News

Pages

Crime
2:10 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

"Operation Hot Wheels" uncovers vehicle theft ring

Arrests have been made in Detroit and San Diego after a vehicle theft ring was uncovered.

From the Associated Press:

More than a dozen people have been arrested in the theft and transporting of luxury rental cars and sport utility vehicles from the United States to Canada for shipment and sale in the Middle East.

The U.S. attorney's office in Detroit says nine people were arrested in Michigan and four others in San Diego following a two-year investigation dubbed "Operation Hot Wheels."

An indictment unsealed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit says members of an organization rented vehicles from national chains in Michigan and Ohio and drove them into Canada.

Police reports later were filed claiming the vehicles were carjacked or stolen in Detroit.

Five vehicles were found in containers at a Montreal port awaiting shipment to Iraq.

One man still was being sought by authorities.

Environment
12:14 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

Swimming Upstream: A documentary from The Environment Report

Photo by Lester Graham

We've been spending the past couple months going on fishing trips, and talking to people who fish for fun and for a living... to bring you stories about everything you never knew you wanted to know about fish and fishing in the Great Lakes.

Today, you can hear the result of our effort in a special one-hour documentary we're calling Swimming Upstream.

We'll tag along on a salmon fishing trip with Lester Graham, go on an Asian carp rodeo on the Illinois River, meet commercial fishers (both tribal and non-tribal), and go fishing with Dustin Dwyer as he gets into the mind of a fish.

We think of the Lakes today as a great place to play on the beach, to swim, to go fishing. But those huge, beautiful lakes are changing.

The changes are happening so fast that the agencies which manage fishing cannot keep up with them.

On average, a new foreign species gets into the Lakes every seven months. Each could be a threat to the lakes and the fish in the lakes. We explore the health and future of the Great Lakes, and hear stories about fish and the people who catch them.

Listen to it here:

Or tune in today at 1pm and 8pm on Michigan Radio to hear Swimming Upstream and let us know what you think.

Find out more about fish consumption advisories: in Michigan,  in Ohio, in Wisconsin, in New York, and in Illinois.

Arts/Culture
11:46 am
Wed August 31, 2011

Artpod: The power of comics

Working a six-panel story
Kyle Norris

On today's podcast, we hear about a group of Michigan cartoonists who think comics can be an educational and valuable tool for kids.

As Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris explains, cartoonist Jerzy Drozd has picked 21 rural and urban towns in Michigan where he knows people are having a tough time making ends meet. Drozd has been visiting those towns and offering comic-drawing workshops, free of charge, to the kids in those areas. 

Read more
Politics
11:00 am
Wed August 31, 2011

Michigan Political Roundup

Republican Congresswoman Candice Miller announced her support for former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra in the 2012 primary election against incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
Republican Conference Flickr

13th District: Johnson Is In

State Senator Bert Johnson just got into the race for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District. Johnson made the announcement yesterday in Highland Park. Many political observers believe Johnson will face U.S. Rep. John Conyers in a Democratic primary for the seat. Though Rep. Conyers currently represents the state’s 14th Congressional District, it’s believed, due to redistricting, that he’ll run in 2012 in the 13th District. U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke, who currently represents the state’s 13th District, announced earlier this month his intention to run in 2012 in the new 14th Congressional District.

Miller Supports Hoekstra

Michigan Republican Congresswoman Candice Miller says she supports former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoesktra in his bid to become the GOP challenger in the 2012 election against incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow. Earlier this week, Governor Rick Snyder formally endorsed Hoekstra as well. Hoekstra faces fellow Republicans Clark Durant, a Detroit charter school executive; Randy Hekman, a former Kent County Probate Judge; Gary Glenn, President of the American Family Association of Michigan; and businessman Pete Konetchy.

Melton Steps Down

Democratic State Representative Tim Melton of Pontiac is stepping down from his seat in the state legislature. Melton, who made the announcement yesterday, is taking a job in California with StudentsFirst, an education reform group lead by Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of the Washington D.C., public school system. When Democrats controlled the state House, Melton was chair of that chamber’s Education Committee. Melton is the third state lawmaker in recent years to leave office early for another job. Melton says term limits could make leaving early a trend for state politicians.

Arts/Culture
10:50 am
Wed August 31, 2011

Remembering a Motown founder: Esther Gordy Edwards' funeral today

Esther Gordy Edwards started the Motown Museum in 1985. According to Berry Gordy Jr., his sister preserved "the so-called trash left behind after I sold the company in 1988 into a phenomenal world-class monument where Hitsville started."
user dig downtown detroit Flickr

Esther Gordy Edwards gave her brother, Berry Gordy Jr., an $800 loan to start Motown Records back in 1959. She went on to become an integral part of her brother's company and started the Motown Museum back in 1985.

Edwards died last week at the age of 91. Today is her funeral.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Hundreds are expected to say good-bye to Esther Gordy Edwards, the sister of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr. who helped him build the company and led efforts to turn its original Detroit headquarters into a museum.

The funeral for Edwards is 11 a.m. today at Bethel AME Church in Detroit. She died last week at age 91.

Politics
9:09 am
Wed August 31, 2011

The Week in State Politics

Matthileo Flickr

Every Wednesday morning, we speak with Jack Lessenberry, Michigan Radio's Political Analyst, about what's going on in state politics. This morning, we talk about the resignation of Democratic State Representative Tim Melton to become a lobbyist, Governor Snyder's plans for reforming the state's personal property tax, and the possibility that the Highland Park school system could be taken over by a state-appointed emergency manager.

Asian Carp
6:29 am
Wed August 31, 2011

Attorneys General urge Great Lakes, Mississippi split

Attorneys general in some Great Lakes states want to cut an artificial link between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds that provides a pathway for invasive species, including Asian carp.
Kate.Gardner Flickr

Attorneys general in the Great Lakes region want a multi-state campaign to cut an artificial link between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds that provides a pathway for invasive species.

In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, the attorneys general invite their counterparts in 27 other states to pressure the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for quicker action.

The Corps is studying whether to separate the drainage basins in the Chicago area, where they were joined more than a century ago by construction of a canal. Zebra and quagga mussels have used the waterway to invade states farther south, and the Asian carp is threatening to migrate into the Great Lakes.

The Corps report is due in 2015. The letter demands a faster timetable.

Offbeat
6:00 am
Wed August 31, 2011

GOLD! Pursuing the precious metal in southern Michigan

Barry Anderson points to a speck of gold he's found in a southern Michigan creek
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

With the price of gold soaring to near $1,900 an ounce this summer, you may have fantasized about striking it rich prospecting for gold.

Some people are doing more than fantasizing.  They are looking for gold in southern Michigan.  

You wouldn’t think to look at it, but this nondescript campground about 15 miles due south of Battle Creek is one of the centers for gold prospecting in southern Michigan.

Most gold prospectors here are using decidedly low-tech methods.

Read more
CRIME
9:18 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

Oakland County looks to expand crime lab to analyze DNA

Oakland County could soon help ease a statewide backlog of DNA evidence that in some cases has delayed the prosecution of criminal cases.

Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard says years of work to upgrade his crime lab have paid off. The lab has been certified by a national group to handle DNA evidence. And Bouchard says that will allow the county to apply for federal grants to make final preparations and hire staff to do the work.

Read more
Politics
5:16 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

A conversation with Republican State House Speaker Jase Bolger

Michigan State House Speaker Jase Bolger.
Michigan Municipal League / flickr

The state legislature is getting back to work after a two month summer recess.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White talks with State House Speaker Jase Bolger to find out what lawmakers will be up to this fall.

Politics
5:04 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

Appeals Court: Kilpatrick book sale proceeds must go to Detroit first

The Michigan Court of Appeals says former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick does not get to keep the money from sales of his new book until he has paid his restitution to the city.

Kilpatrick argued, through his attorney, that the government could not take the profits from his book without violating his First Amendment rights. He said that would keep him from earning a living by telling his story.

A lower court judge ordered profits from the book put into an escrow account under a Michigan law. It does not allow felons to profit from talking or writing about their crimes if they still owe restitution. The state is also trying to collect $15,000 from Kilpatrick to reimburse taxpayers for his 14-month prison stay.

Kilpatrick was recently released from prison. A judge in Detrot found he'd hidden assets that could have gone toward paying his $860,000 debt to the city.

Kilpatrick has been living with his family in a Dallas suburb since his release from prison. He is also traveling the country promoting his book. He could appeal the court decision to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Education
4:46 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

Report: Michigan students pay about half the "sticker price" of tuition

Northern Michigan University, one of Michigan's 15 public universities.
The Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan

A coalition of Michigan’s public university officials says college is still affordable, despite tuition hikes.

A report from the Presidents Council says need-based financial aid is on the rise, and universities are covering more student costs.         

Michael Boulous is executive director of the Presidents Council.

"The bottom line is aid is available if you have need. College still is affordable, and we don’t want that to be a discouraging piece in attending any post-secondary institution."

Boulous says a college education is more important than ever for workers in Michigan.

"The number of jobs for workers with high school diplomas is shrinking rapidly," says Boulous. "In many cases, entire industries that employed these workers are vanishing. Unemployment for people who have gone to college is half the rate it is for those who have only a high school diploma."

        The report says merit-based scholarships have decreased slightly over the past few years. But the report says need-based financial aid has nearly doubled in that time.

The Presidents Council says the average student pays about $4,800 in tuition at a public university. Housing and books can add about $9,000 to that price tag.

School officials say about two-thirds of students qualify for financial aid.

Politics
4:43 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

Protesting pie throwers heading to jail

Michigan U.S. Senator Carl Levin recounts the apple pie throwing incident in a YouTube video.
screen grab of YouTube video

Two people will spend the next month in federal custody for throwing a pie in the face of U.S. Senator Carl Levin.  

The incident happened a year ago as Michigan Senator Carl Levin met with constituents at a restaurant in Big Rapids. Levin was unhurt.  The pie was supposed to be a protest of the senator’s foreign policy positions. 

23 year old Ahlen Mohsen threw the apple pie. 24 year old Max Kantar bought the pie. The two plead  guilty to federal charges.  

A federal judge in Grand Rapids sentenced the pair to 30 days in federal custody.

The Grand Rapids Press reports that during the sentencing U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell said he needed to show that attacks on elected officials meeting with constituents cannot be tolerated.

Here's how Levin remembered the incident:

Education
4:31 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

Highland Park schools closer to emergency manager

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The school system in Highland Park is getting closer to the possible appointment of an emergency manager because of its troubled finances.

Michigan schools Superintendent Mike Flanagan sent a letter to Gov. Rick Snyder this month saying "probable financial stress exists" in the Detroit-area school district. The letter says a recently revised state law requires that the governor appoint a review team to dig deeper into the district's finances.

The letter summarizing a preliminary financial review of the 1,300-student district was obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press. The letter cites "unsatisfactory progress" in eliminating budget deficits and audit problems.

A message was left Tuesday seeking comment from School District of the City of Highland Park officials.

The district still could avoid the appointment of an emergency manager.

Auto/Economy
3:03 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

Preserving auto workers' stories

Ora Calhoun started in the painting booth when she hired in at the Fisher Body plant in 1978, according to her oral history. Her story has been cataloged by MSU.
MSU

The United Auto Workers and Michigan State University collected oral histories from about 125 workers, managers, and others connected to the Fisher Body plant in Lansing.

The plant closed in 2005 after more than 70 years of production. Fisher Body in Lansing was one of the longest operating auto factories in the U.S., according to a Lansing Car Assembly Facebook page.

An MSU labor relations professor, John Beck, headed up the project.

Beck said the oral history recordings "gave a lot of people a voice that they would not have had otherwise."

From an MSU press release:

The plant’s closing in 2005 threatened to effectively bury the workers’ experiences. But through the MSU/UAW partnership, these stories – which run the gamut from first and last days on the job, to tales of racism and sexism, to statements of pride and teamwork – are now part of a digital catalogue at MSU’s G. Robert Vincent Voice Library. The catalogue is called the Lansing Auto Town Gallery.

Read more
Politics
1:48 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

Democrat leaves Lansing to lobby for school reforms

State Representative Tim Melton (D-Pontiac) is leaving the Michigan legislature.
screenshot from HTV

The former state House Education Committee chairman is resigning his office to become a national school reform lobbyist.

Democratic state Representative Tim Melton (D-Pontiac) will work for the Students First organization in California starting in early September.

Students First is an organization headed up by a nationally polarizing figure in education reform, Michelle Rhee.

"I’ll be helping other state’s throughout the country pass reforms similar to the ones we did in Michigan," said Melton. "The Students First organization is a national grassroots advocacy for school reform. We’re going to really try to move the United States and this country forward as far as what the rest of the world’s doing on education reform."

Melton says the job will allow him to build on the work he did with the controversial "Race To The Top" legislation he spearheaded in Michigan.  

He is the third state lawmaker in the past couple years to leave office early for a different job. Melton says term limits could make leaving early a trend for politicians.

"I’ve got two young kids and I guess not knowing what’s going to happen after your term is up, and if an opportunity arises that allows you to do the thing that you’re really passionate about—you know, school reform to me is something that is a major issue," said Melton.

Melton’s departure will leave the House with 46 Democrats, to the majority of 63 Republicans. He was known for frequently working with and voting with Republicans.

He had contemplated a run at a House seat in Congress, but says he has reached the end of his career as an elected official.

Politics
1:32 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

Court refuses to hear Kilpatrick's book case

We hear this from MPRN's Rick Pluta:

The Michigan Court of Appeals has refused to hear the case of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who is trying to shield book sale earnings from being seized as part of his restitution to the city.

Wayne County Judge David Groner established an escrow account to capture any profits from Kilpatrick's memoir, "Surrendered! The Rise, Fall and Revelation of Kwame Kilpatrick."

The set-aside money will go toward paying the city of Detroit's $860,000 restitution tab. And as Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported, the money will also go toward a bill of a little more than $15,000 from the state of Michigan to pay for Kilpatrick's prison time.

Education
1:08 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

Grand Rapids trying to get high school dropouts back in the classroom

Officials in Grand Rapids are trying to change some high school dropouts into high school graduates.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A new program launching this fall in Grand Rapids will try to help high school dropouts earn both their high school diplomas and some college credit.  The program is a joint effort of Grand Rapids Public Schools and Grand Rapids Community College. 

College president Steven Ender says they’re reaching out to 16 to 19 year olds who otherwise would have a hard time finding a future in Michigan’s economy.  

Read more
Housing
1:00 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

Home prices up slightly nationally, but still down in Detroit

A graph showing the annual percent change in home prices from 1998 through the middle of 2011. See the bubble bursting?
S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices

Data released today by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices show that through June, home prices nationally were back to their early 2003 levels.

But home prices in Detroit were at pre-2000 levels. The Detroit market was down 6.6 percent when compared to the previous year.

That put's Detroit in a bad category along with some "sunbelt" cities, according to S&P/Case-Shiller:

At the other extreme, those which set new lows in 2011 include the four Sunbelt cities – Las Vegas, Miami, Phoenix and Tampa – as well as the weakest of all, Detroit. These shifts suggest that we are back to regional housing markets, rather than a national housing market where everything rose and fell together.

The Detroit Free Press quoted a statement from Patrick Newport, a U.S. economist with IHS Global Insight:

"Detroit, where prices have dropped nearly 50% since peaking in late 2005, remains, by far, the weakest market,” he said. “Detroit avoided a big run-up in housing prices during the boom years, but was hit hard by the recession."

Environment
11:38 am
Tue August 30, 2011

Simple business model connects chefs to locally grown food

At the meet-up, Barbara Jenness shares some new cheese from her Dancing Goat Creamery.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Michigan farmers grow the most diverse crops of any state besides California. Agriculture is Michigan’s 2nd largest industry and it’s growing. But many Michigan farms aren’t big enough to distribute through grocery stores.

Read more

Pages