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Investigative
7:00 am
Thu August 16, 2012

Bridging the border: Who decides? (part 4)

The Ambassador Bridge company collected more than enough signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November. It would require a voters approve any international crossing for motor vehicles that include state support.
Elaine Ezekiel Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder is pushing for a new $2 billion bridge from Detroit to Canada. The owners of the 83-year-old Ambassador Bridge are fighting to stop that new bridge. The latest move is to get a constitutional amendment calling for a vote of the people before building any new bridge to cross the border. That will give the company another avenue to delay or stop the new bridge from being built.

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Station News
2:00 am
Thu August 16, 2012

Michigan Radio launches new talk show, Stateside with Cynthia Canty

Michigan Radio is thrilled to welcome Detroit radio personality and Emmy Award winning news anchor Cynthia Canty to host a new local talk show. “Stateside with Cynthia Canty” will premiere on Thursday, Sept. 6. The show will feature a mix of interviews, features and listener call-in segments.

A lifelong resident of metro Detroit, Canty brings perspective to the project from 32 years of experience in Detroit radio and television. She has served as a popular radio host, television news anchor, producer, and as a general assignment, medical, and consumer reporter.

“For me, the magic of broadcast journalism has always been discovering stories to share with the audience,” said Canty. “Whether it is learning about peoples’ struggles and victories, interviewing notables in politics, business, the arts, health and science, or lighter fare such as sampling life on a local ostrich farm, I’ve loved covering the rich stories of Michigan over the years. I am excited beyond words to join the Michigan Radio team in creating Stateside to share these stories in the thoughtful, in-depth style of public radio.”

Click on the video below to hear Canty's thoughts on Michigan Radio's newest show:

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Economy
7:20 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

Michigan jobless rate up 0.4 points to 9 percent

Unemployment rate, labor force over time
Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan's unemployment rate is on the rise, jumping 0.4 percentage points to 9 percent in the latest figures from the state.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July that was released Wednesday remains 1.6 percentage points below July 2011's rate of 10.6 percent. The national rate has fallen 0.8 percentage points in that time.

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Politics & Government
6:56 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

"DREAMers" gain protections under new immigration policy

Juan Sancen, right, and Congressman John Conyers in Detroit.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Immigrant advocates are celebrating a new policy that offers some protections for young immigrants.

And a few of them wasted no time heading to US immigration offices in Detroit on Wednesday, the first day applications became available.

The new Obama administration policy is the so-called the DREAM Relief Program—or, more formally, the “Deferred Action Enforcement Process for Young People Who Are Low Enforcement Priorities.”

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School pension reform
5:51 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

Teachers to pay more for retirement, school districts get some relief

Teachers and other school employees will soon be paying more of their salaries for health care and pensions.

Governor Snyder is expected to sign bills that require school workers to pay four or seven percent of their salaries for retirement benefits, depending on what plan they have.

School employees will also pay more for their health insurance when they retire.

Randy Richardville is State Senate Majority Leader.

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Energy
5:40 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

NRC sends inspection team to Palisades Nuclear Power Plant

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant on Lake Michigan near South Haven, Michigan.
NRC.gov

Palisades Nuclear Power Plant was shut down this past Sunday for a water leak inside a containment building. This is the second leak at the plant this summer that has triggered a shutdown.

The plant is operated by Entergy Nuclear Operations and is located in Covert, Michigan near South Haven.

Today, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that a three member inspection team is at Palisades looking into the problem:

The three member inspection team will begin work Wednesday and look into the circumstances surrounding the leak. They will review the utility’s monitoring of the leak and subsequent plant shutdown, verify the adequacy of radiological controls, evaluate any potential degradation, and review the plant’s repair actions. The team will also review the plant’s reporting requirements and their plan for addressing the cause of the event.

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith covered the shutdown in yesterday's Environment Report segment. She spoke with Entergy spokesman Mark Savage.

Savage says they’ve determined that a “control rod drive package” is the source of the leak. There are 45 of these control rods. Plant operators can raise or lower control rods to control the rate of the nuclear reaction.

“And occasionally these control rod drives will have a problem. In this case we couldn’t identify it until we actually shut the plant down. So we take aggressive action to shut the plant down, do the right thing, make the repairs and return the plant to service," Savage said.

Palisades has been the focus of significantly more oversight from federal regulators over the last year.

Sports
4:34 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

Olympic gold medalist Allison Schmitt happy to be home in Canton

Gold medalist Allison Schmitt.
Courtesy: www.london2012.com

With the London games behind us, cities across the country are welcoming back their hometown Olympians. This week, Canton, Michigan welcomed home swimmer Allison Schmitt.

At 22, Schmitt won three gold medals, one silver medal, and one bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.  She won gold in the women's 200m freestyle with an Olympic record time.

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Health
4:04 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

Swine Flu variant strain found in Michigan child

user Julo Wikimedia Commons

The Kent County Health Department today reported that the first case of H3N2v influenza infection has been identified in a child from Washtenaw County.

The press release says the child was reportedly around swine at the Ingham County Fair this August, where the child may have contracted the infection.  The H3N2v flu was mild in this case, and did not require hospitalization.

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Politics & Government
3:46 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

Muskegon adopts anti-discrimination policy

kevinrosseel MorgueFile

The city of Muskegon has approved a policy to forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Only one Muskegon resident voiced his opposition to the policy and asked that city revisit the issue, but the commissioners passed the resolution unanimously.

Roberta King lives in Muskegon. She brought the idea to the city last fall after a similar proposal drew public outcry -- pro and con -- in Holland.

King believes the policy passed easily in Muskegon because of the city's diverse population base, and because it's a union  town.

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Offbeat
3:36 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

Relax: It's all part of the plan in Grand Rapids

Matthew_Hull MorgueFile

In 1985, nine-year-old Sean Moeller came up with an idea for a new holiday.

He wanted there to be a national relaxation day.

He's getting his wish, at least on a smaller scale, because today Grand Rapids is observing its own Relaxation Day.

"It doesn't have to be a whole day, just a few minutes at a time, to refresh and invigorate your mind and your body and just take a break for a few minutes," Moeller says. "There are tremendous health benefits."

Politics & Government
2:51 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

Michigan Senate approves healthcare changes for teachers

The Michigan Senate.
cedarbenddrive Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Senate has approved a compromise bill that would end state-provided health coverage in retirement for new public school employees and require current workers to pay more for their pensions.

The measure passed Wednesday includes further study of a plan sought by some in the Republican majority to push new hires into a 401 (k)-style plan.

State officials say the proposal reduces by at least $15 billion a roughly $45 billion liability on the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System. That comes partly from the state putting $130 million toward retirement costs that school districts are facing.

A version of the bill was previously passed by the House. That chamber is expected to approve the Senate measure.

The legislation would then head to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.

Politics & Government
12:56 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

Michigan's State Community Health director Dazzo resigns

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The director of Michigan's Department of Community Health has stepped down.

Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday accepted Olga Dazzo's resignation and appointed former department director James Haveman Jr. as her replacement.

Snyder's office says in a release that Dazzo has decided to return to the private sector. Snyder appointed her to the post in December 2010.

Snyder says Dazzo "wants to more directly work with the health care system to bring about positive change."

In taking the job, Haveman resigned from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Board of Directors. His appointment is subject to Senate approval. He is scheduled to start Sept. 1.

Haveman served from 1996 to 2003 as Community Health director and from 1991 to 1996 as head of the state Department of Mental Health.

Politics & Government
12:08 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

BOC approves two ballot measures, deadlocks on a third.

League of Women Voters

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers has approved two measures for the November ballot, and deadlocked on a third.

Voters this fall will be able to decide if Michigan should amend the Constitution to require utilities to generate 25 percent of their power from renewable resources by 2025, and whether or not the Constitution should be amended to allow home healthcare workers to unionize.

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State of Opportunity
11:52 am
Wed August 15, 2012

State of Opportunity: Preschool in the summer

David Blair and his classmates listen to story time during a Grand Rapids Public Schools summer preschool class.
Dustin Dwyer Michigan Radio

This week, Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity reporter looked into children's first glimpse of classroom education-- preschool.

Dwyer reports that although early education can have a profound effect on the development of children, there aren't enough classes to go around.  Only about half of preschool-aged children attend classes.

He found one solution in Grand Rapids Public Schools, where preschools have extended classes into the summer.

Listen to Dwyer's story, in which parents, guardians and teachers of preschoolers speak about the benefits of summertime preschool and the challenges they face providing education opportunities for their children.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Arts & Culture
11:48 am
Wed August 15, 2012

DIA attendance more than triples after voter-approved millage

The Diego Rivera mural at the DIA. The museum had a good week after their millage passed in three counties.
DIA

Last Tuesday, the Detroit Institute of Arts got a major vote of confidence from area voters when they approved a millage request to fund the museum. Taxpayer support means the museum will have a stable source of funding for the next ten years.

The next day, the museum was free to the residents in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties.

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Health
10:56 am
Wed August 15, 2012

Grand Rapids duo begins postpartum depression awareness swim across Lake Michigan

The starting and ending points on the couple's swim across Lake Michigan
Google Maps

11:04 a.m.

Jeff and Sara Tow had to cut their swim across Lake Michigan short. The couple was publicizing the swim to raise awareness about postpartum depression. Strong currents in the lake and exhaustion were to blame.

From the Associated Press:

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News Roundup
7:05 am
Wed August 15, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, August 15th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Casino Ballot Proposal

Opponents of a ballot proposal to allow 8 new casinos in Michigan are celebrating. The state appeals court ruled that the ballot proposal goes against Michigan’s constitution. Lindsey Smith reports:

A group of current casino owners said the ballot question is illegal because it isn't clear what laws it would change. So the opponents challenged it in court. "The current constitution say that if you’re going to make changes to an act or something in the constitution you have to identify for the voters what you’re changing. They did that nowhere in the proposal,” said John Truscott, spokesman for the group. Michigan’s Court of Appeals agreed. The court said the ballot initiative would change the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act if voters passed it. Supporters say they will appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.

DPS Finances

A Wayne County judge has issued a mixed ruling in a case that pits the Detroit Public Schools’ emergency manager against the district’s elected school board. “Since the emergency manager law was suspended last week, some elected officials have tried to reverse decisions made by emergency managers. That’s the case in the Detroit Public Schools, where the elected school board has moved to un-do some actions of emergency manager Roy Roberts. Roberts sued to stop that, and Judge Stephen Murphy has ruled those decisions remain in effect—for now. Murphy also ruled that Roberts is still charge of the district’s finances, but the board has control over academics,” Sarah Cwiek reports.

Tree Health

Two popular tree species are under attack in Michigan and now, state foresters are hoping to harvest some healthy trees before they’re killed off. “Forests throughout Michigan are undergoing big changes as millions of beech and ash trees are killed by pests and disease. Beech Bark Disease and the Emerald Ash Borer first arrived in Michigan around twelve years ago.  Both problems continue to spread, but many forests still have healthy trees in them. Foresters from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan Tech are taking a closer look at more than 30,000 acres of state forest land. The DNR says the goal is not to remove all beech or ash trees in these forests, but to thin them to a healthier level,” Mark Brush reports.

Investigative
7:00 am
Wed August 15, 2012

Bridging the border: Influence of money (part 3)

Ambassador Bridge from the Canadian side. The bridge owners have spent millions of dollars to influence the debate on whether a second bridge should be built by Canada and Michigan.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

The arguments for and against building a new bridge to Canada at Detroit, for the most part, have been pretty one-sided. The owners of the Ambassador Bridge are fighting it and spending tons of money in TV ads. 

If you watch TV at all, you’ve probably seen one of the Ambassador Bridge-sponsored ads criticizing plans for a new bridge.

“Governor Snyder says, ‘Send Canada the bill.’ But, the Canadians have other ideas.”

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Education
11:02 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Judge: Schools can go to EAA, but Detroit school board regains academic control

A Wayne County judge ruled Tuesday that the Education Achievement Authority can launch as scheduled.

That statewide district for the lowest-achieving schools is set to open with 15 former Detroit Public schools next month. The elected Detroit school board had voted to reverse that decision.

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Seat belts
6:10 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

State officials remind motorists, 'Wear seat belts,' after L. Brooks doesn't

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson was in the front seat and not wearing a seat belt -- in violation of state law -- when his car was struck by another driver on Friday.

Patterson sustained a broken femur and two broken wrists.

Patterson's driver was also not wearing a seat belt - nor was the driver of the Volkswagon Passat that struck Patterson's car.

Anne Readett is a spokeswoman for the state Office of Highway Safety Planning.

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