News

Prison bars.
Thomas Hawk / Flickr / http://tinyurl.com/oall5zn

The state of Michigan is terminating its contract with Aramark to provide prison food services.

The state and Aramark say the decision to end the $145 million contract was mutually agreed upon.

Aramark has faced fines and other sanctions since the company took over prison food services in December of 2013.

Here’s a story you probably haven’t heard about – but which could end up costing Michigan thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in lost trade with Canada.

That certainly wouldn’t be cool – but ironically, what I’m talking about is all about COOL – an acronym standing for County Of Origin Labeling.

It looks like we won’t be seeing an LGBT rights question on the statewide 2016 ballot.

Yet, it was not that long ago that it seemed a near-certainty that LGBT rights groups were ready to go to the ballot next year to amend Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act if the GOP-led Legislature refused to act.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This weekend, thousands of people across the country took a swim at the same time, without bathing suits.

Michigan Radio’s Lindsey Smith went to Union City, near Battle Creek, to witness part of the world record skinny dip attempt.

She filed this audio postcard.

More than 200 people skinny dipped at Turtle Lake on Saturday.

An internal memo from the Environmental Protection Agency is raising concerns about lead in Flint’s water.

Michael Mazengarb / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The solar power industry is not happy with Republican state lawmakers’ new energy plan.

The bills introduced last month would get rid of the state’s renewable energy standard.

They would also make significant changes to net metering. That allows customers in Michigan to use solar panels or wind turbines on their property to lower their energy bills.

Numbers, unlike silly language, make sense. They have rigid rules and you can always understand the carefully constructed patterns. Eighteen is related to eight, fourteen is related to four. Umpteenth is related to...wait. What's an umpty?

“Umpty is an indefinite number,” says University of Michigan English Professor Ann Curzan. “Usually a large number, goes back to 1904. It represents, apparently, the dash in Morse Code.”

Michigan Democrats pick Brandon Dillon as new leader

Jul 11, 2015

PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Democratic Party has elected state Rep. Brandon Dillon as its new party chairman to succeed Lon Johnson, who is resigning to run for Congress. 

The State Central Committee met Saturday in Port Huron, where delegates chose the Grand Rapids lawmaker to lead the party.

Johnson last month announced his candidacy for the 1st Congressional District that includes all of the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula. He was party chairman for more than two years.

wikipedia

A group of activists protesting water shutoffs in Detroit and water quality issues in Flint wrapped up a 70 mile walking journey between the two cities this week.

Members and supporters of the Detroit People's Water Board Coalition are calling on Michigan lawmakers to end shutoffs and implement an income-based water affordability plan.

karamanislaw.com

Detroit area cancer specialist Dr. Farid Fata will serve 45 years in prison for a health care fraud scheme that generated about $34 million in fraudulent Medicare claims.

Fata admitted to administering medically unnecessary cancer treatments to 553 patients. Those treatments included chemotherapy, intravenous iron, and various infusion therapies.

Steve Browne & John Verkleir / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The Dearborn Heights police department will attempt to provide a female officer for Muslim women who must remove religious clothing including head coverings. The updated policy follows a lawsuit filed in January against the department by Malak Kazan, a Muslim woman. 

Photo courtesy Russ Dotson

You've heard it before: "Thank you for your service." Maybe you've even said it.

Veterans hear it a lot. And what we've heard from talking with veterans across the Armed Forces is that there's nothing wrong with being thanked. But then the conversation stalls.

Earlier this week, Governor Rick Snyder signed a package of so-called early warning bills he said will help both school districts and the state, in his words,

“to resolve potential financial issues before they become unmanageable.”

Among other things, they require districts which are getting close to the edge financially to begin reporting to the state what their economic situations and budget assumptions are.

Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne.
Dwight Burdette / wikimedia commons

Ford is moving production of the Focus and C-Max out of the Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne by 2018. 

The automaker isn't saying where the Focus and C-Max will go, but it's likely to be Mexico. 

The industry trend is to build less profitable small cars there because of Mexico's lower labor costs. 

In a statement, Ford says "We actively are pursuing future vehicle alternatives to produce at Michigan Assembly and will discuss this issue with UAW leadership as part of the upcoming negotiations." 

Spectrum Health

It's rarely easy making the transition from the military to a career in the civilian world.

Jamie Hamming knows that.  She was an Army combat medic between 1990 and 1995.  Her tours included stints in Korea and Somalia.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

 

For many years Detroit residents and businesses didn’t see a lot of services from the city. After an emergency manager and bankruptcy, one of the first city officials some people saw was an inspector or police officer citing them for a building or business violation. Some business owners say it got ridiculous.

Last fall Arab-American gas station owners asked to meet with the Detroit Police Department about getting multiple citations for the same offenses. They complained that police officers would issue tickets for things such as an expired business license. The gas station owners would apply for the license and pay the fee. Before City Hall would issue the license, the police would stop by and issue another ticket.

WNEM TV

The city of Flint celebrated the beginning of the first phase of installation for a new water filter system today.

The $1.6 million dollar granulated carbon filter is expected to contribute significantly to reducing the formation of trihalomethanes (TTHM). This odorless pollutant is usually formed as a byproduct when chlorine is used to disinfect drinking water. The trouble is that lengthy exposure to TTHM – drinking about two liters a day for approximately 70 years – can lead to cancer.

This section of the Mitchell Map, circa 1755, shows the area that is now Michigan
flickr user FotoGuy / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Just what is the Lost Peninsula?

Don Faber tells us it’s a little strip of land in the very southeast corner of Michigan.

And here’s the kicker: The only way to access it is through Toledo.

Faber tells us that when Michigan and Ohio were still young states, they each performed a geographical survey to determine their boundaries.

Ohio’s survey placed Toledo in Ohio. Michigan’s placed it, well, in Michigan.

What followed was the Toledo War, a short conflict that ended in military stalemate.

http://www.waynecounty.com/prosecutor/

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s office says it's still investigating the death of Terrance Kellom, a 20-year-old man fatally shot by a federal agent in April.

“We are waiting for a report that we expect to receive in the near future,” said spokesperson Maria Miller on Thursday afternoon. “We must have that before a decision can be made in this matter. We do not expect to release anything at this time.”

But Friday morning a group of activists plan to hold a silent vigil outside the courthouse, saying the prosecutor promised the investigation would be released by tomorrow.

Potholes are a familiar obstacle on Michigan roads.
Flickr user Michael Gil / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Democrats in the state Legislature are criticizing Republican plans to boost road funding. That’s as the House gets set to take up the debate next week.

The state Senate approved a plan last week that would boost the gas tax by 15 cents a gallon over three years and shift $700 million from other areas of the budget. It also includes a possible rollback in the state income tax rate.

 

Today on Stateside:

The Greek financial crisis could have implications for the world economy
user Duncal Hall / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

We’ve seen the images of people lined up at ATMs, hoping to withdraw a few euros.

Crowds sang and celebrated after voting against the terms of a bailout by international creditors.

The Greek financial meltdown has grabbed the attention of the world, and a pullout from the European Union could destabilize the world's financial markets.

House Bill 4183 wants to move public notices from the pages of your newspaper to the pages of your web browser
user Jon S / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Is it time to take public notices digital?

Those pages in our newspaper, with the government notices of election dates, upcoming public hearings, and legal descriptions of property to be sold or redeveloped are the focus of House Bill 4183.

It's a bill that could cost newspapers a long-time source of revenue, and it could shut out people who don't have Internet access.

Robert Sestok surveys the collection of his work he's installed on a vacant lot off of the Lodge.
Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

A tall man in most circles, Cass Corridor artist Robert Sestok is dwarfed next to his own artwork. His hulking metal sculptures are welded from urban scrap and transformed into undulating towers of shapes. More than a dozen of Sestok's works rise over the Lodge Freeway, on a previously vacant lot on Alexandrine Street in Detroit.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Another severe algal bloom will hit western Lake Erie later this summer, according to environmental scientists from the University of Michigan and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Last August, high levels of cyanobacteria shut down Toledo's drinking water supply.

Heavy rains in June have set up conditions for another severe bloom, ranking between an 8.1 and 9.5 on a 10-point scale. Any bloom greater than a 5.0 is of concern. Scientists say they can't predict whether there will be another "Toledo event," as that depends on how the bloom develops. 

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Michigan lawmakers have approved loaning more money to schools facing serious financial problems.

Long term, low interest emergency loans help school districts restructure and pay down their debt.

But the state’s Emergency Loan Board already offered more than $48 million dollars in loans to school districts, almost all the money state law allowed. Now the cap has been lifted to $70 million.

Flickr user Liza Lagman Sperl / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Motor City Blight Busters are developing Veteran's Village Center, which provides housing for veterans and the opportunity to work with their organization.

The Center is currently under renovation. It’s located in Northwest Detroit near other properties owned by Blight Busters. 

She Writes Press

When describing the previous ten years of her life, writer Kelley Clink explains, “Being a sister to him made me who I was. Losing him has made me who I am.”

Her brother's suicide in 2004 sent her on a journey of guilt, of mourning, of realizing that her brother is gone. And the feeling that she may be to blame.

Clink turned this emotional journey into a new memoir, A Different Kind of Same.

Vet to media: We're not all broken

Jul 9, 2015
Courtesy of Jason Hale

The Next Idea

I am a veteran of two wars – one in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan.  Joining the military has been the best decision of my life.  But if you spend any time watching the news or scrolling through social media, you might wonder why I would say that. 

I like to kick back and get wild and crazy late at night. For example, one thing I usually do is drink some strong coffee and read a detailed summary of what the legislature did that day. Reading the news from Lansing doesn’t usually make me laugh out loud.

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