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6:17 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

First Detroit police officer gets new house with Project 14

steve carmody

The Detroit program meant to lure police officers back to live in the community they serve has officially welcomed its first resident.

Currently, most Detroit police officers live outside the city. Project 14 aims to entice them back with generous housing incentives.

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Economy
4:49 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Genesee commissioner suggests using portion of hotel tax to fund police

Genesee County Commissioner Joe Graves says a portion of hotel tax revenue should be used to put more police on patrol. Graves says better security will draw more visitors to the region's events and attractions.
co.genesee.mi.us

A Genesee County Commissioner says a portion of a hotel excise tax should be spent on police protection, rather than promoting area attractions and county parks.

Commissioner Joe Graves says nearly$1 million is generated every year by the five percent hotel tax in Genesee County. Most of it goes to the Flint Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. The rest goes to the County Parks and Recreation Commission.

Graves says it would make sense to take $250,000  get a matching federal grant, and put more police on the streets.

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Economy
4:34 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

State jobless rate rises again

Snagablog.com

More than a half-million people in Michigan are out of work.

About 33,000 fewer Michiganders had jobs in July compared to the month before.

"The state jobless rate has now edged up for three consecutive months," says Bruce Weaver of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. "It rose by four-tenths of a percentage point in July to 10.9 percent."

It’s still better than a year ago, when the unemployment rate was 12.4 percent.

Politics
4:29 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Report calls for eliminating 49 judges in Michigan

The State Court Administrative Office report recommends cutting the number of sitting judges in Michigan (The 58th District Court in Ottawa County, no cuts are recommended for this district).
Rich Evenhouse Flickr

Update 4:29 p.m.

You can see a list of the recommended cuts on page two of the report from the State Court Administrative Office.

MPRN's Laura Weber reports that the State Court Administrative Office report also says there are some counties that need more judges, but state court administrator Chad Schmucker says they're not recommending adding judges at this time:

“We are not making a recommendation to add those judges, but there’s a simple reason for that. The most important one is the judges in those courts said we don’t want the recommendation at this time.”

The report recommends that the judgeships be eliminated as judges retire or leave their posts. It's up to the Michigan Legislature to enact the changes.

12:42 p.m.

The State Court Administrative Office released a report saying the state should cut 45 trial court judges and four appeals court judges.

From the Detroit News:

Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. and State Court Administrator Chad Schmucker released the report at a news conference.

"Increasing the size of government is easy; it turns out it takes political courage to reduce it," Young said.

The Michigan Supreme Court has unanimously endorsed the recommendations, as has Gov. Rick Snyder, Young said.

The report said Michigan has too many trial judges in the wrong places and there are areas in the state that have a combined need for 31 more judges. But no new judges are recommended at this time because of the economic climate, the report said.

"We need the Legislature to act," Young said. He said previous recommendations to decrease the number of judges in Michigan had not been acted on by lawmakers "to the detriment of taxpayers."

The News reports that the elimination of each trial court judgeship saves $157,500. The elimination of each appeals court judgeship saves around $171,500, according to a spokeswoman for Governor Snyder.

Doing the math, the recommended cuts would save the state close to $8 million.

Education
4:02 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Michigan State hosts top labs' nuclear scientists

MSU's National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory in East Lansing.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan State University says 220 top nuclear scientists from around the world are coming to the East Lansing campus for a three-day meeting starting Thursday.

The university says it's the first joint user meeting of researchers who work at four of the nation's leading nuclear science facilities.

Those are Michigan State's National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory and its upcoming Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, the Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, and the Holifield Radioactive Ion Beam Facility at Oak Ridge National laboratory in Tennessee.

The meeting runs through Saturday at the Biomedical and Physical Sciences building.

The university says scientists are coming from 48 institutions in 23 states and nine countries.

Culture
2:53 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Long, slow haul: Man makes 4,100-mile tractor ride

"Tractor Dave" returns home in Ludington, MI after a 4,100 mile tractor ride through the Midwest. His grandchildren sit on the tractor and his wife "Mrs. Tractor Deb" welcomes him home.
Tractor Dave Crosses America Facebook

LUDINGTON, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan man has wrapped up a more than 4,100-mile tractor ride through the Midwest to raise money for charity.

The Ludington Daily News reports 66-year-old Dave Wolfsen arrived Monday in Ludington from Wisconsin aboard the S.S. Badger car ferry.

He's also known as "Tractor Dave." He began the ride in June and traveled on a red 1937 tractor with a 25 mph top speed.

Wolfsen had planned to ride 9,300 miles through 48 states. The Muskegon Chronicle reports time and bad weather cut short his plans.

Wolfsen owned an agricultural equipment dealership in Fremont before selling it six years ago. He also drives a road commission truck. He used the trip to raise awareness and money for the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee and Food Resource Bank.

law
2:08 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Wayne County jurors must explain why they skipped jury duty

User: steakpinball flickr

250 jurors have been called before a Wayne County judge today and tomorrow to explain why they skipped jury duty. The jurors had a choice to either reschedule the missed day or appear at a show-cause hearing.  

Peter Henning is a law professor at Wayne State University.

"What will be lurking behind all of this is the threat that if you agree to come in on another day and simply refuse to come in, now you have been warned.  And you know that penalties may be assessed."

Henning says the penalties can lead to fines. He says urban areas, like Wayne County, have difficulty getting juries that reflect the broader community. Jury pools tend to have fewer minorities and people with low incomes.

Roughly a thousand people are called each week for criminal, civil and probate cases in Wayne County.

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Environment
1:05 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Sleeping Bear Dunes voted "most beautiful place in America"

Sleeping Bear Dunes was voted "The Most Beautiful Place in America" on ABC's Good Morning America.
Danielle Lynch Flickr

This morning, ABC's Good Morning America revealed the winner of their "Most Beautiful Place in America" contest.

For reasons we all know, Sleeping Bear Dunes won.

You can see the video on ABC's website.

Here are the places Sleeping Bear Dunes finished ahead of:

ABC says Jim Madole of Grand Rapids nominated Sleeping Bear Dunes saying:

"It is peaceful and serene, a place for gazing out into the world, night or day, and realizing that the universe is truly a magical, majestic mystery, and humans are just a very small part of it all," he wrote in his submission. "Here at Sleeping Bear, I sit in awe and wonder at the perfection of Mother Nature."

Environment
12:50 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Special inspection underway at nuclear power plant in Michigan

The Palisades Nuclear Power Plant sits close to the Lake Michigan shoreline near South Haven.
Excelon Nuclear

A team of experts from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is inspecting the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in southwest Michigan. There are no safety concerns and everything is now working properly at the plant.

Last week, a coupling that attaches to a water pump failed. The water pump is one of three at the plant that cool safety equipment. The part was replaced and the pump is back in service. The same water pump had a coupling fail in 2009.

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Education
11:10 am
Wed August 17, 2011

Teens survey their southwest Detroit neighborhood

Detroit teenagers use a data analysis program
Terry Whitfield/Partnership for Youth

A group of teenagers in Detroit has been pounding the pavement this summer and surveying local organizations. Their goal was to find out which organizations offer jobs and internships to young people.

The teenagers surveyed 150 organizations and mapped out their results using a data analysis program. One of the things the kids learned was that transportation becomes an issue for kids who are far away from resources.

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Commentary
10:52 am
Wed August 17, 2011

Children in Poverty

Yesterday, we learned that Michigan has more than half a million kids in families whose incomes are below the poverty level. Half a million. That’s according to reliable figures provided by the non-partisan, non-profit Michigan League for Human Services.

Every year, they bring us something called the Kids Count Data Book, a demographic survey of children’s well-being, funded by the reputable Annie E. Casey Foundation.

This year’s study shows that almost one in four Michigan kids is poverty-stricken. That’s as of two years ago, and the situation probably worsened last year. That’s more significant than it seems: Poverty-stricken children all too often grow up to be poor, unemployed and sometimes unemployable adults. They seldom get the education they need to be successful in the modern economy.

Additionally, kids who live under economic stress also tend to have more health problems, according to Jane Zehnder-Merrell, the director of the Kids Count in Michigan project.

That should bother you even if you have a heart of stone, because society is going to end up paying a tremendous economic as well as human cost as a result. We won’t see the full effect of the recession on our children for years.

And, there are things we could do to cushion the blow. Unfortunately, according to the experts, we seem to be choosing policies guaranteed to do exactly the opposite. Michigan, by the way, isn’t the worst state in the nation when it comes to child poverty, though we are worse than most.

We’ve fallen a few notches to thirtieth out of fifty states. But while child poverty went up nationally by 18 percent since two thousand, it increased in Michigan by a staggering 64 percent.

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News Roundup
8:50 am
Wed August 17, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, August 17th
Brother O'Mara Flickr

“Kids Count”

There was a 64 percent increase in the child poverty rate in Michigan between 2000 -2009, according to a new report. The “Kids Count” report, released yesterday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, keeps track of 10 factors including child poverty, education levels and the rate of infant mortality. There was some good news to come out of the report. It shows that Michigan ranks better than the national average for the death rate among teens due, in part, to fewer fatal car accidents.

Detroit Job Fair

Thousands of people waited for hours to get into a job fair in Detroit yesterday. “The job fair was part of a nationwide tour hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus. It’s meant to draw attention to unemployment among African Americans… The Congressional Black Caucus says the unemployment level for African Americans is more than 16 percent. In Detroit, the figure ranges anywhere from 30-50 percent,” Sarah Cwiek reports.

‘Underwear Bomber’ Back in Court

The Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound jetliner with 290 people aboard on Christmas Day in 2009 is due back in court after prosecutors raised questions last week about sealed documents in the case, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

The government seeks to know if Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab agreed to the sealed filings recently made by his standby counsel, Anthony Chambers. The hearing is Wednesday afternoon at U.S. District Court in Detroit. The subject of the filings hasn't been disclosed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cathleen Corke. But she wrote that it could affect the Oct. 4 trial date and the 24-year-old Abdulmutallab's ability to "continue with self-representation." He dismissed his court-appointed lawyers last year and said he wanted to represent himself.

Politics
8:09 am
Wed August 17, 2011

The Week in State Politics

State Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo Flickr

Republican leaders in the state Senate say they will push for a closed presidential primary to take place in Michigan on February 28. That’s one week earlier than the National Republican Party rules allow and penalties could include having the state's convention delegates stripped. In today's "The Week in State Politics" Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry takes a look at what a February 28 GOP primary would mean for the state and the presidential primary candidates.

AUTO
8:02 am
Wed August 17, 2011

UAW: Ford talks ahead of schedule, strike vote set

Pobrecito33 Flickr

The United Auto Workers' lead negotiator with Ford Motor Co. says talks with the Dearborn-based automaker are ahead of schedule and says the union is asking its locals to hold routine strike authorization votes by Sept. 2.

Jimmy Settles tells the Detroit Free Press the votes are "nothing unusual" and are a normal part of every contract cycle with Ford.

Settles and UAW President Bob King announced the decision to hold a strike authorization vote Tuesday at a UAW meeting in Chicago. The union started negotiations with Ford late last month to replace a four-year contract that expires Sept. 14.

Contracts also are up at General Motors Co. and Chrysler, of which Fiat is the majority owner.

Economy
7:10 am
Wed August 17, 2011

Report: MI teens are doing better, young children are worse off

Teen deaths are on the decline in Michigan. That’s according to an annual report that compares indicators on the wellbeing of children.

According to the report, Michigan ranks better than the national average for the death rate among teens. Jane Zehnder-Merrell is the “Kids Count” project director at the Michigan League for Human Services. She says teens are getting into fewer fatal car accidents. But she says Michigan is experiencing a national trend toward more teen murders. 

“It’s troubling to see that as we push down one rate another rates starts going up; the homicide rate. Suicide rate has remained relatively stable, but we may see increases in that as well with the stress.”

There has been a 64 percent increase in the child poverty rate in Michigan over the past decade, according to the report.

Zehnder-Merrell says increases in unemployment and home foreclosures affect the wellbeing of children.

 “Very stressful, very difficult times for families, even though in Michigan I think part of it too is we’re used to having a lot more people living a middleclass life and having access to housing and good jobs and good health insurance, and the world is changing.”

Zehnder-Merrell says many budget and program cuts and made in the Legislature have exacerbated child poverty issues. That includes a proposed four-year cap on cash assistance that is set for a final vote when lawmakers return to Lansing next week.

Environment
8:01 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Planning underway for another cleanup of the Tittabawassee River

Few people turned out for a public hearing on the cleanup plan last night in Saginaw.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A major cleanup project along the Tittabawassee River is moving into its final planning stages. It’s a project that presents several challenges.   

Dioxin contamination has been the subject of many cleanup projects in the Tittabawassee River. This new project will focus on other dangerous chemicals, like arsenic, dumped into the river in the past.

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Politics
6:00 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Thousands turn out for Detroit job fair

Thousands of people waited for hours just to get inside Wayne County Community College Tuesday, where employers were ready to take names and resumes.

The job fair was part of a nationwide tour hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus. It’s meant to draw attention to unemployment among African Americans.

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Politics
5:50 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Detroit legislator, Muslim groups call proposed state law "polarizing" and "racist"

Rashida Tlaib

The only Muslim in the Michigan state legislature says a bill that targets “foreign laws” is xenophobic political pandering, and offensive to the Muslim community.

Detroit State Representative Rashida Tlaib blasted the bill that aims to “restrict the application of foreign laws.”

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Politics
5:45 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

A Conversation with State Representative Jeff Irwin

Democratic State Representative Jeff irwin
housedems.com

The Michigan legislature returns from break next week. While they will be faced with a new set of issues when they return, at least one legislator is critical of the work that’s been done so far.

Every week we interview lawmakers about what's happening in our state and the nation. Michigan Radio's Jennifer White today talks with Freshman Democratic State Representative Jeff Irwin about the state budget, working with the legislature and what we can expect in the coming months.

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Election 2012
5:15 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Michigan Republican leaders push for early primary

Balloons drop at the Republican Convention in 2008.
Nick Busse Flickr

Republican leaders in the state Senate say they will push for a February 28th closed presidential primary date.

That’s one week earlier than the National Republican Party rules allow. National GOP rules state that only four states are allowed to hold primaries before Super Tuesday in March without penalty.

Michigan is not one of those states. Penalties could include having convention delegates stripped.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says they plan to stick with a primary on February 28th.

“Michigan is going to be really relevant in the decision making process because of this date, but I don’t think we’re doing anything outlandish that would cause the national committee to be upset with us.”

The Michigan Republican Party has not specified a desired primary date. The party is leaving the primary date decision up to lawmakers.

The chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, Robert Schostak, says he is not too concerned with being penalized for the decision:

“The penalties are somewhat unclear. They haven’t been determined by the committee in finality. But if we would be penalized by losing delegates and we were trading that for relevancy, my sense is that the Legislature and the state committee that would be ultimately deciding on this are okay with it.”

Both the Republican and Democratic parties in Michigan were penalized in 2008 for holding an early primary. The parties were stripped of half their convention delegates.

The primary election is estimated to cost $10 million. Taxpayers would foot the bill.

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