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Politics & Government
5:31 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Filings in Detroit's bankruptcy are getting personal

Turns out federal judge Stephen Rhodes can write a piece of legal smack down when he wants.
Credit John Meiu / Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC

A recent order from the court reads like a Facebook argument.

It started with Syncora, a major bond insurer that claims Detroit owes it more than a billion dollars.

The company filed an objection to the “grand bargain” that’s been coming together to save the Detroit Institute of Arts and protect the city’s pensioners.

Basically, Syncora says it and other Wall Street creditors are getting treated like the bad guys, while the DIA and the pensioners are clearly the hometown favorites.

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Offbeat
4:07 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Psst! I think cyanobacterium is an enormous jerk

Algae (L), Cyanobacterium (R).
Michelle Haun Michigan Radio

You might have heard.

We've got this new guy strutting around the station telling us to "get it right."

Well, I've had just about enough of this guy. I'm sharing my thoughts about him in this vlog (video blog, for the uninitiated).

I hope you can help me get rid of him.

Economy
3:49 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Charter school authorizers propose their own system for oversight, closures

Credit User: Thomas Favre-Bulle / Flickr

A group of Michigan charter school authorizers has come up with a system it says will lead to better oversight.

It’s a voluntary accreditation system for institutions that open and oversee charter schools. It will judge authorizers based on things like transparency and efforts to intervene in failing schools.

Jared Burkhart directs the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers.

“This process will ensure that all Michigan authorizers are following and adapting standards that are the strongest in the nation," Burkhart says. "This will lead to the best authorizing practices, we feel, throughout the United States.”

Earlier this month, state superintendent Mike Flanagan warned 11 authorizers he might stop them from overseeing new charters schools. That’s if they don’t improve the oversight of their existing schools.

A spokesperson for Flanagan says he’s interested in working with authorizers on the new oversight system, but he’s concerned the proposed standards aren’t detailed enough.

Law
1:15 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Detroit bankruptcy judge will hear more arguments about water shutoffs

Credit Ross Kuhn / via Facebook

Some Detroit residents and activists are trying to put water shutoffs on hold—again.

The Detroit water department resumed its residential water shut-off program for delinquent customers this week. It’s trying to collect more than $80 million in back payments.

The city had put the controversial program on hold for about a month, while holding water assistance fairs and giving those who struggle to pay their bills time to get on payment plans.

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Politics & Government
11:52 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Detroit seeks proposals to re-develop iconic Brewster recreation center

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit is looking for plans to re-develop the former Brewster-Wheeler recreation center.

The center is best known as the place where Detroit boxing legends Joe Louis got their start in the sport.

It also served as an important community hub for generations of Detroiters who lived in and around the recently-demolished Brewster-Douglass housing projects.

But it’s fallen into disrepair since it closed in 2006, and was recently added to the city’s demolition list.

Now Mayor Mike Duggan is making a final push to re-develop it instead.

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Opinion
11:14 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Workers in Minnesota see wage gains, while workers in Michigan see steady wage losses

Well, it’s Labor Day weekend, unofficially known as the last weekend of summer, and this in itself seems horribly unfair.

Weren’t we still shoveling snow a few weeks ago?  Anyway, when it comes to things not being fair, those who work for a living know that all too well.

Especially, that is, if they have limited education or work in manufacturing jobs. I’ve just been reading a fascinating new Labor Day report issued by the Michigan League for Public Policy. It’s focus is on continuing wage disparities between men and women – the famous gender gap.

That’s an important issue, but to me it wasn’t the most significant thing in this report. What this report really does is illustrate how devastating the last 35 years have been for Michigan’s traditional blue-collar workers.

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Law
10:55 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Michigan family marks 3rd anniverary of brother's arrest in Iran

Sarah Hekmati at today's rally marking the 3rd anniversary of her brother Amir's arrest in Iran.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Waving signs saying “Free Amir”, a small group in Bay City marked the third anniversary of the arrest of a Flint native in Iran on spying charges.

Amir Hekmati’s older sister Sarah says her family is still struggling to deal with her brother’s predicament.

“Every day we wake up, it’s very surreal and we feel like it’s a bad dream.  But it’s not going away,” says Sarah Hekmati, “We can’t believe that has become three years.”

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Sports Commentary
7:00 am
Fri August 29, 2014

What’s all the fuss about Appalachian State?

The 2007 Michigan - Appalachian State game.
user Derrick S. Flickr

Well, it goes back to 2007, the year the NCAA allowed schools to add a 12th regular season game, for no reason but revenue.

Yes, another shameless money grab on the backs, knees, and skulls of amateur athletes. 

To find an extra opponent, Michigan had to scramble.

When a Division I-AA team called Appalachian State agreed to come to Ann Arbor for a flat fee of $400,000, fans wondered why Michigan had scheduled a team from the second tier for the first time – and, where the heck is that place?

It turns out Appalachian State isn’t even a state.  (I looked it up.)    

Their fight song didn’t instill much fear, either: “Hi-Hi-yike-us.  No-body like us.  We are the Mountaineers!  Always a-winning.  Always a-grinning.  Always a-feeling fine.  You bet, hey.  Go Apps!”

“The Victors,” it was not.

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Law
5:59 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Amir Hekmati marks his third year as a prisoner in Iran

Amir Hekmati remains in an Iranian jail cell 3 years after his arrest.
Credit Hekmati family

On this day three years ago, Iranian authorities arrested a U.S. Marine veteran from Flint and charged him with spying.

His family and friends are holding a rally today to mark his three years in an Iranian jail cell.

Amir Hekmati was visiting relatives when he was arrested. His family and supporters insist he’s innocent.

Congressman Dan Kildee (D-Flint) says he’s talked with President Obama about Hekmati’s case as recently as two weeks ago. He wants the administration to pressure the Iranian government to release Hekmati.

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Politics & Government
8:56 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

New alliance seeks to restore public education funding through political action

Retired English teacher Pat Kuessner at MTAC rally (CLICK ON PHOTO FOR SLIDE SHOW)
Tracy Samilton

A new political alliance says it will try to help elect Mark Schauer as Michigan Governor in November, along with other politicians who want to restore public education funding.

Michigan Teachers and Allies for Change held its first rally in Ann Arbor Thursday evening. 

About 250 people, many of them teachers, attended. 

Most were from Ann Arbor.  But one teacher drove all the way from Marquette to support the cause.

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Politics & Government
8:18 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Growing opposition to proposed Lake Huron nuclear waste facility

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) announces his plans to file a resolution against the proposed nuclear waste storage facility during a news conference on the deck of the Appledore IV in the Saginaw River in Bay City
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A Michigan congressman is the latest to stand up against plans for a nuclear waste storage facility on the Ontario side of Lake Huron.

Ontario Power Generation wants to store its nuclear waste at the site which is less than a mile from the Canadian shore of Lake Huron. 

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Stateside
5:04 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Detroit is offered a $4 billion loan in exchange for DIA art

Credit Flickr

A New York lender called Art Capital Group is offering a $4 billion loan to the city of Detroit if it puts up its art collection as collateral.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes said the city would be wise to pass on this offer.

The proposal is being backed by holdout bond insurers Syncora, and the Financial Guaranty Insurance Company.

Howes said the proposal would put DIA art one step closer to being sold, pensioners would receive a lot less money, and the loan would be spread around to other creditors.

Howes said city officials said they were not interested in discussing the deal, and that they say they will stand behind the "Grand Bargain" because it is money in hand and the deal will help avoid legal issues.

Howes also said the offer is just now coming up to stall the bankruptcy trial.

Read Howes column in the Detroit News here.

*Listen to the full interview with Daniel Howes above. 

Weekly Political Roundup
5:00 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Talking poll numbers and wolf hunting with Ken Sikkema and Zoe Clark

State Capitol
Credit user aunt owwee / Flickr

This week we're joined by Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants. Also sitting in is Michigan Radio's co-host of It's Just Politics, Zoe Clark.

We talk about the potential fallout from the Legislature's vote on wolf hunting and the latest poll numbers in Michigan's gubernatorial race. Listen to our discussion below.

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Stateside
4:55 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Dwayne Gill is a state trooper by day, and a stand-up comic by night

Dwayne Gill
Credit dwaynegill.com/comedy / dwaynegill.com/comedy

Michigan State Police Sgt. Dwayne Gill uses his day job as a reference pool for his stand-up sets.

Gill said that comedy came first for him, but open-mic nights did not bring in enough money, so he became a police officer.

“They knew that I was doing stand-up in the academy and I was called 'Recruit Joker,'” Gill said.

Gill started his comedic journey in 1989. He signed up for an Apollo Night contest in April 1995. After getting booed off the stage, he decided to quit comedy and focus on his police work.

Seven years later, he went to a retirement party for a trooper at the Ann Arbor Showcase, and said that gave him the itch to try comedy again.

He read books, took a class in New York, and learned more about comedy. September 11, 2002 he was back on stage, and started getting paid for his jokes in 2004.

Now he has opened up for celebrities like Tim Allen, and recently for Aretha Franklin.  

Gill has been working in law enforcement for 21 years. He is now the Michigan State Police liaison to the Legislature, and he still continues to do stand-up work.

*Listen to our full interview with Dwayne Gill above. 

Sports
4:25 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Derek Jeter remembers his time in Michigan, especially that bad called strike

Derek Jeter in 2009.
Keith Allison Flickr

The New York Yankees are in town, and the player who has been a Yankee longer than any other is being celebrated by opposing fans.

Derek Jeter plans to retire from the game at the end of this season, and during what could be his last visit to Comerica Park, Michigan has come out to celebrate the player who grew up in Kalamazoo.

With Jeter in town, there's a lot being written about Jeter.

But Jim Baumbach at Newsday wrote a piece in 2012 that gives us a look at Jeter's path from Kalamazoo to the New York Yankees.

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Families & Community
1:20 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Curious about Detroit's transformation? September is a good time to dive in

User: Marvin Shaouni Urban Innovation Exchange

You might have heard of urban farming in Detroit, but do you know you can grow seafood in Detroit’s vacant homes?

Aside from the Heidelberg Project, do you know metro Detroit also has community art projects like Green Alley, Scarab Club’s art exhibits, and an upcoming Museum of Curiosity?

These are the kind of ideas Urban Innovation Exchange hopes to explore at its first national convention Sept. 24-26 in Detroit.

It's one in a series of citywide events jam-packed into the month of September to showcase small projects that are transforming the city, from Tour de Troit to Dlectricity.

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Stateside
12:01 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

A look back on Gerald Ford's legacy, 40 years later

President Gerald Ford, August 1974
Credit Wikimedia Commons

It has been 40 years since Richard Nixon resigned and Michigan’s Gerald Ford was sworn in as president. He is the only Michigander to be president, and the first  not elected by the Electoral College.

Today on Stateside, we look at Ford’s legacy with guests Patrick McLean and Gleaves Whitney. McLean is director of the Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service at Albion College. Whitney is the director of Grand Valley State University's Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies.

What kind of president was Gerald Ford? Reviews are mixed.

A 2012 Gallup poll found Americans judge Gerald Ford to be just an average president. Patrick McLean wrote a piece in Bridge Magazine that challenges that view, and said that we should appreciate Ford’s leadership.

McLean said Ford was dealt a bad hand when he was sworn in.

There was the unpopular war in Vietnam, the beginning of stagflation, high unemployment rates, and low job growth. He inherited the presidency when trust in the political establishment was at a low point.

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Offbeat
10:57 am
Thu August 28, 2014

This guy gets all offended when you call him "algae"

That's me in the studio at Michigan Radio with ATC host Jennifer White. I think she finally gets it.
Credit Steve Chyrpinski

If you go out in western Lake Erie right now, you'll see us.

We turn the water green. The wakes of the boats -- normally a frothy white -- we turn them a frothy green.

We've been at it for billions of years, and the more you feed us (thank you farmers and the people of metro Detroit), the more we multiply in your warm slow moving waters. But when experts and reporters talk about us, they call us "toxic algae."

Algae? Seriously? Just because we look like plant-scum growing in the water doesn't mean that's what we are.

We are the only kind of bacteria that can release the microsystin toxin into water supplies.

Scientists are starting to call us by the right name. My scientist-friends talked with Rebecca Williams about it today for the Environment Report, thank goodness.

And now I'm trying to work on the reporters and hosts at Michigan Radio. 

See for yourself:

Opinion
10:33 am
Thu August 28, 2014

For the bridge to go up, we must do right by the community it will run through

Last week, I went to see Douglas George, Canada’s top diplomat in Detroit, mostly to talk about where things stand with the New International Trade Crossing Bridge over the Detroit River.

The bridge is now almost certain to be built, but there are a few hang-ups, and one is the concerns of the residents in the Delray neighborhood where the American footprint of the bridge will land.

Those who live there want to make sure they aren’t trampled on. Now, they finally are having their voices heard, thanks in part to Detroit’s new system of electing council members by district.

Exactly a month ago, Detroit City Council was expected to approve the sale of 301 city-owned parcels of land in that neighborhood to the state of Michigan.

Michigan would then buy them with money provided by the government of Canada, and transfer the land to the new International Authority, which is to oversee bridge construction.

But the land sale was delayed.

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The Environment Report
9:39 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Green goo growing in Lake Erie is not what you think it is

Western Lake Erie turns green from cyanobacteria blooms.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

The Environment Report for Thursday, August 28, 2014- Experts debate proper terminology for Lake Erie's green slime
 

Lately, that green slime in the lake has been all over the news after it shut down Toledo’s water supply.

Journalists, city and government officials have been calling that green slime  “blue-green algae”, “toxic algae” or “toxic algal blooms.”

Well, turns out that’s not exactly right.

“That’s just maddening,” said James Bull, a professor of biology and environmental science. He works at Wayne County Community College and Macomb Community College.

He says it’s not accurate to call the green slime that shut down Toledo’s water system “a toxic algal bloom.” 

He wrote to Michigan Radio because we were some of the people using the wrong term.

“It’s wrong because even though these organisms superficially look like algae, I think we ought to understand that these really are a kind of bacteria,” Bull said.

He says scientists used to call this stuff “blue-green algae.” Now they call it “cyanobacteria”. He says calling cyanobacteria "algae" is like calling a dolphin a fish.

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