News

Pages

News Roundup
8:06 am
Wed May 4, 2011

In this morning's news...

In this morning's news, Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Election Results

Voters went to the polls across Michigan yesterday to decide a variety of issues, from school millages, to funding for public safety, transportation, and libraries.

  • In Flint, voters renewed a millage that pays for more than a dozen police officers. Flint has struggled with a rising violent crime rate for the past few years. City police have investigated about ninety homicides in the last sixteen months, Steve Carmody reports. But, as Carmody notes, “Flint voters narrowly rejected a millage request that would have reopened the city jail. Budget problems have meant the jail has only been used sporadically since the late 1980’s.”
  • Lansing city residents voted no on a millage that would have kept public safety services from facing deep cuts. The millage would have increased city residents’ property taxes about four percent to raise about $8.5 million over five years, Sarah Alvarez reports. Lansing faces a $20 million dollar budget shortfall next year.
  • Supporters of a millage to fund and expand bus services in the Grand Rapids metro area celebrated a narrow victory last night, Lindsey Smith reports. More than 34,000 people cast ballots and the millage passed by just 136 votes. The bus system, known as The Rapid, will now be able to serve riders later at night, on the weekends, and more frequently during the workday.
State Legislature
7:54 am
Wed May 4, 2011

Tax plan meets resistance in state Senate

Inside the Capitol Building, Lansing, Michigan
Cedar Bend Drive Flickr

Leaders in the Republican state Senate say they still have to wrangle more votes to get a sweeping tax-reform package passed.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says he will meet with Governor Rick Snyder and House Speaker Jase Bolger to update them on where the tax overhaul stands in the Senate.

"We want to be in sync. We're worked together as a team so far, and we want to continue to do that."

Even though Richardville has been able to work well with Snyder and Bolger on the tax reform package, it appears he is still meeting resistance to the deal from his fellow Senate Republicans. A handful of Republican senators have said they will not vote for the deal that includes a tax on future pensioners. Richardville says he will not make changes to the proposal as it was agreed upon and passed by the House. But he hopes to have enough votes to pass it through the Senate next week.

May 3rd Election
6:37 am
Wed May 4, 2011

Washtenaw County voters approve special education millage

Washtenaw County voters approved a millage for special education in yesterday's election.
WoodleyWonderWorks Flickr

Voters in Washtenaw County passed a special education millage renewal in yesterday's election. That means local school districts and charter schools in the county will receive about $14 million dollars for special education services. According to unofficial election results released by Washtenaw County, 76% of voters approved the millage renewal.

Heritage Newspapers reports:

The millage is specifically for special education students, who make up about 14 percent of the students within the WISD. The largest number is faced with some form of learning disability, and the second most have a speech or language impairment.

May 3rd election
2:42 am
Wed May 4, 2011

Grand Rapids area supports more bus services...by less than 0.5% margin

Memebers of the Friends of Transit group try to figure out how close they are to winning just before the announcement Tuesday night.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Supporters of a millage to fund and expand bus services in the Grand Rapids metro area celebrated a narrow victory last night.

More than 34,000 people cast ballots. It passed by just 136 votes.

David Bulkowski breathed a huge sigh of relief after hours of unclear results. He’s with the Friends of Transit – a political action committee supporting the bus service.

“We are conservative West Michigan. And together these 6 communities have said ‘yep, we want it.”

The bus system, known as The Rapid, will now be able to serve riders later at night, on the weekends, and more frequently during the workday.

Read more
May 3rd Election
12:49 am
Wed May 4, 2011

Flint voters split on public safety millages

Flint mayor Dayne Walling (left) and city public safty director Alvern Lock listen as the results of Tuesday's voting slowly comes in last night.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Voters in Flint sent a mixed message on public safety on Tuesday. 

 Mayor Dayne Walling was glad to see voters renew a millage that pays for more than a dozen police officers.  

 “I’m very pleased to see the voters have overwhelmingly supported the renewal of our police force.   The budget that was proposed to the city council…every dollar that we projected in that budget will now be able to be expected.”

Read more
May 3 election
11:23 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

Lansing turns down "essential services" millage

Lansing city residents voted "no" on a millage that would have kept public safety services from facing deep cuts.  City residents voted 52 percent to 48 percent against the millage.

The millage would have increased city residents property taxes about four percent to raise about 8.5 million dollars over five years.

Virg Bernero is the Mayor of Lansing.

"With prices going up, with gas prices soaring, with home values going down, this was one price increase that people did have a choice about. This was an opportunity where they could say no, and they did. In a sense I can’t fault them for that. But this was the one that really affects their life, and their safety."

Lansing faces a $20 million dollar budget shortfall next year. Bernero says the City Council will now proceed with what he calls an “all cuts” budget. It includes the possible shuttering of three fire stations and the loss of about 120 jobs between the fire and police departments.

Tom Krug is the President of the Fraternal Order of Police.

"Obviously what’s going to happen is there are going to be major cuts at the Lansing Police Department and Fire Department. It’s going to impact public safety. And it’s more than just numbers, it’s people and families and it’s very disappointing… I think it’s a referendum on the economy. But you also have to vote your conscience, too. I think it was time to step up, and the voters didn’t."

Read more
Auto/Economy
10:52 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

Chrysler surviving

A new kind of customer began showing up at Schultz Motors of Milan after Chrysler ran a defiant, two-minute ad during the Superbowl -- young guys who’d never owned a Chrysler before.  But they wanted the car rap star Eminen was driving in that ad. 

Tyler Schultz says it helps that the 200 is a more appealing car than its predecessor the Sebring.

"The interior is very well-appointed, it's very driver-friendly, and you can see the list price is $24,000.  So with the incentives on top of that it comes in really affordable.  So this car’s got a lot of bang for the buck."

Read more
May 3rd Election
10:11 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

Jackson voters want to keep separate police and fire departments

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Jackson voters decided not merge their city police and fire departments.  The proposal to create a single public safety department lost by a wide margin.

Jackson Mayor Karen Dunigan is disappointed with the result. She says the city can’t afford to operate two separate staffs.

Read more
Education
5:46 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

Detroit schools move forward with charter plans

Robert Bobb

The Detroit Public Schools is moving ahead with its controversial 2012 Renaissance Plan.

That’s Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb’s plan to turn up to 50 current schools into charters, rather than closing them down.

Bobb says 18 organizations have submitted bids to transform some district schools into charters.

Read more
Politics
5:41 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

Critical week for Detroit's financial future

Both the Detroit City Council and Mayor Dave Bing say this is a crucial week for getting the city’s budget in order.

Detroit will end the fiscal year in June with a budget deficit of at least $180 million.

Both Mayor Bing and the Council declare they’ll work together to avoid a state takeover of the city’s finances.

Read more
May 3rd Election
5:07 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

It's "Millage Time" - find links to May 3rd election results

The Secretary of State says local jurisdictions and school districts in 82 of Michigan's 83 counties are conducting elections today.
user eyspahn Flickr

Dozens of communities across Michigan will be voting on millages that will raise or maintain their current property and real estate taxes to support city services and their school systems.

There are also many communities voting for candidates for school and community college boards.

To find election results in your area, you can find a link to your local county's election page on our election coverage map.

Polls are open until 8 p.m.

May 3rd election
4:32 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

Volunteers work to get out the vote in Grand Rapids

Lizbeth Espinoza and Michael Tuffelmire stop at laundromats, super markets, and food stands like this one to make sure people know about the election and to offer them a ride to the polls.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Voters in Grand Rapids and 5 surrounding cities are voting Tuesday on a millage increase to support expanded public transportation.

Lizbeth Espinoza and Michael Tuffelmire walk into small Mexican super market in the mostly-Hispanic Roosevelt Park neighborhood. Tuffelmire says many people here aren’t aware there are any other elections but the big one in November.

That's part of the reason they’re driving around a passenger van, picking up anyone who needs a ride to vote.

“I’m just trying to just, no matter what people want to vote, I’m trying to make easier access for them," Tuffelmire said.

Read more
Education
4:08 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

U of M conference shines spotlight on the "creative process"

U of M's conference looks at why art making is important at research universities.
Dani Davis

The “creative process” will take center stage at a conference this week at the University of Michigan.

Theresa Reid heads up ArtsEngine at the University of Michigan, and she believes “art making” should have a higher profile at research universities:

Read more
Auto/Economy
3:50 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

Automakers release sales numbers today

The Chrysler 200 helped lead the "best month for Chrysler Group mid-size sedans since March 2008."
IFCAR wikimedia commons

Sales numbers for April are coming in today, and there are more signs that the American public has pent up energy to buy new cars. As they did in 2008, higher gas prices are driving demand for smaller, fuel efficient cars. U.S. Automakers are more prepared for that demand this time around.

Update 3:50 p.m.

Chrysler announced the "best April sales since 2008" - a 22% increase compared with sales in April 2010. The company sold 95,703 cars in April.

Read more
The Death of Osama bin Laden
3:00 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

MSU prof reacts to bin Laden media coverage

Salah Hassan, Michigan State Univerty professor of Muslim Studies
(courtesy of Michigan State University)

Most people in the Middle East don’t seem to be angry that U-S forces killed Osama bin Laden.  Salah Hassan coordinates the Islam, Muslims and Journalism Education program  at Michigan State University. He’s watching Mid East media coverage following the death of the Al-Qaeda leader.

Read more
Arts/Culture
11:45 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Artpod: Arts Patronage 2.0

Michigan artists are turning to websites like Kickstarter to raise funds for their projects.
user Sultry creative commons

On today's Artpod, we'll take a look at how the image of the "rich" arts patron is starting to be re-imagined, thanks in large part to the internet.

Meet the artist...

Read more
Food
11:44 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Salmonella contamination prompts tomato recall

Six L's Packing Company Inc. says the recalled product was packed on April 11 under the Cherry Berry lot code DW-H in clam shells or 20-pound cardboard containers.
Six L's Packing Company

Concern over salmonella contamination has prompted a voluntary recall of certain types of tomatoes.

From the Associated Press:

A Florida tomato grower is voluntarily recalling its grape tomatoes after a sample tested positive for salmonella.

Six L's Packing Company Inc. said in a statement Monday that no illnesses had been reported in connection to the recall as of April 29.

The Immokalee, Fla.-based company says the recalled product was packed on April 11 under the Cherry Berry lot code DW-H in clam shells or 20-pound cardboard containers. The tomatoes were distributed to California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia, as well as Canada.

The tomatoes also were used in deli salads made by Tracy-based Taylor Farms Pacific Inc. The salads were sold in Albertsons, Raley's, Safeway, Savemart, Sam's Club and Walmart stores across the West and some Midwestern states.

Commentary
11:14 am
Tue May 3, 2011

O Canada

Yesterday, America’s most important ally and trading partner had an historic election which rocked the foundations of that nation’s politics and has huge implications for the western hemisphere, the United States in general and Michigan in particular.

You would not, however, know anything about that from most of the mainstream media. National Public Radio has covered the Canadian National Election, far better than most, but I don’t even think they have paid enough attention to the story.

Most of the rest of the media, especially in Michigan, largely continues to be consumed with the aftermath of our government’s assassination yesterday of the supreme Al-Qaeda leader.

Yes, Osama bin Laden is still dead, and I don’t mean to minimize the implications of that story, or its continuing repercussions. But we knew about that yesterday.

Read more
Environment
11:06 am
Tue May 3, 2011

It's not so easy to get rid of that potato fork

A driver opens up one of the 20-foot high compost piles at Tuthill Farms. He'll add the new compostable waste to the hot core of the pile, then cover it back up.
Photo by Rebecca Williams

Have you ever seen those plastic forks or spoons made from corn or potatoes? It’s a big trend right now.

They’re compostable. So in theory... this tableware breaks down into a dark, rich material that’s really good for gardening.

So you get the convenience of disposable plastic... without adding to the big pile of plastic trash.

But here’s where things get tricky.

Liz Shoch is with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. She's working with companies to rethink the way they package their products.

“One of the things we say a lot currently is there is no sustainable package and that goes for compostable packaging too. There’s always tradeoffs.”

Read more
Environment
10:53 am
Tue May 3, 2011

Money for Great Lakes restoration

The federal budget left many groups wanting more money, but those lobbying to restore Lake Michigan and the rest of the Great Lakes are actually pretty pleased with the President and Congress.

Andy Buchsbaum co-chairs a group that’s trying to get enough funding over five years to restore the Great Lakes. He says the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative didn’t get all the money it wanted in the 2011 federal budget. But Buchsbaum says given the tight economic times, the $300 million they did get will keep the program on track.

“The Great Lakes did remarkably well this year in the federal budget, and the people in this region will benefit from it.”

In Michigan, Buchsbaum says the money is being used to restore wetlands. It’s also being used to get rid of toxic hot spots, such as the so-called black lagoon in the Detroit River area. And it’s being used to prevent Asian Carp from getting into Lake Michigan.

Buchsbaum says both parties supported Great Lakes restoration because of the economic benefits, and everyone wants their children to be able to swim at the beaches and drink the water.

-Julie Grant for The Environment Report

Pages