Death of a candidate
1:20 pm
Tue October 19, 2010

Voters around Kalamazoo will have a new name on their ballots

The Michigan Senate chamber. Democratic Party leaders will name a replacement tonight for their 20th district candidate.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Since Robert Jones  passed away this past weekend, election officials have been working to come up with a plan of action. Jones was a candidate for the Michigan Senate and the election is just fourteen days away.

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Jack Lessenberry's Take
1:12 pm
Tue October 19, 2010

Should Robert Jones have been running for the state Senate?

State Representative Robert Jones
Photograph courtesy of www.060.housedems.com

State Representative Robert Jones was an enormously popular former mayor of Kalamazoo who was in an intense battle to win a seat in the state senate. Intense, but not nasty.

But two days ago, Robert Jones suddenly died in his home, throwing the race into chaos and elections officials into a tizzy.

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Preparing to Vote
11:31 am
Tue October 19, 2010

High voter registration numbers in Michigan

The Secretary of State says 95.5% of eligible voters are registered
Lars Plougmann Creative Commons

Here are some numbers for you from the Michigan Secretary of State's office.

  • 95.5% - percent of the voting age population in Michigan registered to vote
  • 7.28 million people registered - a record for a Michigan gubernatorial election
  • 7.40 million people - the highest number of registered voters Michigan has ever seen (2008 presidential election)

But just because people are registered to vote doesn't mean they will.

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Have Vines, Will Travel
10:30 am
Tue October 19, 2010

The Kudzu of the North

If you've ever lived in the south, you know kudzu. It's an invasive plant that grows like crazy. Covers highway signs and telephone poles and anything that doesn't run fast enough.

There's a plant in Michigan that's getting a little crazy too. It's not kudzu-crazy yet, but experts say we need to get a handle on it.

It has a memorable name: dog-strangling vine.

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News Roundup
8:07 am
Tue October 19, 2010

In this morning's news...

Photo by user Infrogmation / Creative Commons

Final Arguments in Carp Lawsuit

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Jack Lessenberry's Take
6:43 am
Tue October 19, 2010

Detroit newspapers to squeeze the belt tighter

Michigan Radio's Jack Lessenberry

Newspapers aren’t doing well these days, though the companies that own them are still making money. Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry says the result is being played out in Detroit.

_______

Thirty years ago, I worked for the publisher and owner of a family-owned newspaper in Ohio, a somewhat crotchety gentleman  in his early seventies who I came to know pretty well.

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Business Tax Breaks
5:07 pm
Mon October 18, 2010

Businesses rush to get tax breaks for next year

The deadline for businesses to apply for 2010 tax breaks is Oct. 31
whiteoaksblog.com

Local approval is one of the first hurdles companies must overcome to get the tax breaks they want. The deadline to get tax breaks in 2010 is October 31st. That means there's a surge of projects in front of local city councils and commissions.

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Health Care Costs
2:52 pm
Mon October 18, 2010

More on the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan lawsuit

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed suit against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
user cliff Creative Commons

The U.S. Department of Justice along with the Michigan Attorney General's office filed a lawsuit against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

U.S. Department of Jusitice Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney Holds said:

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'Blues' facing anti-trust charge
2:35 pm
Mon October 18, 2010

Blue Cross/Blue Shield accused of hiking Michigan hospital prices

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

 Federal and state prosecutors are suing Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan.

 The non-profit health insurance company is accused of violating anti-trust laws. 

When Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan negotiates a contract with a hospital, it includes a provision giving it a discounted rate compared to other health insurance companies. 

Blue Cross insists that allows it to provide its members with discounted hospital stays.    But the US Justice Department and Michigan’s Attorney General’s office disagree.

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Substance abuse & older Michiganders
2:25 pm
Mon October 18, 2010

The number of older Michiganders in substance abuse treatment doubles in a decade

 The number of adults over 50 entering into substance abuse treatment nearly doubled in Michigan during the past decade, according to a new state health department study.

 The Department of Community Health compared data on substance abuse treatment admissions from 2000 and 2009. 

Alcohol was and is the main reason most older adults ended up in treatment Michigan.

A decade ago, alcohol was the reason 85% of older Michiganders ended up in substance abuse treatment.  But by 2009,  that percentage dropped to 59%.

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Police
2:15 pm
Mon October 18, 2010

Michigan State Police are looking for sex offenders

Michigan state police troopers are knocking on the doors of paroled sex offenders this week.

 The state is conducting its annual sweep to see if sex offenders are complying with the law requiring them to report with local law enforcement.

"Currently we’re at a 92 percent compliance rate in the state of Michigan," says State police Sergeant Kevin Mark, "That’s the highest it’s been since we really started cracking down and doing enforcement back in 2007."  

 Mark says the annual sex offender sweep will wrap up by the end of the month.

Death of a candidate
1:03 pm
Mon October 18, 2010

Death of Robert Jones raises questions about election

Michigan State Representative Robert Jones and friend
Photo from Jones campaign website

Michigan House Representative and current Democratic candidate for State Senate Robert Jones died this past weekend. He was 66 and being treated for esophogeal cancer, but officials at Kalamzoo's Democratic Party Headquarters say his death still came as a surprise.

Jones' death has raised several questions about the race for the State Senate seat in Michigan's 20th district (representing parts of Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties).

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GM IPO
8:57 am
Mon October 18, 2010

Is the General Motors IPO losing steam?

GM's Headquarters in Detroit
John F. Martin Creative Commons

 Next month’s General Motors’ big stock offering is expected to be much less than at one time predicted.

The GM Initial Public Offering is expected to hit the market around November 18th.

 When GM initially started talking about selling stock, the speculation was that November’s sale could be easily one of the largest initial public offerings in history.   Perhaps generating more than $16 billion.

Now some analysts are predicting the GM IPO will collect only about $6 billion. 

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News Roundup
7:31 am
Mon October 18, 2010

In this morning's news...

Photo by user Infrogmation Creative Commons

Kalamazoo State Representative Robert Jones Dies

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ArtPrize
3:16 pm
Fri October 15, 2010

Economic impact of ArtPrize appears to be growing

Art Prize winner Chris LaPorte works on one panel of his pencil drawing
artprize.org

A new survey shows this year's ArtPrize attracted more people from outside Grand Rapids than last year's contest. Preliminary numbers show half the people who participated in ArtPrize came from outside of the Grand Rapids area. Only 6% came from outside of Michigan.

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Detroit Impressions
1:47 pm
Fri October 15, 2010

Detroit through David Byrne's eyes

The inside of Michigan Central Train Station. The station was one of many stops on the Tour De Troit ride.
Albert Duce Creative Commons

My Dad grew up in Detroit in the 1930s. He described a city humming with activity: factory whistles sounding, street cars rolling by, and broad sidewalks crowded with people.

We went back to his old neighborhood several years ago.  His house was on Lakeview Avenue.

It's gone now, along with the houses on most of the block. I was left to imagine his childhood home, and the stickball games he'd play in the alley, by trying to extract mental images from the remaining concrete slabs we could see.

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Money from Uncle Sam
12:09 pm
Fri October 15, 2010

Feds chip in to rebuild bridge

Congressman Dingell, DOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari, and others under the Stadium Ave. bridge in Ann Arbor
Congressmen John Dingell's Office

Congressman John Dingell's office has announced that the federal government will chip in $13.9 million dollars to fix an aging Ann Arbor bridge.

The four lane bridge on Stadium Avenue, which runs past the "Big House," has been down to two lanes because it's so dilapidated.

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Detroit Schools
9:29 am
Fri October 15, 2010

Detroit's school board and Robert Bobb play nice

Robert Bobb - Detroit Public Schools' finances fell under the control of Bobb, a state-appointed emergency financial manager, in 2009.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

The Detroit Free Press reports that after Robert Bobb's clashes with the Detroit school board, things at least looked a little better at last night's school board meeting:

The Detroit school board and its state-appointed emergency financial manager appeared to mend fences Thursday night, agreeing to work to position the school board to regain budgetary authority.

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Transportation in Michigan
5:30 pm
Thu October 14, 2010

1 in 4 Michigan bridges 'Deficient' or 'Obsolete'

A new report paints a dim picture of the bridges that many Michigan motorists use every day.

The Michigan Department of Transportation says one in four of Michigan’s 44 hundred bridges are either "structurally deficient" or "functionally obsolete"

Department spokesman Bill Schreck says despite millions of federal stimulus dollars spent in the past year on road improvements in Michigan problem bridges are still in need of repair. 

Health Care Reform Lawsuit Moves Foward
5:26 pm
Thu October 14, 2010

Michigan's Attorney General welcomes judge's decision on federal health care reform lawsuit

(photos by Steve Carmody) Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Attorney General is welcoming a federal judge’s decision to allow a lawsuit challenging the new health care reform law to move forward.

20 states, including Michigan, filed suit against the law, in particular one key provision that requires everyone to purchase health insurance.

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