Gov. Rick Snyder

Several refugee agencies in Michigan say Governor Snyder’s administration led them to believe, in several behind-the-scenes conversations over the last couple weeks, that Snyder would be publicly un-doing his “pause” on bringing more Syrian refugees to Michigan.

Instead, he’s released a letter to White House officials today asking them to address “a number of concerns” with the Council of Governors, when that group meets this month.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

As of today, our state legislators have nine session days left before heading home for the holidays on December 17.

So it’s a good time to review who’s been most effective in getting bills passed and what we might see come out of the final few sessions before we bid farewell to 2015.

amsd2dth / flickr creative commons

A bill has cleared the Michigan Senate to address a shortage of substitute teachers and of full time teachers in certain subjects. 

A law allowing teachers who retired after the middle of 2010 to teach again without losing their pensions or health benefits expired almost 18 months ago.  The bill would reinstate, until July 1, 2018, the expired provisions. 

Ralphie taking aim in 1983's "A Christmas Story"

For many of us, the holiday season just wouldn’t be the same without the annual viewing of A Christmas Story.

People moving from Syria into Turkey.
European Commission DG ECHO

Governor Rick Snyder says the federally created, bipartisan Council of Governors is the right forum to answer concerns about vetting refugees fleeing violence in the Middle East.

flickr user Thomas Hawk /

State lawmakers began hearings Tuesday on bills meant to help 17 year olds avoid serving time in adult prisons.

17 year olds would no longer be automatically treated as adults in Michigan’s court system under the legislation. Supporters say the prison system is not equipped to rehabilitate young people.

Jennifer Pilette served for 16 years as a referee on the juvenile court bench in Wayne County.

James Craig, Detroit police chief, says terrorist attacks would not occur in Detroit because of armed citizens.
M&R Glasgow / Flickr -

Detroit police chief James Craig said the casualties following the terrorist attacks in Paris — resulting in more than 100 deaths — would not have occurred had the citizens been armed.

"A lot of Detroiters have (concealed pistol licenses), and the same rules apply to terrorists as they do to some gun-toting thug," Chief James Craig told The Detroit News. "If you're a terrorist, or a carjacker, you want unarmed citizens."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s new mayor has laid out her priorities for her first hundred days in office. Not surprisingly, the plan largely reflects the issues she stressed in her campaign.

Karen Weaver defeated incumbent mayor Dayne Walling in last month’s election.   She’s been on the job for nearly a month. 

Even though roughly a quarter of her first hundred days have passed, the mayor says now was a good time to update people on her plans for her first 100 days.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A state House committee will consider legislation to help foster kids navigate the system.

Among other things, the bills would require a “children’s assurance of quality foster care policy is developed” and that current and former foster children participate in developing the policy.

The bills would also require foster kids be able to meet with judges overseeing their cases and know how to file complaints.

Governor Snyder (R) wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry on safety measures for admitted Syrian refugees.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder Talks with Michigan Municipal League Board / Flickr -

Governor Rick Snyder is calling for more discussions between state and federal officials regarding security surrounding the relocation of refugees from the Middle East in the US.

The governor sent a letter on Tuesday to Secretary of State John Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. The governor says he asked the topic to be added to a meeting later this month of the bipartisan Council of Governors. The council was created under federal law to advise the federal government on security and homeland defense matters.

Late last week, I heard something disturbing from multiple sources.

They told me that Kary Moss, the head of the American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan, and some corporate leaders, had met with Governor Rick Snyder and asked him not to support a ballot drive to win constitutional civil protections for gay and transgender people.

When I asked her, Moss denied this. She said they had instead met with him to discuss, “the role that the business community can play in continuing to support his public commitment to this issue as well as keeping this issue in front of legislators, educating them in particular about the trans(gender) issue.”

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit police officers should get a pay bump starting in 2016.

City officials announced Monday that officers will get  a 4% raise January 1.

It’s part of a deal that will extend the city’s three police unions’ contracts through 2020. That contract was negotiated and approved in 2014, during the city’s bankruptcy.

Police Chief James Craig says a pay boost is crucial to attracting and retaining officers, something the department is struggling with right now.

Steve Rhodes / Creative Commons

Planned Parenthood canceled a Detroit event scheduled Monday, just days after last week's shooting massacre at Colorado clinic.

The attack in Colorado Springs left three dead and several others injured.

flickr user Daviddje /

The Next Idea

There are many questions about how the public and private sectors can and should work together.

Gabe Klein has had some success on both sides of that equation. He helped ZipCar grow from a small startup to a company known across the nation, and he has had key executive roles in city government in Washington DC and Chicago.

His new book is Startup City: Inspiring Private and Public Entrepreneurship, Getting Projects Done & Having Fun.

Michigan State football
User: spartanjoe / Flickr

Michigan Radio’s sports commentator  John U. Bacon and Stateside Host Cynthia Canty break down last weekend's Big Ten Football action.

Ann Arbor and East Lansing were the scenes of some BIG butt-kickings over the weekend: Michigan State served up a 55-16 shellacking to the Nittany Lions—setting up the Spartans to face the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis next weekend, and Ohio State came to the Big House and embarrassed Michigan, 42-13.

Plus, Bacon gives predictions on the Big Ten Championship and the college football playoffs. 

Portrait of Oscar Wilde, taken by Napoleon Sarony circa 1882
Miscellaneous Items in High Demand collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-07757

115 years ago today, a great literary voice was silenced.

Oscar Wilde died November 30, 1900. He was only 46 years old.

Since then, it has been widely held that Wilde succumbed to the ravages of end-stage syphilis.

But some determined modern physicians have done some medical detective work and have developed a much different theory about what killed the great writer: an ear infection.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Tomorrow, a state House committee will consider changes to the juvenile justice system in Michigan.

The House Criminal Justice committee is scheduled to discuss the 20-bill package starting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Among other things, the package of bills would bar housing youth offenders with adult convicts and raise the age of mandatory adult sentences.   

Physicians say button batteries are a potential hazard for small kids.
user Ubcule / wikimedia commons

An annual report from the Public Interest Research Group on potentially hazardous toys highlights some big safety improvements—and new dangers.

PIRG’s annual survey examined hundreds of toys for a number of potential hazards.

None of the toys this year tested positive for lead, but three did test positive for another restricted metal—chromium.

Dr. Jaime Hope, an emergency medicine specialist at Beaumont Hospital, says regulations are making some toy makers more creative.

Location of the January, 2015 I-94 pileup involving close to 200 vehicles.

Earlier this year, on January 9, a massive pileup along I-94 involved close to 200 vehicles in eastern Kalamazoo County. One person was killed. Today, federal and state officials released a 94-page report that makes several recommendations to improve many parts of the I-94 corridor, including the area around mile-marker 90 where the crash occurred.

Paul Hitzelberger / UPW

Detroit’s water and sewerage department is about to do its last financing deal ever.

As of January 1, the DWSD will transfer operations of its treatment plants and infrastructure outside to the new, regional Great Lakes Water Authority, which emerged from Detroit's bankruptcy process.

At least, that’s the plan.

A majority of the current water and sewer bondholders still need to sign off on it.

You’ve probably heard of the word eavesdropping, but what about the word easedropping?

“Eavesdropping can be easy, which is why some folks now refer to the act of listening in on other peoples’ conversations as easedropping,” says University of English Michigan Professor Anne Curzan.

Is this an act of lexical wrongdoing? Or is it, perhaps, a stroke of creative genius?

As we head into the final month of 2015, campaigns in Michigan are already ramping up for Election 2016.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan non-profits are hoping for a little holiday cheer next week.

While it’s not as big as Black Friday or Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is gaining momentum.  

Giving Tuesday started in 2012 as a way to promote donations to non-profits.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A report being released Monday is expected to blame the road, at least in part, for a massive chain reaction crash on Interstate 94 in January.      

One person was killed in the 197 vehicle crash along I-94 near Kalamazoo. The interstate was closed for days as burned and damaged vehicles had to be detangled and towed away. 

Brian Teutsch / flickr/creative commons

A "barn burner." 

That's how Michelle Krebs, an analyst with Kelley Blue Book, characterizes new car sales in 2015. 

Sales are expected to at least match the all-time record of 17.4 million set in 2000.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Leaders in Lansing are hoping a new cutting-edge scientific research facility at Michigan State University might lead to an economic boom.

The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, or FRIB, will provide researchers a place to do cutting edge experiments in nuclear science. The building is already under construction on the MSU campus in East Lansing. 

Construction is not expected to be complete until 2022. 

The project is expected to cost $730 million.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A Saginaw neighborhood group is finding a new use for the site of a former county fairground.

It’s been more than a decade since people sat in the decaying grandstand on the 54 acre Saginaw County fairgrounds. 


The Canadian government has announced it needs more time to decide if it will OK permits for a nuclear waste storage facility near the shore of Lake Huron. 

Ontario Power Generation wants to bury approximately 200,000 cubic meters of low to medium level nuclear waste 680 meters – just under a half mile – below ground. The utility insists the rock formation in the area, less than a mile from Lake Huron, is geologically stable.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Malls and big box stores are busy today with holiday shoppers.

A steady stream of customers filed into Totem books in Flint on Black Friday.  The bookstore was holding a ‘soft’ open on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.  

That may seem to be an unconventional idea. But that’s not the only unconventional thing you’ll noticed about Totem books. 

People with bench warrants for missed child support payments in Eaton County have an opportunity for a fresh start next week.

During a two-hour window on Tuesday, Eaton County Friend of the Court will resolve bench warrants for outstanding support payments.