocated from Great Lakes clean-up projects. If the Asian Carp make their way to the Great Lakes it could greatly hurt the Lakes’ ecosystems.

Politics
6:38 am
Fri December 17, 2010

U.S. House passes tax deal, bill now goes to President Obama for his signature

The U.S. House passed President Obama's tax deal last night, the bill now goes to the President for his signature

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to extend Bush-era tax breaks and extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed yesterday.  The tax-deal was brokered between President Obama and leaders in the House and Senate.  The President is expected to sign the bill soon.  As The Associated Press reports:

In a remarkable show of bipartisanship, the House gave final approval to the measure just before midnight Thursday, overcoming an attempt by rebellious Democrats who wanted to impose a higher estate tax than the one Obama agreed to. The vote was 277-148.

Republican Congressman Dave Camp of Michigan told USA Today:

Congress made the right decision ... to prevent a job-killing tax hike on Americans and small businesses.

The U.S. Senate had already passed the bill with a 81-19 vote.

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Arts/Culture
8:06 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

Granholm, Levin outline possible Detroit Symphony Orchestra compromise

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians have been on strike since October 4
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

Update 8:01 p.m.:

Detroit Symphony Orchestra management issued this statement in response to the joint letter issued earlier today by Governor Granholm and Senator Levin:

We appreciate Senator Levin and Governor Granholm’s commitment to the DSO and their personal time and effort to assist in finding a resolution to the ongoing dispute between the DSO and its musicians.  We take their recommendations very seriously. 

A $36 million compensation package is beyond what every consultant and our Board have said is feasible.   In order to fund our current proposal, we have already cut our staff and operations severely and pushed our revenue expectations beyond every advisor’s recommendations.  Even with these dramatic cuts and ambitious goals, the DSO will continue to operate in a deficit position. 

We all want and need this strike to end with a mutually acceptable package and we stand ready to return to the bargaining table to pursue an agreement.  We appreciate the constructive offer of a framework within which this agreement might be reached and look forward to the continued engagement and support of community leadership as we pursue our goals.  

6:03 p.m.:

Governor Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Senator Carl Levin issued a joint letter Thursday detailing the framework for a possible resolution between Detroit Symphony Orchestra management and its musicians.

The DSO musicians went on strike Oct. 4 after management demanded a slew of concessions to deal with its growing deficit. The DSO recently announced a $8.8 million budget deficit for the 2010 fiscal year.

Granholm and Levin's proposal called for a 3-year deal that would cost a total of $36 million. (Management's most recent proposal totaled $34 million, the musicians countered with a roughly $38 million proposal.) 

Andy Levin is the Governor’s representative. He says both Granholm and Sen. Levin hoped that they "could get the parties across the finish line to a collective bargaining agreement  by making a suggestion about a difficult compromise."

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Education
5:27 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

EMU building $90 million science complex

A new additon to the EMU Science Complex. An interior view of the suspended planetarium.
EMU

EMU calls it the largest single construction project in the history of the University.

Today the school put the interior of the Science Complex on display.

AnnArbor.com has put together a slide show of the complex.

The AP reports the $90 million Science Complex was paid for through the sale of bonds and through a 4% tuition increase that was approved in 2005.

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Environment
5:01 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

More cash to battle Asian Carp

Silver carp are sensitive to vibrations and often jump when a motorboat passes by.
USFWS

The Obama Administration announced it will dedicate more resources to keep Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes.

Today, a coordinated group of state and federal agencies released the 2011 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework.

In it the group calls for increased monitoring and further study on the pathways carp can use to get into the Lakes.

The Detroit Free Press reports the framework calls for:

$47 million worth of new projects... to combat Asian carp and prevent their spread to the Great Lakes. The new work includes a new laboratory in Wisconsin that will do increased DNA sampling for Asian carp around the lakes, aiming to take 120 samples per week.

The additional money is expected to come from money that was originally allocated from other Great Lakes clean-up projects.

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Opinion
4:18 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

Commentary: New Big Ten Logo a Big Zero

The new Big Ten logo

Last spring the Big Ten Conference added Nebraska, giving the league 12 teams.

So, what do you do -- change the name to the Big 12?  No, because that name's already taken by another conference -- which, naturally, now has ten teams.  So the Big Ten decided to keep its name -- and change everything else.   

To create a new logo, they could ask some corn-fed rubes like you and your friends, but you would probably do something stupid like draw on the Big Ten's 115-year history and come up with something simple, honest, and authentic.  Or you might just pay some art student a hundred bucks to make a new logo, like Nike did, and end up with some swoosh-looking thing, which no one remembers.

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Legal
3:30 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

ACLU adds Wyoming to its list of medical mariuana lawsuits

John Ter Beek says, "The fact is medical marijuana helps people; it’s helped me"
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The ACLU has filed lawsuits on behalf of medical marijuana users in the cities of Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, and Livonia after those cities effectively banned medical marijuana.

Now add the city of Wyoming to the list of cities being sued by the ACLU. The ACLU said it will represent John Ter Beek "a medical marijuana patient who fears being penalized by local officials if he grows or uses medical marijuana in compliance with state law."

The Wyoming city council unanimously passed a ban on medical marijuana earlier this month.

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Crime
2:13 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

'Underwear bomber' arraigned on new charges

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was arraigned on new charges today.
U.S. Marshals Service

The young Nigerian man accused of trying to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner last Christmas was arraigned on new charges in federal court today.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab entered the courtroom in prison khakis, canvas shoes and red handcuffs.He  stood mute to the new charges, which include conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism. The original indictment, filed almost a year ago, never used the word “terrorism.”

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Environment
1:47 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

Suing for quiet recreation in the forest

A stand of red pine trees in the Huron-Manistee National Forest.
Photo courtesy of Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service

A man who’s been dogging the U.S. Forest Service to make some parts of the Huron Manistee Forest off limits to gun hunters and snowmobilers won his case in federal court this fall.

As Bob Allen reports, the Court says forest managers have to consider setting aside roughly 70,000 acres for quiet uses such as hiking, bird watching and cross country skiing.

Kurt Meister sued the Forest Service as one citizen, and it's unusual to get as far as he has with his legal challenge.  He says:

“This case isn’t about hunting. It’s not about gun hunting. It’s not about stopping gun hunting. It’s simply saying it shouldn’t be everywhere. And if you make it everywhere, you’re affecting other people’s rights.”

The Forest Service points out they have to manage forests for multiple uses, and try to balance those uses with a minimum amount of conflict.  Jeff Pullen is a biologist in charge of writing the plan for the Huron Manistee.

“Really, if you look at the 2,000 or so comments we got on the plan, we had one person asking for this. And we felt, from an agency perspective, it didn’t seem reasonable to develop a separate alternative that looked at this issue that one person was raising.”

 

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