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News Roundup
8:48 am
Mon February 28, 2011

In this morning's news...

David Erickson Flickr

Snyder Meeting with Fellow Governors

Governor Rick Snyder is in Washington D.C. for the annual National Governors Association winter meetings. The nation’s Governors had dinner last night at the White House where, the Associated Press reports, President Obama told them:

"Our federal system is a laboratory for democracy. In each of your states, you guys are trying all kinds of things. Oftentimes, your best ideas end up percolating up and end up becoming models and templates for the country."

Governor Snyder and other governors will meet today with President Obama and Vice President Biden.

February Auto Sales

Auto analysts are expecting to see an improvement in auto sales in February compared with the same time last year. That’s despite some interference from Mother Nature, Tracy Samilton reports. Samilton explains that it’s not unusual for auto sales to decline because of big snowstorms. But, one auto analyst told Samilton, auto sales still probably improved in February by 20 percent.

City Administrator Resigns

Eric Waidelich, Allen Park’s City Administrator, has resigned. The news comes less than a week after the Allen Park City Council voted to lay off the city’s entire fire department because of budget problems. As Rina Miller reports, “A movie studio-deal gone bad is getting some of the blame for Allen Park’s financial troubles. The Detroit suburb bought an old Visteon facility in 2008 for almost $25 million, banking on a plan to lease the property to Unity Studios. The deal flopped  and now Allen Park is broke.”

Governor Snyder
6:40 am
Mon February 28, 2011

Snyder: Michigan is not Wisconsin

Governor Rick Snyder
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor Rick Snyder is asking state workers to be patient as his administration tries to set Michigan’s fiscal affairs in order.

The governor sent an e-mail to state workers last week saying he does not want a Wisconsin-style confrontation. The e-mail was sent to 50,000 state employees.

Governor Snyder promised to work within the collective bargaining process on concessions to help balance the budget, and he complimented state workers on their dedication and creativity.

He specifically said,“Michigan is not Wisconsin,” and “tough decisions do not have to be polarizing.”

The governor said his goal is to stabilize Michigan’s finances so state workers don’t have to negotiate new concessions in the future to help address a financial emergency. And, Snyder hinted that future changes to public employee compensation might be in store. He said some public employees are overpaid, some underpaid, and he has some ideas on correcting that.

consolidating government
2:27 pm
Sun February 27, 2011

Private sector leaders proposing Kent County, Grand Rapids merger

Grand Rapids City Hall and Kent County's Administration Building are located right next to one another.
Steven Depolo Creative Commons

More than a dozen private business leaders are taking steps that would make it possible to merge Kent County and Grand Rapids to a single government. The One Kent Coalition includes more than a dozen lawyers, businessmen, and former elected officials.

Attorney Nyal Deems (former mayor of East Grand Rapids) presented the One Kent proposal to the Kent County Board of Commissioners Thursday. He says the coalition would like to see broader approach to governing the metro Grand Rapids region, rather than a number of smaller municipal governments.

 “All of our flow and economic interaction and cultural and social interaction ignores all those boundaries but governmentally we live by them. It would be good to mirror our communities more to match the way we live and work and function."

Read more
Science/Medicine
11:16 am
Sun February 27, 2011

Study will use acupressure to treat breast-cancer related fatigue

An MSU study will teach women to use acupressure in an effort to relieve fatigue from breast cancer treatments.
medindia.net

Women who’ve been treated for breast cancer often suffer from extreme fatique. A Michigan State University professor wants to try an ancient procedure to see if it can relieve the  symptoms.

Gwen Wyatt, a professor at MSU’s College of Nursing, says breast cancer patients who’ve undergone chemotherapy and radiation therapies often complain of being very tired -- all the time.

Wyatt will teach 300 women to try an alternative therapy and will follow their results over five years.

Read more
Politics
5:52 pm
Sat February 26, 2011

Demonstrators rally at state capitol

A scene from the Wisconsin solidarity ralley in Michigan
User P.E.C. Flickr

Several hundred demonstrators braved cold and snow to gather in front of the state Capitol Saturday afternoon. It was both a gesture of support for Wisconsin protesters, and to oppose some Republican-sponsored measures before the Michigan Legislature.

This was the third big rally this week by unionized teachers, police officers, and other public workers opposed to taxing pensions, suspending arbitration rights, and requiring workers to pay more of their health care costs.

Governor Rick Snyder says he is anxious to avoid the angry standoffs between public employee unions and Republican leaders that have taken place in other states.

Sports
11:54 am
Sat February 26, 2011

Hamtramck ballpark seeks historic designation

adwriter creative commons

Baseball lovers and preservation advocates are working to win historic designation for a Hamtramck ballpark that was home to Negro League games in the 1930s.

The Detroit Stars played at Hamtramck Stadium between 1930 and 1937.

Gary Gillette is a baseball writer and and editor of the ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia. He says Hamtramck Stadium is one of only five Negro League sites that have survived.

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Crime
5:18 pm
Fri February 25, 2011

Michigan-based company's security training leads to arrest of terror suspect

Security training at Con-Way Freight helped employees spot a shipment of chemicals that led to the arrest of a man suspected in a terror plot.
infotruck.blogspot.com

A Michigan-based company is being credited for detecting a shipment of chemicals thought to be part of a terrorist plan to blow up U.S. targets.

Con-way Freight of Ann Arbor has a Homeland Security program in which employees are trained to spot suspicious shipments.

That program paid off this week when a worker found a package of a chemical called phenol being shipped to Lubbock, Texas.

Con-way managers notified the FBI and a 20-year-old student from Saudi Arabia was arrested.

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Arts/Culture
3:49 pm
Fri February 25, 2011

Shutting the Gate to Eden: Michigan on the Page Part 1

Andrew Flickr

Welcome to part one of our web exclusive series, “Michigan on the Page.”

Over the following months, we will be talking with writers from all over Michigan about what books they think best represent the state.

Writers, like many of the state’s residents, have all kinds of opinions on what kinds of writing really speak to Michigan and its citizens.

Are there highlights? Tons. Way too many to list. But here’s a short selection of recent and all-time favorites:

Read more
Economy
3:15 pm
Fri February 25, 2011

Great Lakes generate more than 1.5 million jobs, study finds

More than 500,000 Michigan jobs are directedly related to the Great Lakes.
merchantmarinejobs.org

The Great Lakes have a bigger impact on Michigan’s economy than many people  may realize.

The Michigan Sea Grant says more than a million and a half jobs are directly connected to the Great Lakes.

Those jobs generate more than $62 billion in wages every year.

"This is the second time we've done this analysis," says Jennifer Read of Michigan Sea Grant. "And it's always surprising -- to me, at least --  the extent of the jobs that are directly related to the Great Lakes, across multiple sectors.  It's just a huge impact.

Read more
Environment
2:23 pm
Fri February 25, 2011

Wayne State, Univ of Windsor create joint environmental law clinic

Detroit skyline seen from Windsor, Ontario, across the Detroit River.
Bernt Rostad creative commons

About a dozen law students from Detroit and Windsor will have a chance to work together on environmental legal issues.

The law schools at Wayne State University and the University of Windsor will team up this fall to create North America's first  transnational environmental law clinic.

Read more
winter
12:33 pm
Fri February 25, 2011

Wayne Co. roads chief fired over snow plowing failure

Ten years ago, Wayne County had more than 700 people working for the Roads Division during the winter months. This year it has a little more than 300.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Wayne County has fired the head of its roads division after getting deluged with complaints about unplowed roads.

Metro Detroit has as much as ten inches of snow on the ground after a storm earlier this week.

Michelle Smart commutes to her job at Ford in Dearborn using the Southfield Freeway. She says on Monday’s drive, people were trying to make lanes where they could through the snow.

"The plows had not come through. It was extremely slippery and dangerous."

Road crews across the state have been struggling to keep up with this winter’s near-record snowfall with budgets that are much smaller than in years past.

Ten years ago, Wayne County had more than 700 people working for the roads division during the winter months. This year it has a little more than 300.

Arts/Culture
12:28 pm
Fri February 25, 2011

Borders No. 1, where it all began in Ann Arbor

Borders Books has filed for bankruptcy. One former employee remembers the first store in Ann Arbor.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Borders Books started in Ann Arbor as a small independent book store.

Tom and Louis Borders opened it in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1971.

The first Borders bookstore was located at 209 State Street, north of the State Theater.

Eve Silberman was a graduate student in Ann Arbor when she got a job at the very first Borders Bookstore owned by the Borders brothers.

The company recently declared bankruptcy.

Silberman sat down to talk with public radio host Dick Gordon of The Story.

Silberman talked with Gordon about her memories of working at the first Borders bookstore (she described herself as "not a very good worker").

She recalled several things about the first Borders Bookstore:

  • Joe Gable was the "shaper and caretaker" of the store (many thought Gable was a Borders).
  • Gable saw the store as a "cathedral of books" and the workers were the "worshippers."
  • Classical music played in the store.
  • Potential employees had to take a test to get a job at the store.
  • The store carried unique titles.
  • The store's cash register was complex at the time.

Host Dick Gordon asked Silberman about the sense in Ann Arbor about the misfortunes of Borders.

Read more
Commentary
12:18 pm
Fri February 25, 2011

General Motors Wins a Star

Two years ago, when President Obama decided to spend billions to prop up General Motors, and then to guide it  through a cushioned, “soft landing” bankruptcy, there were a lot of doubters. Many thought nature should have been allowed to take its course, and that the once-mighty General should have been allowed to die.

At the time, a commentator on NBC News said “As the GM bailout goes, so goes the Obama presidency.”

Read more
Arts/Culture
11:12 am
Fri February 25, 2011

Detroit Symphony strike plays out on facebook

This facebook post by DSO management generated 169 comments
screen shot DSO facebook fan page

As the fight between Detroit Symphony Orchestra management and musicians drags on for the fourth month, another fight of sorts is playing out on facebook.

Before the strike vs. now

The DSO  facebook fan page used to function like a typical fan page - stories about visiting conductors, upcoming concerts, and news about the orchestra’s Tiny Tots series.

But as the strike progressed, management has turned the DSO facebook fan page into a strike-update page, posting about negotiations and contract proposals. (The Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians have their own facebook page and post their viewpoints there.)

Some, like DSO Executive director Anne Parsons, describe the DSO facebook fan page as "a pretty active place to be." DSO conductor Leonard Slatkin commented on the page's level of "vitriol" at one point in a Detroit News Article.

Read more
higher Education
10:41 am
Fri February 25, 2011

WMU approves tuition increases for some students

George Sprau Tower at WMU
Matt Newton Creative Commons

Although Michigan universities face huge funding cuts from the state, this rate hike has been years in the making. The change will affect a few thousand undergraduates studying at Western’s business school and school of fine arts.

Read more
Economy
10:39 am
Fri February 25, 2011

Gas prices & Michigan retailers

Rising gasoline prices threaten to take some of the optimism out of a rosy new forecast for retail sales in Michigan.  A recent survey of Michigan retailers finds 76% expect to see their sales improve this spring. 

  Good holiday sales are lifting many business owners expectations for the year ahead. 

Tom Scott is with the Michigan Retail Association. Scott says the survey was taken before gasoline prices spiked this week.   He says high gas prices could be a problem for retailers.

 “But the bigger concern, more than just their own delivery trucks, is generally the effect on consumers.  And of course, every dollar a consumer puts in his or her gas tank is a dollar that can’t be spent at the store.”

Scott says a few years ago when gas prices reached four dollars a gallon, retail sales dried up.  But he says pent up consumer demand may keep the customers coming, even with high gas prices.

News Roundup
9:34 am
Fri February 25, 2011

In this morning's news...

Snow

More snow on the heels of more snow is bringing up talk of records in Michigan.

For the Detroit area, NOAA lists 1908 as the snowiest February on record when 38.4 inches fell in the area.

The Detroit News says this winter has been the second snowiest on record with a total of 30.3 inches falling in February.

The News spoke with Karen Clark, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service:

Clark said she doesn't think the rest of the month will be snowy enough to break the record. "Let's hope not," she said. "That would be a lot of snow in the next few days."

The Detroit News has some historical photographs of snowstorms past in an article from 2002.

What snow storms do you remember most? The blizzards of 1978 and 1979 come up a lot in our office.

Fighting for Film Incentives

Groups met last night to push the Michigan Governor and Legislature to reconsider cutting the Michigan Film Incentive tax credits.

As Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett reports, Michigan has the most generous tax credit in the nation at 42%.

Hulett covered a group meeting last night in metro-Detroit:

The message people need to deliver to Lansing, said Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom, is that the credits have created a rare bright spot in Michigan’s economy:

"This is not about saving Tom Cruise. This is about saving Tom Farmington Hills, and Tom Novi and Tom Detroit."

Hulett reports that "Governor Snyder wants to get rid of the tax credit and replace it with a program worth $25 million a year."

Here's a video of the meeting last night from Fox 2 News in Detroit:

Thousands Gather at Film Industry Town Hall: MyFoxDETROIT.com

Shrinking the City of Flint

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling gave a "State of the City" address last night, and like much of the state -  and the country, for that matter - Walling talked cuts.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody covered Walling's address:

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling spent much of last night address talking about what’s working in his city.  But he also talked about what he thinks would help the city deal with a growing budget deficit,  ‘shrinking the size of city hall.’   Walling wants to drop funding for some city commissions and eliminate some executive positions.

"My proposed changes would save the city of Flint $6 million over 4 years.  Over $15 million dollars over 10 years.   Its not the whole solution.  But its an important part of it.  Its an important part that makes a difference."

The city of Flint wants to cover its $17 million budget deficit by raising funds on the bond market.

It has to get permission from the State Administration Board to do that. So far, the Board has tabled its decision.

If the city can't raise bond money, it might be facing bankruptcy or a state takeover.

Politics
12:58 am
Fri February 25, 2011

Heavyweights, bit players organize in support of film credits

Film producer Eddie Rubin, left, and director Danny Mooney are among those mobilizing support for Michigan's film tax credits.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Over a thousand people packed a metro-Detroit banquet center last night to try and rescue Michigan’s budding film industry.

They’re mounting a campaign to persuade Michigan’s governor and lawmakers to preserve tax incentives for filming in the state. For the past three years Michigan has had the most generous credit in the nation, at 42 percent. Governor Rick Snyder wants to eliminate the tax break.

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Politics
8:01 pm
Thu February 24, 2011

Flint mayor proposes to 'shrink' city hall

Flint mayor Dayne Walling delivers his 'State of the City' address
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The city of Flint is facing a multi-million dollar budget deficit.   And in his state of the city address tonight, Mayor Dayne Walling proposed ‘shrinking’ the size of city hall as one partial solution.

 “I’m not giving up on Flint…and I know you’re not either"

Read more
Nutrition
5:33 pm
Thu February 24, 2011

National pilot program targeting child hunger in the summer launches in Grand Rapids

Officials display the healthy food low income parents could buy through the pilot program.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

More than half a million Michigan kids qualified for free and reduced lunches last year. But only about 1 in 6 of them took advantage of the programs offered during the three month summer break.

By the numbers

  • The nation: 18.5 million children are eligible – 3.3 million (18%) participated
  • In Michigan: 546,000 children are eligible – 92,500 (17%) participated
Read more

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