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Crime
1:00 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Former city of Detroit treasurer Jeffrey Beasley indicted for extortion

Jeffrey Beasley was the treasurer for the city of Detroit from 2006 to until he resigned in September 2008, according to the Detroit News.

Today's indictment charges Beasley with conspiring with others to "personally enrich himself and his co-conspirators by accepting bribes in the form of cash, travel, meals, golf clubs, drinks, gambling money, hotel stays, entertainment, Las Vegas concert tickets, massages, limousine service, private plane flights, and other things of value."

Prosecutors charge that bribes given to Beasley and his co-conspirators came from individuals who had business before the General Retirement System and the Police and Fire Retirement System of the City of Detroit.

More from the Detroit News:

Beasley, a fraternity brother of ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's at Florida A&M University, accepted the bribes and kickbacks in return for approving more than $200 million in pension fund investments, prosecutors said Tuesday...

If convicted, Beasley faces up to 20 years in prison. Charges include extortion, attempted extortion, and conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud.

"Employees of the City of Detroit are entitled to honest services from the trustees of their pension funds," U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a prepared statement. "We will prosecute public officials who abuse their positions of trust to personally enrich themselves at the expense of the people they were intended to serve."

Jeffrey Beasley, 43, now lives in Chicago.

The Detroit News reports that during a deposition last September, Beasley had invoked his Fifth Amendment right 477 times, according to a transcript reviewed by the newspaper.

Election 2012
12:43 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Seven minutes of pure politics (Dirty-tricks, polls, and delegates, oh my!)

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney wants your vote. So does former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. And, Congressman Ron Paul. And... OK, you get the picture.
Gage Skidmore Flickr

It's here: The Michigan presidential primary.

You've got questions? We've got answers.

Join Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, and me for seven minutes of pure-politics (you just gotta click the "listen" link above... really, it's that easy).

Want to know more about the Santorum campaign's so-called "dirty tricks"? We got that.

Want to know how Romney could win the state's popular vote... but Santorum could actually win more delegates? We got that, too.

Oh, and how about the latest poll numbers? Don't worry, we've got you covered.

So, take a listen... in seven minutes you'll get up to date on what you need to know about today's primary.

Arts/Culture
12:32 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Cake, shortbread, or pastry? Mazurek is all that, and more

As part of our Your Family Story series, we’re collecting recipes that have been passed down within families. Send in your mother’s, grandfather’s, or cousin’s famous recipe for goulash, pozole, dumplings or any dish that your family has enjoyed.

We’re collecting recipes until midnight tomorrow. We’ll publish all the recipes. The winner will be chosen by the Changing Gears team. They’ll collect a grab bag of public radio goodies. Share your traditional family recipes here, and tell us a little bit about the story behind the dish. 

Today, Changing Gears Senior Editor Micki Maynard shares this recipe for Mazurek:

My father’s family, which is of French descent, has been in the United States for many generations, settling primarily in Massachusetts. But my mother is a first generation American. Her family came to the United States around 1905. Her father hailed from what was known then as Byelorussia --- present day Belorus, sometimes also called White Russia.

My mom learned European dishes from her mother and New England recipes through my dad, so we enjoyed a varied menu at home. I’ve always heard my mother say what a good cook my grandmother was. But, I didn’t know until this year that my grandmother was co-owner of a bakery in Grand Rapids. The Northwestern Bakery stood on Leonard Street, although the building is no longer there.

Each Easter, my family gathers for brunch, and Mazurek (pronouncd mah-ZUR-eck) is always the last dish that is served. We sit over coffee and tea and enjoy this dense, rich pastry, very much like a soft shortbread. My mom was always the Mazurek baker, until she offered to teach me. She also shared the recipe with my brother, who baked the Mazurek that you see above.

Want to add Mazurek to your repertoire? Follow this recipe.

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Election 2012
11:29 am
Tue February 28, 2012

Romney says Santorum trying to 'kidnap' Michigan primary

Rick Santorum celebrates his wins in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado on Feb 7. Those wins gave him momentum in Michigan. Rival Mitt Romney says Santorum is going too far to try to get votes in Michigan.
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In a close race, every vote counts.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is accusing his rival Rick Santorum of trying to squeeze votes out of Democrats in Michigan.

Michigan holds an open primary, so Michgian voters can vote across party lines.

One source from Grand Rapids has experienced this. Mary from Grand Rapids wrote into our Public Insight Network this morning:

Yesterday, I received 3 calls from the Santorum campaign to vote today. I am a registered Democrat. This morning I received one more from the Red, White and Blue Fund (Santorum).

More on Romney's response to this tactic from the Associated Press:

Mitt Romney says he's struggling with the Republican Party's right wing in Michigan because he's unwilling to make "incendiary" comments. He also accused rival Rick Santorum
of trying to "kidnap" the presidential nominating process with automated calls urging Democrats to vote in Tuesday's primary in Michigan.

Speaking to reporters hours after the polls opened, Romney suggested his rivals are making headway with the GOP base because they are willing to say "outrageous things" that help them in the polls.

Romney says he's not willing to light his "hair on fire" to try to earn support.

Romney also said phone calls by Santorum's campaign urging Democrats to vote against Romney in Michigan on Tuesday amount to an attempt to "kidnap the primary process."

Arizona also holds its GOP presidential primary Tuesday.

Election 2012
10:49 am
Tue February 28, 2012

Graph shows when Michigan's primary race changed

The graph from Real Clear Politics shows Rick Santorum's poll numbers leaping up on February 13.
Real Clear Politics

Everyone likes a winner. After Rick Santorum's three-state sweep in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado on Feb 7, it seems Michigan voters sat up and took notice.

The momentum he gained began to show in Michigan poll numbers on Monday, February 13.

According to Real Clear Politics, on that day, Santorum's poll numbers jumped eight percentage points, going from 14 percent on February 12 to 23.7 percent on February 13.

His numbers continued to rise until they peaked on February 15 at 37.8 percent, while Romney's were at 28.5 percent.

From that day forward the political horse race was on.

Both Santorum and Romney began to campaign heavily in Michigan, and their Super PACs were right alongside.

A week later, Romney closed the gap.  We'll see tonight whether it was enough for the presumed front runner.

From the graph above, it looks like support for Newt Gingrich fell around the same time support for Rick Santorum grew. That drop in the polls is why we're not seeing much of Mr. Gingrich in Michigan.

Commentary
10:36 am
Tue February 28, 2012

Politics By Other Means

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton probably won’t vote in the primary today, though he spends his life doing work that’s greatly affected by the political world. Nor does he seem impressed that Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are fellow Roman Catholics.

Actually, he seems pretty appalled by them.

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Environment
8:59 am
Tue February 28, 2012

Climbing melting ice in the Upper Peninsula

Neale Batra rappels down a frozen waterfall. The rope is anchored to trees at the top of the climb.
Meg Cramer/Michigan Radio

The Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore is a special place for Midwestern ice climbing. Every February, hundreds of climbers meet in Munising for Michigan Ice Fest. That’s because the Lake Superior shoreline has one of the highest concentrations of accessible ice climbs in North America.

Usually, Bryan DeAugustine is a middle school principal. But this weekend, he’s a volunteer instructor at Michigan Ice Fest.

“Ice climbing is like solving a puzzle and doing gymnastics at the same time. So it’s a nice marriage of your mind and your body. You have to really be focused and balanced. It’s just a fun way to spend the day outdoors.”

Ice climbers wear metal cleats strapped to their boots. In each hand, they carry an ice tool that looks like a small pick axe. They swing, chop, and kick their way up vertical ice.

It’s a lot less dangerous than you might think. Everyone uses ropes and harnesses. Still, advanced climbers often give this advice: don’t fall.

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News Roundup
8:54 am
Tue February 28, 2012

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Primary Day Has Arrived

After weeks of counting down the days, Michigan's presidential primary has arrived. Polls are open until 8 p.m. and Michigan voters will find eleven Republicans on the GOP presidential ballot and President Obama, uncontested, on the Democratic ballot. Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul all held rallies yesterday across the state but, even with all the media attention, the Secretary of State’s office is predicting only between 15-20 percent of the state’s registered voters will turn out to the polls today.

Gas Prices Continue to Rise

Motorists are spending $4 for a gallon of regular gas in Troy and Okemos and other parts of Michigan may soon join them, Steve Carmody reports. From Carmody:

Michigan’s gasoline prices shot up 12 cents on Monday. Dustin Coupal is a co-founder of GasBuddy.com. He says increasing world demand for oil is pushing Michigan’s gasoline prices closer to record high territory. According to GasBuddy.com, Michigan’s average regular gas price is around $3.80 a gallon. The state set a record last May, when the average price hit $4.26 a gallon.

Detroit Violence

Mayor Dave Bing is pleading with Detroiters to “stop the madness” after another violent weekend in the city. Sarah Cwiek reports:

Bing’s plea comes after a shooting on the city’s east side left a six-year-old boy critically injured. Detroit Police have arrested a pair of 15-year-olds in the case. Chief Ralph Godbee says the two were on a carjacking spree when the shooting happened. Even crime-hardened Detroiters have been taken aback by the indiscriminate nature of recent violence. Two Detroit children have died violently in the past month, both in shootings that appeared to stem from petty disputes. The city is also reeling from news that a 14-year-old murdered his mother as she slept.

Election 2012
6:28 am
Tue February 28, 2012

After weeks of campaigning, Election Day is here

Cle0patra Flickr

Election Day is here

After weeks of counting down the days, Michigan's presidential primary has arrived. Polls open this morning at 7 a.m. and Michigan voters will find eleven Republicans on the GOP presidential ballot and President Obama, uncontested, on the Democratic ballot. Votes for President Obama won't really count in today's primary, as the state Democratic Party will hold a caucus on May 5th.

Campaign finale

Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul were the three major GOP candidates who spent the most time campaigning across the state over the past few days (if you're wondering where Newt Gingrich has been, you can read more about some political theories for his absence here). Here are just a few of the stories that came out of the candidates' campaign stops yesterday:

And, Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry; Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network Rick Pluta and I have been keeping an eye on the race:

Voter turnout

Election officials are, "expecting between 15 percent and 20 percent of the state's registered voters to cast ballots in the presidential primary election. About 21 percent of the state's registered voters participated 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," the Associated Press reports.

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Auto/Economy
1:01 am
Tue February 28, 2012

Michigan gasoline prices moving into historic territory

This Marathon gas station on Jolly Road, in Okemos is charging more than any other gas station in Michigan for a gallon of regular gasoline.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Motorists are spending $4 for a gallon of regular gas in Troy and Okemos. And other parts of Michigan may soon join them. Michigan’s gasoline prices shot up 12 cents on Monday.     

Dustin Coupal is a co-founder of GasBuddy.com. He says increasing world demand for oil is pushing Michigan’s gasoline pricescloser to record high territory.

“Over time, it’s a definite certainty…whether it happens this week ….or next month," says Coupal, "Unfortunately higher gas prices are coming.” According to GasBuddy.com, Michigan’s average regular gas price is around $3.80 a gallon. The state set a record last May, when the average price hit $4.26 a gallon.

Crime
9:19 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

More children claimed by Detroit violence

jalopnik.com

Mayor Dave Bing is pleading with Detroiters to “stop the madness” after another violent weekend in the city.

Bing’s plea comes after a shooting on the city’s east side left a six-year-old boy critically injured.

Detroit Police have arrested a pair of 15-year-olds in the case. Chief Ralph Godbee says the two were on a carjacking spree when the shooting happened.

Read more
Politics
8:06 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

New management promises better Detroit bus service, but riders are cynical

Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

There were some testy exchanges at a Detroit City Council hearing on bus service Monday, as Council members and citizens wanted to know when they can expect the city’s notoriously bad bus service to improve.

Department statistics show that city buses miss stops or otherwise fail to service their routes about one-third of the time. Transit advocates suggest that number is probably too low.

Read more
Election 2012
8:01 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Ron Paul speaks out against undeclared wars at campaign stop

Ron Paul "'backstage' before the CNN / Tea party debate.
Facebook

Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul spoke out against undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Federal Reserve system and the federal war on drugs to a packed auditorium at Michigan State University this afternoon.

"We still have enough freedom to wake this country up and change the direction, but it has to come from the people. It won’t come top down. It has to come from the people because government reflects the values of the people, so if that’s what you want and you speak and you do your job, Washington will change."

The Paul campaign says he has a good chance of picking up some delegates in Michigan’s primary tomorrow.

Paul says Michigan and other states should have the right to enact medical marijuana laws without worrying about interference from the federal government.

The Obama administration has taken a hands-off policy on enforcing drug laws against most medical marijuana users.

Election 2012
7:57 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Santorum makes final campaign stops in Michigan today

Rick Santorum hopes to upset Mitt Romney in the Michigan presidential primary tomorrow.
Facebook

Rick Santorum is making his final campaign stops across southern Michigan today. He told a crowd of about 300 people in a small hotel ballroom in Lansing that the manufacturing industry needs to “explode” with new jobs again.

Santorum highlighted the disparity in employment levels between people with college degrees and those without, and says the solution is to create more jobs that don’t require a college degree.

"We need to see Michigan again full of people who want to work and creating job opportunities for people to get training and skills so they can get that entry-level job," said Santorum. "They can improve and upgrade their skills as they work in those jobs and move up the ladder and become a foreman and to go up maybe even into management someday. That’s the ladder of success.”

Santorum told his supporters that Michigan’s primary could be a "game changer" for the national primary season. He did not directly mention Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, but Santorum did refer to himself as the true conservative in the race, and the best candidate to beat President Obama in the general election this fall.

"To be attacked on television by someone who is not an authentic conservative by a Massachusetts governor – [laughter and applause] – is a joke. Michigan, you have an opportunity to stop the joke."

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Politics
5:01 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Some Michigan Democrats hope to sway Republican primary

user plougmann creative commons

Some Democrats hope they can play a decisive role in Michigan Republican presidential primary.

Robo-calls and e-mail blasts to Democrats are encouraging them to vote for Rick Santorum to help him beat Michigan native son Mitt Romney. Other party activists say Democrats should vote for Ron Paul.

David Doyle is a political consultant and former Michigan Republican chairman. He said it is possible for voters who are not Republicans to swing the primary results.

“Well, as close as this primary appears to be, it may be decided by one or two points. Very few Democrats and independents could have an impact. The problem is, right now, the Democrats seem to be very divided.”

But Doyle said that impact would be diluted if those voters split their votes among the Republican candidates.

Arts/Culture
4:22 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Kid Rock to headline benefit concert for Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Photo courtesy of KidRock.com

An unlikely musical guest will headline a one-night-only concert in May to benefit the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Michigan musician and rapper Kid Rock will headline the fundraising concert. The goal is to raise $1 million for the DSO; the orchestra faces a deficit of more than a $2 million this year.

Kid Rock will share the stage with his own Twisted Brown Trucker band and the DSO. They’ll play orchestral arrangements of some of Kid Rock’s hits, with DSO music director Leonard Slatkin conducting.

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Environment
4:20 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Court won't close shipping canal immediately to stop invasive carp

The distribution of the bighead carp in the U.S. Evidence of the fish have been found in Lake Erie, but no reproducing populations have been found there yet.
USGS

This post has been updated with more details and comments from AG's office. 

Shipping locks in Chicago-area waterways will not be closed while a lawsuit over how to keep Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes is pending. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the injunction Monday.

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History
4:18 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Michigan primaries, fascinating and bizarre

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry describes the history of Michigan’s primary as both fascinating and bizarre.

According to Lessenberry, Michigan held its first presidential primary in the early part of the 20th century. At that time people voted for Henry Ford in two separate primaries. To be exact, those primaries took place in 1916 and then in 1924, according to the Michigan Department of State Bureau of Elections.

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Your Family Story
2:47 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Rina Miller shares her family kale recipe

Rina Miller as a child

As part of our Your Family Story series we’re collecting recipes that have been passed down within families. Send in your mothers, grandfathers, or cousins’ famous recipe for goulash, pozole, dumplings-what have you.

We’re collecting recipes from this very second until midnight February 29th. We’ll publish all the recipes. The winner will be announced here and on our partner websites. They’ll collect a grab bag of public radio goodies so get cookin'!

Michigan Radio's Rina Miller shares her recipe for kale, along with this story  about her family's Dutch roots.

My mother, father, three brothers and I emigrated from the Netherlands by ship in 1956. We settled in Albion, Mich.

We assimilated into American culture, but our roots were still there in the way we ate, celebrated holidays (very simply and frugally) and in our ongoing connection with the Netherlands.

A part of my heart will always live there.

Kale was a staple in our home long before it became popular in the U.S. It's a nutritious, hearty, inexpensive green vegetable.

In this recipe, it’s mashed with potatoes, onions and bacon and served with smoked sausage. It helped stretch the meal budget for Dutch families.

We kept that tradition, and it was always a treat when my mother made a great huge pot of it. I still love it today.

Below is a recipe (original here) that's very close to how Mom made it: 

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Politics
2:00 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Last day on the campaign trail in Michigan

Fmr. Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney talks to supporters in Albion
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

It’s a busy day of campaigning in Michigan for three leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney spent today hopping from one rally to another in hopes of getting enough support to win Tuesday’s presidential primary in his native state.

Hundreds of people jammed into a machine parts manufacturer’s plant near Albion to hear Romney.

"This sure has been fun these last ten days or so," Romney joked, "We started off…15 points behind in the polls.  Now, we’re leading in the polls.   Thanks you guys."

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