News

Pages

Commentary
11:08 am
Tue November 15, 2011

A Question of Guns

Yesterday was the twentieth anniversary of what was once a nationally famous tragedy; the post office shootings in Royal Oak, Michigan, in which five people died. This was one in a series of similar shootings, which left our language with the memorable term, “going postal.” The Detroit Free Press had an anniversary story about the event, together with the latest installment in their series “Living With Murder.” Well over 3,000 people have been murdered in Detroit in the last decade, almost all of them shot to death.

The newspaper looked at these killings and explored ways to try to stop them.  They wrote about neighborhood groups and citizens who go patrolling with the police.

Mayor Dave Bing said it was a problem of our young people getting “caught up in this violent culture,” and said we needed to stop showing disrespect for each other. I guess he thinks if we all do that and take a few moments to read the gospels, or maybe Martin Niemoller, we’ll be less likely to shoot strangers in the head.

Which may be true, but isn’t really very much of a practical solution. What was almost unbelievable to me, however, was that  there was no mention of doing something about the real problem: Guns. Disrespect doesn‘t kill people. Guns kill people.

Not every murder is committed with a gun. There will always be murders, at least until humans become extinct. But it would be hard to kill 21 people in a restaurant with an axe, and impossible to kill someone with a butcher knife who is three hundred yards away.

Read more
Politics
10:57 am
Tue November 15, 2011

FBI investigating Wayne County government

DETROIT (AP) - The head of the FBI office in Detroit says agents are busy investigating corruption in Wayne County government. Andrew Arena says agents were looking at the county before an economic development official was given a $200,000 severance for resigning to take a more lucrative job at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. After much criticism, she lost the airport post and agreed to repay the severance.

News Roundup
9:06 am
Tue November 15, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, November 15th, 2011
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Detroit Finances

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing will give a speech tomorrow night regarding his city’s troubled finances, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

City council member Gary Brown says Detroit is "broke." The Detroit Free Press is reporting Tuesday that the city will run out of cash by April unless immediate cuts are made.The newspaper says it obtained a report by Ernst & Young that the city won't release. The mayor plans to speak Wednesday at 6 p.m. It's possible that Detroit's poor health could lead to the appointment of an emergency manager with sweeping authority to make changes.

Dems Release Jobs Plan

Democratic lawmakers in Lansing have outlined a plan that they say would help small businesses grow and hire unemployed people. Rick Pluta explains:

The plan includes taking a portion of the money that’s in a state trust fund and investing it in local banks and credit unions to make small business loans. The Democratic package would allow small banks and credit unions to pool their finances to invest in larger projects…The plan also calls for a tax credit for small businesses that hire long-term unemployed people and veterans. Republicans shy away from job creation credits. They say the state should not single out specific businesses for tax breaks.

Deer Seasons Begins

Today is the first day of the state’s firearm deer season. “Some  675,000 hunters are expected to scour woods and rural areas across the state,” over the next 16 days, the Associated Press reports. There are more than 600,000 licensed deer hunters in the state. Rodney Stokes, Director of the state Department of Natural Resources,  says the firearm deer season generates about a half billion dollars for Michigan's economy.

Detroit
7:58 am
Tue November 15, 2011

Report: Detroit to run out of money by April

Detroit city skyline
Ifmuth Flickr

Detroit will run out of money in the first half of next year unless the city cuts its budget, the Detroit Free Press is reporting. From the Freep:

A closely guarded report on Detroit's finances paints an alarming picture of a city that will run out of cash by April unless officials make immediate, painful reductions that will cut deeply in to public services. The report, obtained by the Free Press, outlines some drastic scenarios that illustrate how steep those cuts must be for the city to stay afloat…

The problems are so severe and immediate, restructuring experts said, that the state may have no choice but to appoint an emergency manager with the authority to gut union contracts, sell assets, restructure the government and end nonessential services.

“The mayor plans to speak Wednesday at 6 p.m.,” about the city’s financial situation, the Associated Press reports. As the AP notes, “It's possible that Detroit's poor health could lead to the appointment of an emergency manager with sweeping authority to make changes.”

Read more
Culture of Class
7:00 am
Tue November 15, 2011

Mixing it up on the dance floor

DJ Urbn (pronounced "urban") says the club attracts a mix of people
DJ Urbn

On the dance floor at Stiletto’s nightclub in Inkster you will find nurses, hair stylists, factory workers, fast food employees, students, professors, and business people. They come from tight-knit neighborhoods in Detroit, ritzy enclaves in Royal Oak, and from university campuses.

People in their twenties dance next to senior citizens, and there is every shade of skin tone in this place.

The club’s personnel manager Carolyn Sopko calls the crowd diverse and inclusive.

Read more
State Politics
6:52 am
Tue November 15, 2011

Michigan Democrats release jobs plan

Democratic lawmakers at the state Capitol have released a plan that they say would help small businesses grow and hire the unemployed. “The plan includes taking a portion of the money that’s in a state trust fund and investing it in local banks and credit unions to make small business loans… the package would allow small banks and credit unions to pool their finances to invest in larger projects… and also calls for a tax credit for small businesses that hire long-term unemployed people and veterans,” Rick Pluta reports.

On Monday, “State Rep. Kate Segal of Battle Creek, the House Democratic floor leader, and Rep. Vicki Barnett of Farmington Hills proposed their 'Invest in Michigan: Small Business Jobs’ plan',” the Detroit News reports. “Segal said her bills offering incentives for hiring veterans and the long-term unemployed will be introduced when the Legislature returns from its two-week Thanksgiving break on Nov. 29,” the News explains.

It’s unlikely the measures will find support among Republican lawmakers. “Republicans shy away from job creation credits. They say the state should not single out specific businesses for tax breaks,” Pluta explains. Republicans are in the majority in both the state House and state Senate.

Politics
6:16 am
Tue November 15, 2011

Governor, House leader split on timing of health coverage exchanges

Inside the state Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Cedar Bend Flickr

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear a challenge to the federal Affordable Care Act has Republicans in Lansing divided on whether to adopt a state mandate in the law. It requires states to create health coverage exchanges for people and business owners to comparison shop online for insurance. It’s become a point of controversy between the governor and the state’s legislative Republicans.

Republican Governor Rick Snyder says the health care exchanges are a good idea that will benefit businesses and consumers regardless of how the Supreme Court rules. The governor says he’s also afraid Michigan would be thrown into a federally designed system if the Legislature does not act quickly. 

“Before the end of the year would be best in terms of being prepared.”

But Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger says he’s in no hurry and would rather wait for the Supreme Court to decide one way or the other.  

“I don’t expect the House to act until or unless we have to act.”

Bolger says he, like many Republicans, believes the federal law is unconstitutional and is likely to be struck down by the nation’s highest court. A decision is not expected before next summer.

Sports
1:01 am
Tue November 15, 2011

Into the woods - Michigan's firearms deer season starts today

Hunter Gabe Van Wormer walks in the woods a few days before the start of firearms deer season.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Today across Michigan many businesses are closed, absenteeism is up and even state legislators are taking the day off. This is Michigan’s unofficial state holiday, the first day of firearm deer season.  

Hunter Gabe Van Wormer and I recently went walking through some woods just north of Lansing. The area is hemmed in with suburban neighborhoods. But there are deer in these woods.  

Read more
Culture of Class
12:18 am
Tue November 15, 2011

Living next to heavy industry, pt. 1

The playground at the Salina Elementary school in Dearborn with the Severstal steel plant in the background.
Rebecca Williams/Michigan Radio

A little more than 50 years ago, Delores Leonard and her husband moved into their red brick ranch in Detroit.

“I selected it because the sun comes up over there in the morning and I was thinking about my flowers.”

They’ve raised their two kids here and now they have four grandchildren and five great-grandkids and they all live nearby.

But she says on any given day... she doesn’t know what she’ll smell when she steps outside.

“Sometimes it’s a kerosene odor. Sometimes it’s a horrible stench, like at a slaughterhouse. Sometimes, you’re out in public and people will say, ‘where do you live?’ And they’ll say,’ oh yes, I know that area, that stench, I don’t see how those people live there.’”

“There” is zip code 48217. It’s a corner of Southwest Detroit packed with heavy industry.

There’s the state’s only oil refinery, owned by Marathon Petroleum. The salt mine. The city’s wastewater treatment plant. DTE’s coal-burning power plant. Severstal Steel. And many more.

Delores Leonard grew up just a few streets over, in River Rouge. She remembers asking her dad why people were covering their cars with tarps.

“And he said it was because of the fallout, the pollution. Well, if they’re covering their cars so the paint pigmentation won’t peel, then what happens to the person who lives and who’s breathing all this stuff?”

Like Delores Leonard, a lot of people have lived here their whole lives.

Read more
Politics
6:44 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

"Occupy Detroit" camp avoids immediate shutdown

It looks like “Occupy Detroit” won’t be forced out of downtown Detroit’s Grand Circus Park immediately.

The group’s permit expires Monday, but Occupy protesters want the city to extend it for another two weeks.

It appears they will do so, though the Detroit City Council won’t finalize the issue until Tuesday. Detroit Police also say they’ll follow the Council’s lead, and won’t evict protesters.

Read more
Politics
6:29 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

UM says domestic partner benefits keep top talent in state

University of Michigan officials have sent a letter to all 38 Michigan state senators, asking them to vote “no” on a bill that would ban domestic partner benefits. 

Before Michigan voters approved a law that banned same-gender marriage, the University of Michigan and several other public universities in the state offered benefits to the same-sex partners of employees and their children. 

The language was later reworked to remove specific references to same-sex partnerships, substituting "other eligible individual,"  but the effect of the policies is the same.   

Read more
Politics
6:26 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

Detroit outlines action to battle bus crisis

Detroit’s Chief Operating Officer says the city will bring in an outside company to oversee bus maintenance.

Chris Brown says that’s part of Mayor Dave Bing’s strategy to address the city’s bus crisis. The situation has many Detroiters waiting as long as three hours for buses.

The city had instituted furlough days and cut overtime pay for bus mechanics, which led to a lack of buses on the streets. Officials have also accused bus mechanics of a deliberate work slowdown.

Read more
Culture of Class
4:36 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

How does an economist define 'class'?

Median household income by county in the United States in 2008.
United States Census Bureau Wikipedia

The issue of class has been in the news a lot lately. From the “Occupy Wall Street Movement” which has snowballed across the country, to “class warfare” accusations coming out of Washington, D.C.

We’ve also heard recent reports that show the nation’s middle class is shrinking while the top earners’ salaries have skyrocketed.

Over the next week and a half, Michigan Radio will explore this idea of “social class” and how it impacts our lives.

Read more
Politics
4:26 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

Dems call for hiring tax break, credit help for small businesses

Democrats in Lansing have outlined a package to help small businesses grow and hire unemployed people.

The plan includes taking a portion of the money that’s in a state trust fund and investing it in local banks and credit unions to make small business loans.

State Representative Vicki Barnett said that will help small businesses having trouble getting credit from larger banks and investment funds.

“We know that a very teeny investment can have huge dividends in terms of job creation and access to capital,” said Barnett.

“There is no other state that I know of that is taking this approach to aggressive investment – doing things they already do with taxpayer money and targeting it to grow jobs in their own state,”she added. 

The Democratic package would also allow small banks and credit unions to pool their finances to invest in larger projects.

Barnett says that would make larger loans possible while allowing the institutions to share the risk.

The plan also calls for a tax credit for small businesses that hire long-term unemployed people and veterans.

Republicans shy away from job creation credits. They say the state should not single out specific businesses for tax breaks.

Politics
2:33 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

Flint mayor calls for city to 'pull together'

Flint mayor Dayne Walling addresses a city hall audience after being sworn in for his first full four year term
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint mayor Dayne Walling said at his swearing in ceremony that the city should not wait for the appointment of an emergency manager to tackle its crime and economic problems.   

“Now is the time for us to pull forward together," Walling told the city hall audience that had come to see him sworn in for his first full four year term as mayor. Walling has been Flint's mayor for the past two years after winning a special election. 

Read more
Commentary
1:46 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

A Conversation with Geoffrey Fieger: Politics Today

Virtually everyone knows Geoffrey Fieger, the attorney whose first name often seems to be “flamboyant.”

Though he burst into national prominence 20 years ago as the attorney who kept Jack Kevorkian free, these days, he is mostly in the news for winning huge medical malpractice verdicts.

Last month, he racked up a $144 million judgment in a birth trauma case which is believed to be the largest medical malpractice suit in state history.

Read more
Politics
1:34 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

Michigan Democrats promote small business measures

The Michigan House of Representatives.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Democrats in the Michigan House are promoting legislation they say is designed to help small businesses hire more workers.

One measure detailed by Democrats on Monday would provide tax credits of up to $4,000 per person for small businesses that hire unemployed workers. The tax credits would be largest for hiring military veterans who have been jobless for a long time.

Other bills are aimed at developing a pool of money to loan to small businesses. The money would come through investments of a small percentage of state trust funds with Michigan credit unions and community banks, which in turn would make loans available to small businesses.

Democrats are in the minority in the House. The legislation could face an uphill climb to gain traction in the Republican-led chamber.

Detroit
11:51 am
Mon November 14, 2011

Fire at the old Packard Plant in Detroit

Some of the remains of the old Packard Motor Car Company in Detroit. Firefighters say they respond to fires at the plant monthly.
Becky Stern Flickr

A fire has been burning since at least 6:45 a.m. this morning in the old Packard Plant in Detroit.

More from the Detroit Free Press:

The fire was still burning at about 11 a.m., one of numerous blazes that firefighters respond to monthly at the plant, he said.

"When they’re over there with 30 (firefighters), that leaves holes in the city," Varnas said. "That’s why we have to stop these fires."

Arson Capt. Patrick McNulty said firefighters are only allowed to spray the blaze from outside the ruins of the old plant.

"There's standing orders not to go in there," McNulty said. "Too dangerous for the firefighters."

Offbeat
10:45 am
Mon November 14, 2011

Man stumbles upon $1,160, turns it in, now giving to charity

wikimedia commons

The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus reported on the find by an attorney from Howell, Jules Fiani.

They report that Fiani found $1,160 in a white envelope outside of a Dairy Queen last May. He turned the found money into police, but when no one claimed it, the police returned it to him.

From the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus:

Although Fiani could keep the money, he said, "It's all going to charitable organizations."

"It's found money and it's the right thing to do," Fiani said. "I wish I had more to give away."

The first $250 is earmarked for the Sheriff's Department's Shop With a Cop program, which pairs underprivileged children in the community with a police officer to shop for Christmas gifts.

"It's been really exciting dropping money off," Fiani said Thursday, noting that so far he's made donations to Make-A-Wish and Gleaners Community Food Bank.

Tourism
10:32 am
Mon November 14, 2011

Cruise ships to ply waters of the Great Lakes

Two cruise ships are getting ready to travel the Great Lakes starting next year. The Yorktown, a new vessel, is scheduled for 13 stops in Detroit. The Grand Mariner will have one stop.

Officials credit Detroit's new Public Dock and Terminal with generating at least some of the interest. The new terminal opened last July. The 14 planned stops are up from two stops by cruise ships this year.

*Correction - A previous version of this story stated that "roughly two-dozen cruise ships are getting ready to travel the Great Lakes starting next year." An official from the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority says just two ships will be making more than a dozen stops at the Public Dock and Terminal. The copy has been corrected above.

Pages