News

Flazingo Photos / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Laws that ban criminal background questions on job applications have backfired, according to a study from the University of Michigan and Princeton University.

So-called "Ban the Box" laws are meant to give job seekers with criminal records a better shot at finding employment.

The study suggests that while such policies may produce that outcome, they also increase racial discrimination by employers.

U of M researcher and study co-author Sonja Starr says this unintended outcome relates to a theory called "statistical discrimination."

A man begs for money from a patron leaving one of Midtown’s critically acclaimed restaurants, where a roasted mushroom salad is $14.
Bill McGraw / Bridge Magazine

While Detroit has seen positive changes in the police department and the inclusion of African Americans in civic life since 1967, the decline of manufacturing and flight of people over the past five decades have contributed to significantly higher levels of unemployment and impoverished residents in the city. Reynolds Farley, a retired University of Michigan sociologist, notes that in 1950, Detroit had the nation’s “most prosperous black population.”

Jodi Westrick/Michigan Radio

On Tuesday, we sipped Brewery Becker’s “historic” ales and lagers while discussing a similarly historic topic: public trust in state government.

The Flint water crisis, gerrymandering, term limits, campaign money and more were on the minds of audience members and panelists at our Issues & Ale event.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The next round of Flint’s lead service line replacement may take a little longer to get started.

Today’s 3 pm deadline for contractors to bid on the work has been extended.

Contractors will now have until next Tuesday to submit bids on replacing up to 500 Flint service lines.

City officials decided to give the contractors more time to refine their bids, after changes were made to original Request for Proposals or RFP.   The addendums to the original RFP came after concerns were raised by contractors during a mandatory pre-bid meeting last week.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new grant program is giving a hand to 30 Flint businesses struggling to recover from the economic effects of the city’s drinking water crisis.

The businesses range from a Coney Island to a beauty shop.      

Anthony Artis is an art dealer. He says the grant will ‘breathe new life” into his business, which sells art as far away as Boston.

They said goodbye to Gordie Howe yesterday, after funeral ceremonies that seemed more appropriate for a former head of state than a hockey player. Howe was more than a mere athlete, of course; he was a touchstone; a link to our history.

He was a memory of consistency and class, of a time when players stayed with one team most or all of their careers, before steroid scandals and when Detroit was one of the largest and richest cities in the world. Part of all this was baby boomers and those older mourning a bygone era and their own pasts.

Reporter's Notebook

I watched an old black man cry today.

Sitting at a picnic table in Chandler Park, by census estimates the poorest area of the city of Detroit, John Henry Irelang talked about poverty in his neighborhood. But, empathy for his neighbors was not the only reason he cried.

He cried because of lost opportunity.

“I put in 89 days,” he said. That’s one day short from transitioning from a temporary worker to a full time worker. “I was paid $5 an hour while the guy working next to me doing the same job was making $11.”

Pictures of Money / Flickr

A Washington D.C. group has filed a complaint against a Michigan non-profit for its political spending.

Citizens for Responsible Ethics, or CREW, filed a complaint with the IRS against Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility. 

Jordan Libowitz is with CREW. He says Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility failed to report  $290,000 in political spending in 2014.  He says that violates the group's non-profit status.

"So we're seeing a disturbing trend with more and more groups trying to get away with this because they think they can," Libowitz says.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Politicians and media reports indicate Detroit is in the middle of an economic resurgence. That’s true for the central business districts. That’s not the case for many residents in the poorest neighborhoods.

“Some people just don’t have the hope. And, especially living in an environment like this, it’s kind of hard. It’s kind of hard. It’s very stressful,” said Alita Burton.

Travis / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan’s monthly unemployment rate has dropped to 4.7%. That’s the lowest it’s been in 15 years. 

 

The drop in the monthly rate was not due to more hiring, but to 6,000 people who gave up looking for work. Fewer people competing for job reduces the jobless rate.

 

But Governor Rick Snyder says the overall hiring trend for the state is good. He says the state’s workforce has grown by roughly 100,000 people since the beginning of the year in hopes of finding a job. 

 

Jim Wallace / Flickr

Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario are negotiating a strategy for improving and managing waterways.

 

Governor Rick Snyder and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne met in Detroit to announce the beginnings of the joint plan. Wynne says the goal is to double maritime trade in the region and reduce pollution and invasive species. 

           

“We want Michigan to do well as we want Toronto to do well, and, really, collectively, we are competing with other jurisdictions,” said Wynne.  

 

Davontae Sanford with family and supporters after his release.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Davontae Sanford's family is considering a civil lawsuit, sources close to the family tell us, after he was wrongfully imprisoned for eight years.

Sanford was arrested at age 14 for a quadruple homicide on Runyon Street in 2007. A recent Michigan State Police investigation shows Sanford is likely innocent, but was allowed to sit in prison for years -- well after convicted hit man Vincent Smothers confessed to the Runyon Street murders.

A man protests the poor quality of Flint's water
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A congressional committee has signed off on legislation that could save Flint millions of dollars -- money that could be used to fix its damaged water system.

Today, the U.S. House Appropriations committee approved the Fiscal Year 2017 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The bill includes a provision that would allow the state of Michigan to forgive $21 million in Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loans taken by the city of Flint.

Senator Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat, participated in a filibuster on the senate floor Wednesday meant to call attention to legislative inaction on gun control.
Gary Peters / Facebook

Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich., took the Senate floor on Wednesday as part of a Democratic filibuster meant to draw attention to gun control issues in the wake of Sunday's mass shooting in Orlando, in which 49 people at a gay nightclub were killed by a gunman using a legally purchased assault rifle.

Teacher sick-outs closed up more than Detroit Public Schools at the beginning of May
user frank juarez / Flickr

The bailout of the Detroit Public Schools passed by the legislature and awaiting Gov. Rick Snyder's signature includes a provision to allow uncertified teachers.

Those who support the move say that it would help address a growing teacher shortage and allow more professionals who have a passion for teaching to enter the classroom. Detractors say that it discredits the skill and craft of teaching and is just a political move to weaken teachers' unions. 

Flickr user Michigan Municipal League (MML)/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Detroit Public Schools could soon return under the control of an elected school board and become debt-free if Gov. Snyder signs the bailout package approved by Michigan senators last week. Reaction to the legislation has been mixed, and one of the district's veteran teachers is speaking up.

Asenath Jones is a world history teacher at Cass Technical High School. She told Stateside that DPS teachers watched the district’s debt accumulate firsthand.

The Michigan Department of Transportation's plans for construction on I-75 have hit a funding snag.
Flickr user dmitri_66 / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

The Michigan Department of Transportation plans to widen Interstate 75 through Oakland County — but there’s a snag in the funding. A provision in a 1951 law requires cities or villages with a minimum of 25,000 residents, such as Troy, to pay a part for any highway construction within the state. But some residents whose communities fall under the provision don’t want to pay.

Wikimedia Commons

On the Fourth of July in 1939, Lou Gehrig said farewell to fans at Yankee Stadium because he had contracted a fatal disease. He added, “I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.”

Gehrig was diagnosed with ALS, more commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

Regular Stateside contributor Dr. Howard Markel said there are some questions as to whether Gehrig received the proper diagnosis. If it wasn't ALS, then what could have killed the Yankee legend? 

GUEST  

fresh vegetables at a grocery store.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The federal government will soon begin offering 17,000 Flint households monthly packages of healthy foods.

Working with local food banks and feeding organizations, USDA will provide an additional 14-pound nutrient-targeted food package, containing foods rich in calcium, iron, and Vitamin C. The intent is to limit the absorption of lead from Flint’s tainted drinking water.

Kevin Concannon is with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He says the state has been helping since the city’s water emergency was declared earlier this year.

Metro Detroit ranked third nationally in momentum of walkable urban development in a recent study.
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Residents of the metro Detroit area might be surprised to learn that, in a recent study, their region ranked third on the list of areas making the biggest strides toward increasing walkability. They wouldn't be the only ones. 

"We were surprised, too," said Michael Rodriguez, a transit planner who co-authored "Foot Traffic Ahead," a study published by the George Washington University School of Business.

Sue Snyder

First Lady Snyder announces her second annual summit to fight campus sexual assault.

Sue Snyder will hold the "Inform, Empower, Prevent: Let's End Campus Sexual Assault" summit this September after success last year. 

Anna Heaton is the press secretary for Governor Snyder and she says the first lady finds this issue to be a priority.

"Colleges are students' homes away from home and so this is just something, especially now in light of recent events nationally, that we need to continue making a priority," Heaton says.

If you don’t like being on the road, don’t run for Congress in Michigan’s First Congressional District. It is geographically huge, because so few people live up there. The district spans the entire Upper Peninsula, and about the top quarter of the Northern Lower Peninsula.

That amounts to 44 percent of Michigan’s total land area. That’s two and a half times the entire state of Massachusetts – and it includes only about 700,000 people.

People voting
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A pair of new state House bills would remove political party vignettes from the November ballot.

Vignettes are those little pictures that appear next to a party's name on the ballot.

Every morning at 9 a.m. we bat around story ideas for the day during our news meetings. We come up with our own ideas, but we don't always know what YOU are interested in.

That's why we have this little project called MI CuriousIt works like this:

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry discusses gun laws in the wake of the nightclub shootings in Orlando, the latest on a sex cover-up scandal involving two former state representatives, and legislation that would require public schools in Michigan to teach students about genocide.


Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

Crowds packed Hill Auditorium Tuesday night in Ann Arbor for “Requiem for Orlando,” a community performance of Mozart’s “Requiem” to honor and mourn the victims of Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.

One of the organizers, Austin Stewart, says he was alone at his home when he first saw the news about the 49 victims gunned down at an LGBT night club. As a grad student at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theater and Dance, Stewart says he wanted a way to bring people together.

Enbridge Energy's Line 5 oil and liquid natural gas pipelines runs under Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Congress has ordered stronger safety measures for pipelines carrying oil and other fuels in the Great Lakes region.

The requirement is contained in a bill that cleared the Senate on Monday and the House last week. It now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The measure re-authorizes a federal program that regulates 2.6 million miles of pipelines nationwide.

Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan says it designates the Great Lakes as an "unusually sensitive area," where pipelines must meet tougher standards for safe operations.

ARNIE LEE / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

It has been a difficult couple weeks for sports fans in Michigan. On the day of Muhammad Ali's funeral (Ali spent nearly two decades of his life in Berrien Springs, Mich.), it was announced that hockey legend Gordie Howe passed away at the age of 88. And on Monday, June 13, while the hockey world was still grieving the loss of "Mr. Hockey," Michigan State coaching legend Ron Mason died at age 76

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver defends Police Chief Tim Johnson (left of Mayor Weaver).
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Police Chief Tim Johnson will soon be certified to be a police officer.

Johnson was appointed Flint’s new police chief back in February. But the career cop allowed his state certification to lapse after he retired several years ago.

Without that certification, Johnson lacked the arresting powers of officers under his command.

Johnson says he was planning to take the two-day class later this year.

“I was trying to wait for the city to reach a calm level where I could go away for a couple of days to get re-certified,” Johnson told reporters today.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation requiring the history of genocide to be taught in the state's public schools.
gophouse.com

The social studies curriculum at Michigan public schools must teach students about genocide, including the Holocaust and Armenian Genocide, as a result of legislation signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The legislation amends the state school code to recommend a combined six hours of instruction regarding genocide between eighth and 12th grades. 

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