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Politics & Government
5:36 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Major changes proposed to Flint governance

Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley holds a copy of a blue ribbon committee's report calling for major changes to Flint city government.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint city government may undergo some major changes, if the recommendations from a blue ribbon committee become reality.

Before the governor appointed an emergency manager to run the city of Flint in 2011, the city’s mayor ran much of the city’s day-to-day business.   The city council, ombudsman and civil service office also held significant control.

When Flint eventually emerges from state oversight, someone else could be calling the shots.

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Transportation
7:28 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Ride share company Uber launches in more Michigan cities, but Uber at your own risk

East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero sign up to take an Uber ride for the company's launch in the Lansing area today.
Credit Courtesy photo / Uber

A technology company that allows people to turn their personal cars into taxi cabs is launching in four Michigan cities. But state officials say drivers are probably breaking the law.

Uber links people who want a ride to drivers who are available for a fixed price through a smart-phone app. The service is already available in Ann Arbor and Detroit. Now it’s launched in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Flint.

But it’s still very unclear if Uber drivers are following local and state regulations.

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Environment & Science
5:46 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

State orders Enbridge to fix pipeline through Mackinac straits

Enbridge says it will comply with the state's request to better secure the pipeline that runs along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac.
Credit James Marvin Phelps / Flickr

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and the state Department of Environmental Quality have sent a warning letter to Enbridge Energy. It says the company has to do a better job of securing an oil pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac.

“We just want to make sure that this pipeline’s going to be safe," said Dan Wyant, director of the DEQ. He says a leak in the pipeline would have implications throughout the Great Lakes.

“A lot of concern about this pipeline. Sixty years it’s been safe, but we’re in a position, Attorney General Schuette, I as the chief environmental officer of this state, to ensure we don’t have a problem on this pipeline,” he said.

Enbridge quickly responded it would add more anchors to its pipeline. Four years ago, a break in an Enbridge pipe dumped about a million of gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River.

Politics & Government
3:46 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

State board rejects petition to raise Michigan's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour

Credit sushi ina / flickr

A state elections board has rejected a petition to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour in a 3 to 1 vote.

The Board of State Canvassers says the campaign failed to collect enough valid signatures to move forward.

John Pirich is with the group opposing the minimum wage proposal. He praised the board for throwing out dozens of duplicate signatures.

“I’m 100% confident that what we’ve shown them in terms of duplication will be confirmed by any review of any of them.”

Groups that support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could challenge the decision in court. They say the elections board went out of its way to throw out petition signatures.

*This post has been updated.

Station news
2:08 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Discussion in Detroit to focus on kids & breaking the cycle of violence

Credit: Dennis Hill / flickr

Michigan Radio’s popular “Issues & Ale” discussion series will visit the Traffic Jam & Snug restaurant in midtown Detroit on Monday,  July 28th at 6:00 pm to discuss the issue of kids growing up in violence.  Many kids growing up in urban areas and poverty face high levels of crime and violence. What impact does crime have on their mental and psychological development and are there programs that really work in addressing the problem?

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Transportation
12:47 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Approaching construction on the highway? Experts say the "zipper merge" can help

Hurry up and wait near East Lansing.
user Jeff B Flickr

Everybody has their own philosophy when it comes to merging in construction zones.

Conventional wisdom on the roads seems to be that when faced with an approaching merge, you should just get over as soon as you can and just wait for your turn like a good little driver.

The people whizzing by in the open lane are looked down upon - morally corrupt drivers making a BAD decision refusing to get in line and wait for their turn. 

Watching the other drivers zoom ahead makes you feel like this:

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Law
12:08 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Was it murder or self-defense? Jurors will decide case of man who shot Renisha McBride

Renisha McBride
Credit Family photo

Was it murder or self-defense?

That’s the question jurors will decide in the case of Theodore Wafer, whose trial on charges including second-degree murder is now underway in Detroit.

Wafer is the white, Dearborn Heights homeowner who shot 19-year-old Renisha McBride on his front porch last fall.

No one disputes that Wafer shot and killed McBride after she knocked on his front door around 4 am on November 2nd.

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Politics & Government
11:25 am
Thu July 24, 2014

State elections board approves petition to allow wolf hunting in Michigan's UP

A wolf in a snow storm at the Seney National Wildlife Refuge.
Larry McGahey Flickr

A petition that would allow future wolf hunts in the Upper Peninsula is headed to the state Legislature.

The initiative would allow the hunts regardless of how two anti-wolf hunting referendums turn out.

A state elections board approved almost 300,000 petition signatures for the proposal today.

State lawmakers have 40 days to pass the measure. Otherwise, it will go on the statewide ballot in November.

Bob LaBrant is with the group that gathered the signatures. He says it’s clear the Legislature supports wolf hunting and will approve the measure.

“We think the Legislature, who’s already dealt with this subject twice only to be frustrated by referendums, will prevail in the end.”

The petition could still be challenged in court. Opponents of wolf hunting say it deals with too many issues unrelated to wolf hunting.

*This post has been updated.

The Environment Report
11:17 am
Thu July 24, 2014

After 4 years, major cleanup on the Kalamazoo River coming to a close

Workers assess damage at Enbridge oil spill site in 2010. The major aspects of the cleanup are expected to be wrapped up this summer.
EPA

Steve Hamilton talks about what we've learned about cleaning up tar sands oil and the questions that remain.

It's been four years since the Enbridge pipeline Line 6B broke, creating the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.

More than a million gallons of tar sands oil have been cleaned up from Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River. This summer, crews are dredging areas of Morrow Lake.

Steve Hamilton is a professor of ecosystem ecology at the Kellogg Biological Station at Michigan State University. He’s served as an independent scientific advisor to the Environmental Protection Agency throughout the cleanup. I talked with him for today's Environment Report.

A few years ago, right in the heart of the cleanup, an EPA official said the agency was "writing the book" on how to remove tar sands oil from the bottom of a river.

Hamilton agrees: "First, before it even got to the bottom, we learned that in the first year, it stuck to surfaces of plants and debris that made a tarry mess that largely had to be manually removed." 

He says it was the removal of the submerged oil that made the cleanup last as long as it has.

"It is so incredibly difficult to remove submerged oil from a complex river, extending over nearly 40 miles."

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Opinion
11:05 am
Thu July 24, 2014

These three female candidates could be some of the most interesting leaders in Michigan

Unless you’ve been trapped in a coal mine, you may have noticed that this is an election year.

We’re less than two weeks from Michigan’s statewide primary. Once we get through that, we may have a few weeks before the airwaves are again dominated by commercials for various candidates for various offices.

I’ve been telling you about some of these, and I expect to be talking more about them before November. But I was thinking that three of the most potentially interesting leaders in the state are not on the ballot this year.

They are all women, all young, charismatic, intelligent, competent and highly educated. They also all happen to be Democrats, but that is almost a coincidence. 

Republicans have some rising women leaders as well, two of whom, Lisa Posthumus Lyons and Tonya Schuitmaker, are running for reelection to the Legislature.

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Arts & Culture
7:05 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Re-thinking creativity's role in education

One analyst says we need to think about manufacturing and creativity as two things that go hand in hand.
Credit Flickr user Wystan/creative commons

It’s probably pretty stressful being a high school principal, for all kinds of reasons.

But Eric Alburtus, principal of Portage Central High School, spends a big chunk of his time worrying about the arts. He’s specifically worried about the kind of human beings our schools are producing, when kids must fulfill heavy requirements in math and science, yet they barely have a chance to study music, choir, theater, or the visual arts.

(For a more complete look at the state’s requirements, click here.)

What's at stake if kids in Michigan don't study the arts?

Alburtus says arts classes give kids a chance to discover new worlds and different ways of thinking and creating.

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All Things Considered
5:19 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

The struggles of Muskegon Heights school district

Credit user alkruse24 / Flickr

Two years ago, Muskegon Heights made history by becoming the first school district in Michigan to convert entirely to a charter district, and turn the operation of its schools over to a for-profit company. 

This week, Michigan Radio's Dustin Dwyer and Lindsey Smith take an in depth look at the changes in the Muskegon Heights School district and what that could that mean for other troubled districts in the state in a new State of Opportunity documentary called Tiger Pride.

Why focus on Muskegon Heights? How does it impact other struggling school districts in Michigan?

Dwyer and Smith joined us today to give us a preview of the documentary. 

Tune in tomorrow afternoon at 3 pm to hear Tiger Pride

Courts
5:16 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Washtenaw judge dismisses lawsuit to block oil drilling project

An oil well.
Credit morguefile

A judge in Washtenaw County today dismissed a lawsuit to prevent oil drilling in Scio Township, near Ann Arbor.

Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards wants to stop West Bay Exploration from drilling. So it sued the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for what it calls an "unfair and faulty" permitting process.

But the judge ruled that he had no jurisdiction over the case. He said Ingham County is the appropriate court.

Arthur Siegal represents the non-profit group. He said West Bay could start drilling within a week.

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Stateside
4:32 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Why Coleman Young was not the cause of Detroit's bankruptcy

Coleman A. Young, 1981
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Coleman A. Young was Mayor of Detroit from 1974 to 1994. He was Detroit's first black Mayor.

Even though it's been more than 20 years since he was Mayor and over 16 years since he died, there's a common narrative that Young was the cause of Detroit's financial ruin.

But is that really true?

Larry Gabriel from Bridge Magazine and Stephen Henderson from the Detroit Free Press joined Stateside to answer this question.

Henderson said you cannot get a bigger reaction from someone by saying any name other than Coleman Young.

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Stateside
4:32 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Michigan Democrats call foul play on Republican spying

Spy glasses wearer checks his specs in the bathroom.
Credit Michigan Democratic Party / YouTube

By now you've probably heard the chuckling, the snickering and Democratic growling over that pair of young Republican "operatives."

The ones who turned up at a Mark Schauer fundraiser at a private home in Bloomfield Hills.

One of the pair wore fake glasses with a tiny video camera built into the frame.

It might have gone undetected but for the fact the memory card of their "Secret Squirrel" mission somehow turned up on the floor of a union hall in Farmington Hills two weeks later.

Democrats immediately posted the eight-minute video, wherein we learned little more than the facts that Natalie Collins, the Republican staffer who wore the glasses, doesn't like having her photo taken when she's eating pineapple and she didn't think much of the artwork at the home.

Have a look at the video of the training sessions with Republican would-be spies. Video released by the Michigan Democratic Party.

Democrats cried "foul, dirty tricks!" And Republicans shrugged and said, well, everyone does it.

Michigan Radio's It's Just Politics team of Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta shared their thoughts with Stateside.

*Listen to the full interview with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta above. 

Stateside
4:30 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

"Stand-Up Paddling" growing quickly on Michigan's waters

Credit Wikimedia Commons

All summer we’ve been exploring different ways to enjoy our Michigan waters.

We’ve discovered great snorkeling, scuba diving, and even surfing. And now we can add SUP, Stand Up Paddling, to the list.

Brody Welte, a Michigan native, is based in San Diego and is the head of Paddlefit. He’s become a national leader in Stand-Up Paddling.

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Politics & Government
1:54 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Israeli and Palestinian supporters demonstrate in Michigan

An overflow crowd jammed a Southfield synagogue last night to show support for Israel in its latest conflict with Hamas.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Several thousand people turned out Wednesday night at a Southfield synagogue to show support for Israel in its current conflict in Gaza.

“We stand with Israel,” shouted one speaker.  

The overflow crowd cheered for local people with family members serving in the Israeli army in Gaza.

Speakers blamed Hamas for the conflict, which has cost nearly a thousand lives in the past few weeks.

“We feel for the victims on both sides. We want it to end. But we want Israel to be secure,” says Allan Gale, with the Jewish Community Relations Council.

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Politics & Government
1:45 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Don't like the water shut-offs in Detroit? Now you can pay someone's overdue water bill

The water shutoffs in Detroit have been suspended, but you can still help some Detroiters pay their bills.
Credit Maegan Tintari / Flickr

The only time Kristy Tillman could fit in an interview was on her lunch break. That's because of the insane number of reporters emailing her.   

“We never expected the press to get so big! We’re just like, oh man. So we decided we’re going to probably limit the time on that today, so we can get real work done.”

All those reporters want to talk with her about the website she and friend threw online this past Thursday.

It's called Turn on Detroit's Water

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Stateside
11:24 am
Wed July 23, 2014

President of GVSU looks back on the clean-up of the Exxon Valdez oil spill

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
Credit ARLIS Reference / Flickr

We've just marked the 25th anniversary of one of the most catastrophic man-made environmental disasters, the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

It was just after midnight on March 24, 1989 when the Exxon Valdez struck a reef in Prince William Sound. 11 million gallons of crude oil gushed into the pristine waters.

The clean-up effort was staggering. Among those called to help was U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Commander Thomas Haas. He was a chemist and an expert in hazmat cleanup. Twenty-five years later, that Lt. Commander is the president of Grand Valley State University.

“We had to figure out what clean meant,” Haas said.

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Stateside
11:18 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Demolish or Restore? How should Detroit handle blight?

Abandoned Packard Automobile Factory, Detroit
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Blight is one of the biggest challenges facing Detroit.

Should we tear down and start fresh? Or selectively look at the properties and see what can be preserved?

According to a report from the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force, 78,506 building in the city are decayed or at risk of decaying.

That’s 30% of the cities structures.

It will cost $850 million to demolish the blighted homes and commercial buildings. Clearing industrial sites could cost a billion dollars more.

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