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1:45 pm
Mon June 20, 2011

National: Supreme Court limits Wal-Mart discrimination case

Joe Gratz Flickr

The Supreme Court blocked a massive lawsuit charging Wal-Mart with sexual discrimination today according to the Associated Press.

From the AP:

The Supreme Court on Monday blocked a massive sex discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart on behalf of female employees in a decision that makes it harder to mount large-scale bias claims against the biggest U.S. companies.

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Politics
12:49 pm
Mon June 20, 2011

Recall language against State Senator John Proos not clear enough...for now

State Senator Mark Jansen (R-St. Joseph)
senate.michigan.gov/gop

Lyn Earwood, who submitted the petition, says she will tweak the language to make it more clear and resubmit for approval soon.

The language was nearly identical to a recall petition Kent County officials approved this morning against State Senator Mark Jansen.

Both petitions stated opposition to the republican senator's support of the new tax structure that cuts taxes for most Michigan businesses and taxes income from public pensions.

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Politics
12:05 pm
Mon June 20, 2011

Abortion back on the agenda in Lansing

A state House committee could vote this week to outlaw a procedure critics call partial-birth abortion.
  
Similar efforts to ban the procedure in Michigan have failed in the past. Two bills were vetoed, and three laws that were enacted were struck down by the courts.
 
But that was before the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal ban on the procedure in 2007. Ed Rivet of Right to Life of Michigan says this time around, he expects less of a fight.
 

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Economy
11:57 am
Mon June 20, 2011

Borders hoping for sale by end of July

Borders filed for bankruptcy protection in February.

Bankrupt Borders Group may have an interested buyer. The Ann Arbor-based bookstore chain plans to name a bidder by July first.

In a motion filed Friday at the United States Bankruptcy Court Southern District of New York, Borders says the sale process has "gained significant momentum in recent weeks," and that the bookseller is "encouraged" that a successful buyer will emerge.

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Politics
9:58 am
Mon June 20, 2011

Recall effort against State Sen. Mark Jansen moves forward

State Sentator Mark Jansen (R-Gaines Township)
sentate.michigan.gov/gop

Add State Senator Mark Jansen to the growing list of republican lawmakers in Michigan facing a recall effort.

Kent County election officials approved the recall language this morning. Now volunteers can begin collecting signatures. They’d need 26,611 voter signatures to get the recall on the ballot.

Jansen says he’s taking the challenge seriously and is prepared to run a reelection campaign if he has to.

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Commentary
9:23 am
Mon June 20, 2011

Redistricting Woes

You have to admit that in Michigan, Democrats have been supremely unlucky when it comes to redistricting. For the last fifty years, Republicans have controlled the governor’s office whenever it was time to draw new districts.

This time they control everything - house, senate, and a majority on the state supreme court. That means they can impose  whatever plan they like, as long as it does a couple things.

First of all, all districts have to have more or less equal population. For Congress, that means exactly equal population. Based on where the census showed people lived, each Congressional district has to have seven hundred and five thousand, nine hundred and seventy-four people, give or take one.

There’s more wiggle room for legislative districts, but still, each one has to have within five percent of the target number of roughly ninety thousand per house and two hundred and sixty thousand for senate. There’s also the Voting Rights Act to consider.

Courts have held that means that a certain number of seats have to include a majority of voters who are members of the dominant minority group. Other than that, Republicans had a free hand. They finally unveiled their work at the end of last week.

And on the whole, I was pleasantly surprised. Naturally, since Michigan has to lose a seat in Congress, they combined the seats of two Democrats, Sandy Levin and Gary Peters, meaning one has to go. They also redrew the legislative lines to make it harder for Democrats to win back the state house and senate.

But some of what they did in terms of Congress is actually an improvement. For example, they took Calhoun County, which includes Battle Creek, out of the Seventh District, and put it into the Third, based on Grand Rapids. In terms of uniting communities of interests, Battle Creek would have been better off in the Sixth District, with Kalamazoo. But it is better off than where it was.

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State Legislature
6:39 am
Mon June 20, 2011

Busy week scheduled at the Capitol

Capitol Building, Lansing, Michigan
Matthileo Flickr

State lawmakers have a busy two weeks ahead of them before they take a two-month summer break. This week, legislators will debate the threat of feral pigs to woods and farmland, whether the state should mirror a federal ban on so-called “partial birth abortions,” and how the state’s new political maps should be drawn.

Perhaps the most contentious issue at the Capitol right now is whether the state should build a publicly owned bridge from Detroit to Canada. State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says the Detroit bridge issue impacts everyone in the state. One reason for that is the bridge project is linked to federal road money that would go to every region of the state.

“This is part of a bigger issue in Michigan, and that’s infrastructure, period. I look at the roads in the state – whether they’re county roads, local roads, state highways – that infrastructure is important to people too. And I really think this is one piece of a much bigger issues that we have in Michigan.”

But Richardville says the Senate will not vote on any bridge legislation until lawmakers return from the summer break. Governor Rick Snyder had hoped to approve the bridge legislation before July. Snyder will, however, get to sign the state budget for the coming year into law. The governor is expected to sign the budget bills this week.

What's Working
6:31 am
Mon June 20, 2011

A 'Master Plan' for Midland's youth

The city of Midland has a plan.  A “Youth Master Plan.” It was created by educators, clergy, police, parents, and others in the community to help kids in Midland. As part of Michigan Radio's What's Working series, we speak with Dick Dolinski, one of the founders of the Plan.  He’s president of the Legacy Center for Student Success. For more information, and to contact Dick about starting a Master Plan in your community, click here.

 

Detroit Public Schools
6:21 am
Mon June 20, 2011

School reform announcement scheduled for Detroit

Governor Rick Snyder, state Superintendent Mike Flanagan and Detroit Public Schools emergency manager Roy Roberts are scheduled to make an announcement regarding school reform later this morning in Detroit. The Detroit Free Press reports:

Gov. Rick Snyder will create an authority to run several failing Detroit public schools as part of sweeping changes to be announced today for the city's struggling school system, sources said Sunday.

The plan would restructure the failing Detroit Public Schools, which has a $327-million deficit on an operating budget of about $1.5 billion, by moving its underperforming schools under an authority to be run by the district's emergency manager, Roy Roberts, according to sources. Schools would qualify for the new system if they are deemed below certain academic standards by the Michigan Department of Education…

It's unclear exactly how many DPS schools would be transferred to a new authority. DPS already has a program under way that would close or convert to charter about half its schools.

Under the plan to be announced Monday, DPS schools not labeled as underperforming would remain under the authority of Roberts, a former top executive at General Motors, in the same manner as they are today. There are no plans to dissolve the school board, sources said.

Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, is scheduled to take part in the announcement via a live feed from Washington, D.C..

Auto/Economy
1:33 pm
Sun June 19, 2011

Teens have tough time finding summer jobs

Slinging coffee is one option for teens looking for work
Creative Commons/capl@washjeff.edu

The summertime blues have arrived for thousands of Michigan teenagers, who face a tough job market this year. That’s despite some improvement from last year.

Teens face a 30% unemployment rate this summer. That’s a 4 percentage point drop from 2010. A spokesman with the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget says much of the improvement is because fewer teens are trying to find work this summer.

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Politics
12:41 pm
Sun June 19, 2011

Tighter rules proposed on sale of over-the-counter drugs used to make methamphetamine

ppdigital MorgueFile

Michigan lawmakers are working on  bills that would more closely regulate the sale of over-the-counter drugs that can be used to make methamphetamine.

People who buy flu, cold and allergy medications that contain ephedrine or pseudophedrine already have to sign a pharmacy log.

Under the new law, they would have to swipe their driver’s license or state ID card at the pharmacy. An Internet-based, real-time database  would show when, where and how much of the over-the-counter drugs they bought.

State Rep. Amanda Price sponsored one of the measures:

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History
10:44 am
Sun June 19, 2011

A rare event: Emancipation Proclamation on round-the-clock display

The Emancipation Proclamation will be on 24-hour display at the Henry Ford Museum from Monday evening through Wednesday morning, at no cost.
wikihistoria.wikispaces.com

 

DETROIT -- (AP)  A Michigan museum is going to display the
original Emancipation Proclamation around the clock over a
three-day period at no cost.

     The Henry Ford Museum says it marks the first time the historic
document will visit the state since 1948. It'll be shown from
Monday evening through Wednesday morning.

     The Emancipation Proclamation declared all slaves "forever
free" and invited black men to join the Union Army and Navy.

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Investigative
3:39 pm
Sat June 18, 2011

Flint civil rights activist Robinson fatally shot

Police say longtime Flint civil rights activist and attorney C. Frederick Robinson has been fatally shot. The Flint Journal reports Robinson was killed late last night in Flint at his home. There are no suspects in the case.

Robinson was dedicated to equal rights. In addition to organizing rallies and generating support for the civil rights movement, Robinson was instrumental in the 1968 passage of the fair housing ordinance. Its approval made Flint among the first cities to pass an open-housing referendum by popular vote.

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Auto/Economy
3:18 pm
Sat June 18, 2011

Half-off amnesty offered for unpaid parking fines

Flickr/Chris Moncus

People who have unpaid parking tickets in Detroit will be able to take advantage of a special program and pay only half the amount of money they owe. The program is called "All or Nothing Amnesty" and starts Tuesday and ends July 1st.

It also applies to people already in payment plans over parking debt, but does not apply to people whose vehicles have been clamped with a boot.  

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Politics
1:15 pm
Sat June 18, 2011

Financial manager repeal effort under way Saturday

People opposed to Michigan's financial managers law are intensifying their efforts to get a repeal on the November ballot. The law gives financial managers broad powers over financially troubled school districts and local governments.

A group called the Committee to Stand Up for Democracy has organized signature-collection efforts Saturday in 11 cities. Supporters say the law is needed to help financially troubled entities get back on their feet. Opponents say it's a power grab that let’s unelected appointees throw out union contracts and take authority away from elected officials.

Auto/Economy
12:18 pm
Sat June 18, 2011

Mopeds more popular as gas prices rise

Moped ownership has more than doubled in Michigan in the past decade.
taliesin MorgueFile

From The Associated Press

With gasoline prices in the state swinging back and forth around $4 per gallon, more Michigan motorists are riding mopeds.

The low-horsepower machines can cruise 100 miles on a gallon of gas.

The secretary of state's office says 17,064 mopeds were registered in Michigan in 2000, and by 2010, that number had risen to 40,978.

The price of gas is a major reason Kim Jackson of Dearborn has been riding a moped for the past two years.

Politics
10:25 am
Sat June 18, 2011

Things don't go as planned for anti-Islam activist

Pastor Terry Jones of Florida returned to Dearborn to share his anti-Islam views at the Arab-American festival.
rt.com

 From the Detroit Free Press:

After railing at Dearborn City Hall against Muslims and African Americans, Quran-burning Pastor Terry Jones and his supporters were thwarted Friday in their plans to speak out at a nearby Arab-American festival after a group of angry protesters confronted him. But a group of Christians sympathetic to Jones did rally at
the festival later, hurling insults through a megaphone at people attending the festival.

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Science/Medicine
4:51 pm
Fri June 17, 2011

Science: Black hole eats star, sparks gamma rays

A composite picture of two black holes merging from 2009
Nasa's Marshall Space Flight Center Flickr

Here's your Friday "Science is awesome" moment, care of the Washington Post.

The story is about a black hole eating a star like our sun and shooting out gamma rays.

Oh...and it only happens once every 100 million years.

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Politics
4:45 pm
Fri June 17, 2011

Redistricting in Michigan: new political maps from the Michigan Legislature

The 15 Michigan U.S. House districts as they exist today.

Update: 4:45 p.m.

The Michigan Senate Republicans weigh in to defend their redistricting plan for the Michigan legislature. Amber McCann is the press secretary. She says:

"We're seeing the population density that was once more concentrated in southeast Michigan is moving broader across the state. I think Michigan has been thought of traditionally as a one-city state. I think we're seeing that is no longer the case."

McCann says the Legislature's GOP leaders would like to have the new district maps adopted and sent to Gov. Rick Snyder before July 1st. That's the beginning of the Legislature's summer break. State Rep. Barb Byrum (D-67th) says that time frame is too fast.

Update 3:37 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Sander Levin (D-12th) held a news conference today at 3:00 p.m. He said the proposed changes are unfair and hopes they will be challenged in court:

There are so many problems with these maps, they’re so unfair, outrageous that I trust it will be challenged in court.

He said:

Voters should be able to choose their members of Congress and what this map does is allow incumbent Republicans to choose their voters, and so I think it’s exactly backwards.

 

Update 2:47 p.m.

Two U.S. Representatives from Michigan, Sander Levin (D-12th) and Gary Peters (D-9th), say the Michigan House Republicans gerrymandered their districts.

Michigan House Republicans released their proposed map for Michigan's Congressional districts this afternoon. Because the state lost population, Michigan had to lose one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Republicans are in control of the redistricting process and they chose to eliminate a district by moving Rep. Sander Levin into the district now held by Rep. Gary Peters.

Levin and Peters released a joint statement regarding the proposed map and are holding a press conference at 3 p.m.

Here's their statement:

“Voters in Michigan have never before faced such a shamelessly partisan redrawing of congressional boundaries. Instead of drawing fair lines that follow community and county borders in a logical way, the Republican legislature has drafted a map so skewed that it exploits every trick in the book to gerrymander districts in ways that benefit Republican incumbents. The Legislature and Gov. Snyder should reject this gerrymandered map and draw congressional boundaries in a way that puts Michigan voters’ interests squarely ahead of flagrant partisan advantage."

Update 1:52 p.m.

Republicans in the Michigan Legislature have released their proposed maps for new Michigan House and Senate districts, and new districts for the U.S. House of Representatives.

You can scroll through before and after maps in the images above.

The Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta points out that approval of these maps is like approval of a bill. Both the Michigan House and Senate will have to approve them, and then Gov. Snyder will have to sign off on them.

The maps also have to adhere to state and federal laws and preserve two of Michigan's majority-minority districts for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Because of the loss in population in Michigan, the state will lose one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives - going from 15 representatives to 14.

As expected, the proposed districts would move U.S. Rep. Sander Levin (D-Royal Oak), into the district now held by U.S. Rep. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Township) meaning if they both wanted to keep their seat in the U.S. House, the would have to run against each other in the Democratic primary.

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medical marijuana
3:55 pm
Fri June 17, 2011

Medical marijuana clubs to challenge ruling in favor of DEA

Chuck Caveman Coker Creative Commons

The Michigan Association of Compassion Clubs will fight a federal court ruling they say sets a bad precedent for medical marijuana patients.

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