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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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Economy
10:11 am
Mon June 6, 2011

Dow Chemical to form carbon fiber joint venture

NEW YORK (AP) - Dow Chemical Co. says its European subsidiary has agreed to form a joint venture with Turkey's Aksa Akrilik Kimya Sanayii to make carbon fibers.

Strong and lightweight, carbon-fiber based materials are in demand for use in alternative energy projects like wind power.

They're also used in vehicle and infrastructure products. Dow is based in Midland, Mich.

News Roundup
9:23 am
Mon June 6, 2011

In this morning's news...

user brother o'mara Flickr

Changing the state's motorcycle helmet law

Michigan is one of twenty state requiring motorcyclists to where a helmet, but that might change. The Saginaw News reports on two pieces of legislation aimed at allowing riders to go without a helmet:

Two bills repealing the state’s helmet law have been introduced in the state Legislature.

House Bill 4608, sponsored originally by Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle, and co-sponsored by Rep. Kenneth Horn, R-Frankenmuth, would allow riders 21 or older to go without helmets if they carry at least $20,000 in personal liability insurance.

Senate Bill 291, sponsored by Sen. Phillip Pavlov, R-St. Clair, would not require helmets on riders 20 or older if they have passed a safety course or carried a motorcycle endorsement the previous two years.

The Saginaw News reports Governor Granholm vetoed two bills similar to these, and Governor Rick Snyder hasn't taken a stance on them.

Gas prices up again

AAA Michigan says the cheapest gas in Michigan can be found in Lansing, and the most expensive can be found in Ann Arbor. From the Associated Press:

AAA Michigan says gasoline prices are up 17 cents per gallon over the past week to a statewide average of $4.12.

The auto club says Monday the statewide average is about $1.37 per gallon higher than last year at this time.

Of the cities it surveys, AAA Michigan says the cheapest price for self-serve unleaded fuel is in the Lansing area, where it's $4.07 a gallon. The highest average can be found in the Ann Arbor area at $4.15.

Dearborn-based AAA Michigan surveys 2,800 Michigan gas stations daily.

Flags lowered today

Governor Rick Snyder has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff today for Staff Sgt. Ergin V. Osman - a member of the Army's 101st Airborne Ranger Pathfinders. Osman was killed by an improvised explosive device on May 26.  From the Associated Press:

Gov. Rick Snyder has ordered U.S. flags throughout Michigan to be lowered to half-staff in honor of a military serviceman who died in Afghanistan.

The order was in effect for today.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ergin V. Osman, who grew up in Macomb County's Harrison Township and Sterling Heights, was killed along with five other soldiers by an improvised explosive device on May 26. He was a member of the Army's 101st Airborne Ranger Pathfinders based at Ft. Campbell, Ky.

Osman was 35.

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