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9:32 am
Tue June 7, 2011

In the face of safety concerns, more cuts to police in Royal Oak

Local governments are coming to terms with the effects of the Great Recession as shrinking revenues are leading to police and fire layoffs in many parts of the state.

The Royal Oak Police Department is making cuts to its department. Going from 70 to 65 sworn officers.

This despite the concern over safety in Royal Oak.

From the Daily Tribune:

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News Roundup
7:50 am
Tue June 7, 2011

In this morning's news...

user brother o'mara Flickr

Emergency Manager tosses union contract

Michael Stampfler, the emergency manager of Pontiac, has flexed new muscles given to him by state legislators and Governor Snyder. Under the state's new emergency manager law, emergency managers can eliminate union contracts and strip local officials of their power.

From the Associated Press:

Pontiac has gotten approval to cancel union contract protections for 11 police dispatchers as it shuts down its police department.

The Detroit Free Press reports Monday's action will make them the first Michigan public employees to have a contract tossed under the law signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in March granting expanded powers to state-appointed emergency financial managers.

It's the final move toward eliminating the Pontiac Police Department, which was proposed last year by emergency financial manager Michael Stampfler. Services will be handled by the Oakland County sheriff's department to save the cash-strapped city $2 million annually.

Detroit Mayor Bing prepares for layoffs after override of his budget veto

The Detroit City Council voted to override Mayor Bing's veto of the council's budget. Bing thought the council's cuts went too far. The mayor says steep cuts are coming to the city of Detroit.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing sharply criticized the City Council's override of his budget veto Monday, saying the $50 million in cuts the council restored will close recreation centers, eliminate hundreds of police officers and firefighters and end bus service on Sundays.

"We will have to eliminate a lot of services," said a visibly frustrated Bing, who already cut the budget by $200 million. "People have been complaining for years and years about inadequate services. Another $50 million in cuts is just irresponsible."

A memorial service for Jack Kevorkian

Assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian died last Friday. Now friends and supporters will hold a public memorial service this Friday in Troy.

From the Associated Press:

The ceremony is being held at 9:30 a.m. at White Chapel Memorial Cemetery in Troy, said attorney Mayer Morganroth.

"We weren't going to do anything, but we started getting calls from all across the country and from foreign countries, too," Morganroth told the Detroit Free Press in a story posted Monday on the newspaper's website. "There is just so much interest from people who wanted to do something to remember Jack."

Education
12:26 am
Tue June 7, 2011

Grand Rapids school board will likely compromise on a policy regulating public comment

When the board disussed the policy in January, some members suggested they needed to screen members of the public. Maureen Slade (middle) gestured at security guards at the meeting, 'I don't think we have anything to fear from our public.'
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids Public School Board has a unique policy. People who want to talk about something that’s not already on the agenda must sign up 5 days ahead of time, and explain to officials what they want to discuss.

Opponents of the policy say it intimidates people from expressing their concerns.

A special committee recommended the board get rid of the advance sign up requirement. But the comments will not be televised.

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Education
12:05 am
Tue June 7, 2011

Grand Rapids Schools approves budget to address projected $22 million dollar deficit

This fall Grand Rapids Public Schools will be able to avoid cuts to transportation, art and music. But Michigan’s third largest school district will eliminate close to 140 positions as part of a plan to deal with a projected $22 million dollar budget shortfall.

The vote for the budget was unanimous, in sharp contrast to last year. That was a huge relief for Superintendent Bernard Taylor, for a moment anyway.

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Politics
5:44 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Detroit Council overrides Mayoral budget veto; Bing threatens layoffs

The Detroit City Council has voted to override Mayor Dave Bing’s budget.

The City Council added $50 million in additional cuts to Bing’s budget. By overriding his veto, they put those cuts into effect.

Bing blasted the Council afterward, saying the cuts will lead to public safety layoffs. He also says their action could move the city toward a takeover by an Emergency Manager.

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Science/Medicine
5:32 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Michigan sues drug wholesaler over Medicaid bills

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is accusing a prescription drug wholesaler of illegally inflating prices of medicine purchased by the state's Medicaid program.

Schuette says he's filed a lawsuit seeking to recover millions of dollars from McKesson Corp. The attorney general says Michigan spent about $2 billion on brand-name pharmaceuticals from McKesson from 2001 to 2009.

The lawsuit filed in Ingham County court also names other defendants, including the company that publishes drug pricing data. An email seeking comment was left Monday with San Francisco-based McKesson.

Schuette is promising to "bring the hammer down" on anyone who tries to cheat Michigan. The lawsuit isn't unique. Schuette spokeswoman Joy Yearout says other states have sued and settled.

Arts/Culture
4:55 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Books: His Michigander unhappiness

My American Unhappiness, the second novel from Dean Bakapoulos, the author of Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon, is about an unhappy (surprise!) man working in the humanities in Wisconsin who makes a series of terrible decisions for the ostensible purpose of getting married and keeping his family together.

While the main action of the novel takes place in Madison, WI, the protagonist, Zeke Pappas, has a number of connections to Michigan. His time at the University of Michigan features many references to university and Ann Arbor town life including [mild spoiler alert!] Alice Lloyd Hall, the Fleetwood Diner, and beloved professor Ralph Williams’s popular Shakespeare class. 

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Politics
4:29 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Bridge issue to begin, Republicans still unsure

J. Stephen Conn Flickr

The state Senate will get its first look this week at legislation proposing a new bridge between Detroit and Canada.

Republicans have rejected the idea of a new bridge for years. Many of them received campaign contributions from the owner of the Ambassador Bridge – the only current span between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

But Republican lawmakers say they are against a new bridge because there has never been clear information about how the bridge would be paid for.

Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger agrees.

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Mackinac 2011
4:01 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

The Cost of Education: A panel discussion at the Mackinac Policy Conference

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio's Lester Graham moderated a panel discussion looking into the current state of education in Michigan (K-12 and higher education) at the Mackinac Policy Conference last week.

He spoke with Peter Spadafore, the Assistant Director of Government Relations for the Michigan Association of School Boards, and Michael Van Beek, the Director of Education Policy for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

They explored how education funding can be improved in the state; and the potential impacts of Governor Rick Snyder's reforms on school districts, teachers and students in the state.

You can watch the discussion below.

Education Panel: Cutting the Costs of Educating Kids

Politics
3:55 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Supreme Court says stories can be used as evidence

User sabine01 Flickr

A work of fiction written by a person charged with a crime can be used against the defendant in court according to a new decision from the Michigan Supreme Court.

The question before the state’s highest court was whether a story a defendant had written depicting graphic scenes of incest between siblings and their father could be used against him as evidence of his intent.

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Environment
3:22 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

EPA giving money to help Michigan communities clean up brownfield sites

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announcing brownfield cleanup grants during a news conference in Lansing, Michigan. To the right of the speaker, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero looks on.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Seven Michigan communities are getting help from the federal government to clean up contaminated industrial sites.   Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson says her agency is awarding brownfield cleanup grants to Lansing, Albion, Inkster, Northville and three other Michigan communities.   

The grants total $2.9 million.  

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Politics
3:14 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Contract talks continue in Lansing

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero talks to reporters along the Grand River
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Time is running out for the city of Lansing to win new contract concessions from its labor unions.  Meanwhile, another round of layoff notices will soon go to some city employees.  

Lansing’s mayor’s office continues to negotiate with union leaders seeking 3 million dollars in concessions before the city’s new budget takes effect July 1st.   Mayor Virg Bernero says the city and the unions are talking in good faith to avoid possible layoffs.  

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Mackinac 2011
2:58 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Reinvention vs. Redevelopment: A panel discussion at the Mackinac Policy Conference

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island is the site of the annual Mackinac Policy Conference.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio's Lester Graham moderated a panel discussion looking into the current state of brownfield redevelopment in Michigan at the Mackinac Policy Conference last week.

He spoke with Michael Finney, the President and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and James Clift, the Policy Director for the Michigan Environmental Council.

They talked about Governor Snyder's plan to replace the current system of brownfield tax credits with up-front grant money for redevelopment.

You can watch the discussion below.

Environmental Panel: Reinvention vs. Redevelopment

Arts/Culture
2:49 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Making a music video to support Flint

A music video in support of the city of Flint.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids pulled off a $40,000 LipDub video to show that Grand Rapids is not a dying city.

Now there's news of a music video to support the struggling city of Flint that has been several months in the making.

On Saturday, the Flint Journal reports that more than 50 community members were being filmed and chanting "We gone make it, the fight ain't yours alone!" in the downtown area.

The Flint Journal reports:

It was all a part of a scene being filmed as part of the Flint collaboration 25-plus musicians who’ve recently felt led to make an uplifting anthem for the city.

Two months in the making, this scene was among the final, yet most powerful, pieces to add to the original Flint-inspired song and music video.

“It was such a beautiful sight to see,” said Yusuf Bauswell, 38, of Flint.

Bauswell, along with Bernard Jackson -- another Flint musician -- spearheaded the project and sent out a calling for people wanting to support their cause.

The Journal reports that Yusuf Bauswell and Bernard Jackson started writing the song together several months ago. They invited other recording artists to help them out and together they created the song and are now working on making the accompanying music video.

June 20 is the scheduled release date for the video.

Here's a clip of the song along with the call for people to help with the music video:

Politics
2:40 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Detroit City Council votes to override mayoral veto

User sagitariuss Flickr

The Detroit City Council voted today to override Mayor Dave Bing's budget and restore $50 million in cuts.

From The Detroit News:

The Detroit City Council voted this afternoon to override Mayor Dave Bing's budget for the second straight year.

The mayor, who worked in closed-door meetings during last week's Mackinac Policy Conference to reach a last-minute deal, was unable to deliver one. The council voted 8-1 to override Bing's veto, with only Councilman James Tate in opposition.

The council's spending plan included $50 million more in cuts to the proposal Bing delivered in April.

Mayor Bing has scheduled a news conference for 3:30 p.m. today to address the council's vote.

-Brian Short, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Science/Medicine
1:51 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

1 of 4 American E. coli victims recuperating in Michigan

German officials have said that the E. coli outbreak in that country may have originated with contaminated bean sprouts
Tim Ellis Flickr

The recent E. coli outbreak, based largely in Germany but affecting a total of twelve countries, is responsible for at least 22 deaths with thousands more reported ill.

At least one of the victims of the recent E. coli outbreak is in Michigan.

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What's Working
12:31 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Hospital grows fresh produce for its patients

Eat more locally-grown, fresh fruits and vegetables
jamesjyu via flicker


There’s a big push these days to eat more locally-grown, fresh fruits and vegetables.  St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor has started a farm on its property to supply fresh produce to hospital patients, employees, and the community.  Bridget Bodnar reported on this story for Michigan Radio and she spoke with Morning Edition host Christina Shockley about it.

Auto/Economy
12:29 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Leaks and outages bump up Michigan gas prices

ExxonMobil in Joliet, Il. is one of three refineries in the Great Lakes region that had unexpected problems in the last two weeks.
User: yooperann Flickr

Gas prices in Michigan are up 17 cents per gallon even though oil prices fell below $100 a barrel Monday.

Patrick DeHaan is with gasbuddy.com. He says gas prices in the Great Lakes region are between 30 and 60 cents higher than the national average.

“A rash of refinery and pipeline problems is leading prices higher as already tight gasoline supply becomes even tighter with these refinery and pipeline outages that we’ve seen in the last two weeks.”

Three refineries in Illinois and two crude suppliers to the Great Lakes region had unexpected problems, including power outages and leaks.

DeHaan expects Michigan gas prices will go back down in the next couple of weeks.

Emily Fox- Michigan Radio Newsroom

Environment
10:57 am
Mon June 6, 2011

Police develop partnership to deal with meth waste

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - Kalamazoo authorities have developed a partnership to deal with the hazardous waste left behind by illegal methamphetamine production.

The Department of Public Safety says in a statement Monday that it worked with state officials and the city's Public Services Department to develop a methamphetamine remediation program that's modeled after one developed by Kentucky State Police.

Authorities collect the waste and it's transferred to a central location where the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration takes over disposal responsibility.

Kalamazoo says it's the first such Occupational Safety and Health Administration-compliant program in the state.

Commentary
10:47 am
Mon June 6, 2011

Kevorkian Remembered

When Jack Kevorkian died Friday, I was on vacation in the Scottish highlands. For once in my life I was without a cell phone, but someone I was with got the news. I mentioned Kevorkian's death to an Israeli woman on our tour.

"I thought he died years ago," she said. She was not alone.

I've run into plenty of people who didn't know he was still around. And in a sense, Kevorkian the assisted suicide crusader had ceased to exist.

Since being released from prison four years ago, he had mostly faded into obscurity. He largely lived the life of a cranky recluse. He divided his days between the Royal Oak Public Library and a cheap apartment across the street. There was a time when I felt that I knew him better than any other journalist. I covered all his trials for the New York Times, did major pieces for Vanity Fair and Esquire, and saw him frequently for six years in the 1990's.

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