News

Getting a cyber charter was the only way Livingston Classical Academy could finally open its doors.
Andy Simonds/Flickr

Technically, Livingston Classical Academy is a "cyber school."

In reality, though, the only class that will be online this year is health – which parents will be encouraged to participate in for the more “sensitive discussions.”

A few more online classes will be added next year, like career readiness and nutrition.

Wayne County / via Wayne County

The structural condition of an unfinished county jail in downtown Detroit will be assessed as part of plans to complete the project.

Wayne County officials expect the assessment to be completed by late November.

An estimated $151 million has been spent for acquisition and design of the jail along Gratiot Avenue. Work stopped in 2013 due to the project's cost going over what was budgeted.

If you get a call from someone saying they're police, and they've got a warrant for your arrest, don't give them money.
Sam Carpenter/Flickr

It sounds like a pretty obvious scam: you get a phone call, and then another, both claiming to be from the Ann Arbor police. The callers say there’s a warrant out for your arrest from U.S. Customs and Immigration officials. You can pay $3,000 in iTunes gift cards they say, or go to jail.

If you’re an immigrant, or just unfamiliar with how police operate, this can feel very real, says Ann Arbor Detective Lt. Matt Lige.

Screenshot of Wolverine Access, the university's website for students and faculty, showing the gender identity tab.
University of Michigan

Let's say you were given a male name at birth, but you don't identify as a male. Well, the University of Michigan will now let you choose your preferred pronoun.

Those pronouns will appear on class rosters beside students' names.

Students can choose the pronoun he, she, or they ... or fill in their own.

"This was a proposal brought forward by a group of students working through our Spectrum office on campus," said university spokesman Rick Fitzgerald.

The former Carstens Elementary School building, on Detroit's east side, is one of many, many schools that have been shuttered in Detroit.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Looks like we've got another tug of war between Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette.

At stake? Whether failing schools within the new Detroit Public Schools Community District can be shut down at the end of this school year.

Today, Attorney General Bill Schuette issued his legal opinion on the matter and Rick Pluta, Michigan Radio’s Lansing Bureau Chief, joined us to explain what went down.

Image of the U.S. Capitol
user EFF Photos / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan congressmen helped craft a funding solution for Flint’s water crisis that might avert a federal government shutdown.

Democrats are opposing a continuing budget resolution unless money to replace Flint’s pipes is included.   Without the resolution, the federal government would shut down at the end of the month.

If Donald Trump is to be elected President, he almost certainly has to win either Michigan or Pennsylvania.

If Trump carries every state Mitt Romney won and adds Ohio, Florida and Iowa, he still loses – unless he can take Michigan or Pennsylvania away from the Democrats.

So far this year, polls show he may have a better chance here.

Hillary Clinton leads in Michigan, but by less than in Pennsylvania and by far less than President Obama won the state either time. But Republicans in Congress are now doing something that may torpedo any chance Trump has of flipping this state this year.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

The U.S. Senate rejected a spending bill on Tuesday to keep the government running through December 9.

A majority of Democrats voted "no" because the bill didn't contain money to help Flint.

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Doug Tribou talk about the impact that could have on the upcoming election. They also discuss Donald Trump's Michigan references in the first presidential debate and calls to reduce recidivism from Hillary Clinton and Gov. Rick Snyder.

A new charter school in Whitmore Lake offers a "classical education" and a Hillsdale College connection
Brett Levin / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

When you think Hillsdale College, maybe you think private, well-respected school that makes a lot of Top 10 lists for “Most Conservative Schools.”

Now, Hillsdale is using its brand to help launch a public charter school in Michigan, but the school’s founders are trying to prove to its critics that this new school is neither biased, nor religious.

New phase announced in Dow dioxin cleanup near Midland

Sep 27, 2016
User mgreason / wikimedia commons

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has proposed a new phase in its multi-year plan to clean up dioxin contamination from Dow Chemical's Midland plant. 

Discharges from the plant in the last century boosted levels of dioxins in the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers and their floodplains.

Dioxins are toxic chemicals that may cause cancer and other serious health problems.

The latest phase targets six miles of a contaminated 21-mile section of the Tittabawassee River and its floodplain. 

State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

State government has been distracted by the water contamination crisis it created in Flint, by the financial problems in Detroit schools, and the day-to-day issues that are just a natural part of running a huge operation in a large state. One issue that’s been set aside often – the proverbial “kicking the can down the road” – is underfunded pension plans and health care costs for retirees.

At the state level, Governor Snyder implemented a plan early in his first term to chip away at the problem. At the local level, most cities have been struggling with cutting services and just paying the bills. The idea of trying to catch up on putting more money into pension plans or setting aside money for growing retiree health care costs don’t seem to be as pressing. The result: A looming financial disaster for many cities and counties.

A crew replacing a lead service line in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Update: 9/28/2016 2:50 p.m.

There appears to be a compromise on funding for Flint that would avoid a potential partial shutdown of the government.  House Republicans say they will allow a vote on U.S. Representative Dan Kildee's amendment to the Water Resources Development Act, providing $170 million to help Flint deal with a lead-tainted water system.

U.S. Senator Gary issued the following statement:

“The people of Flint have waited far too long for Congress to act and finally help put them on the road to recovery. House Republican leadership refused to even go on record supporting Flint as recently as Monday, and I am pleased that under pressure from Senate and House Democrats they are now indicating some willingness to help Flint. I will continue pushing to pass our carefully crafted, fully paid-for agreement that passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support as part of WRDA or another legislative vehicle. I have said that Congress can and should help both flooding victims and Flint residents, and I cannot support a government funding bill that prioritizes one state’s emergency over another’s.”

9/27/16

Democrats in the U.S. Senate voted against a bill to keep the federal government funded through December 9, sending the bill to defeat.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow said the bill included $500 million to help victims of flooding in Louisiana, while ignoring residents of Flint, whose water was tainted with lead two years ago.  

Flint river
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Members of the Civil Rights Commission say there is evidence the Flint water crisis was partially the result of discrimination.

The Commission is working on a report that will include policy change recommendations to prevent similar problems. It's evaluating the water crisis from a civil rights perspective, and is looking at a finding of Governor Rick Snyder's Flint Water Advisory Task Force.

The Task Force found that environmental injustice played a role in the crisis and how it was handled. 

Flickr user ellenm1/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

Trade agreements have been a big topic of discussion this election year.

President Obama has been pushing for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The majority party presidential candidates are both opposed to it. The North American Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico has also seen a lot of criticism.

Last week, the Agricultural Leaders of Michigan released a letter in support of those trade agreements and others.

Rick Pluta, Michigan Radio/lawrence.house.gov

 

The first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was held last night. A large segment of the debate was about racial healing in the United States.   

Both candidates have been pursuing African-American and Latino voters.

Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence and Linda Lee Tarver, co-chair of the Trump-Pence Michigan African American Advisory Committee, joined us today to take a look back at last night’s debate.

“We’re profiting off of it,” Ramsdell said. “The minerals are going into the products that we’re living off of and benefiting off of, and the Congolese people are left with a country that has been wracked with war for almost 20-plus years.”
screengrab of When Elephants Fight

 

A country that is one of the most mineral-rich in the world is also one of the world's poorest nations.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been rocked by war in recent years, and although the war is over, the conflict and suffering have yet to end.

A Michigan-based filmmaker is out with a new exploration of how the minerals in our electronic devices are funding the turmoil in that African country.

Detroit City Skyline
user Bernt Rostad / flickr

JP Morgan Chase is investing an additional $1.3 million to develop training programs for workers in Detroit. 

It's part of a  a $100 million commitment the financial services magnate has made to invest in Detroit's economic recovery.

Chauncey Lennon is the head of workforce initiatives at JP Morgan Chase. He says workers need to have so-called "soft skills", like teamwork and communication. But many of today's in-demand jobs also require greater technical expertise. 

Trump says Ford leaving America, but company fires back

Sep 27, 2016
Gage Skidmore / Flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

During last night's presidential debate, Donald Trump's opening statement included his remark that Michigan is losing thousands of jobs and that Ford is leaving Michigan for other countries like Mexico. 

“So Ford is leaving. You see that their small car division [is] leaving. Thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio. They’re all leaving. And we can’t allow it to happen anymore,” he said.

Honey bees in a GVSU hive.
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

You can thank a honey bee for pollinating about one of every three bites of food we eat. But as you’ve likely heard, bees are in trouble.

They’re getting hit hard by pesticides and diseases and pests, and they’re losing habitat.

Two Grand Valley State University professors are using technology to track the health of hives in a new way.

Macomb County resident Julie Baumer volunteered to care for her sister’s unwanted baby thirteen years ago. She was a 27-year-old mortgage broker who was engaged to be married and had a full life, but she didn’t want the little boy to be put up for adoption.

But a few weeks later, she took the baby to the hospital, where doctors discovered a lot of blood on his brain. She was suspected of violently shaking the baby.

Roller coasters may help you get rid of kidney stones.
wikipedia

Sometimes science moves in a mysterious way.

A few years back, urologist David Wartinger, a former Michigan State University professor, saw a student patient who he'd been treating for kidney stones. The patient had just returned from spring break in Florida.

"And he told me, doc, you're not gonna believe this, I went on a roller coaster and I passed a kidney stone. I got right back on the same coaster, I passed another stone. I got back on the coaster a third time and I passed three stones in a row."

The Michigan Union on the U of M's campus.
Andrew Horne / Wikimedia Commons

The University of Michigan removed several racist flyers posted on campus today.

One flier explained “Why White Women Shouldn’t Date Black Men.” Others told white people to stop “apologizing” and “living in fear” and “be white.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A dispute between Flint’s mayor and city council over who’ll pick up the city’s trash is headed back to court.

For months, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has been at odds with a majority of the city council over trash pick-up. She wants to hire a new company. The council wants the old one to continue.

Last week, Mayor Karen Weaver hired a new company, Rizzo Environmental Services, to empty Flint trash cans. It started Monday. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Violent crime dropped in three Michigan cities known for their problems with violence.

Detroit, Flint, and Saginaw have long been ranked high on the FBI’s violent crime list.

But new stats released this week showed violent crime dropped by double-digits in all three cities. From 2014 to 2015, violent crime declined in Detroit (13%), Flint (14.3%) and Saginaw (18.1%).

All three cities have been part of a special Michigan State Police program targeting high-crime areas with stepped-up law enforcement and community engagement.

Average surface temperatures for 2015. NOAA
NOAA

Michigan could benefit from cleaner energy. That was the message of a report released Monday on model scenarios about Michigan’s energy future.

The Michigan Agency for Energy’s report details what could happen in Michigan under the Clean Power Plan – and without it.

Courtesy of Brian Connors

The Next Idea

China is Michigan’s third largest export market. A new nonprofit is up and running, planning to encourage more Chinese investment here.

Brian Connors is the executive director of the Michigan-China Innovation Center.

Connors sat down with us today to talk about how he plans to attract the attention of Chinese investors and why China is such a valuable business partner for Michigan.

“When we defer [capital expenditure] or investment in a school district, we’re knowingly ensuring that our students won’t keep up with their peers across the state or the country or the world,” Saunders said.
wikimedia user motown31 / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

One of the state of Michigan’s former emergency managers says the strategy might work for some cities, but an emergency manager just doesn’t work that well for school districts.

Tony Saunders is the former emergency manager of Benton Harbor.

Michael Jackman told us the RTA's plan is short-sighted, and that investing in light rail would serve Detroit better in the long term.
flickr user Matt Picio / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 


The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan’s new transportation plan needs money. On the November ballot, voters in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne Counties will be asked to approve a 20-year property tax millage. Its estimated cost for the average homeowner is about $95 a year.

 

The millage will pay for new bus rapid transit lines and rail service between Detroit and Ann Arbor. It would also fix what has been a dysfunctional transit system that never really connected the suburban SMART buses with the Detroit Department of Transportation bus system.

Ford Autonomous Test Vehicle
Ford Motor Company

Last week the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx made the rounds through the news outlets, excitedly talking about new guidelines for autonomous cars.

But Foxx admitted there's a lot not covered in the guidelines because there's a lot the auto industry and the government have yet to figure out.

NPR’s Sonari Glinton joined us today to talk about the secretary’s comments, and the ongoing push toward autonomous vehicles.

Michigan State's 30-6 loss to Wisconsin was its fewest points scored since a 2012 home loss to Notre Dame.
Steven Depolo / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

It was a full weekend of sports across the state of Michigan, headlined by the Wolverines and the Spartans hosting games in their respective home stadiums. Michigan, which remains ranked No. 4 in the nation, flexed its muscles with a 49-10 blowout of Penn State. Meanwhile, in East Lansing, it was a battle between two Big Ten teams ranked in the top ten. However, Michigan State suffered a rare one-sided loss, 30-6, to the Wisconsin Badgers.

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