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12:09 am
Wed November 9, 2011

Flint mayor wins reelection (but may end up losing power)

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint mayor Dayne Walling won re-election last night. But it may end up being a temporary victory.

"Tonight…you can see…that the people of the city of Flint…are behind me and my administration," Walling told a cheering crowd at his victory party last night.   

Dayne Walling celebrated his win last night with jubilant supporters. But they all knew that earlier in the day, Governor Snyder accepted a report that said the city of Flint is in a financial emergency.  

The governor is expected to appoint an emergency manager to run the city. Flint officials could appeal the decision. But Walling says he’s prepared to work with a manager appointed by the governor.   

“I’ll do whatever I can to move our city forward," says Walling, "The people have clearly spoken tonight. It’s been two very difficult years.  But now I have a full four year term. I’m proud of what we’ve done over the last two years.”

Walling singled out four city unions that have resisted contract concessions, as part of the reason why Flint is mired in debt.

Election 2011
11:58 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Ann Arbor approves millages, gets new council member

Voters approve money for streets and sidewalks in Ann Arbor.
user ellenm1 Flickr

Residents in the city of Ann Arbor voted in favor of two millages.

One increases their taxes to pay for sidewalk repairs. The other is a renewal for street maintenance.

More from AnnArbor.com's Ryan Stanton:

City officials were confident heading into the election the street millage — which brings in about $9.1 million a year and is essential to paying for streets and bridges in Ann Arbor — would be renewed. But they were less certain about the sidewalk millage.

Ann Arbor's city code currently requires property owners to maintain the sidewalks adjacent to their properties...

City officials say passage of the millage marks a shift away from an admittedly unpopular program that's placed a heavy burden on individuals.

And the Ann Arbor City Council will get a fresh face.

Jane Lumm, an independent, defeated incumbent Stephen Rapundalo in the city's 2nd Ward race.

Again, more from AnnArbor.com:

Cheers erupted shortly before 8:30 p.m. at her election night party at Paesano on Washtenaw Avenue where Lumm later gave a victory speech to a crowd of several dozen supporters.

Percentage-wise, Lumm picked up 60 percent of the vote. Rapundalo is said to be with supporters at his private residence and is not welcoming the media.

Election 2011
11:54 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Dayne Walling wins Flint mayoral race in shadow of EM announcement

The person elected as mayor of Flint might not have any power if an emergency manager is appointed.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Update 11:54 p.m.

Flint mayor Dayne Walling claims victory.

Walling easily won re-election over challenger Darryl Buchanan.

But Walling's victory is tempered by the Governor deciding that the city of Flint is facing a financial emergency.

Governor Snyder will likely name an emergency manager to run the city.   Mayor Walling says he looks forward to working with whoever is appointed.

Read more
Election 2011
11:35 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Michigan State Representative Paul Scott has been recalled

Update 11:35 p.m.

Rick Pluta just called in to say that Michigan State Representative Paul Scott (R-Grand Blanc) has been recalled. Scott conceded defeat saying his campaign did their best, they came up short, and that he will not rule out running again in the future.

Scott is the first sitting state lawmaker to be recalled since 1983.

Read more
Election 2011
11:24 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Kalamazoo votes to chill out on marijuana enforcement

Kalamazoo voters supported an effort aimed at making possession of a small amount of marijuana a "low" priority for police.
USFWS

Voters in Kalamazoo voted to make possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a "low" local police priority.

Supporters of the effort said police in the city should instead focus on violent crime.

More from the Kalamazoo Gazette:

All votes are in and Kalamazoo citizens voted to make a small amount of marijuana use a low priority for Kalamazoo’s law enforcers on Tuesday night.

The ballot initiative passed with 4,649 "yes" votes to 2,416 that voted it down.

The proposal read: “Shall the Kalamazoo City Charter be amended such that the use and/or consumption of one ounce or less of usable marijuana by adults 21 years or older is the lowest priority of law enforcement personnel?”

Kalamazoo is the first city in the state to have such charter language.

The city's Public Safety director has said that the result of the vote will most likely not effect how police in the city do their job.

Election 2011
11:09 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Lansing voters pass public safety and road millage

Lansing voters decided whether or not to increase their taxes to pay for public safety services.
Joel Dinda Flickr

Update 11:09 p.m.

Voters rejected it in May, but supported it in November.

Lansing residents have voted to increase their taxes to pay for public safety.

From the Lansing State Journal:

The city of Lansing’s millage proposal passed with all precincts reporting, according to unofficial results.

Nearly 52 percent of voters cast ballots in favor of the millage.

The five-year, 4-mill proposal will generate $7.6 million in the first year for police and fire services and local road maintenance.

Read more
Election 2011
11:01 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Detroit voters approve new city charter

Detroit voters have cast their ballots this evening.
user ccpablocosta Flickr

Voters in Detroit have capped a two-year process by approving a new city charter.

Detroiters voted to open the charter up for an overhaul in 2009, amidst questions about whether the current city charter enabled corruption.

An elected charter commission spent two years putting together the proposal. It faced stiff resistance from some prominent Detroit figures, including several Detroit City Council members.

But in the end, the new charter passed overwhelmingly, with about 58% of the vote.

Read more
Election 2011
9:59 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Close mayoral race in Benton Harbor, EM's proposals defeated

Benton Harbor
Google Maps

West Michigan reporter Lindsey Smith called in with these unofficial election results from the city of Benton Harbor.

In the race for Benton Harbor mayor, the city is reporting this result:

  • James Hightower has 681 votes
  • Wilce Cooke has 673 votes

It's a close race, so we'll have to watch how this one is "officially" called.

And whether the winner ends up being Hightower or Cooke, neither will have any official power.

The city is still under the power of state-appointed emergency manager Joe Harris.

Smith reports that all seven of Harris' proposed charter amendments in the city were voted down.

Native American
6:29 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Hotel owner, tribe cooperate in repatriation of remains on Mackinac Island

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians will rebury human remains found last week at a construction site on Mackinac Island.

Cecil Pavlot, Sr. handles repatriation for the tribe. 

He said the ceremony won’t be publicized to avoid it becoming a “three-ring circus.”

"Not to be secretive," said Pavot, "But to be respectful and not have a crowd standing around and watching."

Pavlot said it’s possible the remains could be European settlers.

But he thinks it’s much more likely they’re Native Americans, because of the way the bodies were buried.

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Health
6:15 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

C-Sections, induced labor decrease at MI hospitals

user drewesque Flickr

Michigan hospitals are reducing unnecessary caesarian sections and medically induced labors.

The procedures dropped about six percent in a year, after a project that began at Oakwood Hospital was adopted state-wide.

Dr. Charles Cash of Oakwood Hospital says doctors there performed zero C-sections this year, unless there was a medical reason like seizures in the mother. 

The hospital also did not induce early labor in any patient, meaning before 39 weeks, except for medical reasons.

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Politics
5:35 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Snyder: Financial emergency exists in Flint

Governor Rick Snyder says a financial emergency exists in Flint.

That determination could lead to the appointment of an emergency manager for the city.

"The State's decision shows how serious our financial challenges are in the City of Flint," Mayor Dayne Walling said in a statement. "Significant progress has been made to stabilize the City's finances during a very difficult economy, but without shared sacrifice across the board the City has not been able to implement all of the necessary cost-savings. When some don't share in the sacrifice, we are all forced to bear the burden. With the support of the people, I will continue serve the City of Flint."

The news comes just a few hours before the polls close in Flint.

Challenger Darryl Buchanan issued an appeal to his supporters to continue voting despite the decision.

A spokeswoman for Governor Snyder says the timing of the announcement had nothing to do with the election. Sara Wurfel says Snyder got the report this morning and reviewed it with the state treasurer before making the decision that an emergency exists.

The city has seven days to request a hearing to challenge the declaration, and if it does, that hearing would take place Nov. 18.

* An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that there are seven candidates in the mayor's race. There are only two - Walling and Buchanan.

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Politics
4:45 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Congressman Sander Levin calls for the extension of federal unemployment benefits

House Representative Sander Levin represents Michigan's 12th Congressional District.
levin.house.gov

The Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits programs are set to expire at the end of the year. The programs provide up to 73 weeks of additional unemployment benefits. If the programs are not extended more than 2 million Americans will be cut off from benefits by February with another 6 million losing benefits by the end of 2012.

Democratic Congressman, Sander Levin, is a ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee. He’s calling for a swift extension of the programs.

Election 2011
4:29 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Scott recall seen as referendum on Snyder, GOP

Rep. Paul Scott's official website

Republicans and Democrats in Lansing are closely following a recall election in Genesee County. The target of the recall is the Republican chairman of the state House Education Committee, Representative Paul Scott.

The Michigan Education Association made Representative Scott the target of the recall effort. The union partially blames him for budget cuts to K-12 schools and tenure law revisions that make it easier to fire teachers. The recall petition also cites Scott’s vote in favor of the state tax overhaul that includes extending the Michigan income tax to seniors’ pensions.

At least $225,000 has been spent on both sides of the recall campaign. The effort has also sparked retaliation by the Michigan Republican Party against Democratic lawmakers across the state.

There are currently 32 more recall petitions circulating that target both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. If they’re successful, those recall questions would appear on the February 2012 ballot.

Sports
3:15 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Horseback riding bill may cost state millions in federal aid

Trail ride close to Silver Lake Sand Dunes.
Pure Michigan

State lawmakers are considering legislation that would open more state owned land to horseback riding. But the proposal could also end up costing Michigan millions of dollars in federal grant money.   

The state House Natural Resources, Tourism, and Outdoor Recreation committee is scheduled to discuss the horseback riding bill Wednesday. The bill’s sponsor says opening up more state parkland to horseback riding could increase tourism. 

But Erin McDonough says the state could lose $25 to 30 million in federal grant money. McDonough is the executive director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs. The federal grant money is intended to promote hunting and McDonough says increasing horseback riding would negatively affect land the state bought for hunting. 

"There’s a way to have a balance.  And there’s a way for everybody to have recreational opportunities on all those lands," says McDonough.  

McDonough says supporters of the bill do not believe federal officials will follow through with a threat to cut the grant funding.  

Michigan has approximately 80 thousand recreational horseback riders using around 25 hundred miles of trails around the state.

Auto/Economy
2:35 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

The Michigan-China Connection (an audio documentary)

Cars, agriculture, tourism, it’s all fair game for people who want Michigan to tap into the Chinese market.

But what does that really mean and who really stands to benefit?

Governor Rick Snyder recently led a Michigan delegation to China.

He says strong economic ties between Michigan and what is now the world’s fastest growing economy are essential to Michigan’s economic growth.

Part 1

Read more
Environment
1:21 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

New fly ash regulations for Michigan power plants?

A worker cleans fly ash from one of the containers inside the silo at the Eckert power plant.
Photo by Steve Carmody

Coal burning power plants are often scrutinized for what they emit from smokestacks. But now a by-product of burning coal for electricity is getting a closer look. Steve Carmody reports:

For the past few days… Dennis Brabant and his crew have been vacuuming up tons of fly ash trapped in the silo at the Lansing Board of Water and Light ‘s Eckert Power Plant.

“That’s what we’re dealing with right there… it’s part of electricity.”

Brabant lets the fine power pour through his fingers. It spreads like water on the silo floor… and coats everything.

Read more
Environment
1:17 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Oil spill cleanup crews back on Talmadge Creek

There’s new cleanup work underway along Talmadge Creek near Marshall…near the site of 2010’s Enbridge oil spill.

The area was already the site of a massive cleanup effort. But now… work crews are back. The first round was supervised by the Environmental Protection Agency. This time… the state Department of Environmental Quality is overseeing the work.

Mark DuCharme is with the DEQ. He says the initial EPA-supervised cleanup focused on removing visible oil and sheen from Talmadge Creek.

Read more
Politics
12:45 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Low voter turnout in off-year elections

Cle0patra Flickr

Local elections are underway across the state today. Among other votes in Michigan, two mayors of large cities will be elected, Detroiters will vote on changes to their city charter, and a state representative is up for recall. But, despite the fact that there are important issues on today's ballots, very few voters will actually make it to the polls.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke with Jack Lessenberry, Michigan Radio's Political Analyst, about why voter turnout is historically low in local elections that are held in so-called "off-years."

Politics
11:07 am
Tue November 8, 2011

Some elections workers don't show in Pontiac, Michigan

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) - Some Pontiac elections workers didn't show up to the polls following the recent firing of the city's clerk by a state-appointed emergency financial manager.

The Oakland Press, the Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News and WWJ-AM report voting took place as scheduled Tuesday. Oakland County Clerk Bill Bullard says other workers have been brought in and precincts consolidated after some workers didn't show up as expected.

Oakland County's elections director and a representative from the secretary of state were on hand to assist. Voters in Pontiac were choosing Democratic and Republican nominees for the state House's 29th District and making school board picks.

Lou Schimmel last month fired Yvette Talley as well as the city's attorney and director of public works in what he called a realignment of City Hall.

Tourism
10:58 am
Tue November 8, 2011

Pure Michigan in China? Not for awhile, say tourism officials

No Great Lakes promotions in China... yet
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Michigan’s agriculture industry is busy expanding in China.  But the same can’t be said for the state’s tourism industry.  At least not yet.  A million Chinese tourists are expected to visit the U.S. this year.  But only a relative handful will come to the Great Lakes State. 

Fran Wiltgen helps her son Joe, run his business, Joe's Bar and Grill, in South Haven, Michigan.

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