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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: 

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Law
1:54 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Lawyers argue man wrongfully convicted of killing two hunters near Battle Creek

Jeff Titus.
Credit Michigan Department of Corrections

The Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan law school is asking a judge to reopen the case of Jeff Titus.

Titus was convicted of killing two hunters near Battle Creek.

The crime occurred in November of 1990. Titus was convicted 12 years later by a "cold case" investigation, even though he was cleared in the initial investigation of the crime.

More from UM's Innocence Clinic:

Original investigating detectives concluded that Titus's alibi – supported by the owners of the land on which he had been hunting – made it impossible for him to be present at the time of the murders … In the course of the decade between the murders and the prosecution, Titus's alibi witnesses had aged and were no longer able to testify in his favor. At trial, his attorney failed to call the detectives who could testify about Titus's alibi…

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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
Opinion
11:08 am
Tue August 19, 2014

This Detroit woman who fought for equal rights decades ago deserves to be remembered today

By now everyone knows, or at least thinks they know, something about Michael Brown. He was, of course, the unarmed black teenager shot to death by a white police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson 10 days ago.

His death has reopened our eternal and eternally painful dialogue about equal rights and race. But what makes me sad is that a true civil rights movement giant died in Detroit two days ago, and almost nobody even noticed.

Fifty years ago this summer, a young black woman lawyer from Detroit named Claudia House Morcom arrived in Mississippi on a mission that really meant risking her life.

She was there to fight the system of institutionalized vicious racism that prevented black Americans from voting, and reduced them to subhuman status in virtually every way.

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Environment & Science
10:57 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Toledo Mayor compares water crisis to a terrorist attack

Pea-green bacteria growing in Lake Erie.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Earlier this month, from August 2 to August 4, people living in Toledo were suddenly without water. Pea-green bacteria growing in Lake Erie had released a toxin that got into the city's water supply.

The Mayor of Toledo, Michael Collins, compared what happened in his city to 9/11.

From Tom Troy of the Toledo Blade:

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Politics & Government
7:45 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Duggan announces $200,000 donation for water assistance fund; shutoffs resume next week

Detroit officials are trying to boost aid programs for people who struggle to pay their water bills--before the city starts shutting off residential customers again.

The United Way and the philanthropic arms of Ford and General Motors announced a combined $200,000 in donations to the Detroit Water Fund Monday.

That fund is designed to help eligible Detroiters pay up to 25% of their delinquent water bill.

Read more
Education
5:26 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

University of Michigan-Flint grant aims to support needed health care providers

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A Flint nursing program is receiving a financial boost that aims to fill a health care employment gap.

The University of Michigan-Flint is one of three schools in the state to receive nearly $700,000 dollars from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The money is to support registered nurses becoming nurse practitioners.

The grant will provide about a third of the incoming students with enough money to pay for a year's tuition and fees.

Connie Creech is the director of Flint's graduate nursing program.

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