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Economy
6:39 am
Tue August 23, 2011

Report: Traffic crashes add up to $4.8 billion a year in economic costs

ChazWags Flickr

A new State Police report says traffic crashes in Michigan carry a price tag of $4.8 billion dollars a year. The report says the cost of traffic crashes in Michigan exceeds the cost of crimes.

Researchers used data from 2009, when the human toll of traffic crashes was 937 deaths and more than 70,000 injuries. They put the economic damage for those crashes at $4.8 billion dollars. That includes the cost of medical care, property damage, and lost earnings, among other things.

The institute also used data on jury awards to put a value on pain and suffering caused by traffic crashes, which put the number over $9 billion dollars. The study compared the dollar loss from crashes to the cost of violent and property crimes that are tracked by the state, and found the costs of crime are dwarfed by the costs of traffic crashes.

The report was commissioned by the state Office of Highway Safety Planning and was conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

Lansing
11:45 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

Lansing facing big projected shortfall in next year's city budget

Two months into the fiscal year, Lansing city leaders are being warned of a looming multi-million dollar budget shortfall.  Lansing City Finance Director Jerry Ambrose told the city council last night that current budget projections suggest the capital city could be looking at a projected $12 to $15 million budget shortfall next year. 

Council president A’Lynne Robinson says given the past few years, the news isn't unexpected. She hopes a ten month head start will help the city council and mayor deal with the budget problem.  

“We are trying to learn from some of the things we have learned have not been very successful…as far as how we have worked together with the administration…and I think we’ve made some progress.”  

Robinson predicts the administration may want to ask voters for a millage increase to deal with next year's expected budget shortfall. Lansing voters rejected a millage increase in May. That forced deep budget cuts and layoffs in public safety this year.

Lansing
11:38 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

Lansing voters will decide future of eastside parkland

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Lansing voters will decide in November if the city can sell 12 acres of city parkland for future private development. A divided city council last night agreed to put the question on the ballot. There's no developer or actual plan on the table yet for the Red Cedar golf course land. 

Bob Trezise is the president of the Lansing Economic Development Corporation. He says the making the land available will help the city market it to potential developers.  

“It strikes us as a great area to try to develop."  

Several city council members questioned whether the city should focus on getting previous economic development plans working before starting new ones. Councilman Eric Hewitt voted against moving the parkland sale before the voters. He says the city's track record in similar projects is not good.  

"We’ve had all these other ‘visions’…we’ve had lots of ‘gateways’…but none of them have seemed to come about.”

Mayor Virg Bernero says the proceeds of the sale of the Red Cedar land could be channeled into improving Lansing's other city parks.

Politics
5:46 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

Fewer town hall meetings, less face time with lawmakers

kelbycarr / flickr

Town hall meetings give voters the chance to come face to face with the politicians who represent them. Recently, most of Michigan’s seventeen U.S. Senate and House members have been steering clear of town hall meetings.

Instead some Congressional members are turning to tele-town hall meetings where they can talk over the phone with constituents. In these settings people can also send emails or use social media such as Twitter to ask questions or give comments.

In this interview Kathy Barks Hoffman, Lansing Correspondent of the Associated Press says:

I think a lot of Congressional members know that voters are not happy with them, that's what the polls show, and I think they are a little reluctant to go head to head [with voters].

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Politics
5:18 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

Rogers warns US must secure weapons in Libya

Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers says as the Muammar Gadhafi regime loses power in Libya, the United States needs to make sure Libya’s weapons stockpiles don’t fall into the wrong hands.

Rogers chairs the House Select Intelligence Committee and was among a group of Republicans who supported stronger military support of the rebels in Libya, including a U.S. enforced “no-fly zone.”

He says as Gadhafi loses power, the U.S. must move quickly to safeguard Libya’s advanced and  chemical weapons.

"Unfortunately we know through intelligence that Al-Qaeda is trying to take advantage of the chaos and obtain those weapons systems or at least components of them or incomplete weapons systems or all of those things. They are making that effort."

President Obama says the United States will be a friend and partner to help a democratic Libya emerge in the post-Gadhafi era. He says U.S. assistance will continue to be part of a multinational effort to help Libya.

Economy
5:09 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

Michigan farmers talk about the future of agriculture industry

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) speaks with Jim May inside his barn in Sparta Monday afternoon.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Senator Debbie Stabenow visited a farm in West Michigan Monday to discuss how to expand the agriculture industry.

Stabenow is chairwoman the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

“We all have a stake in our farmers doing well because we all have a stake in having food security, in making sure we have wholesome, American grown, Michigan grown food for us.”

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Education
5:08 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

Judge signs injunction, orders CMU faculty back to work

Update: 5:08 p.m.

The Central Michigan University Faculty Association plans to comply with Judge Duthie's order.

From their press release:

Laura Frey, CMU Faculty Association President said, “We will obey the court order and return to work tomorrow. But this does not end the issue. The faculty remains strong and committed to securing a fair and equitable contract for members.”

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Auto
3:49 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

Ford and Toyota to develop a hybrid truck system together

Ford's Derrick Kuzak and Toyota's Takeshi Uchiyamada

Ford Motor Company sprang a surprise on the media world on Monday by announcing it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Toyota to jointly develop a rear-wheel drive hybrid system for SUVs and trucks.

Ford is the undisputed king of the pickup in the U.S.  Its F-series pickup has been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for 25 years.

Toyota is the undisputed king of the hybrid - the Prius is the best-selling hybrid in the U.S.

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Education
2:55 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

CMU faculty strike, picketers confront president

Faculty picketed on Central Michigan University's campus today.
CMU

The Central Michigan University Faculty Association declared a strike on the first day of classes today.

Members of the Faculty Association and those supporting the union formed picket lines around the campus today.

Reporter David Jesse described the scene on the CMU Campus for the Detroit Free Press:

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Politics
2:47 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

Bing unveils another incentive program for Detroit homeowners

Dave Bing

In an effort to lure people back to the city, Detroit officials have unrolled generous housing incentives programs for police officers and city employees.

That’s left many current residents asking about similar help for people who never left the city.

Now, Mayor Dave Bing has announced such a program. It’s a grant program through Citizens bank to help homeowners make exterior improvements.

Bing says improving how neighborhoods look can start a positive domino effect.

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Politics
2:28 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

Marchers protest racial profiling, federal immigration agencies in Detroit

Protester Dan Murray
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Hundreds of people rallied against racial profiling and for immigration reform in southwest Detroit Saturday.

The marchers protested what they call the increasingly abusive tactics directed toward members of Detroit’s Latino and Arab communities.

Protesters singled out Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol. They say those federal agencies have created a climate of fear, especially in southwest Detroit’s immigrant communities.

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Presidential Visit
12:41 pm
Mon August 22, 2011

President Obama to visit Detroit on Labor Day

The U.S Army Flickr

President Obama will travel to Detroit on September 5th to speak at the city's annual Labor Day festivities, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

The White House says Obama will speak at a Labor Day event sponsored by the Metro Detroit Central Labor Council... Obama has touted his administration's work to rescue General Motors and Chrysler, which are both headquartered in the Detroit area.

President Obama was in Michigan earlier this month, when he toured an advanced battery manufacturing plant in Holland.

Commentary
11:44 am
Mon August 22, 2011

Odd Man Out

There’s a game of musical chairs going on right now to determine which congressman will end up without a job a year from January. Yesterday, the likely outcome became a little more clear.

First of all, a little background: Michigan is losing a seat in congress because of national population shifts. The legislature redrew the boundary lines, and since Republicans control everything in Lansing, they made sure it would be a Democrat who lost out.

The only question was, which one? When the proposed new districts were revealed, it seemed at first that Oakland County’s Gary Peters would be the certain loser. The area in which he lives and fellow Democrat Sander Levin lives wound up in the same district.

The two men could run against each other in next August’s primary, of course, but on paper, Peters wouldn’t stand a chance.

Most of the new district is territory Levin has been representing, so he has home field advantage. Sandy Levin is also a sort of an icon. He was first elected to the state senate before Peters was six years old. He’s completing thirty years in Congress.

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Politics
11:14 am
Mon August 22, 2011

Michigan voters remain disenchanted with governor

Governor Rick Snyder. 33 percent of those polled gave the Governor a positive job rating.
Russ Climie Tiberius Images

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A poll indicates Michigan voters remain disenchanted with the job being done by Gov. Rick Snyder.

In the survey released Monday by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA, 33 percent gave the GOP governor a positive job rating while 62 percent gave him a negative rating and 5 percent were undecided.

The results were virtually unchanged from EPIC-MRA's July poll.

Forty-two percent of those polled last week said they have a favorable opinion of the governor, while the same percentage have an unfavorable opinion.

Thirty-one percent say the state is headed in the right direction, while 54 percent say it's on the wrong track and 15 percent are undecided, similar to July's findings.

The Aug. 13-16 poll of 600 likely voters had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Air Show
10:52 am
Mon August 22, 2011

Feds probe wing walker death at Michigan air show

DETROIT (AP) - The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are at Selfridge Air National Guard base in southeastern Michigan investigating the death of stunt wing walker who fell to his death at an air show.

The FAA says Monday that the agency can't release any details yet surrounding the death of Todd Green.

The experienced stunt man fell 200 feet to the ground Sunday afternoon while trying to move from a Stearman plane to a helicopter.

Technical Sgt. Dan Heaton says Green hit the ground about 1,500 feet from the crowd line. An estimated 75,000 spectators were on hand for the show.

The air show at the base in Harrison Township, about 20 miles northeast of Detroit, began Friday and ended Sunday.

Economy
10:47 am
Mon August 22, 2011

Borders Books liquidation moving forward

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

What’s left on the shelves at your local Borders bookstore is expected to be gone in about another month.  The liquidation sales have been going on for nearly a month at Borders 399 bookstores across the U.S., including the company’s 26 Michigan locations.   

The Ann Arbor-based bookseller ended its fight to stay alive in July after repeated unsuccessful attempts to find a way out of bankruptcy-protection. 

Richard Kaye is with Hilco, one of the companies handling Borders’ liquidation. He says overall Borders’ ‘Going out of Business’ sales are proceeding as expected. 

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Your Story
10:43 am
Mon August 22, 2011

Preserving Jewish community in Detroit

Joshua Goldberg and some of the Backstage Pass MI cohort.
courtesy of Backstage Pass MI

Detroit’s shrinking population is well-documented, as are the many incentives offered to people to move back into the city center. These efforts are a mix of hyping what Detroit can become and offering economic incentives for those willing to give it a try. A group of Jewish organizations in Metro Detroit has been using the same formula to keep young Jewish people from leaving the area.

The Jewish population in Michigan is less than 1 percent, according to the U.S Census. The overwhelming majority of those 87,000 people live in Metro Detroit, in an area east of M5 and north of Interstate 696, according to Joshua Goldberg of the Jewish Federation of Metro Detroit. But the area’s Jewish population has been falling steadily for at least the last few decades. Mirroring a trend in the state overall, in the Jewish community the young people are leading the march out of state.

Arthur Siegal wants to reverse this. The 50-year-old attorney and Wayne State graduate conceived of the Back Stage Pass MI program. The four-year program started last year selects promising Jewish high school students before their junior year and culminates in a Detroit internship placement after the student’s sophomore year of college. Along the way, the program takes its cohort of around 20 students a year to cultural and social events designed to show Detroit at its best.

“These young people are really wanted in this community, they are going to be sought after here,” says Siegal. “There are amazing opportunities for people who stay. Land is cheap, labor is cheap, and the opportunities to do your own thing and make your own mark are unparalleled. ”

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News Roundup
9:13 am
Mon August 22, 2011

In this morning's news...

Brother O'Mara Flickr

CMU Work Stoppage

The Faculty Association at Central Michigan University has authorized union leaders to call a job action that could include a strike as CMU and its professors still have not reached a labor contract. Despite the work stoppage, the school sent a release yesterday saying students should show up at their classes as scheduled and that it would seek a court injunction to get faculty members back to work. Professors have been without a contract since June 30th.

'Pure Michigan' To Go International

The “Pure Michigan” tourism campaign targeted a new audience over the weekend: NASCAR fans. Steve Carmody reports:

The state tourism marketing campaign sponsored the nationally televised “Pure Michigan 400” race on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. It's part of the state’s $25 million tourism promotion budget… Governor Rick Snyder says he plans to take the state’s “Pure Michigan” tourism campaign international. Snyder says he’ll take the “Pure Michigan” message with him on a trade Mission to China, Japan and South Korea this fall. 

Corrections Boss Sees 'Mission Creep'

About a quarter of Michigan's 43,000 state prisoners are mentally ill, and new Michigan Corrections Director Dan Heyns says he wants to shift responsibility for their treatment from his department to other agencies, the Associated Press reports. “Heyns says in an interview with The Detroit News… that his department ‘has had a kind of mission creep over the years.’ He says the department needs to return to its original mission. Heyns is an ex-Jackson County sheriff and took over the state's prison system in June,” the Associated Press reports.

State Legislature
6:28 am
Mon August 22, 2011

Legislature reconvenes this week

State Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Ifmuth Flickr

The state Legislature will meet this week after two months of summer recess and a couple controversial issues await lawmakers at the state Capitol.

Republican leaders in the Legislature say they worked through the summer to prepare to vote on a proposal to require teachers and some public employees to pay more for their health care benefits.

“A lot of important work is happening, and a lot of the most important work happens outside of the session schedule," says House Speaker Jase Bolger.

The state Senate also has a final procedural vote waiting on a plan to set a four year lifetime cap on cash assistance for unemployed people. Democratic leaders say Republican proposals have made it harder for people to live and find jobs in Michigan.

What's Working
6:14 am
Mon August 22, 2011

Bringing women together to help local non-profits

The Michigan Women’s Dinner Initiative is a unique effort to raise money for women in need.

This is how it works:  Women gather at someone’s home, bring a dish to pass, and a check for the amount of money they’d generally pay for a dinner at a restaurant. That money is then donated to a certain charity or group that helps women and children. The other upside, the women visit and enjoy the food they’ve made to share. As part of our "What's Working" series, we spoke with Cate McClure, who runs the program.

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