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Crime
6:22 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Detroit Police credit citizen group, anonymous hotlines with arrest

Detroit Police say they’ve made an arrest in a murder case that sparked what the police chief calls an “unusual level of outrage” in the community.

3-year-old Aarie Berry died after someone shot at her house last month. Police have arrested a neighbor they say was part of an ongoing dispute in the neighborhood.

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Politics
5:57 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Seniors challenge pension tax

seemann MorgueFile

Groups representing seniors and public employees filed briefs Wednesday with the state Supreme Court challenging Michigan’s new tax on pension income. The court will hear arguments in the case early next month .

Extending the income tax to pensions was part of Governor Rick Snyder’s budget proposal that was adopted earlier this year by the Legislature’s Republican majorities.

Eric Schneidewinde is with the AARP of Michigan. He says the tax violates a part of the state constitution that protects the pension income of teachers and other retired public workers.

“They cannot be taken away by just a law,” Schneidewinde says.

Republicans say the tax treats everyone the same, so it does not specifically target public employee pensions. Schneidewind says the AARP and other senior advocates are plotting ways to repeal the pension tax altogether.

Governor Snyder asked the state Supreme Court to rule on the pension tax before it officially takes effect in January.

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Politics
5:48 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Attorney general wants medical marijuana law changes

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says opportunists have hijacked the state's medical marijuana industry.
kconnors MorgueFile

State Attorney General Bill Schuette is backing proposed changes to Michigan’s voter-enacted medical marijuana law. He says it’s been “hijacked” by people trying to make money, rather than offering relief to people facing terminal disease or a painful chronic illness.

Schuette says the result of a poorly written ballot initiative is the proliferation of shops that make a business of selling marijuana to people with easy-to-acquire medical cards.

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Arts/Culture
5:45 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Sphinx founder Aaron Dworkin to serve on National Council of the Arts

Aaron Dworkin is President Obama's first confirmed appointment to the National Council on the Arts
Bruce Giffin Courtesy of the Sphinx Organization

Aaron Dworkin, founder of  the Detroit-based Sphinx Organization, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve on the National Council on the Arts. Dworkin is President Obama's first appointment to the Council.

The National Council on the Arts advises the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, currently Rocco Landsman, about policies and programs.

Dworkin founded the Sphinx Organization in 1996 with the goal of "building diversity in classical music."

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Politics
5:36 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

State deals another blow to Kilpatrick's book profits

Kwame Kilpatrick

A Wayne County judge has added the cost of prison time to former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s mounting restitution tab.

The State Attorney General’s office convinced Judge David Groner that Kilpatrick should pay the state just over $15,000—the price for his 166 days in state prison.

Groner is the same judge who sentenced Kilpatrick to prison time, after ruling the former mayor violated his probation.

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Education
5:21 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Former students sue Cooley Law School for misrepresentation

Michael Tam Flickr

The legal battle between Lansing-based law and some of its former students has deepened. Cooley Law School has been sued by four of its former students for claiming false job placement statistics. They say Cooley is misrepresenting data to improve the school’s image and get more students. Cooley sued the law firm representing the students last month for defamation. Kurzon Strauss law firm in New York had several online advertisements looking for information about Cooley and other law schools misrepresenting job placement numbers.

Jesse Strauss is a lawyer at Kurzon Strauss. He says their posts requesting information about Cooley were not defamatory.

“We regard the Thomas Cooley suit as a pure intimidation tactic – to sort of make us go away and stuff our investigation,” he said. “The whole suit is about our investigation. The postings that they point out were made when this firm was seriously contemplating litigation against them. We believe they are well aware of that.”

James Thelen is an associate dean at Cooley. He says in an email that the students’ allegations are “completely baseless.”

“We will vigorously defend this lawsuit and continue to pursue the defamation and other legal claims we filed against the Kurzon Strauss firm last month," Thelen said.

A similar lawsuit has been filed against New York Law School by three former students with Kurzon Strauss.

- Amelia Carpenter – Michigan Radio Newsroom

Economy
5:18 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Upton, Camp named to debt panel

imelenchon Morguefile

Two Michigan lawmakers have been named to a powerful committee that will work on a plan to reduce the nation’s budget deficit.

Michigan Congressmen Dave Camp and Fred Upton -- both Republicans -- will be on the 12-member bipartisan panel charged with creating tax and spending policies.

The panel was created from a compromise reached by last week’s debt-ceiling legislation, and it has to come up with a plan by November 23.

Rep. Camp admits it’s a huge undertaking:

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Economy
4:36 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

13,000 Michigan families to lose cash assistance

Andrew Magill Flickr

About 13-thousand Michigan families will stop getting money from the state on October 1st. That’s when the families will reach their five-year federal lifetime limit for cash assistance. The cash assistance program is designed to support low-income families with pregnant women or children until they find jobs.

Sheryl Thompson is with the Department of Human Services. She says people with no income who have children will no longer be able to extend the limit for cash assistance.

"This was never meant to be a long-term solution," she said. "It was always supposed to be a short-term solution as a safety net."

Thompson says Michigan will save about 77-million-dollars this year. Other services including job placement and food assistance are available for people who qualify.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Arts/Culture
3:37 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Detroit native Philip Levine named U.S. Poet Laureate

Philip Levine will start his poet laureate duties with a reading of his work at the Coolidge Auditorium on Monday, Oct. 17.
Frances Levine Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Detroit native Philip Levine is the country’s new poet laureate.

Levine was born in Detroit in 1928. As a student, he worked a number of jobs at Detroit’s auto plants, and he translated his experience into poetry. His poems depict life in Detroit and the working class in general.

"What Work Is" - introduction and reading by Philip Levine

"They Feed They Lion" - introduction and reading by Philip Levine

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Science
3:31 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Comcast announces Internet service for low-income families

laptop
User: whitakerc1985 flickr

Comcast has announced a new national program that provides discounted Internet service for low-income families. Families who live in a Comcast service area and have not been customers with the company for at least 90 days can get the service for $10 per month.

Mary Beth Halprin is with Comcast Michigan.    

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Politics
2:12 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

AP: Michigan Dems say no presidential primary here in 2012

There will be no presidential primaryelection for Michigan Democrats in 2012.

Chairman Mark Brewer said Wednesday that national convention delegates will be picked through party meetings around the state, starting next May.

President Barack Obama, a Democrat, is expected to run unopposed for a second term next year.

Brewer says Michigan Democrats will hold caucuses in May at approximately 200 locations. He says more than 200 people will be delegates or alternates at the national convention.

Lake Michigan
12:14 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Coast Guard warning Lake Michigan swimmers about rip currents

Rip current mechanism: breakers cross sand bars off the shore, the water travels back to sea through the gap in the sand bars, creating a fast "rip"
(courtesy of National Weather Service, Wilmington, NC)

Search efforts continue for two swimmers who were caught up Tuesday in rip currents off the coast of Saugatuck.     Lake Michigan’s eastern shore has seen strong rip currents this week. 

U.S. Coast Guard petty officer Lauren Jorgenson  says people swimming in the Great Lakes should be aware of the danger of currents that can pull swimmers away from the beach.  

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Education
11:41 am
Wed August 10, 2011

CMU contract talks may delay school year

Central Michigan University

Classes at Central Michigan University may be delayed because of contract disputes between the faculty union and administration. Without a contract, faculty may not show for class August 22. The two groups are at a standstill on a number of issues including salary increases, health care or who is allowed to be a union member.

Tim Connors is the former president of the faculty union at the university. He says the union is ready to get back to the table.

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Politics
11:35 am
Wed August 10, 2011

Speaker Boehner names two Michigan congressmen to supercommittee

House Speaker Boehner speaks with reporters last month
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton just issued the following statement:

“The Budget Control Act made a modest down payment on our debt in the short term and called on Congress – through a Joint Select Committee – to build on those savings with meaningful spending controls and program reforms that will continue the process of putting our fiscal house in order over the long term. I am humbled by the trust Speaker Boehner and our leadership team have placed in us, and I stand ready to serve on the Joint Select Committee alongside Chairman Camp and Chairman Hensarling on behalf of all House Republicans.

“Being from Michigan where families have endured 31 consecutive months of double-digit unemployment, I know how important it is to get our economy back on track and get Americans back to work. As someone who worked on the federal budget for President Reagan, I saw firsthand that sound economic policy is the bedrock of job creation and fiscal responsibility. And as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I know the exploding cost of health care is at the root of our long-term fiscal challenges; it's why our committee has already produced legislation to save taxpayers $90 billion, and that was just the beginning. Much more needs to be done to bring down health care costs, promote economic growth, and begin to tame runaway government. No one believes this is going to be easy, but working with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both Chambers of the Congress, we will work to address our fiscal challenges and get America back to work.”

The Associated Press reports:

House Speaker John Boehner has named GOP Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas to co-chair a powerful new committee that will try to come up with a bipartisan plan this fall to reduce the federal budget deficit by more than $1 trillion.

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Culture
11:33 am
Wed August 10, 2011

The Legacy of Eleanor Josaitis

By now, everybody knows that Eleanor Josaitis lost her battle with cancer yesterday, and that she, with the late Father Bill Cunningham, was one of the founders of Focus Hope.

Focus Hope is that rarest of social welfare organizations; one  praised by liberals and conservatives alike. It started out as a private food distribution program in the aftermath of the horrendous Detroit riot of nineteen-sixty-seven. They still provide food to tens of thousands. But that’s not primarily what they are about.  Focus Hope takes the poor and uneducated, the unskilled and under skilled, and does its best to give them what they need to support themselves.

They trained hundreds of machinists, and when demand for machinists started to slip, they diversified. These days, their biggest program by far is Focus Hope’s Information Technologies Center, which is on their forty-acre campus of beautifully restored industrial buildings in Northwest Detroit.

Focus Hope has saved thousands of people and given them the ability to lead productive and meaningful lives. Hopefully, the men and women who run it will go on helping many more.

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Politics
8:42 am
Wed August 10, 2011

The Week in State Politics

State Capitol Building, Lansing, Michigan
Allieosmar Flickr

Governor Snyder signed the legislative re-districting bills into law yesterday. The maps were approved by the state Legislature's Republican majorities. We talk about the politics behind the new maps and how much they'll change the 2012 election with Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry.

Also, in this morning's Week in State Politics, we'll take a look at the Michigan Democratic Party's role in the recall elections in Wisconsin and what it means now that five public employee unions have said they'll come together to bargain with the state as the Snyder administration looks to find some $260 million in budget savings from state employees.

Election 2012
7:54 am
Wed August 10, 2011

McCotter heading to Ames, Iowa

Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (far right) of Michigan.
Republican Conference Flickr

Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter is heading to Iowa for the Ames Straw Poll. McCotter, a Livonia Republican campaigning for the GOP presidential nomination, will be competing in the statewide 'poll' this weekend.

“But it's really not a poll at all - and it's certainly not scientific,” the Associated Press reports. “Rather, it's a fundraiser for the state GOP and a day long political festival at Iowa State University. Presidential candidates make speeches and try to lure the most supporters to the event - with promises of food, live music and, sometimes, a lift to the site - in hopes of getting their backing in a nonbinding vote," the AP notes.

From the Detroit News:

McCotter and his Iowa strategist, Christopher Rants, say they don't know how he'll do in the Ames Straw Poll.

McCotter won't bus in voters or give them the $30 tickets needed to vote, as some candidates will. Nor has he run TV or radio ads in the Hawkeye state.

What McCotter will have in Amesisa tent where he will give away copies of his book, "Seize Freedom," and hand out Iowa's Blue Bunny ice cream.

"We could come in dead last,"Rantssaid. "This is an opportunity to meet a lot of folks and make a first impression. The only thing that will upset me is if we can't give away the ice cream."

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Economy
7:44 am
Wed August 10, 2011

State lets some families know aid is running out

Michigan has begun sending out notices to some families receiving welfare benefits to notify them that their federal assistance is running out. The Detroit Free Press reports the change may affect nearly 14,000 families who had passed a five-year federal limit but got the time extended. Notices began going out Tuesday that include contact information for caseworkers who will try to help families find other assistance programs.

Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura Corrigan says the notices come at the same time the state is revamping how it hands out assistance. It's also planning to put into effect a four-year limit in most cases for families receiving welfare benefits.

The limit could begin Oct. 1. Critics say such a limit would boot some needy families off public assistance.

Changing Gears
6:10 am
Wed August 10, 2011

Taxing Cigarettes for the Arts

Fozzman Flickr

It’s a tough time for arts funding around the nation. Kansas, as an example, just cut all its state support. It’s a different story in the Cleveland area, though. That region has found a unique way to fund the arts, and it’s paying off big.

It’s made residents like Samantha Kane arts patrons of sorts. She says she smokes about two or three packs of cigarettes a week. We find her waiting at a bus stop with a stroller in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Since 2006, each cigarette she smokes contributes a penny and a half to Cuyahoga County’s arts organizations.

“I love that it goes to something instead of road work, or you know, padding congressmen’s pockets,” Kane says.

This county cigarette tax really adds up. The group that administers the money is doling out $15 million this year alone. That’s enough to catapult the Cleveland area to among the top public funders for the arts in the nation—many times more than what most states contribute.

“I tell people: you don’t have to smoke ‘em, just buy them,” says Cindy Einhouse, CEO of the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood.

It puts on shows, teaches dance and music, and provides summer camps for kids.

Einhouse says the recession hit her organization hard. The Beck Center almost closed its doors in 2009. A wave of private donations helped, but she’s grateful for this county tax.

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Economy
1:01 am
Wed August 10, 2011

Treasury Dept: state retirement funds sound, despite stock market decline

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The people who manage more than 50 billion dollars in state retirement funds say the recent stock market drop should not be a serious long term problem.    More than 400 thousand former state employees, teachers, state troopers and  judges receive checks from the state managed retirement funds. 

Terry Stanton is with the State Treasury Department.   He says the retirement fund  is managed to absorb the changes in the financial world. 

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