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Stateside
6:46 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Northern Michigan agency looks to help mentally ill smokers quit

Credit User: lanier67 / Flickr

Have you ever noticed there are certain places where smokers seem to congregate? How about mental health agencies? People with mental illness are far more likely to smoke than the rest of the population.

Part of the problem is that smoking has been seen as therapeutic for people with anxiety or schizophrenia. But advocates in northern Michigan say the short-term effects of nicotine don't outweigh the long-term consequences of smoking.

And they say it’s time to help a vulnerable population quit.

Interlochen Public Radio’s Linda Stephan reported on the initiative.

*Listen to the full story above.

Stateside
6:45 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Central issues in Detroit's bankruptcy trial

Credit JSFauxtaugraphy/Flickr

The official name for it is the “plan confirmation hearing.” The commonly used term is “Detroit’s bankruptcy trial.” And it begins today.

Stephen Henderson is the editorial page editor at the Detroit Free Press. He joined Stateside today to talk about what will be decided and the big questions in the trial.

“(The central question) really has to do with the grand bargain,” says Henderson, “which brings into the bankruptcy proceeding more than $700 million from people who have nothing to do with this proceeding.”

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Stateside
6:43 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Organizers cancel 15th annual quilting show

Credit user: Kate Henderson / Flickr

One of Michigan's leading quilting shows is canceling its October date.

For 15 years, the Keepers of Quilting Traditions show in Durand has been considered one of the best in the state, and a major draw for the small mid-Michigan town.

Loretta Rolfs, secretary of the group, says they have struggled to keep a quality show over the past couple of years, and there are just not enough hands to get everything done this year.

Last year, the Keepers of Quilting Traditions show in Durand saw over 700 attendees. Rolfs says some young people are interested in quilting, but busy lifestyles prevent them from doing crafts like this.

“We want to keep that interest alive,” says Rolfs.

* Listen to our conversation with Loretta Rolfs above.

Stateside
6:40 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Are good teachers born? A new book says it's training that makes them great

Credit (courtesy of KQED)

What makes a teacher great?

And how should we measure a teacher's success and effectiveness?

These are questions that take up a lot of the debate about education in Michigan. We've got policymakers, educators, politicians and parents all weighing in, and the resulting conversation is often loud and unproductive.

Education writer Elizabeth Green explores these challenging questions, and looks at how we are preparing teachers for the realities of the classroom.

Green’s new book is Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach it to Everyone). She says great teachers are not born, but trained.

“By assuming (some teachers are born great, and some teachers aren’t), we fail to prepare teachers with the specialized knowledge that nobody is born knowing how to do. And as a result, we leave students vulnerable to teachers who haven’t learned the basic things they need to know to help students learn,” says Green.

* Listen to the full interview with Elizabeth Green above.

Politics & Government
5:44 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

State House Dems call for higher minimum school funding

Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

As many Michigan students return to school, the debate over education funding is starting up again at the state Capitol in Lansing.

Democrats in the state House plan to introduce a bill that would increase minimum payments to districts. Gov. Rick Snyder and lawmakers this year set that amount at an additional $50 per student.

But the Democrats say that could effectively mean a cut for some schools when you factor in higher costs for retirement and other things. They want to increase the minimum payments to $83 per student.

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Education
2:55 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

State OKs Saginaw school district's Deficit Elimination Plan

Last winter, discussions about closing Saginaw High School led to emotional debate.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state has signed off on a plan to eliminate the Saginaw school district’s budget deficit.

Teacher pay cuts and closing a high school are part of the Deficit Elimination Plan the district sent to the state Department of Education back in July. 

Today state education officials approved the plan, which “is largely dependent on staff reductions and employee concessions.” 

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Stateside
12:44 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Think women have an advantage in politics? Think again.

Hillary Clinton speaks in Louisville.
Credit User: UMWomen / Flickr

We'd like to believe that women, after all of these years, are treated equally in politics, but, as we know, that's not always the case.

A recent Detroit News column by writer Laura Berman has some examples of what she calls "a continuing snark campaign" that happens when women candidates run.

Berman’s column is titled "Candidate might dispute notion that it helps to be female." She talks about how women candidates are often subtly undermined.

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Business
12:11 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Compuware sold, but CEO expects jobs will stay in Detroit

Compuware's world headquarters in downtown Detroit.
user Bnosnhoj

Compuware, one of the largest employers in the city of Detroit, is likely to become a privately held company under a proposed deal with a private equity firm.

Thoma Bravo, LLC agreed to buy the company for around $2.5 billion. The deal still has to be approved by shareholders.

David Gelles of the New York Times blog DealBook writes this transaction ends the pressure put on the company by the hedge fund "Elliot Management":

The agreement ends a process that began in 2012, when Elliott took a stake in the Detroit-based company and made an offer of $11 a share to acquire it. Elliott, which still owns 9.5 percent of Compuware, has agreed to vote in favor of the deal.

Thoma Bravo will pay $10.92 a share for Compuware, less than Elliott’s original offer. But Compuware investors are likely to support the deal, which represents a 17 percent premium to Compuware’s stock price last week, and comes after a series of moves intended to create value for shareholders.

Compuware's CEO, Bob Paul, tells the Detroit Free Press that he doesn't expect any big moves for the company and that its headquarters will remain in downtown Detroit.

“Because we didn’t sell it to a strategic competitor, we are firmly entrenched in Detroit,” Paul said.

“The business will continue to operate as is, but just in a private setting now. The leadership team remains intact,” Paul added.

Paul said Compuware’s new owner-to-be, private equity firm Thoma Bravo, is experienced in working with software firms and existing management to improve operations.

The company currently employees around 1,100 to 1,200 people in downtown Detroit, according to the Freep.

Erik Gordon is a professor at the Ross Business School at the University of Michigan.  He says the sale is a sad day. 

He says in the 1980s, Compuware was a giant in the IT industry, when mainframes ruled.  Then, came PCs - followed by wave after wave of innovation.

"Compuware lived in its glorious past, and now has sort of come to at least a soft landing for its future.  At least it didn't close its doors."

Gordon says the situation could be a lot worse, had a rival software firm bought Compuware.  He says Thoma Bravo owns a number of mid-size software companies.

"These are people who really know what they are doing," says Gordon.  "It's not just a bunch of money guys who are going to come and leverage up the deal and take all the money in the middle of the night that they can get out.  These guys run software companies.  So it's a real good development for Compuware."

Law
11:35 am
Tue September 2, 2014

Man who fought emergency manager appointments pleads guilty to federal theft charges

Robert Davis.
Credit screen grab / WXYZ TV

The Detroit News reports that Robert Davis, a former Highland Park school board member and union activist, will plead guilty to federal theft charges.

Davis was first indicted on the charges back in 2012.

The FBI’s investigation into Davis alleges that between 2004 and 2010, Davis received more than $125,000 from the Highland Park School District through a false invoice scheme:

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Opinion
10:33 am
Tue September 2, 2014

Detroit's trial of the century begins, and the outcome is anything but certain

Detroit’s bankruptcy has been with us so long that it is hard to believe that the actual trial is only starting today.

Technically, it is not a trial in the strict sense of the word, but something called a “plan confirmation hearing.”

But it is, in a very real sense, Detroit’s trial of the century. That’s an overused phrase, but totally appropriate here.

In fact, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, the most important figure in all of this, said it all last week: What happens here will determine “the future of the city of Detroit.”

Actually, it might be technically correct to say that this trial will determine whether the city has a future.

Read more
Health
5:58 am
Tue September 2, 2014

Michigan schools will have new tool to respond to allergic reactions

At least two staffers in each school building must be trained to use the pen-like device that helps relieve severe allergic reactions to things like peanuts or bee stings.

Starting this fall, Michigan schools are required to have epinephrine injectors ready in case students suffer an allergic reaction.

Until now, students with known allergies to bee stings, peanuts and other foods could have their own epi-pens.  

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Politics & Government
6:05 pm
Mon September 1, 2014

Labor Day: End of Summer, Beginning of election campaign season

Democrat Mark Schauer talks with a union member before Detroit's 2014 Labor Day parade
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Labor Day is the unofficial end of Summer.

For politicians, Labor Day is also seen as the unofficial beginning of the final campaign stretch toward the November election.   The election is little more than two months away.     

Many Michigan politicians spent the Labor Day holiday walking in parades and shaking a lot of hands.        

For Democrats, the place to be Monday was in or around the annual Labor Day parade in Detroit.

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Auto
3:51 pm
Mon September 1, 2014

Auto industry, regulators prepare for "mid-term review" of CAFE

Ford's three-cylinder Ecoboost engine. Ford's strategy to meet new fuel economy standards includes smaller engines and lightweighting.
Credit Ford Motor Company

To most of us, 2017 is three years away.

To the auto industry, it's just around the corner.  The fast-paced industry develops its vehicles three to five years ahead of when they will be on the market.

So, there's already a lot of talk about what's going to happen during the midterm review in 2017.

That's when everyone gets together to determine if the nation's ambitious new fuel economy standards for the years 2022-2025 are technologically feasible - without making vehicles so expensive we can't afford them, or so impractical we don't want them. 

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Politics & Government
3:21 pm
Mon September 1, 2014

Flint searches for city manager

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s search for a city manager begins in earnest Sept. 1.

Emergency manager Darnell Earley wants to hire a city manager to serve as a bridge from state oversight of the city. He hopes to choose someone by December.

“I’ve already had some preliminary conversations with some executive recruitment firms,” says Earley. “Although we’re going to do this in-house, I’m going to beg and plead as much as I can for assistance to get that word out so that we can cast the widest net we possibly can.”

A Flint city manager would be joining the city at a time of major change.

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Law
1:53 pm
Mon September 1, 2014

Annual homicides in Detroit could fall below 300

Homicides in Detroit were down 20% from the same period last year, according to police stats released back in June.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

For the first time in years, Detroit Police say the city is on track to have fewer than 

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Economy
1:52 pm
Mon September 1, 2014

Vice President Biden uses Labor Day speech to call for "a fair share" for workers

Vice President Joe Biden talking to a Labor Day crowd in Detroit. UAW Pres. Dennis Williams listens.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Vice President Joe Biden repeatedly raised the issue of income inequality during a speech before the start of today’s Labor Day parade in Detroit.

Thousands of union workers packed the grounds of Old Tiger Stadium at Michigan and Trumbull to hear the Vice President speak. Biden was flanked on stage by  Teamsters President James P. Hoffa and United Auto Workers president Dennis Williams.  

Biden lashed out at corporations and the wealthy who make millions of dollars while union workers continue to struggle.

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Politics & Government
1:50 pm
Mon September 1, 2014

November election on minds of Detroit Labor Day parade marchers

A heavy downpour failed to dampen the spirits of thousands of union members marching in Detroit's annual Labor Day parade
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Thousands of union workers marched down Michigan Avenue today as part of Detroit’s annual Labor Day parade.

Just as the parade was getting started, a heavy downpour drenched the marchers as they stepped off from Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Street.

But the crowd’s passions remained enflamed by speeches from state union leaders, like SEIU president Marge Robinson, who attacked Governor Rick Snyder for signing Right to Work legislation.

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Business
1:48 pm
Sun August 31, 2014

Report: Many Michiganders struggling to make ends meet

Waitresses, home care workers and others who are the backbone of Michigan economy fall short of having enough money to meet their basic survival needs.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Many Michiganders are working hard this Labor Day weekend and still not making ends meet.

According to a new report, 4 in 10 Michigan households meet the definition of “asset-limited, income constrained, employed” – or ALICE for short.

Scott Dzurka is the CEO of the Michigan Association of United Ways. He says these people are waitresses, home care workers and others who are the backbone of the Michigan economy. He says ALICE households fall short of having enough money to meet their basic survival needs. 

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That's What They Say
1:08 pm
Sun August 31, 2014

Cracking wise: A word with so many meanings

Credit Michigan Radio

Cracking up is funny, except when it involves going completely to pieces, but cracking down often isn't funny at all. 

University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan hadn't really deeply pondered the many meanings of the word "crack," until Rina Miller mentioned getting a chuckle from a road department's press release about crack sealing, prompting the predictable plumber's butt joke.

What Curzan discovered is that the word goes back to old English, starting as a verb. 

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That's What They Say
12:49 pm
Sun August 31, 2014

Even the Romans had their dog days of summer

Credit Michigan Radio

Michiganders didn't really get much of a chance to refer to "the dog days of summer" this year, but what you might not realize is that the expression didn't come from sizzling weather, but from the stars.

University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan says people have come up with some very good explanations that relate to dogs on scorching days.

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