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Michigan Supreme Court
photo courtesy of the MI Supreme Court

LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan Supreme Court has heard arguments in a case that will determine whether state workers are covered by a right-to-work law.

The law says public and private workers in Michigan can't be forced to pay union fees as a condition of having a job. The dispute at the state's highest court Tuesday centered on whether the law steps on the turf of the Civil Service Commission.

Over a Barrel

Jan 13, 2015

Regardless of your politics, you have to feel a little sorry for Governor Rick Snyder. He tore a tendon jogging in Florida on vacation, and is on crutches and in a cast.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Automakers are showing off everything from supercars to trucks to electrics at the North American International Auto Show this week. Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton is covering the show in Detroit.

She says there are quite a few hybrids and electrics on display including the highly anticipated debut of a hybrid supercar — the Acura NSX - a "three motor sport hybrid."

Voters approved term limits in November; so Grand Rapids will get a new mayor this year.

The first candidate to announce he’s in the running is Jared Funk. The 24-year-old may not have a job right now. He may not have a college degree either. But he’s got spirit.

“It’s the ideas and inspiration and enthusiasm of youth that I think the city really requires at this time and that it can be tempered by those who have more experience and who are wiser and more saged [sic] in politics and in governing,” Funk said.

Digital Archaeology / Flickr

A new commission will be tasked with finding ways to cut Michigan’s prison spending without compromising public safety. Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation on Monday creating the panel.

Michigan currently spends about $2 billion a year on its corrections system. Advocates say much of that money is wasted “warehousing” criminals who have already served their minimum sentences and who pose no threat to public safety.

.matter. / Flickr

  More low-level offenders will be able to have their criminal records erased from public records under a bill Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law Monday.

People will be able to ask the court that convicted them to erase up to one felony or two misdemeanors.

“We really think that this gives people with records a really meaningful second chance,” said Shelli Weisberg with the ACLU of Michigan.

U.S. Furniture Inc.

The founder of a Michigan chair company that sued another furniture company after falling out of a chair and hurting his back now wants to settle the case outside of court.

David Miller’s back pain was so bad after he fell out of a chair he had to resign his post as president of Grand Rapids Chair Company. He filed a lawsuit a year ago against Menard’s, where he bought the chair, and the broken chair’s manufacturer U.S. Furniture Inc.

A display shelf in the Moist Towelette Museum in East Lansing
John French

Let’s talk about unusual collections. There are museums for Mustard. Wax. Even toilet seats.

Prisons are overfilling with an increasingly aging population.
User kIM DARam / flickr.com

Getting tough on crime. For many, that means putting criminals behind bars, lengthy sentences, and tough parole guidelines.

Today marks the first day of media preview action at the North American International Auto Show. Already, some big winners have been named. Ford won Truck of the Year award for its F-150, while the Volkswagen Golf was crowned the North American Car of the Year.

Oklahoma Dept of Corrections

James Francis Rapp spent six years as a teacher and wrestling coach at Lumen Christi High School in Jackson during the 1980’s. 

It was during that time that prosecutors allege the former Catholic priest sexually assaulted several young boys. 

Morguefile

The federal early education program Head Start could help children fight obesity, according to a new study published today in the online journal Pediatrics.

Julie Lumeng, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan and the study's lead author, sampled almost 44,000 Michigan children.

"Over the course of their time in Head Start, if they started the year obese, they become slimmer," said Lumeng.  And the Head Start kids who were obese or overweight were more likely to slim down by the end of the school year than pre-schoolers in the two comparison groups.  

The Mercedes F 015 "Luxury in Motion" concept car.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

It's the vision behind the Mercedes F 015 concept car. The car was first unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week. 

This week, the car is in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show and there are plenty of reporters/writers/bloggers curious about what the car is all about.

When you look at it, you can see that the car is a concept. I half expected RoboCop to step out of it.

Instead of a traditional car with good visibility for its passengers, the designers of the F 015 seem to be shielding its passengers from the outside world.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

This is a crucial week for the future of the Detroit Public Schools—and possibly holds a key test for Michigan’s emergency manager law, too.

The school district’s third emergency manager, Jack Martin, is expected to leave this week, after serving in that post for 18 months.

Under Michigan’s revised emergency manager law, elected officials—in this case, the Detroit Board of Education—can remove an emergency manager after that period of time by a 2/3 vote. The board has indicated they intend to do just that.

Courtesy of Urban Ashes

The Next Idea

I think most people would agree that Michigan is on the rebound. In Detroit, where I live, new restaurants are popping up on a weekly basis, national retailers are moving in, and corporations are opening new offices. This hint of change in the Pure Michigan air is still polluted, however, by many of the same intractable issues -- homelessness, unequal access to education and food, and environmental degradation, to name a few. Much like the rest of our economy, these old problems require a new approach.

Cockeyed Agenda

Jan 12, 2015

I am lucky enough to have a wonderful local electrician, which is a good thing if you live in an almost ninety-year-old house. He works hard and knows what he is doing. If a job is too much for a single man or his skills, he is honest enough to tell me.

GM hopes the Chevy Bolt will make long range electric cars affordable.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

General Motors officials introduced a concept car, the Chevy Bolt, today at the North American International Auto Show. The car company claims the all-electric car has a range of up to 200 miles on one charge and will be affordable to the typical consumer. The company puts the price of the Bolt at $30,000 including a federal tax credit.

If it’s released, the Bolt would compete with the electric car-maker Tesla. Tesla’s Model S has a range of 265 miles on one charge, but the car’s price tag is out of reach for many consumers with a base price of nearly $70,000.

from video posted by Opportunity Detroit
screen grab from YouTube

The “MHacks” hackathon will be hosted this weekend at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (Jan 16-18).

According to the University of Michigan Engineering Department, the event is the largest student-run hackathon in the country. In 2014, the school says MHacks attracted over 1,200 college and high school students from 100 schools.

The 2015 VW Golf (left), and the 2015 Ford F-150 (right) at the North American International Auto Show.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Volkwagen Golf was named the North American Car of the Year, beating out the other two competitors nominated for the award – the Ford Mustang, and the Hyundai Genesis.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to start signing bills Monday as part of a package to boost state road funding. The legislation is contingent on a May ballot question that would raise Michigan’s sales tax from six percent to seven percent.

If voters approve the plan, the new revenue is expected to raise more than $1 billion for roads and infrastructure, $300 million for schools, $130 million for mass transit, and almost $100 million for local governments every year.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has torn his right Achilles tendon and will be in a cast for six weeks.

The Republican governor told reporters Sunday that he felt a "pop" after jogging during a vacation in Florida. He's since visited doctors in Florida and Michigan.

GALESBURG, Mich. (AP) - Authorities say all lanes have reopened on Interstate 94 in southwestern Michigan two days after the 193-vehicle pileup on the snowy highway.

  State transportation officials say the eastbound lanes reopened Sunday morning, a few hours after those on the westbound side.

  Efforts to reopen the highway stalled Saturday as crews tried to remove acid from a tanker truck.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint's emergency manager says he will not approve a return to Detroit's water system, even though the city's switch to using water from the Flint River has been rife with problems.

Flint ditched its water contract with Detroit, and began using water from the Flint River instead this spring.  Complaints surfaced early on about the water's taste. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A state emergency loan board approved a modified firefighters contract that Emergency Manager Darnell Early says will save $600,000 in the first year, and $6 million dollars long-term. 

Firefighters had proposed their own concessions, but the State Treasury says those were rejected because they didn't achieve the same cost savings.

via shopatnorthland.com

Another major retailer is bowing out of Southfield’s struggling Northland mall.

Macy’s announced this week that it’s shuttering 14 stores nationwide—including the Northland location.

It’s yet another serious blow to Northland: Target also recently announced plans to close its Northland location this year. The mall itself is in receivership.

Hyatt Guns

A bill that gun-rights advocates say will streamline the process of receiving a concealed-weapons permit also contains a measure that other advocates - for domestic violence victims and women's rights - say could put many Michiganders in danger.

YouTube

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Zoe Clark discuss stories which seem new but are actually just more of the same. Dave Agema, President Obama and the 114th Congress are all giving Michigan a sense of Déjà vu.


Grand Rapids' "medical mile"
John Eisenschenk / Creative Commons

Hospital expenses grew by 108% in Grand Rapids between 2002 and 2013, according to a study released today by Grand Valley State University. It compared the hospital market in Grand Rapids to Detroit and six other cities.

Patients are being admitted less often and have shorter stays.

This week, the White House rolled out a proposal to provide free community college tuition to qualifying students, which could remove financial barriers to post-secondary education in Michigan, where just one in three people has an associate’s degree or higher.

Before we dive too far in, here are the “buts.”

Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes subject to clean-up by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
User airbutchie / flickr.com

A proposal to continue a wide-ranging Great Lakes cleanup program has been resurrected in Congress after falling short last month.

Rep. David Joyce, R-OH, introduced the bill Thursday. It would extend the soon-to-expire Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for another five years and authorize spending $300 million annually.

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