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Arts & Culture
7:00 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Yo Yo Ma playing with Detroit kids might make your heart melt

Fourth graders learn to dance from former New York City Ballet dancer Damian Woetzel.
Dave Trumpie trumpiephotography.com

Cellist Yo Yo Ma and a few other renowned artists were in Detroit this week, working with some very young musicians.

"Can we say 'Tchaikovsky'?"

"Tchaikovsky!" screamed a classroom of obedient fourth graders.  

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Politics & Government
9:41 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Consultant says Flint needs to charge more for water and sewer service

After sharp rate hikes a few years ago, several Flint city council members fear many residents won’t be able to pay more for water.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s water customers may need to prepare to pay more for their tap water.

A consultant is recommending the city plan on annual rate hikes for the foreseeable future.

Flint’s aging water system has endured more than a hundred water main breaks since New Year’s Day. The city is also planning on replacing water service from Detroit by tapping into the Flint River and eventually a new pipeline that would reach Lake Huron.

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Arts & Culture
8:00 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Power shift at Kendall College causing a stir

David Rosen helps present juried awards at ArtPrize 2013.
Credit Kendall College of Art and Design

The president of Kendall College of Art and Design, David Rosen, announced his resignation Thursday afternoon. It’s not clear why he resigned.

Students and staff rallied in support of Rosen in person and on social media.

Kendall is a college within Ferris State University. FSU spokesman Marc Sheehan says the reactions are “completely understandable.”

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Law
5:39 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Bill to fight scrap metal theft signed into law

The bill prevents scrappers from getting instant cash for commonly-stolen items over $25. From left, Rep. Paul Muxlow, R-Brown City, Gov. Rick Snyder, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s chief of staff, Lisa Howze.
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

Michigan now has tougher laws on the books meant to crack down on scrap metal theft.

Under a bill signed by Gov. Rick Snyder Thursday, people can no longer get instant cash when they sell commonly stolen items for $25 or more.

Supporters say mailing payments for those items will help law enforcement by creating a paper trail. They say communities all over the state have been literally ripped apart by illegal scrapping.

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Weekly Political Roundup
5:31 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Detroit bankruptcy case, bondholders and the future of the DIA

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

This week, host Jennifer White discusses the latest developments in the Detroit bankruptcy case and examines the implications.

There was a significant breakthrough yesterday. A settlement was announced between the city of Detroit and three major bond insurers. The insurers will get about 74 cents on the dollar, a significant increase from what emergency manager Kevyn Orr originally offered, and the roughly $50 million in savings will go to support retirees.

The question now is whether retirees will accept further cuts to their pensions, given the fact that Gov. Rick Snyder has stated that the state will not put any money forward unless the retirees agree to cuts. Ken Sikkema says it's imperative that retirees back the plan.

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Stateside
5:13 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

The latest developments between the DIA, Detroit pensioners, and creditors

Credit JSFauxtaugraphy/Flickr

There have been two big developments this week in the high-stakes showdown over Detroit's pensioners, its art treasures and creditors who hope bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes will pressure the city to put those art treasures on the table.

There's a lot to try to sort out. So, as we do each Thursday, we spoke to Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
5:12 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Record high reached for fuel economy in the US; what comes next?

Credit carhumor.com

There was an encouraging report last month from the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute about fuel economy.

We hit a record high in February in terms of gas mileage for new vehicles sold in the U.S.: 25.2 miles per gallon. It's the fifth-straight month gas mileage for new vehicles has topped 25 mpg.

That got us wondering how we're faring in the quest to squeeze out better mileage from our cars and trucks, and in the quest to create electric, hybrid, natural gas and fuel-cell vehicles and technologies.

Charles Griffith is the climate and energy program director at the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
5:12 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

What can other communities learn from the financial emergency in Royal Oak Township?

Credit Michigan State University

The latest Michigan community to fall into financial collapse is the tiny half-square mile community of Royal Oak Township, in Oakland County.

Late last month, Gov. Rick Snyder confirmed a financial emergency existed in Royal Oak Township. That cleared the way for action under Michigan's overhauled emergency manager act, PA 436.

What's happened in Royal Oak Township illustrates the changes and options available under PA 436 after voters rejected the previous emergency manager law in November 2012. We wondered if other communities can learn cautionary lessons from the financial troubles of Royal Oak Township.

Eric Scorsone, municipal finance expert from Michigan State University, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
5:11 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Share Art Project brings together juvenile offenders and artists

A flyer for the Share Arts exhibit at the Buckham Gallery.
Credit Facebook

How do we really get through to kids who are headed down the path to trouble?

There is a group of artists in the Flint area that believes the answer is spoken word and visual art.

The Share Art Project has been bringing artists together with young offenders. It's a collaborative effort among artists at the Buckham Gallery, students and the Genesee Valley Regional Center.

Shellie Spivack is a Buckham board member who chairs the program, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

*Support for Arts and culture coverage on Stateside comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Stateside
5:09 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

New documentary explores why ice is important to the Great Lakes

Executive producer and director Bill Kleinert.
Credit Facebook

Those of us who live in Michigan grow up with an ingrained awareness of the Great Lakes. We drink their water, sail and swim in them, build homes and cottages on their shorelines, and live with the weather they help produce.

The Great Lakes are an economic power-player. They contribute one trillion dollars to America's gross national product. And let's not overlook that $4 billion Great Lakes fishing industry.

A new documentary film brings us a unique look at the Great Lakes. PROJECT: ICE explores the crucial role that ice has played and continues to play in shaping and maintaining Michigan's most important resource.

The executive producer and director of PROJECT: ICE, Bill Kleinert, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

*Support for Arts and culture coverage on Stateside comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Environment Report
2:57 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

You pay about a penny per gallon of gas to clean up pollution, but is that money spent well?

There are thousands of old gas station sites across the state.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Every time you fill up, you pay seven-eighths of a cent per gallon of gas for a “regulatory fee” that was originally set up to help clean up the thousands of old underground storage tanks in Michigan.

Those pennies you pay at the pump add up to a $50 million pot of money each year.

It’s called the Refined Petroleum Fund. The fund worked initially. The money helped remove tens of thousands of old underground storage tanks in Michigan. When those old tanks leak, they can pollute the soil and ruin nearby water sources.

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Education
2:29 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Muskegon Heights school system continues its struggle to meet payroll, asks state for more money

Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System is asking the state to front $191,000 to cover paychecks that are set to go out this Tuesday.

It’s the second time this month the district has asked for an advance.

The advance would come out of the district’s state aid payment April 20. Earlier this month the state advanced $231,000.

State treasury officials say the district typically gets roughly $455,000 a month after debt obligations.

School board officials have previously declined requests for comment from Michigan Radio. Reports out today say board members also declined to comment to reporters at the special board meeting today, which lasted approximately five minutes.

Charter company Mosaica Education is running the district. The company’s CEO has not returned repeated requests for comment this week.

Mosaica’s Regional VP of Operations Alena Zachery-Ross says advancements for struggling school districts aren’t completely uncommon. She says the district is working on a plan to meet payroll for the rest of the year but couldn’t comment on the details of those negotiations.

Station news
2:00 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Tamar Charney named Chair of Public Radio Program Directors

Tamar Charney

Michigan Radio Program Director Tamar Charney has been elected chair of the Public Radio Program Directors Association, the organization announced today. She succeeds Todd Mundt of Louisville Public Media (formerly of NPR Digital Services and Michigan Radio) who had reached his term limit.  She will assume leadership of the board at its annual retreat in Chicago later this month.  

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Environment & Science
12:52 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

"A sad day" for Michigan bats: White-nose syndrome found in 3 counties

This little brown bat is showing symptoms of white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease blamed for the deaths of 6 million bats in the U.S. and Canada since 2006.
Credit Ryan Von Linden / New York Department of Environmental Conservation

A fungal disease that has decimated bat populations in other parts of the U.S. and Canada has been found in Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today confirmed the presence of white-nose syndrome in three counties: Alpena, Dickinson and Mackinac.

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Auto
11:57 am
Thu April 10, 2014

GM puts two engineers on paid leave in wake of ignition switch problem

Congresswoman Diana DeGette, D-CO, demonstrates the ignition switch in question during a congressional hearing on April 1, 2014.
Credit screen grab / U.S. House of Representatives

Two engineers have been put on paid leave at General Motors as the company has an outside attorney investigate why it took more than 10 years for GM to recall millions of cars with faulty ignition switches.

GM says the switches have been linked to at least 13 deaths.

More on the suspension of the engineers from the Associated Press:

The company says in a statement Thursday that the action was taken after a briefing from former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas. He's been hired to figure out why GM was so slow to recall the cars.

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The Environment Report
11:13 am
Thu April 10, 2014

There could be bad news for Michigan fruit crops; grapevines might have suffered the most

The long, cold winter may have damaged Michigan grapevines.
Credit user: Phil Roeder / Flickr

Listen to today's Environment report above. The story about winter damage to crops starts about a minute and a half in.

Farmers are finally able to head out into their fields, orchards and vineyards to see how everything fared over the winter. 

Ken Nye is a commodities specialist with the Michigan Farm Bureau. 

He's expecting a lot of damage to Michigan fruits. 

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Economy
10:17 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Home foreclosures falling in Michigan, but many are not leaving their former homes

In Michigan, about 40% of foreclosed homes are still occupied by their former owners or tenants.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The number of homes in Michigan in foreclosure has dropped to its lowest level since 2005.

Foreclosure filings in Michigan have been steadily declining for the past three and a half years.

Daren Bloomquist is with Realty Trac. He says banks are now dealing with the problem of getting former owners or tenants to move out of their foreclosed homes.

“One of the questions we get a lot is ‘why (are) these properties not selling?’” says Bloomquist. “One of the major answers to that is because the former occupants are still living there … nationwide 50% of the time.”

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Opinion
10:14 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Detroit bondholders will be paid 74 cents on the dollar; working women can relate

If you heard my commentary yesterday on the latest in the Detroit bankruptcy battles, I began with the news that the city had reached a deal with the holders of its general obligation bonds.

All we knew then was that an agreement had been reached, and I said the bondholders were, to quote myself, “evidently going to settle for less than 20 cents on every dollar owed them.”

Well, I was astonishingly far off.

In fact, they ended up settling for 74 cents for every dollar. But there is a reason why I was so wrong.

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Politics & Government
9:20 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Group says Michigan business owners oppose 'Ban the Box' bill

Critics say many employers won’t give prospective job applicants a chance if they see they have been convicted of a crime on a job application.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new poll shows Michigan business owners strongly oppose legislation to prevent them from including a question about criminal convictions on job applications.

88% of Michigan business owners polled by the National Federation of Independent Business say they oppose the ‘Ban the Box’ bill.

Charlie Owens is the NFIB state director. He says it doesn’t make sense to wait until a job offer is made before being able to do a criminal background check.

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Politics & Government
6:00 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Bond insurer ups the ante in battle over the Detroit Institute of Arts

One group who stands to lose a lot in Detroit’s bankruptcy has upped the ante in the battle over the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The Financial Guaranty Insurance Corporation, a major bond insurer, has gone out and solicited bids for the museum’s assets.

And in papers filed in federal bankruptcy court Wednesday, FGIC said it’s received four tentative bids for the museum’s assets, or portions of them.

The bidders include:

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