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5:20 pm
Wed May 4, 2011

Governor Snyder appoints new financial manager for Detroit schools

Governor Snyder introduces Roy Roberts Wednesday
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder has appointed former GM Executive Roy Roberts to take over as the Detroit Public Schools’ Emergency Financial Manager.

Roberts has had a distinguished career in business and is considered a pioneer for African-Americans in the auto industry.

Snyder says he chose Roberts because he’s a “successful businessman and team builder.”

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Environment
5:16 pm
Wed May 4, 2011

Feds want states to manage wolves around the Great Lakes

The federal government wants to turn management of gray wolves in the western Great Lakes over to the states.
USFWS

The U.S. Department of Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service today announced that it plans to remove the western Great Lakes gray wolf population from the Endangered Species list.

These are wolves found in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and areas adjoining these states.

Acting Service Director Rowan Gould was quoted in today's press release:

“Gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes are recovered and no longer warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. Under this proposed rule, which takes into account the latest taxonomic information about the species, we will return management of gray wolves in the Great Lakes to state wildlife professionals. We are confident that wolves will continue to thrive under the approved state management plans.”

There will be a sixty-day comment period before the rule is finalized.

Mary Detloff, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, says the state supports the decision and is ready to take over management of the species:

"The most recent estimate that we have of the minimum winter population for wolves in Michigan is around 687 animals which far exceeds our recovery goal here in the state. Our recovery goal was around 200-300 wolves."

Detloff says delisting the wolf would allow the state to deal with problem wolves.

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Politics
5:07 pm
Wed May 4, 2011

Dad: Latest anti-bullying bill not strong enough

Matt Epling of East Lansing committed suicide weeks after an assault by a group of older students in 2002.
Courtesy Epling family

A measure that would require Michigan schools to have anti-bullying policies has taken a small step forward. But one father says lawmakers are taking too long and doing too little.

Matt Epling was 14 years old when he was lured to an East Lansing park where he was assaulted and pelted with eggs by a group of older boys in 2002.

Officials called the incident “hazing.”

Kevin Epling says his son had been a confident, creative kid, but the public humiliation was too much. Matt took his own life a few weeks after the attack.

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Education
5:05 pm
Wed May 4, 2011

As DPS makes charter push, study shows high turnover rate for charter leaders

More than 70% of charter school leaders surveyed expect to leave their schools in five years, according to a study by the Center on Reinventing Public Education.
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools district is moving forward with its plan to turn dozens of its schools into charters. It’s part of current emergency manager Robert Bobb’s Renaissance 2012 plan. Just this week, 18 organizations put in bids to take over 50 DPS schools and convert them into charters.

At the top would be a charter leader who does everything from fundraising to student recruitment to academic planning. But a study out late last year by the Center on Reinventing Public Education shows charter leaders have a high turnover rate.

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Politics
4:06 pm
Wed May 4, 2011

Conservatives win, New Democrats scramble

Jeff Smith Flickr

Canada's historic election--check out this excellent commentary by Jack Lessenberry for his thoughts on coverage of the event in the United States--happened earlier this week, resulting in Stephen Harper's Conservative Party increasing their share of the Canadian government.

The Conservative government will be the first majority government in seven years.

The results are good news for Rick Snyder, as Harper and his party are expected to maintain their previous offer of $550 million to defray costs surrounding a new Detroit-Windsor bridge, which the governor supports.

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Education
3:51 pm
Wed May 4, 2011

Poverty Role-Playing Game

A poverty-simulation workshop, in action.
Poverty Reduction Initiative

1.4 million people live in poverty in Michigan, according to the federal government. But not many people realize what that number actually means. A group in Kalamazoo thinks one of the ways to address the issue of poverty is with a game.

 

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Politics
3:07 pm
Wed May 4, 2011

Federal government selling property in Michigan

The federal goverment wants to get rid of what they say are 12 thousand "excess" properties.
Bruce Tuten flickr

The federal government wants to make money selling real estate. The government has released an interactive map of about 12 thousand federal “excess” properties, including 55 in Michigan.

The government says most of these properties have little market value. But, President Obama wants legislation to increase the number of properties and the speed of sales. He wants the government to use a process similar to that used to decommission old military bases.

Daniel Werfel is the United States Controller

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Politics
3:00 pm
Wed May 4, 2011

Governor Snyder names new emergency manager for Detroit schools

Governor Rick Snyder

Update:

Robert Bobb, the outgoing emergency manager for Detroit Public Schools, has released a statement regarding Roy S. Roberts, the man who will replace him in that position:

Roy Roberts is an exceptionally strong choice to continue the heavy lift of restructuring and reforming the interconnected finances and academics of Detroit Public Schools.

His position as an icon in the African American community and in the City of Detroit will be of huge benefit to DPS and also a role model for DPS students.

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Politics
2:21 pm
Wed May 4, 2011

Bin Laden photos will not be released

President Obama and his administration have declined to release photos of Osama bin Laden's dead body.

There are worries, voiced by the White House, that the images could "inflame sensitivities."

CBS originally broke the story, and according to NPR's Two-Way blog, White House spokesman Jay Carney just confirmed that the photos will not be released.

From the BBC:

US officials have been discussing whether to publish pictures of Bin Laden's body to counter conspiracy theories that he did not die.

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Environment
2:04 pm
Wed May 4, 2011

Forecast: A cool, rainy May

The National Weather Service says May in Michigan will be a cold, damp month.
emilydryden.wordpress.com

There’s good news for people who enjoy cold, damp weather.  For the rest of you,  don’t put away your sweaters just yet. 

Remember how it snowed in early December and just kept on snowing – for months?

Remember how the calendar said spring had arrived, but we just got more snow -- and then lots of cold, rainy days?

Rich Pollman is with the National Weather Service in Detroit. He says things probably won’t improve much in May.

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Offbeat
1:31 pm
Wed May 4, 2011

'The Book of Mormon' gets 14 Tony Award nominations

"The Book of Mormon" official website

The broadway musical "The Book of Mormon" led the field of Tony Award nominees with 14 nominations.

The musical, written by "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, may seem like a surprising choice, considering its liberal use of profanity and controversial religious content.

The Associated Press (via MLive) reports:

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Auto/Economy
11:53 am
Wed May 4, 2011

Driving habits remain as gas prices break records

Commuting in Chicago. Gas prices are rising, but driving habits don't seem to be changing as drastically as they did in 2008.
Phillip Capper Flickr

Gas prices continue to climb in Michigan. They reached a new record today hitting an average of $4.26.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Gas prices continue to climb in Michigan, with the average cost per gallon of regular gasoline jumping to $4.26 today from $4.22 on Tuesday.

Previously, the record price had been set in summer 2008. Tuesday's price broke that record.

A year ago, the average price per gallon in the state was $2.94.

In 2008, when gas prices shot up, demand for gasoline dropped as Americans adjusted their driving habits.

Some experts say that's not likely to happen this time around as Americans are not as shocked by the high gas prices.

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Commentary
11:34 am
Wed May 4, 2011

May 3rd Election

The voters sent an important message yesterday, to themselves and their communities, and indirectly to the politicians in Lansing. It’s a message the governor and legislature need to hear.

Specifically, the people said that they are willing to pay more for services  important to them. They aren’t necessarily happy with the way things are going or with the people running things. In West Michigan area, they tossed out a boatload of school board members.

Yet the same voters renewed a number of millage proposals, often by wide margins. Sometimes they even voted to increase their taxes, when they were convinced services were necessary.

Grand Rapids narrowly voted to increase a rapid transit millage. Hudsonville voted millions to upgrade the school system.

This trend was especially strong in Southeast Michigan. Struggling, older blue-collar suburbs like Ferndale and Hazel Park have been hard hit by declining property values and a steep drop in state revenue sharing.

Yesterday, they asked their hard-pressed citizens for new money to keep up services.

These aren’t people who have a lot of money, and many no longer have jobs. But they said yes. In tiny Clawson, the people voted more money for their library, a year after the voters in the neighboring and more affluent city of Troy voted to close theirs.

By far, the biggest story was in Southfield, a city of office towers and mostly well-maintained split-level and ranch homes north of Detroit. Seventy percent of its seventy thousand residents are African-American -- mostly middle-class families.

City leaders laid it on the line. They needed a five mill property tax increase, mostly for police and fire services, and they needed it now. Otherwise, they would have to lay off half the city’s police and firemen. Residents knew what that could mean.

They voted the additional taxes by a margin of five to one. Now, these results do not mean that the voters are in a wildly spending mood. They seemed discerning. In Flint, they voted money to keep policemen on the job, but turned down a request for new funds to reopen it the city jail. In blue-collar Garden City, home of iconic rocker Mitch Ryder, officials asked for a twelve-mill increase. Voters said that was too much. They also were reluctant to combine services, such as police and fire. They said no to that in cities as different as Jackson and Harper Woods.

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News Roundup
8:06 am
Wed May 4, 2011

In this morning's news...

In this morning's news, Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Election Results

Voters went to the polls across Michigan yesterday to decide a variety of issues, from school millages, to funding for public safety, transportation, and libraries.

  • In Flint, voters renewed a millage that pays for more than a dozen police officers. Flint has struggled with a rising violent crime rate for the past few years. City police have investigated about ninety homicides in the last sixteen months, Steve Carmody reports. But, as Carmody notes, “Flint voters narrowly rejected a millage request that would have reopened the city jail. Budget problems have meant the jail has only been used sporadically since the late 1980’s.”
  • Lansing city residents voted no on a millage that would have kept public safety services from facing deep cuts. The millage would have increased city residents’ property taxes about four percent to raise about $8.5 million over five years, Sarah Alvarez reports. Lansing faces a $20 million dollar budget shortfall next year.
  • Supporters of a millage to fund and expand bus services in the Grand Rapids metro area celebrated a narrow victory last night, Lindsey Smith reports. More than 34,000 people cast ballots and the millage passed by just 136 votes. The bus system, known as The Rapid, will now be able to serve riders later at night, on the weekends, and more frequently during the workday.
State Legislature
7:54 am
Wed May 4, 2011

Tax plan meets resistance in state Senate

Inside the Capitol Building, Lansing, Michigan
Cedar Bend Drive Flickr

Leaders in the Republican state Senate say they still have to wrangle more votes to get a sweeping tax-reform package passed.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says he will meet with Governor Rick Snyder and House Speaker Jase Bolger to update them on where the tax overhaul stands in the Senate.

"We want to be in sync. We're worked together as a team so far, and we want to continue to do that."

Even though Richardville has been able to work well with Snyder and Bolger on the tax reform package, it appears he is still meeting resistance to the deal from his fellow Senate Republicans. A handful of Republican senators have said they will not vote for the deal that includes a tax on future pensioners. Richardville says he will not make changes to the proposal as it was agreed upon and passed by the House. But he hopes to have enough votes to pass it through the Senate next week.

May 3rd Election
6:37 am
Wed May 4, 2011

Washtenaw County voters approve special education millage

Washtenaw County voters approved a millage for special education in yesterday's election.
WoodleyWonderWorks Flickr

Voters in Washtenaw County passed a special education millage renewal in yesterday's election. That means local school districts and charter schools in the county will receive about $14 million dollars for special education services. According to unofficial election results released by Washtenaw County, 76% of voters approved the millage renewal.

Heritage Newspapers reports:

The millage is specifically for special education students, who make up about 14 percent of the students within the WISD. The largest number is faced with some form of learning disability, and the second most have a speech or language impairment.

May 3rd election
2:42 am
Wed May 4, 2011

Grand Rapids area supports more bus services...by less than 0.5% margin

Memebers of the Friends of Transit group try to figure out how close they are to winning just before the announcement Tuesday night.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Supporters of a millage to fund and expand bus services in the Grand Rapids metro area celebrated a narrow victory last night.

More than 34,000 people cast ballots. It passed by just 136 votes.

David Bulkowski breathed a huge sigh of relief after hours of unclear results. He’s with the Friends of Transit – a political action committee supporting the bus service.

“We are conservative West Michigan. And together these 6 communities have said ‘yep, we want it.”

The bus system, known as The Rapid, will now be able to serve riders later at night, on the weekends, and more frequently during the workday.

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May 3rd Election
12:49 am
Wed May 4, 2011

Flint voters split on public safety millages

Flint mayor Dayne Walling (left) and city public safty director Alvern Lock listen as the results of Tuesday's voting slowly comes in last night.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Voters in Flint sent a mixed message on public safety on Tuesday. 

 Mayor Dayne Walling was glad to see voters renew a millage that pays for more than a dozen police officers.  

 “I’m very pleased to see the voters have overwhelmingly supported the renewal of our police force.   The budget that was proposed to the city council…every dollar that we projected in that budget will now be able to be expected.”

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May 3 election
11:23 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

Lansing turns down "essential services" millage

Lansing city residents voted "no" on a millage that would have kept public safety services from facing deep cuts.  City residents voted 52 percent to 48 percent against the millage.

The millage would have increased city residents property taxes about four percent to raise about 8.5 million dollars over five years.

Virg Bernero is the Mayor of Lansing.

"With prices going up, with gas prices soaring, with home values going down, this was one price increase that people did have a choice about. This was an opportunity where they could say no, and they did. In a sense I can’t fault them for that. But this was the one that really affects their life, and their safety."

Lansing faces a $20 million dollar budget shortfall next year. Bernero says the City Council will now proceed with what he calls an “all cuts” budget. It includes the possible shuttering of three fire stations and the loss of about 120 jobs between the fire and police departments.

Tom Krug is the President of the Fraternal Order of Police.

"Obviously what’s going to happen is there are going to be major cuts at the Lansing Police Department and Fire Department. It’s going to impact public safety. And it’s more than just numbers, it’s people and families and it’s very disappointing… I think it’s a referendum on the economy. But you also have to vote your conscience, too. I think it was time to step up, and the voters didn’t."

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Auto/Economy
10:52 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

Chrysler surviving

A new kind of customer began showing up at Schultz Motors of Milan after Chrysler ran a defiant, two-minute ad during the Superbowl -- young guys who’d never owned a Chrysler before.  But they wanted the car rap star Eminen was driving in that ad. 

Tyler Schultz says it helps that the 200 is a more appealing car than its predecessor the Sebring.

"The interior is very well-appointed, it's very driver-friendly, and you can see the list price is $24,000.  So with the incentives on top of that it comes in really affordable.  So this car’s got a lot of bang for the buck."

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