News

Pages

Politics
12:01 pm
Mon November 21, 2011

Detroit Water and Sewerage Department gets director

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is getting a new director.

The city of Detroit announced Monday that Sue McCormick has been approved for the post by the Board of Water Commissioners. She's most recently served as Public Services Administrator for Ann Arbor and previously worked for the Lansing Board of Water and Light.

The job has been vacant since mid-2010. McCormick will start work Jan. 1.

McCormick's appointment by Mayor Dave Bing followed a Nov. 4 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox, who is ensuring the department's compliance with Clean Water Act regulations. The ruling reorganized the department and gave the director's position expanded power.

The department supplies water to about 4 million people southeast Michigan.

Commentary
11:41 am
Mon November 21, 2011

Emergency Manager On Hold?

There’s been a lot of speculation lately about the possibility of Detroit getting an emergency manager, something almost everybody concerned says they are against, but fear is likely to happen anyway.

If it does, the manager will have near-autocratic powers, including the right to suspend, rewrite, or tear up contracts. Some think this is a painful necessity, while others think it will be the death of democracy. There’s a possibility, however, which most people aren’t considering, which is that everything may be put on hold.

Read more
Station News
10:56 am
Mon November 21, 2011

Ed Burrows, former Michigan Radio station manager, dies at 94

Edwin G. Burrows operating a reel to reel machine at Michigan Radio. Burrows was instrumental in securing federal funding for public radio. He helped to make sure radio was included in the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967.
Bentley Historical Library

Edwin G. Burrows who was Michigan Radio's station manager from 1948-1970 passed away yesterday at the age of 94.

Burrows was one of the leaders involved in securing federal funding for public radio through the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. Current.org has more on the interesting history of how radio was included in that legislation.

Below is the obituary from the family.

Read more
Politics
10:32 am
Mon November 21, 2011

Ohio to Michigan: Please build a new bridge to Canada

michiganjournal.org
Staff

The Ohio state Senate has approved a resolution supporting a new international bridge between Detroit and Windsor.   

The senators say Ohio needs that bridge as much as Michigan does. 

Ohio senators say their state does $31 billion worth of bilateral trade with Canada every year – trade that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in Ohio. 

The bi-partisan resolution says trade and travel between Ohio and Canada will only increase in the future, and a modern border crossing is essential to support it.  The resolution notes the age of the existing Ambassador Bridge, at 83 years. 

Owners of the Ambassador Bridge have lobbied fiercely to block a new bridge, and Republicans in the Michigan legislature recently shelved bills to start a public-private partnership with Canada, despite Governor Snyder’s strong support for the bills.   

Governor Snyder says he still hopes to win the legislature's support for the project, which will cost the state nothing, because Canada and Ontario have offered to pay the state's $550 million share of the cost.

News Roundup
8:47 am
Mon November 21, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, November 21st, 2011
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Can You Spare $60 Million?

Lawmakers return to the state Capitol next week and topping their agenda: coming up with $60 million to fill a budget gap created by the state Supreme Court’s decision last Friday on Michigan’s new pension tax. Rick Pluta explains:

The court upheld the tax on pensions, but said denying a tax break to some higher-earners effectively created a graduated income tax, which is not allowed under the state constitution. That part of the decision blew a $60 million hole in the state budget. Sixty million dollars is a small part of a general fund budget that exceeds $8 billion. But it is an amount the governor and the Legislature will need to make up to meet their obligation under the state constitution to have a balanced budget.

Bridge Opposition

A new poll shows that likely voters in the state oppose a plan to build a new international bridge connecting Detroit to Windsor, Ontario. The Associated Press reports:

The poll for the Detroit Free Press and WXYZ-TV showed 59 percent oppose the project, 30 percent support it and 11 percent were undecided… The Republican governor supports the new bridge, saying it is crucial to expanding trade between the U.S. and Canada. But the private owners of the Ambassador Bridge already spanning the Detroit River oppose a second bridge, saying a publicly supported bridge would unfairly compete with their own.

MI: 3rd Most Reliant on Food Stamps

“Michigan households relied on food stamps last year more than all but two other states, according to the U.S. Census Bureau,” the Lansing State Journal reports. “The states with the highest food stamp participation rates were Oregon (17.9 percent) and Tennessee (17 percent.) States with the lowest participation rates included California (7.4 percent), New Jersey (6.8 percent) and Wyoming (6.2 percent). The national rate was 11.9 percent,” LSJ.com explains.

Culture of Class
7:00 am
Mon November 21, 2011

Class and the courts

There, perhaps, is no moment in life when the difference in class is more apparent than when you are accused of a crime.  The wealthy hire the best lawyer they can.  If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided.  But, the kind of attorney you get in Michigan all depends on where you live.

Read more
Detroit
6:33 am
Mon November 21, 2011

Detroit schools emergency boss reports on finances

Roy Roberts, Emergency Manager of Detroit Public Schools
Photo courtesy of Detroit Public Schools

The state-appointed emergency manager of the Detroit Public Schools is releasing a half-year financial update on
the district Monday.

Roy Roberts has called a news conference for 11 a.m. to announce a six-month update and revised budget deficit projections.

In September, the district was facing a $327 million budget deficit. Its finances have been under state control since 2009.

Enrollment is about 66,000, down from 104,000 in 2007.

Detroit's schools have lost millions of dollars in state per-pupil funding as thousands of parents fled the district for city charters or suburban schools.

Politics
6:23 am
Mon November 21, 2011

Governor, Legislature need to find $60 million to balance budget

When the Legislature returns to the state Capitol next week, there will be another item added to its to-do list. That is: coming up with millions of dollars to fill a budget gap created by the state Supreme Court decision on Michigan’s new pension tax. The court upheld the tax on pensions, but said denying a tax break to some higher-earners effectively created a graduated income tax.

A graduated income tax is not allowed under the state constitution. That part of the decision also blew a $60 million hole in the state budget. Sixty million dollars is a small part of a general fund budget that exceeds $8 billion.

But it is an amount the governor and the Legislature will need to make up to meet their obligation under the state constitution to have a balanced budget. One possibility would be to use a projected surplus from last year’s budget to fill the gap. That number becomes official in January. But it appears the surplus will be somewhere near $400 million.

Lawmakers are already fighting over what to do with that money. Democrats say it should be used to restore some budget cuts to schools. Republicans say it should go into the state’s “rainy day” savings fund, or to pay down debt.

What's Working
12:06 am
Mon November 21, 2011

Volunteers paint Ann Arbor schools

Paint for Kids founder Gene Firn after a painting project at Lawton elementary in Ann Arbor. The ball of tape measures 3 ft in diameter.

Gene Firn is the founder of Paint for Kids, an Ann Arbor-based organization that mobilizes parents and community volunteers to paint schools.

Firn, who teaches a DIY painting class, was looking for practice walls for his students when he learned that the Ann Arbor school system doesn't have a painting department. He thought he could help, so he submitted a proposal.

The concept is simple: an experienced painter supervises parent volunteers as they transform hallways and classrooms over holiday weekends.

Michigan Radio's Christina Shockley spoke with Firn, who said that Paint for Kids fulfills the needs of local schools, but also attempts to create a culture of volunteering.

Read more
Politics
9:12 pm
Sun November 20, 2011

Congressman Dale Kildee denies sex abuse 50 years ago

Congressman Dale Kildee, official photo

Updated at 10:55 pm: The Flint Journal reports that Congressman Kildee WILL NOT hold a press conference on Monday. According to the newspaper, Kildee has agreed to "an in person interview with the Flint Journal and at least one other media outlet." Michigan Radio will also try to speak with Congressman Kildee on Monday.

Michigan congressman Dale Kildee (D) is denying allegations by distant relatives that he sexually abused a then-12-year-old second cousin several decades ago.

Read more
Auto/Economy
3:20 pm
Sun November 20, 2011

Could the auto industry help revive Toledo?

Three big, new investments by automakers in one Ohio city are raising hopes for a revived economy. Chrysler and General Motors have promised to spend more than $800 million on retooling and expanding their factories in Toledo.

These moves announced in recent months will create at least 1,400 jobs and keep thousands more. Parts suppliers also are expected to add more jobs in and around Toledo.

Chrysler announced plans on Wednesday to build a new Jeep SUV at its Toledo assembly plant while adding 1,100 jobs. It also hinted that more work could be coming.

That's why Toledo Mayor Mike Bell calls the news "the equivalent of a blood transfusion for our city."

Auto/Economy
9:01 pm
Sat November 19, 2011

Former GM CEO John Smale dies at 84

In this May 1993 file photo, General Motors Chairman John G. Smale appears at the automaker's annual meeting in Oklahoma City.
Associated Press Associated Press

Former GM Chairman John Smale led the company from late 1992 until the end of 1995. He died today in Cincinnati at the age of 84. He was a board member of the automaker for more than two decades starting in  1982.

Smale also led Cincinnati based Procter & Gamble from 1981 to 1990.

The Canadian with German ancestry graduated from Miami University (Ohio) in 1949. He joined P&G in 1952, working for what was then called the toilet goods division. He rose through the company, becoming president in charge of all U.S. operations in 1974 and chief executive in 1981. He added the chairmanship in 1986.

During his tenure, Smale moved P&G businesses into new markets in huge developing countries such as China, setting the stage for P&G's rapid growth in Asia in recent years. P&G also acquired Richardson-Vicks, which broadened the P&G portfolio to include Pantene shampoo, Olay skin cream and Vicks cough medicines, which are major brands today. In a smaller acquisition, P&G obtained the CoverGirl makeup brand that also is still growing.

At GM, Smale help change the structure of the automaker's management and put a renewed focus on customers.

Economy
4:01 pm
Sat November 19, 2011

Job prospects brighten (but not for older college grads)

 A Michigan State University study says the job market for this year’s college graduates looks better. But the same cannot be said for those who entered the job market during the past few years.   

Michigan State University’s annual Recruiting Trends study predicts a 4 percent rise in hiring of new college grads. But what about those who’ve graduated since the recession began in 2008? 

Phil Gardner is the director of MSU’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute.  He says job seekers who graduated between 2008 and 2011 are still not in demand. 

“So we have a huge problem for…about a three year pocket of graduates, and maybe even more, that are misaligned out there …haven’t been able to get attached to the labor market in a positive way," says Gardner.

Gardner says those graduates will just have to wait for hiring levels to increase substantially more before they will probably get their chance to get their career started.

Politics
2:46 pm
Sat November 19, 2011

Dear whiskey maker, please come visit MI

user cookbookman17 Flickr

A top Michigan Republican would like the makers of Jack Daniel's whiskey to consider moving north if the company decides to leave Tennessee.

House Speaker Jase Bolger has invited distillery managers to visit Michigan. He says the state's business climate is improving, and he noted the state's large supply of fresh water.

A spokesman for Jack Daniel's parent company said Friday there are no plans to visit Michigan or other places that have made similar offers since a dispute about taxes sprouted in Tennessee.

Some Moore County citizens have proposed a "barrel tax" for the Lynchburg, Tenn., distillery that could raise up to $5 million a year. They're asking Tennessee lawmakers to authorize a local referendum.  

The distillery is waiting to see what happens with the tax issue.

Sports
2:28 pm
Sat November 19, 2011

Power outage strikes The Big House at game time

Andrew Horne / wikimedia commons

The lights went out at Michigan Stadium Saturday morning, just an hour before game time with Nebraska.

An isolated power outage at the Big House left the facility without a P.A. system, scoreboard or countdown clocks.

But the game started anyway.

Jeff Arnold is a reporter with CBSsports.com.

He said things got a little complicated.

“It’s wreaked havoc for at least one of the offenses doing down toward the west end of the stadium, where the 25-second play clock is inoperable,” Arnold said.

Power was gradually restored to parts of the stadium, but reporters in the press box had to scramble as laptop batteries ran out of juice.

The national broadcast of the game was uninterrupted because the network had a backup generator.

The cause of the power outage hasn’t been revealed.

The Wolverines beat the Huskers, 45-17.

Politics
9:43 pm
Fri November 18, 2011

Detroit to cut 1,000 jobs

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced 1000 layoffs Friday.

Detroit faces a $45 million budget gap this fiscal year—and is poised to run out of cash by April.

Bing says the layoffs represent important savings—but they won’t close Detroit’s budget gap. He says city unions need to take a 10% pay cut.

“We have to talk to the union. If we don’t get concessions from the unions, none of the plans will work,” Bing said bluntly.

Bing gave the unions until Monday to agree, but talks between the two sides have gone nowhere.

Bing also insists he’s determined to go after tens of millions of dollars in revenue sharing the state owes Detroit from more than a decade ago.

“The state owes the city of Detroit $220 million,” Bing said. “I’m not afraid to ask for it, I’ve asked for it, I’m going after it.”

Republican leaders in Lansing have balked at Bing’s request.

Bing also says he won't submit the city's finances for a state review--something that Governor Snyder has said he "expected" Bing would do in light of Detroit's precarious situation.

Politics
5:54 pm
Fri November 18, 2011

Confusion reigns over what state should do with health care law

Business owners are trying to figure out how the federal Affordable Care Act might play out in Michigan and how it could affect their bottom line.

Under the law, states are required to create an online exchange where people could compare and buy health care insurance. States need to create the exchange by the end of 2012 or the federal government will do it for them.

Read more
Writers Series
5:35 pm
Fri November 18, 2011

Life Before Technology, with essay by Natalie Bakopoulos

Technology surrounds us. It seems we’re always connected to something…the internet, cell phones and social media. It can be difficult to unplug sometimes.

As part of our series Before Tech, Michigan writers share stories about their relationship to technology.

Today, writer Natalie Bakopoulos tells us about her college days, before the phenomena of social media.

She is an English professor at the University of Michigan.

Election 2011
5:34 pm
Fri November 18, 2011

Results stand after Benton Harbor recount vote

The results of the November eighth election in Benton Harbor stand.

Incumbent Mayor Wilce Cooke lost the election by eight votes. That’s less than one percentage point.

During a recount this week, both Cooke and Mayor elect James Hightower picked up two votes. So the end result remains the same even though the vote count changed slightly.

“We’re not trying to say there’s any hanky-panky going on – although it could be,” Cooke said.

He’s concerned about the absentee voting process; mainly who processed the votes and who may have had access. “There’s some issues we’re pursuing that I’m not able to divulge to you; but that’ll come out eventually,” Cooke said.

The state appointed an emergency manger to take over Benton Harbor’s finances during Cooke’s second term as mayor. The emergency manager expects to have the city’s finances back on track soon. He expects to turn power back over to the new mayor and city commission within the next eight months.

Politics
4:21 pm
Fri November 18, 2011

Michigan Supreme Court approves public pension tax

The Michigan Supreme Court says a new law taxing public pensions does not violate the state Constitution. 

The advisory opinion released today is a major victory for Governor Rick Snyder, who signed the sweeping tax changes earlier this year. Employee unions were opposed to the new law.

State officials expect the law will generate as much as $330 million dollars in revenue in 2013.

The court did say a portion of the law doesn't pass muster. The court ruled the tax could not be administered as a graduated income tax, which is illegal under the state constitution. And that means Governor Rick Snyder will have to go back and find more revenue or more cuts to make sure the state budget remains balanced.

However, the Supreme Court says that does not stop the rest of the tax overhaul from taking effect.

The court divided along party lines, with the four Republican justices making up the majority.  

The decision means the new tax on pensions will take effect January first largely as it was designed by Governor Rick Snyder and the Legislature. However, they will have to come up with a plan to make up some of the money they were counting on to balance the budget.

Pages