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Law
2:15 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Court agrees that male guards can sue over jobs at women's prison

Outside the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti.
Credit Michigan Department of Corrections

PITTSFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan appeals court has cleared the way for a class-action lawsuit by dozens of male guards who say they've been denied overtime and job assignments at the state's only prison for women.

In a 3-0 opinion released Wednesday, the court affirmed the decision of a Washtenaw County judge.

The lawsuit centers on employment rules at the Huron Valley prison for women. In response to allegations of sexual abuse at the prison, the Civil Service Commission approved job qualifications that put only women in certain jobs.

The lawsuit claims the Corrections Department is violating the civil rights of male officers at the prison.

The appeals court says officers have cleared the threshold for a class-action lawsuit, based on the number of plaintiffs, common issues and other factors.

Education
1:17 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

DPS to get bridge loan, Benton Harbor schools in financial emergency

Credit Sharon Drummond / Flickr

A state loan board will choose between two competing proposals to give a short-term bridge loan to the Detroit Public Schools. One is from the district’s emergency manager. The other is an alternative proposed by the school board.

The district is under the control of an emergency manager while it digs out of a deficit. The district’s teachers are opposing a plan to close 24 schools and cut their pay by 10 percent. This would be the second round of pay cuts for Detroit teachers.

Governor Rick Snyder says the district’s troubles require tough choices.

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Stateside
12:22 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Pinkerton Security is moving its headquarters to Ann Arbor

circa 1861. Allan Pinkerton, the founder of Pinkerton Security.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

It is one of the legendary brand names in American history. The Pinkerton security firm, founded by Allan Pinkerton in 1850.

Pinkerton protected President Lincoln – even discovered a plot to assassinate him in 1861. Sadly, Pinkerton's men were not with Lincoln on that fateful night at Ford's Theatre.

Pinkerton men tracked down Butch Cassidy and the Hole-In-The-Wall Gang and pursued Jesse James. Also, Pinkerton agents were a part of the historic Battle of the Overpass at the Ford Rouge Plant in 1937.

Now, the 164-year-old security company is moving its global headquarters from New Jersey to Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The Midwest is home for Pinkerton.

Jack Zahran, the president of the company, said that was a deciding factor for the move. Another factor was access to employees with high technological skills, as the company is focusing more on online security.

“We’re not on horseback anymore, and so we are protecting things in a digital space now,” Zahran said.

Zahran said in a fast paced environment like we have today, Pinkerton’s ability to stay ahead of the curve is what kept the company relevant all these years.

*Listen to the full interview with Jack Zahran at 3:00 pm on Stateside. Audio for this clip will be added by 4:30 pm.

Economy
12:13 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Work to clean up Detroit's Packard Plant could start soon

Image of the Packard Plant in Detroit. Crews could start cleaning the site soon.
Credit user memories_by_mike / Flickr

The Detroit Free Press sat down for an interview with the Packard Plant's new owner, Fernando Palazuelo.

He told the Freep that he had to negotiate with former owners of the plant to get a free and clear title. Now that he has that, he says they'll start cleaning up the site in the coming weeks:

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Education
11:16 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Detroit Public Schools to cut teachers' pay in upcoming school year

Outside Bagley Elementary in Detroit.
Credit DPS

Michigan education officials approved a plan by Detroit Public Schools to cut teachers' pay by 10%.

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan announced today that he signed off on the district's five-year deficit elimination plan.

The Detroit Public School district has been in financial trouble for quite some time. DPS currently has a $127 million deficit.

The Detroit News’ Jennifer Chambers reports that school closures are also part of the plan:

The pay cut, which will impact all teachers and administrators starting Oct. 1, came after the district was forced to make budget cuts to offset expected revenues from a failed countywide tax millage. The wage concession for teachers would generate $13.3 million in savings. District wide, the savings will be $21.1 million.

The district’s financial plan also calls for the closure of 24 schools or buildings over four years, starting with the 2015-16 academic year.

In addition to the cuts, Chambers reports the state’s Local Financial Assistance Loan Board approved a plan that will allow DPS to borrow $111 million in state aid notes to pay its bills.

Politics & Government
10:36 am
Wed August 20, 2014

The week in Michigan politics

Credit gophouse.com

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss possible teacher pay cuts and school closings for Detroit Public Schools, if there will be broadcasted debates with candidates for governor and the U.S. Senate, and what to expect at the Republican and Democratic conventions this weekend.

Week in Michigan politics interview for 8/20/14

Opinion
10:15 am
Wed August 20, 2014

It's OK to support a candidate even if you don't agree with their every position

Both major political parties have their state conventions this week. Republicans are meeting in Novi; Democrats in Lansing.

There’s always an element of the high school reunion about these conventions; people, including the press, look forward to them in part because they get to see old friends.

However, there are also squabbles.

Most of this year’s focus has been on the Republican gathering, where Tea Party insurgents are attempting to throw Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley off the ticket.

Democrats, however, have their own struggle behind the scenes.

In case you are new to this, these conventions actually nominate most of each party’s candidates for statewide office.

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Politics & Government
9:19 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Audit finds problems with prisoner education programs in Michigan

Prison bars
Credit Ken Mayer / Flickr

A new audit shows problems in Michigan’s prisoner education program.

The state auditor general’s office says the Michigan Department of Corrections failed to identify prisoners who qualify for federal assistance to take classes. It also shows the department failed to make sure the programs were effective.

Russ Marlan is a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Corrections. He says the department agrees with the report’s findings and is working to fix those problems.

“Having a third party come in and look at your operations and give you recommendations about how to improve I think is a good thing. And so, we’re going to take these recommendations and move forward and hopefully improve our prison education and vocational education,” says Marlan.

Marlan says the department has already taken steps to improve the programs over the last three years. 

Education
9:18 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

It's time for Michigan kids to start preparing to return to school

A big crowd turned out today for Grand Rapids Public Schools Back to School kickoff event
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan school districts are gearing up for the beginning of the school year.

Many school districts are holding kickoff events, including Grand Rapids Public Schools which drew hundreds of grade-school students and parents today.

Teresa Weatherall-Neal is Grand Rapids' school superintendent. She says it’s important for parents and children to realize summer is almost over.

"We need people to now switch gears. Summer is over. We need you to start thinking about school,” says Weatherall-Neal. “It’s time to come back.”

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Environment & Science
8:22 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Report: Toxic algae just one way climate shifts are changing the American outdoors

A cyanobacterial bloom at Grand Lake St. Mary's, Ohio
Credit EPA

An environmental group’s report says climate change is already affecting how Americans experience the outdoors.

The National Wildlife Federation’s report “Ticked Off: America’s outdoor experience and climate change” cites this summer’s toxic algal blooms in Western Lake Erie as a prime example of the phenomenon.

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Health
5:56 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Michigan seeks "pay for success" partners to reduce infant mortality

"Pay for success" project seeks to reduce Michigan's infant mortality rate, which has been above the national average for 20 years
Credit Michigan Dept. of Community Health

Michigan's first experiment with an idea called "pay for success" is getting underway.

The state is asking private or non-profit groups for proposals to reduce infant mortality.  

"The goal," says Snyder administration spokesman Dave Murray, "is to help high-risk mothers and their babies, through home visitation or community programs or better coordination of care up until the child's second birthday."

Murray says the selected partners would pay for the projects up front.

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Offbeat
5:26 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Diana Sieger wishes she gave the parents of her attacker some closure

Credit Failure:Lab / failure-lab.com

Diana Seiger shares her story of failure.

A story of failure.

Diana Seiger shares her story of failure. She was attacked while bringing her groceries home. She says her failure was not allowing the parents of her attacker to get closure.

Watch her story here:

To learn more about Failure Lab and hear more stories visit failure-lab.com.

*Listen to the full story above. 

Stateside
5:03 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Land under Hartwick Pines State Park could be leased for oil and gas exploration

Hartwick Pines.
Andrew McFarlane Flickr

Our need for energy could be colliding with our desire to preserve Michigan’s natural beauty.

Case in point: around 9,700 acres of Hartwick Pines State Park near Grayling could be included in an MDNR auction October 29 for a lease of mineral rights.

Ron French reported on this story for Bridge Magazine. He said it’s not unusual for the state to lease ground underneath state parks.

Twice a year the Michigan Department of Natural Resources holds an auction where they lease oil and gas rights to anyone who wants to explore. Companies or individuals can nominate any state property for exploration for oil and gas. One Michigan oil company nominated Hartwick Pines.

Hartwick Pines State Park holds a 49 acre parcel that is the largest, and possibly the last, virgin forest of white pines in the Lower Peninsula.

“These are pine that are up to 400 years old, they’re up to 12 feet in circumference, they are up to 165 feet tall, this is what Michigan looked like before logging,” French said.

French points out that a lease is not a right to drill on the property.

“What are the chances of something going on near Hartwick Pines? They are small, but they are greater than they would be if this lease hadn’t occurred,” French said.

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Stateside
4:46 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

A list of Michigan's 'Best in Class' wines

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan's Grape and Wine Industry Council recognized eight Michigan wines as "best in class" at their recent awards ceremony.

Linda Jones, executive director of the Council, filled us in on the winners.

Among the winners are three Rieslings, a sparkling wine, a dry red that also won last year, a semi- dry red wine, one fruit, and one rosé

The judges were looking for wines that were true to the character of the grape produced in this region.

Here's a list of Michigan's eight "Best in Class" winners:

  • Sparkling: Aurora Cellars 2011 Brut
  • Dry White: Blustone Vineyards 2013 Riesling
  • Dry Red: Peninsula Cellars 2012 Cabernet Franc
  • Semi-dry White: Gill's Pier Vineyard & Winery 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling
  • Semi-dry Red: Lawton Ridge Winery 2012 AZO Red
  • Dessert: Black Star Farms 2012 Arcturos Winter Harvest Riesling
  • Fruit: 45 North Vineyard & Winery Peach Cremant
  • Rosé: Chateau de Leelanau 2013 Cabernet Franc Rosé

You can find the full list of winners here.

*Listen to the full interview above.

Law
4:12 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Man who killed Renisha McBride in suburban Detroit sued for more than $10 million

Renisha McBride.
Credit Family photo

DETROIT - A suburban Detroit man who killed an unarmed woman on his porch is being sued by her parents for more than $10 million.

The lawsuit against Theodore Wafer was filed Tuesday in Wayne County court, 12 days after a jury convicted him of second-degree murder in the death of Renisha McBride.

The 19-year-old was shot in the face in Dearborn Heights. Wafer says he acted in self-defense after hearing pounding at his doors last Nov. 2, but the jury found deadly force was unreasonable.

The 55-year-old Wafer is in custody awaiting his sentence on Sept. 3. The lawsuit was filed by attorney Gerald Thurswell on behalf of McBride's parents, Monica McBride and Walter Simmons.

They accuse Wafer of wrongful death and negligence.

Culture
3:53 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Renowned forensic psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, Emanuel Tanay, dies at 86

Dr. Emanuel Tanay
John Lofy

Dr. Emanuel Tanay died of metastatic prostate cancer on August 5. A visitation is planned for Saturday, September 13 at 11:00 am at the Nie Family Funeral Home in Ann Arbor with a memorial service to follow at noon.

Tanay led an amazing life. Here's more about Tanay from a family press release: 

Read more
The Environment Report
12:54 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Study finds food allergies are more common in inner-city children

A Johns Hopkins researcher found that inner city children are more likely to have food allergies — especially those related to milk and eggs.

A new study finds inner-city kids might have a higher than normal risk of developing food allergies.

Researchers studied more than 500 kids from birth through age 5, in Boston, Baltimore, New York City, and St. Louis.

Dr. Robert Wood is a professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore. He says normal food allergy rates are around 5-6%. But that rate went up when they looked at kids in the inner city.

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Law
12:49 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

UM Innocence Clinic & two retired cops fighting to free man convicted of double murder

Jeff Titus is currently serving two life terms. He was convicted in 2002, after a ‘cold case’ squad reopened the decade old investigation into murders of two hunters.
Credit Michigan Department of Corrections

Jeff Titus is currently serving two life sentences for a double homicide in 1990.

Two men believe Titus’ alibi that he was hunting in a different part of the state at the time the shootings took place.     The two men are the original detectives who investigated the crime.

On November 17th, 1990, Doug Estes and Jim Bennett were hunting in the Fulton State Gaming Area.  Both were shot in the back at close range.  

The shooting occurred near the property of Jeff Edward Titus.  

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Stateside
12:24 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Some question aggressive police tactics in West Michigan

Jack Nadwornik, owner of Tujax Tavern in Delton, was arrested by Barry Township police May 10 and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He suffered a broken hand and bloody elbows.
Mandi Wright Detroit Free Press

Controversy over police force has hit not only Ferguson, Missouri but a small town in West Michigan as well.

Some residents in Barry Township, Michigan are getting angry over the build-up of its police force.

Specifically, the nearly three dozen unpaid, reserve police officers from outside the community.

These non-certified officers are carrying guns, riding in patrol cars and, according to some, using way too much force.

Lori Brasier of Detroit Free Press has been covering this controversy.

“These officers were stopping people for having things dangling off their rear view mirrors, they were stopping a lot of high school kids just to stop them,” says Brasier.

The department also has two Humvees and two armored personnel carriers received free of charge from the U.S. Department of Defense for a township with only four full-time officers. 

"People are paying attention. They are going to realize these things are unnecessary and aren’t going to keep us safe,” says Brasier.

* Listen to the full story on above.

Here's a video from the Free Press:

The Environment Report
11:46 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Dioxin cleanup downstream from Dow Chemical to enter next stage

Dow Chemical corporate headquarters in Midland, Michigan.
User mgreason wikimedia commons

Listen to today's Environment Report about the Dow dioxin cleanup.

The Environmental Protection Agency has a plan for cleaning up soil contaminated by dioxins along the Tittabawasee River floodplain. The floodplain extends along 21 miles of the river below the Dow Chemical plant in Midland.

The EPA says the dioxins, which can cause cancer and other serious health effects, came from waste disposal, emissions and incineration from the plant.

The EPA has been directing Dow to do temporary cleanups around people’s homes whenever the river floods.

Read more

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