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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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Investigative
6:00 am
Mon August 22, 2011

“Postcard only” rules at county jails in Michigan attracting protests, lawsuits

Postcard sized protest sign in Muskegon last April aims to demonstrate the policy's limitations.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Mail policies at several county jails across the state are becoming more restrictive, mainly to save money. It’s causing an outcry from inmates’ family and friends, and people who advocate for prisoners’ rights.

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Lansing
1:01 am
Mon August 22, 2011

Lansing city council may consider sending golf course question to voters tonight

Artist's conception of possible changes to a portion of the Red Cedar golf course.
(courtesy of the Lansing Economic Development Corp.)

The Lansing city council may agree tonight to ask voters to decide if part of a closed city golf course can be sold.   The land is being eyed for future business development. 

The proposal to sell part of the closed Red Cedar golf course has been stuck in a Lansing city council subcommittee since last spring.    Some council members said they wanted more information. 

City Council President A’Lynne Robinson is optimistic the council can get it unstuck this week.  

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Education
9:37 pm
Sun August 21, 2011

Central Michigan University faculty strike

Central Michigan University. Faculty voted to strike tonight.
CMU

Faculty reports and the student newspaper say CMU faculty went on strike tonight. The faculty say the administration did not bargain in good faith. The move comes one day before classes are scheduled to start tomorrow.

CMU officials call the faculty strike an illegal work stoppage. They say students should report for the first day of classes tomorrow. The university says it will seek a court injunction tomorrow to stop the strike.

CMU’s 439 fixed term faculty and 591 graduate assistants will still hold classes as scheduled.

Michigan Radio will have more on the story Monday as it develops.

Update 9:40 p.m.

Here's the University's statement:

Central Michigan University is disappointed that members of the CMU Faculty Association have voted to engage in an illegal work stoppage. This action creates an unfair disruption to the start of the academic year for CMU’s students.

CMU students should report for classes Monday and staff should report for work. CMU’s 439 fixed term faculty and 591 graduate assistants will still hold classes as scheduled.

The impact of the FA’s action places an unfair burden on students who want to graduate in a timely fashion, pursue graduate school or launch successful careers. As such, CMU will request a court injunction Monday to get the faculty back in the classroom.

CMU remains committed to working with the FA toward a contract that is fair and equitable to all parties. CMU and the FA have both petitioned for fact finding, which is the appropriate process to follow in coming to terms on a collective bargaining agreement.

 

The Detroit Free Press reports the strike came after a week of concentrated negotiations:

The move tops a weeklong, last-ditch effort to come to some sort of agreement between the more than 600 members of the union and the school.

The union voted on Monday to authorize the bargaining team to take any job related actions, including a strike.

After that vote, the two sides sat down at the bargaining table every day last week, but made little to no progress on the big issues separating them, such as pay and benefits.

Environment
5:17 pm
Sun August 21, 2011

Ag secretary hopes Michigan visit will fuel ethanol interest

Sec. Vilsak says tests have shown that fuel that's 15 percent ethanol, which is often made from corn, is safe for use in vehicles from model years 2001 and later. Critics, including the Detroit Three, disagree.
Adventure George flickr

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was in Michigan today to promote the use of biofuels. He appeared at the NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, south of Jackson.

Vilsack says the fact that NASCAR vehicles are now running on fuel that’s 15 percent ethanol shows that other cars should run on it, too. He says biofuels are more environmentally responsible that petroleum-based fuel.

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Culture
5:04 pm
Sun August 21, 2011

Students, faculty to fast along with Muslims

University of Michigan

About 100 students and faculty from the University of Michigan Medical School plan to abstain from eating and drinking all day tomorrow. It’s part of “Fast-a-Thon 2011,” when non-Muslims are invited to get a glimpse of the experience of Ramadan.

Shaza al-Holou heads the Muslim Medical Students Association at U of M. She says it gives perspective to physicians and future physicians who might have Muslim patients.

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Arts/Culture
4:00 pm
Sun August 21, 2011

Detroit Institute of Arts uses restricted funds to cover operating costs

The famous Rivera Court inside the Detroit Institute of Arts
Photo Courtesy of the D.I.A.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is struggling to raise money in this tough economy. It doesn’t help that Detroit is still reeling from the recession, and a quarter of its tax base, which helps fund the museum, has fled the city over the past decade.

To help relieve a little pressure, DIA director Graham Beal asked permission to take money from funds dedicated solely to acquisitions, and temporarily use it to cover operating costs. In his monthly newsletter, Beal explained it like this:

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Prison
2:50 pm
Sun August 21, 2011

Corrections boss: mental health care not core job

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.
    

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.
    

Politics
2:00 pm
Sun August 21, 2011

Stabenow: President Obama made the 'right' decision on Libya

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, (D) Michigan
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says the events in Libya this weekend vindicate President Obama’s decision to support NATO’s involvement there.  

“I think it does indicate that the president was correct…well obviously…it was a very very difficult situation…a very difficult decision for him to make…but it was the right one.”

Initially, the U.S. supervised a “No Fly Zone”  which prevented Libyan government troops from attacking disorganized rebel forces.  Eventually, NATO took control of air operations over Libya. 

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Economy
1:52 pm
Sun August 21, 2011

Using "Pure Michigan" campaign to rebrand the state's business climate

MEDC President Michael Finney (left) listens as Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder talks to reporters at the Michigan International Speedway prior to the start of the Pure Michigan 400
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The “Pure Michigan” tourism campaign targeted a new audience over the weekend….NASCAR fans.   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 dollar tourism promotion budget.  

Michael Finney is the President the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.  He says the NASCAR sponsorship is part of an evolution of the marketing campaign.  

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Education
1:13 pm
Sun August 21, 2011

CMU: Some bargaining progress, big gap on pay

Central Michigan University says there’s been some progress involving contract talks with the faculty union this weekend. The progress has been related to non-economic issues, but there’s still a big gap having to do with pay and benefits.

Talks took place Saturday. Classes are scheduled to start Monday on the Mount Pleasant campus.

The faculty union has a meeting planned Sunday afternoon to discuss whether or not to hold a job action. A job action could include a strike over the failure to reach a labor contract. The professors have been without a contract since June.

Real Estate
1:32 pm
Sat August 20, 2011

Ten best places to live cheaply

Sandusky, Ohio is considered the best place to live cheaply
Flickr user pscf11

Forbes has just released a list of the ten best places to live cheaply, and mid-western cities made several appearances on the list.

Sandusky, Ohio took first place while Monroe, Michigan placed second. Bay City, Michigan placed fifth and Springfield, Ohio was eighth. Forbes looked at housing prices, the cost of living, crime rates, unemployment rates and school quality.

Postal Service
12:55 pm
Sat August 20, 2011

More MI post office branches could close

Flickr user uzvards

As many as 17 post office branches in Detroit and other parts of southeast Michigan could be closed by the financially troubled U.S. Postal Service.
    

The Detroit Free Press reports Saturday that the Postal Service released a list of branches that might close before the end of the year.

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No incentives war in 2011
5:55 pm
Fri August 19, 2011

Will the U.S. see an incentives war among car companies?

Leading auto consulting firms are lowering their forecasts for U.S. auto sales in 2011. 

But it is unlikely to send automakers into a panic.

Some observers say the lower volume of sales means the U.S. is ripe for an incentives war among car companies.  

But Anthony Pratt with the auto consulting group R. L. Polk doesn’t see it happening.   He says a lot of the triggers that set off incentives wars in the past are missing. 

For one thing, U.S. car companies are making money at the lower volume of sales. 

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Politics
4:41 pm
Fri August 19, 2011

Schuette plans review of Blue Cross Medicaid deal

Blue Cross Blue Shield building on Lafayette in Detroit.
Wikipedia

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says his office is reviewing Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan's plans for a joint venture involving a Medicaid coverage company.

The Detroit-based Blue Cross and Philadelphia-based Independence Blue Cross are purchasing AmeriHealth Mercy, which has Medicaid managed-care contracts in states including Pennsylvania, Indiana, and South Carolina.

Schuette said Friday he wants the Michigan-based Blue Cross to provide his office with documentation related to the transaction.

Blue Cross officials said they welcome the inquiry and will work with him to clarify questions about the transaction.

The joint venture could provide an opportunity for Blues insurers nationwide to expand into Medicaid coverage just as states are seeking ways to save money in the program and the ranks of Medicaid enrollees is poised to grow.

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