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Politics & Government
7:00 am
Thu October 23, 2014

Snyder and Schauer both wrong; potential revenue lost to schools is a billion dollars a year

In the race for governor, few things are disputed more than education funding under Gov. Rick Snyder. Challenger Mark Schauer claims Snyder cut funding by a billion dollars. Snyder has called that a lie and says he’s added a billion dollars. They’re both sort of right and they’re both wrong.

“Both sides have truth. Neither is lying, per se,” said Mitch Bean.

He is a former director of the Michigan House Fiscal Agency. That’s a nonpartisan agency within the Michigan House of Representatives. Now he’s a consultant and he’s been looking at the budgets to try to find out exactly what has happened to money for schools.

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Stateside
5:26 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Democrats rally to get out the mid-term vote – with a little help from their big-name friends

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint)
Credit Steve Carmody

Midterm elections tend not to draw out many Democrat voters, so as Election Day draws closer, the Democratic Party is pulling out all the stops to encourage voters to turn out. 

Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan’s 5th District, hosted Bill Clinton in Flint today. Kildee joined us on Stateside to talk about the importance of midterm elections.  

“Many people mistakenly believe that we choose the course the country will take once every four years when we elect a president. Here in Michigan, we make those decisions in the midterms,” Kildee says, including decisions about congressional seats and who sits in the governor’s chair.  

Top Democrats who've visited Michigan include Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and Bill Clinton. Kildee says President Obama may visit the state within the next week.  

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Law
5:23 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Propane company refunds $500,000 to Michigan customers

State Attorney General Mike Schuette says Amerigas will refund $500,000 to 5600 customers in Michigan for overcharging them last winter.

"I think the message is real clear," Schuette said during a conference call.  "No rip offs of consumers are allowed in Michigan."

Schuette says Amerigas charged customers amount that were "grossly" in excess of what other propane companies in the state were charging. 

He says the Michigan Consumer Protection Act prohibits price gouging.

Politics & Government
5:02 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Bill Clinton campaigns for Michigan Democrats in Flint

Former President Bill Clinton was met with loud applause from a crowd of Democrats in Flint on Wednesday. He was joined on stage by Democratic nominee for governor Mark Schauer (left), Congressman Dan Kildee (Center) and nominee for U.S. Senate Gary Peters (not pictured).”
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

Another Clinton was in Michigan on Wednesday urging Democrats to show up to the polls on November 4th. Last week it was former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This time it was her husband rallying Democrats to try to get out the vote.

“We don’t win these races and we get this gridlock because too many people don’t vote at midterm,” said former President Bill Clinton in front of a crowd of hundreds of Democrats.

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Business
5:01 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Labor advocacy group claims race inequality in Metro Detroit's restaurant industry

Fine Dining
Credit Lena Nicholson / Flickr Creative Commons

There is occupational segregation and inequality in Metro Detroit's restaurants, according to a report by Restaurant Opportunities Center United, a restaurant workers advocacy group.

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Stateside
4:57 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

The silent treatment: Nobody's talking about right-to-work in this election

Dec. 11th, 2012 Right to Work protest in Lansing, MI.
Credit Matt Radick / Flickr

It’s been nearly two years since a lame-duck Legislature made Michigan the 24th right-to-work state. In response, 12,000 furious protesters flocked to the state Capitol, vowing Republicans would pay dearly at the next elections.

Nolan Finley, editorial page editor of the Detroit News, and Michigan Radio political analyst Jack Lessenberry joined Stateside to talk about the impact of right-to-work on the upcoming elections.

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Stateside
4:22 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Drought in the West takes a bite out of Michigan burger budgets

Credit Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger

We’ve seen the images of the ferocious drought in the West. In Michigan, that drought has affected beef prices, which have skyrocketed upwards of 34%, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  

Rick Magner, who owns Ann Arbor’s iconic Blimpy Burger, says he's seen beef prices rise 40 cents in the last month. Magner says he had to raise the price of a burger from $2.44 two years ago to the current $3.49.

Magner says so far customers haven’t really complained about the increased price of burgers, and he isn’t worried about raising prices again, saying, “eventually it’ll level out.” 

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Opinion
11:01 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Mike Bishop about to become Matty Moroun's man in Congress

Four years ago, it looked as if efforts to build a badly needed new bridge over the Detroit River were doomed to failure.

Matty Moroun, the now 87-year-old owner of the Ambassador Bridge, had managed to corrupt the Legislature through that form of legalized bribery known as campaign contributions.

He poured hundreds of thousands into the campaigns and causes of influential legislators, most notably former Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop.

In fact, as Jim Blanchard, the former governor and ambassador to Canada told me, Bishop broke his promise to the people. He had promised to allow a vote in the state Senate on whether or not to allow a partnership with Canada to build the bridge.

This is a bridge, by the way, that just about every business and corporate leader in Michigan agrees we need to stay competitive.

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Law
6:00 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Orr testifies again in Detroit bankruptcy trial; city reveals plan to sell lighting scrap metal

Kevyn Orr
Credit City of Detroit

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr took the stand again Tuesday in the 22nd day of the city’s bankruptcy trial.

Orr testified mostly about Detroit’s recent settlement with bond insurer Financial Guaranty Insurance Corporation. That deal is outlined in a draft of the ninth version of Detroit’s plan of adjustment (the city’s proposal to “adjust” its debts in bankruptcy court).

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Stateside
6:25 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

How did Michigan's auto dealership franchise system start?

Credit GM

 

Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a law that mandates all sales of Michigan vehicles to go through franchised dealers. It's seen as a direct shot at Tesla Motors, which wants to sell its electric cars directly to consumers. 

The governor's move is welcomed by mainline automakers and dealerships. Snyder says Michigan law already prohibited automakers from selling directly to consumers.

Michigan Radio's auto reporter, Tracy Samilton, explains that dealerships could argue that the current franchising system benefits the consumers because it creates tougher competition.

 

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Stateside
6:13 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Newspapers weigh perception, effectiveness of political endorsements

Credit User: Valerie Everett / Flickr

 

Newspaper endorsements are one of America's time-honored election traditions.

But as the winds of change blow through newsrooms across the nation, that tradition is changing.  

Anna Clark wrote about this for the Columbia Journalism Review. She says some major newspapers have stopped making endorsements since the trend started around 2009.

According to Clark, some newspapers are concerned about the risk endorsements may pose to their credibility. Others cited doubts about whether endorsements actually affect election results. 

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Politics & Government
5:40 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Michigan Democrats pushing for big voter turnout on Election Day

Former President Bill Clinton is the latest big name Democrat campaigning in Michigan's 2014 election. First Lady Michelle Obama and former U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton have also stumped for votes in Detroit this fall.
Credit @billclinton

Bill Clinton will be campaigning with Democrats in Flint tomorrow.

The former president is just the latest big-name Democrat to push for votes in Michigan. First Lady Michelle Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have made campaign stops in Detroit to rally the Democratic Party base in recent weeks.

President Barack Obama is expected to visit Michigan before Election Day.

One analyst says Democrats are bringing in big names in an attempt to boost turnout in next month’s election.

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Law
5:02 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Detroit incinerator to pay $350,000, fix odor problems

Owners of the Detroit waste incinerator will pay fines, install technology after odor complaints skyrocketed
Credit Photo courtesy of Flickr user tEdGuY49

People near Detroit's waste incinerator will soon get some relief from its foul odors.

Joy Yearout is a spokeswoman for the state Attorney General.

She says the owners agreed to install technology to reduce the smell - and that will improve the quality of life for people in Detroit.

"More and more people are moving downtown," says Yearout.  "You've got a lot of creative business owners investing and helping it grow -- and if you want to attract more employees and businesses, you've got to have a healthy and pleasant environment to work and live in."

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Families & Community
4:54 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Grants to help foster community in Detroit neighborhoods

The Troy-based Kresge Foundation is making grants available to help Detroit neighborhoods
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are several major projects going on in Detroit these days. 

The M-1 RAIL line and a new hockey arena are among several projects attracting hundreds of millions of dollars into Detroit’s city center.  

But what about Detroit’s neighborhoods?   

The Kresge Foundation plans to spend up to $5 million to give a boost to Detroit neighborhoods.

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Law
4:53 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Flint Township plans action on intersection panhandlers

Flint Township says panhandlers at intersections are creating a safety hazard for themselves and people in vehicles
Credit Brian D. Hawkins / Creative Commons

Asking for money from someone in a car could soon be banned in Flint Township.    Panhandlers - and their potential benefactors in vehicles - could be fined up to $500.

Jerry Preston is chairman of the township's Begging and Solicitation Committee.

He says panhandling in the public right-of-way is unsafe, both for the occupants of the vehicles, and the panhandler.

Preston says the problem is growing exponentially. 

Panhandlers are showing up regularly at intersections and roadsides throughout the township. 

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Auto
3:04 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Gov. Snyder signs bill clarifying only franchised dealers can sell cars

You can buy this car online.....but not at a Tesla-owned store in Michigan
Credit Tesla Motors

Tesla lost a battle today in its bid to sell its vehicles directly to consumers.

Governor Rick Snyder signed HB 5606 today, after fierce lobbying for and against the bill, which clarifies the language in the state's law requiring auto manufacturers to sell their cars through franchised dealerships, and not through direct sales.

Electric car company Tesla wants to use a direct-sales model for its vehicles.

The Governor said it was already illegal for a manufacturer to sell its cars directly to customers in the state of Michigan.

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Families & Community
1:03 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

UN representatives hear Detroit's water grievances

Detroit skyline
Credit Ian Freimuth / flickr.com

Members of the United Nations Human Rights Commission heard testimony in Detroit this week from citizens who are struggling to secure affordable water and housing.

Nicole Hill is a Detroiter who has had her water shut off twice this year. Hill says the water department tells her she owes more than $6,000 — a number she vigorously disputes.

“I have asked for a hearing, and I was told that I could possibly get a hearing date sometime in 2015,” she said.

For Mignon Jennings, the cost of her water bill has put her in danger of losing her Detroit home.

“$3,000 for a water bill for one year? That’s ludicrous. That’s crazy. And I believe something needs to be done.”

The UN panel has criticized Detroit’s policy of cutting water service to people with delinquent bills.

Panel members issued recommendations on the situation Monday. They also met with Mayor Mike Duggan.

Duggan's chief of staff, Alexis Wiley, defended the administration's response to the water shutoffs, pointing out that the number of customers on payment plans has almost doubled to about 33,000 since Duggan announced his 10-point plan on dealing with them in August.

Wiley said the meeting was unproductive. "Unfortunately, it became clear shortly into the meeting that the UN representatives had reached their conclusions and prepared their recommendations before the meeting had even begun," she said in a statement, that also accused the UN of singling out Detroit for criticism of a "standard practice among utilities."

Families & Community
12:55 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

What's next for the former Ann Arbor Chronicle publishers?

DAVE ASKINS AND MARY MORGAN AT ANN ARBOR CITY HALL

It was The Ann Arbor News, in its pre-AnnArbor.com form, that originally brought the founders of the recently-closed online publication The Ann Arbor Chronicle to town. Mary Morgan was offered a job with the Booth Newspapers publication, and as her husband, Dave Askins, had just completed his graduate coursework, the timing worked out well for the couple to move from Rochester, NY to Ann Arbor in the mid-1990s. 

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Politics & Government
12:42 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

What's getting in the way of no-reason absentee voting in Michigan?

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson
Credit Ruth Johnson for Michigan

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Gov. Rick Snyder both say the state should allow every voter who does not want to wait until Election Day to cast an absentee ballot. So does Johnson’s Democratic opponent in the November election.

Michigan is in the minority of states that does not currently allow no-reason absentee voting. Twenty-seven other states and Washington D.C. already allow it.

So what is getting in the way of Michigan joining that list?

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Opinion
12:31 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

For Detroit's future transporation needs, consider widening the freeways

For more than a century now, Detroit has been the Motor City: Home of the auto industry; the place that put the world on wheels.

You know that. You also probably know that as a result, Detroit utterly failed to build any kind of decent mass transit.

Other, that is, than a system of badly serviced city buses that don’t even coordinate with the suburban ones. The city is paying for that now, as thousands of adults who lack cars have no easy way to get to jobs in the suburbs. Belatedly, there are efforts to get a rapid transit bus system. There’s also the M1 light-rail project in the city, but these are partial solutions at best.

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