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Education
4:51 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

More Michigan families saving to cover their kids’ college expenses

Credit Tulane Public Relations / Creative Commons

More parents and grandparents are setting up savings accounts to cover college expenses for the next generation, according to a national report released today.

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Opinion
2:10 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

If you think the Detroit Institute of Arts is now safe, think again

If you aren’t following every twist and turn in the saga of Detroit’s bankruptcy, you may think things are well on track.

Today, in fact, came the good news that the city has apparently reached a deal with its unsecured bondholders, who are evidently going to settle for almost 75 cents of every dollar owed them. 

But the biggest and toughest challenges are ahead.

And if you think the Detroit Institute of Arts is now safe, think again.

Here is how things stand:

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Politics & Government
12:51 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Detroit starts posting legal notices in new fight vs. blight

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit has started posting legal notices on 79 abandoned homes in one city neighborhood, warning homeowners to clean up the property--or risk a lawsuit, and the city seizing the home.

The effort in the west side neighborhood near Marygrove College was announced Wednesday afternoon by Mayor Mike Duggan, in what he called a "bold experiment" to fight blight.

It will work like this: once a notice is posted, homeowners have 72 hours to contact the city and arrange to sign a consent agreement. It will stipulate that the homeowner clean up the property, and move someone into the house within 60 days.

If that doesn't happen, the city can sue to have the Detroit Land Bank Authority seize the house. The Land Bank will then re-sell properties it deems "salvageable" at auction.

“When you leave your house abandoned, it is a nuisance to the neighborhood," Duggan said. "And you cannot legally leave your property in a way that’s a nuisance.

"I'm going to give every single person when we sue them the choice—either sign the court order to get it fixed up and occupied, or we’re going to take title.”

Duggan said it will be "fascinating" to see how the program plays out in the Marygrove neighborhood effort plays out over the next 90 days--but that plans are already in the works to expand it to other neighborhoods.

Duggan said represents a shift away from the "mindless demolition" approach to blight eradication--though many homes that are simply unsalvageable will have to be demolished. “If we take down the houses that can’t be saved, and we sell what’s left…I think people will value that," Duggan said.

Lola Holton, a 39-year resident of the neighborhood, said she's ready to see "results."

"I'm very, very excited about having community back," Holton said. "That's what we need. We've lost that. 

"Not only the restoration and taking boards down, but putting families in these houses. To build community."

 

Law
11:43 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Breakthrough settlement announced in Detroit bankruptcy case

Kevyn Orr
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Mediators in Detroit’s bankruptcy case have made a potentially huge breakthrough with some of the city’s bondholders.

Bondholders are one of the city’s biggest groups of unsecured creditors.

That means they’re also one of the most important groups for emergency manager Kevyn Orr to get on board with his plan of adjustment, and avoid a protracted legal battle that could bog the city down in bankruptcy court for months or years.

Now, negotiators for the city and three major bond insurers have announced a settlement deal.

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Offbeat
11:25 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Watch this to see what sound looks like

A picture that shows the shock waves around a T-38 Talon aircraft on December 13, 1993.
Dr. Leonard Weinstein NASA

Two parabolic mirrors, a barrier, a camera, and voilà! – you have a way to photograph sound waves – or more specifically, a way to photograph changes in air density.

Check out this video from NPR to see how it works:

H/T Lucy Perkins

Politics & Government
10:28 am
Wed April 9, 2014

The week in Michigan politics

Credit NOAA

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss the state of education in Michigan, an update on the Detroit bankruptcy and the race to fill four seats from Michigan's congressional delegation.

Week in Michigan Politics interview for 4/9/14

8:49 am
Wed April 9, 2014

What is "inclusive education" and who benefits from it?

Lead in text: 
We've been calling this story, State of Opportunity meets StoryCorps. Get ready to be moved. Meet Bentley. He's a rambunctious five-year-old at the James and Grace Lee Boggs School. Zak Rosen and filmmaker Andrea Claire Maio continue our series on the school and its students. In part five of the series, hear how everyone benefits from inclusive education.
“The kids are learning that you take care of one another and they’re learning how to do that in a respectful way. And that’s a powerful thing." - Julia Putnam, Principal of the James and Grace Lee Boggs School
Made in Michigan
8:45 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Carhartt got its start in Michigan, and stayed in Michigan

Carhartt was made in Michigan.
Credit Carhartt / Facebook

Carhartt got its start in southern Michigan when the company's founder, Hamilton Carhartt, set out to make the best pair of overalls he could for railroad workers.

The company is still family owned and remains in Michigan.

We spoke with the company's current CEO, Mark Valade. He's Hamilton Carhartt's great-grandson.

Listen to our interview with him above.

Stateside
8:14 am
Wed April 9, 2014

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow talks minimum wage and the gender pay gap

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow
Credit USDAgov / Flickr

Sen. Stabenow talks about the gender pay gap.

Raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour, and closing the pay gap between men and women; those are key parts of the 2014 midterm election campaign for Democrats.

Michigan has one of the biggest gender-based pay gaps in the nation. That's according to a new report by the National Partnership for Women and Families. 

The study says women who work full-time in Michigan earn 74 cents for every dollar men make. While some say the gap isn't that big, it's clear that women are often paid less than men.  We spoke with U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, who co-sponsored a bill that sought to address the gender pay gap. The U.S. Senate voted down that bill after our interview with Stabenow. Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
6:16 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Mullins throws hat into race for John Dingell's congressional seat

Raymond G. Mullins
Credit Courtesy Raymond G. Mullins

A long-time Washtenaw County attorney plans to run in the Democratic primary for Michigan's 12th Congressional District seat.

Raymond G. Mullins is challenging Debbie Dingell in the race to succeed her husband, U.S. Representative John Dingell.

Mullins says his biggest concerns are fighting poverty, income inequality, and improving public education at all levels.

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Health
4:29 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

"Healthy Michigan" enrolls tens of thousands in first week

"Healthy Michigan" will cover nearly everyone, under the age of 65, with an income up to 133% of the federal poverty limit. That translates to individuals making about $16,000 and families of four making less than $33,000.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s expanded Medicaid program is off to a fast start.  

Tens of thousands of people have signed up for the medical coverage in the first week since the enrollment opened.

The Healthy Michigan program has received nearly 55,000 applications since April first; 32,000 Michiganders have already had their applications approved. Tens of thousands more have been moved into the expanded Medicaid program from a different state health assistance program.

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Stateside
4:10 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Unmarried women voters may be crucial in the upcoming fall elections

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

As Michigan's August 5 primary and November election draw closer, there are some very tight races shaping up.

The Cook Political Report says four congressional Republicans are in tight races. Representatives Dan Benishek in the 1st, Tim Walberg in the 7th, Justin Amash in the 3rd and Kerry Bentivolio on the 11th districts are in very competitive races. Add to that the race to fill Democrat Carl Levin's Senate seat and the race for governor. All of these, according to Cook, are among the most competitive races in the country.

So who are the voters who could most influence the outcome of these races, depending upon whether they stay home or go to the polls?

For the answer we turned to Page Gardner, president of the non-profit and nonpartisan Voter Participation Center. She joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
3:50 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Flint singer/songwriter Tunde Olaniran creates fresh new music

Tunde Olaniran and Cynthia Canty in the studio.
Credit Facebook

An interview with Flint artist Tunde Olaniran.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that fresh new music – rap, electronic and more – comes out of Detroit.

Listen to what's coming out of Flint.

Tunde Olaniran is a Flint artist: singer, songwriter, rapper, electropop, rock. Tunde is attracting lots of attention, including a glowing review in the New York Times for his new EP, Yung Archetype.

Tunde Olaniran joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
3:50 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Who objected to Detroit's disclosure statement?

Yesterday was the deadline to file objections to the disclosure statement spelling out Detroit's plan to climb out of its bankruptcy hole.

And yes, objections poured in – long lists of objections to the disclosure statement.

Detroit News reporter Chad Livengood joined us today to tell us who's objecting, why, and what comes next.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
3:49 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

The fresh air of Sault Ste. Marie once made it a popular destination for allergy sufferers

The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
Credit USACOE

We've been hearing from the experts that, thanks to the great winter and our friend the polar vortex, this is going to be quite a year for allergy sufferers.

Perhaps it might be time to revive The Ca-Choo Club.

The Ca-Choo Club was a very unique way to attract visitors to Sault Ste. Marie.

Beginning in 1928, it welcomed allergy sufferers who turned up to breathe that clean, cool, pollen-free air that swept in off Lake Superior.

Writer Deidre Stevens dug into the history of this quirky Ca-Choo Club for Michigan History magazine, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Health
3:39 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

For some aging vets, PTSD triggered late in life

As many as 1 in 3 older vets may experience late-onset PTSD
John M. Cropper Flickr

There’s still so much we don’t understand about war vets and PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

Why some experience it, but so many others don’t. 

Why one vet can have symptoms right away, while another can be fine for years.

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Stateside
2:37 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Former Republican state representative says he was wrong to oppose same-sex marriage

Chris Ward in a photo for a 2008 cover story in Dome Magazine.
Credit Dave Trumpie - trumpiephotography.com / Dome Magazine

Former Michigan State Rep. Chris Ward talks about why he regrets his vote on same-sex marriage.

It is never too late to offer a public "mea culpa" for taking a political action that you later believe was a serious mistake.

That's the idea behind a recent entry on the blog Republicus.

Former Republican State Rep. Chris Ward wrote the post declaring that he'd been on the "wrong side of history" when he opposed same-sex marriage during his time in Lansing.

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Business
2:20 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

A new law allows local investment in small business

Kyle DeWitt and Tim Schmidt, both 32, are trying to become the first people in Michigan to use a new crowdfunding law passed by Gov. Snyder in December. They want to open a brewery in Tecumseh.
Credit Megha Satyanarayana / Michigan Radio Newsroom

Kyle DeWitt has spent three years trying to open a brewery in Tecumseh. He's a veteran brewer, and he owns the building where he plans to brew his beer. But, he still needs money for equipment.

Despite his experience and a solid business plan, banks think of breweries as restaurants, he says. He’s a risky investment in the eyes of traditional lenders.

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Environment & Science
12:37 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Company considers drilling for oil west of Ann Arbor

A drilling rig in Appalachia.
Creative Commons photo by user Meridithw

Ben Freed over at The Ann Arbor News has more about the plans being developed by Traverse City-based West Bay Exploration Company. Freed reports the company has approached landowners in Scio Township looking to obtain their mineral rights.

West Bay says it would drill for oil using a "traditional" method. The company's vice president, Patrick Gibson, said it wouldn't use horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking:

“We’re a conventional oil and gas exploration company, we do not utilize hydraulic fracturing,” Gibson said.

“What we’re looking for is geological formations that are already fractured so that we don’t have to do any fracturing ourselves, hydraulic or otherwise.”

Landowners are being advised to educate themselves before signing contracts offered by the company. MSU's extension office offers insights into oil and gas leasing on this page.

Opinion
10:34 am
Tue April 8, 2014

With Michigan members of Congress hitting the exit, replacements scramble for money

Jack Lessenberry talks about the challenges facing those who want to run for Congress.

Congressmen don’t stay on the job forever, though it sometimes seems like it.

This year will be the last for Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, first elected in 1978, and Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan, the all-time longevity champ, who has represented a Detroit-area district since 1955.

Their retirements, while momentous, weren’t very surprising. Indeed, Carl Levin announced that he wouldn’t run for re-election more than a year ago. Far more shocking was the sudden decision by two mid-Michigan Republican Congressmen to bow out.

Both Rep. Dave Camp, R-Michigan, and Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, had safe seats, a fair amount of seniority, and are youngish men by congressional standards. Yet within the last few days, both said they wouldn’t run for re-election.

That set off something of a mad scramble.

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