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Politics
12:59 am
Wed August 3, 2011

Incumbent mayor clear winner in Warren primary

Warren Mayor James Fouts cruised to any easy primary victory Tuesday night.

The five-person primary in Michigan’s third-largest city got downright nasty at times. Candidates lobbed personal attacks, and there was a strange battle over whether Fouts had to reveal his age.

In the end though, Fouts was the clear winner, garnering more than 70% of the vote.

Fouts says he’s fought blight, demolishing about 600 dangerous homes. He also reorganized the city’s police department, and brought back EMS services.

He says the vote shows Warren is happy with his efforts.

“I think hard work, and effort, and recognizing the taxpayers are your boss, has allowed this success to take place.”

Fouts and City Councilwoman Kathy Vogt, a longtime political opponent, will face off in the November general election.

Despite finishing a distant second, Vogt says she’ll continue to hammer on what she calls Fouts’ lack of fiscal discipline.

“There are places where costs can be cut. And that’s what we’ve got to do. There’s got to be drastic cuts at this point. And the people at the top cannot continue to take top dollar all the time.”

Fouts calls Vogt’s assertions of fiscal irresponsibility “preposterous.” He says Warren has more money in its general fund than any other city in the state.

Politics
11:22 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

Walling, Buchanan to face off in Flint's mayoral election in November

Incumbent Flint mayor Dayne Walling celebrates with his supporters Tuesday night
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling easily finished first in Tuesday’s mayoral primary.   But the race for the second spot on the November general election ballot was extremely close.   

Dayne Walling says Tuesday’s primary vote shows Flint residents understand the challenges he’s struggled against during the past two years.   The city’s murder rate has soared. Flint’s budget is strained.   Still, Walling picked up nearly 50% of the votes cast in yesterday’s 7 way primary.  

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Arts/Culture
5:53 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

U of M houses more than 2,400 rare and contemporary instruments

Recent additions to the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

The Cincinnati Art Museum last week discovered it had a long lost treasure trove of rare instruments in its possession. We're talking more than 800 antique instruments just sitting in storage, unused and pretty much forgotten.

Well it turns out the University of Michigan has three times as many historical instruments housed mostly off campus in a high-security vault.  

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Auto/Economy
5:49 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

New fuel efficiency requirements proposed by feds will be hard to meet, automakers say

New fuel efficiency requirements proposed by the federal government will be hard to meet, according to many people who work in the auto industry.

The Obama administration recently announced a tentative proposal to roughly double the miles per gallon average for vehicles by the year 2025. 

Charlie Klein with General Motors says most people don’t understand how hard it is to improve fuel efficiency, without sacrificing affordability.

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Auto/Economy
5:26 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

Could Americans be ready (finally) for diesel cars?

Some car companies -- like General Motors -- think Americans might be ready to buy more diesel cars, as gas prices rise.

GM will offer a diesel version of its Chevy Cruze in the U.S. next year.

Early diesels in the U.S. had performance problems, like engine knocking.

But Charlie Klein of GM says modern diesel engines are dramatically better than in the past.

"Those that have driven them, they are terrific to drive," says Klein.  "And of course they deliver terrific fuel efficiency."

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Science/Medicine
4:13 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

University of Michigan nurses voice frustration over contracts

Katie Oppenheim is the President of the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council (UMPNC). She was one speaker at the press conference August 2 in the Michigan Union.
Amelia Carpenter Michigan Radio Newsroom

University of Michigan nurses say the quality of patient care will suffer if they can’t reach an agreement in contract talks with management. Some nurses say they will leave their jobs. The two sides are debating financial issues including pay increases, health insurance and benefits in contract talks that resume today (Wednesday). The union representatives have added to an existing complaint with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission charging management with bad faith bargaining and making one-sided changes to some nurses’ working conditions. The union says the university made an assignment change without consulting them first.

Jeff Breslin is President of the Michigan Nurses Association. He says one of the key issues in hospitals is retaining staff.

"You get the expertise – you have nurses that can walk into a situation , assess it and know what needs to be done at the drop of a hat where new nurses – they will get to that point but they need the skill, they need the experience and they need the expertise from the people who have been there to pass that on to them," Breslin said.

The university health system said in a release they do not agree patient care will be affected with the new contract.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Auto Sales
3:54 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

GM, Ford, Chrysler all increase sales in July

General Motors headquarters, Detroit, MI
Spacing Magazine Flickr

Update:

GM sales rose almost 8% in July, while Ford sales rose 8.9% and Chrysler sales increased 20.1%.

From the Detroit Free Press:

The Detroit Three saw U.S. sales increase in July and gained market share, as a troubling economy and weeks of worries about the U.S. debt ceiling continued to hamper a recovery in auto sales.

Chrysler had its best July since 2007 to lead Detroit’s automakers with a 20.1% surge, off a 33% gain in sales to individual customers. General Motors’ U.S. sales rose 7.6% last month and Ford’s grew 8.9%. Japanese automakers continued to lose share to their American rivals as they recovered from the March earthquake and tsunami in their country.

GM forecast July industrywide sales of light cars and trucks were flat from the previous year and slightly better than June. Consumers stayed out of showrooms amid news of climbing unemployment and bitter debate over raising the U.S. debt ceiling to prevent the country from defaulting on its loans tonight. President Barack Obama signed legislation today to prevent that scenario after the Senate approved the bill.

*

Original post:

From the Associated Press:

General Motors says its U.S. sales rose nearly 8 percent last month, led by fuel-efficient vehicles such as the
Chevrolet Cruze car.

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Education
3:04 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

Ten-year extension sought for Michigan students to meet proficiency score

3rd Grade Class
User: Old Shoe Woman Flickr

The Michigan Board of Education wants an additional 10 years to get students prepared to meet the proficiency scores on state standardized tests. The federal goals call for all children to be proficient on state exams by 2014. State leaders want to waive the No Child Left Behind requirements for 10 years. They believe this period will prepare every Michigan student to be proficient in reading and math.  

Jeff Bean is a Flint high school teacher. He says working to get all students proficient is noble but not realistic.   

"It would be like me setting standards for medical professionals: I think everybody who goes into a cancer treatment should get cured. Let’s go for 100%. That’s a noble effort. But to dictate whether doctors get to keep their licenses or not based on whether they save every patient they see, is an incredibly unreasonable piece."

Bean believes extending the 10-year deadline is a way for certain leaders to buy time to change the federal goals. He says pre- and post-testing would be a more effective goal for students.

U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, says more than 80% of the nation’s public schools could be labeled as ‘failing’ under the No Child Left Behind law requirements.

-Traci Currie - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics
2:45 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

Jesse Jackson meets with statewide Black Caucus

Rev. Jesse Jackson continues his campaign against Gov. Snyder's emergency manager law.
Laura Weber MPRN

Reverend Jesse Jackson is in Michigan this week to continue his campaign against the sweeping emergency manager law.

Jackson wants to expand his Rainbow PUSH Coalition in Michigan to increase action against the politics of Governor Rick Snyder and the Republican-led Legislature.

Jackson says large businesses in Michigan have been allowed for too long to make huge profits while many people have struggled to make ends meet or find a job.

“Michiganders have something to say about restructuring our economy.”

Jackson says there are two issues in Michigan that are most concerning to the state’s economic and political future.

The first is the expansion of the emergency manager law, which he says negates voter rights.

Jackson describes the problem:

“Not a person accountable to the people, or formed by the people, only to the Secretary of Treasury, who then can suspend labor contracts. How Democratic. So that to end democracy and to choose a czar is no solution to an economic crisis.”

The second is a looming decision in the Legislature to place a lifetime cap on welfare benefits at four years. With one procedural action left in the Senate, the measure is expected to go to Governor Snyder for his signature and begin on October first.

Jackson says October first would become a sort of Armageddon Day for Michigan’s most struggling residents.

Environment
10:49 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Sea lampreys gaining the upper hand

The mouth of a lamprey. It uses suction, teeth, and a razor sharp tongue to attach itself to its prey... and then it starts drinking blood.
Photo courtesy of USFWS

For fifty years Canada and the U.S. have been battling an eel-like creature across the Great Lakes. Sea lampreys are parasites that drill holes in fish to feed on blood and body fluids. They often kill the fish. The sea lamprey was one of the first invasive species to arrive in the lakes, and it’s the only invasive to be successfully controlled by humans.

But in recent years, the lamprey has been getting the upper hand in the struggle. As Peter Payette reports there might be more setbacks in the near future:

If you’re on a lamprey control team you get to see all the prettiest streams and rivers in the Great Lakes. That’s because lampreys like clean water.

“Part of our problems recently have been some of the streams that were too dirty to harbor lampreys have been cleaned up and now we have lampreys in parts of the Saginaw River. We never had lampreys in that up until 15 or 20 years ago.”

Ellie Koon supervises one of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife treatment teams. They spend the warm months killing young lampreys by the thousands.

They treat rivers using a chemical called lampricide. It’s a poison that rarely hurts other fish. In fact, during a treatment the fish get a feast they normally wouldn’t. Young lampreys look a bit like worms at this stage and stay in the mud. But when they’re poisoned they swim out where fish can grab them.

Ellie Koon and one of her team members, Hank Cupp, say fish and other animals in the river pig out.

“You can almost hear the fish burping the day after we treat. You can see them swimming around with lampreys hanging out of their mouths that they can’t swallow.”

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Investigative
10:14 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Nobel economists mixed on taxes and jobs equation

Rick Snyder said the Michigan Business Tax was bad for business. 

 “I propose replacing it with a flat six-percent corporate income tax.  Let’s take a job-killer environment; let’s start creating jobs.”

He said it on the campaign trail.  He made the point to business leaders.

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Commentary
10:11 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Today is Election Day

You may not know this, but today is Election Day in many places in Michigan. There are primary elections for municipal offices in a wide scattering of communities.  In Sharon Township in Washtenaw County, there’s an effort to recall a couple local officials over a bad hiring decision some residents think they made.

And you owe it to yourself to find out what’s on the ballot where you live, and then go to the polls and vote.  Most people who are eligible won’t do that today, so your vote will have more influence than it would in some elections.

Local elections sometimes have more impact on our lives that elections that get more press. And if you live in the Oakland County suburb of Troy, today’s election will have the biggest impact of all.

Last year Troy, a mostly affluent, white-collar suburb, voted to abolish its library. Granted, the ballot proposal was somewhat confusing, but that is what they did. Now, they have one last chance.

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Your Story
9:00 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Your Story: Is College Worth It?

Kim Sapkowski's family is debating whether or not going to college makes economic sense.
photo submitted by Kim Sapkowski

Going to college keeps getting more expensive. In 2011 the College Board estimated it would cost $20,000 a year, on average, for students to go to an in-state, public university.

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Debt Deal Vote
7:18 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Michigan House members vote 11-4 in favor of debt deal

Michigan's Congressional delegation voted 11-4 in favor of the debt deal.

Michigan’s U.S. Representatives voted 11-4 in favor of the debt deal proposed by House and Senate Congressional leaders. The four no votes came from Democratic Representatives Hansen Clarke, John Conyers, Gary Peters, and Republican Representative Justin Amash.

Statements from Michigan’s congressional delegation in the House came out fast and furious after the vote.

In an address from the House floor, Democratic Congressman John Dingell, who voted in favor of the bill, said:

“…this is not the bill I would have written, and I do not know a single Member of Congress who believes this bill is perfect.  I agreed with President Obama’s sentiments today when he said that ‘as with any compromise, the outcome is far from satisfying.’  However, as a Member of Congress, there are times when you must hold your nose and vote for a compromise that, while imperfect, is necessary.  I believe this is one of those times.  The grave threat of default is far too near and too serious not to vote for this agreement…”

Also voting in favor of the bill was Republican Congressman Fred Upton:

“…This agreement begins to address our nation's long-term debt with firm spending cuts and caps, now and in the future.  I voted for this agreement to ensure that we will not allow the full faith and credit of the United States to be compromised. The agreement will avert a default on the national debt, which would drive up interest rates, create major financial disruptions, and harm the U.S. economy.  Meaningful spending cuts with real tools to enforce them are the reforms we need to finally stop the deficit spending and protect the next generation. Enactment of this agreement will keep our nation from default and protect Michigan families and job creators from untold economic damage.”

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Politics
6:29 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Kilpatrick leaves prison after 14 months

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick walks out the front door of a prison administration building. He climbed into a waiting SUV which quickly left the prison grounds.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been released from prison, Steve Carmody reports. "Kilpatrick walked out of the prison in Jackson and hugged his lawyer. He then got into a SUV waiting for him and the vehicle drove away," Carmody reports from Jackson.

Kilpatrick served 14 months for violating probation in a 2008 criminal case. From the Associated Press:

The 41-year-old Kilpatrick is free on parole but still faces a federal corruption trial that could send him back to prison. He plans to re-join his family in Texas.

Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and resigned from office in 2008 after he lied at a civil trial to cover up an extramarital affair with his chief of staff. That lawsuit cost Detroit $8.4 million.

He was imprisoned in May 2010 for failing to disclose assets and surrender sufficient funds that could have reduced his $1 million restitution to Detroit.

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Politics
6:22 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Effort to recall Snyder won't make Nov. ballot

Republican Governor Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of the Snyder administration

The Committee to recall Rick Snyder says it hasn't collected enough signatures to get a recall on the November ballot. The Associated Press reports:

The group's spokesman Tom Bryant tells The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press that it has collected more than 300,000 signatures but is short of the more than 800,000 required. Bryant says collection efforts will continue into September, and they'll try to get the issue before voters in February.

The Committee to Recall Rick Snyder opposes Snyder-backed changes including a tougher emergency financial manager law.

Snyder spokeswoman Geralyn Lasher says the governor has made difficult decisions, including spending cuts and lifting tax exemptions on public and private pension income. She says the Republican doing what's needed to "get Michigan back on track."

The Detroit News reports:

The group needs about 807,000 valid signatures and hopes to collect close to 1 million to withstand challenges. Since all signatures must be collected within a 90-day period, the group can build on its July momentum and work toward a Sept. 29 deadline, even if it has to scrap some of the earliest signatures and get those people to sign again, he said...  Wording for the recall petition was approved in late April. No recall effort aimed at a Michigan governor has ever made the ballot.

Environment
12:29 am
Tue August 2, 2011

Third-party groups hope to weigh in on possible Saugatuck deal involving coastal dunes

Dunes near Saugatuck
Norm Hoekstra Creative Commons

Three non-profit organizations are asking a federal judge to let them weigh in on a proposed settlement between a private developer and Saugatuck Township.  Both parties have agreed to the deal, but a federal judge must approve it. The agreement would resolve a longstanding land-use case.

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Politics
7:20 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Detroit immigrant community denounces ICE investigation

Immigrant advocates in Detroit have denounced an Immigration and Customs Enforcement internal investigation.

They say the agency “whitewashed” an investigation into whether agents improperly targeted a school in southwest Detroit.

Speaking through a translator, Brisa Maldonado recounted how she and her husband were pulled over, and her husband detained, after dropping their children off at Hope of Detroit Academy on March 31st.

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Politics
6:52 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Snyder announces urban initiative

Governor Snyder says strong cities are the key to Michigan’s future.

The Governor outlined his new Office of Urban and Metropolitan Initiatives in Detroit Monday. The program will have offices in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and the Flint-Saginaw area.

Snyder also appointed Harvey Hollins to head the office. Hollins is currently Wayne State University’s vice president for government and community affairs.

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Politics
4:16 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Time running out for recall drives against state lawmakers

Recall campaigns against the state’s elected officials have until the end of the week  to hand in petition signatures to be considered for the November ballot. There have been more than two dozen recall campaigns against Republican lawmakers, and just three against Democratic lawmakers. 

Two of those lawmakers – State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer and state Representative Barb Byrum – are in the clear after an elections panel in Ingham County rejected petitions language against them. 

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