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10:20 am
Tue November 8, 2011

Snowmobile permits rising $10 to $45 in Michigan

A snowmobile trail near Cadillac, Michigan.
user harrisMI Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The state is increasing snowmobile permit fees for the 2011 season.

 The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday that this season the price for a permit is $45, an increase of $10 over last year's price. The fee will be $45 through the 2015 snowmobile season. A state law signed in 2008 provided for the incremental increase in snowmobile trail fees, which support maintenance and grooming of the state's snowmobile trail network.

News Roundup
8:34 am
Tue November 8, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, November 8th, 2011
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Election Day

Polls across the state are open today as Michiganders decide on mayoral races, various millages and one closely watched recall. There are mayoral races in Flint and Jackson. In Lansing, voters will decide if they want to increase their property taxes and in Detroit, residents are being asked if they want to change their city charter. And, constituents of Republican state Representative Paul Scott will decide whether he should be recalled. The recall is being spearheaded by the Michigan Education Association due to Scott’s support of cuts in state education funding and efforts to weaken the teachers’ union. You can find out what’s on your ballot here: Publius.

'Fracking' Moratorium

Some Michigan Democratic lawmakers are calling for a two-year moratorium on a procedure that is used to extract hard-to-reach oil and gas deposits. Rick Pluta reports:

Lawmakers are taking aim at a process called hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” – where water, sand, and chemicals are sent down a well to loosen stubborn pockets of gas and oil. Critics say it has caused pollution and dried-up water wells in other states. Democratic state Representative Jeff Irwin thinks the procedure needs to be more tightly regulated as it becomes more common in Michigan… Brad Wurfel with the state Department of Environmental Quality said Michigan has some of the strictest fracking regulations in the country, and that the process has been safely used in the state's shallow rock for decades.

Nuclear Power

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says there are no environmental reasons to reject DTE Energy’s application to build a new nuclear power plant, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

The NRC's staff has released a report for public comment on its analysis of plans for the Fermi 3 plant. The complex is near Monroe and Lake Erie in Monroe County's Frenchtown Township, northwest of Toledo, Ohio. The Monroe Evening News says the proposed cooling tower is larger than the two serving Fermi 2. Opponents say the plant would harm wetlands and feed toxic algae in Lake Erie.

Politics
1:01 am
Tue November 8, 2011

Controversial elections taking place across Michigan today

Steve Carmody Michiganradio

There are several controversial elections taking place in cities and towns around Michigan today.  

A Republican state lawmaker faces a recall vote, spearheaded by the Michigan Education Association. State representative Paul Scott was targeted by the MEA for his support of cuts in state education funding and efforts to weaken the union. Scott tried and failed to get the courts to toss out or delay the recall election.

Voters in Kalamazoo will decide if they want to make possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a ‘low’ local police priority. Supporters say police should focus on violent crime. The city's Public Safety director says the result of the vote will probably not effect how Kalamazoo police do their job.

In Lansing, voters are deciding if they want to increase their property taxes. Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says the millage hike is needed to reduce the chances of future police and fire layoffs.   

“I’m cautiously optimistic.  I’m hopeful.  I’m prayerful….Let’s face it….it’s do or die for us," says Bernero.   

Critics say city leaders are pushing for a millage increase before they truly know if the city will be $12 to $15 million dollars in the hole as predicted. 

Voters in Flint and Jackson are electing mayors today. 

And in Detroit, voters are being asked to approve many changes to their city charter. Supporters say the charter changes would address the city's corruption problems that have lead to numerous investigations, including one which resulted in criminal charges against former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Read more
Politics
6:32 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

Wayne County Airport Authority board chief resigns

Renee Axt
Metro Airport

The severance scandal surrounding the now-fired CEO of Detroit Metro Airport, Turkia Mullin, has apparently claimed a member of the airport board.

Wayne County Airport Authority chair Renee Axt resigned Monday. She issued the following statement:

Read more
Politics
6:24 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

ACLU watches Pontiac election

The Michigan ACLU is expressing concerns about how well the city of Pontiac is prepared to handle Tuesday’s election.

Recently, Pontiac’s emergency manager, Lou Schimmel, fired three top Pontiac officials, including the city clerk. He appointed a new clerk last week.

That concerns the ACLU, which wonders if the new clerk has had enough time to effectively organize the election. The group sent Schimmel a letter expressing its concerns late last week.

Read more
Politics
5:14 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

Don't forget, Election Day is tomorrow! (a resource to help)

Update 9:16 a.m.

Our Facebook users are not having much luck with this resource. Some are seeing their ballot, while others are not. This message appears when searching on Publius:

Due to limited resources in 2011, only some jurisdictions have interactive sample ballot information. All polling locations are current. We hope to have everything back where it should be in 2012.

Monday, November 7, 5:14 p.m.

Election Day is tomorrow.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m in Michigan.

It's an easy-to-miss election because there are not a lot of high profile campaigns going on, but there are likely some important local issues in your area.

Here's a resource that might help with your election research:

Publius - find out what's on your ballot

Publius is a great resource.

Enter your name and city and up pops your polling location and it shows you what exactly will be on your ballot.

A good place to start. If the issues don't look familiar, more research is warranted.

Auto/Economy
5:13 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

Manufacturing "not dead yet; not at all" in West Michigan

At least 35 companies looking to fill manufacturing positions were at a career fair at Grand Rapids Community College Monday.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

At least 35 West Michigan companies are looking to fill manufacturing jobs. The companies were scouting out new workers at a manufacturing job fair in Grand Rapids Monday.

This is the first time Grand Rapids Community College has held a job fair specifically for manufacturers. Michael Kiss has been with the college for 25 years. He’s heads the school’s Department of Manufacturing and Applied Technology. "There's 35 companies here, but probably another 100 that are looking to hire," Kiss said.

He says they decided to host the fair because he’s been flooded with calls from companies this year that are trying to fill jobs in the manufacturing field.

Isn't manufacturing dead?

It’s not dead yet; not at all,” 40-year old Grand Rapids resident Eric Mallett says about manufacturing.

Read more
Politics
4:49 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

Michigan State Democrats call for “fracking” moratorium

Democrats at the state capital are calling for a two-year moratorium on a procedure used to extract hard-to-reach oil and gas deposits.

They are taking aim at a process called hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” – where water, sand, and chemicals are sent down a well to loosen stubborn pockets of gas and oil.

Here's a demo of how it works from Chesapeake Energy:

Critics say it has caused pollution and dried-up water wells in other states.

State Representative Jeff Irwin thinks the procedure needs to be more tightly regulated as it becomes more common in Michigan.

He said more study is needed on the potential effects of deep-rock fracking on the world’s largest supply of fresh water.

“We have a tremendous amount to protect here in Michigan with our surface waters and our Great Lakes,” Irwin said. “When you think about what makes Michigan a special place to be, it’s really our water. It’s the one thing that we have that makes us unique over and above anyplace in the world. We have the best water resources in the world.”

Irwin said new rules should include limits on groundwater withdrawals and full disclosure of all chemicals used.

Brad Wurfel with the state Department of Environmental Quality said Michigan has some of the strictest fracking regulations in the country, and that the process has been safely used in the state's shallow rock for decades.

“If you look around the state, you’ll see where oil and gas producers over the past 60 years have fracked probably on the order of around 12,000 wells,” said Wurfel.

Wurfel said the state updated its drilling regulations in May to address hydro-fracking deeper into the rock.

Politics
4:26 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

Michigan Attorney General sues to shut down 2 abortion clinics

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed a lawsuit to close two women's clinics that provide abortions in Saginaw and the Lansing area.

Schuette's office filed a complaint Monday in Eaton County Circuit Court seeking to dissolve Health Care Clinic Inc. in Delta Township and Women's Choice Clinic Inc. in Saginaw. The attorney general's office says an investigation included evidence of improper medical records disposal at the clinics owned by Richard Remund.

The Associated Press left a telephone message Monday for Remund. A person answering the phone at Health Care Clinic declined comment.

Schuette asks state health officials to review evidence suggesting improper records disposal and that at least half of procedures performed at the clinics were abortions. Schuette says the second would put the clinics under more stringent regulations.

Science/Medicine
4:18 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

Michigan DHS says parents negligent for refusing more cancer treatment

A family from Michigan's Upper Peninsula is refusing additional chemotherapy and radiation treatments for their 10-year-old son, according to a report from WLUC-TV in Marquette, MI.

Jacob Stieler of Skandia, Michigan was diagnosed with a rare form cancer known as "Ewing Sarcoma." He was treated, an is considered cancer-free, but doctors say he still needs additional treatments.

Read more
Politics
3:54 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

State lawmakers try to reduce driver responsibility fees

The additional annual fees Michigan driver’s pay if they have seven or more points on their license may soon be reduced. The state House is expected to vote this week on proposed changes to the unpopular driver responsibility fee.

The state currently collects about $120 million every year from drivers with at least seven points on their records. State House spokesman Ari Adler said that’s too much money to simply cut from the state budget.

“We looked at doing this in a little bit more of an incremental approach without taking so much money out of the budget all at once,” Adler said. “The long term goal is to try to reduce or eliminate these driver responsibility fees but the reality is that there is a good chunk of the budget that is predicated on these fees and penalties.”

Senator Bruce Caswell agreed the state cannot afford to completely eliminate that amount of money from the budget right now but he said the fee is unfair to drivers who have already paid their fines.   

“These later bills coming, I don’t care what the charge is, are inappropriate I believe and shouldn’t be done. So my hope eventually is to get rid of this thing   entirely,” said Caswell.

Drivers with seven or more points on their license are assessed the annual fee in addition to the cost of their ticket. The proposal would omit or reduce the fee for minor infractions, but major traffic violations, such as driving under the influence of alcohol, would still be assessed the annual fee.

Environment
2:23 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

Michigan turtles still feeling effects of oil spill

A rescued oiled turtle ready for cleaning
Herpetological Resource and Management

According to an article in the Battle Creek Enquirer, turtles are still suffering negative effects from last year's oil spill in west Michigan's Talmadge Creek and Kalamazoo River.

Scientists including Bob Doherty have been working to rehabilitate affected turtles and document the extent of the damage to turtle populations caused by remaining submerged oil.

Doherty is under contract with Enbridge Inc., the company responsible for the spill.

Doherty and his staff will administer care to some 30 rescued turtles in the coming months who are not healthy enough to return to the wild for winter hibernation.

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Commentary
1:40 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

Ambassador Bridge owners "paper over all the truth with money"

Last week I received an indignant angry e-mail from a Republican woman I’ve known for many years, someone who has worked for Republican officeholders and in many campaigns.

She wrote after getting a flyer in the mail from an outfit called “Americans for Prosperity,” which has been acting as a front for the Ambassador Bridge owners, the family of Manuel “Matty” Moroun.

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Politics
11:51 am
Mon November 7, 2011

Michigan's charitible giving tax credit expires at the end of the year

The Michigan charitable giving tax credit expires at the end of this year.
John Morgan Flickr

(*Editor's note - Michigan Radio, as a licensee of the University of Michigan, benefits from this tax credit)

The Michigan charitable giving tax credit expires at the end of the year, and charities are expecting the amount people donate to charities to drop as a result.

The charitable giving credit was ended as part of Governor Snyder's effort to pay for a business tax cut of more than $1.5 billion.

The credit allows Michigan taxpayers to essentially double their contribution when they give to community foundations, homeless shelters, food banks and public institutions (such as Michigan universities, museums, public libraries, and public broadcasting stations).

For a single filer, half their contribution can come off their Michigan tax bill up to a $200 contribution. Joint filers can take half of a $400 contribution.

Brian Conner of the Detroit News wrote a piece on the expected effects of the credit's expiration.

Conner writes that charities in Michigan don't quite know how much of their donations are tied to the credit, but the expect to take some kind of a hit.

Read more
News Roundup
11:01 am
Mon November 7, 2011

In this morning's news...

Republican candidates to debate in Michigan this Wednesday

Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett reports the nationally televised Republican presidential debate will be held at Oakland University this Wednesday. The debate will begin at 8 p.m. and coverage on CNBC will start at 7 p.m. The economy is expected to be a major focus of the debate.

The University has a series of events planned around the debate.

UM nurses approves 3-year contract

Nurses working at the University of Michigan Health System have been working without a contract since July 1. Now they've agreed to a three year deal with UMHS.

From the Detroit News:

The University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council's membership this past weekend approved a new contract that includes a phasing in of health insurance premium increases and includes 3 percent wage increases the first and second years and 4 percent the third year of the contract, plus step increases, said Katie Oppenheim , president of the nurse council.

New Visitor Center for the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge

U.S. Representative John Dingell's dream of an international wildlife refuge along the Detroit River flyway became a reality in 2001. And the Refuge continues to receive investments.

The Associated Press reports the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is getting almost $1.4 million for work next year at the site of a future visitor's center. Officials plan to announce the funding in Trenton today. They are also marking the completion of $1.2 million in cleanup and restoration at the Refuge Gateway.

What's Working
6:26 am
Mon November 7, 2011

Kalamazoo foundation's equity fellowship targets racial disparities

In October of 2010 the Kalamazoo Community Foundation declared itself an anti-racist organization. But the foundation's leaders recognized it was going to take more than just a declaration to counteract persistent racial disparities.

Sharon Anderson, the foundation's Community Investment Officer, spoke with Michigan Radio's Tamar Charney.

"We're looking at every aspect of our work to determine who is being left out. Who is not at the table, and why...so that whatever we do, we do from an informed perspective," said Anderson.

The anti-racist program at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation was designed to include youths and youth-serving organizations. The foundation provides resources for youth organizations to develop after-school programs that build academic and social skills, and teach leadership and civic engagement.

The goal is more than equality, it's equity--identifying the gaps and taking action to ensure that every group has the opportunity to be successful. For Anderson that means fighting racial disparities by educating leaders and having an informed perspective when it comes to community development initiatives.

"We struggled in the beginning--where should we start? And the lesson is, start anywhere and keep moving," Anderson said.

-Meg Cramer-Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics
5:30 am
Mon November 7, 2011

Fight for anti-discrimination ordinance continues in Holland

'Until Love is Equal' founder Erin Wilson holds his son Julian. Next to him are his wife Amy, son Riley and daughter Siona. The group sell t-shirts, sweatshirts and bumper stickers to raise awareness.
Seth Thompson Epiglotic Photographic

This is a local version of a national story that aired on NPR's 'All Things Considered' Saturday.

Last June the city council in Holland voted 5-to-4 against adding sexual orientation and gender identity to its local anti-discrimination laws. Federal and Michigan laws protect residents from discrimination in housing and employment – but not based on a person’s sexuality or gender identity.

Read more
Michigan food going to China
1:31 am
Mon November 7, 2011

From Michigan's fields to Chinese dinner tables

China is already playing a role in Michigan’s effort to diversify its economy. The country’s 1.3 billion people don’t want just cars from Michigan companies, they also want Michigan foods.

From baby food to blueberries, Michigan is tapping into a new and profitable market in China.

Read more
Politics
1:00 am
Mon November 7, 2011

GOP candidates to debate at Oakland U. this week

DonkeyHotey flickr

Oakland University will host a nationally televised Republican presidential debate this week.

With Michigan’s high unemployment rate, and hosts from the business cable channel CNBC moderating the event, the economy is expected to be a major focus of Wednesday night’s debate.

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain will take the stage after a week of fielding questions about accusations of sexual harassment that allegedly happened in the late 1990s.

Meanwhile, Michigan native and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is working to regain the lead he once had in the race, before Cain’s meteoric rise in the polls.

In addition to Cain and Romney, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have all confirmed they’ll attend. They’ll share the stage with Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachman, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

Moderators will give each candidate one minute to respond to a question, or 30 seconds to respond to a follow-up question.

The Michigan Republican Party is a co-sponsor of the event.

The debate begins at 8 p.m. CNBC will begin coverage at 7 p.m.

Economy
10:23 am
Sun November 6, 2011

UMH nurses ratify 3-year contract

med.umich.edu

Nurses at the University of Michigan Hospital have ratified a contract that includes wage increases over the next three years.

The Michigan Nurses Association represents the 4,000 nurses at the Ann Arbor hospital.

The union says nurses will have a stronger voice in staffing and technology issues.

An MNA statement says charge nurses will have a say in determining whether more staffing is needed to meet specific patient needs.

Some nurses could see pay increases of $5 to $10 per hour in the last year of the contract.

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