News

Pages

Politics
5:44 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Michigan governor approves road commission bills

County commissions can vote to dissolve county road commissions under new legislation signed today.
Ingham County

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation that will allow county boards of commissioners to dissolve and take over duties of county road commissions in Michigan.

The Republican governor signed the legislation Tuesday.

Appointed county road commissions could be dissolved by a majority vote of a county's board of commissioners. Voters would have the final decision on whether to dissolve road commissions in
counties where road commissioners are elected.

Supporters say the measures will save money by eliminating duplicative administrative costs.

Some critics say a vote of the people should be required in all counties because each road commission was created by such a vote, not just those with elected commissioners.

Newsmaker
4:29 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Michigan GOP looking for a leader

Robert Schostak, Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.
Photo courtesy of Michigan GOP.

Michigan is just a week away from its Presidential Primary. The GOP candidates are campaigning across the state in preparation for the February 28 event.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White spoke with the chair of the Michigan Republican Party, Robert Schostak.

Mitt Romney is from Michigan, so a lot people believe he will win in his home state, but  Rick Santorum was leading in the polls over Romney. Schostak is  not surprised Santorum is doing well in the state.

Read more
Politics
4:10 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Romney visits southeast Michigan, praises right-to-work

Mitt Romney campaigning in Livonia last year
wikimedia commons

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a couple campaign stops in southeast Michigan before traveling to Arizona for a debate with the other Republican candidates. Romney told people at a town-hall-style meeting in Shelby Township that the federal government is not working for Michiganders.

“We know what it takes to get Washington to work so that America can work, so that Michigan can work, so that people here can have confidence that the promise of America – and that is hard work and education – will be the promise of prosperity and security, that that promise is one that we will live and we will fulfill, and I’ll get that job done if I’m your president,” said Romney.

Romney also weighed in on Michigan’s ongoing debate over compulsory union membership.

“My view is, every person in America ought to have the right to choose whether to join the union or not, so I’m in favor of Right-to-Work legislation,” Romney said.

Governor Rick Snyder – who endorsed Romney – says he thinks the right-to-work debate is divisive and he has no interest in pushing right-to-work legislation in the near future.

Politics
3:59 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Emergency manager "de-activated" at Michigan's Highland Park schools

Update 3:59 p.m.

The governor will ask the Legislature to pass emergency measures by the end of the week to allow Highland Park students and state aid payments to switch to another district or a charter school.

The governor challenged the Highland Park school board to offer its own solution or ask for a hearing this week that could wind up with the governor re-appointing an emergency manager.

3:44 p.m.

Governor Rick Snyder says Highland Park schools emergency manager is being "de-activated" to comply with a court ruling.

A judge ruled last week that a state review team that recommended a takeover violated Michigan's open meetings law.

Snyder says the review will start over with an open meeting and a chance for the public to comment. The governor will announce an interim plan for the district this afternoon.

The governor says the Highland Park school board is now back in charge, but out of money. He says schools could close as soon as Monday without an emergency solution.

Politics
3:22 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Lawsuit planned over proposed Michigan Islamic school

PITTSFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says it plans to file a federal lawsuit against an Ann Arbor-area community for denying a zoning change request to allow construction of a Muslim school.

Michigan Islamic Academy officials say the school is too big for its location in Ann Arbor. They want to build at a site in Washtenaw County's Pittsfield Township.

Last fall, the township board denied the request, following an earlier rejection by its planning commission.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations says the decision violates federal law. CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid says the suit will be filed Wednesday on behalf of the school.

The township has said the decision isn't based on religion. A message seeking comment was left Tuesday with the township supervisor.

Education
2:41 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

State Senate committee deals blow to U of M grad students' hopes to unionize

Students walk on the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus (file photo)
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

A group of University of Michigan graduate research assistants suffered a significant defeat today in a state senate committee. The senate Government Operations committee passed a bill that would specifically prevent university graduate research assistants from forming a union.       

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says a union could interfere with the relationship between students and teachers.

“That relationship is a special relationship…it is one of learning and mentorship…and I think its important that we don’t interfere with that from the outside," Richardville said after the committee meeting.   

Samantha Montgomery is the president of the Graduate Employees Organization.  She remains optimistic that the hundreds of U of M graduate research assistants will eventually have a chance to vote on forming a union.   Montgomery says grad students like working with their professors on academic research. 

“And we are hopeful the presence of a union would help maintain that working relationship," says Montgomery. 

The Michigan Employment Relations Commission is considering the grad students’ application to hold a union vote.    But the proposed state law may make that process moot. 

Both sides accuse the other of playing politics with the issue.    Today’s vote was along partisan political lines, with three Republicans voting for the bill and two Democrats voting against. 

The results of a union vote are not certain.   A sizable number of U of M graduate research assistants signed a petition opposing a union.

Politics
1:59 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

New poll shows Romney leading Santorum in Michigan

Mitt Romney has closed the gap in the polls.
mittromney.com

There's nothing like a good political pony race, and Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are in a close one in Michigan.

Much has been made of Rick Santorum's lead in Michigan. How could an outsider be up on Michigan's native son?

Now a new poll shows Romney has closed the gap.

The Michigan Information and Research Service and the Mitchell Research Poll released new numbers this morning. It shows Romney leading Santorum 32 percent to 30 percent - well within the margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.

Read more
Environment
12:38 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Environmentalists threaten suit over Great Lakes ballast water changes

Testing a ship's ballast tanks for invasive species
David Sommerstein The Environment Report

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Environmental groups say they may renew a legal battle if the federal government doesn't toughen proposed regulations of ship ballast water that has brought invasive species such as zebra mussels to the Great Lakes.

Groups have gone to court twice to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to crack down on ballast water disposal. The agency now requires ships to exchange the water at sea. In November, EPA proposed requiring vessels to install equipment that would kill at least some organisms remaining in the tanks.

The rule is based on an international standard that shippers say is the best they can do with existing technology.

But environmental groups said Tuesday the rules aren't strong enough to prevent more species invasions and they may sue again unless EPA toughens them.

Politics
12:32 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

UM Regents hold emergency vote on grad student union hearings

Members of the Graduate Employees Organization picketing on the North Campus of the University of Michigan in 2008.
Photo courtesy of UM GEO

The University of Michigan Regents voted today to oppose a Senate bill that would prohibit certain U of M graduate students from joining a union.

Read more
Changing Gears
11:36 am
Tue February 21, 2012

All about paczki: The Polish jelly donut that ate the Midwest

Zingerman's Bakery entered the paczki world for the first time last year.
Mike Perini Michigan Radio

The day before Ash Wednesday has many names — Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras. Shrove Tuesday.

But all over the Midwest, it’s become known as Paczki Day.

From Green Bay, Wis., to Lorain, Ohio, from Calumet City, Ind., to Hamtramck, Mich., people are snapping up the jelly donuts that have their roots in Polish cuisine.

One Chicago bakery alone expects to sell 80,000 paczkis, so we’re going to go out on a limb and predict there may be millions sold in the Midwest on Tuesday.

Changing Gears has been taking a look at immigrant traditions and culture across the Midwest, but the paczki seems to have transcended its beginnings and become a pre-Lenten staple.

Read more
Auto/Economy
10:53 am
Tue February 21, 2012

Feds investigate problems with side air bags

DETROIT (AP) - Federal safety regulators are trying to determine if more automakers used defective side air bags that have caused recalls of some Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Subaru vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says on its website that it started investigating last week because the air bags may not inflate in a crash.

The problem has caused recalls of more than 2,700 vehicles, but that could grow if more automakers used the bad parts.

Recalled vehicles include 427 Toyota RAV-4s; 974 Honda Accords, Civics, Crosstours and Acura MDXs; 381 Subaru Legacys and Outbacks; and 976 Nissan Altimas and Versas.

Safety regulators say the vehicles may have an incorrect mixture of the gas that inflates the side curtain air bags in a crash. So far no one has been hurt.

News Roundup
10:36 am
Tue February 21, 2012

In this morning's news...

user brother o'mara Michigan Radio

Santorum makes stops in West Michigan

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith reports Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum made stops in Muskegon, Holland, and Grand Rapids yesterday. While in Muskegon, Santorum talked about producing more oil and natural gas in the U.S.

Smith reports he criticized President Obama for voting against the Keystone XL pipeline:

“(Obama and environmentalists) see an opportunity to go out and scare people. ‘Oh look at what’s going on - they’re producing all this dangerous stuff near you and they’re drilling wells. Oh and they’re going to pollute this and pollute that,” Santorum said sarcastically. “It’s a bunch of garbage.”

Mitt Romney is expected to be in Macomb County later today, and Ron Paul will be in the state later this week. We'll bring you more coverage of both these candidates. Newt Gingrich's campaign has not made any announcements of Michigan appearances for the candidate.

UM Regents hold emergency vote on graduate student union hearings

The decades long effort to unionize University of Michigan graduate students has largely been a local one - debated between students, the administration, and UM Regents on the campus in Ann Arbor.

But in the last year, the fight has been reaching into state politics with Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette stepping into the fray and now Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville.

Richardville has introduced a bill that would ban graduate student unions. He's holding hearings on the bill today, and in a symbolic show of support of the organizing graduate students, the University of Michigan Regents held a vote this morning.

From the Detroit Free Press:

The University of Michigan Regents, in an emergency meeting this morning, opposed a bill up for debate later today in a state Senate committee that would ban graduate student research assistants from unionizing.

In doing so, the Regents, in a straight party line vote, passed the motion, recognizing the more than 2,000 GSRAs as employees... Today's vote reaffirmed a motion first passed in May.

Snow in February? What is this world coming to?

With this year's unusually mild winter, news of closed roads and heavy snowfall seems unique. This morning's snowfall has led to some road closings.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Snow began falling shortly after 9 a.m. around metro Detroit, including spots in Wayne County and downtown Detroit, presenting some problems for late-morning commuters.

Westbound I-94 at Scio Church Rd. in Washtenaw County was shutdown due to an accident involving a car and a semi-truck. Motorists were being diverted onto Ann-Arbor Saline Rd.

Earlier, police shut down M-14 in both directions to clear an accident. It has since been reopened, but Washtenaw County police dispatchers warn that the area is still icy and to use precaution.

Commentary
10:30 am
Tue February 21, 2012

What if Romney Loses?

Four years ago, Michigan politicians believed their presidential primary would be meaningful and influential. It was anything but. The state broke both parties’ rules by holding it too early.

Barack Obama’s name was not on the ballot, and it was won by two candidates who ended up not winning their nominations.

This year’s primary was supposed to be a big yawn. Democrats have only one candidate, and on the Republican side, this was supposed to be just a brief stop in native son Mitt Romney’s coronation parade. Except that’s not how it is working out.

Read more
Environment
9:01 am
Tue February 21, 2012

Visiting a black bear den

An 11-year-old male black bear that was just placed back in his den after a checkup by DNR bear experts. He's still under the effects of the tranquilizer in this photo, but the drugs will wear off soon.
Mark Brush/Michigan Radio

Black bears are doing really well in Michigan. The Department of Natural Resources estimates there are somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 black bears in the state. They’re mostly in the U.P. and the northern lower peninsula. But in recent years... bears have been heading south and pushing into new territories.

Bears have been spotted in the Thumb, and around Flint, Grand Rapids, Battle Creek and Lansing.

Dwayne Etter is a bear researcher with the DNR.

Read more
Environment
9:00 am
Tue February 21, 2012

WATCH: Biologists dart hibernating black bear in Michigan

Biologists have been following this black bear in Michigan since 2010. They're tracking him, and other bears to find out how bears are moving southward in the state.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Rebecca Williams and I recently tagged along with biologists from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to watch them tranquilize and re-collar an 11-year-old black bear in Oceana County.

The bear is one of many bears researchers are watching as part of the Southern Michigan Bear Habitat Use and Movements study.

Here's the video we made from that trip:

Investigative
7:00 am
Tue February 21, 2012

Money and politics: when the fix makes it worse

Jimmy Stewart's character in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" receives a lesson on the role of special interests in politics.

Many voters suspect politicians are corrupted by money. Campaign contributions and cozy relationships with lobbyists make voters wonder if their elected officials have their best interests at heart. That’s led to attempts to fix the problem in Michigan, but observers say sometimes the ‘fix’ makes the problem worse.

Politicians need money to run campaigns to win elections. And often that money comes from the rich and powerful. But what do those politicians get in return?

Read more
Lansing
11:48 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

Lansing city council expressing frustration at flow of information on casino project

An artist's conception of the proposed Kewadin casino in downtown Lansing
(courtesy of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians)

Lansing city council members are expressing growing frustration at not getting the information they want about a proposed Indian casino project.

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians wants to build a $245 million casino in the capitol city.   The casino would be built adjacent to the city's downtown convention center. The city council’s approval of the deal is necessary before the tribe can ask the federal government to place the land in trust.

Read more
Religion
9:54 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

Detroit Archdiocese releases downsizing plan

Allen Vigneron
Archdiocese of Detroit

The Detroit Archdiocese has officially released streamlining plans reduce the number of parishes, in order to accommodate what its leaders call “demographic changes.”

This second phase of the “Together in Faith” plan is years in the making.

Over the next four years, Archdiocese will close, merge, or cluster dozens of its 267 current parishes over the next four years.

 

·        2 parishes will close.

·        8 parishes will merge into 4 by the end of 2012.

·        30 parishes will merge into 14 by 2016.

Read more
Politics
7:01 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

Kalamazoo County Commission takes up 'homeless' tax

(GothamGazette)

The Kalamazoo County Commission Tuesday will discuss taxing home owners to help others avoid homelessness.

A coalition of groups wants the commission to agree to let voters decide later this year on a proposal to add a one-tenth mil increase on their property tax bills.    The  added property tax would raise about $800 thousand  over four years.

The money would fund programs to prevent evictions, as well as provide vouchers for short-term and long-term housing.

Read more
Politics
6:32 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

Rick Santorum stops in Muskegon, Holland and Grand Rapids

Santorum greets guests and signs autographs after the rally in Muskegon Monday.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is finishing his last stop in West Michigan Monday evening.

At a rally in Muskegon Monday afternoon Santorum mostly criticized President Obama, rather than his republican rivals in the presidential primary.

“Ladies and gentlemen this president is doing everything he can to shut down the manufacturing sector of this economy; from an environmental, energy, regulatory, and tax position,” Santorum said.

Santorum spent a lot of time talking about producing more energy in the United States by drilling for oil and natural gas. Santorum criticized President Obama for voting against a pipeline that would’ve sent crude oil from Canada to the southern U.S. for refining.

“(Obama and environmentalists) see an opportunity to go out and scare people. ‘Oh look at what’s going on - they’re producing all this dangerous stuff near you and they’re drilling wells. Oh and they’re going to pollute this and pollute that,” Santorum said sarcastically. “It’s a bunch of garbage.”

Read more

Pages