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1:01 pm
Fri June 24, 2011

Bumstead for Romney

If you paid attention to the news yesterday, you probably know that a tussle is still going on over redistricting in Lansing. You may have heard that the troubled Detroit school system wants to cut their employees’ pay ten percent and eliminated hundreds of jobs.

We’re pulling troops out of Afghanistan and the federal budget talks are a mess, but I want to fill you in on a story you may have missed. Yesterday, Jon Bumstead endorsed Mitt Romney for president. This actually happened. Bumstead endorsed him.

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Environment
10:47 am
Fri June 24, 2011

Swimming Upstream: The Fish Monger's Wife (part 2)

The Petersens sell fresh whitefish filets at the Muskegon Farmer's Market.
Photo by Dustin Dwyer

Today we continue our series, Swimming Upstream. Dustin Dwyer took a road trip around the Lower Peninsula to bring us stories about fish. Yesterday we heard about the Petersens. They’re one of the few remaining non-tribal commercial fishing families in the state.

Today Dustin tells the story of the Fish Mongers Wife:


It's a grey day at the Muskegon Farmer's Market, but Amber Mae Petersen is selling the heck out of some fresh Michigan whitefish.

“We're based here in Muskegon, my husband's family has been commercial fishing here for 75 years. So we sell what we catch.”

The vacuum-sealed bags of whitefish filets, and packages of smoked whitefish are disappearing quickly. Petersen's husband Eric stands next to her, packing the fish in ice and wrapping it in old copies of The Muskegon Chronicle.

“It's the only way to do it.”

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Sports
10:07 am
Fri June 24, 2011

Woe, Canada? Go, Canada!

User: dmealiffe flickr.com

Canada might be the only nation on earth that invented its favorite sport, has no other sport that’s even half as popular, and remains arguably the best in the world at playing it. How big is hockey in Canada?  They put the sport on their five-dollar bill.  It has a drawing of kids playing a pick-up game outside, and a quote from a beloved children’s story, “The Hockey Sweater.”  It goes like this:  

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Politics
5:26 pm
Thu June 23, 2011

Proposed changes to divorce rules rile judges, lawyers

stevendepolo flickr

A bill that would rewrite the rules for dividing property and assets when a married couple splits up will move ahead slowly, if at all. That’s the promise from the chair of a state House committee after judges and family lawyers crowded into a hearing room to oppose the measure. It would make it easier for one person in a couple to hang onto a business or some other asset that’s grown in value during the course of a marriage. 

Clinton County Probate Judge Lisa Sullivan testified in opposition to the bill:

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Education
5:17 pm
Thu June 23, 2011

A conversation with Former State School Superintendent Tom Watkins (audio)

flickr / iboy_daniel

Governor Rick Snyder outlined a plan to try to turn around the lowest performing schools in the state.

The Education Achievement System would start in the 2012-2013 school year with the lowest performing schools in the Detroit Public School System and would eventually spread out to underperforming schools across the state.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke with Tom Watkins, Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction about the potential pitfalls and benefits of the EAS plan. Watkins  is currently a business and educational consultant in the US and China.

You can hear the interview here:

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Politics
5:00 pm
Thu June 23, 2011

Governor, lawmakers spar over stem cell mandate

This microscope image (400x magnification) shows the 5-day-old embryo—also known as a blastocyst—that U-M Consortium for Stem Cell Therapies researchers used to create Michigan's first human embryonic stem cell line, UM4-6. Image courtesy of Gary Smith.
University of Michigan

 Some legislators are squaring off with Governor Rick Snyder and public universities over embryonic stem cell research. The governor says his administration won’t enforce a budget clause that says researchers must produce detailed reports on their work, and how they go about it. The universities say the rules outlined in the budgets are meant to stifle and discourage embryonic stem research. 

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Arts/Culture
4:28 pm
Thu June 23, 2011

Some independent bookstores look to cash in on author events

Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor has no plans to charge for author events.
Photo courtesy of Nicola's Books

Independent booksellers are continuously looking for ways to compete with online retail giants like Amazon.

A recent New York Times article highlights how some independent bookstores are taking advantage of something online retails can't provide: in-person author events. Here's an excerpt:

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Education
3:52 pm
Thu June 23, 2011

Detroit schools chief: Unions need to get on board or out of the way

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts
Detroit Public Schools

Update 3:52 pm:

Roy Roberts' budget plan submitted to the state today calls for cutting wages by 10 percent. It would also trim expenses by $231 million, and reduce contracts by $48 million. As Roberts already announced, the proposal calls for floating $200 million in bonds to help erase the district's $327 million deficit.

_____________________

The emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools says he wants to work with the district’s unions.

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Education
3:49 pm
Thu June 23, 2011

Teachers' union sees a tenure reform plan it likes

A tenure reform plan in the state Senate has the stamp of approval from Michigan’s largest teachers’ union.

The Senate proposal is very different from a tenure reform plan approved by the state House earlier this month.

Doug Pratt is with the Michigan Education Association. He says the legislation would eliminate a state tenure commission, and instead assign arbitrators to school districts that want to dismiss tenured teachers.

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Arts/Culture
3:47 pm
Thu June 23, 2011

Artpod: The peninsula personality on the page

Our occasional literary series highlights includes conversations with Michigan authors.
user mconnors morgueFile

On today's podcast, we talk with Michigan author Steve Amick about writing, humor, and the character of writers from the state. It's part of Michigan Radio's occasional literary series, Michigan on the Page

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Education
2:08 pm
Thu June 23, 2011

House bill may make student achievement a big part of teacher evaluations

Tim Melton (D-Pontiac) introduced a bill to make 50% of teachers' evaluation based on student performance.
Tim Melton Tim Melton

All teachers in Michigan may be evaluated based on the success of their students.

That’s the goal of legislation introduced by state representative Tim Melton this week. He wants student achievement to be 50 percent of a teacher’s annual evaluation.

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Arts/Culture
11:27 am
Thu June 23, 2011

Your Story: Detroit and its "wise people"

Detroit resident Mohammed Farad at his high school graduation.

Changing Gears is wrapping up its first week as part of the Public Insight Network. Through PIN, everyone can sign up to become a source for our coverage. It’s kind of like a citizen news wire.

To put your personal experiences in the spotlight, we’re introducing a new daily feature called Your Story. We’re letting you tell how Midwest’s economic transformation is changing your life.

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Commentary
10:42 am
Thu June 23, 2011

Mutual Assured Deterrence

Governor Rick Snyder’s Emergency Manager law was highly controversial even before it was passed - and yesterday, a coalition of twenty-eight teachers, union members and private citizens filed suit, claiming the law is unconstitutional.

In their view, it violates the state constitution because it gives the executive branch power over the legislative, violating the separation of powers, something fundamental to both the United States and Michigan constitutions. To me, the only thing surprising about this suit was that it took so long to be filed.

This is not the first of the governor’s sweeping reforms to face a constitutional challenge. Lawsuits have already claimed the taxing of pensions is unconstitutional. Such cases can often take months or even years to wend their way through the court system. But in the case of the pension tax, to his credit, the governor requested a speedy decision from the Michigan Supreme Court.

The justices have agreed to hear the case in September, which is lightning speed in high court terms.

Getting this resolved quickly makes perfect sense, partly so that the state can try to figure out budget alternatives just in case the ruling goes against them.

Deciding this early should also prevent the endless cycle of hearings, injunctions and motions to lift injunctions.

But as long as the high court has agreed to an expedited decision on the constitutionality of the pension tax, it should give us a speedy ruling on the emergency financial manager bill as well.

Everything I know about our state’s highest court, and the experts I have talked to about this, makes me think it is highly likely the justices will rule in Governor Snyder’s favor in both cases.

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Medical Marijuana
10:31 am
Thu June 23, 2011

State Supreme Court to hear medical marijuana cases

The state Supreme Court has agreed to hear several cases that could clarify the rules surrounding Michigan’s voter-approved medical marijuana law.

A man with a medical cannabis card who grew marijuana in a backyard structure wants a court ruling that says he was within his legal rights. He was cited by police for not having the grow-area properly locked and enclosed. In another case, a man claims he was improperly charged with possession because he is a medical marijuana user – even though at the time of his arrest he had not yet obtained a medical marijuana card.

The court cases are working their way through the legal system as communities are drafting and re-drafting ordinances on the operation of medical marijuana clinics, and the Legislature is debating additional laws to stake out the rules for medical marijuana.

Accolades
10:27 am
Thu June 23, 2011

'Muslims in Michigan' project wins national award

Michigan Radio was very pleased to learn that the station won one of 3 RTDNA/UNITY awards for the Muslims in Michigan project. The award is presented to honor outstanding achievements in the coverage of diversity.

The Muslims in Michigan project was formed out of a partnership between Michigan Radio and the University of Michigan Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies. The five part radio series examined life for Muslim people living in Michigan. Beyond religion, the series also explored the cultural, political, ethnic, and social lives of this diverse group. The project also featured film events, speakers, and a community conversation.

You can find out more about Muslims in Michigan series at the story's website.

News Roundup
10:15 am
Thu June 23, 2011

In this morning's news...

Morning News Roundup
Brother O'Mara Flickr

EM Law Faces  Lawsuit:

A group opposed to the state’s new emergency manager law has filed a lawsuit seeking to reverse it, Rick Pluta reports. From Pluta:

The lawsuit says the emergency manager law undermines voters’ rights to choose their elected officials. That’s because the law allows state-appointed emergency managers sweeping powers - including the ability to remove elected officials who don’t cooperate…The lawsuit names Governor Rick Snyder and state Treasurer Andy Dillon as the defendants. The Detroit pension board has also filed a lawsuit challenging the law. Governor Snyder’s office says the law is both constitutional and necessary to help the state’s most financially troubled communities. Benton Harbor, Pontiac, Ecorse and the Detroit school district are currently under the control of emergency managers.

Kalamazoo River Cleanup Continues

Cleanup crews are on the Kalamazoo River this week collecting oil that remains at the bottom of the river from last July’s oil spill. Enbridge Energy, the company that owns the pipeline that leaked the oil says more than 90 percent of the 840,000 gallons of heavy crude have already been cleaned up. About 220 people will be along the river for this week’s cleanup and an Enbridge Energy spokesperson says she expects several more hundred will be on hand in the coming weeks.

Changes to Medical Marijuana Law?

Members of the Michigan legislature are considering several bills that would amend the state’s medical marijuana law. “One bill would create a database of marijuana license holders. Another would ban marijuana dispensaries from operating within 1,000 feet of schools and churches. A third would bar citizens from suing cities that restrict or ban marijuana dispensaries... Michigan passed the Medical Marijuana Act in 2008,” Bridget Bodnar reports.

Environment
10:11 am
Thu June 23, 2011

Swimming Upstream: The shrinking commercial fishing industry (part 1)

Left to right: Walleye, Dustin Dwyer.
Image by Josh Leo/Rick Treur

Today we begin a series called Swimming Upstream. It's about one of Michigan's most valuable natural resources: fish. These slimy, scaly water dwellers contribute to the ecology of the Great Lakes, our economy, and, of course, our dinner plate.

Reporter Dustin Dwyer has traveled all over the lower peninsula to gather these fish stories for us, and he starts with a simple question: why can it sometimes be so difficult to buy fresh fish caught in Michigan? 

Here's Dustin's story:

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Auto/Economy
4:45 pm
Wed June 22, 2011

What’s the worst thing about Detroit? Your answers

Kira Plotivrnkov

All week, we’ve been covering Detroit’s attempts to improve its image. We heard about plenty of things to celebrate, but Detroit also has plenty of real problems, ranging from its struggling education system to a huge loss of residents over the last decade.

Along with the city’s positive aspects, we also asked you to tell us: what’s the worst thing about Detroit? Here is a sample of your answers.

Hate. From racism to road rage, it is not a friendly place.- Carly Van Thomme, Guadalajara, Mexico

The legacy of Kwame Kilpatrick and Henry Ford. Drive, drive, drive everywhere. -Karen Dunnan, Grand Rapids, MI

That we do not promote the diversity of the people in Detroit and surrounding suburbs as we should. It’s the people that make any city. -Gordon Alexander, Detroit, MI

Suffocating overt and covert racism that serves as a shorthand for much more complex and difficult problems. -Brian Bowe, Saugatauk, MI

The lack of public transportation and urban living necessities to keep people in the city. -Dan Baker, Lancaster, PA

Excessively numbered and large freeways that ruin the continuity of neighborhoods and contribute to a sense of isolation in many cases. – Elizabeth Luther, Detroit, MI

Unfortunately, crime. -Joel Arnold, Flint

How empty it feels.  There is nothing worse than coming home to find the lights off and the family dispersed. -Jeffrey Jablansky, New Rochelle, NY

Lack of city-dwelling yuppies, you need them for economic purposes.- Matt B., Boston, MA

People who have never been there trashing the place. -Todd Doros, Durham, NC

You can still answer our questions here.

Tomorrow, check back to read peoples’ vision for the Detroit of 2020.

Politics
4:17 pm
Wed June 22, 2011

Counties sue Fannie, Freddie over real estate taxes

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Oakland and Ingham counties are suing mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over millions of dollars in disputed tax revenues.

Michigan has something called the real estate transfer tax, and it’s paid by the seller when a property changes hands.

Fannie and Freddie have been unloading many of the homes that revert to them in foreclosure sales.

Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner says the companies are trying to have it both ways – getting the benefits of private companies, and the protections of government entities.

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Politics
4:00 pm
Wed June 22, 2011

A new challenge to state Emergency Financial Manager law

Gov. Rick Snyder
Gov. Rick Snyder

 A group opposed to the state’s new emergency manager law has filed a lawsuit seeking to reverse it.  The lawsuit says the emergency manager law undermines voters’ rights to choose their elected officials. That’s because the law allows state-appointed emergency managers sweeping powers - including the ability to remove elected officials who don’t cooperate.

 Kym Spring is one of the 28 plaintiffs challenging the law:

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