Changing Gears
1:31 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

Changing Gears talks reinvention

The Changing Gears team has put together a one-hour special Reinventing Our Cities.

It airs today at 2 pm eastern and 1 pm central. You can hear it on Chicago Public Radio, Michigan Radio and Cleveland's Ideastream, or, you can click this audio link to take a listen:

Here's how the team describes the one-hour special:

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Economy
1:04 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

Foreclosure rate falls in Michigan... for now

Foreclosure rates declined, but the dip could be temporary.
Damon Duncan Flickr

Foreclosure filings in Michigan fell 20% between October and November, but most of the decline came in homes in the final stages of foreclosure according to data released by Realty Trac, a group that calls itself "the nation's leading online foreclosure marketplace."

The pace of homes entering the system remained relatively unchanged.

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Detroit Politics
12:28 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

Detroit Mayor Bing's office responds to the new Kilpatrick indictments

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing
Dave Hogg Flickr

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's office released this statement regarding the RICO indictments of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Victor Mercado, former director of the city Water and Sewerage Department, and 3 others:

We are disappointed by continued revelations of the mistakes of the past. Yet, we will not be deterred from our agenda. We will continue to work hard to restructure city government to a level of accountability, transparency and performance for our citizens. We have the utmost confidence in U.S Attorney Barbara McQuade and her team, and will cooperate and not interfere with their investigation.

While these indictments will make it more difficult as we seek a new director for the water department, and continue to make the tough but necessary decisions throughout the city, we will maintain our commitment to the highest ethical standards and those who uphold them for the benefit of our city and region.

Legal
11:52 am
Thu December 16, 2010

$3.5 million goes to crash victims

One one expert calls it "the biggest auto verdict in the state this year."

Danielle Salisbury of the Jackson Citizen Patriot reports a jury awarded James Fairly and his wife Kimberley Fairley $3.5 million in pain and suffering as a result of traffic accident Mr. Fairly was in.

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State Law
9:10 am
Thu December 16, 2010

Sunday morning alcohol sales won't happen everywhere

Ken30684/Flickr

Michigan's new liquor law that allows alcohol sales on Sunday mornings and Christmas Day starts this weekend for establishments that have bought the proper permits. But, some communities in the state say they plan to continue to ban alcohol sales during certain hours on Sunday.

As The Associated Press reports:

Flint, Muskegon Heights, Garden City, Sturgis, Charlotte and all of Oceana, Ogemaw and Mecosta counties are among the places opting to continue banning Sunday morning sales.

Local governments had until yesterday to let officials know if they wanted to continue to ban or limit the sales on Sunday mornings.

Winter Weather
8:49 am
Thu December 16, 2010

Blue Water Bridge reopened

The Blue Water Bridge connects Michigan to Ontario
K.l.macke/Flickr

The Blue Water Bridge has been reopened. The bridge, which links Port Huron, Michigan and Sarnia, Ontario, was shut down Monday and Tuesday to commercial traffic as crews worked to clear snow from the week's severe winter storm.

As The Associated Press reports, the bridge's closing:

...forced several General Motors Co. plants in Michigan to interrupt production and caused long delays at the Ambassador Bridge crossing between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

News Roundup
7:55 am
Thu December 16, 2010

In this morning's news...

Kwame Kilpatrick in Trouble… Again

New corruption charges have been filed against former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.  Federal prosecutors announced the indictments of Kilpatrick and others including Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick, yesterday.  At the announcement, Barbara McQuade, the U.S. Attorney in Detroit said:

The indictment charges all of them with working together to abuse Kwame Kilpatrick’s public offices. Both his position as state representative, as well as his position of mayor of Detroit, to unjustly enrich themselves, through a pattern of extortion, bribery and fraud.

As the Detroit Free Press reports,

The charges -- racketeering, extortion, bribery, obstruction of justice, mail and wire fraud, signing false tax returns and income tax evasion -- carry penalties of three to 30 years in prison.

Lawmakers Finish Session

After previously announcing that their work for the year was done, state lawmakers ended their 2009-2010 legislative session yesterday in Lansing. Lawmakers completed a bill that would allow the sale of the Michigan School for the Deaf to a private developer and approved a measure that OKs a moose hunting season in the Upper Peninsula. Legislators did not, however, take up several controversial bills that would have dealt with teacher-tenure reform or insurance coverage for autism treatments.

State Unemployment Rate Dips Slightly

Michigan’s jobless rate dropped slightly to 12.4% in November.  That means the state has now gone 11 months without an uptick in the unemployment rate.  But, as Rick Pluta reports, it’s not all good news:

… most of the drop in the jobless number was because 19,000 unemployed people stopped looking for work. They are no longer counted as part of the state’s jobless rate. When people who stopped looking are counted, along with part-timers who would like to work full-time, Michigan’s rate of unemployment and under-employment is 21.2%.

The nation’s November jobless rate was 9.8%.

Granholm Signs ‘Pure Michigan’ Funding Bill

Governor Granholm signed a measure yesterday that allows $10 million to go to the ‘Pure Michigan’ advertising campaign.  The money will go toward winter and spring ads. The campaign would most likely have been canceled if the extra funds had not been approved. Granholm had previously wanted $25 million for the campaign.

Michigan Film incentives
12:26 am
Thu December 16, 2010

Rapper turned movie star hosts screening to benefit Michigan film industry

Rapper Curtis Jackson "50 cent" gets the red carpet treatment for the premier in Grand Rapids.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A Grand Rapids’ movie theater rolled out the red carpet Wednesday night to benefit Michigan’s burgeoning film industry. New York rapper, turned movie star Curtis Jackson, know more commonly as 50-cent, held a special premier of his new movie in Grand Rapids. Jackson signed autographs, took pictures with fans and introduced an early screening of his new movie “Gun”.

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Economy
9:43 pm
Wed December 15, 2010

Governor signs tax break legislation for shipping hub

Gov. Jennifer Granholm signs the tax break bills.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Governor Granholm signed legislation today that will allow for lucrative tax breaks for businesses that want to locate near Detroit Metro Airport.

The project is called the “aerotropolis,” and supporters say it could ultimately create tens of thousands of jobs.

Granholm said:

"I  think people can really look forward from here to see what the build-out will be around this area.

"The communities that are going to take advantage of the warehousing and the movement of goods and the logistics and the technology that’s associated with it as well," she said.

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Crime
6:00 pm
Wed December 15, 2010

Using RICO to prosecute organized crimes

The J. Edgar Hoover Building. FBI Headquarters in Washington D.C.
picasa user david

Kwame Kilpatrick and the others associated in the case are facing charges under the federal RICO statute (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations). You can check the FBI's glossary of terms to see what activities can be charged under RICO. The law was enacted by Congress 40 years ago to prosecute the leaders of organized crime. Before RICO it was difficult to prosecute organized crime leaders who rarely got involved in day-to-day dirty deeds. 

Jim Schaefer of the Detroit Free Press has written up a nice little summary of RICO and how prosecutors have since used it to fight corruption in organized labor, drug gangs, and government officials. He writes:

Prosecutors must prove that there was a “criminal enterprise” at work; that the person being prosecuted conspired with others to commit a pattern of crimes, from violent acts to financial crimes such as bribery, money laundering, wire fraud or extortion.

Federal prosecutors will try to prove that Kilpatrick and those newly indicted today colluded in a pattern of crimes.

Crime
4:28 pm
Wed December 15, 2010

Feds unveil corruption charges against Kwame Kilpatrick, his father, and 3 others

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick

Update 6:54 p.m.:


Here's some video of the release of the indictments from the Detroit News:



Update 4:28 p.m.:


Barbara McQuade, the U.S. Attorney in Detroit, had this to say of the new indictment:


“The indictment charges all of them with working together to abuse Kwame Kilpatrick’s public offices. Both his position as state representative, as well as his position of mayor of Detroit, to unjustly enrich themselves, through a pattern of extortion, bribery and fraud.”


Update 4:18 p.m.:


Here's an excerpt of the indictment (info in parens added):


"(Former Detroit Mayor) Kwame Kilpatrick, (Kilpatrick’s long-time friend) Bobby Ferguson, (Kilpatrick’s father) Bernard Kilpatrick, (former director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department) Victor Mercado and (Chief Administrative Officer then Chief Information Officer to Kilpatrick) Derrick Miller… extorted municipal contractors by coercing them to include Ferguson in public contracts, and/or by rigging the award of contracts to ensure Ferguson got a portion of the revenue from those contracts…. Ferguson got tens of millions of dollars in work and revenues from municipal contractors."


Update 3:39 p.m.:


Federal Prosecutors in Detroit are announcing more corruption charges against former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.


The indictments also include Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick; former city contractor Bobby Ferguson; former Detroit Water Department head Victor Mercado; and former city official Derrick Miller.


Representatives from the FBI, IRS,  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development are also on hand for the announcement.


The new charges are a sign the years-long investigation into Detroit municipal corruption is approaching an apex.


Peter Henning is a Wayne State University law professor. He says this investigation has been typical of public corruption probes that slowly “work from the outside in.”



“The government’s committed a lot of resources. When that happens then it’s much more likely to see charges brought, simply because the government wants to see some return on its investment.”


Kwame Kilpatrick already faces federal tax evasion and other charges for allegedly using a non-profit civic fund as a personal slush fund.


Ferguson also already faces federal charges in an alleged city bid-rigging scheme.


3:27 p.m.:


The other shoe is finally dropping on former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.   The US Attorney in Detroit is holding a news conference at 4pm to announce indictments against Kilpatrick, his father Bernard, and others allegedly involved in city hall corruption in Detroit.


The Detroit News is reporting:



The U.S. Attorney's Office is considering prosecuting the mayor under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute, among other federal criminal laws, according to a source. The Department of Justice's Organized Crime and Racketeering Section reviews and approves each proposed federal prosecution under the RICO statute. 


So far, 14 people have pleaded guilty to felonies and one person has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in connection with the Detroit investigation and a spinoff probe in the city of Southfield. Those convicted include former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers.


Crime
4:10 pm
Wed December 15, 2010

Underwear bomber faces more charges

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

Federal prosecutors filed new charges against Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner last Christmas.

Abdulmutallab was previously charged with attempted murder and attempting to use a weapon on mass destruction.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

The new charge of conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, says he acted in concert with others whose names are known and unknown to the federal grand jury.

The charges say he traveled to Yemen to received training in making and detonating the bomb.

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Health
4:10 pm
Wed December 15, 2010

Bronson Healthcare to buy major stake in Battle Creek Health System

Kalamazoo-based Bronson Healthcare Group plans to buy a majority stake in Battle Creek Health System
Courtesy BCHS

Patients at Battle Creek Health System are expected to have more services and physicians available to them after a deal with a larger hospital is completed.

Bronson Health Group of Kalamazoo is buying a 51% stake in the smaller BCHS.

Denise Brooks-Williams is president and CEO of the Battle Creek facility. She says the two hospital systems have common goals.

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Education
3:34 pm
Wed December 15, 2010

Mackinac Center's Legal Foundation taking 10 Kent County school districts to court

The Mackinac Center’s for Public Policy’s Legal Foundation is filing a lawsuit against 10 Kent County school districts and their teachers’ union.

The suit is to be filed Wednesday on behalf of five taxpayers living near Grand Rapids. It claims the school districts are breaking state law by approving a contract that agrees not to privatize any services during the one-year agreement.

Patrick Wright directs the foundation. He says they want to make sure privatization remains a viable option for school districts across the state.

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Politics
2:03 pm
Wed December 15, 2010

MI Congressman Mike Rogers gets major committee chairmanship

Congressman Mike Rogers will takeover as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. The Associated Press reports:

Incoming House Speaker John Boehner says Michigan Republican Mike Rogers will serve as chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence during the next Congress. Rogers said in a statement Wednesday he's humbled by the appointment and calls it an "incredible responsibility."  The 47-year-old Howell resident easily won a sixth term in November to represent Michigan's 8th Congressional District. Rogers is a former Army officer and FBI special agent who investigated organized crime and public corruption in Chicago in the early 1990s.

Economy
1:49 pm
Wed December 15, 2010

Pure Michigan gets much needed cash from state

The Pure Michigan advertising campaign is getting the money it needs.   Governor Granholm today signed the legislation authorizing funds to pay for ads promoting Michigan tourism.

The Associated Press reports: 

Gov. Jennifer Granholm has as expected signed a bill that will help pay for the Pure Michigan tourism advertising campaign. The bill that Granholm announced signing Wednesday transfers $10 million to the campaign from the state's 21st Century Jobs Fund.  The addition gives Pure Michigan more than $15 million for the current fiscal and will provide enough cash to pay for a winter and spring tourism campaign. The program would have been canceled if the extra money had not been approved. Pure Michigan advocates still are pushing to raise the annual budget for the program to about $30 million.

Education
1:38 pm
Wed December 15, 2010

State senate approves sale of School for the Deaf

Michigan's deaf community to turning to Governor Jennifer Granholm in a last ditch effort to stop the sale of the Michigan School for the Deaf in Flint.   Today in Lansing, the state senate corrected a problem in the bill authorizing the sale.  It's now up to the governor to decide if the sale will go through.The Associated Press reports:

The sale of the Flint site of the Michigan School for the Deaf is expected to move forward after a procedural vote of the state Senate. 

Senators gave the bill immediate effect Wednesday, meaning the legislation authorizing the property sale to a developer will be enrolled and forwarded to Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

The Legislature had approved the bill earlier and the state also has approved a tax credit to aid the redevelopment. 

The developer expects to rebuild the school and keep it open. But the sale is opposed by some alumni of the school who say the sale process was not inclusive. They rallied to oppose the bill Wednesday outside the state Capitol.

Michigan lawmakers are wrapping up final votes before ending their 2009-10 legislative session.

Politics
12:43 pm
Wed December 15, 2010

The Week in State Politics with Jack Lessenberry

Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry in Studio East

It’s Wednesday, and that means it’s time to get a roundup of the state's political news with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry.  He spoke this morning with Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Christina Shockley.

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Investigative
12:28 pm
Wed December 15, 2010

Michigan's big budget hole

Michigan Watch's Lester Graham and MPRN's Rick Pluta ask Governor-elect Snyder's Chief Strategist, Bill Rustem about the budget hole and taxes.
Steve Chrypinski Michigan Radio

The incoming governor and new leaders of the legislature know they have a lot of work ahead of them.  The State of Michigan’s finances are a mess.  After a decade of cuts to education, prisons, arts, tourism and everything else, it appears more cuts are coming.  Lester Graham with Michigan Watch reports it’s not clear what the new government leaders are going to do, but they say it begins with some tough decisions about the budget.

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Arts/Culture
11:36 am
Wed December 15, 2010

Artpod: Making a (book) list, checking it twice

The Library of Michigan issued its annual "20 Notable Books List" for 2011
Photo courtesy of Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor

Need help finding the perfect holiday gift for the bibliophile in your life?

The folks at the Library of Michigan have come up with their annual "Michigan Notable Books" list: 20 books about Michigan or by Michigan authors.

We interview Randy Riley on this week's Artpod. Riley is in charge of special collections at the Library of Michigan, and he says "there’s something for everybody on this list."

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