commentary http://michiganradio.org en Common Core standards in Michigan are forcing big changes in education http://michiganradio.org/post/common-core-standards-michigan-are-forcing-big-changes-education <p>J<span style="line-height: 1.5;">ust last year, when I brought up the Common Core to my non-educator friends, I would usually see a furrowed brow and a tilted head.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">They’d never heard of it.</span></p><p>That’s certainly changed. Most people have at least heard of Common Core by now.&nbsp;</p><p>Still, I find very few folks have anything more than the vaguest notions about the Common Core. They seem to know that most states are a part of it, but not much more.</p> Wed, 18 Dec 2013 19:13:02 +0000 Keith Kindred 15750 at http://michiganradio.org Common Core standards in Michigan are forcing big changes in education Reunion 2012 http://michiganradio.org/post/reunion-2012 <p>Lots of people look forward to high school reunions, others dread them, and still others just avoid them altogether.<br><br>My brother falls squarely into the third category. As he says, “If I was that eager to see you, I wouldn’t have waited five years.”<br><br>Now that we have Facebook, we already know who gained weight and who went bald, so what else do we really need to see? Maybe that’s why reunion attendance nationwide has dropped dramatically.<br> Fri, 24 Aug 2012 11:00:00 +0000 John U. Bacon 8782 at http://michiganradio.org Reunion 2012 Be Careful What You Wish For http://michiganradio.org/post/be-careful-what-you-wish <p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Sometimes I think Detroit should adopt a new motto, something like: &ldquo;Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.&quot;</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">This time, the focus is on the Detroit Public Schools, which for years have been famous for incompetence, corruption, and the squandering of money. There were almost two hundred thousand kids in the schools at the turn of the century, a dozen years ago.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">This fall, there may be fewer than fifty thousand left. In recent years, the schools have been under state control much of the time. Most recently, they&rsquo;ve been run by an Emergency Financial Manager with sweeping powers over the system&rsquo;s finances and academics.&nbsp;But this week, the Emergency Manager law was suspended until after a referendum in November that may repeal it.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">In the meantime, the state believes that means that the old Emergency Financial Manager law is back in place.&nbsp; According to a judge&rsquo;s ruling, when Emergency Financial Managers were named to run school districts, they had power over finances - but not&nbsp; academics.&nbsp;The stronger Emergency Manager law gave them both.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">But with that gone, at least temporarily, the Detroit School Board moved to reassert itself. You might think they would move slowly and sensibly, reviewing Emergency Manager Roy Roberts&rsquo; academic plan and keeping it, as far as possible.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">But instead, the board is acting as if they were terribly afraid someone might accuse them of common sense.</font></font> Fri, 10 Aug 2012 13:26:38 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 8625 at http://michiganradio.org Be Careful What You Wish For Detroit riots: Forty-five years later http://michiganradio.org/post/detroit-riots-forty-five-years-later <p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">This week marks an important anniversary that is being virtually ignored. We paid attention five years ago, and will again five years from now. We prefer round numbers.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">But given what&rsquo;s happening today, it makes sense to note that it&rsquo;s been exactly 45 years since the legendary riot that devastated Detroit for four days during another hot summer.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">The causes of the riot have been endlessly debated. Who was most responsible is still in dispute. But the effects are plain. It wouldn&rsquo;t be too much to say that what happened in 1967 killed Detroit, slowly but certainly.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">The burned-down buildings were cleared away. The 43 dead were buried, and money came from Washington and the private sector to try to make things better.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">But it all failed. The riot put the pedal to the metal on a flood of white flight that had already begun. Detroit was still more than 60 percent white when the riot began.</font></font> Tue, 24 Jul 2012 14:30:00 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 8410 at http://michiganradio.org Detroit riots: Forty-five years later Paternity tests http://michiganradio.org/post/paternity-tests <p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2" style="BACKGROUND-COLOR:transparent"><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Many years ago, I sat next to the daughter of a famous geneticist on a train from Washington to Philadelphia. For some reason, we started talking about genealogy, and she laughed.</font></font></font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2" style="background-color: transparent;"><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Her father had told her that his preliminary DNA research indicated that as much as 28 percent of the population had fathers other then the men they thought were their dads.</font></font></font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2" style="background-color: transparent;"><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Carry that out a generation or two, and most genealogy becomes pretty meaningless. In the years since then, sophisticated DNA analysis has saved the lives and commuted the sentences of a number of wrongly convicted prison inmates.</font></font></font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2" style="background-color: transparent;"><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">And it has also enabled us to resolve the age-old question of fatherhood.</font></font></font></font> Mon, 23 Jul 2012 13:30:00 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 8391 at http://michiganradio.org Paternity tests The New McCarthyism... in Michigan http://michiganradio.org/post/new-mccarthyism-michigan <p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Fasten your seat belts. We are in for another three and a half months in which President Obama and his surrogates will try to make us believe that Mitt Romney&rsquo;s main goal is destroy the middle class and outsource every last American job to China.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Meanwhile, the Romney forces will try to make us think that President Obama is totally incompetent and single-handedly responsible for the long recession.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Hyperbole and exaggeration have been how campaigns have been conducted since George Washington&rsquo;s time. But what has been taboo is reckless, vicious and false character assassination. We did have one very infamous practitioner of that kind of politics - Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin, whose name we now use to define them. Back in the early 1950s, McCarthy destroyed lives, careers and reputations by recklessly accusing people of being Communists without the faintest shred of evidence.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Much of the nation was in a grip of terror. Eventually, McCarthy was stripped of his powers and soon drank himself to death. Ever since, there&rsquo;s been agreement that there was such a thing as too far.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Until now, that is. A form of new McCarthyism has been growing across this nation and this state ever since President Obama was elected. My theory is that this was inspired by racism. There are millions who just can&rsquo;t stomach that we have a black president.</font></font> Fri, 20 Jul 2012 16:17:20 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 8378 at http://michiganradio.org The New McCarthyism... in Michigan The Doctor Is In http://michiganradio.org/post/doctor <p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Four years ago, Dr. Syed Taj, then chief of medicine at Dearborn&rsquo;s Oakwood Hospital, decided to run for Canton Township trustee. His friends tried to talk him out of it. He had only lived there a year, and he was a Democrat. The affluent Wayne County area is pretty Republican. Taj is also a Muslim-American whose musical voice is rich with the accents of his native India.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Most figured he didn&rsquo;t have a chance. But he won overwhelmingly. Though he was the only Democrat to win a seat on the board, he got more votes than anyone else.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">&ldquo;Most people trust their doctor,&rdquo; Taj said, chuckling. Now, Taj is running for Congress from the Eleventh District, which tends to lean Republican. He is, once again, an underdog. But he is used to that -- and his chances improved when the incumbent, Thaddeus McCotter, mysteriously failed to qualify for the ballot and suddenly resigned.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Throughout the last decade, there was always speculation that a Democrat could win the 11th district, but the party tended to run lackluster and underfunded candidates. This time, it may be even harder. Redistricting has made the district slightly more Republican.</font></font> Tue, 17 Jul 2012 14:57:42 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 8304 at http://michiganradio.org The Doctor Is In Funding the Arts http://michiganradio.org/post/funding-arts <p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">I have been a member of the Detroit Institute of Arts for many years, and I have to confess that I don&rsquo;t go nearly often enough. A couple times a year, maybe, and more often to its courtyard, a wonderful place for lunch if you are in the city.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Yet even when I can&rsquo;t get to the museum, I am always happy to know it is there. Detroit and Michigan have seen more prosperous days. But it is nice to know that this city and state are still home to one of the nation&rsquo;s top six comprehensive fine arts museums.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Having that quality continue, however, depends on the outcome of a small millage request on the primary ballot in just the three core Detroit-area metropolitan counties - Wayne, Oakland and Macomb.&nbsp; Voters will be asked to approve two-tenths of a mill for the DIA for the next decade.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Translated into dollars, that means that if you own a house worth one hundred and twenty thousand, the DIA will cost you a dollar a month. If you rent, voting for the millage costs you nothing.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">If the millage passes in all three counties, it should mean about twenty-three million a year for the DIA, depending on what happens with housing values. It will mean the museum will be able to continue to do the same quality exhibitions it has been doing.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Plus, citizens of any counties that approve the millage will get in free, and the art institute will stay open more hours and days.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">I was assured of all that by Annmarie Erickson, the museum&rsquo;s chief operating officer. She is cautiously optimistic that this time the millage will pass.&nbsp;What if only one of two of the three counties approve? Well, Macomb has a provision that its citizens will only have to pay if the other two counties also approve the millage.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">If voters in either Wayne or Oakland County approve, however, the millage would be collected there. Those who support the DIA are cautiously optimistic, even though voters turned arts funding down twice about a decade ago. Those elections proposed appropriating money for an assortment of agencies; this one is for the DIA alone.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">There are a number of misconceptions around. One is that the museum already gets city and state money. It used to; it doesn&rsquo;t anymore. Another is that it is an exclusively a Detroit-area institution. But the DIA currently has art out on long-term loan to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and often makes its treasures available elsewhere. DIA experts have assisted and advised museums across Michigan.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Some have complained that the public shouldn&rsquo;t have to pay for art. But is like saying public education should only be for the rich. One legislator suggested the museum should spend its endowment, and some have even suggested the DIA sell its art work to keep going. Those would be short paths to institutional suicide.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">The value of public treasures is hard to quantify, mainly because it is beyond value. Metropolitan Detroit may not be as rich as it once was, but that&rsquo;s no reason our public spaces should look like North Korea&rsquo;s. We still have a world-class art museum.<br />&nbsp;If that isn&rsquo;t worth a dollar a month, I don&rsquo;t know what is.</font></font></p><p><em>Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio&rsquo;s Political Analyst.&nbsp; Views expressed by Jack Lessenberry are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, the University of Michigan.</em> Mon, 16 Jul 2012 16:10:14 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 8289 at http://michiganradio.org Funding the Arts Confessions of an 'NPR conservative' http://michiganradio.org/post/confessions-npr-conservative <p>&ldquo;NPR Conservative.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>To some, that term might sound like an oxymoron straight from the writing staff of The Colbert Report.</p><p>It happens to be me.</p><p> Tue, 03 Jul 2012 16:13:49 +0000 Charles Brown 8127 at http://michiganradio.org Confessions of an 'NPR conservative' Tale of Two Races http://michiganradio.org/post/tale-two-races <p>Detroit Mayor Dave Bing couldn&#39;t have enjoyed reading his city&#39;s newspapers when he woke up on Mackinac Island yesterday morning. The Detroit Free Press splashed a story across its front page saying the business community wanted longtime Wayne County political fixer Mike Duggan as the city&#39;s next mayor.</p><p>The Detroit News&#39;s editorial page editor said the business community had decided that it is time for the mayor to go, and then called on the mayor to, quote &quot;use the excuse of advancing age and poor health&quot; to not run again next year.</p><p>Yesterday morning the mayor came out to face the press, and naturally, was asked about his own future. Standing on the Grand Hotel&#39;s magnificent porch, all the mayor would tell us reporters was that he had eighteen months left in his current term (it&#39;s actually nineteen), and he felt the need to &quot;get as many things done as I possibly can.&quot; Now, I don&#39;t have an opinion on whether the mayor ought to run. He previously has said he was going to.</p><p>Frankly, if you know anything about how government works, the worst thing Bing could do would be to announce early that he isn&#39;t running. The moment he does that, he becomes a lame duck, and immediately loses much of his power and influence.</p><p>But beyond that, I am astonished at the business community&#39;s chutzpah in attempting to say who ought to be Detroit&#39;s mayor. Do they think our memories are that short?</p><p>Seven years ago, the business community was highly decisive in a Detroit mayoral race. Freman Hendrix was one of the final two candidates. He was a decent man with a finance background who had served as deputy mayor in the Archer administration.</p><p>Hendrix had grown up in a working class neighborhood. He had joined the Navy, and had put himself through college. I thought he had the potential to be a good mayor who had the ability to relate to average citizens. But the business community wanted the incumbent: Kwame Kilpatrick. Fri, 01 Jun 2012 16:40:00 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 7713 at http://michiganradio.org Tale of Two Races Frustration at Mackinac http://michiganradio.org/post/frustration-mackinac <p>Two days ago, a beaming Gov. Rick Snyder opened the annual conference of our state?s economic and political elites on an upbeat note. He cited the official themes the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce set for their annual Mackinac Conference. &quot;Innovation, Collaboration and the Twenty-First Century Global Marketplace.&quot; Those are things he himself is all about.</p><p>Whether you agree with his positions or not, this governor wants what he thinks are rational policies aimed at giving this state a future. But the morning after his triumphant welcome, the governor had to again admit defeat over an issue that shouldn&#39;t even be an issue: Road funding. Too many Michigan roads are in poor shape, and a whole lot more are rapidly getting worse. Earlier this year, the Michigan Department of Transportation estimated ninety per cent of our roads are in good or fair condition, which seemed too high to me.</p><p>But the state also calculated that unless we start investing far more heavily in our roads, only 44 percent will be in acceptable shape a mere eight years from now. That would be a disaster. Thu, 31 May 2012 17:52:28 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 7696 at http://michiganradio.org Frustration at Mackinac From Mackinac Island: A Culture Change http://michiganradio.org/post/mackinac-island-culture-change <p>Almost the first words at this year&#39;s Mackinac Policy Conference were about changing Michigan?s culture. Yesterday, during an opening session featuring young entrepreneurs, Rick DeVos, founder of Grand Rapids&#39; now- famous ArtPrize, said that culture change was the key to making this state prosperous again.</p><p>Each of the other pioneers on the panel agreed with him. Dave Zilko, who turned a five thousand dollar loan from his girlfriend into a hundred-million-dollar salsa company, said he was seeing a culture change that has to continue and our state&#39;s successful future depended on our adopting a new mind-set.</p><p>One where our prevailing attitude is that &quot;we can do this.&quot;&nbsp; Moments before their panel, an upbeat Governor Snyder opened the conference. Though he?s still not wearing ties, he has become much more confident and a much better public speaker than he was when he took office, possibly in part because his policies have met with some success. ?We are the comeback state in the United States right now,? he told an enthusiastic crowd. He said we all ought to speak up more about Michigan?s strengths, successes, and resurgence.</p><p>The day&#39;s main celebrity event was an inspiring speech by the internationally renowned CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria, who assured the audience that the American and world economies are actually in much better shape, especially long-term, than today&#39;s headlines indicated. But he too said culture change was necessary.</p><p>Especially, that is, in America. We have to be willing to cut spending on entitlement programs, he seemed to be saying, especially for the elderly. But we also need to vastly increase spending on investments in our future.</p><p>That means raising taxes to fix our roads and bridges and other parts of our aging and neglected infrastructure. But it also means investing in education. Right now, he said America&#39;s priorities seem to be too much about the present and the past. Wed, 30 May 2012 16:10:45 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 7674 at http://michiganradio.org From Mackinac Island: A Culture Change Contraception Rules http://michiganradio.org/post/contraception-rules <p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" id="role_document" size="2"><font size="4">The Michigan Catholic Conference filed a federal lawsuit yesterday, charging that their freedom of religion has been violated because of a new rule regarding health insurance policies.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">And on the basis of logic alone, I have to say, what they are claiming makes absolutely no sense to me. This is not an issue that only involves Michigan. Forty-three Roman Catholic dioceses, social service agencies, schools and even the University of Notre Dame filed similar lawsuits across the nation. Their issue is simply this.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">The Obama administration&#39;s Department of Health and Human Services has a rule requiring all employers that provide health insurance to have that coverage cover contraceptives.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">The Roman Catholic Church opposes any use of contraception, and says being required to cover this violates their religious freedom.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">This is not, by the way, part of the Affordable Care Act, the constitutionality of which is due to be decided by the United States Supreme Court next month, This is entirely a different case.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">The Michigan Catholic Conference and other Catholic groups across the nation say that requiring them to insure contraceptive coverage violates their rights under both the First Amendment and under a bill called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">They want the federal courts to make the Obama Administration drop this requirement. </font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">But here&#39;s why their argument seems illogical. The government is not requiring that anybody approve of or use contraception. That would be a tremendous violation of religious freedom. What the government is saying is that if someone does choose to do so, insurance plans have to cover it.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">That makes logical and legal sense, given that nearly half a century ago, in a case called Griswold vs. Connecticut, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a state could not outlaw the use of contraceptives. Incidentally, every survey I have ever seen shows that the majority of American Catholics do in fact use contraception, even though it is against their church&#39;s teaching.</font></font> Tue, 22 May 2012 15:18:12 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 7563 at http://michiganradio.org Contraception Rules What would a reform of the Personal Property Tax really mean? http://michiganradio.org/post/what-would-reform-personal-property-tax-really-mean <p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" id="role_document" size="2"><font size="4">If you had any doubts whether Michigan is still an important player on the national stage, consider this. Yesterday, embattled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who is trying to survive a recall, appeared at a fundraiser in the Detroit suburb of Troy.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Today, President Obama will visit fundraisers of his own in West Bloomfield. These men are about as different politically as possible. Walker is seen by the nation&#39;s unions as Public Enemy Number One. Those unions will be firmly behind the President&#39;s re-election. Obama and Walker differ on virtually every domestic issue.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">But they do have something in common. Neither man was scheduled to visit the desolation that is Detroit. </font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">That city&#39;s more conservative paper, The Detroit News, startled me today by suggesting that the President&#39;s limousine take a detour through the city, perhaps, &quot;past the heaps of rubble that were once businesses on Harper near City Airport, and into the blocks surrounding Denby High School off East Outer Drive, where there are more abandoned homes than occupied ones.&quot;</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">The newspaper suggested that Detroit is every bit as bad off as New Orleans was in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. But there have been no massive federal programs to rebuild Detroit. This nation has spent billions of dollars on the war in Iraq over the last decade, a war that seems to have won us nothing. Can you imagine the positive effect a small fraction of that money would have had on Detroit? Or Flint, or Pontiac, or any number of the rest of Michigan&#39;s crumbling cities large and small?</font></font> Wed, 18 Apr 2012 13:55:29 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 7086 at http://michiganradio.org What would a reform of the Personal Property Tax really mean? Deregulatory Madness in Michigan http://michiganradio.org/post/deregulatory-madness-michigan <p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" id="role_document" size="2"><font size="4">I think I&#39;d like to be a doctor. Physicians generally make a lot more than I do, and I could certainly use the extra income.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">I have read several biographies of famous figures in medicine, and know how important it is to wash your hands a lot.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Besides, I once spent most of a day with the famed heart surgeon Denton Cooley years ago. So, I think I&#39;ll ask the state to waive the rules while I start delivering babies and removing tumors.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Okay. You may think this idea is nuts. And that&#39;s because it is nuts. But don&#39;t worry - the closet I&#39;ll ever come to practicing medicine is using my teeth to pry the lid off the aspirin bottle.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">But the scary thing is that I&#39;m not all that sure the Snyder administration feels that way.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">No, they aren&#39;t talking about allowing people like me to practice medicine in their garage. Not yet, anyway.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">But yesterday, the state Office of Regulatory Reinvention recommended abolishing occupational boards and essentially, ceasing to regulate and license at least eighteen occupations.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">A few of these may actually not need regulation; the world will probably not collapse if auctions aren&#39;t run by a state licensed and regulated auctioneer. But it seems clear to me that most of the occupations involved very much need oversight.</font></font> Tue, 17 Apr 2012 13:09:36 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 7067 at http://michiganradio.org Deregulatory Madness in Michigan Romney and the Bridge http://michiganradio.org/post/romney-and-bridge <p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" id="role_document" size="2"><font size="4">If you&rsquo;ve following the Michigan Republican presidential primary race, you probably know that Governor Rick Snyder has endorsed Mitt Romney. If you&rsquo;ve been following politics in Michigan, you probably know that one of the governor&rsquo;s top priorities is a new bridge over the Detroit River, the New International Trade Crossing.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Nearly the entire corporate and business community want this bridge. But the governor hasn&rsquo;t even been able to get a vote on it in the legislature, where many of the members have taken campaign&nbsp; donations from Matty Moroun, owner of the rival Ambassador Bridge. Moroun doesn&rsquo;t want any competition, and so far, has managed to frustrate the governor and get his way.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">This is not purely a local issue; this is America&rsquo;s most economically important border crossing. Billions in heavy freight cross the Ambassador Bridge every month. Getting a new bridge is a top economic priority for Canada, our nation&rsquo;s biggest trading partner.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">So, how does Mitt Romney stand on the question of whether we should build a new international bridge? The answer seems to be that he doesn&rsquo;t. He is apparently refusing to take a position on it.</font></font> Fri, 24 Feb 2012 14:24:00 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 6352 at http://michiganradio.org Romney and the Bridge What's next after the Michigan primary? We don't know. http://michiganradio.org/post/whats-next-after-michigan-primary-we-dont-know <p>Michigan appears poised to have a significant role in the presidential election as voters get set for the Republican primary next Tuesday.</p> <p>But what will the results mean?</p> <p>When it’s over, there will be plenty of analysis on radio and television, but take it with a grain of salt.</p> Fri, 24 Feb 2012 14:13:08 +0000 Keith Oppenheim 6354 at http://michiganradio.org What's next after the Michigan primary? We don't know. Kids in Poverty http://michiganradio.org/post/kids-poverty <p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" id="role_document" size="2"><font size="4">Three hundred and forty-one thousand. That&rsquo;s the number of children in our state living in what is officially known these days as &ldquo;areas of concentrated poverty.&rdquo; Our ancestors would have called where they lived &ldquo;the worst slums.&rdquo;</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">We are talking about homes that sometimes lack heat and light, that are surrounded by crack houses and other houses that have burned down, places where life is too often nasty, brutish and short.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Two-thirds of all children in Detroit live in such neighborhoods, streets like the one where a nine-month-old baby was killed by a bullet from an AK-47 assault rifle Monday. </font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">But most poor children don&rsquo;t live in Detroit. Some live in rural poverty, in Roscommon or Chippewa Counties up north, where alcoholism is high.</font></font><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4"> Yes, a few of these children will escape, thanks to the efforts of a parent, teacher or mentor.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">Somehow they will get a halfway decent education, a job and a better life, though that is becoming increasingly hard to do. But most won&rsquo;t, just as most kids whose dreams are based on a basketball won&rsquo;t make it to the NBA. Instead, the numbers of the desperately poor are swelling. According to a new report funded by the Annie E, Casey Foundation, there were a hundred and twenty-five thousand more poor kids in our state in twenty-ten than ten years earlier.</font></font> Thu, 23 Feb 2012 14:09:25 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 6331 at http://michiganradio.org Kids in Poverty Saving Michigan's History http://michiganradio.org/post/saving-michigans-history <p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" id="role_document" size="2"><font size="4">I have on my desk a beautiful, red-bound hardcover book published by our state exactly a century ago. It&rsquo;s the Michigan Manual for nineteen eleven and nineteen twelve, sort of a one-volume encyclopedia of politics, government and life in our state.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">This particular one has beautiful, fold-out maps of railroad line and judicial circuits and photos and biographies of all the state officeholders. I can find out exactly how people voted, or how to get&nbsp; information about vacant swampland from the state land office.</font></font></p><p><font color="#000000" face="Arial" size="2"><font size="4">This is a fascinating book, more than nine hundred pages long, and I bought it at a used book store for a dollar. Michigan has been publishing the Manual every two years since statehood, and I own all of them since eighteen sixty nine. Old timers in Lansing just call it &ldquo;the red book.&ldquo; If you want to research our history, they are a&nbsp; good place to start. Also on my desk is the most recent Michigan Manual,&nbsp; published two years ago. Frankly, it isn&rsquo;t nearly as nice as the century-old version, though I had to pay fifty bucks for this one. To save money, they dropped a lot of information.</font></font> Fri, 03 Feb 2012 16:09:20 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 6082 at http://michiganradio.org Saving Michigan's History Michigan's Benton Harbor in the national media spotlight http://michiganradio.org/post/michigans-benton-harbor-national-media-spotlight <p>Benton Harbor isn&rsquo;t very big.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s a city of about 11,000 residents in Michigan&rsquo;s southwest corner.&nbsp; But it has story lines that drive national media to pay attention.</p><p style="margin: 0.0px 0.0px 10.0px 0.0px; line-height: 17.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'">One is the emergency manager law which has been in effect in Benton Harbor for about 2 years.</p><p style="margin: 0.0px 0.0px 10.0px 0.0px; line-height: 17.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'">It transferred power from elected officials to a state appointee, Joseph Harris.</p> Thu, 26 Jan 2012 19:45:41 +0000 Keith Oppenheim 5962 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan's Benton Harbor in the national media spotlight