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6:39 am
Thu August 4, 2011

UAW President: Relationship with Detroit automakers has improved

Pobrecito33 Flickr

United Auto Workers President Bob King says the relationship between the union and Detroit car companies has dramatically improved.  That could help the two sides reach an agreement more quickly in ongoing contract talks.  And King hopes it will help him sell the value of his union to foreign auto companies in the U.S.

The UAW is a third the size if was in 1979 mostly due to the downsizing of the Detroit Three.  Future hiring by Detroit car companies will likely be modest.  So the UAW wants to unionize foreign auto companies in the U.S. 

Union President Bob King says most of the companies have agreed to meet with his group.  He says the union needs to overcome strong anti-union sentiment, and convince the companies that the new UAW wants to help them be profitable.

“Probably the biggest question in their mind is, is this for real, is this a passing fancy with the UAW or is this for real?”

Prolonged and contentious contract talks could throw a monkey wrench in the unions’ plans to try to unionize a foreign automaker.  But King and Detroit automakers say they’re negotiating in a spirit of cooperation.

Politics
6:21 am
Thu August 4, 2011

Poll: Many local leaders say Mich. on wrong track

After seeing lawmakers cut their funding and give financial managers sweeping new powers, half of local government leaders say they think Michigan is on the wrong track while a third saying it's headed in the right direction.

The survey released Thursday by The Center for Local, State and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan also shows 37 percent give Gov. Rick Snyder a positive job rating while just 21 percent give that rating to the Legislature.

Eighty-six percent say their own governments are going in the right direction.

The biannual survey was conducted from April 18 to June 10 and is based on responses from 69 percent of the 1,856 local government units in Michigan. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.

Culture
1:39 am
Thu August 4, 2011

Young people promise to march “until love is equal” in Holland

About 150 people marched through downtown Holland Wednesday demanding equal protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A group of young people marched through Holland Wednesday night to protest a vote city council made in June against adding sexual orientation and gender identity to its anti-discrimination laws.

These laws would protect people from getting fired or kicked out of their houses because they are gay or transgender. Federal and state laws protect people from discrimination – but not based on a person’s sexuality or gender identity. The debate in Holland has not died with that vote.

About 150 people marched as part of an ongoing effort to demand Holland City Council change its decision. The march was organized to show young people in Holland support the effort.

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Economy
1:01 am
Thu August 4, 2011

Detroit home sale prices may soon flirt with record lows

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Detroit home prices are on track to break their record lows this fall.   Detroit home prices are nearly 80% below where they were in 2005.   That’s actually a slight improvement.     Clear Capitol says Detroit home prices bottomed out in the first quarter of 2009, at the worst of the recession.

But Clear Capitol’s Alex Villacorta says sharp declines in home prices during the last three months and the weakening economy may push prices back down this fall. 

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Investigative
5:10 pm
Wed August 3, 2011

Death penalty overturned in 1997 murder case

Marvin Gabrion was convicted of killing 19-year-old Rachel Timmerman in 1997. Gabrion was given the death penalty because the victim's body was found on a lake on federal property. Michigan does not have the death penalty.
ccadp.org

A federal appeals court has overturned a death sentence for a Michigan man  convicted of drowning a young woman. He killed her to prevent her from pursuing a rape case against him.

Marvin Gabrion was convicted in 2002 of killing 19-year-old Rachel Timmerman.

Her body was found in a lake in Manistee National Forest in 1997.

Gabrion was sentenced to death because the body was found on federal property. Michigan does not have a death penalty.

David Moran is clinical professor of law at the University of Michigan.

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Politics
4:57 pm
Wed August 3, 2011

Glenn announces bid for U.S. Senate

Another Republican has announced he will run against Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow in next year’s election.

Gary Glenn is president of the Michigan chapter of the conservative American Family Association.  

The 53-year-old from Midland says his views on a variety of issues are very different from Senator Stabenow’s.

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Environment
4:51 pm
Wed August 3, 2011

AP: Virus may have contributed to Kent Lake fish kill

Michigan officials say a virus may have contributed to a June Kent Lake fish kill
User jamieca Flickr

Michigan officials say a fish virus may have contributed to a June fish kill of 300 to 500 common carp in
Kent Lake.

The state Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday that samples taken from the lake in Livingston and Oakland counties detected the presence of koi herpesvirus.

State officials say it's the first time the virus has been found in wild fish samples in Michigan. It was detected in a private koi pond near Grand Rapids in 2003.

The DNR says the virus has been seen before in large-scale common carp die-offs in Ontario, Canada, in 2007 and 2008.

The virus affects common carp, goldfish and koi. The state says there are no human health effects.

Arts/Culture
3:28 pm
Wed August 3, 2011

Artpod: From the "extraordinary to the seemingly mundane" - an audio tour of the Stearns Collection

One of the many shelves inside the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

The Cincinnati Art Museum recently discovered it had a long lost treasure trove of rare instruments in its possession. More than 800 antique instruments just sitting in storage…unused and pretty much forgotten.

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Education
3:27 pm
Wed August 3, 2011

Detroit school board President resigns

Anthony Adams

The President of the Detroit Board of Education has resigned his position.

Anthony Adams’ resignation note states “I resign my position with deep regret,” but doesn’t give further details.

The note does mention Adams’ route to school board President as a write-in candidate, and his time as Detroit Public Schools General Counsel from 2002-2005.

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Politics
3:19 pm
Wed August 3, 2011

Wayne State defends tuition hike, may face budget cut

User dctennis Flickr

Michigan State and Wayne State universities could face budget sanctions for violating tuition restraints. 

Wayne State officials were called in to testify today before a legislative subcommittee.

Wayne State officials said there was no intent to evade tuition restraints, echoing a similar claim by MSU officials when they were called in to testify earlier this summer.

Most public universities increased their fall rates at or below the 7% cap set by the Legislature compared to tuition set for the fall term of last year. But MSU and Wayne State compared their fall tuitions to summer rates, which had just been increased.

That did not sit well with state House universities budget chair Bob Genetski. 

 “This has been really unpleasant for everybody and our intent was really to protect Michigan families from tuition increases and, uh, our relationship’s been damaged.”

“They know that the very spirit of the legislation has been violated and that our efforts to protect kids in tuition-paying families were violated, as well.”

Genetski says he hopes MSU and Wayne State will reconsider their tuition hikes. If not, Genetski says he’d support going back and cutting state funding for the two schools even more.

Commentary
11:48 am
Wed August 3, 2011

School Accreditation Based on Standardized Test Scores?

The Detroit Tigers may win the American League pennant this year, and I don’t like that one bit. It reminds me, in fact, of one of the reasons that our schools are so screwed up.

If that doesn’t seem to make any sense, hang with me for a moment. First of all, I grew up a huge Tigers fan, and can still remember everything about the World Series-winning 1968 team.

But this year, while Detroit has been in first place for much of the last month, it doesn’t mean as much. The teams are divided into many divisions now, so there can be more winners.

It is likely that the second-place team in the more powerful Eastern division will end up winning more games than the first-place team in the Central. To me, that isn’t right, and means a tainted first place finish. Now, what does that have to do with our schools? Simply this. Virtually all Michigan public schools are accredited by the state.

Accreditation ought to mean some guarantee that a school is doing what it should, that you can put your child in it and  expect that he or she will get a proper education.

Provided, of course, you do your part as a parent.

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Auto/Economy
11:36 am
Wed August 3, 2011

Changing Chicago, $1,000 at a time

Chicago Awesome Foundation chapter members Drew Bradford (left) and Matt Dorn (right) help the Little Free Library's Rich Brooks put the first library up.
Niala Boodhoo

The word “foundation” often makes people think of big money. But there’s a new group of philanthropists in Chicago who have smaller funds, but big hopes for changing communities.

They call themselves the “Awesome Foundation”. Except the foundation part isn’t exactly that serious, says Chicago chapter co-founder Chris McAvoy.

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Politics
8:41 am
Wed August 3, 2011

Snyder recall will not meet Friday deadline

Gov. Rick Snyder
Tiberius Images Flickr

The campaign to recall Governor Rick Snyder says it will fall short of the number of signatures it needs to gather by Friday to qualify for the November ballot.

But organizers say they will press on in an effort to qualify for the next election in February.

A recall spokesman says the drive got off to a slow start, and did not attract much attention until recently.

Bill Ballenger is the editor of the Inside Michigan Politics newsletter. He says recalling the governor is a huge challenge.

“You need so many signatures. You need over 800 thousand signatures – minimum. And you really have to have some padding because obviously Republicans and lawyers are going to challenge the petitions when they’re turned in. Some will be thrown out. So, realistically, you’d have to have, I say, over a million signatures.”

The recall drive says its new goal is to gather a million names by late September.

There are also petitions being circulated to recall more than 20 other legislators.

Ballenger says if one of those gets on the ballot, it would be a referendum on Snyder.

Election 2012
7:56 am
Wed August 3, 2011

Gary Glenn will seek Senate seat

The Michigan president of the American Family Association says he's running for the Republican nomination
in the race to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

Gary Glenn issued a statement Tuesday saying that federal election law requires him to file a formal declaration of candidacy this week.

In the statement, Glenn praises U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Cascade Township, the only Republican in Michigan's congressional delegation to vote against the debt ceiling bill that President Barack Obama signed Tuesday. Stabenow voted for the bill.

Tuesday also saw another prominent Republican say he won't join the U.S. Senate field. Ypsilanti cardiologist Rob Steele says his work is too demanding for a statewide race.

Ex-U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra recently declared his candidacy for the Republican Senate nomination.

Politics
1:10 am
Wed August 3, 2011

Troy votes to keep library open

Teens at the Troy public library
user troylib flickr.com

Residents of one suburban Detroit community have resolved a nearly two-year-long battle over its library  - in the library’s favor.

Voters in the affluent community of Troy had twice rejected funding measures for the library. It had been slated to close earlier this year.

But now more than 58% of Troy voters have approved a five-year millage hike that will generate more than $3 million for the library.

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Politics
12:59 am
Wed August 3, 2011

Incumbent mayor clear winner in Warren primary

Warren Mayor James Fouts cruised to any easy primary victory Tuesday night.

The five-person primary in Michigan’s third-largest city got downright nasty at times. Candidates lobbed personal attacks, and there was a strange battle over whether Fouts had to reveal his age.

In the end though, Fouts was the clear winner, garnering more than 70% of the vote.

Fouts says he’s fought blight, demolishing about 600 dangerous homes. He also reorganized the city’s police department, and brought back EMS services.

He says the vote shows Warren is happy with his efforts.

“I think hard work, and effort, and recognizing the taxpayers are your boss, has allowed this success to take place.”

Fouts and City Councilwoman Kathy Vogt, a longtime political opponent, will face off in the November general election.

Despite finishing a distant second, Vogt says she’ll continue to hammer on what she calls Fouts’ lack of fiscal discipline.

“There are places where costs can be cut. And that’s what we’ve got to do. There’s got to be drastic cuts at this point. And the people at the top cannot continue to take top dollar all the time.”

Fouts calls Vogt’s assertions of fiscal irresponsibility “preposterous.” He says Warren has more money in its general fund than any other city in the state.

Politics
11:22 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

Walling, Buchanan to face off in Flint's mayoral election in November

Incumbent Flint mayor Dayne Walling celebrates with his supporters Tuesday night
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling easily finished first in Tuesday’s mayoral primary.   But the race for the second spot on the November general election ballot was extremely close.   

Dayne Walling says Tuesday’s primary vote shows Flint residents understand the challenges he’s struggled against during the past two years.   The city’s murder rate has soared. Flint’s budget is strained.   Still, Walling picked up nearly 50% of the votes cast in yesterday’s 7 way primary.  

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Arts/Culture
5:53 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

U of M houses more than 2,400 rare and contemporary instruments

Recent additions to the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

The Cincinnati Art Museum last week discovered it had a long lost treasure trove of rare instruments in its possession. We're talking more than 800 antique instruments just sitting in storage, unused and pretty much forgotten.

Well it turns out the University of Michigan has three times as many historical instruments housed mostly off campus in a high-security vault.  

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Auto/Economy
5:49 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

New fuel efficiency requirements proposed by feds will be hard to meet, automakers say

New fuel efficiency requirements proposed by the federal government will be hard to meet, according to many people who work in the auto industry.

The Obama administration recently announced a tentative proposal to roughly double the miles per gallon average for vehicles by the year 2025. 

Charlie Klein with General Motors says most people don’t understand how hard it is to improve fuel efficiency, without sacrificing affordability.

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Auto/Economy
5:26 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

Could Americans be ready (finally) for diesel cars?

Some car companies -- like General Motors -- think Americans might be ready to buy more diesel cars, as gas prices rise.

GM will offer a diesel version of its Chevy Cruze in the U.S. next year.

Early diesels in the U.S. had performance problems, like engine knocking.

But Charlie Klein of GM says modern diesel engines are dramatically better than in the past.

"Those that have driven them, they are terrific to drive," says Klein.  "And of course they deliver terrific fuel efficiency."

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