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News Roundup
8:08 am
Wed November 17, 2010

In this morning's news...

Benefit Extension

Without a new extension of jobless benefits, 45,000 long-term unemployed people in Michigan will lose their unemployment benefits on December 1st, Rick Pluta reports. State unemployment officials hope Congress will act in the next two weeks to extend the benefits. Michigan's unemployment rate is 13%, the second-highest in the country.

Volt Already Winning Awards

General Motor's Volt has been named the 2011 Car of the Year by Motor Trend Magazine. The Volt will hit select showrooms in California, Texas, New York and Washington, D.C. next month. The Volt can go up to 40 miles on battery power and then a gasoline generator works to power the electric motor. The editor in chief of Motor Trend Magazine says on its website that the Volt has, "some of the most advanced engineering ever seen on an American production car."

Hamtramck To Seek Bankruptcy

The Detroit News reports, "the city of Hamtramck, awash in debt, has asked the state for permission to take the unprecedented step of filing for bankruptcy." Hamtramck's city manager says the city is facing a $3 million debt and could run out of money in January. The Detroit Free Press says, "a city cannot declare bankruptcy, but a state-appointed emergency financial manager can." A state Treasury Department spokesman told the Detroit News that no Michigan municipality has ever declared bankruptcy before.

Michigan Economy
5:26 pm
Tue November 16, 2010

Michigan celebrates global entrepreneurship week

unleashingideas.org

In west Michigan several organizations are collaborating on more than a dozen events to foster the entrepreneurial spirit.

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Governor-elect Rick Snyder
12:35 pm
Tue November 16, 2010

Snyder to attend "Governor School"

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

Governor-elect Rick Snyder will attend the National Governor Association's school for new governors this week, according to Crain's Detroit Business.  Crain's also says the governor-elect will attend a meeting of the Republican Governors Association

According to the Republican Governors Association's website, the RGA, "was a key investor in Rick Snyder's victory spending a total of $8 million."

Governor-elect Snyder will take the oath of office on January 1st, 2011.

Auto Industry
12:28 pm
Tue November 16, 2010

Chevy Volt named 2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year

Motor Trend Magazine named GM's Chevy Volt 2011 Car of the Year
photo by Jurvetson (flickr)

Motor Trend Magazine has named General Motor’s Chevrolet Volt the 2011 Car of the Year.

On its website, the magazine’s editor in chief said the Volt has “some of the most advanced engineering ever seen on an American production car.”

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Changing Gears
9:52 am
Tue November 16, 2010

Reinventing Pittsburgh: Part 2

The University of Pittsburgh's Center for Biotechnology and Bioengineering sits on the site of an old steel mill. It's an example of how the city transitioned away from its industrial past.
Zach Morris Creative Commons

When Dennis Yablonsky took over Pittsburgh's main development group last year, everyone was telling him it was time to brag.

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Michigan Politics
9:24 am
Tue November 16, 2010

Lessenberry: what do governors DO after they leave office?

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

When Governor-elect Rick Snyder assumes the role of governor in January it will mark the end of Jennifer Granholm’s final term as Governor of Michigan.  All Things Considered Host Jenn White sat down with Michigan Radio Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry to discuss the roles of former governors in Michigan history.

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General Motors
8:39 am
Tue November 16, 2010

GM boosts stock price

General Motors says it’s raising the price range for its initial public stock offering.

The stock will sell for $32 to $33 per share.

That price range is about 14% higher than was previously expected.

GM didn’t give a reason for the increase but people who have been briefed on the sale say it’s because of high demand from investors.

The IPO is expected on Thursday.  The Detroit Free Press reports, "the U.S. Treasury is selling 365 million shares, which will reduce its stake in GM from 60.8% to about 40%."

News Roundup
7:10 am
Tue November 16, 2010

In this morning's news...

Snyder Picks Chief of Staff

Governor-elect Rick Snyder announced Dennis Muchmore as his Chief of Staff in Lansing yesterday. Rick Pluta reports Muchmore, "owned a multi-client lobbying firm before retiring eight years ago. He is also an avid outdoorsman who served briefly as the interim president of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs." Snyder said he chose Muchmore because of his knowledge of how Lansing politics work.

Job Vacancies in Lansing

Because of early retirement incentive packages, some 4,800 state employees will leave their jobs by next month. That means it's likely that Governor-elect Rick Snyder will have to figure out how fill those vacancies come January when he is sworn in. Reporter Jennifer Guerra spoke with Gary Olson with the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency. Olsen, "points out that the number of state employees has declined 13% over the past decades, so if Snyder replaces only two-thirds of the job vacancies some services will suffer." Olson says the state is projected to save around $81 million because of the early retirements.

Going Hungry in Michigan

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's annual Food Insecurity' study finds about 13.4% of people in Michigan have trouble getting enough food and 5% go hungry. Both of those numbers have increased since the mid 1990's. Nationwide, about 14.7% of households were "food insecure."

Governor-elect Snyder
6:46 am
Tue November 16, 2010

Snyder announces Chief of Staff

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

Governor-elect Rick Snyder announced Dennis Muchmore as his Chief of Staff in Lansing yesterday.  Rick Pluta reports Muchmore, “owned a multi-client lobbying firm before retiring eight years ago. He is also an avid outdoorsman who served briefly as the interim president of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs.” 

Snyder said he chose Muchmore because of his knowledge of how Lansing politics work.  The Detroit News reports Muchmore:

...is the most unorthodox choice.  He hasn't worked directly for an elected official since the 1970s, when he served as an aide to Macomb County Democratic state Sen. John Bowman.
 

Muchmore is 63.

Education
5:55 pm
Mon November 15, 2010

Fellowship to send math and science teachers to high-need classrooms

(Left to right) Godfrey Lee Superintendent David Britten, GVSU President Tom Haas, and GRPS Superintendent Bernard Taylor Jr. sign the agreement Monday.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Grand Valley State University signed an agreement Monday that will help put more science and math teachers in high-risk classrooms.

The agreement is part of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship Program. Six universities in Michigan are participating in the program.

It offers 40 recent grads $30,000 to get their teaching degrees and spend 3 years in high need, urban middle and high school classrooms.

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General Motors
5:12 pm
Mon November 15, 2010

Background on the GM IPO story

The old GM Headquarters in Detroit.
Historic American Buildings Survey

General Motors (GM) will be in the news a lot this week, so if you sat out the GM story up until this point, here's a quick summary to get you caught up.

Today's General Motors is not your father's General Motors. The old GM went bankrupt. The company couldn't pay its bills (they had some big ones).

But instead of letting the whole company collapse, a court stepped in to reorganize the auto giant (under chapter 11 bankruptcy).

The court split the old GM in two.

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State politics
2:02 pm
Mon November 15, 2010

Gov-elect Rick Snyder faces nearly 4,800 job vacancies in Lansing

Around 4,800 state employees accepted early retirement incentive packages
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Around 4,800 state workers accepted early retirement incentive packages and will leave their jobs by December. It will likely be Governor elect Rick Snyder’s job to figure out how to fill those vacancies when he heads to Lansing in January.

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Changing Gears
1:00 pm
Mon November 15, 2010

Reinventing Pittsburgh: Part 1

The U.S. Steel Tower is the tallest building in Pittsburgh, but the steel industry no longer dominates the city.
User 1sock Creative Commons

When I first got to Pittsburgh, I did something foolish.

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Economy
11:55 am
Mon November 15, 2010

You fix the budget deficit

The New York Times "You Fix the Budget" interactive tool
Screen grab from the New York Times

It's easy to criticize. Now you're in charge.

The New York Times has created a slick little interactive tool that displays different solutions to the country's projected budget deficits.

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U.S. Congress
11:11 am
Mon November 15, 2010

Michigan's freshmen in D.C.

Captiol Building, Washington D.C.

It’s Freshmen Orientation today. Congressional freshmen, that is. As Bloomberg News reports:

The 2011 U.S. House freshman class is in Washington for orientation as Congress today opens a lame-duck session to decide whether to extend billions of dollars in Bush-era income-tax cuts.

Michigan has five new U.S. Representatives: Republicans Dan Benishek (1st District), Bill Huizenga (2nd District), Justin Amash (3rd District), Tim Walberg (7th District), and Democrat Hansen Clarke (13th District). 

This will actually be Walberg’s 2nd orientation as he was first elected to represent the 7th District in 2006.  He then lost the seat in 2008 to Democrat Mark Schauer but won it back on November 2nd.

The Detroit News reports:

During the 112th Congress orientation, newly elected members learn the ropes in Washington, from legal issues and standards of conduct to understanding pay and benefits and setting up their offices. Newcomers will pose for a class photo on the Capitol lawn, attend receptions and pick their offices.

History
10:33 am
Mon November 15, 2010

The "golden era" of state capitol building

A big reason Elijah E. Myers' design for the Michigan State Capitol won was because it was going to be the cheapest to build.
Michigan Capitol Collection

Michigan Radio's Lester Graham put together this slideshow about the construction of Michigan's State Capitol in Lansing. After the Civil War, many state capitols were built. Graham reports domes were a common feature to show allegiance to the Union (the dome on the U.S. Capitol was constructed during the civil war).

Michigan Legislature
7:40 am
Mon November 15, 2010

Debate continues over 'Pure Michigan' funding

Little Sable Point Lighthouse, MI
David Plotzki/Creative Commons

State tourism officials are hoping to get the Pure Michigan tourism campaign back on the air-waves.

The campaign was stopped earlier this year when the state ran out of money to pay for the ads.

As Rick Pluta reports, Governor Granholm has asked the legislature to tap into a projected budget windfall as a short-term solution to pay for the ads.

Governor Granholm has said the 'Pure Michigan' campaign generates $2.23 in tourism-related activity for every dollar spent on the ads.

A poll of likely Michigan voters released earlier this month showed strong support for the Pure Michigan ad campaign.

News Roundup
7:26 am
Mon November 15, 2010

In this morning's news...

Infrogmation/Creative Commons

Talks Continue on 'Pure Michigan'

State tourism officials are hoping to get the Pure Michigan tourism campaign back on the air-waves. The campaign was stopped earlier this year when the state ran out of money to pay for the ads. As Rick Pluta reports, Governor Granholm has asked the legislature to tap into a projected budget windfall as a short-term solution to pay for the ads. A study commissioned by Travel Michigan found the Pure Michigan' campaign generated $2.30 in tourism-related activity for every dollar spent on the campaigns.

The Hunt is On

Firearms deer hunting season is underway in the state. It began today and runs through November 30th. As of late last week, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources & Environment said more than one million deer licenses had been sold in Michigan. The state sold more than 1.5 million hunting licenses for firearm and bow seasons last year.

Hyundai Reaches Milestone in U.S.

Hyundai, the Korean automaker, expects to break the 500,000 vehicle sales mark for the first time in the U.S. this week, Tracy Samilton reports. John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai's American division, says the recession helped the company because customers focused less on brand and status and more on quality and value. Hyundai has facilities in California, a manufacturing plant in Alabama, and a Technical Center in Ypsilanti.

Medical Marijuana
6:39 pm
Sun November 14, 2010

Attorney, medical marijuana patient files case against Grand Rapids suburb

John Ter Beek has 12 plants in his grow room.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A medical marijuana patient and attorney is filing suit against a west Michigan city set to ban portions of the state's new medical marijuana law.

The city of Wyoming is poised to adopt a ban on growing medical marijuana next month through zoning regulations. If it does, it would join about 30 other Michigan cities with similar rules.

Attorney and medical marijuana patient John Ter Beek spent about $3,000 to create his small grow room for 12 plants. It's in the basement of his modest two-story home in Wyoming. He intends to keep it.

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Medical Marijuana
8:43 pm
Fri November 12, 2010

Federal judge hears arguments in Michigan medical marijuana case

Joseph Casias with his ACLU attorneys after Friday's hearing in Grand Rapids.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A federal judge in Grand Rapids heard arguments today in the case filed by a medical marijuana patient who was fired from Wal-Mart in Battle Creek.

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