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Farming
2:49 pm
Fri December 10, 2010

Dozens of counties in Michigan tagged as "Natural Disaster Areas"

A farm in Michigan
Maureen Reilly - flickr user

Update 2:38 p.m.:

There are more declarations of natural disaster areas in the state of Michigan. The 21 counties I wrote about below were for "excessive heat" disasters. The USDA has also issued natural disaster declarations for frost (the excessive cold occurred from March 1st through May 16th), AND for storms and rain.

The 32 counties that received the frost declarations can be found this FEMA page.

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Opinion
2:12 pm
Fri December 10, 2010

Commentary: Rays of Hope

We‘re in the middle of the holiday season, and in many ways, these aren’t terribly festive or inspiring times. We haven’t shaken off the effects of the Great Recession. Most of us know people who are out of work, in a time when there are too few jobs to be had.

We haven’t seen a lot of cooperation or willingness to work together from either our state or national governments. However, I was inspired by something this week. The American Civil Liberties Union of  Michigan ran a high school essay contest.

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Politics
1:14 pm
Fri December 10, 2010

Granholm highlights changes in culture, economy

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

In less than a month, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm will step down from office.    She met with reporters today to reflect on her 8 years in Office.

From the Associated Press:

Gov. Jennifer Granholm says her biggest accomplishment during the past eight years was changing a culture attuned more to factory jobs rather than college degrees and diversifying the state's economy.

The Democratic governor told reporters in a year-end interview Friday that her effort to restructure the economy to rely less on building automobiles "is the thing I'm most proud of."

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Politics
11:37 am
Fri December 10, 2010

Editorial pays homage to Pete Hoekstra

Michigan Representative Pete Hoekstra
hoekstra.house.gov

Representative Pete Hoekstra came into office in the 103rd Congress in 1993. He's going out in the 111th Congress at the end of this year.

Hoekstra announced his retirement in December 2008 when he decided to run for Governor of Michigan.

He lost that bid to Rick Snyder and will soon be out of a political office after 17 years.

Today, the Grand Rapids Press ran an editorial praising Hoekstra's tenure, saying,

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Sports
10:45 am
Fri December 10, 2010

Big Chill comes tomorrow in Ann Arbor

University of Michigan

More than 109,000 hockey fans are expected to be on hand for Saturday afternoon’s outdoor game at Michigan Stadium.  Its being called the Big Chill for a reason.

The Michigan Wolverines will skate against the Michigan State Spartans in a game that will likely break the all-time attendance record for a hockey game.

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Investigative
10:20 am
Fri December 10, 2010

Regulatory Changes Coming to Michigan?

"Governor-elect Rick Snyder has indicated the regulatory process needs to be streamlined.
rickforMI

Business groups say Michigan’s regulations and the state’s regulators make it more difficult to do business in the state than it needs to be.  During his campaign for governor, businessman Rick Snyder made it clear he agreed with that.

“Our regulatory system is backwards in this state.  Not only the amount of regulation, but how people are being treated.  Lansing is treating us as if we’re bad and should be controlled.  The average person is a good, honest person.  The average organization is trying to succeed.  We should be focused in on the exceptions.”

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Environment
10:02 am
Fri December 10, 2010

Michigan steps up the war on wild boar

Rural Michigan is fighting a war with feral swine and wild boars.   The problem is getting worse.   Now, the state is about to take a major step up declaring them an "invasive species"


The Associated Press reports:


Michigan's fight against feral swine and wild boar is escalating.  Department of Natural Resources and Environment Director Rebecca Humphries announced Friday she signed an order declaring the swine an invasive species in Michigan.

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Auto Industry
9:13 am
Fri December 10, 2010

GM CEO says automaker has been humbled

General Motors Headquarters, Detroit, MI
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Dan Akerson, General Motors' CEO, told the Economic Club of Washington D.C. this morning that his company was humbled by its "near-death experience" during its 2009 bankruptcy.

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News Roundup
7:47 am
Fri December 10, 2010

In this morning's news

Governor-Elect Snyder Talks Up Economic Goals

Governor-elect Rick Snyder spoke to university students yesterday in Detroit about reinventing Michigan’s economy. Snyder told the crowd of accounting students at Wayne State University that Michigan will beat analysts’ negative economic growth expectations for the state in the coming years, Sarah Hulett reports. Snyder is the state’s first certified public accountant to be elected Governor of the state. But, as The Detroit News reports, Snyder urged the students to have a career plan that focuses on more than just money.

A Switch in Congressional Roles

Two Michigan Congressmen are switching roles on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.  Republican Congressman Dave Camp of Midland will become Chairman of the Committee in the new legislative session because Republicans took control of the House in the November election. Democratic Congressman  Sander Levin of Royal Oak currently is the Committee's chair. Levin will take over as the Committee’s ranking member, the job Rep. Camp currently holds, in the next Congress.

Oakland County Won’t Take Over Pontiac Police Patrols

The Oakland County Commission voted down a plan yesterday that would have had that county’s sheriff’s department take over police patrolling in Pontiac. Pontiac’s state-appointed financial manager had pushed for Oakland County to take over the patrols to save Pontiac money. The city faces a projected $9 million budget deficit. The city is expected to bring the issue back to the Oakland County Commission next month, Steve Carmody reports.

Governor-elect
6:57 am
Fri December 10, 2010

Plans continue for Snyder's inauguration

Governor-elect Rick Snyder will take the oath of office on January 1st, 2011 at 12PM.
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor-elect Rick Snyder's inaugural day activities have been confirmed.  The governor-elect will be sworn in as Michigan's 48th governor on January 1st, 2011.  According to The Detroit Free Press, here's what we know:

  • The inaugural will last just one day.  Previous Michigan Governors' inaugurations have continued over more than one day and in multiple cities.
  • Governor-elect Snyder will take the oath of office at noon outside of the Capitol building in Lansing.  That will be followed by a receiving line that will take place inside.
  • An inaugural celebration will take place at 8 PM in East Lansing at Michigan State University.  Tickets are required for the event at a cost of $125.

Swearing in ceremonies will also take place on January 1st for Lt. Gov.-elect Brian Calley, Secretary of State-elect Ruth Johnson and Attorney General-elect Bill Schuette.

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CRIME
6:38 am
Fri December 10, 2010

Suspect in series of stabbings appears in court

Update 12/10/2010 6:28 a.m.:

A judge has ruled that there is enough evidence against Elias Abuelazam to send his cases to Genesee County Court.  That means Abuelazam now faces one murder trial and five attempted murder trials in connection with a series of stabbings in and around Flint earlier this year.  As the Associated Press reports the number of cases involving Abuelazam could grow:

Abuelazam will return to court Friday for a probable cause hearing in the stabbing death of Arnold Minor in August. Another murder case is scheduled for a similar hearing on Dec. 16.

Abuelazam also faces a charge of attempted murder in Ohio.

___

Update 12/9/2010 6:42 a.m.:

A man accused of a series of stabbings in Genesee County will appear in court today.

Elias Abuelazam will face four hearings, all involving charges of attempted murder in and around the Flint area earlier this year. A judge must determine whether there’s probable cause to send him to trial. Abuelazam has already been ordered to face one murder trial.

Two more probable-cause hearings are scheduled for tomorrow and next Thursday.

Governor-elect
5:46 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

Governor-elect touts nerd cred to accountants

Michigan Governor-elect Rick Snyder
wikimedia commons

Governor-elect Rick Snyder told a crowd in Detroit today that Michigan will beat analysts’ economic growth expectations in the coming years.

Snyder spoke to a group of accounting students at Wayne State University. He recounted an experience at a recent National Governors Association meeting.

Snyder says the investment firm Moody’s ranked each state for projected job growth. He described what he saw when he opened the folder for Michigan.

"The first number from 2009 to 2011 was 47," Snyder said. "The number from 2009 to 2014 was 50."

But the governor-elect called those projections "a piece of fiction."

"We’re going to beat the living daylights out of that number."

Snyder added that he plans to use his background as a CPA to put Michigan’s finances in order.

Education
5:36 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

Michigan's Tom Watkins selected for Upton Sinclair Award

Tom Watkins of Northville Michigan has been given the Upton Sinclair Award for education from EducationNews.org.

Watkins is the CEO of TDW and Associates, an educational consulting firm, and a former Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Michigan from 2001 to 2005.

In their release, EducationNews.org writes

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Shrinking Detroit
5:36 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

Detroit officials cagey about plans for shrinking city

Detroit officials say there are seven to nine areas of the city that will be targeted for investment.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

The future of Detroit will be the subject of dozens of meetings in the city early next year.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says there are seven to nine sectors that will see investment. But his deputy in charge of the Detroit Works Project, Karla Henderson, says it’s too early to define their boundaries. She says:

"What we do know is that some of our stronger neighborhoods tend to be the boundaries of the city of Detroit, and some of our neighborhoods where we’ve seen an increase in population are immigrant communities," said Henderson. "So we’re taking a look at all that data. "

Henderson says her team is looking at things like household incomes and education levels, as well as “quality of life” indicators like parks and schools, to determine the most viable neighborhoods. She says federal grants will be used to rehab city-owned and foreclosed homes in those areas.

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Auto/Economy
4:35 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

Ford To Hire New Workers at Louisville Plant - At New (Lower) Wage

A view of Ford Motor Company's assembly plant in Louisville

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BUSINESS
4:26 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

Borders Books posts big 3rd quarter loss

Even the fixtures within the new Borders Concept Store in Ann Arbor, Mich. have been redesigned to encourage customer exploration. Curved tables in the front of the store allow customers to move easily through the selection of spotlighted books.
(courtesy of Borders Group/photo credit: Laszlo Regos)

Borders Books reported the company lost $74 million dollars in the 3rd quarter. That's about twice as much as Borders lost in the 3rd quarter of 2009. The Ann Arbor based book seller continues to struggle in a competitive market.

In a written statement, Borders Group CEO Mike Edwards conceded his company's struggles:

Population
4:05 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

Downsizing Detroit

Mayor David Bing wants to downsize Detroit
Pablo Costa - picasa user

Detroit is a city built for 2 million people, but now has around 800,000. It's ruins have become famous. And some people, like artist Lowell Boileau, have said the problems Detroit faces are like a "slow moving Katrina."

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is leading a plan, called the Detroit Works Project, to shrink the city down to size. To make the city's 139 square mile footprint more manageable for city services like police, fire, sanitation, and water.

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Pontiac
3:38 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

Pontiac to keep its police department (for now)

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

UPDATED POST 15:37


 Oakland County commissioners today  overwhelmingly rejected a proposal for the sheriff’s office to takeover policing in Pontiac.


 The city of Pontiac’s state appointed financial manager proposed shutting down the city’s police department and replacing the officers with sheriff’s deputies as a way to save money for the cash strapped city.  The city of Pontiac has a projected budget deficit of 9 million dollars.  

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Transportation
3:33 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

Michigan left off the list of states getting more money for high speed rail

Amtrak train near Chicago
Steven Vance - Flickr

UPDATE 12/9/2010 3:33pm:

Michigan's been left off the list of state getting more federal money for high speed rail projects.  The New York Times reports:

The biggest winners of Ohio and Wisconsin’s money were California, which will receive another $624 million on top of the nearly $3 billion it has received so far toward the construction of a high-speed train from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and Florida, which will get another $342 million on top of the roughly $2 billion it has received to build a high-speed train between Orlando and Tampa.

The other states that will get Ohio and Wisconsin’s money will be Washington, which will get up to $161 million; Illinois, which will get $42.3 million; and Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oregon and Vermont, which will all get less than $10 million.

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Politics
3:17 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

Granholm calls for a jobs "Moon Shot"

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm
flickr user auberon

3 million jobs in 3 years. That's what soon-to-be-former-Governor Jennifer Granholm called for in her article in the Huffington Post.

Granholm calls for a "Jobs Race to the Top" modelled on the education "Race to the Top" program.

Dangle large sums of money in front of cash strapped states and see if you can get them to change their policies.

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