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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Snyder administration says an official overseeing Michigan's prison food contract with Aramark Correctional Services has left the job after five months.

Ed Buss is an ex-Florida and Indiana prison chief. He began work Sept. 2 overseeing Michigan's three-year, $145 million contract with Philadelphia-based Aramark.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero saved the biggest news in his tenth State of the City address tonight until the end. 

The mayor proposed three city charter changes that would make Lansing's electric utility more accountable to city hall.

The Lansing Board of Water & Light has been under fire for more than a year.  

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Ford Motor Company's earnings last year totaled $3.2 billion, a big drop from 2013, when the company made $6.2 billion.

But Ford executives say much of the decline is due to a record 24 new vehicle launches last year.  

"Certainly we have more costs associated with those product launches," says Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks. "(But) they were going to set us up for a much stronger 2015 and that's exactly where we find ourselves today."

LisaW123 / Flickr

Some state lawmakers want to give voters an alternative to the May 5th ballot proposal to boost funding for roads. That measure would raise the sales tax from six percent to seven percent.

State Representative Anthony Forlini wants to pass a backup plan to raise the money. It would only take effect if voters reject the sales tax increase.

U.S Embassy Manila, Phillipines / flickr

More than 21,000 4 year olds have been enrolled in free preschool in Michigan over the past two years, according to Ron French at Bridge Magazine. It's the result of the biggest pre-school expansion in the nation

In 2012, a Bridge investigation found that about 30,000 pre-school aged kids that qualified for free preschool were not attending due to lack of funding, logistical issues or lack of transportation services. 

JIM KURTTI / FINNISH AMERICAN REPORTER

From wife carrying contests to polar bear dives, people in Hancock will be celebrating this weekend. Why? Because it's halfway through winter and time for Heikinpäivä, a celebration of the Finnish culture in Michigan.

According to Dave Maki, the assistant editor of the Finnish American Reporter, Finland only began celebrating Heikinpäivä after the Finnish-Americans started the tradition here in Michigan.

Steven Depolo / Creative Commons

Surprising no one who follows Grand Rapids politics, City Commissioner Rosalynn Bliss has announced she’s running to be the next mayor.

Michigan’s second largest city has never elected a female mayor, and Bliss has a good chance to become its first. 

There’s only been one president from Michigan, and I’d guess you know his name: Gerald Ford. But can you name the only justice he appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court?

That would be John Paul Stevens, who ended up being one of the longest-serving justices in American history.

Lots of talk about Main Street, yet few ways to invest

13 hours ago
Michigan Main Street Center

The Next Idea

Following the 2008 crisis, many of my colleagues and I in the financial advising industry started to notice a curious thing. More clients began asking about where, exactly, their money was being invested. They wanted to know how to get some or all of it out of “the system," and quite a few added: "Oh by the way, do you know where I can learn about starting a business? I have an idea.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing’s mayor is expected to call for a major restructuring of the city’s electric utility tonight.

When Mayor Virg Bernero takes to the podium tonight to deliver his tenth State of the City address, who will run the Lansing Board of Water & Light will top of the agenda.

The Tricycle Collective / via Facebook

Most Detroit households should see some relief on their property assessments this year.

Mayor Mike Duggan’s office says about three-quarters of households should see their assessments knocked down 10-20%. Outside of 25 “stable neighborhoods” where the city believes property values are truly on the rise, all city homeowners should see some kind of relief.

John-Morgan / creative commons

An economic study says the May ballot proposal to raise the state sales tax could also collectively cost Michigan taxpayers $100 million more in federal income taxes.

The ballot proposal would raise the state sales tax by a penny on the dollar.

Michigan teens would be able to pre-register to vote under a proposal in Lansing.

The measure would allow 16 and 17 year olds to fill out their voter registration paperwork when they get their driver’s licenses. The state would mail their voter cards when they turn 18.

wikipedia

Michigan Congressman Tim Walberg has re-introduced a package of bills intended to restrain the powers of government authorities to seize assets from citizens.

Walberg says too often, police use forfeiture powers as a revenue stream, rather than a crime-fighting tool.

Paul Engstrom / Skillman Foundation

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is asking Detroit area businesses to offer at least 5,000 summer jobs in 2015 to Detroit teens and young adults.

He addressed more than 100 business leaders yesterday at the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.  

"For every dollar a business puts in to employ a young person, the mayor will match," said Kristen McDonald of the Skillman Foundation, one of the sponsors of the newly re-launched Grow Detroit's Young Talent program.

Campus Martius park.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Update Thursday, January 29th, 10:00 a.m.:

Detroit 300 responded to our requests for comment with this statement:

The Detroit 300 Conservancy only received word of the ACLU filing the lawsuit this morning (Wednesday).  The Conservancy had no prior knowledge of concerns expressed regarding the events of 2013 and 2014 that are cited in the lawsuit.  The Conservancy takes the diverse and inclusive stewardship of Detroit’s public spaces very seriously and has a long history of working with our public and civic community partners. We will proactively review the claims in the suit.

Original post, Wednesday, January 28th, 4:02 p.m.:

Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a lawsuit against a Detroit police officer, and two groups that manage security on Campus Martius Park.

The public park is owned by the city of Detroit. The ACLU contends that members of Guardsmark security, hired by the non-profit group Detroit 300, prevented people from protesting and handing out leaflets on the park’s grounds. They contend that a Detroit police sergeant backed the decision to prohibit the protesters' actions. Detroit 300 runs the city-owned park.

If you follow auto news at all, you know this already.  Ford Motor Company's new F-150 has an aluminum body. 

Aluminum is lighter than steel, so the switch has taken up to 700 pounds off the weight of the pickup, improving the truck's fuel economy as well as the payload and towing capacity.

The Detroit Public Library.
Detroit Public Library

DETROIT - Two ex-contractors for the Detroit Public Library have been sentenced to more than two years in prison for their role in a $1.4 million kickback scheme.

U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh on Tuesday sentenced 44-year-old James Henley of Detroit to 27 months in prison and 32-year-old Ricardo Hearn of Royal Oak to 28 months in prison. The pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

For years, there’s been an absolutely stupid rumor that the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, birthplace of Henry Ford, is now under extreme Muslim Sharia law.

Sharron Angle, a bizarrely ignorant Tea Party candidate, claimed this was so when she was running for the U.S. Senate in Nevada five years ago.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Cars started lining up at dawn today at a Flint business giving away free water.

Concerns about the safety of Flint’s tap water has created high demand for bottled water. 

But many Flint residents say they have trouble paying for what little bottled water is still sitting on store shelves. 

via city of Detroit

Detroit officials say they’re confident the fledgling Great Lakes Water Authority will work out—despite concerns and complaints from some suburban officials questioning its future.

The GLWA gives regional players a larger role in running Detroit’s city-owned water system, which services some 4 million customers in southeast Michigan.

NWF / screenshot from YouTube video

With national attention being paid to the Keystone XL pipeline, Michigan Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters have introduced amendments to the controversial legislation.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Giving women a stronger voice in Michigan is the goal of a new coalition.

MI-Lead is composed of more than 30 organizations, from civil liberties and reproductive rights to business associations and unions.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week in Michigan politics, Jack and Emily discuss anguish over Flint’s water, a plan for some Detroiters to pay half price on auctioned homes and a new gun bill moving ahead in Lansing.


taxcredits.net

Flint's general fund deficit has gone from $19 million to $9 million in two years, and is on track to being eliminated entirely in five years.

That's according to an audit presented to the city council Monday night.

The second bit of good news for the city's fiscal health was legacy costs.

via Detroit Economic Club

Former Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr was back in town Tuesday for an “exit interview” before the Detroit Economic Club.

Orr reiterated that municipal bankruptcy was the only real option for Detroit, but insisted both he and the city got through the process relatively unscathed.

“We got really lucky,” Orr said of his team. “We managed to get out of here without selling anything. I managed to get out without being indicated, so that’s sort of a badge of success,” he added, to audience laughter.

A. Nich / Flickr

The state has rejected ACT’s claim that Michigan unfairly switched its free college entrance exam to the SAT starting in spring 2016.

  ACT protested two aspects of the bidding process. It said the state changed the timeline of the proposed contract and penalized ACT for having a writing portion. It says both of those things unfairly benefitted SAT.

State officials say they reviewed those concerns carefully.

YouTube / YouTube

Many of the most memorable commercials during past Super Bowls have come from automakers, but fewer will be participating in the expensive marketing during the event this year.

Flickr user Keith Allison / Flickr

After it was discovered that 11 of the 12 game balls used by the New England Patriots during their victory against the Indianapolis Colts were deflated, the media created a new-found obsession over the PSI of a football, in a scandal  dubbed "deflategate."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Jackson city council tonight will discuss asking voters for a big tax hike to pay to repair the city’s crumbling roads.

Like other Michigan cities, Jackson’s roads have been getting worse for several years.

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