News roundup: August 30th

Aug 30, 2010

A 'Conventional' Weekend

Ronald and Nancy Reagan at the 1988 Republican convention in New Orleans
White House / Ronald Reagan Library

Both the republican and democratic nominating conventions will be held this weekend. So what actually happens at these things? Aren't they just overhyped pageants so the parties can put their candidates on display?

While that might be the case for the national conventions, the Michigan conventions are different. Balloons and confetti are absent.  Horsetrading and backroom deals  rule the day.

The Gongwer News Service and Detroit News are reporting that Democratic nominee for Governor Virg Bernero has chosen Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence as a running mate.

Air Force airplane spraying dispersant chemicals on Gulf oil spill
Technical Sergeant Adrian Cadiz / U.S. Air Force

There's been a lot of talk recently about how quickly microbes in the Gulf have been gobbling up the spill oil.  Scientific American has a report on what researchers know about the microbes in the Gulf. Reporter David Biello reports "the microbes of the deep Gulf of Mexico were ready to handle an oil spill."

A campaign official says Democratic candidate for Governor Virg Bernero will name his running mate Saturday morning.

It's still unknown just who it will be.

Bernero will name his nominee for Lt. Gov at 9:30AM in Detroit.

The announcment will come as Democrats attend thier state nominating convention at Cobo Hall in Detroit.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder announced his choice of state Representative Brian Calley as his running mate on Wednesday.

Carp caught in Lake Calumet

The Associated Press reports that The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation is giving $500,000 to the Great Lakes Commission to help it find ways to stop the invasive Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.

The fish started make their way up the Mississippi River system more than ten years ago after they escaped from fish farm ponds in the south. They were imported to control parasites in the ponds. 

A new poll shows Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder leading Democrat Virg Bernero.

The EPIC-MRA poll, released yesterday, showed 51% of voters favored Snyder, 29% backed Bernero.  Interestingly enough, with 10 weeks to go before the November 2nd election, 1 in 5 voters say they are still undecided.

Snyder spent $2.3 million on TV ads before the Aug. 3 primary. He's now better known and more favorably regarded by voters than the Lansing mayor.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero is way behind according to a poll by EPIC-MRA. Of the 600 people polled, 51% said they'd back Republican Rick Snyder, and just 29% said they'd support Bernero. 20% of the respondents were undecided, so if Bernero can convince the undecided voters, he could make up the gap.

Helium weather balloon being launched in a field
Wolke Benutzer

I've never thought about this before, but where exactly does helium come from?  Turns out, the gas comes from rocks decaying underground. It can't be manufactured and it's not renewable. Scientists are warning that our helium reserves are being quickly depleted. The Independent reports that the we could run out of helium in 25 to 30 years...

Stabbing suspect awaits trial in county jail

Elias Abuelazam, the man suspected in more than a dozen stabbings in Flint, made his first court appearance yesterday. A motive for the crimes is still unknown. Genesee County prosecutor David Leyton says he will seek a life sentence for Abuelazam.

Granholm names new Michigan Supreme Court justice

Booking photo of stabbing suspect Elias Abuelazam
Arlington, Virginia Police Department

(by Steve Carmody, Michigan Radio)

A judge has ordered the man suspected in a series of stabbings in the Flint area to be held without bond.  

Elias Abuelazam, an Israeli citizen, was arraigned today and spoke briefly during the court hearing.

Abuelazam is suspected in at least 18 attacks in three states in Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia. Five victims died in Flint.

Genesee County prosecutor David Leyton says he will seek the harshest penalty possible against Abuelazam.

Freighter on the Detroit River with GM headquarters in background
James Marvin Phelps

(by Rina Miller, Michigan Radio)

Native Americans and Native Canadians will demonstrate their treaty right to cross the Canadian and U.S. borders. A flotilla of canoes will cross the busy shipping channel from Belle Isle to Windsor this Friday. The event will highlight a 200-year-old free-travel treaty.

Helen Wolf, with the American Indian Movement of Michigan, says the Jay Treaty of 1796 is the only treaty with natives that's never been broken, "it allows Native Americans to freely pass and repass without any undue hindrance, duties, tolls, fees or customs questions."

(Kathy Barks Hoffman - AP)

Governor Granholm named Appeals Court Judge Alton Thomas Davis to the Michigan Supreme Court. The move comes the same day that Justice Elizabeth Weaver resigned.

Michigan House Republicans

Rick Snyder speaks like a corporate CEO talking up some newly discovered talent when he talks about Brian Calley. Snyder says Calley is young, but he's fine with it, "I think 33's a great age. He's had good private business experience. He's been a successful community banker, so great private sector experience and good legislative experience, and the other part of this is you shouldn't look at just age. This is how we build for the future is we get great young people involved in the process, and so we need more and more great young people like Brian."

Calley worked as a commercial banker in mid-Michigan before he was elected to the state House in 2006. He built a reputation as an expert on tax policy, and as someone who could easily work with Republicans and Democrats.

EPA workers sample the air near the Enbridge oil spill in Michigan
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

(by Steve Carmody, Michigan Radio)

It's been a month since a pipeline leak spewed about a million gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River. Clean-up crews have spent the past four weeks collecting oil from the river and removing contaminated soil.

You can see photos of the oil spill on the EPA's Enbridge oil spill response website.

A home being built in Norfolk, VA
Ryan Steinhour / U.S. Navy

(by Rina Miller, Michigan Radio)

Michigan actually fared better in new home sales than other parts of the nation.  Some economists say improvements in the auto industry are helping stabilize Michigan's economy.

Michigan Supreme Court  Justice Elizabeth "Betty" Weaver is resigning. Weaver is a Republican, but she was expected to run for re-election this November as an independent. Justice Weaver openly feuded with some of her Republican colleagues on the court.

Governor Granholm will appoint her replacement, a move that is expected to put the Republican majority on the court in jeopardy.

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth "Betty" Weaver is resigning. Weaver is a Republican, but she was expected to run for re-election this November as an independent. Justice Weaver openly feuded with some of her Republic colleagues on the court.


News Roundup: August 26th

Aug 26, 2010
House Bill 4183 wants to move public notices from the pages of your newspaper to the pages of your web browser
Zoe Clark / Michigan Radio

Michigan's New Home Sales Better Than Nation's

Lester Graham

The way we pay for schools changed a lot back in 1994 when voters passed Proposal A. Before Proposal A, much of the support for the schools came from local property taxes. But voters passed increase after increase and in some districts property taxes got so high that people, especially senior citizens, couldn't afford to live in their homes. Michigan had some of the highest property taxes in the nation.

Lester Graham

School districts across the state have been cutting staff and freezing teacher pay to get through budget cuts made by the state.

Iris Salters is President of the Michigan Education Association, a labor union. She says teachers and other school officials are dealing with the cuts, but it's getting to the point where it's affecting the education your kids are getting.

Lester Graham

Michigan legislators hear from educators all the time about money for schools. But legislators, for the most part, are not hearing from parents and other taxpayers.

Tom White is with the SOS (Save Our Students Schools and State), a coaltion of education managers, the P-T-A and others. He says until the public really pressures lawmakers with protests, phone calls and petitions (what the legislators refer to as blood in the streets'), not much is going to be done about more money for schools.

Lester Graham

Getting your budget cut is no fun, and that's exactly what's happened to schools in Michigan. Generally speaking, educators know why that's happened. Michigan's economy tanked and that's affected the tax dollars coming in for schools.

Steve Carmody

You can hardly find a bar in Michigan that doesn't feature video screens offering you a chance to get rich and help Michigan schools. The lottery has done such a good marketing job of telling players they're helping Michigan schools that people have an inflated idea of how much the lottery money helps.

David Martell is the Executive Director of Michigan School Business Officials. He says it's true the Lottery does help.

Lester Graham

Michigan's schools are required by law to have a budget by June 30th. The legislature doesn't have to complete its budget until September 30th. So for the schools, it's hard to figure out a budget when you don't know how much money you're going to get from the state.

"I mean, that's crazy," said Tom White, Chair of a group called SOS (Save Our Students Schools and State), "We don't know until it's so late in our budgeting year, because every year the legislature appropriates funds, but they don't get around to it in a timely fashion.

Teens rock out at the Jackson Symphony Orchestra

Aug 5, 2010
Jennifer Guerra

Like a lot of Michigan cities, Jackson is hurting. The economy is in the tank, the unemployment rate is high, and stores continue to close, including the few places in town where teenagers could go hear live music. That has left those who live there with not much to do on a Friday night.

Merze Tate Travel Club opens doors (slideshow)

Jun 18, 2010
Tori Zackery

Kids can learn a lot about a place through books, television, and the web. But one Kalamazoo woman thinks you can't really know a place or its people, unless you go and visit, which is why she started a travel club.

About twenty girls and several adults board an Amtrak train in Kalamazoo. "We're going on a mystery train ride with the travel club," exclaims travel club member Claire Khabeiry. Like a lot of kids in the group she's never been on train before.

Marcus Belgrave's Sounds of Detroit

Jun 11, 2010
Courtesy of Marcus Belgrave

Ann Arbor, MI Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye. Those are some of the big names of Detroit music. But another name worthy of top billing is trumpeter Marcus Belgrave. He's been a fixture in the Detroit scene for decades, and has covered everything from avant-garde to jazz standards. He even played on some of Motown's greatest hits.

Belgrave was recently honored by the Kresge Foundation as their Detroit Eminent Artist of the year. We sat down with the jazz trumpeter to talk about his life in music.

"This is Marcus Belgrave, eminent artist award for the year. I'm very excited about this award because it chronicles my life in Detroit for the last 40 years.

Losing a Gem

Jun 7, 2010

A Kalamazoo arts organization that was considered a real success story has shut its doors, for now. Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris looks at why The Smart Shop Metal Arts Center has closed and what the future may hold.

J Dilla's beat goes on

Jun 1, 2010
Paul Farber

J Dilla was one of Detroit's most prolific and respected hip hop producers. He died in 2006, but his music still inspires his fans around the world. And now his Mom is using his name to support music education in his hometown.