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4:49 pm
Tue July 5, 2011

Michigan teachers union to back recall efforts aimed at some Republicans

A rally held by the Michigan Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, in Lansing last May. The MEA is putting its support behind some recall efforts.
screen grab from YouTube video

The state’s largest teachers union says it will put its organizational muscle and money behind efforts to recall some Republican lawmakers.

The Michigan Education Association’s main complaints are cuts to school funding and new tenure rules.

Tenure rules adopted last week by the Legislature will make it easier for school districts to fire teachers.

Members of the MEA say they’re also angry at efforts to force them to pay more for their benefits. Doug Pratt, MEA spokesman, says the union has tried to work with some lawmakers on spending and education reforms:

"Our members across the state as well as the middle class at large have been under attack for six months now," said Pratt. "And we’ve done what we think we can do through the legislative process to reasonably work with people to come up with solutions that move the state forward. That’s not happening."

The MEA has 157,000 members and a large political action fund.

Ari Adler is the spokesman for House Speaker Jase Bolger, one of the targets of a recall campaign:

"It’s not a surprise to hear the MEA is going public with its war on those who are fighting for change in Lansing," said Adler. "We have known for some time now that they’ve been working behind the scenes on recalls and it seems as though they wanted to go public before someone outed them."

MEA spokesman Pratt says some individual union members were involved early in recall campaigns. Pratt says the MEA has made a strategic decision to not name the lawmakers who will be union recall targets.

Economy
1:41 pm
Tue July 5, 2011

Gasoline prices heading higher

Gasoline prices are expected to take another big leap this week in Michigan.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan gasoline prices are getting closer to four dollars again.  GasBuddy.com predicts prices will increase by another 5 to 10 cents during the next few days.  That’s on top of a 20 cent jump the week before the Fourth of July holiday weekend. 

Jason Teows with Gas Buddy says increasing demand is fueling the price increase at the gas pump. 

Commentary
11:09 am
Tue July 5, 2011

Medical Marijuana

Three years ago, Michigan voters approved allowing marijuana to be used for medical purposes by a margin of almost two to one.

Social conservatives weren’t happy, and feared that this would lead to the back door legalization of marijuana for everyone. However, the public was overwhelmingly sympathetic to its use for medical reasons. That’s largely because there is considerable evidence that marijuana can relieve suffering from diseases including cancer, glaucoma, and a host of other ailments. Yet there were problems from the start with the medical marijuana law.

For one thing, it wasn’t passed by the legislature, as most laws are, but was placed on the ballot by citizens who collected enough signatures to put it there. Legalizing marijuana for medical patients required setting up a complex new system.

This had never been tried before in Michigan, and it’s evident that the framework needs to be tweaked.  For one thing, there are clearly a handful of unscrupulous doctors all too willing to certify people for medical marijuana use.

The Detroit Free Press reported that only fifty-five doctors have authorized medical marijuana for more than seventy percent of all those now eligible. Whatever your feelings about marijuana, the voters did not intend to effectively legalize its recreational use.

Nor could Michigan legally do that. Technically, any marijuana use is still against federal law, and Washington could, if it chose, move against any of the sixteen states that authorize medical marijuana. They haven’t, and even allowed a medical marijuana statute to be enacted in Washington, D.C.. But if Michigan or any other state were to openly act as if the legalization of medical marijuana meant we could establish a marijuana industry for all, the odds of federal intervention would become much greater.

On the other hand, it is clear that people do want marijuana to be available to those with legitimate medical conditions.

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Changing Gears
10:27 am
Tue July 5, 2011

Great Lakes harbors threatened by dredging backlog

The Great Lakes form a sprawling ecosystem of nature and industry.  In a strong economy, ships can transport up to 200 million tons of cargo across these waters each year.  But now the shipping industry has declared a state of emergency.  The cause is a region-wide dredging backlog.  Shippers worry sediment buildup threatens to choke some navigation channels.

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Education
9:48 am
Tue July 5, 2011

Eliminating summer pell grant money

User: jollyUK Flickr

Undergraduate students won’t be able to rely on pell grant money for summer study starting next school year.  The pell grant program provides students with funds that do not have to be repaid.  Linda Grimshaw is with Financial Aid at University of Michigan-Flint. She says in 2009-2010, students could receive this additional pell grant funding for spring and summer study if they were enrolled in school at least half time.

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Environment
9:42 am
Tue July 5, 2011

Karate farmers take back the neighborhood

Hakim Gillard works at the Harvesting Earth farm and he also works at King Karate in Flint.
Photo by Kyle Norris

King Karate is a martial arts studio that’s been in the Flint area for 22 years. But in the past few years, the couple who run the studio have broadened their definition of self-defense…and that’s why they’ve added farming to their arsenal.

18 year old Hakim Gillard has a lot on his plate today.

First he’s got to harvest vegetables for tomorrow’s farmer’s market...

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Environment
9:29 am
Tue July 5, 2011

Finding out how Michigan residents feel about wind power

Residents in Manistee and Benzie counties are receiving surveys in the mail this week. The survey will ask questions about wind energy.

Christie Manning is a visiting professor at Macalester College in Minnesota. She’s supervising the survey.

“To understand what it is about wind energy development that creates a sense of pro or anti in individuals; what are the various factors that tip a person to feel one way or the other?”

Township officials will use the survey results to help them with future zoning decisions.

There’s also an online version of the survey that’s available to anyone who lives in Michigan.

News Roundup
9:11 am
Tue July 5, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, July 5th
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Many Still Powerless

Crews are still working to restore electricity to about 11,000 homes and businesses across the state after this weekend’s severe thunderstorms. The Associated Press reports:

DTE Energy Co. says Tuesday morning that those without power included about 10,000 in Wayne County and about 1,000 in St. Clair County. DTE says it hopes to restore electrical service to as many as possible by day's end… The storms on Saturday generated 2-inch-wide hail and winds gusting to 64 mph that knocked down trees and power lines and left 125,000 utility customers in the dark.

Teen Driving

A new bill could change driving restrictions for Michigan;s teens. The measure would allow teen drivers on the road between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. if they were driving to and from school activities, such as sporting events. Currently, teens can only drive between those hours if they are commuting to and from work. The bill would also allow a teen to drive between those hours if a parent or legal guardian was in the car with them.

Insurance Reforms for the Fall?

Will Governor Snyder propose sweeping changes to insurance regulations this fall? That’s a question floating around the state Capitol. Laura Weber reports:

The discussion [over insurance reform] began when Snyder recently said that negotiations over repealing Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law should be part of a larger discussion on insurance reform. But, even Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville is unclear on what other proposals the governor many want… Richardville says he has been discussing a repeal of the helmet law with Governor Snyder since the beginning of the year.

Arts/Culture
6:53 am
Tue July 5, 2011

New exhibit documents Arab American students' life post-9/11

Students at McCollough-Unis School in Dearborn
Jamila Nasser

As the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks approaches, a group of Arab American middle school students spent the past year documenting their lives and their community. Their stories are part of a new exhibit at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn.

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Environment
5:19 pm
Mon July 4, 2011

DNR to move slowly in enforcing swine ban

Feral swine often escape from hunting ranches.

 The state Department of Natural Resources says it will move slowly to enforce a ban on wild boar species that takes effect at the end of this week. The order declares some breeds of swine dangerous invasive species.

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Environment
4:01 pm
Mon July 4, 2011

Battling the 'Asian Carp on Land'

(photo by Peter Payette) (courtesy of the Environment Report)

On July 8th, the Department of Natural Resources will follow through with a designation that wild hogs are an invasive species.    There are several thousand feral pigs believed to be running wild in Michigan, according to  Mary Detloff, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  

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Arts/Culture
10:32 am
Mon July 4, 2011

Detroit artists win big

2011 Kresge artist fellows
Kresge Foundation

Twelve fellowships have been awarded to Detroit area visual artists. Each Kresge Artist Fellowship is worth $25,000 and has a “no strings attached” policy. 

Visual artist Liz Cohen was one of the winners.

“Oh I mean it’s an honor, it’s a great organization and a great grant and an opportunity to become closer to a lot of the other artists in the city.”

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Commentary
9:00 am
Mon July 4, 2011

The Glorious Fourth

Benjamin Franklin (left), John Adams (center) and Thomas Jefferson (right), meet to review a draft of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
Jean Leon Gerome Ferris - Oil on canvas Library of Congress

Michigan was part of the nation’s outback during the War of Independence. And most of the inhabitants probably liked that just fine. Battlefields are nice places to study, but from what I have seen, no place you’d want to be close to at the time.

Today, there will be speeches urging us to remember that we are all Americans. Some will scold those who are making our government’s present policies, or those who attack them.

Others will say that Americans should be united, just as they were in the days of George Washington and Valley Forge.

But what most people don’t realize is that a substantial minority of Americans at the time – possibly as high as 40 percent -- didn’t want independence. They were called loyalists, or Tories, and a fair number left for Great Britain or Canada, after the other side won the war. Naturally, that left the patriots with no one to bicker with except themselves, which they soon began to do.

President Washington wanted to avoid having political parties. That lasted about five minutes.

Which brings me to my favorite Fourth of July story, one with a moral we can perhaps learn from. It began on the day the Declaration of Independence was signed, and ended exactly 185 years ago today. Two of the founding fathers were, of course, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. They were good buddies on July 4, 1776, when they signed the declaration. Later, however, they each became leaders of the first two political parties.

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Flint
4:01 pm
Sun July 3, 2011

Flint's drag racing problem

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Drag racing has become a serious problem in Flint.   But the city is taking steps to put the brakes on the illegal street racers.  

The Flint city council increased penalties last week on people caught drag racing.  Drag racers will now have to pay an administrative fee of up to $900 to get their vehicles out of the police impound lot.  

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Environment
1:44 pm
Sun July 3, 2011

Storms knock out power to 125,000 in SE Michigan

Storm in Fort Gratiot, MI
Flickr/mdprovost

Michigan utility crews are working to restore power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses.  Last night’s storms knocked out power for 125,000 customers.

The severe thunderstorms hit the southeast corner of the state, with hail and winds up to 64 miles per hour that knocked down trees and power lines.

The storms focused on metro Detroit and Michigan's rural thumb area. DTE Energy says 95,000 homes and businesses remain without service and a few will have to wait until Tuesday to get their power back.

Drugs
12:45 pm
Sun July 3, 2011

State bans drug called "bath salts"

Michigan lawmakers have banned a drug sold in smoke shops and online called "bath salts." The substance, likely imported from China, is now in the same category as heroin and methamphetamine.
mconnors MorgueFile

Michigan has banned the sale of a highly addictive drug known as “bath salts.”

Dave Wade is with the Michigan Department of Community Health.

He says the substance is a type of amphetamine and probably comes from China.

It’s sold at smoke shops and online.

Wade says it’s a gray powder that may also be labeled “plant food” or “pond scum remover.”

He says it’s very dangerous to people who smoke, inject or inhale the drug.

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Politics
12:36 pm
Sun July 3, 2011

Foster children could get extra year in system

Youths in Michigan's foster care system would be allowed to stay an extra year under legislation passed by the Senate.
gladtobeout MorgueFile

Michigan’s older foster children can stay in the system until they're 21 -- an extra year under bills passed  by the state Senate.

Part  of the plan is to help them pay for college with about $1.8 million dollars in state funding and about $6 million in federal matching funds.

Vivayk Sankarin is the director of the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy. He says it’s a step in the right direction.

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Environment
12:16 pm
Sun July 3, 2011

Profs call for wind farm noise restrictions

An MSU professor compares the sound of a turbine to someone talking while you're trying to sleep.
Kevin Connors MorgueFile

Michigan’s wind industry is just getting started, but a group led by two Michigan State University professors is calling for stricter noise levels at wind farms in the state.

MSU's Kenneth Rosenman says that’s why this is the perfect time to put tougher noise regulations in place on turbines.

Current guidelines call for a limit of 55 decibels. Rosenman says 40 decibels would be much better. He  gives some comparisons:

"Normal conversation is 60 decibels," Rosenman says. "A ringing telephone is 30 decibels. A whisper is 30 decibels."

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Election 2012
11:15 pm
Sat July 2, 2011

McCotter kicks off Presidential campaign with a blues jam

Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter jams with his blues band after announcing he's running for President.
Vincent Duffy Michigan Radio

Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter of Livonia kicked off his presidential campaign at a small town festival in Whitmore Lake tonight. He made the announcement under threatening skies and in front of 600 people attending a festival sponsored by a conservative talk radio station.

“Today I am announcing my candidacy for the nomination of my Republican party, to serve as your President of the United States,” McCotter told the crowd after taking the stage and briefly outlining his beliefs.

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Offbeat
4:01 pm
Sat July 2, 2011

Insuring a Happy 4th of July Holiday

(photo by Beverly & Pack) Flickr

State insurance officials are urging Michiganders to keep their financial liability in mind when they host Independence Day festivities this weekend.   

The Fourth of July weekend, a time to fire up the barbecue, take friends on the pontoon boat and toss the kids in the back yard pool.   But are you covered just in case something goes wrong? 

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