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7:00 am
Fri May 25, 2012

Kids need to learn how to lose

Karl-Ludwig G. Poggemann Flickr

Remember Field Day?

For most of us, it was a hallowed year-end school tradition, right up there with ice cream socials, and signing yearbooks.

The kids loved it, of course, and looked forward to it every year. 

But not at Burns Park, one of Ann Arbor’s oldest, most desirable and most educated neighborhoods – and occasionally, one of its kookiest.

There is a reason many townies jokingly refer to it as “The Republic of Burns Park.”

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Politics
6:36 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

State to convert Detroit prison to holding facility for parole violators

The state Department of Corrections plans to close two prisons and convert one of them to a holding facility for alleged parole violators.         

Prison officials say there’s a shortage of housing for felons suspected of violating parole.

“Every day, there are situations with those parolees where we have to put them into custody while we investigate circumstances surrounding alleged parole violations," said Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan. "So, right now, we either put them in a van and drive them back to our reception center, or we let them walk out of the parole office.”

 The Ryan Correctional Facility in Detroit and an inmate re-entry facility in Caro will be closed. The department will also re-open a shuttered prison in Muskegon as part of the shakeup.

 The shakeup will close the last remaining prison in Detroit, and it will force inmates in the facility to be moved out of the city. Detroit lawmakers say that's a bad idea.

 “Just because people go to prison doesn’t mean that they should be disconnected from their families and support systems that will help them become rehabilitated and better citizens," said Rep. Fred Durhal (D-Deiroit). "Because that’s what this thing is about – is punish them for the crimes that they’ve done, but not cut them off from family and other relatives.”

Durhal says the two prisons that are closing are two of the state’s newest correctional facilities. Corrections officials say the shakeup will cost another $10 million a year. But they say it’s less expensive than other options for dealing with parole violators.

Lansing
5:16 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

Lansing mayor uses his veto pen, city council president "disappointed"

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero (D) (file photo)
(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Mayor Virg Bernero today vetoed a portion of the city budget plan approved by the Lansing City Council Monday night. 

The city council now has two weeks to see if it can override the veto. 

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Auto
2:28 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

Canadian railway strike could affect U.S. automakers

Ian Britton creative commons

A strike by Canadian railway workers threatens to slow or shut down production at some U.S. auto plants.

5,000 Canadian Pacific Railway workers walked off the job early Wednesday because of a dispute with management over a new contract.

Large numbers of finished vehicles and auto parts come to U.S. factories via Canadian Pacific.

Ford and General Motors say they don't expect the strike to affect production - at this time.

Chrysler says it is actively working to mitigate any impact to its operations through alternative shipment methods, such as trucks.

The longer the strike goes, the greater the chance it could affect the U.S. auto industry.  The Canadian Labor Ministry says it has the authority to intervene and will do that if the two sides haven't reached a deal by Monday.

Politics
1:55 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

Wayne County's Ficano censured in "watered down" measure

Wayne County Chief Executive, Robert Ficano.
Wayne County YouTube

Wayne County Commissioners voted today to censure County Executive Robert Ficano, but the vote also exposed divisions within the Commission.

The resolution to “censure the Wayne County Chief Executive Officer” has no real teeth, and it doesn’t mention Ficano by name.

That last fact angered County Commissioner Laura Cox, who sponsored the initial censure resolution. She ended up voting against what she called the “watered down” measure.

Cox called that “pathetic.”

“The Commission has no power to censure, by state law. But I guess we also have no power to ask for somebody to resign, which is exactly what my resolution did. So they feel that that was too strong, obviously,” said Cox.

Cox wants the Commission to put a county charter revision on the ballot. It would ask voters to give Commissioners or other elected officials the authority to remove county officials under certain circumstances.

Commissioner Joseph Palamara said the resolution was appropriate, given the Commission’s limited powers.

“To say that, "you should leave right now," that would have no more authority than Donald Trump walking in here under public comment and saying, ‘Bob Ficano, you’re fired,’” said Palamara.

Ficano’s administration has been under an FBI investigation for months. Several former top aides have been indicted on corruption charges, but Ficano has always denied any personal wrongdoing, and waved off suggestions that he resign.

Transportation
1:36 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

Owner of coal-burning S.S. Badger seeks 5-year reprieve from EPA rules

This could be the final season for the old Lake Michigan car ferry - the S.S. Badger.
Bill McChesney Flickr

The Lake Michigan car ferry S.S. Badger started what could be its final sailing season today.

The historic ship burns coal as its fuel and dumps the leftover coal ash into Lake Michigan.

The EPA has said the ship needs to stop this practice. They've given the owners until the end of this year to come up with a solution, but the owners want more time.

Dave Alexander of MLive reported on a press conference held by the ship's owners this morning:

Before the 9:15 a.m. departure from its Ludington dock for the four-hour trip across a lumpy Lake Michigan to Manitowoc, Wis., Lake Michigan Carferry co-owner Bob Manglitz announced his company has made application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to continue its coal ash dumping practices another five years.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett reported on legislation in the U.S. House that "would allow the Badger to continue to dump coal ash because it's been nominated as a national historic landmark." She reports environmental groups are fighting against the designation.

Business
1:11 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

Amway to build new facility, add jobs, in Michigan

Headquarters of Amway in Ada, Michigan
amyway.com

Amway plans to spend up to $81 million to build a new facility in West Michigan.

The direct-sales company says it received a $1.6 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for the project. The new facility will manufacture and process vitamins and supplements for Amway's Nutrilite brand.

From their press release:

This investment includes a new $81 million nutrition plant at the company's Spaulding Avenue site in Ada, Michigan, near Amway World Headquarters. The new plant is expected to create 200 jobs over the next three years.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) today approved a $1.6 million Michigan Business Development Program incentive from the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) to support construction of this nutrition products manufacturing facility for Access Business Group LLC, an affiliate of Amway.

Amway says it employs 4,000 people in Michigan. Amway was started in 1959 by Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel.

Weather
12:24 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

Gale warnings, wildfire alert, and an "Ozone Action Day"

Today's National Weather Service's map shows gale warnings, ozone action days, and wildfire warnings.
NWS

Warm weather, and high winds are stirring up the warnings around Michigan today.

We're expected to have unhealthy air, potential for wildfires, and roiling water in Lake Michigan.

Air pollution

Ground level ozone is expected to be higher in parts of southeast Michigan and western Michigan today. These areas are under an "Ozone Action Day" alert. Here are tips from SEMCOG on what to do on days like today.

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Business
10:55 am
Thu May 24, 2012

AP: US Supreme Court rules in favor of Detroit-based Quicken Loans

flicker.com user:trame

 WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court says home loan applicants cannot sue a mortgage company for charging them a loan discount fee without giving them a loan discount.

The high court on Thursday unanimously ruled for Quicken Loans, which was fighting a lawsuit from Tammy and Larry Freeman and other families. The company argued Congress wrote the law to say only that the fee would be illegal if Quicken split it with someone else. The justices, in an opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia, agreed.

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Environment & Science
10:47 am
Thu May 24, 2012

Sport fishing groups want state to stop stocking salmon in Lake Michigan

The Desperado heads out at sunrise to go after Pacific salmon in Lake Michigan.
Lester Graham/Michigan Radio

How many salmon can Lake Michigan support?

That’s the critical question state fishery biologists have to answer this year.

Everyone involved in the salmon fishery is worried about its future... and now some sport fishing groups say drastic action might be required. They want the state to stop putting more fish into the lake.

There’s not much food for salmon in Lake Michigan these days because invasive species are changing the food web.

But there are a lot of salmon, because more and more are being born in the wild as opposed to in fish hatcheries. That combination of too many fish and not enough food wiped out the salmon in Lake Huron almost a decade ago and they never returned.

That’s why the state has proposed reducing the number of salmon stocked in Lake Michigan by 30 to 50%.

But last month the Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fisher’s Association urged lake managers to consider ending all stocking for two years.

Now, a charter boat association in Muskegon has endorsed that idea too.

Paul Jensen is part of that group.

"We need to make a radical move to change the pattern and what we don’t want to do is duplicate what happened on Lake Huron."

But ending stocking might not sit well with some anglers. For decades, more fish stocking meant more fish being caught.

But researchers say the situation is bleak.

The salmon fishing is great so far this spring. But that’s a problem because it means there’s still a lot of fish in a lake without much food.

Commentary
10:14 am
Thu May 24, 2012

Commentary: Budget Follies

There is something to be said for one party controlling both the executive and legislative branches of government. This year, for the second year in a row, the state budget will apparently be passed by the beginning of June. That’s a big change from a few years ago.

Twice during the Granholm years, the parties were still squabbling over the books when the fiscal year expired at the end of September. And bad last-minute choices were made.

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Economy
10:05 am
Thu May 24, 2012

Dow Chemical gets $2 billion award for canceled Kuwait project

Dow Chemical's headquarters in Midland.
wikimedia commons

Dow Chemical says an international court has awarded it $2.16 billion in damages from its dispute with Petrochemical Industries Co., a subsidiary of state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corp.

Dow shares are up 4 percent in trading Thursday before the opening bell.

Midland, Mich.-based Dow, one of the world's largest chemical companies, formed a $17.4 billion joint venture with the Kuwaiti company in 2008 to produce plastics for consumer products, automotive parts and drug processing. But the deal was scrapped later that year by that country's government following lawmaker criticism that could have led to a political crisis in the small oil-rich state.

"This outcome brings resolution and closure to the issue," Andrew Liveris, Dow`s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement.  "We remain focused on continuing to move forward with our transformation and profitable business partnerships -- both in Kuwait and around the world."

Dow has Chemical Co. been doing business with Kuwait for nearly 40 years.

Politics
6:51 am
Thu May 24, 2012

Governor Rick Snyder and GOP legislative leaders reach budget deal that could lower income taxes

www.michigan.gov

 It appears a budget deal between Governor Rick Snyder and the Legislature’s Republican leaders could include an election year tax cut. An early version of the proposal would accelerate a drop in the state income tax rate and increase the personal exemption.

The governor and G-O-P leaders want to wrap up the budget by the end of next week.

 Governor Snyder says he was skeptical at first, but he says revenue projections look promising enough to at least start talking about a tax cut for individuals and families.

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Economy
9:00 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

"Work share" program could help curb layoffs

Work share programs allow employees who see their hours cut collect partial unemployment benefits
Bytemarks flickr

Some Michigan workers who get their hours cut would be able to keep working and draw partial unemployment benefits, under a bill approved by the state Senate. The legislation would create what's called a "work share" program - similar to ones in about two dozen other states.

The idea is to avoid layoffs, and help maintain a skilled workforce.

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Politics
6:32 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Detroit Works online game offers residents a chance to help shape the city

Detroit 24/7 is an online game that gives people the chance to answer questions and give input about their community's future.
Community PlanIt screen shot.

Community meetings about the future of Detroit neighborhoods wrap up this week.

The Detroit Works Project focuses on how to make neighborhoods more viable, and how to keep current residents while attracting new people to the city.

Dan Pitera is co-leader of Civic Engagement for Detroit Works long-term planning. He is also also a professor of architecture at the University of Detroit-Mercy.

Some main concerns from Detroit residents, Pitera said “are safety for everybody, education and health for everybody in the city.”

Detroit Works has used several methods to engage the Detroit community. One of the newest is an online video game called Detroit 24/7. “Some people love to go to meetings, other people don’t,” Pitera said.

So far more than 900 people are playing the game, which lets players describe what they encounter everyday as they move around the city of Detroit, point out the pros and cons, and then suggest strategies that can improve the city. The idea is to engage a younger population, those ages 18 to 35.

“It actually deals with many of the same issues we are dealing with in the community conversations but done online, and we are attracting those people that are not going to meetings.”

According to Pitera, the intention of the project has been to first collect data from city residents, and then create city wide strategies that are informed by what is happening in different neighborhoods.

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Politics
5:10 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Juvenile court competency standards would include mental health treatment

Anita Patterson MorgueFile

Michigan lawmakers are expected to vote next week on two bills that would create a system to determine the mental competency of juveniles who break the law.

Some troubled children in Michigan don't have access to mental health services until they wind up in court.

The state Senate  bills would let a prosecutor or a juvenile's defense lawyer ask for a competency evaluation. A judge would also be able to order an evaluation.

Michelle Weemhoff is with the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency.

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Politics
5:00 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Bills would tighten tort reform in Michigan

There's a bipartisan fight growing in the state legislature over Michigan's medical malpractice laws. 

In 1995, tort reform in Michigan made it more difficult to file a medical malpractice suit and get a jury trial. The law also put limits on monetary settlements.

Now a package of Republican-led Senate bills would further limit medical malpractice cases. Among other things, they would require proof that a physician's mistake was intentional.

The medical and insurance industries support the measures.

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Politics
4:58 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Legislators move to exempt drink pouches from Michigan's bottle deposit law

A state House committee has voted to exempt drink pouches from the state’s 10-cent bottle deposit law. The pouches are made of plastic, aluminum, and paper. They are not biodegradable or recyclable. Harold McGovern is the president of a beverage wholesale company. He said there are environmental benefits to pouches.

"It's a fraction of the up-front emissions from the standpoint of a carbon footprint. More importantly, the emissions on the transportation cycle - whether it’s delivery to our warehouse, whether it’s delivery to stores - also has dramatic incremental savings because of the weight difference between aluminum, glass, and this pouch technology," said McGovern.

If the House bill becomes law, it would preempt a state Treasury determination that the deposit could apply to alcoholic drink pouches. Environmental groups say the state should not encourage packaging that’s not recyclable.

Politics
3:17 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Granholm on voter ID laws: "un-American" and "treasonous" (Video)

screengrab from the War Room on Current TV

Yesterday, a meeting of the Michigan House Redistricting and Elections Committee was disrupted by protesters angry about proposed changes to the state's election laws.

Chief among protesters' concerns was a measure, now headed to the state House floor, that would strengthen ID requirements for voter registration in Michigan.

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Arts & Culture
3:04 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Helping Detroit's homeless with a multipurpose coat

Empowerment Plan CEO Veronika Scott shows off the coat she designed.
Emily Fox

Even though summer has just begun, I recently visited three women who were sewing coats in a big, old industrial building in Detroit. Their goal is to make 800 coats for the homeless this year.

This isn’t just any winter coat. While it looks like a super warm jacket with an oversized hood, there’s a little flap at the bottom for your feet. This coat can double as a sleeping bag. And when it’s hot, it can be folded up into an over the shoulder satchel.

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