News

Pages

Politics
4:31 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Super Pacs spent big in Michigan's Republican presidential primary

The SuperPACs supporting Romney and Santorum spent around $3 million leading up to the February 28 primary.
Mark Brush Flickr user gageskidmore/Facebook

A new report from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network shows Super Pacs outspent the candidates in Michigan’s Republican president primary.

It should be no surprise that a lot of money was spent in the days and weeks leading up to Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary. It’s probably also not a surprise that much of the money was spent by third party groups.

Winner Mitt Romney’s campaign spent one and a half million dollars on TV ads during the primary campaign. A pro-Romney Super Pac spent nearly two million dollars during the campaign.

Runner-up Rick Santorum spent just under a million dollars, while a pro-Santorum Super Pac spent over a million dollars.

Third place finisher Ron Paul spent less than 60 thousand dollars for TV ads in Michigan.   Paul had no support from Super Pacs.

"Money prevailed in the end as it usually does," says Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Breaking down the numbers, Mitt Romney and his Super Pac spent about $8.45 for each vote the former Massachusetts governor received in the primary.

Rick Santorum and his Super Pac spent about $5.81 per primary vote in Michigan.

Third place finisher Ron Paul spent a relatively frugal 48 cents per vote.

Politics
3:57 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Bill aimed at keeping Michigan grad students from unionizing passes House

UM graduate student research assistants James Henderson and Elaine Landy testify in front of a committee in the Michigan House of Representatives against SB 971 which would prohibit the GSRA's from forming a union.
GEO YouTube

The Republican-led Michigan House has approved a bill aimed at blocking unionization efforts by graduate student research assistants at public universities.

The measure was approved Thursday by a 62-45, mostly party line vote. The House hasn't yet taken a procedural "immediate effect" vote or returned the bill to the Senate, which approved the bill last month. But the measure soon could be headed to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

The legislation specifies that graduate student research assistants would not be considered public employees as related to collective bargaining rights.

The measure comes as University of Michigan graduate student research assistants attempt to unionize.

That case is pending before an administrative judge after the Michigan Employment Relations Commission last year reaffirmed a 1981 decision that bars research assistants from banding together.

A spokeswoman says Governor Snyder is ‘inclined’ to sign the bill into law. If he signs it, the case before the Michigan Employment Relations Commission would be moot.

University of Michigan Graduate Employees Union president Sam Montgomery had a request for Governor Snyder.

“We ask that when the bill reaches the governor’s desk that he leaves this decision in the hands of the commission which is designed to make those decisions," said Montgomery.

A majority of the U of M Regents support letting the graduate research assistants form a union.   But University president Mary Sue Coleman and many U of M professors oppose it.

University professors who support the bill say allowing their research assistants to form a union would undermine their mentor-relationship.

Arts/Culture
2:41 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

A scavenger hunt for free art in Detroit

Free Art Friday Detroit Facebook

If you’re in Detroit on a Friday keep your eye out for some free art. It might be hidden in a statue in front of the YMCA or tucked into a corner of the People Mover. 

The free art is actually part of a project called Free Art Friday Detroit. The idea is that Detroit artists hide their art around the city, and then leave clues on Facebook and Twitter. (The twitter hashtag is #FAFDET)

Read more
Politics
1:40 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Ficano: "I won't walk away" from Wayne County

(Robert Ficano/Wayne County)

Robert Ficano says he won’t let doubts about corruption in county government distract him from his job.

The Wayne County Executive delivered his tenth annual State of the County address Wednesday night.

Read more
Your Story
1:17 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

The tradition of hunting in Michigan

Grant Fry of Lake Orion, pictured above (center) with his son and stepson.
Grant Fry

Grant Fry of Lake Orion sent us a story as part of our culture project on the importance of hunting in his family.

Today is the first day mentored hunting licenses are available in Michigan for children 10 years-old and younger.

Fry shared his reflections on hunting in Michigan as a boy and a man (share your story here):

As a boy growing up in Northern Michigan, hunting season, especially firearms deer season was a tradition.

Going hunting that first time and taking your first deer were as important as getting your drivers’ license. The public schools closed as teachers and students went into the woods.

"Mister" is dropped in deer camp and you can address all the adults by their first name. The expectation is you are a man and you are expected to do a man's work and take on a man's responsibility.

That has been and continues to be passed down through the generations.

I've been out hunting on opening day of firearms season for 42 years.

The anticipation builds up at dinner the night before-listening and telling stories of past hunts and past hunters. Then, there’s getting up at 4:30 in the morning to a big breakfast and lots of coffee.

Seeing the joy on your son's face as he takes his first deer and appreciates the transition he's made and seeing him accept the responsibilities of becoming a man.

Work has forced me out of Northern Michigan.

I've lost contact with some friends. My two boys are even more distributed due to out of state work and can't always make it back to hunt.

It is a loss.

Breaking
1:17 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Michigan Republicans give Romney 16 delegates, Santorum 14

Update 5:11 p.m. - Santorum camp questions legitimacy of Michigan's Republican Party leadership after delegate flap

The Michigan Republican Party has awarded both of Michigan’s statewide at-large delegates to the Republican national convention this coming summer to Mitt Romney.

The decision by the Michigan Republican Party’s credentials committee was based on Romney’s slim majority of the popular vote in Tuesday’s primary.

But some people are crying foul. They say Rick Santorum’s close runner-up finish entitles him to one of the at-large delegates. And they say the rules were changed at the last minute to benefit Romney.

Matt Frendeway, spokesman for the state Republican Party, says that’s not true.

“Even before Tuesday night’s vote, this is exactly the way we intended to allocate the delegates. There’s no backdoor deals, no smoke-filled rooms, as some people might allege,” said Frendeway.

A spokesman for the Rick Santorum campaign says the decision calls into question the “legitimacy” of the state’s Republican Party leadership.

1:17 p.m.

This just in from Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing Bureau Chief:

The Michigan Republican Party has awarded both the state's at-large national convention delegates to Mitt Romney, despite a close vote in Tuesday's primary.

A spokesman for top rival Rick Santorum says the decision by party leaders calls into questions the "legitimacy" of the Michigan Republican Party.

Former state Attorney General Mike Cox chairs the state GOP credentials committee and is a Romney supporter. But he tells the news service MIRS.dot.com that the committee's decision is "kind of like third world voting." Santorum and Romney evenly split the state's congressional districts -- and the delegates that go with them. That makes the delegate count 16 for Romney and 14 for Santorum.

Late yesterday afternoon it looked as thought the delegates would be evenly split - 15 to 15 - between Romney and Santorum. The official voting totals from Tuesday's presidential primary have not yet been certified by the Secretary of State.

Auto/Economy
12:30 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Ford, Chrysler and GM report higher sales in February

Update 12:35 p.m.

Ford, Chrysler and General Motors all posted higher auto sales in February.

Ford sales were up by 14% compared with February 2011.   Chrysler sales soared by 40%.  GM posted a slight 1% increase.

Erich Merkel is an analyst with Ford Motor Company.  He says rising gasoline prices influenced which vehicles sold last month.

“What we saw was really strong momentum into more fuel efficient vehicles and toward smaller vehicles," says Merkel.

Read more
First Amendment
11:20 am
Thu March 1, 2012

City of Dearborn, Michigan pays $100,000 in lawsuit by evangelists

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) - The city of Dearborn has paid $100,000 in legal fees to attorneys for a Christian evangelist whose free-speech rights were violated at a popular Arab-American street festival.

Dearborn has a large Muslim population and one of the nation's biggest concentrations of people with roots in the Arab world. (Photo above of the Islamic Center of America, the largest mosque in the U.S. by Flickr user ruffin_ready.)

City police in 2010 barred George Saieg and his allies from freely walking sidewalks with literature to convert Muslims to Christianity. Chief Ron Haddad says he was just controlling foot traffic, but a federal appeals court says the city violated the First Amendment.

The court says allowing the evangelists on the festival's perimeter wasn't good enough.

As the prevailing party, Saieg was entitled to legal fees and other costs from Dearborn. His lawyers say the money was paid last week.

Read more
Commentary
10:58 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Detroit Crime: Blame the Guns

Earlier this week, while we were paying a lot of attention to the presidential primary race, many of the big shots in Detroit turned out for a baby’s funeral. Delric Waymon Miller died when a gunman riddled his home with bullets from an AK-47.

That was, by the way, the standard assault rifle used by our ancient enemy, the old Soviet Union. The USSR is as dead as a dinosaur, but its weapons are still killing Americans.

Read more
Politics
10:29 am
Thu March 1, 2012

16 percent turnout for Michigan presidential primary

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan election officials say 16 percent of the state's registered voters cast ballots in this week's presidential primary election.

The secretary of state's office said Thursday 1.2 million of the state's nearly 7.3 million registered voters participated.

About 21 percent of the state's registered voters took part in Michigan's 2008 presidential primary, when Republicans had a contested race but Hillary Rodham Clinton was the only major Democratic candidate on the ballot.

Luce County had the highest voter turnout on Tuesday with 27.5 percent of registered voters casting ballots. Baraga County was second with 27.25 percent. Ottawa County came in third with 25.5 percent voting.

Mitt Romney won the popular vote in his home state, but will split Michigan's 30 convention delegates with second-place finisher Rick Santorum.

Politics
10:16 am
Thu March 1, 2012

"Kelsey's Law" would ban teen drivers from talking on cell phone

Young drivers in Michigan already have restrictions while they’re behind the wheel. Now there’s a bill that would allow police to stop teen drivers if they see them talking on a cell phone.

State Sen. Howard Walker says the bill is called “Kelsey’s Law." It's named after a teen who died in 2010 while trying to pass another vehicle.  She was talking on her cell phone at the time.

"Her mother has been a crusader to educate young people and legislators about the concerns of being distracted while you're learning how to drive," Walker says.

Read more
Environment
10:05 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Japanese knotweed: a plant with strange super powers

The photo above shows a knotweed stand getting out of control in the Upper Peninsula/Photo by Vern Stephens.

Vern Stephens and Sue Tangora work for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. They happen to be married to each other. And they have a common enemy.

“This is on my radar of being a 10 on a scale of one out of 10.”

That thing they hate? It’s a plant. An invasive plant called Japanese knotweed. It’s sometimes also called Mexican bamboo. I met up with Vern and Sue at a busy intersection in East Lansing... on a corner lot where Japanese knotweed is going hog wild.

“It looks like bamboo. It gets up to 10-12 feet tall. It’s like being in a jungle, the canopy is above your head, generally in a lot of the sites, you can’t touch the canopy it’s that high above you.”

Maybe you’re thinking... so what? It’s a plant. In fact, it’s been a popular landscape plant in Michigan for years. People like it because it grows fast, so you can use it as a privacy screen to keep out nosy neighbors.

But this plant is crafty. It’s native to Japan, where it’s one of the first plants that comes up after a volcanic eruption. So it can actually push through volcanic rock. The problem with that is... it can also break through the foundation of your home.

“We know in England, Japanese knotweed has been known to be a problem there and it’s to the point where people have trouble getting insurance for homes, some of their insurance rates are really inflated. You see pictures of it growing up a wall inside someone’s home.”

(One couple in the UK had to demolish their home after a knotweed invasion - you can read that article here)

And actually – the knotweed on this corner lot is already breaking through the sidewalk.

Read more
News Roundup
8:37 am
Thu March 1, 2012

In this morning's news...

Emergency Manager Law Gets a Challenge

Opponents are a step closer to a public vote on Michigan’s law that gives state-appointed emergency managers authority over local governments. They filed petitions yesterday that would put a referendum on the law on the state’s November ballot. “State elections officials have 60 days to determine if the ballot drive collected enough valid signatures of registered voters. To succeed, they need more than 161,000 signatures. If the petitions are certified, the law will be suspended until after the election in November. There are five Michigan cities or school districts currently under the control of emergency managers,” Rick Pluta reports.

Concerns over Michigan Nuclear Power Plant

Officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission answered questions about safety violations at the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant last night. Lindsey Smith reports:

Officials with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission were trying to ease the community’s concerns after 5 unplanned shutdowns last year (4 we’re reactor shutdowns). During the three hour long meeting regulators detailed safety violations and actions the agency will take this year to further scrutinize the plant. They reassured repeatedly that the plant is operating safely. Entergy officials chose not to attend this meeting hosted voluntarily by the NRC. However, the company must attend a normal, annual meeting with the NRC in South Haven on March 21st.

Winter Weather

A winter storm has left as much as 16 inches of snow in parts of the Upper Peninsula. “The storm that hit Tuesday eased by Wednesday afternoon, but not before leaving more than a foot of snow in parts of northern Michigan. The National Weather Service says 10 to 16 inches fell in the Iron Mountain area, while the Ironwood area got up to 14 inches and the Menominee area up to 13 inches,” the Associated Press reports.

Election 2012
7:10 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Santorum claims partial Michigan victory

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum’s campaign says it’s wrong to call Mitt Romney’s slim edge in the popular vote in the Michigan primary a victory when they might both wind up with the same number of delegates. The latest count shows Romney and Santorum both winning seven Michigan congressional districts and the delegates that go with them.

“Strategically, we were targeting delegates more than anything else. Based on all those premises, you can only look at Michigan and move it to a tie,” says John Brabender, a senior Santorum campaign official.

The vote tally is still being finalized, but Braybender says Santorum and Romney should both qualify for 15 delegates. Romney has complained that Santorum called on Democrats to vote in the state’s GOP primary.

Politics
6:40 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Inkster might be able to avoid emergency manager

It's looking like the city of Inkster might be able to avoid a state-appointed emergency manager as it works to improve its struggling finances.

A state review team Wednesday voted to accept a consent agreement with the southeastern Michigan city. It should be reflected in a recommendation the review team is expected to soon forward to Governor Rick Snyder regarding the city's financial situation.

A consent agreement would include conditions that city officials must meet, but local officials would remain in charge as long as the conditions are met.

Michigan officials began reviewing Inkster's finances late last year.

Economy
6:10 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Lansing casino opponents make voices heard at community forum

Developers of Lansing’s proposed casino faced a small, but passionate group of opponents last night.

One opponent of a Lansing casino says the state capitol risks becoming known as a center for “pot shops, strips clubs and gambling” if a casino is built downtown.

The pot shops and strip clubs are already there.   But dozens of people at last night’s public forum worry a downtown casino will bring with it increased crime and problem gambling to Lansing.

“Our community should be built on biblical principles.  And I am here to stand on that today that we will reap what we sow if this project goes through…there will be consequences,” casino opponent Laura McMurtry told Lansing city council members during last night’s public forum at the Southside Community Center.

Opponents also fear a casino will siphon money away from other Lansing businesses.

Developers say they understand the opposition’s concern.

Read more
energy
1:23 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Regulators work to reassure people near Palisades nuclear plant

Officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission answered questions about safety violations at the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant Wednesday night. About 150 people attended the meeting in person, while others listened in over the phone.

Officials with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission were trying to ease the community’s concerns after 5 unplanned shutdowns last year (4 we’re reactor shutdowns).

But like many residents who spoke out at the meeting, Maynard Kaufman said he won’t feel better unless the plant is shutdown. Kaufman lives on a farm just ten miles away from Palisades.

“I don’t know why we’d take chances with the wonderful agricultural area downwind from this plant in Van Buren and Kalamazoo Counties. It would be a shame to wreck that. And it could happen,” Kaufman warned.

Read more
Economy
1:01 am
Thu March 1, 2012

More Michigan mortgage lenders turning to 'short sales' to avoid home foreclosures

(file photo)
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A surge in so-called ‘short sales’ is helping reduce the number of Michigan home falling into foreclosure.

It’s a trend that may eventually help Michigan’s struggling real estate industry.

Pre-foreclosure sales, also known as ‘short sales’,  are where banks agree to sell a home for less than what’s owed on its mortgage. 

Read more
Crime
9:46 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Feds vow to crack down on Detroit crime

jalopnik.com

Detroit Police and federal law enforcement agencies say they’re strengthening their collaboration to fight violence.

And they’ve set their sights on Detroit’s most dangerous neighborhoods.

Law enforcement brass gathered at the crime wave’s ground zero—the city’s east side—to outline their joint plans Wednesday.

Read more
Politics
5:28 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

One step closer to public vote on Michigan's emergency manager law

A protest against PA 4 at Governor Snyder's residence in January.
Laura Weber MPRN

Opponents are a step closer to a public vote on Michigan’s law that gives state-appointed emergency managers sweeping authority over local governments faced with a financial crisis. They filed petitions today that would put a referendum on the law on the November ballot.

State elections officials have 60 days to determine if the ballot drive collected enough valid signatures of registered voters. To succeed, they need more than 161 thousand names.

Brandon Jessup is a leader of the drive. He said now the group is gearing up for a fall campaign.

“It’s all voter outreach, definitely. We are going to now begin an education phase to reach out to our broader base and make sure everyone knows about the dangers of this unconstitutional dictator bill,” said Jessup.

Jessup says the law robs local voters of the right to choose their leaders. If the petitions are certified, the law will be suspended until after the election in November.

But state Representative Al Psholka says a stop-gap plan may be needed to ensure stability in takeover communities. 

“If we needed to do something on a temporary basis, I think that would be a good idea not to leave these communities without any protection,” said Psholka. “Because what we’ve found is the taxpayers have not been protected for a number of years. PA 4 didn’t cause all of these deficits and didn’t cause them to be in the condition they’re in.”

Psholka is the sponsor of the emergency manager law.

There are five Michigan cities or school districts currently under the control of emergency managers.

Pages