News

Pages

Politics
4:40 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Inkster is the latest Michigan city in "financial stress"

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Another Michigan city is moving toward a state takeover.   

The state Treasury Department announced today  that a preliminary review of Inkster’s books shows the city is in "probable financial stress".   

Treasury spokesman Terry Stanton says the city is having trouble solving a multi-million dollar deficit. 

"And the review also found city official have proposed unrealistic budgets and failed to make budget revisions in a timely manner," Stanton says. 

Read more
religion
4:30 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Detroit clergy concerned over prayer rally message

screen grab from YouTube video

Several Detroit clergy members say they plan to hold their own prayer vigil in response to Friday’s massive event billed as “The Call: Detroit.”

Organizers of The Call have booked Ford Field for a 24-hour fasting and prayer rally. But critics say they’re troubled that the event’s organizers have an anti-gay and anti-Muslim agenda.

The Reverend Alexander Bullock says the group’s message is divisive, "but it’s being couched in a kind of non-combative, let’s-come-together-it’s Christian language. So we’re really asking people to pay attention to the undertone: how sin equals Muslims. How conversion of Muslims equals redemption for Detroit."

Promotional materials for Friday’s event have said Detroit exemplifies a national crisis that includes – quote – “the rising tide of the Islamic movement.”

Messages left with the rally’s organizers were not returned.

Here's a promotional video for the event:

Politics
4:17 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Paul Scott is first Michigan lawmaker to be recalled in three decades

Rep. Scott's official website

The vote was close, but it was not close enough to rescue Representative Paul Scott (R-Grand Blanc) from losing his job. Scott is 29 years old and once was pegged as a rising Republican star. He told a group of supporters that he and Republican reformers in Lansing are the targets of special interests.

“We took the state by storm and we made fundamental changes and we had the establishment government unions living in our community, trying to overturn the will of the voters and we just came up a little bit short in that fight,” said Scott.

All told, $225,000 or more was spent by both sides in the campaign, making this a very expensive legislative race. South Genesee County residents were bombarded since August with TV and radio ads, brochures stuffed in doors, and mailings.

Read more
Auto/Economy
3:22 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Michigan solar company suspends production, plans job cuts

Solar panels in Michigan
Ford Motor Company Flickr

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) - Solar energy product maker Energy Conversion Devices Inc. says it has temporarily suspended manufacturing and is planning about 500 job cuts.

The Auburn Hills-based company announced Tuesday that manufacturing has been halted because of excess inventory. The company says about 400 workers will be furloughed at its manufacturing facilities in Michigan, Mexico and Ontario, Canada.

The production cuts include United Solar Ovonic facilities in Greenville, where more than 140 layoffs recently were announced. Other Michigan manufacturing facilities are in Auburn Hills.

The company said that to help cut costs about 500 full-time job cuts were expected by the end of the year.

Energy Conversion Devices has been restructuring its operations since May. It said it expects to return to normal production levels within 60 days.

Auto/Economy
2:01 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Toyota recalls half-million vehicles worldwide

The 2004 Toyota Avalon is one of several models affected by a possible problem with the crankshaft pulley, effecting steering.
user lateplate Flickr

Toyota announced a voluntary recall today of roughly 550,000 vehicles worldwide in response to a possible issue with  a crankshaft pulley that could effect steering. The majority of the recalled vehicles are in the United States.

The Associated Press reports:

Toyota's U.S. sales unit said in a statement Wednesday that if the problem isn't corrected, there is a possibility the belt for the power steering pump may become detached from the pulley.

The recall affects 283,200 Toyota brand cars and 137,000 Lexus vehicles in the United States, including the 2004 and 2005 Camry, Highlander and Sienna.

Toyota spokesman Dion Corbett said some 38,000 cars are being recalled in Japan, as well as 25,000 in Australia and New Zealand. Corbett said there have been no reports of accidents or injuries related to the problems.

Read more
Changing Gears
12:29 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Empty Series: In Detroit, it's not squatting … it's blotting (Part 2)

Paula Besheers and her son Paul Browne tried in vain to buy the empty lot right next door.
Kate Davidson Changing Gears

We’re looking at the challenges of the region’s empty places this month.

For many people, the most threatening emptiness isn’t a shuttered factory.  It’s the abandoned property next door.  But in Detroit, some residents are using that emptiness to quietly reshape their neighborhoods.

They’re annexing vacant lots around them, buying them when they can or just putting up a fence.

They’re not squatters … they’re blotters.

Read more
Commentary
11:33 am
Wed November 9, 2011

Yesterday's Election Results

People are willing to pay more taxes, if they understand what the taxes are for and want the services they will provide.

That, more than anything else, seems to be the message Michigan voters sent in yesterday’s off-off year election.

Turnout wasn’t great, but the preliminary numbers I’ve seen hint it may have been slightly higher than expected. And those voters who showed up mostly seemed to be civic-minded.

Read more
Election 2011
11:00 am
Wed November 9, 2011

A new mayor in West Michigan, but he lost the vote count

Montague, Michigan is north of Muskegon.
Google Maps

In the  small West Michigan city of Montague, a new mayor was elected even though he had fewer votes than his challenger.

That's because his challenger had died a week before the election.

From the Muskegon Chronicle:

Montague has a new mayor for the first time in 20 years despite more votes being cast for the longtime incumbent who died a week before the election.

Henry Roesler Jr., who was seeking his 11th consecutive term as mayor, received the most votes cast in the city's mayoral election, but his votes don't officially count based on state law. Therefore, Kevin Erb, the challenger, won the two-year term.

State law says votes for a deceased candidate are void.

Auto/Economy
10:07 am
Wed November 9, 2011

GM's Akerson says solid 3rd quarter "not good enough"

General Motors CEO Dan Akerson

General Motors made $1.7 billion in the third quarter of this year.

That's down from $2 billion in the same period of 2010.

Financial turmoil in Europe contributed to GM's continued losses in Europe, although GM did cut those losses in half compared to last year, to $300 million.

GM is also not doing particularly well in South America.  The company broke even in that region.  GM officials say that's due to increased competition in the region and an aging lineup there.

Read more
Economy
9:53 am
Wed November 9, 2011

Michigan Supreme Court to hear arguments in foreclosure case

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

On Thursday, the Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that could affect a large number of  home foreclosures.    

The Court of Appeals ruled that mortgage lenders should not have used a national industry agency to file the foreclosures. The lower court found the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, or MERS, had no standing to file the foreclosure paperwork.    

“Anytime you’re going to take the fast track on foreclosing and take another person’s property…you need to be able to do it correctly…and right ….and legitimately," sais Lorray Brown, an attorney with the Michigan Poverty Law Program.

Read more
Michigan and China
9:07 am
Wed November 9, 2011

Michigan and China: A roundup of our stories

The Chinese flag.
Philip Jagenstedt Flickr

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton has been reporting recently on a series of stories about Michigan's evolving relationship with China.

From cars to crops to hats, these sometimes unusual Chinese connections could have a big impact on the state's economic future.

Here is a brief roundup, in case you missed any of the stories.

October 11: Selling American cars, China-style

Chinese dealerships with their aggressive sales staffs, shiny floors, and canned music may evoke their American counterparts, but Tracy Samilton says U.S. automakers are trying to cash in on China's booming demand for cars by tailoring their approach to suit local tastes and attitudes.

From working to maintain a solid brand reputation (the opinions of family and colleagues is probably the most important factor for Chinese car buyers), to explaining features to inexperienced drivers, Detroit car companies are betting on China as a key to their futures.

October 11: Tiny cars to tackle big problems

Megacities like Beijing and Shanghai already struggle with dense smog and days-long traffic jams clogging roads and highways, but  China's voracious appetite for cars and steadily increasing urban population only promise to make things worse.

Tracy Samilton reports that, among other solutions, General Motors' China division is experimenting with small electric vehicles that seat two, roll on two wheels, and can drive themselves, not to mention take up one fifth the parking space needed for a regular car.

October 14: Ford and the case of the Chinese official's hat

While Ford is currently working hard to be a top competitor the Chinese auto market, they lag behind other international automakers including General Motors.

Tracy Samilton tells us that part of the reason for this gap can be traced back to hats.

More specifically, in the early 1990s, Ford lost out on a contract to supply Chinese officials with a fleet of limousines because the unusual body shape of the Taurus knocked the hats right of the dignitaries' heads.

October 23: Exchanging students and changing perspectives

Engineering students in Shanghai and Ann Arbor are learning more than what is printed in their textbooks thanks to a University of Michigan Joint Institute program that sends Michigan students to study in China and brings Chinese students here to do the same.

Students from both sides of the program told Tracy Samilton about local hospitality, the allure of college football, and that a big part of the experience is about learning from their host culture and not just in the classroom.

November 7: From Michigan's fields to Chinese dinner tables

Detroit cars are certainly a major component in Michigan's economic connection with China, but as Tracy Samilton reports, there is also an increasing Chinese demand for Michigan crops and other food products.

Chinese livestock producers use Michigan grown soybeans and wheat as feed, but consumers are also developing a taste for Michigan foods from blueberries to cereal to baby food, bolstered in part by U.S. safety and quality standards.

November 8: Pure Michigan in China?

Both the Michigan tourism industry and the state capitol are hoping to make Michigan a destination for international tourists, especially for those  from China.

While some, including Governor Snyder have big plans to attract Chinese visitors by showcasing Michigan's natural beauty and automotive history, others say that most Chinese people probably haven't even heard of Michigan, and as Tracy Samilton reports, bad translations are not helping.

And an audio documentary...

As a way to bring these stories together, a team of Michigan Radio producers created an audio documentary on the Michigan-China connection that features content from all of these stories along with interviews with Kenneth Lieberthal, the Director of the John L. Thornton China Center, Wei Shen, Managing Director of Bridge Connect, and Rebecca Linland, the Director of Automotive Research at HIS Automotive.

- John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics
8:32 am
Wed November 9, 2011

The Week in State Politics: Election edition

Michiganders went to the polls yesterday and elected mayors in three large cities, recalled a Republican state lawmaker and voted for a new city charter for Detroit. We spoke this morning with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry about what the election results mean for the state.

Station News
6:00 am
Wed November 9, 2011

Nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System today

FCC

Michigan Radio will participate in a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System today.

The test will last about 30 seconds and will happen today right around 2 p.m.

The test will be heard on the radio and seen on local, cable, and satellite TV.

Please do not be alarmed.

It will just be a test of the nationwide emergency alert system.

Again this test will take place today at 2 p.m.

Political News Roundup
5:22 am
Wed November 9, 2011

Election Results: Nov. 2011

Lower Community College Flickr

Legislative Recall

State Representative Paul Scott is the first Michigan lawmaker since 1983 to be recalled. Scott was targeted by the Michigan Education Association for his support of changes to the state's teacher tenure law and budget cuts to education funding. “The recall election is widely seen as an early measure of voters’ discontent with what Scott, Governor Rick Snyder, and Republicans in Lansing have been up to,” Rick Pluta explains.

Detroit City Charter

Detroit voters overwhelmingly approved a new city charter. The charter changes the structure of the Detroit City Council by creating a new system where the majority of Council members are elected by district. The charter also creates a new Office of the Inspector General to investigate corruption, fraud, and waste. An elected charter commission had spent the past two years putting together the proposal.

Flint Mayoral Race

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling won re-election last night. But it may end up being a temporary victory, Steve Carmody reports:

Dayne Walling celebrated his win last night with jubilant supporters. But they all knew that earlier in the day, Governor Snyder accepted a report that said the city of Flint is in a financial emergency.   The governor is expected to appoint an emergency manager to run the city. Flint officials could appeal the decision. But Walling says he’s prepared to work with a manager appointed by the governor. 

Benton Harbor Mayoral Race

In Benton Harbor, City Commissioner James Hightower narrowly beat incumbent Mayor Wilce Cooke. “Cooke is likely to challenge the results, which came in 681 to 673, a difference of 8 votes. The state appointed an emergency manger to take over the city’s finances during Cooke’s second term as mayor,” Lindsey Smith reports.

Jackson Mayoral Race

In Jackson, Democrat Martin Griffin will become the city’s next mayor after defeating incumbent Mayor Karen Dunigan. Griffin has had the job before, he was Jackson's mayor from 1995-2006.

Lansing Millage

Lansing residents have voted to increase their taxes to pay for public safety. The Lansing State Journal reports that the millage would generate more than $7 million in the first year for police, fire services, and road maintenance.

Ann Arbor Millage and City Council

In Ann Arbor, voters approved a tax increase to pay for future sidewalk repairs and  renewed the city’s street millage for another five years. The new sidewalk millage will cost the average homeowner in Ann Arbor about $13 a year. Voters also returned four incumbents to City Council. However, in Ward 2, Independent Jane Lumm beat incumbent Stephen Rapundalo.

Election 2011
2:19 am
Wed November 9, 2011

Benton Harbor gets a new mayor; denies charter amendments

Mayor-elect James Hightower on election night with his wife, June Hightower.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Super close mayoral race

City Commissioner James Hightower narrowly beat the incumbent Mayor Wilce Cooke. Cooke is likely to challenge the results, which came in 681 to 673, a difference of 8 votes. There were two write-in candidates who got a combined 8 votes. The state appointed an emergency manger to take over the city’s finances during Cooke’s second term as mayor.

Read more
Election 2011
12:25 am
Wed November 9, 2011

Jackson Mayor Karen Dunigan defeated by challenger

Jackson Mayor Karen Dunigan (at podium). She was defeated by challenger Martin Griffin, himself a former mayor of Jackson.
Michigan Municipal League

A former mayor in Jackson, Michigan will become mayor once again.

Martin Griffin defeated incumbent Mayor Karen Dunigan.

The Jackson Citizen Patriot reports that Griffin won the seat again after a five-year absence:

Griffin, who was mayor from 1995 to 2006, had 2,199 votes or 62 percent to Dunigan's 1,340 or 38 percent, according to unofficial results from the Jackson County Clerk's office.

"I just feel great," said Griffin, who was celebrating his victory at the Night Light. "I think the people want city government to move forward. I think they're tired of the bickering"...

Dunigan said it was an honor to be mayor and she was proud of what she did even though she was not re-elected.

"I know if nothing else, I elevated the position of the mayor in the city and I did bring back the respect that position holds," Dunigan said.

Dunigan said she's not sure whether she'll run for the seat again, but she plans to stay involved in the community.

Politics
12:09 am
Wed November 9, 2011

Flint mayor wins reelection (but may end up losing power)

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint mayor Dayne Walling won re-election last night. But it may end up being a temporary victory.

"Tonight…you can see…that the people of the city of Flint…are behind me and my administration," Walling told a cheering crowd at his victory party last night.   

Dayne Walling celebrated his win last night with jubilant supporters. But they all knew that earlier in the day, Governor Snyder accepted a report that said the city of Flint is in a financial emergency.  

The governor is expected to appoint an emergency manager to run the city. Flint officials could appeal the decision. But Walling says he’s prepared to work with a manager appointed by the governor.   

“I’ll do whatever I can to move our city forward," says Walling, "The people have clearly spoken tonight. It’s been two very difficult years.  But now I have a full four year term. I’m proud of what we’ve done over the last two years.”

Walling singled out four city unions that have resisted contract concessions, as part of the reason why Flint is mired in debt.

Election 2011
11:58 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Ann Arbor approves millages, gets new council member

Voters approve money for streets and sidewalks in Ann Arbor.
user ellenm1 Flickr

Residents in the city of Ann Arbor voted in favor of two millages.

One increases their taxes to pay for sidewalk repairs. The other is a renewal for street maintenance.

More from AnnArbor.com's Ryan Stanton:

City officials were confident heading into the election the street millage — which brings in about $9.1 million a year and is essential to paying for streets and bridges in Ann Arbor — would be renewed. But they were less certain about the sidewalk millage.

Ann Arbor's city code currently requires property owners to maintain the sidewalks adjacent to their properties...

City officials say passage of the millage marks a shift away from an admittedly unpopular program that's placed a heavy burden on individuals.

And the Ann Arbor City Council will get a fresh face.

Jane Lumm, an independent, defeated incumbent Stephen Rapundalo in the city's 2nd Ward race.

Again, more from AnnArbor.com:

Cheers erupted shortly before 8:30 p.m. at her election night party at Paesano on Washtenaw Avenue where Lumm later gave a victory speech to a crowd of several dozen supporters.

Percentage-wise, Lumm picked up 60 percent of the vote. Rapundalo is said to be with supporters at his private residence and is not welcoming the media.

Election 2011
11:54 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Dayne Walling wins Flint mayoral race in shadow of EM announcement

The person elected as mayor of Flint might not have any power if an emergency manager is appointed.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Update 11:54 p.m.

Flint mayor Dayne Walling claims victory.

Walling easily won re-election over challenger Darryl Buchanan.

But Walling's victory is tempered by the Governor deciding that the city of Flint is facing a financial emergency.

Governor Snyder will likely name an emergency manager to run the city.   Mayor Walling says he looks forward to working with whoever is appointed.

Read more
Election 2011
11:35 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Michigan State Representative Paul Scott has been recalled

Update 11:35 p.m.

Rick Pluta just called in to say that Michigan State Representative Paul Scott (R-Grand Blanc) has been recalled. Scott conceded defeat saying his campaign did their best, they came up short, and that he will not rule out running again in the future.

Scott is the first sitting state lawmaker to be recalled since 1983.

Read more

Pages