News

Pages

Economy
10:42 am
Tue August 23, 2011

The Future of Michigan Railroads

A few weeks ago, I talked about efforts Michigan is making to improve passenger rail service between Detroit and Chicago, efforts which include buying and upgrading a portion of the track.

That prompted some enthusiastic response from people who said they were eager for more passenger rail service.

Not just to Chicago, that is, but everywhere. Some were older listeners, who had fond memories of Pullman cars and traveling the nation by rail back in the day. Others were romantics or environmentalists or people not in love with automobiles.

There do seem to be a lot of us who are tired of fighting roads and traffic jams and paying four dollars a gallon for gas. This got me to wondering whether railroads are in fact mostly a part of our romantic past, or an important segment of our transportation future.

Read more
News Roundup
8:54 am
Tue August 23, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, August 23rd
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Judge Orders Professors Back to Work

An Isabella County Circuit Court Judge has ordered Central Michigan University professors back into their classrooms. The order comes just a day after the CMU Faculty Association began a work stoppage. CMU and the professors’ union have been unable to negotiate a new contract. CMU Administration officials say the work stoppage is illegal because public employees are not allowed to strike under state law. A court hearing is scheduled for Friday.

Voters Unhappy with Snyder

A new poll shows Michigan voters remain disenchanted with Governor Snyder. From the Associated Press:

In the survey released Monday by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA, 33 percent gave the GOP governor a positive job rating while 62 percent gave him a negative rating and 5 percent were undecided. The results were virtually unchanged from EPIC-MRA's July poll. Forty-two percent of those polled last week said they have a favorable opinion of the governor, while the same percentage have an unfavorable opinion. Thirty-one percent say the state is headed in the right direction, while 54 percent say it's on the wrong track and 15 percent are undecided, similar to July's findings.

MI Congressman: Secure Weapons in Libya

Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers says as the Muammar Gadhafi regime loses power in Libya, the United States needs to make sure Libya’s weapons stockpiles don’t fall into the wrong hands. “Rogers chairs the House Select Intelligence Committee and was among a group of Republicans who supported stronger military support of the rebels in Libya, including a U.S. enforced “no-fly zone.” He says as Gadhafi loses power, the U.S. must move quickly to safeguard Libya’s advanced and chemical weapons,” Vincent Duffy reports.

Investigative
7:51 am
Tue August 23, 2011

Collapse of the salmon economy (Part 1)

Headed out to go salmon fishing on Lake Michigan near Grand Haven.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

To understand why salmon are so important to the Great Lakes and the Michigan economy, you first have to understand some history.

It used to be the lake trout was the fish to catch.  It was big.  It was tasty.  But, by the late 1950s, that fish and others had been severely over-fished.  And, an eel-like, blood-sucking parasite called the sea lamprey further reduced lake trout numbers.

Those weren’t even the worst problems for lake trout.  A fish called the alewife invaded the Great Lakes through manmade canals.  Lake trout starting feeding on alewives.  But  alewives caused a thiamine deficiency in lake trout.  A lack of vitamin B-1.

Mark Gaden is with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission

“The thiamine deficiency that the alewives cause is one of the top reasons why natural reproduction has been very slow to occur over the decades in the Great Lakes of these species.”

Catching a lake trout became rare.

Read more
Politics
7:39 am
Tue August 23, 2011

Snyder scheduled to make first international trip as governor

Governor Rick Snyder (R-MI)
Michigan Municipal League Flickr

Governor Snyder will travel to Asia late next month. “Snyder's office said Monday the Republican governor is expected to arrive in Tokyo on Sept. 25. The trip is expected to include stops in Japan, China and South Korea. Snyder is scheduled to return to Michigan on Oct. 1. The international trade trip would be Snyder's first as governor,” the Associated Press reports.

Geralyn Lasher, the Governor’s Communications Director, told the Detroit News that the Governor will be, “talking to … businesses about why investment in our state is such a sound idea.” From the News:

Snyder is to be accompanied by MEDC CEO Mike Finney, Agriculture Director Keith Creagh and four economic development officials, MEDC spokesman Mike Shore said. He could not provide a cost estimate for the trip, but said no general fund money would be used. Airfare will be paid by the Michigan Economic Development Foundation, supported by donations, and other costs will be paid by the group's corporate funds, most of which come from a tax on American Indian casinos, he said.

Snyder is scheduled to arrive in Tokyo on Sept. 25 for the 43rd annual joint meeting of the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association and the Japan-Midwest U.S. Association. He also plans to meet with Michigan-based companies in Beijing, attend trade-related functions in Shanghai and travel to Seoul before leaving for home on Oct. 1.

Election 2012
7:04 am
Tue August 23, 2011

Conyers not saying if he's swapping seats with Clarke

U.S. Representative John Conyers (D)
Photography Courtesy of www.conyers.house.gov

U.S. Rep. John Conyers is remaining mum on whether he'll run for re-election in the redrawn 13th District now that fellow Democratic incumbent Hansen Clarke says he'll run in Conyers' new district.

The two congressmen currently represent districts made up mostly of Detroit. Both were drastically redrawn by Republicans to add minority voters outside Detroit to make up for the city's shrinking population.

Democrats have said the new districts are examples of gerrymandering and are threatening to sue in federal court.

But Clarke spokeswoman Kim Bowman said Monday that Clarke had decided to switch districts rather than waiting. She says the 14th District includes more of the voters Clarke now represents.

Conyers' office is declining comment on whether the 82-year-old will swap districts with the 54-year-old Clarke.

Economy
6:39 am
Tue August 23, 2011

Report: Traffic crashes add up to $4.8 billion a year in economic costs

ChazWags Flickr

A new State Police report says traffic crashes in Michigan carry a price tag of $4.8 billion dollars a year. The report says the cost of traffic crashes in Michigan exceeds the cost of crimes.

Researchers used data from 2009, when the human toll of traffic crashes was 937 deaths and more than 70,000 injuries. They put the economic damage for those crashes at $4.8 billion dollars. That includes the cost of medical care, property damage, and lost earnings, among other things.

The institute also used data on jury awards to put a value on pain and suffering caused by traffic crashes, which put the number over $9 billion dollars. The study compared the dollar loss from crashes to the cost of violent and property crimes that are tracked by the state, and found the costs of crime are dwarfed by the costs of traffic crashes.

The report was commissioned by the state Office of Highway Safety Planning and was conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

Lansing
11:45 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

Lansing facing big projected shortfall in next year's city budget

Two months into the fiscal year, Lansing city leaders are being warned of a looming multi-million dollar budget shortfall.  Lansing City Finance Director Jerry Ambrose told the city council last night that current budget projections suggest the capital city could be looking at a projected $12 to $15 million budget shortfall next year. 

Council president A’Lynne Robinson says given the past few years, the news isn't unexpected. She hopes a ten month head start will help the city council and mayor deal with the budget problem.  

“We are trying to learn from some of the things we have learned have not been very successful…as far as how we have worked together with the administration…and I think we’ve made some progress.”  

Robinson predicts the administration may want to ask voters for a millage increase to deal with next year's expected budget shortfall. Lansing voters rejected a millage increase in May. That forced deep budget cuts and layoffs in public safety this year.

Lansing
11:38 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

Lansing voters will decide future of eastside parkland

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Lansing voters will decide in November if the city can sell 12 acres of city parkland for future private development. A divided city council last night agreed to put the question on the ballot. There's no developer or actual plan on the table yet for the Red Cedar golf course land. 

Bob Trezise is the president of the Lansing Economic Development Corporation. He says the making the land available will help the city market it to potential developers.  

“It strikes us as a great area to try to develop."  

Several city council members questioned whether the city should focus on getting previous economic development plans working before starting new ones. Councilman Eric Hewitt voted against moving the parkland sale before the voters. He says the city's track record in similar projects is not good.  

"We’ve had all these other ‘visions’…we’ve had lots of ‘gateways’…but none of them have seemed to come about.”

Mayor Virg Bernero says the proceeds of the sale of the Red Cedar land could be channeled into improving Lansing's other city parks.

Politics
5:46 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

Fewer town hall meetings, less face time with lawmakers

kelbycarr / flickr

Town hall meetings give voters the chance to come face to face with the politicians who represent them. Recently, most of Michigan’s seventeen U.S. Senate and House members have been steering clear of town hall meetings.

Instead some Congressional members are turning to tele-town hall meetings where they can talk over the phone with constituents. In these settings people can also send emails or use social media such as Twitter to ask questions or give comments.

In this interview Kathy Barks Hoffman, Lansing Correspondent of the Associated Press says:

I think a lot of Congressional members know that voters are not happy with them, that's what the polls show, and I think they are a little reluctant to go head to head [with voters].

Read more
Politics
5:18 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

Rogers warns US must secure weapons in Libya

Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers says as the Muammar Gadhafi regime loses power in Libya, the United States needs to make sure Libya’s weapons stockpiles don’t fall into the wrong hands.

Rogers chairs the House Select Intelligence Committee and was among a group of Republicans who supported stronger military support of the rebels in Libya, including a U.S. enforced “no-fly zone.”

He says as Gadhafi loses power, the U.S. must move quickly to safeguard Libya’s advanced and  chemical weapons.

"Unfortunately we know through intelligence that Al-Qaeda is trying to take advantage of the chaos and obtain those weapons systems or at least components of them or incomplete weapons systems or all of those things. They are making that effort."

President Obama says the United States will be a friend and partner to help a democratic Libya emerge in the post-Gadhafi era. He says U.S. assistance will continue to be part of a multinational effort to help Libya.

Economy
5:09 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

Michigan farmers talk about the future of agriculture industry

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) speaks with Jim May inside his barn in Sparta Monday afternoon.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Senator Debbie Stabenow visited a farm in West Michigan Monday to discuss how to expand the agriculture industry.

Stabenow is chairwoman the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

“We all have a stake in our farmers doing well because we all have a stake in having food security, in making sure we have wholesome, American grown, Michigan grown food for us.”

Read more
Education
5:08 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

Judge signs injunction, orders CMU faculty back to work

Update: 5:08 p.m.

The Central Michigan University Faculty Association plans to comply with Judge Duthie's order.

From their press release:

Laura Frey, CMU Faculty Association President said, “We will obey the court order and return to work tomorrow. But this does not end the issue. The faculty remains strong and committed to securing a fair and equitable contract for members.”

Read more
Auto
3:49 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

Ford and Toyota to develop a hybrid truck system together

Ford's Derrick Kuzak and Toyota's Takeshi Uchiyamada

Ford Motor Company sprang a surprise on the media world on Monday by announcing it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Toyota to jointly develop a rear-wheel drive hybrid system for SUVs and trucks.

Ford is the undisputed king of the pickup in the U.S.  Its F-series pickup has been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for 25 years.

Toyota is the undisputed king of the hybrid - the Prius is the best-selling hybrid in the U.S.

Read more
Education
2:55 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

CMU faculty strike, picketers confront president

Faculty picketed on Central Michigan University's campus today.
CMU

The Central Michigan University Faculty Association declared a strike on the first day of classes today.

Members of the Faculty Association and those supporting the union formed picket lines around the campus today.

Reporter David Jesse described the scene on the CMU Campus for the Detroit Free Press:

Read more
Politics
2:47 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

Bing unveils another incentive program for Detroit homeowners

Dave Bing

In an effort to lure people back to the city, Detroit officials have unrolled generous housing incentives programs for police officers and city employees.

That’s left many current residents asking about similar help for people who never left the city.

Now, Mayor Dave Bing has announced such a program. It’s a grant program through Citizens bank to help homeowners make exterior improvements.

Bing says improving how neighborhoods look can start a positive domino effect.

Read more
Politics
2:28 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

Marchers protest racial profiling, federal immigration agencies in Detroit

Protester Dan Murray
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Hundreds of people rallied against racial profiling and for immigration reform in southwest Detroit Saturday.

The marchers protested what they call the increasingly abusive tactics directed toward members of Detroit’s Latino and Arab communities.

Protesters singled out Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol. They say those federal agencies have created a climate of fear, especially in southwest Detroit’s immigrant communities.

Read more
Presidential Visit
12:41 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

President Obama to visit Detroit on Labor Day

The U.S Army Flickr

President Obama will travel to Detroit on September 5th to speak at the city's annual Labor Day festivities, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

The White House says Obama will speak at a Labor Day event sponsored by the Metro Detroit Central Labor Council... Obama has touted his administration's work to rescue General Motors and Chrysler, which are both headquartered in the Detroit area.

President Obama was in Michigan earlier this month, when he toured an advanced battery manufacturing plant in Holland.

Commentary
11:44 am
Mon August 22, 2011

Odd Man Out

There’s a game of musical chairs going on right now to determine which congressman will end up without a job a year from January. Yesterday, the likely outcome became a little more clear.

First of all, a little background: Michigan is losing a seat in congress because of national population shifts. The legislature redrew the boundary lines, and since Republicans control everything in Lansing, they made sure it would be a Democrat who lost out.

The only question was, which one? When the proposed new districts were revealed, it seemed at first that Oakland County’s Gary Peters would be the certain loser. The area in which he lives and fellow Democrat Sander Levin lives wound up in the same district.

The two men could run against each other in next August’s primary, of course, but on paper, Peters wouldn’t stand a chance.

Most of the new district is territory Levin has been representing, so he has home field advantage. Sandy Levin is also a sort of an icon. He was first elected to the state senate before Peters was six years old. He’s completing thirty years in Congress.

Read more
Politics
11:14 am
Mon August 22, 2011

Michigan voters remain disenchanted with governor

Governor Rick Snyder. 33 percent of those polled gave the Governor a positive job rating.
Russ Climie Tiberius Images

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A poll indicates Michigan voters remain disenchanted with the job being done by Gov. Rick Snyder.

In the survey released Monday by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA, 33 percent gave the GOP governor a positive job rating while 62 percent gave him a negative rating and 5 percent were undecided.

The results were virtually unchanged from EPIC-MRA's July poll.

Forty-two percent of those polled last week said they have a favorable opinion of the governor, while the same percentage have an unfavorable opinion.

Thirty-one percent say the state is headed in the right direction, while 54 percent say it's on the wrong track and 15 percent are undecided, similar to July's findings.

The Aug. 13-16 poll of 600 likely voters had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Air Show
10:52 am
Mon August 22, 2011

Feds probe wing walker death at Michigan air show

DETROIT (AP) - The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are at Selfridge Air National Guard base in southeastern Michigan investigating the death of stunt wing walker who fell to his death at an air show.

The FAA says Monday that the agency can't release any details yet surrounding the death of Todd Green.

The experienced stunt man fell 200 feet to the ground Sunday afternoon while trying to move from a Stearman plane to a helicopter.

Technical Sgt. Dan Heaton says Green hit the ground about 1,500 feet from the crowd line. An estimated 75,000 spectators were on hand for the show.

The air show at the base in Harrison Township, about 20 miles northeast of Detroit, began Friday and ended Sunday.

Pages