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Environment
12:04 pm
Tue January 4, 2011

Recycling your Christmas tree

Christmas tree drop-off sites are becoming more common.
(Photo by mmhaffie, Flickr)

So you’ve put away all the ornaments and the lights and the tinsel... and you have that bare tree in your living room... what now?  It’s not illegal in Michigan to throw your Christmas tree away... but a lot of cities and counties do recycle them... and chip them up into mulch.  The recycling website Earth 911 lets you type in your zip code to find tree drop-off sites near you.

I talked with Marsha Gray - she's the executive director of the Michigan Christmas Tree Association. She says the first thing you should do if you want to recycle your tree is call the people who pick up your trash.

“You want to ask them if they do a separate collection for the trees. If they’re collecting them separately from your regular trash, that means they’re most likely recycling, probably chipping those trees into mulch. If they’re collecting at the same time and they’re going right into the bin that means they will go to the landfill."

Marsha's tips for recycling - or reusing your tree:

  • If your waste hauler won't recycle your tree... call your city or county park department.  There's a good chance they offer a drop-off site for the first few weeks of January.
  • Stand your tree up next to the birdfeeder for a little perching spot for birds while they wait their turn at the feeder.
  • Use the branches as plant stakes
  • If you're really ambitious, break out the chainsaw and remove the branches (you don't want to burn these in a fire - they can spark!), cut the trunk into logs, and add them to your log pile to season for a year.  Free firewood for next Christmas!
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Opinion
11:25 am
Tue January 4, 2011

Commentary: Between the Cracks

A former student sent me an e-mail a couple days ago that made me both happy for her and concerned about our state. She had been a “ninety-niner,” Beth confided, and her prospects looked bleak.

She worried about having to move back in with mom and dad. But then, on Christmas Eve, she got a job. “Not a glamorous job, but a necessary one,” she said.

That made me happy for Beth, but also reminded me that there are at least 162,000 other ninety-niners in this state who aren’t as lucky. Ninety-niners, by the way, are people who have exhausted their unemployment benefits.

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Environment
11:11 am
Tue January 4, 2011

Supreme Court Gives You the Right to Sue the State

The Michigan Supreme Court
Photo by larrysphatpage, Flickr

The Michigan Supreme Court says anyone can sue the state if they believe it's acting in a way that harms the environment. 

Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra talked with Nick Schroeck with the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center to find out what this decision means. He says if a company wants to do something like discharge treated wastewater into a creek or a river, for example, it needs a permit from the state to do so:

“The way our environmental law works, you have to have a permit to pollute, as it were. That means that the state regulates the amount of pollution that’s allowed into the waters of the state.”

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Health
10:53 am
Tue January 4, 2011

Update: An estimated 700 Michigan bars took part in NYE smoking ban protest

A spokesman says 700 bars protested the state's smoking ban on New Year's Eve
user capl@washjeff.edu creative commons

We reported last week that some 400 Michigan bar owners planned to ignore the state's smoking ban and allow patrons to light up on New Year's Eve.

Steve Mace is with the Protect Private Property Rights Movement in Michigan, the group that organized the protest. He issued a press release today with an update on how the protest went:

"There were an estimated 700 bars that took back their property right on New Years Eve. Exceeding all expectations. While confirmations continue to come in, we are confident this number will grow significantly. Several bar owners have reported already receiving calls from county health departments. Bar owners remain hopeful that the pro-ban lobby and the minority that support them, did in fact flood the county and district health departments with complaints. This will assist to provide conclusive evidence that this ban is in fact enforced 45 separate ways statewide. "

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Economy
8:52 am
Tue January 4, 2011

Food for Thought - Food Safety vs Michigan Farmers

Farm fresh vegetables at Witherbees Market in Flint, Michigan
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

President Obama is expected today to sign legislation to improve the nation’s food safety.  The new law will put more regulations on Michigan farmers. 


2010 ended with national recalls of parsley, alfalfa sprouts and cilantro because of possible salmonella contamination.  The recalls were just the latest problems that prompted Congress to revamp the nation’s food safety system. The changes include better tracking of all kinds of food, from the farmer’s field to the consumer’s plate.  

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News Roundup
7:45 am
Tue January 4, 2011

In this morning's news...

Governor Snyder Gets to Work

Governor Rick Snyder met yesterday with his budget chief, John Nixon, and other members of his senior staff. Snyder is working on a six month plan for the state and wants to re-organize government, reform business taxes, and have a two-year budget completed by July 1st, Rick Pluta reports. Snyder is also expected to name more members of his cabinet this week, including state Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan as head of the state Department of Human Services.

Auto Sales Numbers Released Today

December auto sales numbers are due out later today and it’s expected to be another good month for Detroit’s automakers, Steve Carmody reports. It’s predicted that December will be the third straight month of strong domestic auto sales. Carmody spoke with one analyst who expects the new numbers will show vehicle sales topped 12 million last year and predicts an improving economy could push sales to 13 million vehicles this year.

Report: Homicides Dropped in Detroit in 2010

Detroit police are reporting that homicides and non-fatal shootings decreased in Detroit in 2010. Unofficial numbers show there were 308 homicides last year. That’s a 15.4 percent drop from 2009, the Associated Press reports. Non-fatal shootings dropped 10.5 percent. Reuters reports that Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee said:

…a focus on deploying officers to higher crime areas based on daily trends contributed to the murder decline. To build on those gains, Detroit must "continue to address systemic issues that contribute to violent criminal acts," Godbee said in a statement.

AUTO
6:43 am
Tue January 4, 2011

GM CEO to meet with Michigan lawmakers

General Motors' Headquarters, Detroit, MI
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Dan Akerson, Chairman and CEO of General Motors, is planning to meet Friday with members of Michigan's congressional delegation.  That's according to an official familiar with the meeting.  The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that, "it will give Akerson a chance to meet some Michigan lawmakers for the first time".

Akerson was named GM's CEO in September, 2010. GM has not yet commented on the meeting.

As the AP notes:

Michigan's 15 House members and two senators were key allies for GM as it underwent a government-led bankruptcy in 2009. The Detroit company had its initial public offering last November, reducing the government's ownership share to 33.3 percent.

Governor Snyder
6:32 am
Tue January 4, 2011

Snyder working on six-month plan for state

Governor Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor Rick Snyder started his first week on the job by meeting with his senior staff, and plotting out the first six months of his administration. Rick Pluta sent this report from Lansing:

Governor Snyder wants to re-organize government, reform business taxes, and have a two-year budget completed by July first.

Geralyn Lasher is the governor’s communications director. She says Snyder also plans to adopt a new economic development and jobs-creation strategy that focuses on businesses that are already in Michigan.

He talks about economic gardening and keeping Michigan businesses here, helping them grow and helping them be more successful and, then, also attracting people from other states.

Lasher also says the governor has decided he will draw a public salary, but it will be less than the $159,300  he’s allowed to collect. Snyder is a retired venture capitalist who spent $6 million of his own money on his campaign for governor.

sustainability
1:10 am
Tue January 4, 2011

New construction, expansions in Kalamazoo must furnish bike racks

Keith Edkins Creative Commons

New or expanding businesses in the City of Kalamazoo will be required to include space to park bicycles.

Mayor Bobby Hopewell says it is part of a broader plan to promote sustainability.

 “We talk about wanting to attract young people and keep young people; we talk about wanting to be a vibrant urban core community. These are the things that urban communities do. They recognize that we can’t only be about the automobile, we have to be about how everyone gets around in the community.”

Only new buildings or those that are expanding are mandated to accommodate bike racks. The number required depends on how many people will use the building, with a maximum of 25 spaces required. Existing public and private entities will be encouraged to add places for their customers and employees to park their bikes.

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Auto/Economy
3:59 pm
Mon January 3, 2011

Auto sales expected to maintain momentum

December auto sales numbers are due tomorrow. It’s expected to be another good month for Detroit’s automakers. 

After watching auto sales dwindle in the depths of the recession, auto companies have seen a surge in buying demand in recent months.  December is expected to be the third straight month of strong domestic auto sales.

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Crime
3:24 pm
Mon January 3, 2011

Report: Flint homicides spread like an epidemic

Flint broke a homocide record last year. The city has faced hard times since the decline of the auto industry. Here the remains of Buick City in Flint, Michigan.
blueskiesfalling wikimedia commons

The Center for Homicide Research published a report on homicides in Flint. It concluded that Flint passed its previous record of 61 homicides (set in 1986) "in large part to a process of contagion."

In other words, once a homicide occurs, it can spark others, spreading like a disease.

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Governor Snyder
1:16 pm
Mon January 3, 2011

Just how much money will Governor Snyder make?

Governor Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

There aren't too many jobs out there where you go to work on your first day unsure of how much money you'll make. But, apparently, that's the case with one pretty important job in the state: Governor of Michigan.

The Associated Press reports that Governor Rick Snyder still hasn't decided how much money he'll take as the state's Chief Executive.

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Opinion
11:15 am
Mon January 3, 2011

Commentary: Governor Snyder

Michigan begins the first work week of 2011 with a new governor in charge. He’s a man whose name most of us didn’t know a year ago, but whom we elected by a landslide in November.

We still don’t know exactly how Richard D. Snyder plans to make this state competitive again. But we do know this:

Everyone in Michigan - liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats and independents -- needs to hope his administration is an amazing success.

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Politics
10:58 am
Mon January 3, 2011

Former State Representative Kate Ebli dies

Former Democratic State Representative Kate Ebli
kateebli.com

Former State Representative Kate Ebli died yesterday after a recurrence with breast cancer.

The Democrat served 56th District of Michigan (Monroe County) for two terms. She lost her bid for a third term in the November elections to Republican Dale Zorn.

The Monroe Democratic Party released a statement:

"We are extremely saddened with the news that State Representative Kate Ebli has lost her courageously fought battle with cancer. It is a sad day for Kate's family and also for everyone that knew her."

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News Roundup
7:17 am
Mon January 3, 2011

In this morning's news...

Snyder Begins New Job

Governor Rick Snyder begins his first full week on the job. Snyder became Michigan’s 48th Governor on Saturday after a swearing-in ceremony in Lansing. Snyder is expected to begin signing his first executive orders to reorganize state government as soon as this week, Laura Weber reports.

Changes to Food Stamp Distribution Begin Tomorrow

Beginning tomorrow, Michigan will spread its food stamp distributions throughout the month. Currently, the state’s 1.9 million food stamp recipients get their benefits in a lump sum at the beginning of the month. Most food stamp purchases are made at that time, which can lead to long lines at the checkout counter and a shortage of fresh produce at some stores, Jennifer Guerra reports. The hope is that those problems will decline with the new distribution system.

Powerful Republican Wants to Repeal Health Care Law

Republican Congressman Fred Upton, who represents Michigan's 6th District, says his fellow GOP lawmakers will go after President Obama’s health care law piece by piece. Upton made the comments yesterday on "Fox News Sunday." The Associated Press reports that such a vote could come early in the new year after Republicans take control of the House. Upton will be Chairman of the  powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee in the new legislative session.

U.S. Congress
6:46 am
Mon January 3, 2011

Rep. Upton: Repealing health care law is top priority

Republican Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan's 6th District
Republican Conference Flickr

Republican Congressman Fred Upton, who represents Michigan's 6th District, says his fellow GOP lawmakers will go after the new health care law piece by piece.  Upton made the comments yesterday on "Fox News Sunday."

As The Associated Press reports:

That effort, says Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, will follow a vote to repeal the health care law outright. Such a vote could come early in the new year after the GOP takes control of the House. Upton is the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and he says that repealing the health care law is his top priority.

Upton says he hopes for a vote before President Obama gives this year's State of the Union address.

Governor Snyder
6:28 am
Mon January 3, 2011

Michigan's 48th Governor heads to Lansing

Governor Rick Snyder became the state's 48th Governor on Saturday
Photo courtesy of governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor Rick Snyder begins his first full week of work at the state Capitol today, Laura Weber reports. Snyder was sworn in as the state's 48th governor on Saturday. He told a crowd in front of the Capitol building that the state needs to move into the future with a positive attitude.

It is also time to be bold. I’ve been cautioned by many that expectations are already too high. We shouldn’t walk away from high expectations, it’s time to deliver on high expectations.

It's expected that Snyder will start signing his first executive orders to reorganize state government as soon as this week.

Investigative
2:55 pm
Sat January 1, 2011

Snyder sworn in as governor

Rick Snyder begins his new job as Michigan Governor.  Snyder took the oath of office on the steps of the capitol under sunny skies and and falling temperatures.

Following his campaign theme, Governor Snyder outlined four goals as he called for Michigan to reinvent itself.

“We will be a globally competitive leader in innovation.  Number two:  we will create more and better jobs.  Number three:  we will create a bright future for our young people.  And finally, we will do this together and not leave some behind,” Snyder said during his inaugural address.

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Arts/Culture
12:54 pm
Fri December 31, 2010

Utah's Sundance Film Festival comes to Michigan

"Win Win" will make its Sundance premiere at the Michigan Theater on Jan. 27
user otzberg Flickr

Michigan film buffs won’t have to fly to Utah to experience this month’s Sundance Film Festival. That’s because Sundance is bringing part of the festival to Ann Arbor.

This is the second year in a row that the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor has been tapped to premiere a Sundance Film during the actual festival in Utah.

Last year, the Michigan Theater premiered Cyrus, a movie by the Duplass brothers. This year, filmmaker Tom McCarthy will fly to Ann Arbor to premiere his movie Win Win on January 27.

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Economy
3:55 pm
Thu December 30, 2010

Michigan to change its food stamp distribution policy in 2011

Michigan will spread out its food stamp distributions throughout the month beginning Jan. 4, 2011
user mytvdinner Flickr

Michigan residents who rely on food stamps will see some changes beginning in January.

Michigan's 1.9 million food stamp recipients get their benefits in lump sum at the beginning of the month. Most food stamp purchases are made at that time, which can lead to long lines at the checkout counter and a shortage of fresh produce at some stores.

"We know that we’re going to be busier those days, so we typically have more staff in the store," says Joe Gappy, manager at Gigante Prince Valley Supermercado in southwest Detroit.

Beginning January 4th, Michigan will spread its food stamp distributions throughout the month. That means some recipients will receive their lump sum benefits on the 5th of the month, for example, others on the 19th.  Click here to see a chart detailing date changes for food assistance benefits.

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