Map of Michigan showing participation in the food stamp program per capita
Image from Food Stamp Program Map Machine / USDA/ERS

Nearly 1.9 million people in Michigan are getting some form of public assistance. That's a new record according to a report from the Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta.

Pluta talked with Sharon Parks of the Michigan League for Human Services.  Parks says the growing number of people applying for the cash assistance program concerns her most.

The Michigan House of Representatives.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Great Recession has meant tough times for state governments. Michigan has been hit extra hard and leaders in the state have been fighting over a shrinking budget for several years.  These budget battles have led to brief government shutdowns in years past. But with the new fiscal year starting October 1st, leaders in the state seem to have resolved their differences.

Aerial photo of Talmadge Creek after Enbridge oil spill
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

It’s been more than a month since an estimated 800,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the Kalamazoo River. Enbridge Energy Partners, the company responsible for the pipeline leak, says it has cleaned up about 700,000 gallons of that oil.

But there’s still a lot of work to be done. The EPA is just now starting to find out how much oil is at the bottom of the river.

State Lawmakers Make Progress on Budget

In Today's Headlines...

Sep 7, 2010

Back to Court Over Carp

Michigan and four other states head back to federal court today in hopes of keeping Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes. They'll try to make their case to close Illinois River access to Lake Michigan in order to keep the fish out. A decision is not expected this week.

Labor Group Endorses Snyder

Boat on Northport Bay, Lake Michigan
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio listeners are having a conversation on Facebook about their favorite places to travel around Michigan.

Most are sharing. Some, like Trevor, are keeping their secrets, "If I told you I'd have to kill you."

Here's the list so far:

Cover of the report Executive Excess 2010: CEO Pay and the Great Recession

A report from the Institute for Policy Studies looked at CEO compensation from the 50 companies that layed off more workers during the recession. They found the CEOs at these companies are paid more, on average, than the average pay for the CEOs running to top 500 companies in the U.S. (S&P 500).

Sarah Anderson is the lead author of the report.  She says,

"CEOs are squeezing workers to boost short-term profits and fatten their own paychecks."  

help wanted sign
kandyjaxx/creative commons

The unemployment picture in Michigan is still bad. It stands at 13.1% now. The worst it's been since the early 1980's.

Now, a new report by the Michigan League for Human Services puts the long-term unemployment picture into perspective.  In 2000, people unemployed for more than 26 weeks, accounted for 6.5% of the total number of unemployed. Today, the long-term unemployed account for 40.8% of the unemployed.

The report says,

News roundup for today

Sep 2, 2010
Newspaper boxes along a street
Susan Lesch / Creative Commons

Illegal oil spill workers caught in Texas

texting with a cell phone
Alton / Creative Commons

You're supposed to keep an open mind when sitting as a juror in a trial. If you can't, it's definitely not a good idea to broadcast your prejudices about a case on the web.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Hadley Jons, while sitting on a jury in a resisting arrest case "wrote on Facebook that it was 'gonna be fun to tell the defendant they're GUILTY.'"

Indiana Michigan football game
Creative Commons larrysphatpage

The Big Ten conference announced its plan to create two separate divisions in football.  The conference started with ten teams, went to eleven with the addition of Penn State in 1990, and will now have twelve teams with the addition of the University of Nebraska.  No name change, just some new matchups. 

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports that...

Actress at the Michigan State Fair
Bob Vigiletti / Michigan Radio Picture Project

There's a new post on Michigan Radio's Picture Project site.  Bob Vigiletti has eighteen beautiful shots taken in the waning years of the Michigan State Fair.  The fair, proclaimed to be the country's oldest, was closed because of declining attendance and revenues in 2009. Vigiletti writes:

It is only through out thoughts and photographs that we preserve and cherish memories of the past.

Marijuana leaf
Hendrike / Creative Commons

An Oakland County Judge prohibited defendants charged with violating drug laws from smoking marijuana while on bond until their hearing in October. The defendants say they use medical marijuana legally under the state's medical marijuana law.  The Detroit News has a story about the ruling.  In it they described the scene outside the courtroom:

Ford's River Rouge Plant in Michigan
Rob Goodspeed / Creative Commons

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy posted a story about job growth in Michigan. James Hohman cited stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that showed Michigan posted 27,800 new jobs for July.  More than any other state in the country. Hohman writes:

Strike at EMU avoided

Aug 31, 2010

Rina Miller reports that "an agreement has been reached between Eastern Michigan University and its faculty just hours before a strike could have begun." 

In Miller's report, Howard Bunsis, with the EMU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors, says:

Working on the broken oil pipeline near Marshall, Michigan

The pipe has been repaired. It was tested yesterday. Now, as Steve Carmody reports, Enbridge Energy officials plan to ask regulators for permission to restart the pipeline that just five weeks ago gushed close to a million gallons of crude oil.

Carmody reports:

Court Rejects Tea Party

Eastern Michigan University (EMU) President, Susan Martin
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

(by Rina Miller)

The union representing Eastern Michigan University faculty may ask for a strike authorization if its contract demands are not met by midnight Tuesday.

EMU classes are scheduled to begin September 8, but union representatives say teachers may not be there if no contract agreement is reached.

EMU faculty are no strangers to walkouts: They went on strike in 2000, 2004 and 2006.

Howard Bunsis is with the union.

Bedbug on human skin
Piotr Naskrecki / CDC/Harvard University

(by Steve Carmody)

College students are moving into dorms and off campus apartments this week across Michigan. There is a concern the students may inadvertently add to a spreading bed bug problem. Detroit is among a host of U.S. cities that have seen a spike in bed bug infestations. Many colleges are closely watching incoming students to keep them from bringing in furniture that's infested with bed bugs.

Great blue heron covered in oil from the 2010 Enbridge oil spill near Marshall, Michigan.
Michigan's oil response Flickr page / State of Michigan

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports "an oil pipeline that broke near Marshall last month is undergoing a critical pressure test today. Enbridge Energy is flooding the pipeline with water to see if it can withstand the pressure."

If it works, and government inspectors say it's o.k., the pipeline will be restarted.

Logos from candidates' websites


Air pollution around a highway in downtown Los Angeles
Ali Azimi / Creative Commons

Ozone way up in the atmosphere... good. Ozone near the ground... bad. 

SEMCOG (Southeast Michigan Council of Governments) says the air outside could be unhealthy today.  The group says "elements have been in place for a few days now – sunny skies, hot temperatures, and southerly winds. Admittedly this is beautiful weather, but the ongoing nature of these conditions is compromising our air quality and enabling ground-level ozone to remain high."

Volunteers at Sema Cafe in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Myra Klarman

(by Rebecca Williams with The Environment Report)

So what would you think about opening up your home to 120 people every week? Letting them come in with their shoes on, sit anywhere they wanted. Oh, and by the way, they’ll be expecting a full breakfast.

That’s what happens at Jeff McCabe and Lisa Gottlieb’s house in Ann Arbor. From 6:30 to 10am every Friday, their house is transformed. It’s kind of weird. You walk in and you know you’re in someone’s home, but it feels like you’re suddenly in a little diner.

Well, it's that time.  The time to put away the beach bags, the flip-flops, and that industrial-size bottle of SPF 45.  Yes, friends, summer vacation is over.  As another Michigan August comes to an end and September comes knocking, it's time to say goodbye to lazy summer afternoons and  get back to business. 

News roundup: August 30th

Aug 30, 2010

A 'Conventional' Weekend

Ronald and Nancy Reagan at the 1988 Republican convention in New Orleans
White House / Ronald Reagan Library

Both the republican and democratic nominating conventions will be held this weekend. So what actually happens at these things? Aren't they just overhyped pageants so the parties can put their candidates on display?

While that might be the case for the national conventions, the Michigan conventions are different. Balloons and confetti are absent.  Horsetrading and backroom deals  rule the day.

The Gongwer News Service and Detroit News are reporting that Democratic nominee for Governor Virg Bernero has chosen Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence as a running mate.

Air Force airplane spraying dispersant chemicals on Gulf oil spill
Technical Sergeant Adrian Cadiz / U.S. Air Force

There's been a lot of talk recently about how quickly microbes in the Gulf have been gobbling up the spill oil.  Scientific American has a report on what researchers know about the microbes in the Gulf. Reporter David Biello reports "the microbes of the deep Gulf of Mexico were ready to handle an oil spill."

A campaign official says Democratic candidate for Governor Virg Bernero will name his running mate Saturday morning.

It's still unknown just who it will be.

Bernero will name his nominee for Lt. Gov at 9:30AM in Detroit.

The announcment will come as Democrats attend thier state nominating convention at Cobo Hall in Detroit.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder announced his choice of state Representative Brian Calley as his running mate on Wednesday.

Carp caught in Lake Calumet

The Associated Press reports that The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation is giving $500,000 to the Great Lakes Commission to help it find ways to stop the invasive Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.

The fish started make their way up the Mississippi River system more than ten years ago after they escaped from fish farm ponds in the south. They were imported to control parasites in the ponds.