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Auto bailouts
5:15 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

"Successful Bankruptcies" - report says Detroit bailouts were worth it

GM and Chrysler suffered through bankruptcy in large part because it relied so heavily on SUV sales.
user ep_jhu Creative Commons

The Center for Automotive Research released a report today that analyzed the government bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler.

$80 billion was given to the auto companies. To date $13.4 billion has been repaid.

Tomorrow the GM "initial public offering" is expected to raise another $22 billion.

The reports authors say that even if the government doesn't get all of the $80 billion back, the government's investment will still have been worth it.

The report concludes:

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Government Budget
4:51 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

Kent County budget calls for elimination of 56 full time positions

Kent County Board of Commissioners
accesskent.com

Thursday morning Kent County Commissioners are expected to adopt a budget for next year that eliminates 56 full time positions. The cuts are part of an overall plan to keep county spending in line as revenue from property taxes decline.

2010 is the first year taxable value has gone down in Kent County. That’s the value property taxes are based on. Money collected from property taxes make up a little more than half of the county's general fund.

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General Motors
4:14 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

GM IPO could break records

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has been the architect behind the GM IPO.
Jay Tamboli Creative Commons

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that GM's IPO tomorrow could be a biggy:

General Motors Co. said Wednesday that it will increase the size of its initial public offering by about 30% to 478 million shares, which could make it the largest global IPO in history.

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Changing Gears
3:34 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

Reinventing Pittsburgh: Part 3

Pittsburgh's Hill District
Erika Katz

Drive east from downtown Pittsburgh and you’ll pass a church. At least, it was a church.

Today, the alter has been replaced with stainless steel casks of beer, and the pews are now a bar and tables. It’s another Pittsburgh transformation. Saint John the Baptist Church is now the Church Brew Works.

It’s one of those places people tell you: you have to go when you visit Pittsburgh. So, it wasn’t a hard sell to get a bunch of young professionals to meet there.

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Legal Issues
11:28 am
Wed November 17, 2010

ACLU challenges MI 'juvenile lifer' law

ACLU
Slightly North/Flickr

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the state of Michigan for its law that allows people convicted as minors to be imprisoned for life with no chance of parole.

The ACLU says the law violates the U.S. Constitution because it is "cruel and unusual punishment."

In a press release, the ACLU says the lawsuit is:

...on behalf of nine Michigan citizens who were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for crimes committed when they were minors. The lawsuit charges that a Michigan sentencing scheme that denies the now-adult plaintiffs an opportunity for parole and a fair hearing to demonstrate their growth, maturity and rehabilitation constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and violates their constitutional rights.

According to the release:

The U.S. is the only country in the world that sentences youth to life without parole, and Michigan incarcerates the second highest number of people serving life sentences without parole for crimes committed when they were 17 years old or younger. Currently, there are 350 individuals serving such mandatory life sentences in Michigan. This includes more than 100 individuals who were sentenced to life without parole who were present or committed a felony when a homicide was committed by someone else.

Michigan Politics
10:13 am
Wed November 17, 2010

What's next for Virg Bernero?

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero
Photo courtesy of www.votevirg.com

The Lansing State Journal takes a look today at what Lansing Mayor Virg Bernro has been up to since losing the Michigan gubernational election earlier this month to Republican Rick Snyder.

In an article titled, "After failed bid for governor, it's business as usual for Lansing Mayor Virg Bernro," the LSJ reports:

Bernero wants to turn his attention to economic development... and preparations for 600 new jobs at General Motors Co.'s Lansing Grand River plant.  There's also "a few other things we haven't even yet announced economic-wise," Bernero said.  Lansing's cash-strapped budget also should keep him occupied, he said.  "I am the mayor," Bernero said. "I'm excited about doing the job and I'm excited about where we are...You'll have to stay tuned."

Last year, Bernero won a 2nd four-year term as Lansing mayor.

When asked whether he would run for another political job, Bernero told the LSJ, it was, "hard to say," and that there's, "plenty of time to think about it."

News Roundup
8:08 am
Wed November 17, 2010

In this morning's news...

Benefit Extension

Without a new extension of jobless benefits, 45,000 long-term unemployed people in Michigan will lose their unemployment benefits on December 1st, Rick Pluta reports. State unemployment officials hope Congress will act in the next two weeks to extend the benefits. Michigan's unemployment rate is 13%, the second-highest in the country.

Volt Already Winning Awards

General Motor's Volt has been named the 2011 Car of the Year by Motor Trend Magazine. The Volt will hit select showrooms in California, Texas, New York and Washington, D.C. next month. The Volt can go up to 40 miles on battery power and then a gasoline generator works to power the electric motor. The editor in chief of Motor Trend Magazine says on its website that the Volt has, "some of the most advanced engineering ever seen on an American production car."

Hamtramck To Seek Bankruptcy

The Detroit News reports, "the city of Hamtramck, awash in debt, has asked the state for permission to take the unprecedented step of filing for bankruptcy." Hamtramck's city manager says the city is facing a $3 million debt and could run out of money in January. The Detroit Free Press says, "a city cannot declare bankruptcy, but a state-appointed emergency financial manager can." A state Treasury Department spokesman told the Detroit News that no Michigan municipality has ever declared bankruptcy before.

Michigan Economy
5:26 pm
Tue November 16, 2010

Michigan celebrates global entrepreneurship week

unleashingideas.org

In west Michigan several organizations are collaborating on more than a dozen events to foster the entrepreneurial spirit.

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Governor-elect Rick Snyder
12:35 pm
Tue November 16, 2010

Snyder to attend "Governor School"

Governor-elect Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor-elect Rick Snyder will attend the National Governor Association's school for new governors this week, according to Crain's Detroit Business.  Crain's also says the governor-elect will attend a meeting of the Republican Governors Association

According to the Republican Governors Association's website, the RGA, "was a key investor in Rick Snyder's victory spending a total of $8 million."

Governor-elect Snyder will take the oath of office on January 1st, 2011.

Auto Industry
12:28 pm
Tue November 16, 2010

Chevy Volt named 2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year

Motor Trend Magazine named GM's Chevy Volt 2011 Car of the Year
photo by Jurvetson (flickr)

Motor Trend Magazine has named General Motor’s Chevrolet Volt the 2011 Car of the Year.

On its website, the magazine’s editor in chief said the Volt has “some of the most advanced engineering ever seen on an American production car.”

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Changing Gears
9:52 am
Tue November 16, 2010

Reinventing Pittsburgh: Part 2

The University of Pittsburgh's Center for Biotechnology and Bioengineering sits on the site of an old steel mill. It's an example of how the city transitioned away from its industrial past.
Zach Morris Creative Commons

When Dennis Yablonsky took over Pittsburgh's main development group last year, everyone was telling him it was time to brag.

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Michigan Politics
9:24 am
Tue November 16, 2010

Lessenberry: what do governors DO after they leave office?

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

When Governor-elect Rick Snyder assumes the role of governor in January it will mark the end of Jennifer Granholm’s final term as Governor of Michigan.  All Things Considered Host Jenn White sat down with Michigan Radio Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry to discuss the roles of former governors in Michigan history.

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General Motors
8:39 am
Tue November 16, 2010

GM boosts stock price

General Motors says it’s raising the price range for its initial public stock offering.

The stock will sell for $32 to $33 per share.

That price range is about 14% higher than was previously expected.

GM didn’t give a reason for the increase but people who have been briefed on the sale say it’s because of high demand from investors.

The IPO is expected on Thursday.  The Detroit Free Press reports, "the U.S. Treasury is selling 365 million shares, which will reduce its stake in GM from 60.8% to about 40%."

News Roundup
7:10 am
Tue November 16, 2010

In this morning's news...

Snyder Picks Chief of Staff

Governor-elect Rick Snyder announced Dennis Muchmore as his Chief of Staff in Lansing yesterday. Rick Pluta reports Muchmore, "owned a multi-client lobbying firm before retiring eight years ago. He is also an avid outdoorsman who served briefly as the interim president of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs." Snyder said he chose Muchmore because of his knowledge of how Lansing politics work.

Job Vacancies in Lansing

Because of early retirement incentive packages, some 4,800 state employees will leave their jobs by next month. That means it's likely that Governor-elect Rick Snyder will have to figure out how fill those vacancies come January when he is sworn in. Reporter Jennifer Guerra spoke with Gary Olson with the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency. Olsen, "points out that the number of state employees has declined 13% over the past decades, so if Snyder replaces only two-thirds of the job vacancies some services will suffer." Olson says the state is projected to save around $81 million because of the early retirements.

Going Hungry in Michigan

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's annual Food Insecurity' study finds about 13.4% of people in Michigan have trouble getting enough food and 5% go hungry. Both of those numbers have increased since the mid 1990's. Nationwide, about 14.7% of households were "food insecure."

Governor-elect Snyder
6:46 am
Tue November 16, 2010

Snyder announces Chief of Staff

Governor-elect Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor-elect Rick Snyder announced Dennis Muchmore as his Chief of Staff in Lansing yesterday.  Rick Pluta reports Muchmore, “owned a multi-client lobbying firm before retiring eight years ago. He is also an avid outdoorsman who served briefly as the interim president of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs.” 

Snyder said he chose Muchmore because of his knowledge of how Lansing politics work.  The Detroit News reports Muchmore:

...is the most unorthodox choice.  He hasn't worked directly for an elected official since the 1970s, when he served as an aide to Macomb County Democratic state Sen. John Bowman.
 

Muchmore is 63.

Education
5:55 pm
Mon November 15, 2010

Fellowship to send math and science teachers to high-need classrooms

(Left to right) Godfrey Lee Superintendent David Britten, GVSU President Tom Haas, and GRPS Superintendent Bernard Taylor Jr. sign the agreement Monday.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Grand Valley State University signed an agreement Monday that will help put more science and math teachers in high-risk classrooms.

The agreement is part of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship Program. Six universities in Michigan are participating in the program.

It offers 40 recent grads $30,000 to get their teaching degrees and spend 3 years in high need, urban middle and high school classrooms.

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General Motors
5:12 pm
Mon November 15, 2010

Background on the GM IPO story

The old GM Headquarters in Detroit.
Historic American Buildings Survey

General Motors (GM) will be in the news a lot this week, so if you sat out the GM story up until this point, here's a quick summary to get you caught up.

Today's General Motors is not your father's General Motors. The old GM went bankrupt. The company couldn't pay its bills (they had some big ones).

But instead of letting the whole company collapse, a court stepped in to reorganize the auto giant (under chapter 11 bankruptcy).

The court split the old GM in two.

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State politics
2:02 pm
Mon November 15, 2010

Gov-elect Rick Snyder faces nearly 4,800 job vacancies in Lansing

Around 4,800 state employees accepted early retirement incentive packages
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Around 4,800 state workers accepted early retirement incentive packages and will leave their jobs by December. It will likely be Governor elect Rick Snyder’s job to figure out how to fill those vacancies when he heads to Lansing in January.

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Changing Gears
1:00 pm
Mon November 15, 2010

Reinventing Pittsburgh: Part 1

The U.S. Steel Tower is the tallest building in Pittsburgh, but the steel industry no longer dominates the city.
User 1sock Creative Commons

When I first got to Pittsburgh, I did something foolish.

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Economy
11:55 am
Mon November 15, 2010

You fix the budget deficit

The New York Times "You Fix the Budget" interactive tool
Screen grab from the New York Times

It's easy to criticize. Now you're in charge.

The New York Times has created a slick little interactive tool that displays different solutions to the country's projected budget deficits.

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