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News Roundup
9:07 am
Mon January 10, 2011

In this morning's news...

American Automakers Win Big

Two U.S. automakers have won prestigious awards at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this morning. The Chevrolet Volt won the 2011 North American Car of the Year award. The Ford Explorer won the Truck of the Year award.  Forty-nine auto journalists from around North America made the picks. The show opened this morning to the media. It opens to the public on Saturday and runs through January 23rd.

Michigan Lawmakers Show Support for Rep. Giffords

Members of Michigan's congressional delegation have been sending out their thoughts on Saturday's shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-D) where 6 died and 13 others were wounded. The Associated Press reports:

Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, served with Giffords on the House Science and Technology Committee in the last session of Congress. He says he grieves for those killed and prays for the "speedy and full recovery" of her and the others wounded. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, says she and Giffords share an interest in border security and the space program. Miller says she's "deeply saddened by this senseless crime."

State Lawmakers Back to Lansing

Michigan legislators return to the Capitol this week to be sworn-in.  And, much like the first day of school, they’ll choose their seats and establish rules, such as dress codes. Unlike most schools though, lawmakers will come to Lansing facing a projected $1.8 billion dollar budget deficit. It’s also expected that legislative leaders will begin to establish plans and agendas for the coming months of session.

Snyder to Name Supreme Court Justice

Governor Rick Snyder will hold a morning news conference today to name his appointee to the state Supreme Court. Last week, Snyder named Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan to head the state Department of Human Services, thus leaving an empty seat on the court. Corrigan will step down from the state’s highest court on Friday to begin her new job.

State Legislature
7:42 am
Mon January 10, 2011

State lawmakers (new and old) return to the Capitol

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

Michigan lawmakers return to Lansing this week. The new state legislature will be sworn in at the state Capitol. 

Michigan Public Radio's Laura Weber filed this report from Lansing:

New and returning lawmakers will be greeted in Lansing by a nearly $2 billion budget deficit, and no new federal stimulus to help them fill the holes. Many new Republican lawmakers say they were elected to cut state spending and reduce the size of government. Republican leaders in both the House and Senate say local government revenue sharing could be on the line for deep cuts. The Legislature has several months to balance the budget. This week lawmakers will be sworn in, choose their seats on the floor, and establish rules of the chamber.

Detroit Auto Show
7:29 am
Mon January 10, 2011

Media preview begins today for the North American International Auto Show

The North American International Auto Show, 2008
Corvair Owner Flickr

The North American International Auto Show begins this week in Detroit. It opens to the public on Saturday and runs through January 23rd. The media, however, get a preview of the show beginning today. It's the biggest annual media event in the state as thousands of journalists from around the world travel here to cover the show.

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton gave us a preview:

The auto industry had two bad years in 2009 and 2010, and so did one of its biggest shows: the North American International Auto Show. Some car companies like Porsche didn't even have displays.  But, Porsche is back, and so are some of the traditional glitz and optimism.  Baron Meade, Chairman of the show, said, "I would set the stage of this show as the start of the next real Golden Age of the Automobile."

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton, Sarah Hulett, Sarah Cweik and Steve Carmody will all be reporting from the show throughout the next couple of weeks.

Arizona Shooting
6:51 am
Mon January 10, 2011

Michigan Congressional delegation shows support for Rep. Giffords

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-D)
Freedom to Marry Flickr

Members of Michigan's congressional delegation sent out releases over the weekend expressing their anger and sadness over the shooting of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tuscon, Arizona on Saturday.  Six people were killed in the attack outside of a Safeway.

As the Associated Press reports:

Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, served with Giffords on the House Science and Technology Committee in the last session of Congress. He says he grieves for those killed and prays for the "speedy and full recovery" of her and the other wounded. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, says she and Giffords share an interest in border security and the space program. Miller says she's "deeply saddened by this senseless crime."

Meanwhile, Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old who is accused of killing six and injuring 13 others as he tried to kill Rep. Giffords, will appear in federal court today in Phoenix.

Read more
Michigan Supreme Court
6:34 am
Mon January 10, 2011

Snyder to name new state Supreme Court Justice today

Governor Rick Snyder will announce his appointment to the Michigan Supremem Court at a press conference today
Photo courtesy of www.governorelectricksnyder.com

Governor Rick Snyder will name a new state Supreme Court Justice today at a morning news conference.

Snyder will be appointing a replacement for current Justice Maura Corrigan.  Snyder named Corrigan to head the state Department of Human Services last week. Corrigan will step down from the court on Friday to begin her new job.

There's been no word yet on who will replace her, but the Associated Press reports:

Appeals Court Judge Jane Markey of Grand Rapids wants Snyder to name her to the court because she'd bring a west Michigan perspective. The 59-year-old sent out an unusual release late Saturday asking for the appointment and noting that the court hasn't had a justice from Grand Rapids since 1946. Appeals Court Judge Brian Zahra of Northville may be higher on Snyder's list. He turned 51 Sunday and ran unsuccessfully for the high court in 2004.

Arts/Culture
3:29 pm
Sun January 9, 2011

Photographing the so-called 'ruins' of Detroit

Photographer Andrew Moore says taking photos of ruins is "a way of talking about man’s life, there’s a kind of mortality involved.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Moore

Art vs. ruin porn

Photographers from around the world parachute in to take pictures of Detroit’s crumbling, abandoned landscape. Some call it journalism or art; others call it ruin porn.

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Auto/Economy
3:00 pm
Sun January 9, 2011

Toyota invests $50-million in new safety research center in Ann Arbor

 Toyota Motor Corporation has launched a new $50-million dollar safety research center in Ann Arbor, as the company seeks to recover from last year’s massive recalls of millions of cars. 


The money will pay for research on ways to reduce driver distraction, and better protect the most vulnerable passengers including children.  Chuck Gulash is senior executive engineer at Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor. 

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Economy
12:19 pm
Sun January 9, 2011

Michigan has to repay billions it borrowed for unemployment benefits

Michigan borrowed more than $3.8 billion to pay unemployment benefits
Graph courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Michigan and several other states have had to borrow money from the federal government to pay for unemployment benefits. And now, the federal government wants states to repay.

Unemployment benefits are funded by Michigan businesses through a payroll tax.  When the recession caused the state’s unemployment rate to skyrocket (as high as 15% at one point), the state had to borrow more than $3.8 billion to pay jobless benefits.

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The Detroit Auto Show
10:55 am
Sun January 9, 2011

Drumroll Please - Car and Truck of the Year award coming soon

Many experts expect the Chevy Volt to win the "Car of the Year" award.
user mariodo wikimedia commons

The winner of the coveted North American Car and Truck of the Year Award will be announced Monday morning at the North American International Auto Show.

The awards are unique in the United States because -- instead of being given by a single media outlet -- they are awarded by a coalition of automotive journalists from the United States and Canada who represent magazines, television, radio, newspapers and web sites. 

The finalists for North American Car of the Year are:

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Energy
4:26 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

Holland city and Michigan officials to discuss coal plant expansion outside of court

James De Young coal plant near Lake Macatawa in Holland.
Holland BPW

The state is challenging a lower court’s ruling that would’ve allowed Holland to expand a coal-fired power plant. But  its unclear whether or not state officials will follow through on the legal battle.

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Jobs
3:11 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

Report: AT&T to cut jobs in West Michigan

AT&T says fewer people are using land lines these days.
flickr - photodu.de

The Grand Rapids Press reports that AT&T plans to cut 110 union jobs in West Michigan. The paper reports:

The West Michigan job losses are part of a total of 371 jobs being eliminated by the telecommunications giant in Michigan, said Ryan Letts, president of the Communications Workers of America Local 4034.

Letts is quoted as saying they saw the job cuts coming because the telecommunications industry is changing:

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Politics
2:41 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

Ted Nugent, Anderson Cooper, and Sarah Palin

In case you missed it, Michigan's Ted Nugent talked with CNN's Anderson Cooper about Sarah Palin's prospects for the presidency (spoiler alert - he wouldn't vote for her if she was running today). Here's the interview:

Environment
2:18 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

More coyotes in West Michigan

Canis latrans
user mayra wikimedia commons

Coyotes are opportunistic animals. They'll just as soon go after your cat as they would a rabbit in the wild.

So if you live in an area where coyotes are abundant, you might see them as a nuisance.

Kaitlin Shawgo of the Grand Rapids Press writes about coyotes on the rise in West Michigan.

In the piece, Sara Schaefer with the Department of Natural Resources and Environment says the numbers are up in that part of the state:

"There's no doubt that the coyote population is up. In almost all areas I cover in southwest Michigan, they’re up."

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Governor Snyder
12:10 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

Inside the Snyder administration

Governor Rick Snyder
Corvair Owner Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder has been appointing directors for various state departments over the past few weeks.  The announcement of Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan to the state Department of Human Services came just yesterday.

The Associated Press has put together a look at who is in charge at various state departments:

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Detroit
12:07 pm
Fri January 7, 2011

Bing forces Detroit fire officials out

Detroit Fire Truck. Slow response times was listed as one of the reasons for the resignations.
flickr - user cutedtownboi

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has forced the resignations of the city's fire commissioner, James Mack, and its deputy, Seth Doyle.

The Mayor did so after hearing about an alleged theft that occurred after a fire official visited a home in Detroit.

The Mayor's office said they heard about the alleged theft from media reports.

Dan Lijana, with the mayor's office, said the breakdown in communication with the fire department and the concerns over slow response times to emergencies were their reasons for forcing the resignations.

Mayor Bing is quoted in the Detroit Free Press as saying:

"When things aren't working, we will make the moves necessary to protect the services and citizens of the city. We have to peel this onion back and get the problem fixed."

U.S. Congress
10:58 am
Fri January 7, 2011

New members roughing it on Capitol Hill

The Rayburn House Office Building. Insiders say Dick Armey started the trend. Now, dozens of others are choosing to sleep in their Capitol Hill offices.
flickr - cliff1066

As a way of proving how fiscally conservative they are, some members of Congress are choosing to sleep in their offices on Capitol Hill.

Ashley Parker writes about the "Couch Caucus" in a New York Times piece today.

Michigan Democrat Hansen Clarke is featured in the article. He's a freshman Congressman from Michigan's 13th District (Detroit area).

Clarke is quoted in the article about why he's choosing to sleep in his office:

"Washington is not going to be a home for me — I’m only there to work. I need to be able to work up to 20 hours a day and still get some decent sleep, and if I sleep in my office I’ll be able to do that.

The Times reports the members choosing to sleep in their offices are spread across party lines, but mostly male members of Congress are choosing to do so. Parker writes about the critics of the practice:

They...complain that the practice can feel like a macho boys club, that it promotes a fierce anti-Washington sentiment that hurts bipartisanship and that, frankly, it just seems weird.

The offices are equipped with basic furniture, sinks, and bathrooms. But there are no sleeper sofas, and no showers. Members head to the gym in the office building to wash up.

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Commentary
10:50 am
Fri January 7, 2011

The Importance of Being Kelly

On election day last year, I talked to a senior citizen who is a proud, dyed-in-the-wool Democrat. I wondered how she had voted for state supreme court.

“For the Democrats, of course,” she said.

“I voted for Kelly and Davis,” she said, meaning newly appointed justice Alton Davis.

"You voted for a Republican", I said.

Alton Davis is indeed a Democrat, but Mary Beth Kelly is a Republican. “No, I didn’t,” the lady said. “I voted for Marilyn Kelly, the chief justice. You wrote about her in a magazine article I read.

“She is a Democrat. You said so."

Yes, she is, I said. But you voted for MARY BETH Kelly. She is  a Republican. Her party nominated her partly because she is named Kelly, and they were hoping a lot of people might do what you did.

Well, guess what. I don’t know how many other people were  confused, but Mary Beth Kelly won by a landslide, beating poor Alton Davis, who gave up a secure judgeship for less than six months on the state’s highest court.

Read more
News Roundup
8:15 am
Fri January 7, 2011

In this morning's news...

Snyder Names Corrigan to DHS, Will Appoint New Justice by Next Week

As expected, Governor Rick Snyder yesterday named state Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan to head the state Department of Human Services.  The appointment means there will be a vacancy left on the state’s highest court.  Snyder said he plans to appoint a new justice by January 14th, the day that Corrigan will resign to begin her new job. Corrigan is one of four Republican justices on the seven-member state Supreme Court.

Republican Leaders Target State Employee Pay

The state’s four new legislative leaders sat down yesterday for an interview.  The four, also known as ‘The Quadrant,’ talked about the upcoming legislative session and what they hope to get done.  During the conversation, Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and Republican Speaker of the House Jase Bolger said public employees and local governments will have to share in the pain of budget cuts to help address Michigan’s fiscal problems. The two Democratic leaders, Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer and House Minority Leader Rich Hammel, said they want to work with their Republican counterparts but that they would fight efforts to cut state employee pay and benefits. The state currently faces an estimated $1.8 billion dollar budget shortfall for the next fiscal year.

Cut in Defense Department Spending Could Mean Michigan Job Losses

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said he wants to cancel a defense contract for an amphibious vehicle for the U.S. Marine Corps. That could mean a loss of potential jobs here in the state, Steve Carmody reports.  That’s because a Sterling Heights based division of General Dynamics is the contractor that has been developing the 40 ton vehicle. The marine vehicle has been plagued with budget costs and other problems since the Reagan administration.

Forecast: Snow to Continue

Forecasters are predicting the snow will continue through much of the state through early tomorrow morning. A Lake Effect Snow Warning is in effect for West Michigan and a Lake Effect Snow Advisory is in effect for Mid Michigan.  Both the warning and advisory will remain until Saturday morning. For today: West Michigan could see 2-4 inches; Mid Michigan 1-3 inches and just an inch or two is expected in the Southeast.  Temperatures are expected to reach the low 20s.

Weather
7:31 am
Fri January 7, 2011

Forecast: Snow to continue

Forecasters predict snow will continue to fall in much of the state through tonight
Jmenard48 Flickr

Forecasters are predicting snow will continue to fall across the state today with West and Mid Michigan seeing the most accumulation.

A Lake Effect Snow Warning is in effect for West Michigan and a Lake Effect Snow Advisory is in effect for Mid Michigan.  Both the warning and advisory will remain until early tomorrow morning.

Today: West Michigan could see 2-4 inches; Mid Michigan 1-3 inches and just an inch or two is expected in the Southeast.  Temperatures will reach the low 20s today.

Tonight: West Michigan could see another 2-4 inches of snow; across the rest of the state an inch or less is expected.  Lows overnight will be in the low to mid teens.

Tomorrow: More snow for the Holland area with about 2-3 more inches expected. Otherwise, scattered snow showers with light accumulations possible.  Highs in the low to mid 20's.

Michigan Legislature
7:21 am
Fri January 7, 2011

Members of 'The Quadrant' sit down and talk (on TV)

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo Flickr

Michigan's four new legislative leaders all sat down together yesterday for an interview.  The four include Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, Republican Speaker of the House Jase Bolger and Democratic House Minority Leader Rich Hammel.  The four are known as "The Quadrant."

In an interview on the public television program "Off the Record," the Legislature’s new Republican leaders said public employees and local governments will have to share in the pain of budget cuts to help address Michigan’s fiscal problems.

As Rick Pluta reports:

Richardville and Bolger said state employees will likely see reductions in their paychecks and benefits. The Democratic leaders said they want to work with Republicans, but will fight efforts to impose more cuts on public employees and local governments.

To find out more about the state's four new Legislative leaders check out Dome Magazine where columnist Susan Demas has a great profile of The Quadrant.

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