News

Pages

What's Working
6:29 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Education blueprint: North Godwin Elementary

user BES Photos Flickr

This week, What’s Working focuses on education by taking a look at one Michigan school that went from academic mediocrity to being a model for educational reforms in the state. North Godwin Elementary is located just south of Grand Rapids in a working class community with a high immigrant population. Many families in the area are refugees from countries such as Bosnia, Cuba, Vietnam, and Liberia. A high number of students spend a few years learning English as a second language. 

When Arelis Diaz arrived as a teacher at North Godwin Elementary in 1995, the students were struggling to reach proficiency in basic skills. She spent five years as a teacher, and then served as principal of the school from 2000 to 2005. In that time, North Godwin’s students began excelling on standardized tests, bringing student proficiency rates to upwards of 80 percent across all subjects. That academic success at North Godwin continues today. The school has been the recipient of praise and awards for its turnaround, including the “Dispelling the Myth” award in 2010, given by The Educational Trust. 

Read more
State Budget
6:11 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Snyder says revenue windfall could be used to roll back budget cuts

A budget panel will meet this morning to consider economic forecasts and project how much money the state has to spend in the coming fiscal year.

Michigan’s economy is in the early stages of rebounding and it appears the state is bringing in the tax revenue to prove it. Many lawmakers want to use the windfall - half a billion dollars or more - to reverse cuts to K-12 schools.  And Governor Snyder says some of the money could be used to roll back the size of proposed budget cuts:

“If there’s funds are available, we should be looking at how we deal with some of these cuts. These were tough calls.”

But Governor Snyder and other Republicans also say they want to be careful about spending additional revenue instead of fixing ongoing budget pressures. The governor says some of the money could also be used to shore up the state’s emergency savings in case the economy takes a another tumble.

Arts/Culture
3:23 pm
Sun May 15, 2011

Detroit Symphony to announce 2011-12 season this week

user earl53 morgueFile

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra will announce its 2011-12 season on Friday, May 20. Most orchestras announced their seasons months ago, but the DSO had to postpone its plans because of a six-month musicians’ strike.

Drew McManus says the late announcement will likely hurt the orchestra’s revenue stream. McManus is an arts consultant in Chicago:

Read more
Economy
12:33 pm
Sat May 14, 2011

Christian book publisher Zondervan downsizes in Grand Rapids

Zondervan publishes Christian books, children's books, and Bibles.
Kevin Rawlings Creative Commons

75 workers will be laid off from Christian book publisher Zondervan’s distribution warehouse in July of 2012. Zondervan currently employs 325 people.

Scott Macdonald is president and CEO of the Grand Rapids-based company that publishes Bibles, children’s books, and Christian authors.

“We’re a family. We have a long history and heritage (in Grand Rapids). This is a significant impact on our family but it’s one that’s driven by a changing business climate and it’s the right decision for us at this time because of that.”

Read more
Economy
6:54 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

Business leaders celebrating the end of the Michigan Business Tax

Many of the same West Michigan business leaders who voted in the 2008 Policy Forum attended a keynote speech by Gov. Rick Snyder in April. The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the occasion, and started the West Michigan Policy Forum.
Russ Climie Tiberius Images

Governor Rick Snyder is expected to sign the tax overhaul that replaces the business tax with a 6% corporate income tax on profits.

Leaders of the West Michigan Policy Forum touted "the MBT is dead!” in an email to around 600 supporters Friday. Those supporters voted 'eliminating the business tax' as their top priority during the Policy Forum’s first conference in 2008.

Read more
Politics
5:00 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

There's good & bad news today about Lansing's city budget crisis

Lansing city council president A'Lynne Robinson (right) talks to the news media about the city's budget crisis, while council vice president Kathie Dunbar listens, outside the Southside Community Center
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

There’s mixed news today concerning the city of Lansing’s budget crisis.  City leaders have been trying to figure out how to deal with a projected 20 million dollar budget deficit.   

 N0w, city council vice president Kathie Dunbar says the city learned this week that its employee health care costs will rise 2 million dollars higher than expected next year. 

She says fortunately the state legislature has passed a budget plan that should guarantee the city 4 million dollars in state revenue sharing funds. 

Read more
Science/Medicine
4:29 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

Wayne Co. launches initiative to improve health care for low-income kids

Wayne County has launched an initiative to improve health care for low-income children. The Wayne County Child Healthcare Access Program is modeled after a similar project in Kent County. It’s based on a concept called the “medical home.”

Project Director Jametta Lilly says that concept already exists for many kids covered by private insurance. But she says care is often less consistent and coordinated for kids in the Medicaid program:

Read more
Politics
4:26 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

Governor Snyder defends tax plan

Russ Climie Tiberius Images

Governor Rick Snyder defends his tax overhaul, which has drawn a lot of criticism from the public in recent weeks, saying that he is confident that cutting taxes for Michigan businesses will create jobs. The Legislature approved his tax plan yesterday and it’s on its way to Snyder’s desk for his signature.

Read more
Politics
4:15 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

White House, Christie and others respond to Romney's health care speech at U-M

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The responses are in for Mitt Romney's health care speech, and they are pretty mixed. 

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie praised former Massachussetts Governor Romney's honesty without commenting directly on either his policies or his candidacy. 

Politico reports:

Read more
Science/Medicine
4:09 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

MRSA bacteria found in meat sold in Detroit area

The MRSA bacteria, usually found in hospital settings, was found in samples of meat taken from Detroit-area supermarkets and meat markets.
From prep4md Flickr

Wayne State University researchers say there’s another reason to be extra careful when handling meat: It’s a bacteria that’s usually found in hospital settings.

You may have heard of MRSA – which stands for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus.

It’s a nasty little bug that can be difficult to treat and can make you quite sick.

Dr. Yifan Zhang is an assistant professor at Wayne State.

Her research team collected nearly 300 samples of beef, chicken and turkey from Detroit-area markets.

Read more
Environment
3:49 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

The hunt is on for morels in Michigan

The hunt is on for morels in Michigan.
user jdurham morguefile

It’s morel season in Michigan!

May is morel month in Michigan, and people from all over comb the state for the delectable mushrooms.

Phil Tedeschi is president of the Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club. He leads folks on more than 50 mushroom hunts throughout the year in southeast Michigan, starting with the first mushroom of the season: black and white morels.

Tedeschi has this advice if you're on the hunt for morels:

Read more
Environment
3:48 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

Detroit gardeners frustrated by new rules for city lots

Tony Buser flickr

Community gardeners in Detroit are angry about new permit requirements for gardening on city-owned lots.

Reit Schumack heads an organization on the city’s west side called Neighbors Building Brightmoor, which puts in gardens, wildflower stands and pocket parks on dozens of city lots. Schumack says the new rules include a ban on bringing in new soil or compost, unless the city grants lot-by-lot permission:

Read more
Politics
3:45 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

A conversation with Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (audio)

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer

Yesterday the state Senate passed a comprehensive tax overhaul bill. It went to the House where it was approved and it’s now headed to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk for his signature.

The tax overhaul includes the elimination of the Michigan Business Tax, in favor of a corporate profits tax.  It also eliminates a host of tax breaks, including the income tax exemption for pensions.

Seven Republicans joined the twelve Democrats in the Senate in voting against the proposal. Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer is opposed to the tax restructuring

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke with Whitmer. Here's the interview.

On the Radio
2:57 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

In case you missed it...

user cpstorm creative commons

Here's a look back at the week in public radio. We can't hear it all, but there are always stories worth a rewind.

On the Media - The 'Decline Effect' and Scientific Truth

On the Media is a public radio show that attempts to "lift the veil from the process of 'making media,' especially news media."

Read more
Auto/Economy
2:02 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

Michigan consumer sentiment index rising

Richard Holden Flickr

Some potentially good news for Michigan's economy.

In May, the consumer confidence index for the state rose "to 72.4, a three-month high," according to Bloomburg News.

Omair Sharif, an economist, says that the rise can be attributed to improvements in employment numbers despite the destabilizing effect of high gas prices.

Bloomburg News reports:

Read more
Politics
1:30 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

Michigan to take in $427M more than expected

Andy Flickr

The House Fiscal Agency says it expects Michigan to take in $427 million more by Sept. 30 than earlier forecasts.

It tempers the good news with a warning that the new business tax cut just enacted will create a deficit in the next budget year that will have to be filled with about $77 million of the extra revenue.

The agency released its figures Friday in anticipation of Monday's revenue estimating conference where state economists will forecast how much tax money the state will take in through 2012.

Weather
1:10 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

Looks like rain this weekend

Rain is in the forecast for much of Michigan.
Tom Grundy Flickr

Look at the forecast for the weekend around the state and here's what you're likely to find:

Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm - Grand Rapids

Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm - Detroit

Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm - Kalamazoo

Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm - Flint

So... looks like rain.

Temperatures will drop as well - going from highs in the low 80s or upper 70s, to highs in the low 60s or upper 50s.

National Weather Service meteorologist Phil Kurimski told the Detroit Free Press this is what we should expect:

"It’s May; it’s not the middle of summer yet, we’re still transitioning into the warmer summer months."

And we were so close! Ah well, enjoy the warmth today, and the rain over the weekend.

Arts/Culture
12:06 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

Artpod: Small art raises big bucks

Folks in Saline have sold art to raise $100,000 over seven years, and all the money goes to an area nonprofit.
Dani Davis

On today's installment of Artpod, we hear how artists use their talents to raise money for a local nonprofit.

People don’t often think of “art” as a money-making endeavor, but a group in Saline, Michigan is proving otherwise. Their story is about taking little pieces of art and turning them into big money makers. And all that money is being used to help feed hungry people in Washtenaw County.

Read more
Auto/Economy
11:33 am
Fri May 13, 2011

Chrysler moves up summer plant shutdowns to June

Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
user fiatontheweb creative commons

DETROIT (AP) - Chrysler is moving its normal summer shutdowns at three factories into June from the usual July closings because of parts shortages from the earthquake in Japan.

The company says its pickup truck plant in Warren, Mich., and its Toledo, Ohio, North assembly plant will be idled the weeks of June 20 and 27. Both plants had been scheduled to close the weeks
of July 11 and 18.

In addition, a Toledo parts operation will close the week of June 20 instead of July 11.

The company says its other plants will have their normal summer shutdowns in July and August.

Nearly all automakers have lost production due to parts shortages from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that hit northern Japan. The quake damaged parts supply plants or knocked out electricity.

Politics
11:09 am
Fri May 13, 2011

Lansing city council leaders to discuss budget

The city of Lansing is facing a projected $20 million dollar budget deficit. 

On Monday, the city council is scheduled to vote on a budget intended to close that gap.   As it stands now, the city may have to lay off dozens of police officers and firefighters, as well as making other painful spending cuts to balance the budget.  

Read more

Pages