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5:41 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

Critical week for Detroit's financial future

Both the Detroit City Council and Mayor Dave Bing say this is a crucial week for getting the city’s budget in order.

Detroit will end the fiscal year in June with a budget deficit of at least $180 million.

Both Mayor Bing and the Council declare they’ll work together to avoid a state takeover of the city’s finances.

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May 3rd Election
5:07 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

It's "Millage Time" - find links to May 3rd election results

The Secretary of State says local jurisdictions and school districts in 82 of Michigan's 83 counties are conducting elections today.
user eyspahn Flickr

Dozens of communities across Michigan will be voting on millages that will raise or maintain their current property and real estate taxes to support city services and their school systems.

There are also many communities voting for candidates for school and community college boards.

To find election results in your area, you can find a link to your local county's election page on our election coverage map.

Polls are open until 8 p.m.

May 3rd election
4:32 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

Volunteers work to get out the vote in Grand Rapids

Lizbeth Espinoza and Michael Tuffelmire stop at laundromats, super markets, and food stands like this one to make sure people know about the election and to offer them a ride to the polls.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Voters in Grand Rapids and 5 surrounding cities are voting Tuesday on a millage increase to support expanded public transportation.

Lizbeth Espinoza and Michael Tuffelmire walk into small Mexican super market in the mostly-Hispanic Roosevelt Park neighborhood. Tuffelmire says many people here aren’t aware there are any other elections but the big one in November.

That's part of the reason they’re driving around a passenger van, picking up anyone who needs a ride to vote.

“I’m just trying to just, no matter what people want to vote, I’m trying to make easier access for them," Tuffelmire said.

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Education
4:08 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

U of M conference shines spotlight on the "creative process"

U of M's conference looks at why art making is important at research universities.
Dani Davis

The “creative process” will take center stage at a conference this week at the University of Michigan.

Theresa Reid heads up ArtsEngine at the University of Michigan, and she believes “art making” should have a higher profile at research universities:

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Auto/Economy
3:50 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

Automakers release sales numbers today

The Chrysler 200 helped lead the "best month for Chrysler Group mid-size sedans since March 2008."
IFCAR wikimedia commons

Sales numbers for April are coming in today, and there are more signs that the American public has pent up energy to buy new cars. As they did in 2008, higher gas prices are driving demand for smaller, fuel efficient cars. U.S. Automakers are more prepared for that demand this time around.

Update 3:50 p.m.

Chrysler announced the "best April sales since 2008" - a 22% increase compared with sales in April 2010. The company sold 95,703 cars in April.

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The Death of Osama bin Laden
3:00 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

MSU prof reacts to bin Laden media coverage

Salah Hassan, Michigan State Univerty professor of Muslim Studies
(courtesy of Michigan State University)

Most people in the Middle East don’t seem to be angry that U-S forces killed Osama bin Laden.  Salah Hassan coordinates the Islam, Muslims and Journalism Education program  at Michigan State University. He’s watching Mid East media coverage following the death of the Al-Qaeda leader.

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Arts/Culture
11:45 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Artpod: Arts Patronage 2.0

Michigan artists are turning to websites like Kickstarter to raise funds for their projects.
user Sultry creative commons

On today's Artpod, we'll take a look at how the image of the "rich" arts patron is starting to be re-imagined, thanks in large part to the internet.

Meet the artist...

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Food
11:44 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Salmonella contamination prompts tomato recall

Six L's Packing Company Inc. says the recalled product was packed on April 11 under the Cherry Berry lot code DW-H in clam shells or 20-pound cardboard containers.
Six L's Packing Company

Concern over salmonella contamination has prompted a voluntary recall of certain types of tomatoes.

From the Associated Press:

A Florida tomato grower is voluntarily recalling its grape tomatoes after a sample tested positive for salmonella.

Six L's Packing Company Inc. said in a statement Monday that no illnesses had been reported in connection to the recall as of April 29.

The Immokalee, Fla.-based company says the recalled product was packed on April 11 under the Cherry Berry lot code DW-H in clam shells or 20-pound cardboard containers. The tomatoes were distributed to California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia, as well as Canada.

The tomatoes also were used in deli salads made by Tracy-based Taylor Farms Pacific Inc. The salads were sold in Albertsons, Raley's, Safeway, Savemart, Sam's Club and Walmart stores across the West and some Midwestern states.

Commentary
11:14 am
Tue May 3, 2011

O Canada

Yesterday, America’s most important ally and trading partner had an historic election which rocked the foundations of that nation’s politics and has huge implications for the western hemisphere, the United States in general and Michigan in particular.

You would not, however, know anything about that from most of the mainstream media. National Public Radio has covered the Canadian National Election, far better than most, but I don’t even think they have paid enough attention to the story.

Most of the rest of the media, especially in Michigan, largely continues to be consumed with the aftermath of our government’s assassination yesterday of the supreme Al-Qaeda leader.

Yes, Osama bin Laden is still dead, and I don’t mean to minimize the implications of that story, or its continuing repercussions. But we knew about that yesterday.

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Environment
11:06 am
Tue May 3, 2011

It's not so easy to get rid of that potato fork

A driver opens up one of the 20-foot high compost piles at Tuthill Farms. He'll add the new compostable waste to the hot core of the pile, then cover it back up.
Photo by Rebecca Williams

Have you ever seen those plastic forks or spoons made from corn or potatoes? It’s a big trend right now.

They’re compostable. So in theory... this tableware breaks down into a dark, rich material that’s really good for gardening.

So you get the convenience of disposable plastic... without adding to the big pile of plastic trash.

But here’s where things get tricky.

Liz Shoch is with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. She's working with companies to rethink the way they package their products.

“One of the things we say a lot currently is there is no sustainable package and that goes for compostable packaging too. There’s always tradeoffs.”

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Environment
10:53 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Money for Great Lakes restoration

The federal budget left many groups wanting more money, but those lobbying to restore Lake Michigan and the rest of the Great Lakes are actually pretty pleased with the President and Congress.

Andy Buchsbaum co-chairs a group that’s trying to get enough funding over five years to restore the Great Lakes. He says the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative didn’t get all the money it wanted in the 2011 federal budget. But Buchsbaum says given the tight economic times, the $300 million they did get will keep the program on track.

“The Great Lakes did remarkably well this year in the federal budget, and the people in this region will benefit from it.”

In Michigan, Buchsbaum says the money is being used to restore wetlands. It’s also being used to get rid of toxic hot spots, such as the so-called black lagoon in the Detroit River area. And it’s being used to prevent Asian Carp from getting into Lake Michigan.

Buchsbaum says both parties supported Great Lakes restoration because of the economic benefits, and everyone wants their children to be able to swim at the beaches and drink the water.

-Julie Grant for The Environment Report

News Roundup
8:34 am
Tue May 3, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup, Tuesday, May 3rd
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Election Day

It’s election day in Michigan but, as Steve Carmody reports, very few people expect long lines at polling stations. From Carmody:

There are dozens of school millage votes and school board elections taking place today in Michigan.  But school races rarely draw large crowds of voters.

There are a few communities voting on controversial, or at least well publicized, issues.

Flint voters are casting ballots on two millages.  One would generate $2 million a year to reopen the city jail. The other would continue to fund a dozen police officers.

Lansing voters are deciding if they want to increase their property taxes to trim their city’s projected 20-plus million dollar budget deficit nearly in half.

And in Jackson, voters will decide if they want to merge their city police and fire departments into one public safety department.

Lawmakers Continue Work on Budget

State Senators will take-up Governor Rick Snyder’s tax reform plan at the state Capitol this week. The tax plan would eliminate the unpopular Michigan Business tax and, instead, tax only some corporations and eliminate tax exemptions on certain retiree pensions. Supporters of the plan say it will improve the state economy by helping businesses. Opponents say the plan gives businesses tax breaks on the back of seniors, low income families, and children.

Michigan Gas Prices Hit Record High

Gas prices in the state have never been this high, according to GasBuddy.com. An analyst with GasBuddy says the old record was $4.25 a gallon. Now, prices at the pump in many parts of the state are higher: at $4.29 per gallon or more. It’s predicted that prices could go up even further.

Politics
6:51 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Napolitano announces $4 million for Michigan to improve border security

Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
The National Guard Flickr

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has announced that Michigan will get a $4 million grant to improve security along the Canadian border with better communications systems, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

The grant to the Detroit-based project is part of a $25.5 million package of border security funding measures announced Monday.

Napolitano says the programs are designed to improve emergency response capabilities along the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders.

Wayne County is leading the Michigan project, which covers points of entry from Detroit and Port Huron in the south to Sault Ste. Marie in the north. Participants include Wayne, Monroe, Macomb and Chippewa counties, Detroit and several Canadian units of government.

In a statement released yesterday on the Homeland Security website, Secretary Napolitano said:

“The projects funded through the Border Interoperability Demonstration Project strengthen the security of our northern and southern borders, and our nation’s overall preparedness and emergency response capabilities. These BIDP grants provide our state, local, and tribal partners with resources to explore innovative, effective, and adaptable solutions for improving emergency communications.”

Detroit
6:45 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Detroit City Council continues hearings on budget

Budget hearings continue today in Detroit. The Detroit City Council’s budget, finance and audit standing committee will discuss the city's Finance Department budget later this afternoon, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

The Detroit City Council is continuing hearings on Mayor Dave Bing's proposed 2011-12 budget…

Bing presented his proposed $3.1 billion budget to the council last month. He says the city faces a $155 million deficit that could swell in several years unless there are more cuts, and payments to two city pensions and health care expenses are reduced.

Bing met Monday with union leadership where he detailed needed concessions to help cut into the deficit.

The council is expected to make recommendations or changes to Bing's proposal. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

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Economy
3:01 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Michigan gas prices hit record high

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan gasoline prices have reached a record high. According to GasBuddy.com, the price for a gallon of gasoline has never been this high in Michigan. 

Patrick DeHaan is a senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. He says the old record was $4.25 a gallon. DeHaan says the price at the pump in large parts of Michigan is now higher than $4.29 a gallon. He says refinery problems are causing gasoline supplies to drop in the Midwest.

DeHaan says Michigan motorists should be aware, we may not have reached that peak pump price yet. 

 “Whatever you expect…can change.  And so, if there is another issue like this we could see prices continue higher.   But history tells us that prices will reach a new peak sometime in May.”

DeHaan does not expect the death this week of Osama bin Laden will have an affect on gas prices.

May 3rd Election
2:01 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Election day in Michigan

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

It’s election day in Michigan. But few people expect long lines at polling stations across Michigan.

There are dozens of school millage votes and school board elections taking place today in Michigan.  But school races rarely draw large crowds of voters.

There are a few communities voting on controversial, or at least well publicized, issues.

Flint voters are casting ballots on two millages.  One would generate $2 million a year to reopen the city jail. The other would continue to fund a dozen police officers.

Lansing voters are deciding if they want to increase their property taxes to trim their city’s projected 20-plus million dollar budget deficit nearly in half.

And in Jackson, voters will decide if they want to merge their city police and fire departments into one public safety department.

Education
1:01 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Poll: Most Michiganders want education spared state spending cuts

There is some good news for Michigan school administrators worrying about the outcomes of today’s  school millage votes. A new Michigan State University poll of nearly a thousand state residents finds  most want education protected from state budget cuts.   

The State of the State survey finds education is the highest priority among Michiganders. The poll found support for state education funding consistent across all demographic groups and political affiliations.

William Schmidt is a statistics and education professor at MSU. He says the poll shows the importance that people place on education. Though he admits people often vote their own economic interest when asked to decide on school millages. 

 “They seem…conceptually at least…to think education is important.   And should be front and center.  But then…very often they vote their economic concerns…which is they don’t want their taxes raised.”  

Education spending is expected to take a big hit as state lawmakers deal with Michigan’s massive budget deficit. They are talking about slashing per-pupil funding by $300 to more than $400.

Changing Gears
5:53 pm
Mon May 2, 2011

Detroit census challenge

Hard to Count: The Barbara in Southwest Detroit
Kate Davidson Changing Gears

Imagine trying to prove that thousands of people exist, when you have no idea who they are.

That’s the dilemma facing officials who think their communities were undercounted in the 2010 Census.  But for Midwest cities preparing to challenge those numbers: How do you find people the Census Bureau missed?  We went looking for answers in Detroit.

When Detroit’s numbers came out in March, Mayor Dave Bing quickly summoned the press.  The tone was crisis — as if a natural disaster had struck.  And in a way, it had.  Detroit had lost a quarter of its people over the last ten years.

As cameras whirred, the mayor explained that Detroit’s population now stood at 713,777. 

"Personally I don’t believe the number is accurate,” he said.  “And I don’t believe it will stand up as we go through with our challenge."

Cleveland, Akron and Cincinnati are also considering challenges. 

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Auto/Economy
5:31 pm
Mon May 2, 2011

Japanese parts shortages will likely show up in April car sales

Car sales in the U.S. likely went up about ten percent last month, compared to the same month a year ago. 

U.S. sales for April will be reported Tuesday.

Analyst Jesse Toprak of Truecar.com says sales would have been better, but the disasters in Japan greatly diminished the supply of car parts, especially for Honda and Toyota.

Both companies have drastically slowed production of cars, and the slowdown could continue through the rest of the year.

Toprak says Japanese car companies typically do well when gas prices increase.

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The Death of Osama bin Laden
5:04 pm
Mon May 2, 2011

Mike Rogers praises work of U.S. intelligence agencies in death of Osama bin Laden

Rep. Mike Rogers, Brighton, Michigan (R)
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Brighton congressman Mike Rogers says the death of Osama bin Laden this week shows the growth of the nation’s intelligence agencies since September 11th.

Rogers chairs the U.S. House Intelligence Committee which oversees the  nation’s spy agencies.  

"I think this clearly demonstrates the new intelligence community, after 9/11, and their ability to find and reach out…anywhere in the world and take care of people who threaten the United States."

Rogers says the operation that ended with the death of bin Laden was one that few other nation’s could accomplish.

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