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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Awards
9:22 am
Wed December 15, 2010

Two Michigan libraries to receive prestigious award

Let Ideas Compete/Flickr

Two public libraries in Michigan will be honored Friday at the White House. Peter White Public Library in Marquette and West Bloomfield Township Public Library will be awarded the 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

First Lady Michelle Obama will present the awards. As the Associated Press explains, "winners are chosen based on their innovative approaches to public service and improving communities.

News Roundup
8:40 am
Wed December 15, 2010

In this morning's news...

Lame-Duck: The Sequel

After already calling it quits for the year, it turns out state lawmakers will be back in Lansing today.  As Laura Weber of the Michigan Public Radio Network reports, legislative leaders called back lawmakers to correct a few procedural mistakes from the earlier lame-duck session. It doesn't appear however, that either chamber will take up any controversial measures including teacher-tenure reform or insurance for autism treatments.

Law Bans Bringing Bighead Carp to U.S.

President Obama signed a bill into law yesterday that bans the importation of the bighead carp into the U.S. The bighead is one of the Asian Carp species that could damage the ecosystem of the Great Lakes.  The Associated Press reports that the measure:

...adds bighead carp to a list of wildlife that cannot be imported or taken across state lines. The only exceptions would be for scientific, medical or educational purposes and would require a permit. Bighead and silver carp have infested waterways in the Chicago area. Authorities are trying to prevent them from getting into the Great Lakes, where they would compete with native fish for food.

Successful Heart Transplant in West Michigan

Doctors in west Michigan are celebrating the first successful heart transplant to take place on the west side of the state.  As Lindsey Smith reports, “In February Spectrum Health was approved to perform heart transplants. Three other hospitals in Michigan are allowed to do the complicated procedure, but they’re all located in southeast Michigan.” A 50-year old man was the first patient, he left the Grand Rapids hospital yesterday, two weeks after his successful surgery.

Tugboat Spills Diesel into Saginaw River

The U.S Coast Guard is estimating that about 800 gallons of fuel spilled into the Saginaw River on Monday.  The spill came from a tugboat that sank near Bay City.  The Bay City Times reports that some 350 gallons have been recovered so far.  It’s still unclear what caused the boat to sink.

State Legislature
7:54 am
Wed December 15, 2010

After already calling it quits for the year... state lawmakers return to Lansing

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo Flickr

Leaders in the state legislature have called lawmakers back to the Capitol today for a final meeting of this year's legislative session. The news comes after lawmakers had called it quits earlier this month. As Laura Weber of the Michigan Public Radio Network reports, lawmakers have to go back to Lansing to correct a few procedural mistakes from the earlier lame-duck session:

The state Senate has a few bills sent back from the House for final approval, including a measure that would lower the minimum age for blood donation from 17 to 16. The House also needs to meet Wednesday to approve a resolution to adjourn for the year. But it's unclear if enough lawmakers can be wrangled on short notice to return to the state Capitol to vote.

And, as The Associated Press reports:

Lawmakers might enroll and send to Gov. Jennifer Granholm legislation allowing sale of the Michigan School for the Deaf site in Flint to a developer who wants to redevelop the property and keep the school open. Bills that would regulate billboards for sexually oriented businesses are among the others that need final approval or procedural votes before they can be sent to Granholm.

It doesn't appear that either chamber will take up controversial measures including teacher-tenure reform or insurance for autism treatments.

Asian Carp
6:58 am
Wed December 15, 2010

New law bans importation of bighead carp into U.S.

Asian Carp threaten the Great Lakes' ecosystem
Kate.Gardner/Flickr

There's a new federal law that bans bringing bighead carp into the U.S. The bighead carp is among the Asian carp species that threatens the ecosystem of the Great Lakes.

President Obama signed the bill known as  The Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act yesterday. The Associated Press reports that the measure:

...adds bighead carp to a list of wildlife that cannot be imported or taken across state lines. The only exceptions would be for scientific, medical or educational purposes and would require a permit. Bighead and silver carp have infested waterways in the Chicago area. Authorities are trying to prevent them from getting into the Great Lakes, where they would compete with native fish for food.

The bill was written by Michigan Democratic Senator Carl Levin and sponsored by Michigan's other Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow.

Health
6:38 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

Spectrum Hospital completes first heart transplant in west Michigan

Rahn Bentley had his surgery November 27th, 2010
Bruce Rossman Spectrum Health

Doctors are celebrating the first successful heart transplant done in west Michigan. In February Spectrum Health was approved to perform heart transplants. Three other hospitals in Michigan are allowed to do the complicated procedure, but they’re all located in southeast Michigan.

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State tax breaks
6:01 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

MEDC approves tax breaks for 17 projects throughout Michigan

Michigan Economic Development Corporation

Michigan’s Economic Development Corporation has approved tax breaks for 17 projects in the state. The incentives are supposed to help companies create nearly 3,000 total jobs.

The expansion of an automotive supplier in the Detroit suburb of Redford will likely have the biggest impact on the job market. Piston Automotive LLC will create 467 jobs – albeit only 135 of those directly. The producer of electric batteries and car chassis was considering expanding in Kentucky.

A close second in terms of creating new jobs is a company that’s expanding in Kentwood, just south of Grand Rapids. Autocam Corporation makes precision parts for transportation and medical devices. They’ll hire 200 new employees and the state estimates the project will create another 265 jobs indirectly.

Eleven of the projects will help investors redevelop blighted buildings.

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Politics
5:29 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

Michael Moore posts bail money for Julian Assange

Michael Moore says he's putting up money to bail out WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Nicholas Genin Flickr

Michael Moore has announced that he is contributing $20,000 to help bail out WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (that WikiLeaks link is liable to change).

On his blog post, Moore says he's offering Assange more than just money:

I am publicly offering the assistance of my website, my servers, my domain names and anything else I can do to keep WikiLeaks alive and thriving as it continues its work to expose the crimes that were concocted in secret and carried out in our name and with our tax dollars.

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Education
4:53 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

Alumni plan to protest proposed sale of Michigan's School for the Deaf

A sign at the entrance to the Michigan School for the Deaf in Flint
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan state senators will briefly gavel themselves back into session Wednesday morning, so they can fix some minor language problems in a few bills. 

But, they will likely hear from people opposed to one proposal to sell Michigan’s School for the Deaf. 

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Environment
4:27 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

Sunken tugboat spills diesel fuel into Saginaw River

Many freighters require the assistance of tug boats along the Saginaw River. A recent tug boat sinking has spilled diesel fuel into the river.
flickr user ifmuth

The Bay City Times reports the tug boat sank early Monday spilling 800 gallons of diesel fuel.

It's reported that Grand Rapids-based Young's Environmental Cleanup Inc. and Mt. Clements-based HM Environmental Services are working to contain and clean up the spill.

The cause of the sinking won't be known until the tug is pulled from the river. Paul Luedtke of Luedtke Engineering, the company that owns the boat, said:

"We won't know until then and anything before then would just be speculation."

A crane will pull the tug from the water once the diesel spill is cleaned up.

Health
3:43 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

More teens using marijuana, fewer using alcohol

The University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research has been conducting this study for 36 years.
United Nations Photo

The University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research has been monitoring drug use among teens for 36 years. This year's "Monitoring the Future" study had responses from more than 46,000 8th, 10th, and 12th graders.

They found that marijuana use is on the rise. 43.8% of 12th graders said they've used marijuana in their lifetime. That's up from 42% in 2009, and 42.6%  in 2008. From the study:

Marijuana use, which had been rising among teens for the past two years, continues to rise again this year—a sharp contrast to the considerable decline of the preceding decade

Alcohol use, on the other had has been decreasing. 54.1% of 12th graders said they'd been drunk in their lifetime. That's down from 56.5% in 2009, and 54.7% in 2008. From the study:

Alcohol use—and, specifically, occasions of heavy drinking—continues its long-term decline among teens into 2010, reaching historically low levels.

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