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Politics & Government
3:19 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Lincoln Park's emergency manager says common sense changes will help the city

Along the streets in Lincoln Park.
David Lewinski Photography

Q: What to Detroit, Allen Park, Flint, and Hamtramck all have in common?

A: The cities are all under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager. 

Last month, the city of Lincoln Park joined that list. But we didn't see the protests and outcry that we saw over the appointment of an emergency manager in Detroit. 

When the city of Lincoln Park was turned over to Brad Coulter, a consultant to corporate turnaround specialists O'Keefe & Associates, the Mayor of Lincoln Park, Thomas Karnes, was positive.

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Auto
12:32 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Biggest model transition in Ford history begins Friday

The first F-series truck made by Ford in 1948.
Alden Jewell Flickr

Pickup trucks are the most profitable and popular vehicle in the United States, keeping hundreds of thousands of American farmers, ranchers, and small companies in business.

And Ford's F-150 is the king of all the pickup trucks. It's been the best-selling vehicle of any kind for decades.

On Friday evening, the last 2014 model year F-150 pickup truck rolls off the assembly line at the Dearborn Truck Plant.

Then the work begins to prepare the plant to build the next version – a groundbreaking truck with a mostly aluminum body. 

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Weekly Political Roundup
12:12 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

How the Republican Party is struggling with the LGBT issue

Credit user Tyrone Warner / Flickr

Thursday is the day we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

Today we talk about the challenges facing Republicans in the Legislature as they figure out how to address lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in the state.

Here’s our conversation:

My conversation with Ken Sikkema and Susan Demas.

Opinion
11:37 am
Fri August 22, 2014

What you can and cannot do in selecting your representatives

We know the most important job in state government is that of governor, but the next two top jobs are far more important than we tend to realize.

Michigan’s attorney general is the top lawyer for the entire state, both for state government and the interests of all the citizens.

Meanwhile, whoever is secretary of state is responsible for pretty much everything that has to do with voting and elections – not to mention driver's licenses, automobile and other registrations, and regulating notaries in the state.

We elect these officials by a statewide vote in November. They serve four-year terms, and can be re-elected only once.

But here’s the odd thing about these jobs. We the voters have the final say in November, but have virtually no say in who the major political parties choose as their candidates.

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Politics & Government
11:04 am
Fri August 22, 2014

ICYMI - Listen to our "Michigan Calling" program with Gary Peters

8/22/14 Rick Pluta’s sat down with U.S. Senate Candidates Gary Peters

The Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta sat down with the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Gary Peters this morning, to take questions from our statewide audience.

Peters is currently the U.S. Representative for Michigan’s 14th congressional district. He's served in Congress since 2009. The district includes the eastern half of Detroit, as well as the Grosse Pointes, Hamtramck, Southfield and Pontiac. As senator, Peters would represent the entire state.

Peter's Republican opponent in the race for U.S. Senator is Terri Lynn Land. She served as Michigan’s 41st secretary of state. Rick Pluta will interview Land on Friday, Oct. 3 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Investigative
7:00 am
Fri August 22, 2014

Truth Squad calls foul on Snyder statement, warns Schauer

Democrat Mark Schauer is running his first campaign TV ad in his effort to become governor.

Bridge Magazine’s Truth Squad is reviewing the ads and claims in the race for governor between incumbent Rick Snyder and challenger Mark Schauer.

Democrat Mark Schauer is airing his first campaign TV ad and the Truth Squad has a couple of issues with it. First, there’s this statement:

“Rick Snyder’s economy might work for the wealthy, but it’s not working for the rest of Michigan.”

Now, that’s pretty standard political positioning, but Ron French with the Truth Squad says it’s unlikely, if not impossible, that only the wealthy are benefiting from the improvements in the Michigan economy since Rick Snyder took office.

“For one example, the unemployment rate has dropped from 11 percent to 7.5 percent. The Truth Squad questions whether it’s only the wealthy who have gotten jobs during that time,” French said.

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Stateside
6:59 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

What's on tap? The Detroit Drunken Historical Society

Detroit Drunken Historical Society's recent meet-up explored the Belle Isle history
Credit User: UpNorth Memories - Donald (Don) Harrison / Flickr

Some organizations these days are having a hard time getting new people involved. Classical music groups have been struggling to appeal to new fans. And plenty of arts and culture groups have a tough time attracting members.

It turns out, historical societies are also having a tough time. And that’s something that Michigan Radio’s Kyle Norris has been looking into.

Norris says the problem is that these societies tend to be older, and getting new blood is not going so well in general.

But that’s not an issue for Amy Elliott Bragg, a co-organizer for the Detroit Drunken Historical Society.

It's a meet-up group that hosts monthly activities at local bars in Detroit for people to come out and learn about history. Bragg says there's no commitment, the gatherings are easy to attend, and all are welcome.

“We have found that there are people who might not be immersed in the library in their historic text all night, but they enjoy history, they are interested in it. They want to weigh in,” says Bragg.

* Listen to the interview with Amy Elliott Bragg above.

Education
6:04 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

18 new charters opening this fall are already controversial

Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Eighteen new charter schools are opening up in Michigan this year.

And while some of them haven’t even had their first day of school, they’re already in the midst of their first controversy.

The state superintendent’s “naughty list”

In Michigan, charter schools have to be "authorized" – usually it's a public university that does that.

But last week the state superintendent put out his version of the “naughty list:” 11 authorizers that could lose their authorizing powers, because of transparency and oversight issues.

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Stateside
5:34 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

What to look for at Michigan's nominating conventions this weekend

Credit User: Andrew Ferguson / Flickr

It's a big weekend for Michigan's Democrats and Republicans: Both parties hold their state conventions – the Democrats in Lansing, the Republicans in Novi.

Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta, the co-hosts of Michigan Radio’s It's Just Politics, gave us a preview of the conventions.

For this weekend, Clark says she’ll be watching for a Tea Party effort to pry Brian Calley out as lieutenant governor.

"Tea Partiers and very conservative Republicans, looking at the Snyder Administration and saying, 'you know what? You may say you're conservative, but you are not conservative enough,'" says Clark.

As for the Democratic convention, there’s not quite as much drama expected in Lansing. However, Clark notes that it’ll be interesting to look at the Democratic nominees' races for attorney general and secretary of state.

* Listen to the interview with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta above.

* Be sure to tune in tomorrow morning at 9 when Rick Pluta will host a special call-in show with Gary Peters, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. 

 

Stateside
5:24 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Detroit lawmaker raises issues on Michigan's new anti-scrapping law

Credit User: Pete + Lynne / Flickr

It looks like Michigan's new anti-scrapping law is not doing what it was supposed to.

The new law was supposed to make it tougher to sell stolen scrap metal. It put limits on cash payments. It also created paper trails, to make it easier for police to track down illegal scrappers.

Democratic State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, pushed for years to toughen Michigan's scrap metal laws. She says there are a number of loopholes around the new cash exchange.

“The new law allows for commercial accounts, for example, mechanics, a company that does air conditioning repairs. If you are a commercial account, you do not have to comply with the 'no cash exchange for $25 or more.'”

Tlaib says some scrap metal dealers are taking advantage of the loophole. The representative believes that there should not be a cash threshold at all.

“We’ve learned that other states and cities saw a 70% reduction (in illegal scrapping) when you completely got rid of cash exchange,” says Tlaib.

* Listen to the interview with Rashida Tlaib above.

Stateside
5:20 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

The rise and fall of Michigan's Northland Mall

Northland Mall in the early years
Credit User: Michelle Welter‎ / facebook

“If you want to talk about the shopping mall, there are two things you have to talk about: the car and Detroit."

That’s NPR business reporter Sonari Glinton, who’s looking into the history of malls for a series with youth radio.

In his series, Glinton used Northland Center in Southfield as "exhibit A" of the rise and fall of the American mall.

Northland was one of the first shopping malls in the region. Glinton says its opening represented the moment of change for Detroit.

“1954, when this mall was opened, was the peak of receipts in downtown Detroit. It's as if they built this mall and said, OK, we're moving to the suburbs."

The glory days of Northland were the 1950s and '60s. And for decades, malls in general have been an icon of American life.

Today, the mall is threatened by the Internet and changing consumer expectations.

But that doesn’t mean the malls are necessarily dying. As Glinton explains, “They are going through a transition, and we are going to see the difference in the years to come.” 

* Listen to the interview with Sonari Glinton above.

Courts
5:04 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Judge hears arguments over recognizing 300 same-sex marriages in Michigan

Lead plaintiffs Glenna DeJong (l) and Marsha Caspar (center) join Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum (r) outside the federal court building in Detroit on Thursday. DeJong and Caspar were the first same-sex couple to get married in Michigan. Byrum officiated their wedding.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

Some 300 same-sex couples in Michigan are waiting to hear whether a federal judge will force the state to recognize their marriages. Judge Mark Goldsmith heard arguments on Thursday from attorneys for the state and for the same-sex couples.

The couples got married on a single day in March after another federal judge struck down Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional. But that ruling is now on hold while it’s being appealed. Gov. Rick Snyder says the state will not recognize the marriages in the meantime, although he admits they were performed legally.

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Politics & Government
3:56 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Flint, state officials discuss return to local control

State officials met with Flint’s emergency manager, mayor and city council members this week to discuss a possible plan to transition the city back under local control.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is making progress toward possibly beginning the process of emerging from state oversight next spring. But there’s still a lot to do.

Flint’s been under an emergency manager since 2011.   

State officials met with Flint’s emergency manager, mayor, and city council members this week to discuss a possible plan to transition the city back to local control.     

Emergency manager Darnell Earley says the city still has to show it’s ready to be run in a financially responsible way. 

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Culture
3:18 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

This 20-year-old U of M student makes six figures breaking stories about Apple

Mark Gurman has a passion for all things Apple.
markgurman.com

Mark Gurman started his tech journalism career in high school. Now he's a junior at the University of Michigan and he's still making good money by breaking stories about Apple Inc.

Michigan Radio's Kate Wells reported on Gurman last year predicting "We will all be working for this kid someday."

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Politics & Government
2:07 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Married Michigan same-sex couples seek recognition

Credit user dbking / Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - A lawyer has urged a judge to order Michigan to recognize same-sex marriages performed in March, saying the unions are valid even if a higher court reinstates the state's gay marriage ban.

More than 300 couples were married before an appeals court suspended a decision that had overturned the ban. The American Civil Liberties Union insists those marriages are legitimate. But Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, unlike the federal government, won't recognize them while the legality of gay marriage remains contested in court.

ACLU attorney Julian Mortenson says a marriage performed when gay marriage was legal can't be broken by the state. He urged federal Judge Mark Goldsmith to issue an injunction Thursday.

Michigan wants Goldsmith to wait. A Cincinnati-based appeals court recently heard arguments in cases from four states.

Law
12:31 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Dude, check out all the military equipment that has been transfered to Michigan's police departments

Pulling up next to the Saginaw County Sheriff's Department MRAP.
Joe Santini YouTube

The Saginaw County Sheriff's Department received a "Maxx Pro" Mine Resistant Ambush Proof vehicle from the U.S. Army in order to "prepare for something disastrous," according to Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel.

Brad Devereaux wrote about the department's decision to acquire the MRAP for MLive:

The truck's passenger compartment is bulletproof and designed to withstand a mine blast with a v-shaped undercarriage. 

"The V shape resists mine blasts away from the cab. It's very good at what it does," Undersheriff Robert Karl said, noting he found several videos online demonstrating the function.

At the time, Sheriff Federspiel said people shouldn't be concerned about "a military state" because he wouldn't let that happen.

But the giant MRAP makes an impression, and sends a message, whether intended or not.

Here's what these two dudes in Saginaw thought of it (language warning, these dudes are speaking candidly):

Devereaux now reports that the Saginaw County Sheriff's Department is planning to get rid of the vehicle. Federspiel said the plans were made prior to the department being criticized on HBO's Tonight with John Oliver.

This is just one military style vehicle transferred to police departments across the state.

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Stateside
12:21 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

TV's star veterinarian talks about life, Michigan, and why never turn your back on an Angus cow

Hold your horses, because new episodes of The Incredible Dr. Pol begin this Saturday on National Geographic Wild.
Credit User: The Incredible Dr. Pol / facebook

One of TV's most endearing and unlikely reality show stars is Dr. Jan Pol.

He's a veterinarian with a country practice in mid-Michigan, near Mount Pleasant.

He is also the star of the National Geographic Wild series The Incredible Dr. Pol. The show begins its fifth season Saturday.

Pol is telling his story in a new autobiography Never Turn Your Back on an Angus Cow: My Life as a Country Vet.

He says he learned the lesson to never turn your back on an Angus cow the hard way when he was growing up on a dairy farm in the Netherlands.

“You don’t turn your back. You cannot outrun the cow. You cannot outrun the horse. You cannot outrun almost every animal on the planet.”

Pol opened his veterinarian practice in 1981. In his more than three decades of practicing in Michigan, he has seen big changes in farming in the state.

“When we started here, there were two or three family farms every mile. Those have disappeared. Farms got bigger, but it doesn’t mean cows got better care,” says Pol.

* Listen to our conversation with Dr. Jan Pol above.

Opinion
11:42 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Canada's new consul general is determined to build a new Detroit River bridge

I had a conversation yesterday with Douglas George, the Canadian government’s new consul general in Detroit.

For Canada, this area is an economic region important enough to merit a mini-embassy. Ottawa has a vast suite of offices in the Renaissance Center, and a large staff, some busy with immigration matters, and the rest primarily with economic and trade questions.

One indication of how important Canada sees Detroit is that Consul George was most recently their ambassador to Kuwait, and before that was a major trade negotiator who at various times headed both their government’s tariff and intellectual property divisions.

Here, he is responsible for trade and other issues involving a five-state area economically vital to Canada.

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The Environment Report
11:20 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Critics say new Ohio law isn't enough to protect Lake Erie from fertilizer runoff

Credit Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Environment Report for Thursday, August 21, 2014 — Farmers and new Ohio phosphorus law

The recent Toledo water crisis has farmers in Michigan and Ohio on the defensive. They’re pointing to a number of voluntary efforts they’re making to reduce phosphorus runoff to Lake Erie. That runoff is the main food source for the blooms of a kind of cyanobacteria that release a toxin that led to the water shutdown. But farm groups and environmentalists say a new state law in Ohio that will certify the use of fertilizers doesn't go far enough or happen fast enough. 

"Basically, the new law will require that all farmers and certified crop advisors who spread chemical fertilizer on fields go through a certification process where they will learn how to spread the fertilizer in the right place, at the right rate, at the right time of year," says Karen Schaefer, an Ohio reporter who is covering this issue. "And the problem with it is: right now it does not include manure and the law does not go into effect until 2017."

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Culture
10:08 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Former Detroit Archbishop and Vatican City governor Szoka dies at age 86

SM Giovanni and SM Angela with Edmund Cardinal Szoka.
Credit Felician Sisters of North America / Flickr

DETROIT - Cardinal Edmund Szoka, the former governor of Vatican City and the head of the Detroit archdiocese, has died. He was 86.

The Archdiocese of Detroit says Szoka died of natural causes Wednesday night at Providence Park Hospital in Novi, Michigan.

Pope John Paul II made Szoka a cardinal in 1988. Not long after, he became the Vatican's point man for finance. By 1998, he was running the Vatican City, one of the world's smallest countries.

Since his retirement from active ministry in 2006, Szoka had been living in the Detroit suburb of Northville.

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