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Reinis Traidas / Flickr

The state House is expected to take up legislation next month that could decide the future of Michigan’s film credit program.

The credits will go away in 2017 if lawmakers do not act to extend them. The state Senate passed a bill last month that would keep them alive. Senate Bill 1103 got wide bipartisan support.

It appears the bill will continue to move now that it is in the state House.

More economists are telling us that income and wealth inequality is growing in the U.S.

The Economist declared that inequality in wealth in America is approaching record levels. They argue that the gap between the haves and the have-nots is getting wider as the rich get richer.

Michigan State University economics professor Charlie Ballard joined us today to talk about this wealth disparity in the U.S.

You can listen to our conversation below.


House fire in Detroit.
Dave Hogg / Flickr

"Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus."

 "We Hope for Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes."

Fr. Gabriel Richard wrote that after a tremendous fire in 1805 that destroyed most of Detroit.

Those words from the French-Canadian priest became the motto of city - a city whose history is filled with many different kinds of fires.

Michael Jackman spells out this history in his story for The Metro Times.

Listen to our conversation with Jackman below.


Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan wants online shoppers to save their sales receipts.  

They may need them at tax time.

The growth of online sales has meant a bigger loss of sales tax revenue in Michigan.  

The state expects to lose $440 million in unpaid sales tax on remote sales, mainly online.

“Oftentimes people think that this is a new tax.  It certainly isn’t,” says Treasury Department spokesman Terry Stanton. “It’s been on the state’s books since 1930s.”

Wayne County plans to foreclose on a record number of properties next year.

The county has begun issuing notices to almost 75,000 properties for delinquent taxes. Of those, more than 80%--about 62,000—are located in Detroit.

The county is required, by state law, to auction off all properties at least three years behind on property taxes.

Dearborn Mosque
user rypix / Flickr

It's widely accepted that Michigan has the largest Muslim population in the United States. Sarah Howell explores the religion's history in Michigan in her book Old Islam in Detroit: Rediscovering the Muslim American Past.

Islam has a long history in America that is often overlooked. Howell says many Muslims came as slaves from West Africa to pre-civil war America with no freedom to practice their religion, and many of their traditions were lost.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Thanksgiving is almost here, and with it comes Black Friday – one of the largest shopping days of the year.

Many stores begin Black Friday by opening their doors to shoppers at the crack of dawn, and even more have begun to open to shoppers on Thanksgiving Day itself.

To examine what goes into this shopping mania, we talked to University of Michigan marketing professors Scott Rick and Aradhna Krishna.

Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it. Members of the LBGT community – lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and the transgendered – have wanted the Legislature to take up expanding the state’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

They persuaded themselves that the Republicans who have majorities in the state Legislature would, in the lame-duck session next month, expand its protections to include them. Some took this as a given, although they were worried that the bill might include sexual orientation and not gender identity.

Yesterday, one Michelle Fox-Phillips wrote and asked me to tell people that excluding transsexuals from any expansion of the civil rights act would be wrong.

Well, it became clear yesterday that she has been living in a dream world. Most Republicans have absolutely no interest in expanding civil rights protections to the non-heterosexual. They are either part of the religious right, or depend on it for money and votes.

Courtesy photo / Holland BPW

Federal regulators are proposing new rules to cut carbon dioxide emissions, and it looks like one community in west Michigan has a decent head start.

In case you missed it over the summer, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing cutting carbon emissions by 30% by 2030.

Power plants are the biggest producers of carbon emissions in the U.S.

Here in Michigan, coal powers half of all homes and businesses. So utilities are probably going to have to stop burning so much coal in order to meet the requirements, assuming they are approved.

The City of Holland owns a coal plant. The James De Young plant is 75 years old.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Lansing City Council last night approved an ordinance that will require home and business owners to shovel snow from sidewalks faster. 

The capitol city’s old ordinance, which involved mailing citations to property owners, sometimes took so long the snow would melt before the property owner received the notice.    

The new ordinance speeds up the process to 48 hours. 

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says one death last year can be blamed on city residents not shoveling their sidewalks after a snowstorm.

“Life and limb is what’s at stake," says Bernero. 

Detroit won’t be quite ready to exit bankruptcy until next month, city lawyers told Judge Steven Rhodes at a hearing Monday.

Judge Rhodes has already approved the city’s bankruptcy restructuring plan. But the city must still complete a couple steps before it officially leaves Chapter 9.

It needs to make sure its two-year budget reflects the plan’s terms, and release details of the plan to financial markets.

Fred Thompson / Flickr

2014 is nearly over, but we won't know how much ethanol the U.S. EPA will require to be blended into gasoline for 2014, until 2015.  The EPA announced last week it will delay issuing the standard.

The ethanol industry and refining industry are on opposite sides of the Renewable Fuels Standard debate.  The RFS requires increasing amounts of ethanol in gasoline every year, unless there are compelling economic reasons to depart from the practice.

Earlier this year, the EPA indicated it was planning to lower the Renewable Fuels Standard for the first time since 2007 – because it appeared the amount of ethanol in gasoline would have to exceed 10% – and the effect of higher ethanol blends on older engines is unclear.

The delay on issuing that standard has generated relief among corn ethanol lobbyists.

David Ferguson

Developers will try once again to turn one particular piece of prime downtown Lansing real estate from a vacant lot to upscale housing.

The land sits across the street from the state Supreme Court building.

Several times in the past decade high profile plans were announced only to fail.

Developer David Ferguson says this time will be different, even though his plans call for a similar mix of townhouses and apartments.

MSU

Having trouble with your boss?

A new Michigan State University study suggests your job performance will improve if you and your boss can at least “see eye to eye.”

MSU researchers say employers and employees understanding their relationship issues is more important that the quality of the relationship.

The study of 280 employees and their bosses found job motivation suffered when an employee believed he or she had a good relationship with the boss but the boss saw it differently.

Employee motivation was higher when the worker and supervisor saw eye-to-eye about the relationship, even when it was poor.

The study appears in the Academy of Management Journal.

Michigan Wolverines vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
MGoBlue / flickr.com

This Saturday brings one of the deepest, most storied rivalries in all of college sports: Michigan versus Ohio State, as the Wolverines head to Columbus. Bruce Geelhoed is a history professor at Ball State University. He's the author Bump Elliott: The Michigan Wolverines and Their Championship Football Season. 

The book looks at the 1964 season, and Geelhoed says the U of M-Ohio State game was important for both teams, as it would decide the Big Ten championship for that year. Geelhoed notes that Ohio State had been on a winning streak the previous decade, making this a must-win game for Michigan to reassert its claim as a strong team in the rivalry.

Jake Neher / MPRN

The Education Achievement Authority has been the center of controversy since its doors first opened. The idea was to create a statewide school district to take over and turn around failing schools. The EAA is now in its third year, operating schools, all in Detroit, and it remains a polarizing subject in Michigan.

Michigan isn’t the only state where policymakers have created statewide school systems to turn around their worst-performing public schools. Tennessee and Louisiana have “Recovery School Districts,” or RSDs, similar to Michigan’s EAA. Nelson Smith has been studying these state turnaround systems for the Thomas Fordham Institute. His most recent report is called “Redefining the School District in Michigan”. Dan Varner serves on the State Board of Education. He’s also the head of an organization called Excellent Schools Detroit, which is seeking ways to make school choice work better in Detroit.

Charles & Adrienne Esseltine / Flickr / Flickr

Sixteen people were charged in an indictment unsealed today, for operating a fraudulent telemarketing scheme involving losses of $20 million and almost 300 victims around the country.

According to the U.S. Attorney in Detroit, the telemarketing ring called people offering them cheap deals on homes in Detroit, claiming the houses were bank-owned and up for a sale at a price way under their market value.  

Thanksgiving always has reminded me of the famous Charles Dickens quote, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Some of this goes back to my childhood, when President Kennedy was assassinated just days before Thanksgiving, and a gloom hung over the nation in a way now hard to imagine.

Add to that the fact that I seem to be deeply un-American in that I would rather do almost anything other than spend hours trapped in front of a TV watching football.

Unless, that is, it involves that form of mass hysteria known as holiday shopping. Last week I overheard two excited women sharing the news that they weren’t going to have to wait till Black Friday. This year, the shopping malls will open on Turkey Day itself.

via Wayne State University

Some renters in and around downtown Detroit are exploring the idea of a tenants’ union.

A group of them met this past weekend to discuss the possibility.

Some renters in the city’s revived downtown and midtown areas worry that as the real estate market heats up, they’ll be pushed out by higher rents.

Tenants in subsidized housing are particularly concerned about being displaced for market-rate units.

Key Bank building in Ann Arbor, MI
OZinOH / flickr.com

Michigan banks have made an impressive recovery since January 2011, according to quarterly data compiled by BauerFinanical Inc., a Florida-based ratings service.

As Tom Henderson from Crain's Detroit Business explained:

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