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Law
2:18 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Energy giant faces criminal trial on bid-rigging in Michigan lease sale

Credit World Resources Institute

You might recall that earlier this year Michigan’s attorney general filed charges against two energy giants.

Encana Oil and Gas USA and Chesapeake Energy were accused of colluding to lower the price of land leases for oil and gas exploration.

Last Friday, a Michigan Cheboygan County District Court judge ruled that Chesapeake Energy Corp must face a criminal trial, citing evidence of a conspiracy between the companies.

Reuters quoted Judge Maria Barton of Michigan’s Cheboygan County District Court:

"The direct and circumstantial evidence established that the parties did in fact strike an agreement to bid-rig the State sale." 

Part of that evidence could have come from Encana Oil. That company struck a plea deal with the State of Michigan in exchange for its help in Michigan's anti-trust case Chesapeake Energy. Encana also agreed to pay a $5 million fine.

This past May, MPRN's Rick Pluta reported:

 If Encana lives up to its end of the bargain, the state will drop other criminal charges at a sentencing hearing in 11 months.

Chesapeake Energy is the nation’s second-largest producer of natural gas.

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Stateside
1:30 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Detroit's minor league soccer team has a huge following, and they know a lot of chants

Going into battle
Melanie Kruvelis

The World Cup is over. And even if you weren't rooting for Germany or Argentina, the game was really something to watch. (Germany won, for all the non-sports fans out there.)

In addition to the game itself, the fans are just as fun to watch.

They paint flags on their faces, and scream, and cry a lot. 

Those fans exist outside of Brazil, too. There's an intense support section for the Detroit City Football Club. The minor league soccer team is called Le Rouge, and is in its third season.

Before the game, a lot of fans and supporters go to a bar and rally the troops.

Then the "Northern Guard" march to the stadium. There are smoke bombs, drums, gas masks, megaphones, and a lot of rouge and gold. 

Throughout the entire game, there's chanting -- some of which could never air on public radio.

According to Alex Wright, one of the DCFC co-owners, about 2/3 of the team play for their college team during the school year. The home games at Cass Tech High School began selling out this season, and Friday's game sold out by record numbers. 

Wright said that he and the other co-owners wanted to create the team because they're committed to the city. Wright doesn't believe that soccer is going to save Detroit, but it's just a reason to feel good about what's going on in the city. 

DCFC's season is over now, but fans like "Big Vytau" plan to come back next year -- and probably for a few years after that.

*Listen to the full interview above

Stateside
11:14 am
Mon July 14, 2014

This Michigan woman was a conductor on the Underground Railroad

Laura Smith Haviland in about 1879.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

When you think of the Underground Railroad, one name you may not recognize is Laura Smith Haviland.

She helped many slaves escape from the South to freedom, and she was from Michigan.

Michigan was a crucial stop on the Underground Railroad.

Before and during the Civil War, many Michiganders helped slaves escape to freedom in Canada by crossing the border in Port Huron or Detroit.

In 1832, Laura Haviland co-founded the Logan Female Anti-Slavery Society and the Raisin Institute, which became a safe space for African American fugitives of slavery and attracted black settlers in Michigan.

In the 1840s and 1850s, Haviland traveled between Michigan, Ohio, and Canada assisting slaves in escapes, teaching African American students, and making public anti-slavery speeches.

Southern slave owners had a $3,000 reward for her capture.

Tiya Miles is chair of the Department of African-American Studies at the University of Michigan and will be a keynote speaker at the National Underground Railroad Conference being held in Detroit this week.

“Laura Haviland was an incredible woman, and she is someone who faced daunting challenges that you and I - I don’t think, could ever imagine,” Miles said.

Miles said that women were not expected to be independent and involved in political issues at this time. There was a lot of criticism of her from her fellow abolitionists. She was seen as someone who outright rejected the conservative gender roles.

The National Parks Service is hosting its annual conference on the Underground Railroad in Detroit from July 16 to July 20. The theme is "Women and the Underground Railroad."

*Listen to the full interview above

Politics & Government
10:52 am
Mon July 14, 2014

You get what you pay when hiring private company for Michigan prisons: embarrassing failures

I’d like to start the week with a thought that some will consider heresy: sometimes, privatization just doesn’t work.

There are some functions and responsibilities that government handles better.

American is gung-ho for privatization these days, both to save money, and because government at all levels has become something we love to hate. Thanks to years of being told that government is bad, corrupt, expensive and inefficient, we are happy to reduce its size.

Well, we may not be quite ready to hand the nuclear arsenal over to an assets management firm, but apart from that, anything goes. And frankly, there are some things that probably should be privatized.

Garbage collection, for example.

But Michigan decided last year to privatize food service in our prisons, and so far, it has been a highly embarrassing failure.

The Detroit Free Press used the state Freedom of Information Act to find out what’s happened since the state contracted with a private food services company, Aramark Correctional Services of Pennsylvania.

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Environment & Science
9:53 am
Mon July 14, 2014

A new proposed pipeline in Michigan could run along Line 6B

Jeff Insko took a photo of his backyard during the Enbridge Line 6B replacement project.
Credit Jeff Insko

A proposed natural gas pipeline could run through Michigan on its way to the Canadian border.

ET Rover, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, is planning a pipeline that would run through about 180 miles of Michigan. Some of it would track the same route as the controversial Enbridge 6-B pipeline that was recently replaced.

The company has sent out about 15,000 letters to landowners on and around the proposed line, asking for permission to do land surveys.

ET Rover will then submit a plan to the federal government for review. Vicki Granado is the company's spokesperson.

"It’s important to Energy Transfer that we reach out and communicate and meet people and we talk to them," said Granadao.  "It’s also important that as we do work in these communities, that we are very respectful of people’s property and of all of the environmental concerns."

Jeff Insko is a landowner in Oakland County whose backyard was torn up for the Line 6B project.

"The prospect of having to go through it all over again is utterly demoralizing," said Insko. "People are disheartened and some of them are angry; some of them are stubborn and ready to fight."

ET Rover will hold an open house tonight in Fenton to update residents on the proposal.

– Reem Nasr, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Economy
9:01 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Mayor to announce "Detroit Homecoming"

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Detroit is going to hold a little get-together to persuade former residents to come back home.

Mayor Mike Duggan wants former Detroiters to visit the city for a homecoming. The idea is to attract people who wrote off their relationship with the city. The "Detroit Homecoming" is aimed to bring them back for a visit, a little flirtation. After all, Detroit should be getting through its messy bankruptcy by then. It will be a little brighter, with thousands of  new LED streetlights. The parks are being mowed.

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Health
6:28 pm
Sun July 13, 2014

Study suggests if you want better grades in college, spend time at the gym

Cardio machines
Credit psurecreation

Students who purchased a gym membership at Michigan State University got better grades and were less likely to drop out, according to a study by MSU Professor of Kinesiology James Pivarnik.

Pivarnik says there are studies that show K-12 students do better in school if they get exercise, but this is one of the first studies suggesting there could be an academic benefit for college students who work out.

And there's ample evidence that exercise is good for people's mental and physical health. 

"The hard part is, well, how do we get people to do it?" asks Pivarnik.  "And if part of it is, having to pay this fee, then, okay."

Pivarnik says he has to do other studies to rule out what else could account for the better grades. 

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That's What They Say
10:08 am
Sun July 13, 2014

Uncles have avuncular, what do aunts have?

Uncles have their own adjective in avuncular, but aunts don’t have any such adjective.

On this week's edition of That's What They Say, host Rina Miller and University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan explore adjectives related to family members.  

“Paternal related to fathers, maternal for mothers, fraternal for brothers, sororal, which is not a really common adjective but it’s available in the language related to sisters. You get filial related to sons and daughters, and then parental for parents,” says Curzan.   

She also points out that these adjective that come from Latin often feel more formal than their Germanic synonyms.

“What we are seeing here is a wider pattern in the English language where we have these synonyms where one is borrowed like paternal or maternal and one of them is a native English word. It’s a Germanic word that’s been in English since English has been around. And often the native English word will feel warmer to us. It will feel closer to us and the borrowed one will feel a little bit more formal.”

Listen to the segment above.

Politics & Government
10:06 am
Sat July 12, 2014

The week in review: Art, oil, schools and money

Credit Julie Falk / Flickr

Week in Review interview for 7/12/14

This Week in Review, while Emily Fox sits in for Rina Miller, she and Jack Lessenberry discuss how selling works from the Detroit Institute of Arts wouldn't make financial sense in helping with the city's bankruptcy, the threat of an oil spill under the Straits of Mackinac, and money problems with Flint Community Schools.

Politics & Government
8:00 am
Sat July 12, 2014

Is building deconstruction viable on a large scale? Project suggests it just might be

Workers deconstructing a home.
Credit via SER Metro

Wayne County officials say a large project proves that building deconstruction is becoming a viable alternative to demolition.

Deconstruction is the process of carefully taking apart abandoned properties, and salvaging as many materials from them as possible.

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Newsmaker Interview
8:07 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Congressman Kildee says some Central American refugees will likely come to Michigan

Dan Kildee is a Democrat representing Michigan’s 5th Congressional district which includes Bay City, Saginaw, and Flint.
Credit Steve Carmody

In recent weeks we’ve been hearing about the surge of undocumented minors from Central America crossing into the U.S. Some call it a humanitarian crisis while others look at it as the result of a failed immigration policy. 

Wolverine Human Services has applied to be a sub-contractor to house these children at their facility in Vassar.

Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee talk about where things stand right now. 

"I think there is some degree of likelihood that Wolverine will be providing some shelter for these young unaccompanied minors that have made their way to our border," said Kildee.

Listen to the full interview above.

Law
6:38 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Detroit "grand bargain" ballots were due today

Credit Sam Beebe

Today was the deadline for Detroit retirees to vote on the city’s bankruptcy restructuring plan, known formally as a “plan of adjustment.”

The California firm tallying the votes had to receive them by today.

All creditors get to vote on the plan of adjustment. But pensioners’ votes are particularly key—especially when it comes to the future of the “grand bargain.”

That’s the deal to use more than $800 million in public and foundation money to minimize pension cuts, and protect the Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection from being sold to pay off creditors.

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Auto
3:07 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

No, car sales are not going to just keep growing and growing forever

This has been a very good year for car sales.
Credit GM

Here's the main case to be made for annual car sales in the U.S. exceeding 18 million some day: 

Unlike other mature car markets (Europe), the U.S. population is still growing.  So....the more people there are, the more cars they will buy.  

The argument acknowledges that many young people are postponing buying cars, but says that's just because it's hard to get a job right now.  As soon as the economy improves, they'll buy cars, just like their parents.

But a new study by AlixPartners says that's ignoring a lot of trends that will push car ownership rates down.

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Politics & Government
2:52 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Listen to the call-in show with Mark Schauer, Democratic candidate for Michigan governor

Mark Schauer
Credit www.markschauer.com

This morning, Democratic candidate for Michigan Governor Mark Schauer joined us on a statewide call-in show.

Here’s a shot of the team getting ready for the show in the WKAR studio:

Schauer answered questions about his plans for education, the city of Detroit, retiree pensions, road funding and more during the hour-long program.

If you missed it, you can listen to it here:

The "Michigan Calling" program with Mark Schauer.

It's Just Politics
2:05 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Signed a petition to oppose Asian carp? You actually signed a petition to allow wolf hunting

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

This week, pretty much unnoticed, the deadline came and went for opponents to file challenges to petitions filed by the Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management campaign to initiate a law. This is part of the ongoing political battle over wolf hunting in the Upper Peninsula.

The CPWM petition drive would create a new version of the law to allow wolf hunting, and it would take future decisions on designating game animals and put it with the state Natural Resources Commission instead of the Legislature.

Now, not everyone may recognize that petition campaign. But, if you signed a petition to oppose Asian carp in the Great Lakes, you signed a petition to allow wolf hunting in the UP. If you signed a petition to allow active duty military personnel to get free hunting and fishing licenses, you signed a petition to allow wolf hunting.

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Auto
11:33 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Some Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos recalled

A 2011 Durango.
Credit IFCAR / Flickr

Chrysler says it is recalling 651,000 Jeep and Dodge SUVs in the U.S. because vanity mirror lights that have undergone repairs can short circuit and start a fire if not reassembled correctly.

The recall is for certain 2011 to 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango models. Chrysler says it has seen the problem only in lighted sun visor mirrors that have been repaired. But as a precaution, it says the recall applies to all of the vehicles.

The automaker says it knows of three injuries caused by the lighted mirror.

Chrysler will contact customers and let them know when they can have the problem fixed.

The recall will total 895,000 SUVs around the world. About 45,000 are in Canada, 23,000 are in Mexico and 175,000 are outside North America.

Chrysler says customers with additional questions can call their customer assistance center at 1-800-853-1403.

Sports
10:37 am
Fri July 11, 2014

The influence of a little league baseball coach can last a lifetime

Credit user: Edwin Martinez / Flickr

  

Last summer, I told you about Coach Mac, my little league baseball coach who believed in me, and helped me rise from the team’s worst player to become the team’s captain in one season.

I didn’t know where my old coach was, but after the story aired, I received a thank you letter from Coach Mac himself. This week, Coach Mack passed away.

The summer before Mac McKenzie became our little league baseball coach, I spent the season picking dandelions in right field, and batting last. But just weeks after Coach Mac took over, I rose to starting catcher, lead-off hitter, and team captain.

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Business
10:28 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Whirlpool looks to acquire controlling stake in Italian appliance maker for $1 billion

Credit Spotrebice Whirlpool / Creative Commons

Michigan-based Whirlpool has entered into an agreement to buy a controlling stake in an Italian appliance maker.

Whirlpool is expected to spend $1 billion to purchase more than two-thirds of the voting stock of Indesit, the company announced last night. The Italian based company employs 16,000 people. It sells appliances mostly in Western Europe under the name brands of Indesit, Hotpoint and Scholtès.

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Education
10:27 am
Fri July 11, 2014

So, how big is Flint schools' deficit? Depends who you ask

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Community Schools says it's got a $20 million deficit ($10 million of which was only recently discovered, according to the district.)

But if you ask Lisa Hagel, Flint Community Schools owes another $8.6 million on top of that.

Hagel is the superintendent of the Genesee Intermediate School District, which is now suing Flint schools over allegedly misspending $8.6 million of countywide tax money.  

The money was supposed to go to the Genesee Area Skill Center for vocational training. Instead, it was blended into the general fund of the Flint Community Schools.

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Politics & Government
10:26 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Thwarted once, UAW tries different tack in Chattanooga

An assembly workers at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee factory. The factory builds the VW Passat.
Credit Volkswagen

It hasn't been a good two years for the UAW.

In late 2012, Governor Snyder signed a law making Michigan - the birthplace of the UAW - a so-called right-to-work state.  The new law allows people in unionized workplaces to opt out of paying union dues. 

Then, in February of 2014, the union lost a key vote to organize more than 1,500 blue-collar employees at Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant.

UAW leaders appeared confident, at first, that the vote would go their way.

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