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U.S. Treasury

Almost six years to the day it was bailed out by the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, Ally Financial has exited.

"With this sale, we are exiting the last major TARP investment and winding down the Auto Industry Financing Program," said Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. "This program was a crucial part of the Obama Administration’s effort to stop the financial crisis and protect the economy from slipping into a second Great Depression.  At the peak, more than 700 institutions were in the TARP bank program. Today, just 35 remain. " 

Grey wolf.
IsleRoyaleWolf.org

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - A federal judge has overturned an Obama administration decision to remove the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list.

The order affects wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed federal protections from those wolves in 2012 and handed over management to the states.

In an order Friday, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ruled that the removal was "arbitrary and capricious" and violates the federal Endangered Species Act.

The site of the former Velsicol Chemical Corporation in St. Louis is going to take a long time to clean up.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The city of St. Louis, Michigan would much rather be talked about as the geographic center of the Lower Peninsula.

Instead, there's a lot of focus on the legacy of pollution here.

The story of Velsicol Chemical in St. Louis, Michigan is quite complicated. And it grows more so as plans continue to develop for finding and cleaning up the contamination left behind in this small town.

We've been working to bring you up to speed on the history of Velsicol Chemical in St. Louis, Michigan all this week. It's one of the most polluted places in Michigan. The company was sloppy, and mistakes were made when it first tried to contain its pollution on its old plant site.

Since then, the community has been working hard to push the government to give the city and the people in St. Louis a thorough cleanup. They hope that future generations won't have to deal with this toxic legacy.

The timeline looks okay below, but it look even better here!

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This holiday season, two very different religious beliefs will be on display at the state Capitol in Lansing.

A small crowd sang Christmas carols outside the state Capitol today. They were there to see a small nativity scene erected. The figures of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph will stand in stark contrast to a display featuring a snake that Michigan Satanists plan to put up on Sunday. 

This week, we’ve told you about efforts to clean up the old Velsicol Chemical plant. There’s a threat to the local drinking water supply after the first attempt to clean up the plant failed. Birds still die from DDT, decades after the plant stopped producing it.

But we haven't told you who's paying to fix it.


Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign legislation that changes pollution clean-up procedures in Michigan. Senate Bill 891 is backed by the Department of Environmental Quality and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

http://buildthedricnow.com

The $1.1 trillion  budget that President Obama signed this week did not include money for a customs plaza in Detroit.

The customs plaza is needed for the New International Trade Crossing, the bridge to be built between Windsor and Detroit.

Here are the stories from the Michigan Radio website with the most traffic from Jan. 1, 2014 to Dec. 15, 2014, according to our data. 

Your most-read stories ran the gamut from news to politics to sports to Stateside with Cynthia Canty interviews with scientists and artists. 

There’s a great deal of celebrating over the fact that the Legislature reached a last-minute deal to fix the roads. Gov. Rick Snyder and the establishment Republicans are happy.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Last month the ACLU’s lawsuit on behalf of eight Highland Park students was thrown out by the Michigan Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision.

The suit says the schools didn’t provide students with even basic literacy or math skills, and that therefore the state and the district should be held responsible for that failure.

But the court of appeals tossed the suit, basically because of three points.

A musician who was jailed last summer for refusing to stop playing his guitar on a sidewalk is suing the city of Saugatuck in federal court.

The city says the sidewalks are too packed in the summer to allow unrestricted entertainment. Musicians can play in city parks without permits.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A proposed tax hike aimed at improving Michigan's transportation infrastructure and schools is heading to voters.

  The Michigan Legislature has put a sales tax increase on the May statewide ballot as part of a road funding plan.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s already proving to be an intense flu season at many Michigan hospitals.

“It’s been a very heavy season so far. We’ve had about four times the normal number of flu cases as we had at this time in previous years,” says Dr. Matthew Sims, director of infectious disease research at Beaumont hospitals.

Other hospitals in the region are reporting a similar spike.

Dan Gilbert, Quicken Loans Founder and CEO
Quicken Loans

There was some recent sand-throwing between Oakland County's feisty executive, L. Brooks Patterson, and Dan Gilbert, who is arguably Detroit's No. 1 booster, both in terms of buying, building, and enticing companies to move to Detroit. 

Billy Strings and Don Julin

If you haven't heard of Don Julin and Billy Strings, then you probably haven't been hanging around Traverse City. 

Michigan lawmakers want you to decide on roads.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative leaders have struck a deal on road funding.

After many, many closed-door meetings, the announcement was made at a news conference at the Capitol.

To get to more than $1 billion in funding, the centerpiece of the plan is an increase in the state sales tax. It’s something voters would have to decide in a ballot question in May.

Snyder says that’s OK with him.

Listen to our conversation with Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark below.

Migrant Legal Action Program

President Barack Obama's recent executive order on immigration could be a boost for Michigan's economy, according to a panel of experts convened by Michigan United, a coalition of faith, labor, business, social service, and civil rights members.

The order allows undocumented parents of children legally in the U.S. to apply for a temporary work permit, as long as they have resided in the U.S. for five years or more, undergo a criminal background check, and pay taxes.

Michigan lawmakers want you to decide on roads.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Human Services said it is eliminating jobs because of a $7.5 million dollar budget cut.

According to spokesman Bob Wheaton, the department has notified employee unions.

Wheaton said it is too soon to know the net reduction in jobs or the total number of layoffs.

"There certainly will end up being some people who are laid off," he said. "But we're hoping it will be as close to zero as possible."

There’s a reason college professors historically were given tenure. It was so they couldn’t be fired for politically unpopular views.

Velsicol Chemical operated on the banks of the Pine River in St. Louis, Michigan from 1938 to 1978. It was the site of the infamous PBB mixup. The entire plant was buried in place and now it's leaking.
Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force

There are a lot of former industrial sites in Michigan that need to be cleaned up, but the Velsicol Superfund sites in St. Louis, Michigan are unusual in their size and in the amount of nasty chemicals lurking in the ground where people live, work and play.

The company tried to contain the pollution before, but its solution didn’t work. Ask some of the community members about that original plan and they say they could have told you it wasn’t going to work.

User _chrisUK / flickr.com

Governor Rick Snyder and legislative leaders have struck a road funding deal. It would be paid for by asking voters to approve a sales tax increase from the current 6 percent to 7 percent. That would be on the statewide ballot in May.

The Republican-led Legislature is expected to vote on the plan later today.

Founders Brewing Company

A 125-year-old, seventh-generation, family-owned Spanish brewery, Mahou San Miguel, has bought a 30% interest in Founders Brewing Co., based in Grand Rapids.

Founders CEO Mike Stevens said the craft brewery has succeeded in its search for a long-term partner that will allow it to thrive for many generations.  

  If you're dashing around trying to take care of your holiday to-do list, it might be time to think back and remember a time in Michigan when a bowl of oyster stew was your Christmas dinner and a $1.75 pair of gloves took care of your Christmas gift for the wife!

Goldom / Wikimedia

DETROIT - Ford says it's expanding a recall for faulty driver's side air bag inflators to the entire U.S. as demanded by the government.

The move adds 447,000 Ford vehicles to the list of those recalled due to driver's inflators made by Japan's Takata Corp. The inflators can explode with too much force, spewing shrapnel into drivers and passengers.

Ford's action puts pressure on BMW and Chrysler, the only two automakers that haven't agreed to national recalls. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made the demand, saying the inflators are dangerous.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit retirees face some big cuts in 2015—and hundreds of them packed two area churches to hear more about it Wednesday.

Detroit’s non-uniform retirees will take 4.5% direct pension cuts as a result of the city’s bankruptcy restructuring plan, which took effect Dec. 10.

Governor Rick Snyder plans to sign an executive order this morning to create a new state department with a focus on improving the state's workforce. It will be called the Department of Talent and Economic Development.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation will be moved into it. So will the state's unemployment agency. Governor Snyder says developing talent will give Michigan an edge over other states and countries in attracting employers.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint teachers union has agreed to layoffs and a seven year wage freeze to avoid a deep pay cut. 

The Flint Board of Education approved a plan last night that includes cutting around 70 jobs through layoffs and consolidation.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint firefighters’ next contract will be decided by a state board.

Last night, the Flint city council approved an alternative contract to the one the city’s emergency manager wants to impose on Flint firefighters.

Chestnut Growers, Inc.

During this holiday season, we hear Nat King Cole crooning about those chestnuts again. Did you know that Michigan leads the nation in chestnut production?

Yet most of us have never eaten a chestnut. That is something Dennis Fulbright wants to change. He's a plant pathologist and professor with Michigan State University.

LGBT flag.
Guillaume Paumier / Flickr

In Michigan, you can be fired or denied housing for being gay. That's because there are no LGBT protections in the state's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

The story of  teacher Gerry Crane illustrates that. Crane, a gay high school music teacher, was outed by his students, forced to resign, and several months later died of a stress-related heart attack. 

Christine Yared, an attorney from Grand Rapids, is writing a book about Crane's life. The book will be called "Gay Teacher: A Story About Love, Hate, and Lessons Yet To Be Learned."

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