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2:07 pm
Fri March 18, 2011

Judge blocks controversial Wisconsin union bargaining law

Joe Gratz Flickr

A judge has temporarily blocked Wisconsin's controversial new law affecting collective bargaining rights in the state. Here the update from the New York Times:

A judge issued a temporary restraining order on Friday that prevents Wisconsin’s new law cutting collective bargaining rights for public workers from taking effect, at least for now.

The decision, issued by Judge Maryann Sumi of the Dane County Circuit Court, temporarily bars Wisconsin’s secretary of state from publishing the controversial law, one of the procedural requirements for it to come into effect in the state.

Publication had been expected late next week, but Judge Sumi’s ruling delays that until at least March 29, when she plans to hold a full hearing on a lawsuit that questions the validity of the collective bargaining law based on the speedy manner in which it was carried out earlier this month.

An appeal is possible even before then.

Opponents of the measure said they hoped the decision was but the first of many that would ultimately undo legislation that has split the state and drawn tens of thousands of demonstrators to the state capital over a matter of many weeks.

Supporters of the measure, however, said the judge’s decision was merely a blip, certain to be overturned as various legal efforts make their way fully through the court system.

Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker has said that the law will shield taxpayers and improve Wisconsin's business climate.

-Brian Short, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Offbeat
1:37 pm
Fri March 18, 2011

In case you missed it...

User cccpstorm Flickr

On Wednesday, Fresh Air interviewed Dr. Gregg Bloche about the dangers that rising health care costs pose to patients and to doctor's adherence to the Hippocratic Oath.

From NPR's website:

In most medical schools, students recite the Hippocratic Oath together to mark the start of their professional careers. The soon-to-be physicians swear to uphold the ethical standards of the medical profession and promise to stand for their patients without compromise.

Though the oath has been rewritten over the centuries, the essence of it has remained the same: "In each house I go, I go only for the good of my patients."

But the principles of the oath, says Dr. Gregg Bloche, are under an "unprecedented threat." In The Hippocratic Myth, Bloche details how doctors are under constant pressure to compromise or ration their care in order to please lawmakers, lawyers and insurance companies.

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Sports
11:06 am
Fri March 18, 2011

NCAA basketball teams called out by education chief

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan wants better academic performance from NCAA basketball teams.
House Committee on Education and the Workforce Democrats

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says NCAA basketball teams that are not on track to graduate at least half of their players should not be allowed to compete in the NCAA Tournament.

Duncan used to play basketball himself. He says his personal experience is what is driving his call for the measures.

Duncan wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post:

As a kid on the South Side of Chicago who loved basketball, I got to see the best and the worst of college sports. I spent time on the court with inner-city players who had been used and dumped by their universities. When the ball stopped bouncing, they struggled to find work and had difficult lives. Some died early. The dividing line for success was between those who went to college and got their degrees, and those who did not. If a team fails to graduate even half of its players, how serious are the institution and coach about preparing their student-athletes for life?

Duncan wrote that 10 men's teams in the NCAA basketball tournament are not on track to graduate more than half their players.

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Sports Commentary
9:33 am
Fri March 18, 2011

Fennville's Wes Leonard "Never Forgotten"

user blakjakdavy Flickr

On Monday I drove a couple hours to see a high school basketball game in Vicksburg, Michigan – about 20 minutes south of Kalamazoo.  The Class C regional semi-final pitted Schoolcraft against Fennville.  Both schools were undefeated – but that wasn’t why I was going.

Two weeks ago Fennville lost its star center, Wes Leonard, just minutes after the last regular season contest. Leonard had made the game winning shot, and the Fennville fans rushed the court and hoisted their hero onto their shoulders.

Then, just seconds later, the truly unthinkable happened: Wes Leonard’s enlarged heart gave out, and he collapsed, right on the court.  Before midnight, the town pastor emerged from the hospital to tell the crowd Wes Leonard had died.

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Politics
9:17 am
Fri March 18, 2011

Report: How Snyder's tax plan would affect you

Your state taxes are likely to change.
Allan Cleaver Flickr

Ever since Governor Rick Snyder released his budget plan last month, people have been looking at the details and wondering how they might be affected by the plans.

For people with pensions and the working poor, it's been clear, you would pay more if Snyder's plan is approved. But how much more?

The Detroit Free Press, in a series of reports, is seeking to break down the numbers. In their first report What Snyder's income tax plan means for you they summarize their findings this way:

Parents with low-paying jobs would stop getting state income supplements worth as much as $1,000.

High-income retirees with generous pensions would pay thousands of dollars more.

But taxpayers in brackets that cover most Michiganders would see little change in their state income tax bill under Gov. Rick Snyder's sweeping proposals.

The Freep provides some detailed examples of how the tax proposals might affect certain people.

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News Roundup
8:22 am
Fri March 18, 2011

In this morning's news...

user brother o'mara Flickr

President Obama orders review of U.S. Nuclear Power Plants

In light of the unfolding crisis at the crippled nuclear reactors in Japan, U.S. officials say they will review the safety of the 104 nuclear reactors in the U.S.  There are four nuclear reactors operating in Michigan (Fermi 2, Palisades, and D.C. Cook Unit 1 and Unit 2).

From the Associated Press:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will conduct a "comprehensive review" of the safety of all U.S. nuclear plants following what U.S. officials are calling the dangerous and complicated situation at Japan's damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors.

President Barack Obama took the rare step and called upon the independent commission to conduct the review.

"When we see a crisis like the one in Japan, we have a responsibility to learn from this event and to draw from those lessons to ensure the safety and security of our people," Obama said Thursday.

The nuclear industry agreed a review is a good idea. Anthony Pietrangelo of the Nuclear Energy Institute said they will look at the events that unfolded in Japan and "we will learn from them, we will get that operating experience, we will apply it and try to make our units even safer than they are today."

GM Halts Production at truck plant after parts shortage from Japan

Tremors are being felt in the auto industry after the Japanese earthquake.

From the Associated Press:

A shortage of parts from Japan will force General Motors Co. to halt production at its pickup plant in Shreveport, La., next week, the company said Thursday.

It's the first time a U.S.-based automaker will stop production in North America over parts shortages caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Toyota Motor Co. and Subaru have already slowed North American production to conserve parts that they normally import from that nation.

Reuters reported earlier this week that some automakers in Europe might be affected as well.

Tough night for MSU at NCAA Tourney

The Michigan State men's basketball team lost last night to UCLA in the NCAA Tournament 78-76.

The Spartans pulled close at the end of the game after trailing by as many as 23 points in the second half.

The Lansing State Journal:

"We got off to such a bad start," a red-eyed Izzo said afterward. "And yet I'm so proud of these guys. They've been knocked down so many times this year."

Down two with the ball, MSU senior guard Kalin Lucas was called for traveling with 0.2 of a second left on the clock, erasing a late chance at a halfcourt shot to win it.

After struggling through his worst offensive night in several weeks, Lucas got MSU within three points with a free throw and 42.2 seconds left. Lucas missed the second free throw that would have cut it to two.

The men's basketball teams at the University of Michigan and Oakland University play today.

Crime
7:45 am
Fri March 18, 2011

Romulus Police Chief goes on leave after raids

The Detroit Free Press reports that Romulus Police Chief Michael St. Andre has taken administrative leave after State Police conducted searches at the Romulus police headquarters, his wife's tanning salon and other buildings associated with the police department.

The State Police searched the buildings for an investigation coordinated with the Wayne County prosecutor and the FBI.

Romulus Mayor Alan Lambert's statement is quoted in the Free Press article:

"Chief St. Andre's decision to go on administrative leave is motivated solely by his desire to ensure that the Police Department and the city can continue functioning without interference. His decision puts his long career in law enforcement in the backseat so the citizens of Romulus can get a full and fair investigation."

The Freep reports the investigation into the police department's special investigative unit was started after complaints from a Romulus officer more than a year ago.

No charges have been filed.

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Politics
6:59 am
Fri March 18, 2011

Michigan Republican casts only "present" vote to defund NPR

Rep. Justin Amash from Michigan's 3rd Congressional District.
US Congress

The bill to "defund NPR" passed the House mostly along party lines. Most republicans voted "aye" and all Democrats voted "nay" (seven Democrats are listed as "not voting" on the bill).

Seven Republicans voted "nay" and one voted "present."

Michigan Republican Justin Amash was the lone member who voted "present" on the bill.

He explains why on his Facebook page:

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Politics
5:16 pm
Thu March 17, 2011

Union workers boo governor at Ford event

Ford asembly line workers Jerome Harris Sr., left, and Bille Rowe were among those who wore red T-shirts in solidarity with other Midwest union members.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder was greeted with boos at an event to celebrate the launch of the new Ford Focus today.

Workers at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant wore red T-shirts to show their solidarity with union workers whose collective bargaining rights are threatened.

Snyder says he wasn’t rattled by the reception.

"I respect people for having differing opinions, particularly when you’re talking about fundamental change."

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Auto/Economy
4:47 pm
Thu March 17, 2011

Grand Rapids Chamber backs proposed bridge between Detroit and Canada

A downstream view of the Ambassador Bridge and downtown Detroit from the proposed location of the new bridge crossing.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Add the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce to the growing list of people, organizations hoping to see the rebranded New International Trade Crossing become a reality.

Andrew Johnson is the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce’s Vice President of Government Affairs.

“We care about the bridge because 1 in 7 jobs in the Grand Rapids area is tied to exports. And the stronger trade we have between Michigan and Canada, the better it is for our West Michigan businesses.”

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Politics
4:26 pm
Thu March 17, 2011

Snyder hopes Emergency Manager law will help struggling cities and schools avoid takeovers

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R)
(courtesy of the Michigan governor's office)

Governor Rick Snyder says he expects teams of financial experts will soon start visiting cities and school districts showing early signs of financial stress. That’s part of the new state’s new fiscal emergency law he just signed.

Critics say the law gives too much authority to emergency managers appointed to run local governments that can no longer pay their bills. But the governor says too little attention has been paid to the early assistance the state is offering to local governments. 

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Politics
4:17 pm
Thu March 17, 2011

Michigan legislature debating extending jobless benefits

(Flickr Steve Rhodes)

The unemployment benefits of 35 thousand jobless Michiganders are about to expire.  There is some debate whether the state should act to extend their benefits by another 20 weeks.    The debate is between those who say the benefits are critical to jobless workers and business groups that say they don’t want to be forced to pay for those benefits.  The clock is ticking.  

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Politics
3:36 pm
Thu March 17, 2011

Democrats want to put collective bargaining right in state constitution

St. Sen. Bert Johnson, Detroit (D)
(courtesy of the Michigan State Senate, Democratic Caucus)

Democrats in the state Legislature want to voters to decide whether collective bargaining rights should be protected in the Michigan Constitution. But they will need a two-thirds majority in a Republican-led House and Senate to get the question on the ballot.   

State Senator Bert Johnson says without a constitutional amendment, collective bargaining rights are subject to change. 

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Arts/Culture
3:28 pm
Thu March 17, 2011

Arts leaders have 'faith' in Gov Snyder's commitment to the arts

Current state funding for the arts is $2.5 million. In 2001 it was $26 million.
Dani Davis

Arts advocates were in Lansing this week, but not to protest Governor Rick Snyder’s budget proposal. They were there to talk about how the arts can help re-invent Michigan.

Ken Fisher is president of the University Musical Society. He says he has faith in Governor Snyder's commitment to the arts:

"He supported music and culture in Ann Arbor, he’s got kids that play the trumpet, and I just hope he’ll see the opportunity that the arts have to really be a partner to his plan."

Snyder’s budget proposal calls for no cuts to current state arts funding.

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Commentary
2:05 pm
Thu March 17, 2011

Carping Criticism

Remember the Asian carp, which migrated up the Mississippi, into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and which experts feared were about to get into Lake Michigan?

That’s where things stood when I first talked about this issue here more than fifteen months ago. Since then, traces of carp DNA has been found in Lake Michigan, though there is no evidence that a permanent breeding population has been established there.

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Auto/Economy
1:13 pm
Thu March 17, 2011

Spartan Motors to build delivery vehicle; 450 new jobs expected

Spartan Motors in Charlotte, MI, will expand to build delivery vehicles.
money.cnn.com

A mid-Michigan company is expanding and expects to hire hundreds of people in the next few years.

Spartan Motors in Charlotte builds chassis for fire trucks and ambulance, recreational vehicles, armored vehicles and drilling rigs.

Now it’s going into the delivery vehicle market in a partnership with Isuzu.

The van will be called “The Reach" and it’ll be used by companies like UPS and Federal Express.

Russell Chick is with Spartan Motors. He says production should begin in 2012, adding about 450 jobs.

Politics
12:48 pm
Thu March 17, 2011

Important census data coming to Michigan next week

A U.S. Census Bureau form sent to a Michigan address last year
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The state of Michigan will receive detailed population data from the U.S. Census Bureau next week.  The information will have far reaching effects.  In December, Michigan learned its population slipped by about 54 thousand , to just under 9.9 million people.  Now the details. 

The new census data breaks down Michigan’s population into a number of subsets, including race and ethnicity.  

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Sports
12:04 pm
Thu March 17, 2011

MSU fans wearing Spartan green & white this St. Patrick's Day

The Michigan State Spartans tip off their 2011 NCAA Men’s basketball tourney tonight in Tampa against the UCLA Bruins.    The tenth seeded Spartans stumbled into the tourney compiling a 19 win-14 loss season.   The seventh seeded Bruins posted a slightly better 22 and 10 record. 

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Auto
10:53 am
Thu March 17, 2011

Honda to recall Civics from 2011

2011 Honda Civic
Honda

The Detroit News reports that Honda will recall  2011 model year Civics for possible problems in rollover accidents. From the News:

Honda said the recall...is to inspect and replace a part that could fail to prevent fuel from leaking out of the fuel tank and into the evaporative emissions canister in a rollover.

The fuel pump module is equipped with a rollover valve but because of improper welding of the plastic case, it may break or crack, Honda said.

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Offbeat
10:17 am
Thu March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day parody from "Not-so-pure Michigan" (video)

Filmaker John Kerfoot plays off the Pure Michigan brand with his "Not So Pure Michigan" video parodies.

His latest video parody...  St. Patrick's Day in Detroit:

The Detroit News reports that crowds are gathering at the pubs in Detroit:

For a day at least, it appears everybody at a Metro Detroit pub is Irish.

More than 150 people were at the Old Shillelagh bar in Detroit this morning, eating breakfast and drinking beer to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

"I'm not Irish, but I celebrate every year if I can," said Katie Rohroff, 22, of Southgate. "We'll be here most of the day, and then I'll have to take a nap."

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