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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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Sports
1:30 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

Poll numbers slip for Rich Rodriguez (yes, they have a poll for that)

Rich Rodriguez coaching Tate Forcier during spring practice in 2009
Rich Dinges - creative commons

It's not just sitting president's who have to worry about their poll numbers, apparently head football coaches do to.

Public Policy Polling gathered information on a subject that really doesn't have much to do with the general public or policy.

Their robot callers ("we can reduce interviewer bias to zero by eliminating the live human interviewer") got responses from 1,224 Michiganders on the subject of Rich Rodriguez.

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Opinion
12:40 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

Commentary: Michigan Power

Who are Michigan’s most powerful people in Washington? For decades, the same names have come to mind. First, Dearborn’s John Dingell, the longest-serving congressman in history.

For many years, Dingell was either the chair, or ranking Democrat, of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee.  Then come the Levins. Younger brother Carl is chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Older brother Sandy this year became the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Then there is John Conyers, who has chaired the House Judiciary Committee for the last four years. These men are icons. 

But they are aging icons, and when the Republicans take over  the House next month, Conyers, Dingell and Sandy Levin will lose power and status, because they will be in the minority.

But Michigan will have two newly powerful representatives in key positions, men who are far less well known statewide -- but whom we ought to get to know better.

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Detroit Politics
12:17 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

"So much more work to do," says Mayor Bing

Detroit Skyline
JSFauxtaugraphy/Flickr

It appears that Detroit Mayor Dave Bing will run for office again. As The Associated Press reports:

The former NBA great tells the Detroit Free Press... that he "can't fix the problems that the city has in one term." He says progress is being made in improving the city but there is "so much more work to do."

The next mayoral election in the city is 2013.  Bing became the Mayor of Detroit in May of 2009 and was re-elected to a full term in November 2009.

Arts/Culture
12:12 pm
Thu December 9, 2010

Orchestra strike continues, board and management 'joined at the hip'

Detroit's Orchestra Hall
Kellie Petersen, Flickr

The musicians have been on strike since October. The management is standing firm against the demands of the musicians. Holiday concerts have been cancelled, and now the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's Executive Board is weighing in.

In a letter to the community released today, DSO executive board members said they were "joined at the hip" with management during this strike. The 24 board members said,

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Education
11:32 am
Thu December 9, 2010

Opposition rising against the sale of Michigan's School for the Deaf

A sign stands at the entrance to the Michigan School for the Deaf in Flint
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

There appears to be rising opposition to the planned sale of the Michigan School for the Deaf in Flint.     Meanwhile, a legislative mistake threatens to delay the sale.    


A private developer wants to buy the 85 acre campus for one point three million dollars.    He’ll then build a new school and lease it back to the state for two million dollars a year.  

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Arts/Culture
11:21 am
Thu December 9, 2010

Michigan poet Khaled Mattawa wins $50,000 artist fellowship

Poet and translator Khaled Mattawa wins $50,000 U.S. Artists fellowship
Amanda Abel Courtesy of U.S. Artists

A Michigan poet is $50,000 richer, thanks to the arts advocacy organization United States Artists.

Libyan-born poet Khaled Mattawa was one of 50 artists around the country to receive a U.S. Artists award this year. More than 300 artists were nominated for the award.

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Invasive Species
11:02 am
Thu December 9, 2010

Sooper Yooper

Yeah, that's a wetsuit under his flannel shirt.
Painting by Mark Heckman, courtesy of Thunder Bay Press.

With 180 invaders already in the Great Lakes, it might take a superhero to keep them out.  Luckily, we have one: Sooper Yooper!   A new children's book written by Mark Newman and illustrated by the late Mark Heckman, features Billy Cooper, an ex-Navy Seal who lives in the U.P. with his scuba-diving bulldog, Mighty Mac.  I spoke with Mark Heckman's wife, Diane, and author Mark Newman about the book and Mark Heckman's legacy.

Top 3 Things to Know about Sooper Yooper:

  1. A dive in icy Lake Superior to catch a sea lamprey is not for the faint of heart.  Please leave this to the professionals.
  2. Billy Cooper is not a shapeshifter, nor does he have x-ray vision or invisibility.  Instead, he's super smart.
  3. Having trouble getting legislation passed in Congress?  No problem for Sooper Yooper.  He must have some mighty good lobbying skills.
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Investigative
9:47 am
Thu December 9, 2010

Realities of regulatory red tape

Don’t misunderstand.  Businesses in Michigan often complain about the red tape.  There are plenty of stories about Michigan government bogging down any attempts by business to expand in the state or to build new plants here.  But, it’s hard to determine whether those complaints are business people just griping about any kind of restrictions placed on them… or a real problem within the state’s bureaucracy.

So, let’s look at some of the ways you measure that.

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Economy
9:15 am
Thu December 9, 2010

Michigan home prices continue slide

Michigan home prices continue their downward slide and the trend shows little sign of stopping.

Home prices in Michigan declined about 9% in the third quarter, a downward trend that started in April as government buying incentives began to dry up.

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News Roundup
7:42 am
Thu December 9, 2010

In this morning's news...

Serial Stabbing Suspect in Court Today

Elias Abuelazam, the man accused of a series of stabbings in Genesee County will be in court today. He 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.

D’Oh: Glitch in New Liquor Law

There’s a problem in the state’s new Sunday morning liquor sales law.  As Steve Carmody reports, when state lawmakers passed the Sunday morning alcohol sales bill in the final days of the legislative session, they made a small mistake: lawmakers allowed communities to ban liquor sales on Sundays, but they didn’t specify a time. That means communities have to choose between being open all day on Sundays or not allowing sales of alcohol ALL day on Sundays. We’ll have to wait and see how lawmakers plan to fix the problem when the new legislative session begins next year.

Commission Delays Vote on Benefit Extension for Live-in Partners

The state Civil Service Commission has delayed a vote on the extension of health benefits to live-in partners of state employees.  The delay most likely means that a decision won’t be made on the issue until next year when Governor-elect Rick Snyder is in office, Rick Pluta reports.  A spokesman for Snyder says the Governor-elect has not yet taken a position on the issue.

Reports: Aretha Franklin Has Cancer

Several media outlets in the state are reporting that singer Aretha Franklin has pancreatic cancer. Franklin underwent surgery in Detroit last Thursday but neither she nor her publicist would say what kind of surgery Franklin had or the nature of the illness, Jennifer Guerra reports. Franklin has cancelled all her concerts through May 2011 due to doctors’ orders.

Governor-elect
6:55 am
Thu December 9, 2010

Snyder to address university students today in Detroit

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

Governor-elect Rick Snyder will be in Detroit today.  He’s scheduled to give a talk at Wayne State University.

As the Associated Press reports:

Snyder will speak to Detroit college students and business leaders about reinventing Michigan's economy - with an accounting twist. Snyder's talk … is expected to focus on how his accounting skills will be important as he works to improve the state's struggling economy.

Snyder takes the oath of office on January 1st, 2011.

Lawsuit
6:09 pm
Wed December 8, 2010

Former Wayne State student sues university, Salvation Army

Salvaton Army Headquarters - York
Pamela Eisenberg flickr

A new lawsuit claims the Salvation Army and Wayne State University discriminated against a student because she was pregnant and unmarried.Tina Valresi was a graduate student in Wayne State’s social work program. She had to finish an internship with the Salvation Army to complete her degree.

Lawyer Deborah Gordon says as soon as Valresi’s supervisors at the Salvation Army found out she was pregnant, her work atmosphere became “hostile.”

She says the Salvation Army then gave her an “unsatisfactory” review, causing her to be dismissed from her graduate program. Gordon says the Salvation Army was “punishing” Valresi for being pregnant.

“They could have just been honest and said at the very beginning this is not acceptable. We want Wayne to put you elsewhere. Instead they kept her on and then failed her as a punishment.”

Gordon says Valresi only filed the lawsuit after trying unsuccessfully to resolve things with Wayne State.

Neither the Salvation Army nor Wayne State could be reached for comment.

ArtPrize
6:04 pm
Wed December 8, 2010

Grand Rapids puts controversy over ArtPrize inspection fees to rest

Rich Evenhouse

Grand Rapids’ Fire Department is putting out a fire of sorts this week. They’re waiving thousands of dollars in inspection fees related to this year’s ArtPrize event.

Most everyone loved ArtPrize. But not everyone who volunteered a venue for the event loved getting a bill in the mail last week for fire inspections. The city’s fire department charged around $50 for every 5 artists a venue had.

The information was included in a handbook given to each venue. Apparently, not everyone read the fine print and now the city is admitting communication wasn’t very good on their end either. So they’re waiving all of the inspection fees - about $20,000 worth.

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Politics
6:03 pm
Wed December 8, 2010

Arab American group asks Wayne State to reconsider Helen Thomas award

Helen Thomas
flickr user rachelvorhees

A prominent coalition of Michigan Arab-American groups is angry that Wayne State University has pulled an award honoring journalist Helen Thomas.

Wayne State ended the “Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Award” last week after she made controversial comments at an event in Dearborn.

Thomas asserted that “Zionists” control major U.S. institutions, including the White House.

Wayne State called those remarks “anti-Semitic.” But the Congress of Arab American Organizations disagrees.

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