Rick Pluta http://michiganradio.org en DPS to get bridge loan; Benton Harbor schools in financial emergency http://michiganradio.org/post/dps-get-bridge-loan-benton-harbor-schools-financial-emergency <p>A state loan board will choose between two competing proposals to give a short-term bridge loan to the Detroit Public Schools. One is from the district’s emergency manager. The other is an alternative proposed by the school board.</p><p>The district is under the control of an emergency manager while it digs out of a deficit. The district’s teachers are opposing a plan to close 24 schools and cut their pay by 10%. This would be the second round of pay cuts for Detroit teachers.</p><p>Gov. Rick Snyder says the district’s troubles require tough choices.</p><p> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:17:41 +0000 Rick Pluta 18796 at http://michiganradio.org DPS to get bridge loan; Benton Harbor schools in financial emergency Tea Party leader: We want one of ours for House leader http://michiganradio.org/post/tea-party-leader-we-want-one-ours-house-leader <p>It looks likely there will be more Tea Party Republicans in the Legislature next year. And one of the likely new tea partiers in the state House says they may want one of their own to be the new Republican leader.</p><p>Todd Courser won the GOP primary in a very Republican-leaning seat. That means he’s probably likely headed to Lansing next year. And he says Tea Partiers in the Legislature will be looking for something different in the new House leadership team.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">“What I would like to see is a vocal conservative voice that is willing to stand, really, and make sure that we’re moving legislation forward that actually meets the criteria of being conservative, and fits the platform of the party,” says Courser.</span></p><p>Courser was on the Michigan Public Television show <a href="http://wkar.org/post/record-august-15-2014-4408"><em>Off The Record</em></a>.</p><p>He says larger budgets, the Medicaid expansion, and the Common Core curriculum standards don’t fit that definition. He says the freshman Tea Party class in the state House might put forward one of its members as a candidate for House Republican leader for the coming session of the Legislature. &nbsp;</p><p> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 17:07:10 +0000 Rick Pluta 18764 at http://michiganradio.org Tea Party leader: We want one of ours for House leader Everything is political, even natural disasters http://michiganradio.org/post/everything-political-even-natural-disasters <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span>Natural disasters, like the rain and floods that <a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/snyder-declares-state-emergency-southeast-michigan-requests-federal-help">pounded metro Detroit this week</a>, present a unique challenge for chief executives like Governor Rick Snyder. Natural disasters are certainly not like the slow work of trying to mend an economy, for example.</p><p>With natural disasters, all of an administration’s emergency planning is stress tested in real-time with real-life consequences<strong>. </strong>Years ago<strong>, </strong>Governor John Engler said a big natural disaster is any governor’s worst nightmare.</p><p></p><p>And, like most things with government, there are political consequences to natural disasters. How, for example, the public measures the way a chief executive handles the situation.</p><p>Here in Michigan, with the November election just two and a half months away, this was an important week for Governor Snyder. Which is why, when the magnitude of what was happening in metro Detroit became clear, the governor cut short a trip to the Upper Peninsula - a trip that included a fundraising event in Marquette - and returned downstate to reassure people that he was aware and in charge.</p><p>His administration certainly did not want a repeat of last winter, when Snyder was excoriated for not, at first, being visible during a powerful ice storm that knocked out electricity to big swaths of the state. We should note as well, however, that the governor’s Democratic challenger, Mark Schauer, was also not particularly visible during that ice storm.</p><p>So, this week, Governor Snyder flew south by helicopter, surveyed the damage and talked to the media. It was this latter part of his trip - speaking on WJR’s The Frank Beckman Show - that the Governor tried for a little empathy. “I’ve been through a lot of things like that… We just recently had holes in our roof from storm damage to our lake house, in terms of, yeah, we have a vacation place, and I had a limb come down from holes in the roof, had water running through the place. Those experiences are not pleasant ones, and we had to take some trees down,” the Governor said, trying to go for the common touch, the ‘I feel your pain’ explanation.</p><p> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 18:13:45 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 18742 at http://michiganradio.org Everything is political, even natural disasters Officials say most of Michigan's drinking water safe from toxin that hit Toledo http://michiganradio.org/post/officials-say-most-michigans-drinking-water-safe-toxin-hit-toledo <p>Michigan environmental officials say most of the state’s drinking water is safe from the sort of contamination that forced the city of Toledo to issue a don’t-drink emergency order.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Tests determined water from Lake Erie was contaminated with </span>microsystin<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> toxin produced by a type of </span>cyanobacteria<span style="line-height: 1.5;">. The bacteria looks a lot like pea-green algae growing in the water.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">At high-enough levels, the toxin can cause health issues such as nervous system or liver damage.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Steve Busch is a state water specialist. He says about 34,000 people in southeast Michigan lost access to safe drinking water because they get it through the Toledo system, but he says many more could be effected by a more widespread crisis.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">“We have about 100,000 people that are relying on drinking water from Lake Erie as a source itself.”</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Busch says other Great Lakes are deeper and cleaner, and not as susceptible to problems created by the bacteria.</span></p><p> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 14:50:51 +0000 Rick Pluta 18739 at http://michiganradio.org Officials say most of Michigan's drinking water safe from toxin that hit Toledo Michigan Senate votes to pass pro-wolf hunt measure http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-senate-votes-pass-pro-wolf-hunt-measure <p>The Michigan Senate has adopted a citizen petition initiative to allow wolf hunting in the Upper Peninsula and overhaul wildlife management rules. It would let the Natural Resources Commission designate game animals, and make irrelevant two November questions before voters to decide the issue.</p><p>It cleared the Senate on a 23-10 mostly party vote.</p><p>The measure now goes to the state House, which could vote on it later this month.</p><p><em>*This post will be updated.</em></p> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 18:51:30 +0000 Rick Pluta & Michigan Radio Newsroom 18713 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan Senate votes to pass pro-wolf hunt measure Both sides gear up for latest fight over a Michigan wolf hunt http://michiganradio.org/post/both-sides-gear-latest-fight-over-michigan-wolf-hunt <p>The state Senate is back in Lansing tomorrow for one day before resuming its summer recess.</p><p></p><p></p><p>It appears likely the Senate will vote on petition-initiated legislation to allow wolf hunting in Michigan, and give a state commission direct control over decisions on which species may be hunted.</p><p>The state House is expected to follow suit later this month.</p><p></p><p>The initiative is meant to circumvent two referenda on wolf-hunting laws adopted by the Legislature.</p><p></p> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 22:51:22 +0000 Rick Pluta 18704 at http://michiganradio.org Both sides gear up for latest fight over a Michigan wolf hunt Group challenges Grayling fish hatchery expansion http://michiganradio.org/post/group-challenges-grayling-fish-hatchery-expansion <div><div class="gmail_default" style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal; display: inline;">​</div><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Environmental groups are asking the state to take back permission for a fish hatchery to expand its operations on a legendary trout stream. The operator has been given permission to raise as much as 300,000 pounds of rainbow trout in the facility.&nbsp;</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">The complaint says there are not enough protections to ensure the Grayling Fish Hatchery won’t allow diseases and parasites to escape into the Au Sable River.</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">Marvin Roberson is with the Sierra Club.</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">“The permit doesn’t require those pools to be monitored to see whether or not fish or parasites or diseases are escaping from the facility, and we think it’s outlandish to say 'you don’t have to check to see whether those things are getting out,'” Roberson said.</span><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;" /><span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial; font-size: small; line-height: normal;">A spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Quality says the agency is closely monitoring the water around the hatchery, and will act quickly if there’s a problem.</span></div><div> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 21:45:20 +0000 Rick Pluta 18689 at http://michiganradio.org Group challenges Grayling fish hatchery expansion Gay rights continue to be an issue in Michigan's GOP races http://michiganradio.org/post/gay-rights-continue-be-issue-michigans-gop-races <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Here we are, trying to shake some more truth out of Tuesday’s primary results. And there is still at least one lingering result that has people continuing to wonder what exactly happened and why. And that would be Republican Representative Frank Foster’s primary loss to Tea Party challenger Lee Chatfield.</span></p><p>It’s not that people didn’t think a Tea Party win was possible. In fact, the Tea Party took aim at quite a few GOP incumbents over their votes for the Medicaid expansion and the Common Core education standards.</p><p>But every single other incumbent state lawmaker survived.</p><p>In Foster’s case, though, there were a couple of distinctions. Foster was identified by a political newsletter as one of Lansing’s most lobbyist-wined and dined. It’s never good when an incumbent is targeted as having “gone native” in Lansing or D.C.</p><p> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 18:18:09 +0000 Zoe Clark & Rick Pluta 18675 at http://michiganradio.org Gay rights continue to be an issue in Michigan's GOP races Federal appeals court hears Michigan same-sex marriage appeal http://michiganradio.org/post/federal-appeals-court-hears-michigan-same-sex-marriage-appeal <p>The future of Michigan’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is in the hands of a federal appeals court.</p><p>Michigan was one of four states arguing to keep their bans in place today before the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.</p><p>If the Potter Stewart Federal Courthouse had a theater marquee, it might have proclaimed a full-fledged “Legalpalooza,” with six cases from four states playing in one marathon session. About a half a dozen people even spent the night outside the courthouse in hopes of getting a seat to the show.</p> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 03:14:25 +0000 Rick Pluta 18655 at http://michiganradio.org Federal appeals court hears Michigan same-sex marriage appeal 6th Circuit Court to hear same-sex marriage cases Wednesday http://michiganradio.org/post/6th-circuit-court-hear-same-sex-marriage-cases-wednesday <p>There’s a hearing Wednesday in Cincinnati on Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban. The case is before the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.</p><p>A panel of judges will also hear arguments on same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.</p><p> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 20:34:58 +0000 Rick Pluta 18626 at http://michiganradio.org 6th Circuit Court to hear same-sex marriage cases Wednesday Michigan Dems hope absentee voting will give them an edge in November http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-dems-hope-absentee-voting-will-give-them-edge-november <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Tuesday may be primary election day, but the truth is we’re already off to the races. The voting has begun. Absentee voting. Absentee ballots are the first ballots cast, but the last to be counted on Election Day. And more and more they can make the difference between winning and losing.</span></p><p>That’s because voting absentee is on the rise in Michigan -- nearly doubled over the past 10 years. More than one in four (27 percent, to be specific) of the ballots cast in 2012 were absentee. And that’s why the smart campaigns focus early on absentee voters. They keep track of who requests an absentee ballot, and then quickly steer campaign propaganda in that voter’s direction.</p><p>It is also why the Michigan Democratic Party -- with an eye toward November -- has been quietly carrying on an absentee voter experiment. Voters in Detroit and Lansing, can now apply for their absentee ballots online.</p><p> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 18:07:54 +0000 Rick Pluta & Zoe Clark 18586 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan Dems hope absentee voting will give them an edge in November Proposal 1: A solution born of suspicion http://michiganradio.org/post/proposal-1-solution-born-suspicion <p></p><p>Until recently, businesses in Michigan had to pay taxes on almost all their equipment. Not surprisingly, they didn’t like this tax.</p><p>The state Legislature has done its part to phase out the personal property tax, but the rest is up to voters when they decide the fate of Proposal 1 on Tuesday’s ballot.</p><p>Businesses pay the personal property tax on everything from the factory machines that build cars and trucks to playground equipment and changing tables.</p><p>Meet Jerry Grubb, who owns the Wee Discover daycare center in Waterford.</p><p>“Sixteen years we’ve had those tables and changing tables, and 16 years I’ve been paying personal property tax,” he says. He says the same is true for computers, desks, and the high-powered dishwasher that keeps spoons, plates and baby bottles clean.</p><p>“I pay tax when I buy it and I pay tax on it every year,” he says.</p><p>Grubb and other Michigan business owners say the personal property tax is not only unfair, and cumbersome to comply with, but it also discourages investment: buying new equipment and hiring more employees.</p><p>Well, irritated business owners got their wish this year when the Legislature adopted a plan to phase out the personal property tax.</p><p> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 12:00:00 +0000 Rick Pluta 18580 at http://michiganradio.org Proposal 1: A solution born of suspicion Schauer economic plan includes bigger clean energy mandate http://michiganradio.org/post/schauer-economic-plan-includes-bigger-clean-energy-mandate <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Democratic candidate Mark </span>Schauer<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> says he would come up with a road funding solution where Governor Rick Snyder and the Republicans failed. </span>Schauer<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> did not give specifics, but said he would do it without raising fuel taxes. It was part of an economic platform he outlined today.</span></p><p></p><p>It also includes boosting the state’s renewable energy, repealing the right to work law, and restoring the tax break for pension income.</p><p></p><p>Schauer said his economic plan would create tens of thousands of new jobs.</p><p></p><p>“By rebuilding our infrastructure, raising our renewable energy standard, tough ‘buy Michigan’ standards, by cutting taxes to retirees and working families,” Schauer said, “I think tens of thousands is a conservative estimate.”</p><p></p><p>Schauer said he would also ban for-profit charter schools and rely less on outside contracts for state services.</p><p></p><p>Governor Snyder says his policies are at least partly responsible for 250,000 new private sector jobs since he took office.</p><p> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 01:57:45 +0000 Rick Pluta 18555 at http://michiganradio.org Schauer economic plan includes bigger clean energy mandate State superintendent meets with charter authorizers http://michiganradio.org/post/state-superintendent-meets-charter-authorizers <p>There was a lengthy meeting today between the Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction and some of the state’s largest charter school authorizers. Its purpose was to review the rules to ensure the independent academies are performing as promised.</p><p></p><p>The meeting went on for about three hours. It was closed to the public, and there were few details made public. Some of the state’s largest charter authorizers, including representatives of universities and community colleges, were invited.</p> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 13:49:18 +0000 Rick Pluta 18541 at http://michiganradio.org State superintendent meets with charter authorizers Lt. Gov. Calley’s future could be decided on the bottom of the August ballot http://michiganradio.org/post/lt-gov-calley-s-future-could-be-decided-bottom-august-ballot <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">There are some big stakes in the primary elections less than two weeks away, and fierce fights over congressional and legislative nominations are getting a lot of attention.</span></p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Not that it’s likely to boost what is usually anemic turnout in the primaries, and that’s despite the reality that most seats are so firmly partisan that the primary is actually the decisive election that really determines who goes to Lansing or Washington.</span></p><p>Like other politicos, we’ve paid a lot of attention to the face-off between the Republican establishment and the GOP’s Tea Party wing. And while that fight is playing out in some state House and Senate races, and some big Congressional races, it’s also playing out locally. Very locally.</p><p>We’re talking about the humble precinct delegate.</p><p> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 17:45:22 +0000 Rick Pluta & Zoe Clark 18516 at http://michiganradio.org Lt. Gov. Calley’s future could be decided on the bottom of the August ballot State orders Enbridge to fix pipeline through Mackinac straits http://michiganradio.org/post/state-orders-enbridge-fix-pipeline-through-mackinac-straits <p>Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and the state Department of Environmental Quality have sent a warning letter to Enbridge Energy. It says the company has to do a better job of securing an oil pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">“We just want to make sure that this pipeline’s going to be safe," said Dan</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> </span>Wyant,<span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;director of the </span>DEQ<span style="line-height: 1.5;">. He says a leak in the pipeline would have implications throughout the Great Lakes.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">“A lot of concern about this pipeline. Sixty years it’s been safe, but we’re in a position, Attorney General </span>Schuette<span style="line-height: 1.5;">, I as the chief environmental officer of this state, to ensure we don’t have a problem on this pipeline,” he said.</span></p><p>Enbridge<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> quickly responded it would add more anchors to its pipeline. Four years ago, a break in an </span>Enbridge<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> pipe dumped about a million of gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River.</span></p><p> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:46:20 +0000 Rick Pluta 18510 at http://michiganradio.org State orders Enbridge to fix pipeline through Mackinac straits AG prison report cites human, technology errors as prime cause of inmate escape http://michiganradio.org/post/ag-prison-report-cites-human-technology-errors-prime-cause-inmate-escape <p>A <a href="http://www.michigan.gov/documents/ag/Elliot_Report_web_463424_7.pdf">report by the Michigan Attorney General's office</a> has found both human and technology failures played a part in the prison escape of a convicted murderer.</p><p></p><p>Michael Elliot slipped out of the Ionia Correctional Facility last February 2 by crawling under fences during a heavy snowfall. He wore white clothes to blend into the snow. He was captured about 24 hours later in Indiana.</p><p></p> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 02:07:43 +0000 Rick Pluta 18459 at http://michiganradio.org AG prison report cites human, technology errors as prime cause of inmate escape Spying on candidates may be unsettling, but is it really such a bad thing? http://michiganradio.org/post/spying-candidates-may-be-unsettling-it-really-such-bad-thing <p>Cue the James Bond theme as we take up electoral espionage. We’re talking campaign black ops. Political spying.</p><p>We learned this week that Republicans here in Michigan sent two young operatives equipped with a tiny video camera in a pair of glasses to infiltrate a Mark Schauer for Governor campaign event -- looking for whatever they might find. And what did they get? Found out.</p><p>Our ace operatives bungled the job. Dropped the disc with the video where it was found by Democrats. Who, then, made it public, including their brief conversation with Dem lieutenant governor candidate Lisa Brown.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Republicans didn’t deny the operatives were theirs.</span></p><p>Democrats and the Schauer campaign cried foul calling it sneaky, dirty tricks. They got some newspaper headlines. Effective messaging helped along by the fact that it fit did neatly into a narrative courtesy of some missteps -- or what seemed to be missteps -- by Governor Rick Snyder’s campaign.</p><p> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 16:11:06 +0000 Rick Pluta & Zoe Clark 18432 at http://michiganradio.org Spying on candidates may be unsettling, but is it really such a bad thing? DEQ says “no” to pet coke along the Detroit River http://michiganradio.org/post/deq-says-no-pet-coke-along-detroit-river <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">State environmental officials have rejected a plan to allow piles of petroleum coke to be stored at a location along the Detroit River.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Pet coke is an oil refinery by-product that’s used as an industrial fuel.</span></p><p>The state Department of Environmental Quality said the proposal by Detroit Bulk Storage did not address problems with blowing black dust.</p><p>Complaints about dust plumes were among the reasons why Detroit ordered the open piles of pet coke removed from a riverfront location in the city.</p> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 21:40:19 +0000 Rick Pluta 18425 at http://michiganradio.org DEQ says “no” to pet coke along the Detroit River Public hearings on proposed "fracking" rules wraps up, ballot campaign could follow http://michiganradio.org/post/public-hearings-proposed-fracking-rules-wraps-ballot-campaign-could-follow <p>State environmental regulators will put the finishing touches on new rules regarding “fracking” now that public hearings have wrapped up. They expect to have the new rules adopted by the end of the year, but the state’s rules may not be the final word on the controversial drilling process</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">“Fracking”</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> is a drilling method that pushes water and chemicals into wells to force out oil and gas deposits.</span></p> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 18:58:15 +0000 Rick Pluta 18415 at http://michiganradio.org Public hearings on proposed "fracking" rules wraps up, ballot campaign could follow