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Offbeat
3:29 pm
Fri May 6, 2011

In case you missed it...

User cccpstorm Flickr

Time again for your weekly roundup

"Without A College Degree, Hard-Pressed For Jobs"

Senior producer Mark Brush liked this Morning Edition feature from Zoe Chace about young people struggling to find jobs in an economic recovery in which the opportunities for young people seem to be constantly receding.

"The Tamale and the Tire Iron"

Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris suggested this moving story from The Splendid Table, about a man whose car breaks down and the generosity of the people who stop to help.

"Have Terry Check Your Head"

For my part, I wish that I could say my favorite something serious like the international hour of the Diane Rehm Show's Friday news roundup--because the commentary was illuminating, thorough, and diverse--but I'd be lying if I said my favorite piece wasn't Terry Gross's interview with the Beastie Boys, which included a fascinating (no, seriously) discussion on how the single "Fight for Your Right" garnered the group some surprising fans, and not the kind they were really looking for at the time, and some interesting facts about the ways in which the group's follow-up album, Paul's Boutique, didn't satisfy some of their listeners.

-Brian Short, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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Politics
2:31 pm
Fri May 6, 2011

Governor Rick Snyder to act as grand marshal in Benton Harbor parade

Governor Rick Snyder
Official Photo

Governor Rick Snyder plans to act as the grand marshal of the annual Blossomtime Grand Floral parade in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, this saturday.

The Detroit News is reporting that groups are planning to protest the parade.

From the Associated Press:

Gov. Rick Snyder is scheduled to serve as grand marshal of the annual Blossomtime Grand Floral parade in southwestern Michigan.

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Investigative
2:23 pm
Fri May 6, 2011

Support, information offered to families searching for a loved one

Families are asked to bring photographs and dental records that will be scanned into a national database in an effort to find and identify missing people.
michigan.gov

More than three thousand people are listed as missing in Michigan. They’ll be honored Saturday in Detroit at an event that’s also designed to help find them. 

Michigan’s Missing Person’s Day at Ford Field is a day for families who’ve lost a loved one.

They’re asked to bring photographs and dental records of the missing person. Technicians will  collect DNA samples.

All the information will be scanned into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) database that the public can also access.

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Auto/Economy
1:44 pm
Fri May 6, 2011

AP: Rising jet fuel prices motivate buyouts at Delta

F. Olastuen Flickr

Delta Air Lines is planning to offer "voluntary early retirements and buyouts" to its workers.

The reason? Rising jet fuel prices.

From the Associated Press:

Delta Air Lines Inc. says it will offer voluntary early retirements and buyouts to its employees because it must shrink to cope with high jet fuel prices.

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Politics
12:35 pm
Fri May 6, 2011

Granholm portrait unveiled in the State Capitol

Update:

We have uploaded a copy of the portrait to our website and Facebook page, and people are starting to weigh in with their thoughts.

Michigan Watch's Lester Graham asked, regarding the position of Governor Granholm's hand on the globe to her right, "Is she pointing to Michigan or Canada?"

Peinck Muslimah, a regular Facebook page commenter, said, "Check out the windmill and new-tech car on the desk - and her hand on the globe is also symbolic: Granholm travelled [sic] often to try to convince foreign companies to invest in Michigan."

What symbols do you notice in the portrait?

 

Original article:

Former Governor Jennifer Granholm's portrait has been added to the portrait's featured in the State Capitol. She was the 47th governor of the state.

From the Associated Press:

Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm's portrait has joined those of other governors at the Capitol. A portrait unveiling ceremony was held Friday morning. Granholm participated in the program.

Ferndale artist Charles Pompilius painted the portrait of Granholm, which includes a wind turbine and a mortar board. Those elements are meant to symbolize the ex-governor's work in the areas
of energy and education.

The Democrat was Michigan's first elected female governor, serving from 2003 through 2010.

The unveiling ceremony is to be followed by an invitation-only luncheon.

A bipartisan nonprofit foundation has been raising the money for the portrait, the frame and the Capitol ceremony.

The portrait is shown above.

Education
12:30 pm
Fri May 6, 2011

Are conservative Republicans trying to 'micromanage' state university budgets?

Students walk to class on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A leader in Michigan’s higher education community says state universities may urge the governor to veto the state education budget bill.   He says it’s a question of ‘micromanaging’.    

Michael Boulus is the executive director of the President’s Council, a group that lobbies on behalf of Michigan’s public colleges and universities. 

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Arts/Culture
12:00 pm
Fri May 6, 2011

A unique music festival in Ann Arbor (video)

Neighbors play music from their front porch during the Water Hill Music Festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There were 60 performances around the neighborhood.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

""It must be something in the water." - Paul Tinkerhess.

Last Sunday, I walked around a neighborhood in Ann Arbor's west side and witnessed a new music phenomenon - the Water Hill Music Festival - where neighbors played music from their front porches, backyards, and garages.

The idea for the festival came from Paul Tinkerhess, a local business owner and musician.

Tinkerhess described the concept in Groundcover News:

"The concept is simple," Tinkerhess said. "On the afternoon of Sunday, May 1st, everyone in the neighborhood who either is a musician or wants to pretend to be a musician is encouraged to step out onto their front porch and play music. That's it. Or half of it. The other half is that we are inviting all the other neighbors, and the rest of the world, to wander through the neighborhood that afternoon and enjoy something like a music festival with a lot of stages."

The neighborhood in Ann Arbor's west side, dubbed "Water Hill" by Tinkerhess, if filled with musical talent.

I caught a small fraction of the festival, and made this video:

One festival attendee, Patti Smith, said the event was "Ann Arbor covered in awesome sauce."

Politics
11:49 am
Fri May 6, 2011

Michigan political roundup: budget proposals

Michigan Capitol in Lansing
matthileo / Flickr

This past Wednesday, the Michigan State House of Representatives approved their proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. Some pieces of the bill include a forty-eight month limit on welfare benefits, a cut to clothing allowances for poor children, a twenty million dollar cut to local bus systems, a ten million dollar cut to funds appropriated to the Detroit Institute of Arts, as well as the cutting of thirty-four State Police officers. 

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Politics
11:49 am
Fri May 6, 2011

Report: Detroit Public Library administrators accused of nepotism

The Detroit Public Library is being charged with mismanagement and nepotism.
user taubach Flickr

The Detroit Public Library is facing accusations of "nepotism, cronyism and mismanagement" according to a report published in the Detroit News.

The accusations are becoming public at a time when the Detroit library system faces an $11 million deficit and is  considering closing most of its branches. Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett reported that "one proposal would leave only five of 23 branches open."

The News says top executives at the Library have family members on the payroll and contracts worth thousands of dollars have been awarded to relatives.

From the Detroit News:

Hiring relatives is so common at the library that about one in six staffers have relatives among the 376 employees, according to an internal review obtained by The Detroit News.

"This nepotism and cronyism has led to the downfall of the city," said Reginald Amos, a retired Detroit Fire Department deputy chief and resident who said the family hires remind him of ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's administration. "It's the friends-and-family plan. It's not about serving the people. It's self-serving."

The Detroit Public Library's human resource director, Trinee Moore - one of the officials accused of nepotism, told the News that there are safeguards in place to prevent preferential treatment and that the Detroit Public Library is no different than other businesses where family members are referred for employment.

So how do you know when the line is being crossed? Is nepotism just a fact of life in politics and business?

NPR's Steve Inskeep discussed these questions with a writer for Harvard Business Online

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Politics
11:05 am
Fri May 6, 2011

Citing protests, Rep. Pscholka bows out of Blossomtime Parade

State Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, has withdrawn from the Blossomtime Parade in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph because of planned protests at the event.
wn.com

A West Michigan lawmaker has decided not to take part in a parade in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph Saturday because protests are expected at the event.

State Rep. Al Pscholka says the Blossomtime Parade is not the place to protest Michigan’s new Fiscal Accountability Act.

Demonstrators are expected to rally against the recent actions of an emergency financial manager in Benton Harbor, where the elected city commission was stripped of all its powers.

Pscholka, a Republican from Stevensville, says in a written statement the parade is a wholesome community event and not the forum for a political sideshow conducted by professional agitators.

A staff member in Pscholka’s office says the representative has left the state for a family event and is not available for further comment.

Governor Snyder will be the Grand Marshall at the Blossomtime Parade.

Commentary
10:54 am
Fri May 6, 2011

Social Agenda

Former Michigan Governor John Engler is widely regarded as having been more conservative than Rick Snyder. And certainly, Snyder won the support last year of many prominent independents and even moderate Democrats who never would have voted for Engler.

Yet perceptions and reality aren't always the same thing. You might have expected what some people call the “radical right” to have had a field day imposing their social agenda on the state during the dozen years that John Engler was governor.

However, that mostly didn’t happen. Engler kept those folks pretty effectively bottled up. When they grumbled, he or his people would ask, “would you like a liberal Democrat in this office instead?”

In other words, push too hard, and you risk backlash. Now, nobody ever accused Engler of being stupid. He knew that while Michiganders can be induced to vote Republican, this is anything but a deep red state. There were three presidential elections during the Engler years; Democrats easily carried Michigan each time.

In between, John Engler was re-elected by astonishing landslides. Rick Snyder doesn’t seem to have a social agenda either, except perhaps not to wear ties when he doesn't have to.

Though he has said he is anti-abortion, he is an enthusiastic supporter of embryonic stem cell research. Otherwise, he seems totally focused on the economy. But his fellow Republicans in the legislature have other ideas. They have taken a number of actions that could possibly hurt their party and their governor in the long run.

Yesterday, for example, the House approved both the higher education and the elementary and high school education budgets.

The vote was close, in part because the cuts were too much for even six Republican members to support. But at the last minute, they slapped on another amendment punishing universities that allow benefits for unmarried partners. They can lose up to five percent of their funding.

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News Roundup
8:19 am
Fri May 6, 2011

In this morning's news...

In this morning's news, Friday, May 6th, 2011
Brother O'Mara Flickr

House Passes School Funding Measure

The state House passed legislation late last night that cuts funding to public schools, community colleges, and universities for the fiscal year that begins October 1st. The measure also sanctions universities that offer domestic partner benefits to their employees. The legislation cuts per-pupil funding by between $256 and $297. The bill passed by the state House last night is different from an education-funding bill that was passed in the state Senate. The differences will have to be reconciled before a final education funding measure is sent to Governor Snyder for his signature.

Benton Harbor Officials Want EFM Void

Elected city leaders in Benton Harbor are calling on Governor Snyder to remove the city’s state-appointed emergency financial manager. Lindsey Smith reports:

Snyder approved broader powers for emergency financial managers earlier this year. Benton Harbor’s city commission adopted a resolution (full resolution available here) declaring those new powers unconstitutional.

On Thursday, Benton Harbor’s emergency financial manager Joe Harris rescinded that and any further resolutions adopted by elected city officials (full order available here), in accordance with an order he issued earlier this year.

Harris stripped power from elected city officials in March. That included the power to adopt resolutions, even non-binding ones.

Swimming to Return in the Kalamazoo River?

Michigan health officials might lift a no-contact order on areas of the Kalamazoo River in Southwest, Michigan. The order, put in place after more than 800,000 gallons of oil spilled into the river last July, bans swimming, boating and fishing. Michigan officials are studying the effects of the spill and, if reports are positive, the no-contact order could be lifted.

State Legislature
6:09 am
Fri May 6, 2011

State House approves education budget

State Capitol Building, Lansing, Michigan

The state House met late into the night last night to approve an education spending plan by a narrow margin. It took several hours for Republican leaders to wrangle enough votes to approve the budget proposal that cuts funding for universities and K-12 schools. Democrats argue the cuts would hurt graduation rates and opportunities for kids.

Republican House Appropriations Committee Chairman Chuck Moss says Democrats’ complaints don’t tell the whole story on school funding.  

“Now I’ve heard a lot of talk about how we’re destroying our education system. I’d just like to say something that this budget cuts K-12, cuts School Aid by 3-point-five percent. The School Aid Fund has gone up 14 percent over the last 10 years."

Democratic state Representative Tim Melton tried to persuade Republican lawmakers not to vote for the measure that would move money from K-12 schools to reduce cuts to colleges and universities. He says it violates what voters intended when they revamped school funding in the mid-1990s.  

 “This is a historic vote, and I don’t think this vote should be taken lightly. We’ve heard conversations about Proposal A, and I wish folks would go back and read Proposal A, especially the new members of this chamber, and tell me one time in that bill do you see the word ‘community colleges’ or ‘universities,’ and keep looking, because it’s not in there."

The House budget proposal would also sanction universities that offer domestic partner benefits to their employees.

The House version of the budget must be reconciled with a Senate spending plan before it goes to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature.

Sports Commentary
6:00 am
Fri May 6, 2011

A sports lesson: "We don't need to spike the football"

The flag at Yankee Stadium. Many American's took solace in baseball at the attacks of September, 11th, 2001.
Michael Zanussi Flickr

Sometimes the real world is so overwhelming it sneaks into sports.  One of those times occurred after 9/11, when the crowd at Yankee Stadium sang “God Bless America.”

I’m not very religious, but it sounded right to me. 

It seemed appropriate that that signature moment, when we needed to be together, occurred in our country’s most hallowed arena, the nation’s front porch.

We are probably the most sports-soaked culture in the world. We’re the ones who pay for the Olympics, after all – and I believe our code of conduct when we’re competing often represents our values at their best. 

People like to say sports teaches us how to be aggressive.

But you can learn that through alley fighting.  Any jerk with no regard for others can be aggressive.  Prisons are filled with them.  9/11 was conceived by them.  

So I disagree.

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Politics
7:15 pm
Thu May 5, 2011

Benton Harbor emergency manager voids elected officials’ resolution

"This act is not about the finances of the city of Benton Harbor," City Commissioner Dennis Knowles says, "It’s about the extraction and gentrification of the people of Benton Harbor."
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Elected city leaders in Benton Harbor are calling on Governor Rick Snyder to remove the city’s state-appointed emergency financial manager.

Snyder approved broader powers for emergency financial managers earlier this year.

Benton Harbor’s city commission adopted a resolution (full resolution available here) declaring those new powers unconstitutional.

Thursday Benton Harbor’s emergency financial manager Joe Harris rescinded that and any further resolutions adopted by elected city officials (full order available here), in accordance with an order he issued earlier this year.

Harris stripped power from elected city officials in March. That included the power to adopt resolutions, even non-binding ones.

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Politics
5:57 pm
Thu May 5, 2011

Senate approves measure to rein in environmental rules

The Republican controlled state Senate has approved a measure to rein in the authority of state regulators to enact environmental protection rules.

The bill says Michigan’s environmental protection rules cannot be stricter than federal rules unless a law is passed to allow it.

Republican state Sen. John Proos says environmental policy should reflect the fact that Michigan competes with other states for jobs.

"We can’t operate in a vacuum in Michigan," said Pross. "If it’s more difficult to do business in Michigan than it is in Indiana, businesses and industries who hire Michigan families could just as soon choose the less-expensive option or the more-efficient option. Every day, other states benchmark against us. We should do the same to make sure we put ourselves in the best position to compete."

Republicans and some Democrats have long complained that Michigan’s environmental rules and the people who enforce them are too zealous.

Democrats, like State Senator Rebekah Warren, say the measure would make it harder for experts to address environmental crises that may be unique to the Great Lakes region.

"Federal standards to protect water quality, in particular, are designed to be the floor below which states are not allowed to drop," said Warren. "They are not written by people that feel the special stewardship like we do here in Michigan over one of the world’s most-important freshwater resources."

Opponents of the bill say it would make it more difficult to respond to an environmental crisis and it would make the process of protecting air and water more political.

One Democrat crossed over to join the Republican majority to approve the measure. The bill now goes to the state House.

Science/Medicine
2:58 pm
Thu May 5, 2011

Heart bypass surgeries drop by a third in U.S. in past decade

Fewer Americans are undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery than they were ten years ago.
zimbio.com

A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association says the number of coronary artery bypass surgeries performed in the U.S. has fallen by nearly a third over the past decade.

Some patients are treated with drugs to dissolve a blood clot that's blocking an artery in order to prevent a heart attack.

Others undergo balloon angioplasty and get stents to open the artery.

But some will need bypass surgery – which usually means opening the chest and stopping the heart.

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Education
2:48 pm
Thu May 5, 2011

Detroit schools look to programs to curb bullying, conflict

A student (center) at Bennett Elementary in southwest Detroit leads a brief meditation before getting to the games. Playworks Coach Sharon Brooks is to his right. Playworks Program Manager Lily Kreimer is left.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

As long as there have been schools, there have been school bullies.

But experts say today’s tormentors are more brutal and efficient than ever before.  And that’s left teachers and principals scrambling to figure out how to manage the problem.

In Detroit, training sessions for handling bullies start tomorrow. And the school district has also launched conflict resolution programs to help stop bullying behavior.

"They told me I seemed different"

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Politics
2:38 pm
Thu May 5, 2011

Census shows 50% rise in vacant properties across Michigan

This house in Detroit sat abandoned for a while before a couple of artists bought it for $1,900.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

The number of vacancies in Michigan rose by nearly 50% over the past decade.

According to the latest U.S. Census data, the number of vacant housing units across the state jumped from about 448,618 in 2000 to 659,725 in 2010.

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Environment
1:20 pm
Thu May 5, 2011

Parts of Kalamazoo River may reopen for recreation

View from I-94 of clean up efforts from last year's oil spill.
Photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Summer recreation may return to parts of the Kalamazoo River. Michigan health officials are studying the effects of an oil spill last summer. The spill dumped more than 800-thousand gallons into the river near Marshall.  If reports are positive, the no-contact order on areas of the Kalamazoo River may be lifted. The order banned swimming, boating and fishing.

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