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Grand Rapids Police Department
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids Police Department wants a better relationship with the community it serves -- so it sought out a task force to review its policies.

The department volunteered for this review after a study released earlier this year found some racial disparities in traffic stops.

More than half a million people voted absentee in this week's primary election
Lars Plougmann

Several ballot proposals for Michigan’s 2018 election cleared a hurdle today.

The Board of State Canvassers approved the form of proposals on earned sick time, marijuana legalization and redistricting.

That doesn’t mean the board guarantees the content of the ballots will hold up against lawsuits. But it makes sure the campaign won’t succumb to a challenge in front of the board on technical issues after they gather signatures.

jimmywayne / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

What can a city facing $200 million in long term debt do?

Raising taxes is one option.

That’s why the City of East Lansing has drawn up an income tax proposal for the November ballot. If approved by voters, residents would pay a 1% tax on their income. Non-residents who work in the city would pay 0.5%.

Courtesy of Wolfgang Bauer

The Next Idea

Think about a hot August day. Your car has been sitting out in a parking lot for hours and hours. Think of how hot it is when you get back inside and touch that steering wheel.

What if you could take all of that solar energy and use it for something besides burning your hands?

Although General Motors CEO Mary Barra wasn't among the business leaders that quit President Trump's advisory councils before they disbanded, Howes says he believes she was leaning in that direction.
Andrea_44 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The businessman president is losing big business.

Donald Trump's promise to turn to America's business leaders for advice and counsel has collapsed.

His refusal to lay complete blame for the weekend violence in Charlottesville led to a revolt by CEOs in his business advisory groups.

Democratic candidate for Bill Cobbs, in turquoise polo and glasses.
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Michigan chooses a new governor next year, and a number of candidates have already stepped into the race. One of them is Democrat William Cobbs. Cobbs is the former global vice president for Xerox, and is a veteran of the United States Navy.

Cobbs says he’s “ready to lead this Michigan revival.” He says the way public policy is being crafted in Michigan isn’t benefiting the state’s residents. He also says Michigan’s struggles in areas like public education have fostered hopelessness among children. 

The blacklegged tick can transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
CDC

Experts tell us it’s important to treat Lyme disease early, and state officials say Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in Michigan. 

But officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it can sometimes be confused with a similar condition that’s also transmitted by ticks, called Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness, or STARI.

Varroa mites attached to honey bees.
Zachary Huang / MSU

Varroa mites are considered the worst pest of honey bees worldwide. The mites suck blood from the bees and transmit viruses to them.

Researchers have identified six genes in the mites that could be used to attack them.

Zachary Huang is an associate professor of entomology at Michigan State University.

“We found four genes that would reduce their reproduction and two genes that would kill them pretty fast, so those would be used for their control later, perhaps,” he says.

Wikimedia Commons

Former Congressman Vern Ehlers died the way he lived Tuesday night, with quiet dignity. If you are relatively new to Michigan or not from the Grand Rapids area, you may not have known of him, which is too bad. He was one of the most underappreciated members of Congress.

He was full of integrity, and as little a self-promoter as anyone elected to national office can be. He was also something else very rare in Congress – a research scientist with a PhD in physics. I first met him 15 years ago in Detroit, when the Fisher Theater was showing Copenhagen, a play about science, morality, and the decision to build the atom bomb.

Cheyna Roth / MPRN

The first hearings to compensate people who’ve been wrongfully convicted started today, but some left the courtroom unsatisfied.

 

The hearings come after a new law was signed at the end of last year. That law provides for wrongfully convicted people to be compensated $50,000 for each year they were in prison.

 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Arbor Arbor residents with deep front yards may soon be permitted to put solar arrays in them.  

The city's planning manager, Brett Lenart, says some people think ground-mounted solar panels are unsightly -- but others welcome them as a sign of environmental progress.

So the planning commission aimed to strike a balance when developing recommendations for an ordinance.

People with enough room in the front yard for solar panels will have to hide the back and sides with hedges or fences if that's what the public would see.

FLICKR USER PAHO/WHO / FLICKR

Vaccine education groups are asking parents to get their kids vaccinated before school starts.  

Veronica McNally is with the Franny Strong Foundation. Her baby girl died at age three months from whooping cough.

She says parents are also protecting babies and immune-compromised people when they vaccinate themselves and their children.

"Whooping cough, for example, would require several doses of dTAP (the pertussis vaccine) before an infant would get vaccine-conferred immunity," says McNally. "So it's important to give that infant the circle of protection -- vaccinating everybody around the infant. And the same is true of influenza."

Charlie Auringer

In 1969, the blues threw a party in Ann Arbor.

James Partridge, founder of the Ann Arbor Blues Society, calls that party “the first blues festival ever.”

Enough people came that it happened again, and again, and became the Ann Arbor Blues Festival, later re-christened the Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival. Its last hurrah came in 2006.

But this year, musicians will breathe new life into that festival, as they work to reignite the energy that pulsed through the crowds so many years ago.

SEMCH44 / YOUTUBE

Thirty years ago today, a flight outbound from Detroit Metro Airport on its way to Phoenix never reached its destination. 

Kalkaska Village President Jeff Sieting.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Religious groups and the ACLU are asking Governor Rick Snyder to show "moral leadership" in the face of emboldened hate groups in Michigan. 

The eight groups say the flames of hatred are already ablaze in Michigan, and President Trump's defense of racists in Charlottesville makes it urgent for Michigan's top elected leader to do more. 

Snyder issued a statement Tuesday that hate speech and violence are not welcome in Michigan. 

Lindsey Scullen / Michigan Radio

President Donald Trump has announced the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. If Trump follows through on those plans, the country would pull out of the international agreement in November 2020. So what does that mean for Michigan, both now and in the future?

As part of Michigan Radio’s Issues & Ale event series, climate experts gathered on Tuesday night at Bill’s Beer Garden in Ann Arbor to discuss just that.

Tyler Scott / Michigan Radio

We're driving around Michigan a little faster this summer. It's the result of a package of bills signed earlier this year by Governor Snyder.

Speed limits are increasing to 65 miles an hour on 900 miles of non-freeways around the state. And on 600 miles of freeways, the speed limit goes up to 75.

slab of butter frying in a pan.
George Brett / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

In the mid-20th century, there was a smuggling ring running between western Upper Peninsula and people in Wisconsin. It didn’t involve whisky, or gun-running, but rather a substitute for butter.

Rachel Clarke with the Michigan History Center says there was demand in Wisconsin for margarine, which was illegal in the badger state, but was still for sale in stores in Michigan.

Hot dog food cart
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

A Michigan native and Army veteran is looking to expand his West Michigan company.

Michigan native James Meeks is the CEO of Move Systems International. The company makes and operates food carts -- like the ones hot dog vendors use on the sidewalks of New York City.

The New York-based company is investing $13 million to manufacture more of its food carts in the Grand Rapids area.

He says his military background has influenced how he does hiring.

UCI UC Irvine / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

In 1960, the first oral contraceptive was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as contraception.

That drug, Enovid, changed the course of history for women.

Yet Beverly Strassmann, a professor of anthropology and a researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, has a challenge for the drug companies that make hormonal birth control: don’t rest on your laurels.

Her research indicates it might be past time for pharmaceutical companies to tweak the formulation of the pill.

Former Michigan Congressman Vernon Ehlers has died.

Melissa Morrison, funeral director at Zaagman Memorial Chapel, said Wednesday that Ehlers died late Tuesday at a Grand Rapids nursing facility. He was 83. 

Ehlers represented Michigan's Third Congressional District for 17 years from December 1993 until he retired in 2011.

The Third District covers Kent, Barry, and Ionia counties.

Ehlers was a nuclear physicist and college professor before he ran for Congress. 

He also served in the Michigan Legislature. 

Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) said in a statement, “I am saddened to learn of Congressman Ehlers’ passing. Vern was a passionate public servant that loved his constituents, our state and the Great Lakes. While we did not serve together in Congress, his reputation preceded him. Vern was a leader who valued country over party and always strived for bipartisan consensus."

Donnie Ray Jones / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit is trying to do more to prevent premature births and infant deaths. The city outlined the new plan Wednesday.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

On the afternoon that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, my seventh grade math teacher decided the best thing he could do was to ignore it.

He reasoned that what was going on in the nation had nothing to do with his job, which was to teach math to a classroom of Michigan kids, and so he carried on, or tried to, ignoring that some of the students were crying and few could focus.

online commerce giants like Amazon are taking some of the blame for a retail slump at brick-and-mortar stores.
Nicholas Eckhart / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Amazon is in the process of hiring full-time warehouse workers for its distribution center currently under construction in Livonia.

In the past year, Amazon announced plans to build two warehouses in metro Detroit: the Livonia facility, and another in Romulus.

DTE

DTE Energy is disconnecting customers who refuse to have their old analog electric meters replaced with smart meters.  The smart meters use a radio frequency transmission to report real-time electricity use by the customer.

Bob Sitkauskas is in charge of DTE's advanced metering program. He says customers can still opt out of the advanced metering program, but keeping the old meter is out of the question.

"We're still going to replace the meter with one of our advanced meters," says Sitkauskas. "But we will shut the radio off for that (opt-out) customer."

Karen Spranger
Screen grab taken from Karen Spranger's Facebook page

Macomb County officials say the county clerk's office is falling into chaos as supervisors and staff flee a hostile workplace of the new clerk's making. 

Dana Nessel, wearing blue, speaks into a microphone.
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

A civil rights attorney announced her run for state Attorney General today.

Dana Nessel was an attorney for a same sex couple whose case went on to be part of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage.

More recently, the Democrat is part of a task force with the Wayne County prosecutor’s office to investigate hate crimes against the LGBT community.

Nessel is a former prosecuting attorney. She says she isn’t worried about only being viewed as the LGBT candidate.

Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom announced his retirement today.

Sundstrom has worked for the city since 1981 and has been city manager since 2009.

Courtesy of the Dawson family

On yesterday's Stateside, we heard about a young Flint man named Justin Dawson.

Tony Dawson is Justin's grandmother.

"He's 28 years old, but I would say mentally probably about seven or eight years old," she said. "He's always been a good boy. He did graduate from special ed classes – just way behind, way behind mentally."

chris atto / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

Looking for new music from the Detroit area that's perfect for the dog days of summer?

Khalid Bhatti​, executive editor of Detroit Music Magazine, has your back. So does Paul Young, the magazine's founder and publisher.

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