News

Pages

Politics
1:07 pm
Fri August 19, 2011

Kwame Kilpatrick is out of prison and talking with the media

Kwame Kilpatrick is talking. Kilpatrick's appearance on the Tom Joyner Morning Show.
screenshot from video on blackamericaweb.com

The New York Times Magazine published a Q & A with former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick online today.

Adam Goldman asked Kilpatrick about his time in jail, his relationship with Christine Beatty, lying under oath, and more.

Kilpatrick told Goldman that lying under other was "the only illegal thing I've ever done in my life" and that the federal government's bribery and racketeering charges are false:

All of it is absolutely untrue. I’ve never accepted a bribe. I’ve never got a kickback. I’ve never steered a contract. It’s all ridiculous. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Goldman asked Kilpatrick about suggestions that he was brought down by a conspiracy. Kilpatrick said he never called it a conspiracy, but that investigations are "always ongoing" in politics to undermine others:

As the leader of the Democrats in the Statehouse, I ran campaigns all over the state, and we did opposition research. We looked into people’s finances. There’s constantly investigations, private eyes. Right now there are people conspiring to make sure that Barack Obama doesn’t win next time.

Kilpatrick told Goldman that he thought he would win if he ran for Mayor again, but said "it wouldn’t be the best thing for the people there."

Goldman said he was "amazed" that Kilpatrick was brought down by text messages from 2002 and 2003 - a time when people weren't texting all that much. Kilpatrick suggested he texted so the FBI couldn't record his phone calls:

The F.B.I. investigated Mayor Coleman Young, and they had all of these tapes of his phone calls. So, my thing was: “Hey, I’m doing this new texting thing. They can’t listen to this.” But now they can print it out and read it for all eternity.

Kilpatrick also appeared on the Tom Joyner Morning Show saying he lost 50 pounds in prison from working out and avoiding the bad food.

On the show, Kilpatrick said that the pending federal corruption case against him grew out of the political climate surrounding him after he lied under oath about the text messaging scandal. After that case, Kilpatrick said "all kinds of rumors" started with many people labeling him as Detroit's "Hip Hop Mayor."

Read more
Environment
11:50 am
Fri August 19, 2011

State's submerged oil report called "premature"

Sediment is collected at a "sediment trap" on Talmadge Creek. (6/18/2011)
EPA Region 5

The Michigan Department of Community Health's report on the submerged oil is being called "premature" by the National Wildlife Federation.

In its report, MDCH officials declared that "contact with sediment containing submerged oil will not result in long-term health effects." Some sediments in the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek became contaminated with heavy tar sands oil after the Enbridge pipeline break.

In the Kalamazoo Gazette, National Wildlife Federation Senior Scientist Doug Inkley said the agency should have done more research before making such a statement:

“It’s a premature conclusion based on incomplete results,” Inkley said. “The jury is still out.”

Inkley said his biggest concern about the study is that eight chemicals found in the submerged oil were not included in the conclusion.

A toxicologist at MDCH told the Gazette that some of the chemicals weren't tested because the submerged oil didn't have enough concentrations of the chemicals to warrant testing, and because "some of the chemicals were actually groups of chemicals, some of which had already been individually tested in the study."

Economy
11:10 am
Fri August 19, 2011

Group seeks to create Detroit Jewish neighborhood

The Ellington Lofts in Midtown Detroit. The AP reports a rent program is aimed at bringing young Jewish professionals back to Detroit's Midtown area or to the downtown area.
user dig downtown detroit Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - A group of young Jewish professionals attracted to the vitality of Detroit's evolving downtown wants to bring others into the city decades after their parents and grandparents left.

CommunityNEXT Director Jordan Wolfe says the 25 people targeted through a rent program would help return Jewish culture to Detroit and contribute to the city's revitalization.

Subsidies of $250 per month for a year will be offered. Wolfe says he is seeking to bring in people "who get a kick out of building a community."

The rent program piggybacks offers major corporations and businesses are making to entice their employees to relocate downtown or to Detroit's growing Midtown area.

A dodgeball tournament fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday in Detroit and will be followed Sunday by a kickball tournament in Los Angeles.

Commentary
11:03 am
Fri August 19, 2011

Tourism’s Bright Spot

Nobody needs me to tell them that this has been a rough decade for Michigan’s economy. The roughest since the Great Depression of the nineteen-thirties.

And, as the stock market plunge indicates, a return to the prosperity we used to take for granted is nowhere in sight.

That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t a few bright spots, and one of the brightest has been tourism. A few weeks ago, I spent an hour with George Zimmerman, who runs Travel Michigan the official state tourism promotion agency.

Read more
News Roundup
8:59 am
Fri August 19, 2011

In this morning's news...

EM Ruling

Governor Snyder has asked the Michigan Supreme Court to rule on the legality of the new Emergency Manager law. “That would mean bypassing lower court proceedings, against the wishes of the law firm that filed the lawsuit opposing the EM law,” Laura Weber reports. “The revised law lets emergency managers strip power from locally elected leaders and scrap union contracts. A lawsuit filed in Ingham County claims the law is unconstitutional in part because it takes away citizens' rights to petition local government on certain matters,” the Associated Press explains. The Detroit News reports there was no immediate word from the Michigan Supreme Court on Snyder's request.

Pontiac Cuts

Pontiac residents could soon pay more for fewer services as the city tries to tackle a projected $12 million deficit.  “Emergency manager Michael Stampfler's plan would add more than $6 million to Pontiac’s tax rolls. Stampfler is also calling for $9 million dollars in budget cuts – which could mean the layoffs of 10 deputy sheriffs and a reduction in fire services,” Rina Miller reports.

Durant In

Republican Clark Durant, a charter school executive in Detroit, has officially entered the race to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow in the 2012 election. A formal announcement is expected to come after Labor Day. Just last week, three state Republican leaders endorsed Durant even though, at that point, he had not entered the race. As of now, Durant faces other Republican candidates in the primary including former West Michigan U.S. Representative Pete Hoekstra. As I reported last week, Governor Snyder plans to endorse Hoekstra in the GOP primary.

Offbeat
7:55 am
Fri August 19, 2011

Proposal to make marijuana possession law enforcement’s “lowest priority”

user Laughing Squid Creative Commons

This fall voters in Kalamazoo could make going after marijuana users the "lowest priority" for law enforcement officials. The question will likely appear on the ballot this November.

If the proposed amendment to Kalamazoo’s city charter passes, public safety officials would treat people with an ounce of marijuana or less as their “lowest priority.” The change would only affect those 21 and older. It would still be illegal to drive under the influence or use marijuana in a public place.

Read more
Politics
6:37 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

White House honors Detroit entrepreneurs

The White House has honored two Detroit-based entrepreneurs as Champions of Change.

Josh Linkner and Torya Blanchard were two of 11 young entrepreneurs who shared their stories about starting businesses in Washington, DC Thursday.

Read more
Politics
6:18 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

Detroit expands housing incentives to city employees

Dave Bing

Detroit is expanding Project 14, a housing incentive program that initially targeted police officers, to all city employees.

It’s part of an effort to entice people to live where they work, and re-build Detroit’s population.

All Detroit city employees had to live in the city until state law overturned a residency requirement in 1999. That dealt a crushing blow to Detroit’s already-diminished tax base.

Read more
Politics
6:08 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

What can we expect in the upcoming legislative session?

Michigan Legislature at the State Capitol building.
Michigan Municipal League

The Michigan legislature starts its new session soon.  So, what can we expect from Governor Snyder and state legislators in the coming months?

We talk about state politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas Political Analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

 

 

Read more
Chevy kicks off Dream Cruise
5:38 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

Dream Cruise underway - with Chevy leading the way

A Volt owner shows off his new car prior to the parade.

Chevrolet kicked off the Dream Cruise with a parade of classic Chevys and fifty Chevy Volts down Woodward Avenue.

It’s the first Dream Cruise for GM CEO Dan Akerson. 

Akerson has been CEO of General Motors since September of last year.

Akerson says the passion people show for classic cars is no surprise.

"GM has been part of Detroit, Detroit’s been a major player globally in automotive, and the Dream Cruise is a celebration of the industry and the success and the rebirth of Detroit," Akerson said at an pre-parade celebration.

GM plans electric cadillac
5:15 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

GM brings back electric, extended-range Cadillac program

General Motors has confirmed that it will develop a Cadillac version of its flagship Chevy Volt.

Like the Volt, the Cadillac ELR will run on electricity made by a T-shaped lithium-ion battery, or a gasoline generator.

The car has had an on-again, off-again history. 

As a concept, the then-named Cadillac Converj made a big splash at the 2009 North American International Auto Show.

GM CEO Dan Akerson says he doesn’t know why the program was suspended.  The car came up at a meeting shortly after he took charge of GM.

Read more
Election 2012
5:10 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

Clark Durant enters Michigan Senate race

Another candidate has entered the race to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) - Clark Durant, a charter school executive in Detroit.

This from Saul Anuzis' blog site (Anuzis is the chairman of the Michigan Republic Party):

Today, Clark Durant filed the necessary paperwork to begin organizing a campaign for Michigan’s United States Senate seat.

Durant filed Articles of Incorporation and a Statement of Candidacy for “The American Way—Durant 2012.” The formal announcement is expected after Labor Day.

Durant's candidacy is backed by some prominent Republicans in the state.

Saul Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, Betsy Devos, former chairwoman of the MRP, and former Republican Senator Spence Abraham all have thrown their support behind Durant.

The Associate Press reports that Durant's candidacy will increase the chances for a hard fought Republican primary against presumptive front runner former Congressman Pete Hoekstra.

Here's a little more background on Durant from the AP:

The Grosse Pointe resident is president of the New Common School Foundation in Detroit and helped found Cornerstone Schools. He last ran for U.S. Senate in 1990, narrowly losing the GOP primary.

The field of Republican Senate candidates also includes former Kent County Probate Judge Randy Hekman, Roscommon businessman Peter Konetchy and Midland resident Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan.

Environment
4:33 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

State agency says submerged oil in Kalamazoo River not a health threat

Recovery of submerged oil on Morrow Lake. (6/25/2011)
EPA Region 5

The Michigan Department of Community Health released the report this afternoon.

In a press release agency officials say:

The MDCH has concluded that contact with the submerged oil will not cause people to have long-term health effects or have a higher than normal risk of cancer. Although long-term health effects will not result from contact with the submerged oil, contact with the oil may cause short-term effects, such as skin irritation.

The stretch of river addressed in the report runs from Talmadge Creek to Morrow Lake.

MDCH officials point out that their assessment "only discusses direct contact with the submerged oil. It does not evaluate breathing in chemicals from the remaining oil or any public safety concerns posed by the on-going cleanup of oil in the river."

In the report, the MDCH explained how they reached their conclusion of no long term health effects from contact with the submerged oil:

Non-cancer risk (hazard quotient) was calculated for the chemicals measured in the sediment. If the non-cancer risk (hazard quotient) values are less than 1.0, people are not expected to have long-term health effects from exposure to the chemicals. All risk values were lower than 1.0.

The state agency says their assessment does not change current restrictions regarding use of the river from the the Calhoun County Public Health Department and the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department.

Economy
3:14 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

Pontiac braces for tax hikes, service cuts

ddaimage3.jpg Google images

Pontiac residents could soon pay more for fewer service as the city tackles a projected $12 million deficit. 

Emergency manager Michael Stampfler's plan would  add more than $6 million  to Pontiac’s tax rolls.

Leon Jukowski is Pontiac’s mayor. He no longer has power, but says he monitors the actions of the emergency manager.

“These are some pretty significant obligations: $4.6 million for the pension and VEBA contributions, Jukowski says. "$1 million tax appeal for General Motors. So this could be a significant tax increase.”

Read more
Politics
2:32 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

Pontiac emergency manager wants to raise taxes and cut services

Downtown Pontiac, Michigan. The city is at a crossroads as a state-appointed emergency manager tries to keep the city from running out of money.
Dave Garvin Flickr

How to get by with less is an issue all levels of government are facing.

The emergency manager in Pontiac, Michael Stampfler, is proposing a combination of tax hikes and service cuts to cure the city's budgetary ills as reported in the Oakland Press:

Stampfler took to the microphone this morning for an informational meeting about the updated financial plan that could mean property taxes being raised between 6 and 8 mills.

He requested the public and elected officials submit ideas in writing if they have alternatives to what is proposed.

Stampfler released an update of his financial plan, adding $15.05 million to the budget with a combination of cuts and possible tax hikes.

An 8 mill property tax increase would mean that a property owner whose house is assessed at $50,000 would pay $400 more a year in taxes.

This past spring, the assessed value of homes in Pontiac dropped by an average of 21.4 percent, resulting in $2.6 million in lost annual revenues for the city.

Read more
Politics
12:41 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

Snyder asks Michigan Supreme Court to rule on emergency manager law

The Governor has asked the Michigan Supreme Court to rule on the legality of the state's emergency manager law.
Michigan Supreme Court

Update 12:41 p.m.

The request from Governor Snyder came last Friday.

The Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice, the group filing the lawsuit against the state's emergency manager law, posted the request from the Governor today.

In the request, Governor Snyder says without bypassing the other courts "this lawsuit may take years to reach finality.":

I recognize the significance of seeking a bypass to this court as provided by MCR 7.305, and only request this court's involvement after careful consideration of the urgency and importance of the issues presented here.

Snyder says the severe financial difficulties facing local governments and school districts require that the questions of constitutionality be resolved quickly.

Read more
Politics
11:11 am
Thu August 18, 2011

Jalen Rose released from jail today

Jalen Rose during his playing days with the Phoenix Suns. Rose was released from Oakland County Jail today after serving 16 days for a DUI.
user fizzgig and the sputnik sweetheart Flickr

Former University of Michigan basketball player, NBA player, and current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose was released from Oakland County Jail today after spending 16 days behind bars for drunken driving.

Rose apologized for the DUI and his lawyer said he shouldn't have been jailed.

When he pleaded guilty in May to driving while intoxicated, Rose told District Court Judge Kimberly Small he drank six martinis before crashing his SUV in March along a snowy road in West Bloomfield Township.

Small, who is known for coming down hard on drunken drivers, lectured Rose for 15 minutes before delivering her sentence. She told him that jail time was the "right punishment" in his case.

Small routinely sends first-time drunken drivers to jail, and has said she believes that sends a message that it is a serious crime. Under Michigan law, first-time drunken driving is a maximum 93-day misdemeanor, but there is no minimum mandatory jail time.

Arts/Culture
10:40 am
Thu August 18, 2011

Artpod: Murals brighten streets, bring pride to Detroit neighborhood

A group of people gather outside Chazz Miller's art studio in Old Redford, a neighborhood in Detroit
Emily Fox Michigan Radio

On today's podcast, we hear how an artist in Detroit wants to bring color to the city with his brush strokes.

Artists in Seattle and Philadelphia who have been painting large murals on abandoned buildings in an effort to revitalize neighborhoods. Philadelphia for example, has around two-thousand murals to help brighten the city.

Read more
Environment
10:39 am
Thu August 18, 2011

"River Gypsies" studying three large Michigan rivers

Dr. Emma J. Rosi-Marshall and technician Dustin Kincaid from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies introduce a mix of nutrients into the Manistee River, so they can track how the river processes the nutrients.
Photo by Tom Kramer

This summer, a group of scientists are studying five large rivers in the Midwest… including the St. Joseph, the Muskegon and the Manistee rivers in Michigan. It’s part of a three year study of how large rivers process fertilizers – and how things like farming and wastewater affect the rivers.

Tom Kramer spent some time with this group that calls themselves “The River Gypsies” - here's his story:

The forecast says there is a 50/50 chance of thunderstorms, but the River Gypsies can’t slow down for a little rain.

This group of 13 scientists, PhDs, grad students and undergrads has had three weeks to study five rivers in two states – packing up and moving to a new campground every three or four days. Picnic tables have become temporary laboratories.

Jennifer Tank, a professor at Notre Dame, says one of her students wasn’t all that prepared for this nomadic lifestyle.

“Now he did bring a Samsonite suitcase that weighs about 100 pounds into the field with him, but I know that next year he’ll have a great dry bag… so he’s learning as he goes along.”

Read more
News Roundup
10:35 am
Thu August 18, 2011

In this morning's news...

user brother o'mara Flickr

Update 4:43 p.m.:

The MDCH posted the submerged oil study on their website this afternoon (it was also presented at a public meeting last night in Marshall). You can read more about the report here.

10:35 a.m.

Report: No long term health effects from submerged oil

Results of a Michigan Department of Community Health toxicology study reaches this conclusion. The results of the study were released last night.

From the Associated Press:

A study says there are no long-term health effects of submerged oil from last year's spill in southern Michigan's Kalamazoo River.

The Battle Creek Enquirer and the Kalamazoo Gazette report results of the Michigan Department of Community Health toxicology study were released Wednesday evening at a community meeting in Marshall to discuss the progress of a cleanup related to the spill.

The meeting was hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Officials say closed portions of the river could be reopened later this year or in 2012.

Big drug bust in Pontiac

The DEA and the Oakland County sheriff's department released details of one of the bigger drug busts in Michigan.

From the Associated Press:

Authorities in southeast Michigan say they've seized an estimated $150 million worth of heroin and
cocaine during a bust earlier this month.

The Oakland County sheriff's department and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration on Wednesday announced details of last Friday's bust in Pontiac. Authorities say a search of a home found 69 kilograms of heroin and 10.5 kilograms of cocaine.

The agencies say it's the largest quantity of heroin ever discovered in Michigan. Sheriff Mike Bouchard says the sheer quantity of drugs is "startling."

Authorities say a traffic stop earlier in the day turned up 2 kilograms of suspected cocaine and led investigators to get a search warrant for the home. During the search of the home they found more than $560,000 in cash along with the heroin and cocaine.

Police called during protest a Huizenga's office

Police were called after some protesters entered the building where U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga's (R-Zeeland) office is located downtown Muskegon.

Read more

Pages