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Unemployment
8:42 am
Fri December 3, 2010

The end of jobless benefits has many Michigan unemployed saying "Now What?"

One economist says the end of jobless benefits for thousands of Michiganders should not have a big effect on the number of jobs being filled.

 More than 180 thousand people in Michigan will see their unemployment benefits expire between now and April, unless Congress agrees to grant another extension. 

Kenneth Goldstein is with the Conference Board, a business research group.   He says there are few real new job options,  either full or part time for the ‘hard-core’ unemployed.

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News Roundup
7:27 am
Fri December 3, 2010

In this morning's news...

'Lame Duck' Comes To a Close

State lawmakers worked well into the early hours of Friday morning before finally calling it quits in the 2009-2010 legislative session. Lawmakers approved $10 million for the ‘Pure Michigan’ advertising campaign, that’s less than the $25 million that Governor Granholm wanted. Lawmakers failed to enact reforms on teacher-tenure and a measure that would require insurance companies to cover autism treatments for children.

Asian Carp Legal Setback

Michigan has lost a legal round in its effort to keep Asian Carp from reaching the Great Lakes. As Steve Carmody reports, “A federal judge in Chicago has denied a request by Michigan and several other states to order the closure of canals which link Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River basin. Asian Carp are a voracious invasive species. The carp have devastated Mississippi River fish populations.”  The states might continue the legal fight.

Some 260,000 in MI Received Unemployment Benefits

President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers released a report that says about 260,000 people in Michigan received unemployment benefits through October of this year. The report comes as the White House is ramping up its efforts to get Congress to approve extended jobless benefits for unemployed workers. At 12.8%, Michigan has the nation’s second-highest unemployment rate.

Snyder, Bernero Released Campaign Finance Reports

Governor-elect Rick Snyder and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero filed their campaign finance reports for the 2010 gubernatorial election.  Snyder spent nearly $11 million; $6 million of which was his own. Bernero raised a little under $2 million and qualified for a little more than $1 million in public funds. Snyder takes the oath of office on January 1st, 2011.

Campaign Finance
6:55 am
Fri December 3, 2010

Snyder, Bernero disclose money spent in 2010 gubernatorial race

Photo by Tracy O/Flickr

As we've been reporting, yesterday was the last day for candidates who ran in Michigan’s 2010 election to report how much money they raised during the campaign season.

According to Republican Governor-elect Rick Snyder’s campaign finance reports, he spent almost $11 million during the campaign; $6 million of which was his own.

The Associated Press reports that Snyder’s largest donors were, “Pistons owner Karen Davidson and former Bechtel Group co-owner Stephen Bechtel and his wife, Elizabeth, of San Francisco.”

Snyder’s opponent in the race for governor, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, raised a little under $2 million and qualified for a little more than $1 million in public funds.

State Legislature
6:39 am
Fri December 3, 2010

'Lame Duck' comes to a close

Capitol Building: Lansing, MI
Terry Johnson/Flickr

Lawmakers worked throughout Thursday night and into early the early morning hours on Friday to complete their 2009-2010 legislative session.

Lawmakers approved $10 million dollars for the 'Pure Michigan' advertising campaign.  Governor Granholm had wanted $25 million for the campaign. Democratic state Representative Dan Scripps said the deal could have been better:

You know, we’ve put two options on the Senate’s desk, and the governor’s put a third one, and essentially they punted and raided from another pot and I just don’t think that’s the way to go. We can do better than this.

Efforts to enact teacher-tenure reforms that would make it easier to fire teachers failed as did a law that would require insurance companies to cover autism treatments for children.

State Law
6:20 am
Fri December 3, 2010

Granholm wants 'Pure Michigan' funding

Governor Jennifer Granholm
Photo courtesy of www.michigan.gov

Update 12/3/2010 6:18 AM

After working into the early morning hours, the state legislature finished their 2009-2010 legislative session this Friday morning.

Lawmakers approved $10 million dollars for the 'Pure Michigan' advertising campaign.  Governor Granholm had wanted $25 million for the campaign. Democratic state Representative Dan Scripps said the deal could have been better:

You know, we’ve put two options on the Senate’s desk, and the governor’s put a third one, and essentially they punted and raided from another pot and I just don’t think that’s the way to go. We can do better than this.

___

Update 12/2/2010 1:30 PM

Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta just let us know that Governor Granholm's office says she is trying to reach a deal to use economic development funds to get the 'Pure Michigan' advertising campaign back on the air. 

As the Detroit Free Press reports:

The Pure Michigan tourism ad campaign would be saved with a $25 million infusion from the state's 21st Century Jobs Fund, based on discussions today between lawmakers and Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

The tourism industry has also been pushing hard in the final days of the 2009-2010 legislative session to get state lawmakers to agree to fund the ad campaign.

Asian Carp
6:05 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Michigan loses legal round in Asian Carp battle

The state of Michigan has suffered another legal setback in its effort to keep Asian Carp from reaching the Great Lakes.  

A federal judge in Chicago has denied a request by Michigan and several other states to order the closure of canals which link Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River basin. Asian Carp are a voracious invasive species.  The carp have devastated Mississippi River fish populations.  

“The court agreed that Asian Carp are indeed a threat," says Joy Yearout,  a spokeswoman for Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, '"But the judge also ruled the actions the federal government has taken over the last several months prove they are addressing the threat enough to make it not immediate enough to require a court order."

Federal agencies have stepped up construction of electric barriers to keep Asian Carp from passing into Lake Michigan.  Other methods are also being studied. 

The states may continue their legal fight.  They are also asking President Obama to order the canals closed.

Education
5:50 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Charter advocacy group says Michigan's charter law is among best in U.S.

A charter advocacy group gives Michigan's charter law a passing grade
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Want to open up a charter school? A new report says Michigan has one of the nation’s friendliest laws when it comes to allowing charter schools to open.

The Center for Education Reform, a charter advocacy group in Washington, DC, says Michigan has the 5th best charter school law in the country.

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Economy
4:38 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

White House pushes Congress for unemployment extension

The White House is ramping up its efforts to get Congress to approve extended unemployment benefits for out-of-work Americans. Michigan's unemployment rate in October was the second-highest in the nation, at 12.8%.

The president's Council of Economic Advisers released a report that touts the need for extending benefits. The report says for the typical person getting unemployment, the benefits make up a third of the household income.  As Presidential adviser Cecilia Rouse noted:

And in those 42% of households where the unemployed person was the sole wage earner, it's about 90 percent of the income. So it's quite an important source of income for these families.

The report says about 620,000 people in Michigan received benefits through October.

Republicans in Congress say the cost of extending the benefits is too high. They want to look at budget cuts and tax cut extensions first.

Presidential Visit
4:26 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Former President Bush in Grand Rapids today

Former President George W. Bush visits with an audience in Grand Rapids
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Update 4:23pm

Lindsey Smith just sent in this quote from former president George Bush's talk today in Grand Rapids:

"Like in '44 if somebody in Grand Rapids, Michigan said 'I predict someday America and Japan will stand shoulder to shoulder to enhance mutual security' they would have said 'what a hopeless, idealistic nut-job you are'. But democracy transformed an enemy to an ally. I know it sounds far-fetched for some that people want to be free in the Middle East and that freedom will take hold - I think it will."

Update 3:53 pm

The event with George W. Bush in Grand Rapids just wrapped up and reporter Lindsey Smith called in with some of her highlights from the talk:

  • Bush's opening line - "Most people didn't think I couldn't read a book, much less write one."
  • Bush said after his presidency it was like going from 100 mph to 10 mph and he had to figure out what to do with all his extra time
  • About the firing of Donald Rumsfeld Bush said that his relationship with him had gone from one of "creative tension" to one of "destructive tension."
  • About 9/11 and the decision to go into Iraq Bush said that it was a bold move that had to be made. He was disappointed that no WMDs were found. He also says that 9/11 changed his mind about preemptive strikes. If he hadn't done it, he believes there would have been a dangerous nuclear arms race between Iran and Iraq.
  • Bush says he's still in touch with Condoleezza Rice, but doesn't talk much with Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld.
  • He said he doesn't judge Barack Obama, and won't be pulled into criticizing or commenting on him and his presidency.

Update 12:42 pm:

Our reporter at the event, Lindsey Smith, says Secret Service told the media that laptops are not allowed. So, it might be that we have to wait for updates until after the former President speaks.

___

6:44 am

Former President George W. Bush will be in Grand Rapids this afternoon.  He'll be promoting his new book "Decision Points" at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

This is the former President's second visit to Grand Rapids this year.  He attended the Economic Club of Grand Rapids in June.

Sports
3:43 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

The Abu Dhabi Pistons? Middle Eastern investors are eying Detroit's NBA team

The NBA's Detroit Pistons are up for sale
Kevin Ward

There's been a lot of talk about who might buy the Detroit Pistons.   Several people with close ties to Detroit have been said to be considering paying as much as a half billion dollars for the NBA franchise.   But there's word now that Middle Eastern investors may be in the mix.

Here's the story from The National of Abu Dhabi:

Investment groups in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar are in separate discussions to buy the Detroit Pistons basketball team, which has been valued at close to US$500 million (Dh1.83 billion).

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U.S. and Canada
3:06 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Effort to OK new Detroit-Windsor bridge fails

(view of Detroit from Windsor, Ontario)
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The push to build a new bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor appears dead. 

The Associated Press reports: 

A final effort to pass a measure this year that could have cleared the way for a second bridge connecting Detroit and Canada has failed.

Democrats in the Michigan Senate wanted a vote on the issue Thursday, likely the final day of the Legislature's 2009-10 session. But a motion to discharge the legislation and send it to the Senate floor failed, getting only 11 votes in the 38-seat Senate dominated by Republicans.

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Economy
2:58 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Michigan economy struggling

A job search workshop
flickr user Daniel Johnson Flickr

We all know Michigan has been going through tough times. An unemployment rate of nearly 13%. Jobless benefits expiring for tens of thousands of people. Deep spending cuts coming to state and local governments.

But it may be tougher than you've thought.

 The Detroit New reports:

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News Director: Off-Mic
1:53 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Follow the pack or follow the mission?

The missing Skelton brothers

Michigan Radio’s goal is to cover issues oriented news. What’s that mean? We look for stories that affect our listener’s lives, their communities, and our state. We leave the daily mayhem of crimes and fires to other media outlets, because those stories are not part of our mission.

Following that mission is not always easy.

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Environment
1:33 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

What lies under the farm fields? (audio slideshow)

Lynn Davis' family has run a farm drainage business in northwest Ohio for 100 years.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

A few years back, we at the Environment Report did a comprehensive series called, "The Ten Threats to the Great Lakes." Doing our best to make it comprehensive, we broke each of the Ten Threats into several stories.

We joked that the "Ten Threats" series turned into a 33-part series as we dug deeper into the issues.

For the series, I traveled to northwest Ohio and met with Lynn Davis. His grandfather had started a farm drainage business in 1910 using a steam powered trenching machine. Davis later took over the business from his father and uncle.

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Economy
1:32 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Michigan's economy stumbled in October

Michigan’s economy stumbled in October. 

Comerica Bank’s monthly gauge of Michigan’s economic activity shows a slight dip in October.   The state’s economy spiked up in September. 

Comerica Bank chief economist Dana Johnson says Michigan’s economy has essentially been flat for the past four months.  Johnson says:

 As has been the case in the national economy over the second half of the year, growth in Michigan has been sluggish and uneven. Looking ahead, the Michigan economy is poised to make modest gains in coming months, against a background of gradually accelerating national growth.

The Michigan Economic Activity Index weighs nine, seasonally-adjusted indicators of real economic activity.

These indicators reflect activity in the construction, manufacturing and service sectors as well as job growth and consumer outlays.

Campaign Finance
1:00 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Just how much money did candidates raise for Election 2010?

Photo by Tracy O/Flickr

Candidates who ran in Michigan's 2010 election have until today to report just how much money they raised and spent during the 2010 campaign.

The Detroit News reports that as of today:

...only one of the major statewide candidates had filed a post-election report. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a Republican who defeated Democrat Jocelyn Benson, filed her report a day early on Wednesday.

The Detroit News expects reports will be filed today by Governor-elect Rick Snyder.

Environment
12:54 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Snyder shuffles environmental agencies

Governor-elect Rick Snyder speaking at the Michigan Farm Bureau.
Photo by Lindsey Smith

Governor-elect Rick Snyder is already shuffling things in Lansing. He’s planning to split up the Department of Natural Resources and Environment... back into two separate agencies.

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Auto/Economy
12:17 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

GM's Willow Run Plant on the auction block today

The Wilow Run Factory was built in 5 months, and at the height of production during WWII, it was producing one B-24 bomber every hour.
U.S. Army Signal Corps

It was ground zero for the "arsenal of democracy" in the 1940s. Henry Ford built the giant Willow Run factory to manufacture B-24 bombers in World War II. Later GM took over the building making everything from Chevy trucks, the Caprice, the Nova, Corvairs, and transmissions.

Today, the materials inside the plant are being auctioned off as part of the "Old GM's" bankruptcy reorganization (old GM is now known as the Motors Liquidation Company).

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Education
12:00 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

Changes may be coming to teacher tenure in Michigan

Time is running out for state lawmakers in Lansing.     The current legislative session is scheduled to end today. They are hoping to pass a change that will effect Michigan's teachers.  


MPRN's Rick Pluta filed this report on what's happening now at the state capitol:

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Arts
10:30 am
Thu December 2, 2010

A prayer vigil for Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin
flickr user ktkatrina

The Detroit Free Press reports that a prayer vigil was held for Aretha Franklin in downtown Detroit last night.

Franklin canceled all her concerts through May and is undergoing a "medical procedure."

From the Freep:

Franklin said in a statement that "all prayers are good." Spokeswoman Tracey Jordan said she had no comment on the singer's condition or any possible medical procedures.

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