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It's Just Politics
2:25 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Former Governor Milliken endorses two Democrats, but does it matter?

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

This week, former Governor Bill Milliken knocked us off the edges of our seats when he started making candidate endorsements (Ok, maybe we weren’t at the edge of our seats).

But Michigan’s political watchers are always interested in who the state’s famously iconoclastic and moderate Republican Governor will endorse.

In 2004, Milliken endorsed Democrat John Kerry for President. In 2008, it was Republican John McCain. Although he withdrew it just a few weeks before the election.

Four years ago, Rick Snyder, in an effort to burnish his centrist bona fides, sought and received the imprimatur of Milliken.

And, now, this election-cycle, Milliken has endorsed Democrat Gary Peters for U.S. Senate and Democrat Mark Totten for Attorney General.

One has to wonder how the Republican base is going to view the fact that the current governor is the only Republican (at least so far in this election cycle) to get the Milliken endorsement.

Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak doesn’t seem to mind. “He’s not relevant any longer,” Schostak recently told WJBK TV.

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Arts & Culture
2:21 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

U of M students dig Calvin Harris, while MSU students favor Lana Del Rey

Music artists Calvin Harris (left), Lana del Rey (right).
Carlos Delgado - wikimedia commons / Beatriz Alvani - Flickr

How do we know this?

Well, we don’t, but Spotify does.

The Swedish streaming music service released data on “How Students Listen” naming  the “Top 40 Musical Universities in America.

The report is an obvious way to attract attention to itself (and get more subscribers), but the data released is interesting in that is shows what these online services know about certain populations.

Both Michigan State University and the University of Michigan are named in their “Top 40” List.

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Opinion
11:29 am
Fri September 19, 2014

To learn about the fascinating people who shaped Michigan, you should read this book

There are two dirty little secrets about journalism most people don’t realize. One is that we assume that the good is normal. If you work hard, are not flamboyant, take care of your business and don’t kill your family, you may well live happily ignored by the media.

Same goes for your community, if it is solvent and your elected officials aren’t stealing or worse.

While great breakthroughs in science or human achievement do get recognized, news tends to be about system or human failures, which is one of the reasons journalists tend to be unpopular.

We come to show you that the mayor is a crook, the legislature incompetent, your schools are failing to educate "Susie," that your city is bankrupt and the water polluted.

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Families & Community
10:40 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Another Michigan community adds LGBT protections to its books, but does it help?

States that have some form of LGBT anti-discrimination laws on the books.
Credit ACLU

As our investigative reporter Lester Graham has reported, it is perfectly legal to discriminate against gay and transgender people in Michigan. There's no federal law against it, and there's no state law preventing it.

Some communities do try to prevent LGBT discrimination at the local level.  Equality Michigan lists 36 communities in Michigan with such laws - and now, Macomb County has just been added to the list.

More from the Associated Press:

Macomb County authorities have passed a policy protecting county employees from discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

The county Board of Commissioners voted 8-5 for the change on Thursday. Commissioner Fred Miller spearheaded the policy initiative and says it will ensure county employees are treated based on "their merits," not on "who they love."

... Macomb County officials say the new policy won't provide preferential treatment to one group over another. It employs about 2,600 people.

The county recently changed its human resources handbook to include language about sexual orientation.

But even though there is a local law, it doesn't always prevent discrimination in that community.

Michigan Radio's Graham pointed out that these local laws fuel a misperception that the LGBT community is protected from discrimination:

Part of the misperception about whether gay people are protected is the ongoing efforts at the local level. Twenty-two municipalities have approved protections for LGBT people through local ordinances. [There are more than 22 today.] But, those local laws vary widely in the protections offered. And even the strongest ordinances have problems.

The problems are mainly around enforcement issues. The ordinances, critics say, can become a "paper tiger": the law is on the books, but no one is really watching.

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Sports
6:00 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Big Ten football suffers from a lack of leadership

Credit Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

In 1895, the presidents of seven Midwestern universities met at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago to form what we now call the Big Ten. They created the world’s first school-based sports organization, predating even the NCAA. 

Soon the rest of the country’s colleges and high schools followed suit, forming their own leagues based on the Big Ten model. 

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Business
9:01 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Lansing Board of Water & Light mulling rate hikes for water and electricity

The Lansing Board of Water & Light headquarters
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The average Lansing Board of Water & Light electric and water customer can expect to see their bills increase, if proposed rate hikes go through.

The utility board will decide next week whether to approve the changes. 

“I don’t imagine any customers are looking forward to rate increase,” admits J. Peter Lark, BWL’s General Manager, “but I think it’s essential.”

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Stateside
6:58 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Taking notes from Kalamazoo College in recruiting and graduating low-income students

Kalamazoo College campus
Credit user: Kalamazoo College / facebook

 

When it comes to recruiting and graduating low-income students, one school that is clearly getting it right is Kalamazoo College.

The New York Times ranks Kalamazoo College No. 12 in the nation among elite colleges that enroll a large percentage of PELL-grant eligible students.

The PELL grant is a solid indicator, since many students in families above the poverty level do not qualify for these grants.

Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran is president of Kalamazoo College. She says attracting and keeping low-income students have been a priority of the college and part of its institutional mission: 

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Stateside
6:51 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Michigan author explores love, struggles, loss in "Five Days Left"

Credit User: Adam Wyles / Flickr

 

What goes through the mind of someone who is just worn out from battling a terrible debilitating disease? Someone who has decided the time has come to end her life?

Or the mind of a caring man who opened his home and his heart to a child in great need, only to have the court order that child to be returned to his mother when she gets out of prison?

And how do the lives of these two people intersect?

Those questions drive a new novel "Five Days Left" by Michigan author Julie Lawson Timmer.

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Stateside
6:46 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Carl Levin retirement a relief for some corporations

Credit Derek DeVries / Grand Rapids Community College

 

Some of America's top business leaders are breathing a big sigh of relief as Democratic U.S. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan prepares to retire.

It turns out that Michigan's senior senator has been running a very tight ship in chairing a Senate subcommittee that's done some deep probing into the workings of some very big businesses.

The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, or PSI, was created back in Harry Truman's time to investigate war profit hearings. Today, the organization looks into practices in government and business. 

Kelsey Snell wrote a piece about it for Politico. She notes that the subcommittee chaired by Levin has a big focus on going after tax evasions and unfair business practices on Wall Street.

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Stateside
6:39 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

What's ahead in Detroit Tigers' 2014 season?

J.D. Martinez crushed a two-run blast in Saturday's victory over the Indians.
Credit User: Detroit Tigers / facebook

 

The waning weeks of the regular baseball season have turned into a real roller-coaster ride for the Tigers and their fans.

The Tigers got clobbered by the Twins last night, losing 8-4. And Kansas City won, so that American League Central Division lead is down to just a half game over the Royals. Now the Tigers head to Kansas City for three games that could be the most important series of the season.

Michigan Radio's sports commentator John U. Bacon says as of now, the Tigers' chance to make it into the playoffs is 91%, according to ESPN. 

There are 10 games still ahead of the team.

* Listen to the interview with John U. Bacon above.

Stateside
6:36 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

GM recall scandal isn't in the rear-view mirror yet

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

When General Motors appointed Kenneth Feinberg as its so-called "compensation czar," it was clear the automaker hoped to have Feinberg determine damages to victims of the ignition-switch debacle, pay, and move on.

But as Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes writes today, things are not working out that way:

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Law
5:50 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Second trial begins for Detroit police officer who shot Aiyana Jones

Aiyana Jones

The re-trial of a Detroit police officer who killed a young girl during a May 2010 raid began Thursday.

No one disputes that Officer Joseph Weekley shot seven-year-old Aiyana Jones to death as police raided her home looking for a murder suspect.

In fact, much of what happened that night was captured on film by camera crews from the A&E reality TV show “The First 48.”

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Education
5:13 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Democrats call for hold on new charter schools

Credit Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Democrats at the state Capitol are calling for a halt in new charter schools until there are rules that ensure more transparency and accountability.

They say the rules should require private, for-profit charter operators to reveal more about how they spend their per-student state aid payments.

“They’re not willing to tell us how they’re spending taxpayer dollars and, unfortunately, we’ve just seen too many cases of the temptation to make money getting in the way of providing the best quality education for our children,”  said state Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores.

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Weekly Politcal Roundup
5:00 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Are political ads working or are Michigan voters tuning out?

Television remote control
Credit user ppdigital / morguefile

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.

This week is all about the political ads inundating the state. We talked about how ads are used to make the case for a candidate, the flood of ads on television, and whether voters are paying attention or tuning out.

Here's our conversation:

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Stateside
12:14 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

When we talk about diversity in college enrollment, what about the underrepresented poor?

Credit User: COD Newsroom / Flickr

As college students explore their campuses, they're likely to find a wide array of student groups that pertain to race: The Black Student Union, Asian-American groups, or Hispanic and Latino groups.

Universities say they're spending time and money on trying to increase the number of minority students, especially since the Supreme Court ban in 2006 on affirmative action.

But Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution says the challenges for American colleges should be not only racial diversity, but also economic diversity. 

Especially when universities, including elite schools, haven't upped their percentage of low-come students in generation. 

Haskins says that's what happens when colleges maintain admission standards.

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Opinion
11:08 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Does the UAW's victory in Indiana signal the end of the two-tier wage system?

Something happened in the auto industry recently that was mostly overlooked by the mainstream media – but which may have huge implications for the industry and the United Auto Workers union.  

Seven years ago, the UAW made a concession that I am convinced would have had Walter Reuther spinning in his grave.

They agreed to accept a two-tier wage system under which most new hires would be paid slightly less than half what long-time auto workers made.

Think about that.

This means most of them are earning less than $30,000 a year.  Can they buy a house with that salary?  Even buy one of the new cars and trucks they build?

You know the answer. Yet the union agreed, because it felt it had no choice.

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The Environment Report
10:23 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Enbridge's internal problems that contributed to 2010 oil spill have changed, company says

In August of 2010, crews prepare to remove the broken section of Enbridge's Line 6B pipeline.
EPA

Federal, state, and local agencies took part in a mock oil spill Wednesday in northern Michigan along the Indian River.

The emergency drill conjured memories of the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill. About a million gallons of crude oil have been cleaned up from that spill. There’s some concern about whether Enbridge has made important internal changes to avoid future pipeline problems.

Carl Weimer with the Pipeline Safety Trust said one of the reasons Enbridge failed to prevent the pipeline break near Marshall, Michigan in July 2010 is not because the company was completely unaware of corrosion and a cracks in the pipeline.

He says Enbridge inspection teams weren’t sharing information with each other.

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Investigative
7:30 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Truth Squad rules "fouls" in ads for Snyder and Schauer

The Truth Squad at Bridge magazine is handing out "fouls" to Democrats and Republicans. Political groups are airing ads on behalf of the candidates running for governor in Michigan.

First let’s look at an ad put together by the Democratic Governors Association. In it a school teacher, Kim Stanley, ties together three separate issues.

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Politics & Government
6:05 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Michigan dog owners rally against breed-specific legislation

Turok was one of several four-legged lobbyists who took the grounds of the state Capitol Wednesday.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A coalition of dog groups is upset the state allows local governments to ban specific breeds of dogs.    

Many communities put restrictions on pit bulls, often out of concern about dog attacks.

Courtney Protz-Sander organized a rally of like-minded dog owners at the state Capitol on Wednesday. She says it’s unfair to tell people what kinds of dogs they can own.

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Politics & Government
9:47 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Duggan tries to sell Detroit City Council on new regional water authority

Credit via detroitmi.gov

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan pitched a proposal creating a new regional water authority to the Detroit City Council Wednesday.

Duggan has signed a memorandum of understanding moving day-to-day control over Detroit’s regional water system to a new Great Lakes Water Authority.

That Authority would be governed by a 6-member board, with representatives appointed by the city and Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties.

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