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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. 

Beggars 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 yesterday 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 are expected to issue recommendations today.

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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Health
11:51 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Shortage of Michigan autism specialists creating long wait times for kids

According to a report from the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, a lack of autism specialists in Michigan is creating long wait times for children to be diagnosed and treated.

Marianne Udow-Phillips, the group's director, explains that average waiting times for appointments can range anywhere from a month to two years. She hopes  that lawmakers will extend a temporary fund they created to train new specialists.

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Environment & Science
10:25 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Could scrap rubber help Michigan build better roads?

Researchers are going to find out how well rubberized asphalt will resist potholes.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A group of researchers at Michigan Technological University is conducting tests to find out if traditional asphalt mixed with rubber from scrap tires could make better roads in Michigan.

The research, led by civil and environmental engineering department chair David Hand, has been granted $1.2 million from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Professor Zhanping You has been studying the technology of rubberized asphalt for eight years. He says rubber-added asphalt can make roads more durable and make life easier for drivers.

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Stateside
10:07 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Mead makers find enthusiastic market in Michigan

B. Nektar Meadery's Zombie Killer Cherry Cyser
Credit Scott Henderson / Flickr

UPDATE: This story was updated at 2:35 pm on 10/21/2014.  

Ever wonder where the term "honeymoon" came from? Back in the 5th century, newlyweds would drink mead for the first cycle of the moon after their marriage because it was believed to be an aphrodisiac.

Michigan has its own growing mead scene. Brad Dahlhofer, owner of B. Nektar Meadery in Ferndale, is one of the pioneer mead makers in the state.

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Stateside
9:52 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Michigan Senate campaigns find deep pockets for ad spending

Michigan senatorial candidate Gary Peters
Credit Detroit Regional Chamber / Flickr

Michigan has seen a torrent of political ads in the Senate race between Gary Peters and Terri Lynn Land – more than 45,000, according to Center for Public Integrity.

Michigan has the third-highest spending of any state in a Senate race. Who's paying for these ads? Todd Spangler is the Washington reporter for the Detroit Free Press.

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Health
5:59 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

UN team says Detroit water shutoff program violates human rights

People upset about Detroit's water shutoff program listen to United Nation's Human Rights Office officials deliver their report.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A United Nations team says the city of Detroit is violating human rights by shutting off water to those who can’t pay their bills.

Some 27, 000 customers have had their water cut off during the first nine months of 2014. Detroit launched the water shutoff program as part of efforts to deal with the city’s financial problems.  

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Politics & Government
5:41 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Failure to show up an issue in 11th District race

The three candidates running for Congress in the 11th District agreed on very little at a forum in Birmingham Monday - except the failure of the fourth candidate, businessman David Trott, to appear.

Bobby McKenzie, running as a Democrat, says he disagrees with many of the positions taken by  his opponents, "but showing up matters, and the three of us showed up. 

Mr. Trott was supposed to be here - didn't show up.  What kind of representative do you think he's gonna be?" he told a crowd at Seaholm High School.

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Health
5:24 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Michigan ramps up Ebola preparedness efforts

Ebola Virus
Credit CDC Global

Michigan has activated its Community Health Emergency Communications Center to coordinate statewide preparedness against the threat of the Ebola virus. The goal is for Michigan to be able to respond rapidly and effectively if a patient who may have, or is at risk for, the Ebola virus were identified in Michigan.

Gov. Rick Snyder has designated Director of Michigan Department of Community Health Nick Lyon and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Matthew Davis to lead the efforts.

"The public can be assured that the Department of Community Health is working with its partners across state government and in hospitals across the state to make certain we are maximizing protection for the population," said Davis.

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Environment & Science
4:58 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Lake Erie's toxic blooms spark new EPA grants

National Wildlife Federation President Collin O'Mara showing reporters a glass full of contamined lake water on a boat trip on Lake Erie near Toledo.
Credit Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded grants to three states - Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana - to reduce phosphorus levels in Lake Erie.

This summer, a toxic cyanobacteria bloom shut down the water supply to the city of Toledo.  Algae and cyanobacteria thrive in high-phosphorus environments.

Much of the phosphorus comes from farms surrounding the lake.

Jamie Clover Adams is Michigan Director of Agriculture and Rural Development.

She says Michigan has only about 15% of the land near Lake Erie, but the state has to do its part.

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Transportation
3:22 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Get ready for more potholes this spring

Get ready for more potholes this upcoming spring season.
Credit User _chrisUK / flickr.com

Last spring's potholes may be a distant memory.

But road officials warn Michigan residents to get ready for more. 

"If you're seeing patch on patch on your road, you're going to be seeing a lot of potholes this spring," says Brad Lamberg, President of the County Road Association of Michigan.

Lamberg says it wasn't just the harsh winter, but a failure to invest in road repair that has led to the current situation.

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