News

Pages

Offbeat
6:00 pm
Fri August 26, 2011

Runners take to the streets on naked feet in Grand Rapids

Man runs barefoot in the Los Angeles Marathon.
J Rosenfeld Creative Commons

The Naked Foot 5-K run is this Sunday. Runners are encouraged to wear no shoes or very minimal shoes.

Barefoot running has been catching on because of potential health benefits. Barefoot runners tend to land on the front of their feet, not their heels. The lower impact of the landing tends to minimize injuries. There other hazards to look out for though, like rocks or glass.

Read more
Education
5:54 pm
Fri August 26, 2011

Chancellor selected for state's struggling schools

DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts is also chairman of the Educational Achievement Authority, which approved a four-year contract for incoming chancellor John Covington.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

The board that will oversee Michigan’s lowest-performing schools has chosen John Covington as its chancellor.

Covington plans to leave his post as superintendent of the Kansas City school system to take the job. He’s overseen efforts to close schools and balance the budget in that job, which he’s held for the past two years.

Covington says he’s the job offers a unique chance for innovation in education:

Read more
Environment
4:20 pm
Fri August 26, 2011

EPA awards grants for Detroit-area water cleanup

NASA via flickr.com

The US Environmental Protection Agency has awarded more than $2 million in grants to Detroit-area water restoration projects.

These grants will go to four Metro Detroit projects. They include efforts to reduce toxins in the Rouge and Detroit rivers, and to eliminate e. coli sources near Macomb County beaches.

Congressman John Dingell says those projects represent “indispensable investments. But he notes that in a tough fiscal environment, “We’re going to have a difficult time defending” them.

Read more
Education
3:16 pm
Fri August 26, 2011

State lists all public schools in Michigan from "Top to Bottom"

Teacher Assistant Preston Taylor assists student with class assignment at Kettering West Wing, Detroit Public Schools. Kettering West Wing ranked at the top of the "Top to Bottom" list.
MDE

Education officials from the state of Michigan released two lists on public schools today.

I posted earlier on Michigan's list of "Persistently Lowest Achieving Schools."

Here's a look at the state's "Top to Bottom Ranking" (follow the link to find the list, it's an excel spreadsheet).

The Top to Bottom ranking lists all public schools in Michigan that have more than 30 students who were "tested over the last two years in at least two state-tested content areas." (You can read more about how the schools were ranked here - warning - It's Power Point file.)

There are 3,010 schools listed.

The Michigan Department of Education says "this list is being published to provide information to all schools and to provide 'light of day' reporting on the achievement, improvement, and achievement gaps of all schools in the state."

The rankings are based on graduation rates and the following three areas of student achievement:

  1. Achievement at the elementary, middle, and high school levels
  2. Improvement in achievement over time
  3. The largest achievement gap between two subgroups calculated based on the top scoring 30% of students versus the bottom scoring 30% of students

The school districts that had schools in the 99th percentile rank (highest) were:

  • Forest Hills Public Schools
  • Ann Arbor Public Schools
  • School District of the City of Birmingham
  • Grand Rapids Public Schools
  • Bloomfield Hills School District
  • Rochester Community School District
  • Berkley School District
  • Lake Orion Community Schools
  • Grand Blanc Community Schools
  • Novi Community School District
  • Saginaw City School District
  • Farmington Public School District
  • Spring Lake Public Schools
  • Hudsonville Public School District
  • Detroit City School District
  • Ottawa Area ISD
  • Grand Haven Area Public Schools
  • Troy School District
  • East Grand Rapids Public Schools
  • Livonia Public Schools

And school districts that had schools ranked at the bottom (0 percentile rank) were:

  • Detroit City School District
  • Buena Vista School District
  • Benton Harbor Area Schools
  • Center for Literacy and Creativity
  • Willow Run Community Schools
  • Ecorse Public School District
  • Tuscola ISD
  • Monroe ISD
  • Flint City School District
  • Pontiac City School District
  • Lansing Public School District
  • River Rouge School District
  • Saginaw City School District
  • Southfield Public School District
Read more
Auto
1:17 pm
Fri August 26, 2011

Move over, Detroit Auto Show? Here comes "The Battery Show."

Michigan already has the North American International Auto Show.  

This year, the state will also host The Battery Show.  Michigan lured the advanced lithium-ion battery trade show from California. 

Of course, this is a trade show, not a consumer show, so unless you have an unusual interest in lithium-ion chemistries, you might want to stick to the Detroit Auto Show for now. 

Read more
Education
1:07 pm
Fri August 26, 2011

Judge says CMU faculty must work, but allowed to picket

Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
CMU

Both sides in the Central Michigan University fracas seem to like the court order issued today.

Judge Paul Chamberlain said members of the CMU Faculty Association must continue to work, but they are allowed to picket.

From the Saginaw News:

An Isabella County judge extended a court injunction that prevents Central Michigan University faculty from holding a strike or work stoppage.

The court order, signed by Circuit Judge Paul H. Chamberlain just before noon on Friday, states faculty are restrained from holding a work stoppage but are allowed to picket.

Laura Frey, Faculty Association president, said the court hearing was a "win" for the faculty.

"Our First Amendment rights have been restored," she said.

In a statement, CMU Provost and Executive Vice President E. Gary Shapiro said "we are extremely pleased with today’s court action, which places the priority on student learning and academic achievement. We now look forward to reaching an agreement through fact finding."

The University is seeking to cut faculty pay and benefits in response to state budget cuts. Members of the CMU Faculty Association, the union representing faculty, have said University officials are not bargaining in good faith with them.

A fact-finding process set up to resolve the dispute will begin on September 7.

In the Saginaw News article, Laura Frey "said the faculty intends on exercising their First Amendment rights when asked if they would picket."

Science/Medicine
1:03 pm
Fri August 26, 2011

Medical marihuana is a hot topic at a weekend gathering of Michigan's county prosecutors

(courtesy of Flint Medical Dispensary)

Local county prosecutors are meeting this weekend on Mackinac Island.  This week’s appeals court ruling that medical marihuana dispensaries are illegal is a hot topic of conversation.

Read more
Commentary
12:54 pm
Fri August 26, 2011

Remembering Elly Peterson

She was, simply put, a woman ahead of her time, now nearly forgotten, who deserves to be better remembered in Michigan history.

It was she, not Debbie Stabenow, who was the first woman in Michigan to ever win a nomination for a U.S. Senate race.

She spent her life fighting for women to get a toehold in politics, fighting to be taken seriously by the men who led her party and weren’t accustomed to sharing power. She accomplished more than she ever took credit or was ever given credit for.

And despite all that, in the end, her party turned its back on most of what she stood for. But to the end of her days, she fought back with dignity and charm, and never let bitterness eat at her soul.

The woman I’m talking about is Elly Peterson, who gave her life to better conditions for women in politics -- and did so from within the GOP. Elly - everybody called her that - was ninety-four and living in Colorado when she died three years ago.

Read more
Economy
12:52 pm
Fri August 26, 2011

Will Michigan motorists feel Hurricane Irene's wrath at the gas pumps?

Hurricane Irene's path should take the storm up the east coast, forcing nearly a dozen oil refineries to shutdown, at least temporarily
(courtesy of the National Hurricane Center)

Hurricane Irene should not have an impact on Michigan gas prices, according to an industry analyst.  The hurricane is expected to make landfall along the North Carolina coast tomorrow, before bearing down on the Jersey shore, New York and New England Sunday. 

Read more
Politics
12:33 pm
Fri August 26, 2011

Court rules Michigan legislature illegally quashed pay raise

The Michigan Court of Appeals says the Legislature violated the state constitution by illegally taking money from state employee paychecks to cover retirement health care costs.

State employees are in line to get back $60 million dollars that was withheld from their paychecks if this decision stands.

The court of appeals says then-Governor Jennifer Granholm and the Legislature could not take three percent of state employee salaries for retirement costs after lawmakers failed to block three percent pay raises.

The pay raises were approved by the independent state Civil Service Commission, and could only be reversed by super-majorities in the House and Senate.

The appeals court said that was just another way to take away the pay raise, and violated the process set up by the state constitution.

Governor Rick Snyder says the money is needed to help cover a shortfall in the state employee retirement fund. He could ask the state attorney general to appeal the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court.

*Correction - an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the current Michigan legislature and Governor Snyder "adopted the plan earlier this year that requires state employees contribute 3 percent of their paychecks toward their retirement health care costs."

The plan was adopted under a previous legislature and then-Governor Granholm.

The headline has been changed as well. (previous headline "Court rules Michigan legislature and Gov. illegally quashed pay raise").

We regret the error.

 

 

Auto/Economy
12:07 pm
Fri August 26, 2011

GM to cut production of pickup trucks next month

GM says it will cut production of pickup trucks next month. The 2011 Chevy Silverado, GM's best-selling truck.
Tino Rossini Flickr

Disappointing economic data seems to be rolling in more frequently these days. The U.S. economy grew "a meager 1 percent" from April through July (a downgrade from an earlier 1.3 percent estimate), and unemployment numbers show no signs of improving (here's a cartoon of people looking for work in downtown Portland).

Now, news of cuts in production at GM.

From the Associated Press:

General Motors is cutting its production of pickup trucks next month, a sign that truck sales aren't as robust as the company had hoped.

A GM spokesman says the company cancelled five scheduled overtime shifts on Saturdays in September and October. He didn't know how many vehicles would be involved, but the Flint, Mich., plant where the pickups are made can produce 900 trucks per day.

Full-size pickup truck sales were up 9 percent for the year through July in the U.S., compared with a year earlier, according to Autodata Corp. But that increase was smaller than the industry saw as a whole. Continuing weakness in the housing and construction sectors has dampened demand for trucks. Sales of the Chevrolet Silverado, GM's best-selling truck, were up 7 percent.

Sports
12:00 pm
Fri August 26, 2011

The 35th Crim Festival of Races

running shoes
User: minorissues Flickr

About 15,000 people will participate in the 35th anniversary of the Crim Festival of Races on August 27th. People from all over the world come to Flint to run or walk in the festival.

Deb Kiertzner is with the Crim Fitness Foundation. 

"This year the headline is that we’re bringing in the legends of the Crim. These are four really good solid American long distance runners that have set records at the Crim. We have the last American male and female to have won the Boston marathon. That’s Greg Meyer and Lisa Rainsberger."

The festival has eight different races ranging from the teddy bear trot to the 10 mile run.

Kathy Gomez is a first-time runner in this year’s Crim race. She explains why the race is so important to her.

"My dad had heart disease and he had got me a little red dress, which is for healthy heart. And once he started doing his stuff before he died, once he started doing his exercise, he always encouraged me to get my cardio stuff in. So from a health benefit that’s a really great way to have cardio."

The Crim festival draws about 50,000 people to Flint and generates over $10 million a year for the local economy.

-Traci Currie, Michigan Radio Newsrooom

Education
11:06 am
Fri August 26, 2011

98 lowest achieving Michigan schools identified

Carstens Elementary-Middle School in Detroit is on Michigan's list of "Persistently Lowest Achieving Schools."
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Education has revealed its list of "Persistently Lowest Achieving Schools" (follow the link to see the list - it's an excel spreadsheet).

The annual listing is required by state law. The state started the PLA listing last year, when 92 schools were called out.

Read more
Your Story
9:00 am
Fri August 26, 2011

Your Story: Why a serial entrepreneur keeps trying

courtesy of Brendan Doms

Brendan Doms has launched more than a dozen ventures. Most of these are tech websites designed to do something new and useful. By his own admission, none of the start-ups have been particularly successful. Nevertheless, he’s getting ready to launch the next one “within the next month.”

Doms is a serial entrepreneur. These are people who start businesses again and again, apparently impervious to outside pressures like a bad economy, tight lending environment, or failure.

Read more
News Roundup
8:27 am
Fri August 26, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Friday, August 26th
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Michigan’s Low-Achieving Schools

The Michigan Department of Education will release a list of the state’s lowest-achieving schools later this morning. “It will be the second time Michigan officials have released an annual list that notes the poorest-performing academic schools in the state. The rankings are based on a federally-prescribed and federally-approved formula. Schools on the list will have 90 days to submit a detailed school improvement or redesign plan. Michigan officials also will release a 'top-to-bottom' ranking of all public schools based on proficiency, student achievement, improvement, graduation rates and other factors,” the Associated Press reports. You can find last year’s list of the state’s lowest-achieving schools here.

Mandating Time-Off for Parents?

Democratic lawmakers in the state Legislature say businesses should be required to give parents unpaid leave to attend parent-teacher conferences and other education related appointments with their kids. “The bill introduced this week would require businesses to give employees eight hours of unpaid leave per child, per school year. A spokesman for the House Republicans says he has not seen the bill, but he does not anticipate support for any mandates on businesses,” Laura Weber reports.

‘Underwear Bomber’ Claims Excessive Force

The Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound plane in 2009 claims he was the victim of excessive force after he allegedly assaulted several officers in prison. The Associated Press reports:

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab filed a handwritten request with a judge yesterday asking that no excessive force be used against him after he says he was assaulted in his cell on Wednesday. Abdulmutallab is being held at a Milan, Michigan federal prison while awaiting trial in Detroit.

Jury selection is set to begin September 14. A trial date is set for October 4.

Unemployment
6:43 am
Fri August 26, 2011

Most Mich. regional jobless rates increase in July

The state says seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates increased in most regions of Michigan in July.

The figures released Thursday by the Department of Technology, Management and Budget show jobless rates increased in 14 of the state's 17 major regional labor markets compared to June. Statewide, the unadjusted jobless rate in July was 11.9 percent compared to 11 percent in June.

Rates ranged from a low of 7.8 percent in the Ann Arbor region to a high of 14.1 percent in the Detroit region. The state says the seasonal jobless rate increases were less than normal for July. Temporary summer layoffs in the auto industry were fewer than typical.

State Law
6:35 am
Fri August 26, 2011

Lawmaker wants to prevent taxpayer funded sex-changes in prison

A state lawmaker says tax-funded sex changes for prisoners need to be outlawed. The Department of Corrections says it already has a policy to reject sex-change requests.

Republican state Representative Tom Hooker says even though there is a department policy against granting tax-funded sex change operations, it needs to be set in Michigan law.

“It’s certainly not targeting any specific lifestyle or organization. I’m trying to save the taxpayers of the state of Michigan money.”

Hooker says it could cost taxpayers between 20 and 60-thousand dollars per sex change, with ongoing hormone therapies. And Hooker says he hopes to make sure taxpayers do not foot the bill for other elective surgeries for prisoners. But he says this was a good place to start as a preventive measure.

A spokesman for the Department of Corrections says they do receive occasional requests for sex change operations, and those requests are denied. He says the prisoners argue it is not an elective surgery, but rather a matter of mental wellbeing.

Politics
1:01 am
Fri August 26, 2011

Is Gov. Snyder's new political action committee tied to bridge campaign?

The view of downtown Detroit and the Ambassador Bridge from the approximate crossing location of the proposed new international bridge.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

UPDATE:   9:00am

A Governor's office spokeswoman denies that the purpose of the One Tough Nerd PAC is tied to the bridge fight.

ORIGINAL Post: 1:00am

Governor Snyder is apparently adding another weapon in his fight for a new international bridge in Detroit.  The new weapon is money for political campaign donations.  

Rich Robinson is the director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. Robinson says Governor Snyder probably formed his new political action committee, One Tough Nerd, at least in part to battle for a new international bridge connecting Detroit to Windsor, Ontario. 

The owners of Detroit’s Ambassador Bridge have spent millions of dollars to kill support for the bridge. Robinson says that includes about $600,000 in political campaign donations. Robinson says if he wants the bridge, the governor is going to have to use PAC money.

"Unfortunately, policy is kind of the semi-controlled game of bribery…that’s just the game’s that’s there.”

The governor predicts the legislature will give its approval for a new international bridge project this fall.

 

 

Education
5:28 pm
Thu August 25, 2011

A look at the politics behind Schools of Choice

Mercedes Mejia

Since taking office Governor Snyder has proposed many new education reform proposals, including mandatory Schools of Choice, which would allow students throughout the state to attend schools outside of their district.

In this weeks political roundup we take a look at Schools of Choice with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow for Public Sector Consultants.

Read more
Politics
4:48 pm
Thu August 25, 2011

Dems want to give parents unpaid leave for their kids

Democratic lawmakers in the state Legislature say businesses should be required to give parents unpaid leave to attend parent-teacher conferences and other education related appointments with their kids.

State Representative Lisa Brown is a mother of three. She says business owners should understand the importance of active parental involvement in education.

"Juggling work and getting kids to a parent-teacher conference is not easy, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have that my kids have had teachers that make special time for me, because I work far from home."

The bill introduced this week would require businesses to give employees eight hours of unpaid leave per child, per school year. A spokesman for the House Republicans says he has not seen the bill, but he does not anticipate support for any mandates on businesses.

Read more

Pages