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Science/Medicine
10:13 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Michigan autism center to close after director leaves

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - The University of Michigan plans to close its well-known, decade-old autism center when its director leaves this fall for a new post with a New York venture.

AnnArbor.com reports that Catherine Lord, director of the University of Michigan's Autism and Communication Disorders Center, plans to leave to head a joint effort between Columbia University
Medical Center, Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Lord says her two grown children who live in New York City drove her decision. The new Institute for Brain Development is to open next year.

Lord says a psychologist and a small number of researchers and staff will follow her to New York.

Lord says the Michigan center provides services for 300 to 400 people. Some federally funded research programs will continue.

Investigative
9:20 am
Mon May 16, 2011

More efficient early childhood services

Governor Rick Snyder says he wants to create a more focused approach to getting young children ready for school.  The Governor says Michigan’s publicly and privately funded early childhood programs are fragmented, segmented; there’s not a coherent effort. 

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Weather
9:10 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Parts of Michigan see risk of flooding, wildfires

The National Weather Service says parts of Michigan's lower peninsula are under flood advisories or flood warnings.
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FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Heavy rains in parts of Michigan's Lower Peninsula have caused flooding while dry weather in the Upper Peninsula has brought an increased risk of wildfires.

Flooding was reported Sunday on freeways in the Flint area. WEYI-TV reports a pump that handles water on Interstate 475 under I-69 stopped working following a power outage. Workers put up barricades and signs warning drivers to stay off the road.

WJRT-TV reports heavy rainfall soaked a golf course, roads and yards other parts of Genesee County.

More rain fell Monday. The National Weather Service says flood warnings or advisories were in effect for parts of the Lower Peninsula.

In parts of the Upper Peninsula, the weather service says there was an elevated risk of wind-fed wildfires from Monday and into the weekend.

News Roundup
8:37 am
Mon May 16, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Monday, May 16th
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Estimating the State’s Finances

A budget panel is meeting this morning in Lansing to figure out how much money the state has to spend in the fiscal year that begins on October 1st. It was announced on Friday that the state is expected to have half a billion dollars or more in revenue than was previously predicted. Some lawmakers want to use the windfall to roll back proposed budget cuts, including cuts to K-12 schools. Governor Snyder says some of the money should be put towards the state’s emergency savings.

EFM Repeal

A group looking to repeal the state’s new financial manager law is expected to detail their plans today, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

Michigan Forward says it will talk about the coalition formed to launch the "Campaign to Build Michigan" this morning. The legislation signed into law in March gives state-appointed financial managers broader powers to correct the finances of communities and school districts.

The meeting will take place in Detroit.

McCotter: Not In

Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter of Livonia announced over the weekend that he will not run against Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow for her Senate seat in 2012. Rep. McCotter is yet another Michigan Republican who has decided not to run against Stabenow. Former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra and former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land both have said they will not run. Former Kent County Judge Randy Heckman is the only Republican to announce his candidacy for the seat.

Election 2012
6:40 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Rep. McCotter won't challenge Senator Stabenow in 2012

Livonia Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter says he won't challenge U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) in 2012.
Republican Conference Flickr

Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter of Livonia says he isn’t planning on challenging Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow for her Senate seat in 2012.

McCotter’s name had been talked about as a possible GOP candidate to run against Stabenow. The Detroit News reports:

McCotter, the fifth-term congressman who signaled last week he was considering a Senate run, said he's stepping aside for other GOP hopefuls.

"I did not wish to be a distraction for the stellar candidates now stepping forward to consider seeking the GOP U.S. Senate nomination," McCotter, of Livonia, said in statement that did not mention specific candidates.

Representative McCotter is just one more Michigan Republican who has decided not to jump into the race. Former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra and former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land have both announced recently that they wouldn’t seek the GOP nomination.

Only one Republican candidate has entered the race so far. Former Kent County Judge Randy Heckman announced he would run for the seat earlier this year.

Stabenow has held the U.S. Senate seat since 2000.

What's Working
6:29 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Education blueprint: North Godwin Elementary

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This week, What’s Working focuses on education by taking a look at one Michigan school that went from academic mediocrity to being a model for educational reforms in the state. North Godwin Elementary is located just south of Grand Rapids in a working class community with a high immigrant population. Many families in the area are refugees from countries such as Bosnia, Cuba, Vietnam, and Liberia. A high number of students spend a few years learning English as a second language. 

When Arelis Diaz arrived as a teacher at North Godwin Elementary in 1995, the students were struggling to reach proficiency in basic skills. She spent five years as a teacher, and then served as principal of the school from 2000 to 2005. In that time, North Godwin’s students began excelling on standardized tests, bringing student proficiency rates to upwards of 80 percent across all subjects. That academic success at North Godwin continues today. The school has been the recipient of praise and awards for its turnaround, including the “Dispelling the Myth” award in 2010, given by The Educational Trust. 

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State Budget
6:11 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Snyder says revenue windfall could be used to roll back budget cuts

A budget panel will meet this morning to consider economic forecasts and project how much money the state has to spend in the coming fiscal year.

Michigan’s economy is in the early stages of rebounding and it appears the state is bringing in the tax revenue to prove it. Many lawmakers want to use the windfall - half a billion dollars or more - to reverse cuts to K-12 schools.  And Governor Snyder says some of the money could be used to roll back the size of proposed budget cuts:

“If there’s funds are available, we should be looking at how we deal with some of these cuts. These were tough calls.”

But Governor Snyder and other Republicans also say they want to be careful about spending additional revenue instead of fixing ongoing budget pressures. The governor says some of the money could also be used to shore up the state’s emergency savings in case the economy takes a another tumble.

Arts/Culture
3:23 pm
Sun May 15, 2011

Detroit Symphony to announce 2011-12 season this week

user earl53 morgueFile

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra will announce its 2011-12 season on Friday, May 20. Most orchestras announced their seasons months ago, but the DSO had to postpone its plans because of a six-month musicians’ strike.

Drew McManus says the late announcement will likely hurt the orchestra’s revenue stream. McManus is an arts consultant in Chicago:

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Economy
12:33 pm
Sat May 14, 2011

Christian book publisher Zondervan downsizes in Grand Rapids

Zondervan publishes Christian books, children's books, and Bibles.
Kevin Rawlings Creative Commons

75 workers will be laid off from Christian book publisher Zondervan’s distribution warehouse in July of 2012. Zondervan currently employs 325 people.

Scott Macdonald is president and CEO of the Grand Rapids-based company that publishes Bibles, children’s books, and Christian authors.

“We’re a family. We have a long history and heritage (in Grand Rapids). This is a significant impact on our family but it’s one that’s driven by a changing business climate and it’s the right decision for us at this time because of that.”

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Economy
6:54 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

Business leaders celebrating the end of the Michigan Business Tax

Many of the same West Michigan business leaders who voted in the 2008 Policy Forum attended a keynote speech by Gov. Rick Snyder in April. The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the occasion, and started the West Michigan Policy Forum.
Russ Climie Tiberius Images

Governor Rick Snyder is expected to sign the tax overhaul that replaces the business tax with a 6% corporate income tax on profits.

Leaders of the West Michigan Policy Forum touted "the MBT is dead!” in an email to around 600 supporters Friday. Those supporters voted 'eliminating the business tax' as their top priority during the Policy Forum’s first conference in 2008.

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Politics
5:00 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

There's good & bad news today about Lansing's city budget crisis

Lansing city council president A'Lynne Robinson (right) talks to the news media about the city's budget crisis, while council vice president Kathie Dunbar listens, outside the Southside Community Center
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

There’s mixed news today concerning the city of Lansing’s budget crisis.  City leaders have been trying to figure out how to deal with a projected 20 million dollar budget deficit.   

 N0w, city council vice president Kathie Dunbar says the city learned this week that its employee health care costs will rise 2 million dollars higher than expected next year. 

She says fortunately the state legislature has passed a budget plan that should guarantee the city 4 million dollars in state revenue sharing funds. 

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Science/Medicine
4:29 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

Wayne Co. launches initiative to improve health care for low-income kids

Wayne County has launched an initiative to improve health care for low-income children. The Wayne County Child Healthcare Access Program is modeled after a similar project in Kent County. It’s based on a concept called the “medical home.”

Project Director Jametta Lilly says that concept already exists for many kids covered by private insurance. But she says care is often less consistent and coordinated for kids in the Medicaid program:

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Politics
4:26 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

Governor Snyder defends tax plan

Russ Climie Tiberius Images

Governor Rick Snyder defends his tax overhaul, which has drawn a lot of criticism from the public in recent weeks, saying that he is confident that cutting taxes for Michigan businesses will create jobs. The Legislature approved his tax plan yesterday and it’s on its way to Snyder’s desk for his signature.

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Politics
4:15 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

White House, Christie and others respond to Romney's health care speech at U-M

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The responses are in for Mitt Romney's health care speech, and they are pretty mixed. 

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie praised former Massachussetts Governor Romney's honesty without commenting directly on either his policies or his candidacy. 

Politico reports:

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Science/Medicine
4:09 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

MRSA bacteria found in meat sold in Detroit area

The MRSA bacteria, usually found in hospital settings, was found in samples of meat taken from Detroit-area supermarkets and meat markets.
From prep4md Flickr

Wayne State University researchers say there’s another reason to be extra careful when handling meat: It’s a bacteria that’s usually found in hospital settings.

You may have heard of MRSA – which stands for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus.

It’s a nasty little bug that can be difficult to treat and can make you quite sick.

Dr. Yifan Zhang is an assistant professor at Wayne State.

Her research team collected nearly 300 samples of beef, chicken and turkey from Detroit-area markets.

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Environment
3:49 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

The hunt is on for morels in Michigan

The hunt is on for morels in Michigan.
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It’s morel season in Michigan!

May is morel month in Michigan, and people from all over comb the state for the delectable mushrooms.

Phil Tedeschi is president of the Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club. He leads folks on more than 50 mushroom hunts throughout the year in southeast Michigan, starting with the first mushroom of the season: black and white morels.

Tedeschi has this advice if you're on the hunt for morels:

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Environment
3:48 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

Detroit gardeners frustrated by new rules for city lots

Tony Buser flickr

Community gardeners in Detroit are angry about new permit requirements for gardening on city-owned lots.

Reit Schumack heads an organization on the city’s west side called Neighbors Building Brightmoor, which puts in gardens, wildflower stands and pocket parks on dozens of city lots. Schumack says the new rules include a ban on bringing in new soil or compost, unless the city grants lot-by-lot permission:

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Politics
3:45 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

A conversation with Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (audio)

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer

Yesterday the state Senate passed a comprehensive tax overhaul bill. It went to the House where it was approved and it’s now headed to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk for his signature.

The tax overhaul includes the elimination of the Michigan Business Tax, in favor of a corporate profits tax.  It also eliminates a host of tax breaks, including the income tax exemption for pensions.

Seven Republicans joined the twelve Democrats in the Senate in voting against the proposal. Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer is opposed to the tax restructuring

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke with Whitmer. Here's the interview.

On the Radio
2:57 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

In case you missed it...

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Here's a look back at the week in public radio. We can't hear it all, but there are always stories worth a rewind.

On the Media - The 'Decline Effect' and Scientific Truth

On the Media is a public radio show that attempts to "lift the veil from the process of 'making media,' especially news media."

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Auto/Economy
2:02 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

Michigan consumer sentiment index rising

Richard Holden Flickr

Some potentially good news for Michigan's economy.

In May, the consumer confidence index for the state rose "to 72.4, a three-month high," according to Bloomburg News.

Omair Sharif, an economist, says that the rise can be attributed to improvements in employment numbers despite the destabilizing effect of high gas prices.

Bloomburg News reports:

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