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Arts & Culture
11:54 am
Sun December 23, 2012

Michigan museum fighting feds to keep lighthouse lens

The Pointe Aux Barques lighthouse on Lake Huron
Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse Society

PORT AUSTIN, Mich. (AP) - The operator of a museum in Michigan's Thumb wants to keep a rare 19th century lighthouse lens.

The federal government is suing Huron City Museums, saying it lacks approval to store and display an old lens that was used in the Pointe Aux Barques lighthouse on Lake Huron. The U.S. Coast Guard gave it to the city of Harbor Beach in 1970s under certain conditions.

Politics & Government
7:55 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

Judge orders Ambassador Bridge owners to pay state $4.5M

Ambassador Bridge, Detroit, Michigan (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A judge in Detroit has ordered the owners of the Ambassador Bridge to reimburse the state Department of Transportation $4.5 million for work done on a freeway-to-bridge project.

The Detroit Free Press reports Monday that Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Prentis Edwards made the order last week.

Edwards told bridge owner Manuel Moroun in 2010 to rebuild a ramp. Moroun was jailed earlier this year when the work was not done.

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Politics & Government
7:48 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

Gov. Snyder says he will sign into law changes to Michigan's emergency financial manager law

Gov. Rick Snyder (R)-MI (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says he plans to sign a revised emergency manager bill that replaces a similar law rejected last month by voters.

The Republican governor told The Associated Press on Monday that he will review the legislation to ensure there are no significant changes and then sign it. The measure gives local governments several options, including accepting a manager, declaring bankruptcy, undergoing mediation and entering a consent decree as Detroit has done.

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Politics & Government
1:52 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

More protests after Mich. right-to-work action

Michigan Gov. Snyder at a press conference on December 11, 2012 announcing he had signed 'right-to-work' into law.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Protests are taking place a day after Republicans converted Michigan from a seemingly impregnable fortress of organized labor into a right-to-work state.

Protesters covered their mouths with tape Wednesday in Lansing with the words "$1,500 less" written on it in reference to wage cuts they expect. Silent protests also took place in Saginaw and were planned elsewhere.

In Detroit, dozens of noisy protesters entered a state of Michigan office building to voice their opposition to right-to-work.

The state House swiftly approved two bills reducing unions' strength Tuesday, one dealing with private-sector workers and the other with public employees, as thousands of furious protesters at the state Capitol roared in vain.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed the measures into law within hours, calling them "pro-worker and pro-Michigan."

Offbeat
1:49 pm
Sun November 25, 2012

On the road home from Thanksgiving

DETROIT (AP) - Chilly winds and snow flurries are greeting thousands of Michigan travelers as they head home after spending the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends.

The long Thanksgiving weekend saw temperatures push into the 60s in places, but Michigan got a preview of winter on Sunday, with midday readings in 20s and 30s and swirling snow in places.

AAA Michigan has estimated that about 1.3 million state residents were planning to travel 50 miles or more during this year's Thanksgiving period, an increase of 7 percent over 2011.

Many buses are fully booked Sunday on the Megabus discount travel system that serves Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and East Lansing, and flights are packed at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Politics & Government
5:00 pm
Sat November 24, 2012

Lawmaker: Michigan residents should get $5B from Blue Cross/Blue Shield

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A Republican state lawmaker says Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan should pay $500 for every Michigan resident as part of legislation that would convert the company from a charitable trust of the state to a customer-owned nonprofit .

Rep. Tom McMillin proposed Friday that the state's dominant insurer be required to transfer $5 billion to Michigan's 10 million residents as payment for the conversion.

Blue Cross says the conversion would help it better compete under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

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Business
4:58 pm
Sat November 24, 2012

Summer drought causes hay shortage in Michigan

HOWELL, Mich. (AP) - A long summer drought has caused a shortage of hay in Michigan and sent prices skyrocketing.

The Detroit News reports Saturday that as a result, farmers, rescue groups and private owners throughout the state are struggling to feed their stocks, cutting budgets, turning to outside help and even leaving Michigan to purchase hay.

Cindy Ashley is the barn manager at Horses' Haven, a Howell-based nonprofit group that cares for aged, abused, rescued and neglected animals.

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Politics & Government
1:29 pm
Sat November 24, 2012

Benton Harbor meetings to focus on public safety assessments

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Emergency financial manager Joe Harris says he plans to hold public hearings in Benton Harbor on whether a special assessment should replace an expired public safety millage.

Harris says the city no longer has the money to operate its own police department and that hearings are expected over the next few weeks to get public input on the issue.

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Offbeat
11:26 am
Sat November 24, 2012

Paper lanterns to launch on dark Detroit block

DETROIT (AP) - Floating paper lanterns will be launched in Detroit's former Chinatown as part of a community-based event.

The Saturday evening event near Wayne State University is dubbed "Illuminating Chinatown." The lanterns made by local artists, designers and university students are set to be launched in a block without working street lights.

Paper lanterns were first used as signaling balloons and now are used in festivals to signify good luck and new beginnings. Organizers say they also intend for them to signal change coming from the hands of the community.

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Economy
3:14 pm
Fri November 23, 2012

8,000 Genesee County properties head to foreclosure

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - With just three months remaining before winter tax payments are due and with about 8,000 parcels rolling toward tax foreclosure in April, Genesee County treasury officials are ramping up programs aimed at keeping people in their homes.

The county Land Bank already has 9,500 parcels of land to maintain after three straight years of at least 2,300 foreclosures. That's after selling 500 foreclosed parcels earlier this year.

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Transportation
11:22 am
Fri November 23, 2012

Michigan governor to talk up new bridge in Canada

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder is returning to Canada to discuss plans for a second bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, nearly six months after signing the deal to build the Canadian-financed span.

The Republican governor will talk in Toronto on Monday about the New International Trade Crossing. He's there to speak at a conference on public-private partnerships and announce a pact with Great Lakes governors on a virtual Canada trade office.

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Health
4:03 pm
Thu November 22, 2012

Michigan's meningitis death toll rises

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Officials say the Michigan death toll from a national meningitis outbreak has risen to 13, with at least 167 infections reported.

The fungal meningitis is linked to contaminated steroids produced by a Massachusetts pharmacy used in injections for neck or back pain.

The Michigan Department of Community Health said Wednesday that the state has had 67 cases of meningitis, including the 13 deaths. In addition, there have been 91 epidural abscesses, one stroke and eight joint infections.

Developing
6:24 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Feds accuse Michigan Supreme Court justice of fraud

michigan.gov

Wednesday, November 21st, 12:38 p.m.

We began a new post on this story here. Here's an update from the Associated Press:

The lawyer for a Michigan Supreme Court justice accused of fraud says she'll file a claim to keep a Florida home out of the hands of the government.

Steve Fishman offered brief comments Wednesday, two days after prosecutors sued to take control of a house owned by Justice Diane Hathaway and husband Michael Kingsley.

The government says they temporarily transferred the home to a relative while trying to negotiate a short sale on a Michigan property. After the sale went through, and mortgage debt was erased, the Florida home went back to Hathaway and Kingsley.

The government says ING  Bank was cheated.

Fishman declined to respond to the fraud allegation but says Hathaway and Kingsley will fight to keep the property in Windermere, Fla.

No criminal charges have been filed.

Tuesday, November 20th 6:16 p.m.

The U.S. Attorney has filed a civil complaint against Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway and her husband, accusing them of fraud in a series of real estate transactions that allowed them to broker a short sale. The complaint seeks the forfeiture of the couple's of the couple’s $750,000 Florida home.

3:17 p.m.

MPRN's Rick Pluta spoke with Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty about his report that Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway has cleaned out of her office. Hathaway has denied the report.

"Clearly the easiest way to settle the question once and for all would be to look in the office.... I was told I would have to get permission from Justice Hathaway.... I called her office and was told simply 'your questions have been answered,'" said Pluta.

You can listen to Pluta's conversation with Canty below.

MPRN's Rick Pluta explains his report that Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway has cleared her office.

2:00 p.m.

This message was sent by Marcia M. McBrien, Public Information Officer at the Michigan Supreme Court: 

Please be advised that Justice Hathaway has sent the other justices and Court staff an e-mail stating that the rumors that she is going to resign are NOT true.

12:40 p.m.

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway and her attorney say it's not true that she is about to resign, or that she has cleared out her Lansing office.

"She is not resigning. Period," says criminal attorney Steve Fishman, who represents Hathaway as she is investigated over real estate transactions. "Rumors of her resignation are greatly exaggerated."

Hathaway also sent an e-mail to Michigan Supreme Court employees saying she is not resigning.

Fishman and a woman identifying herself as Hathaway's senior law clerk says a junior law clerk moved out of Hathaway's office at the Michigan Hall of Justice last week.

11:32 a.m.

A source inside the state Hall of Justice confirms that Justice Diane Hathaway has cleaned out her Lansing office and the locker where she keeps her robe at the Michigan Supreme Court.

Hathaway is reportedly under investigation by the FBI over real estates transactions. She has not communicated officially with the state Supreme Court whether she intends to resign.

*Clarification - We updated our headline to reflect the new information we've learned from the court.

Law
10:38 am
Tue November 20, 2012

Woman, 77, gets probation in church embezzlement

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) - A 77-year-old woman has been sentenced to five years of probation for taking money from a Detroit-area church and has been ordered to repay $50,000.

Helen Gvozdich was sentenced Tuesday in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens, avoiding the possibility of up to two years behind bars. She earlier pleaded guilty to embezzlement in an agreement with prosecutors. Court records say a judge also ordered her to perform community service.

Her lawyer has said she devoted decades to serving the church and was the victim of an unfortunate series of events.

Authorities originally said that in 2008-2009 Gvozdich stole about $79,000 from St. Stevan Decanski Serbian Orthodox Church in Warren. Prosecutors say church officials agreed to accept $50,000 repayment if she pleaded guilty.

Sports
6:24 pm
Sun November 18, 2012

Michigan driver clinches NASCAR title

NASCAR race car driver Brad Keselowski
Penske Racing

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) - Brad Keselowski has won his first NASCAR championship.

The 28-year-old Detroit native clinched the Sprint Cup title Sunday when fellow title contender Jimmie Johnson pulled out of the season finale because of a parts failure. The championship is the first for longtime NASCAR owner Roger Penske and gives outgoing car manufacturer Dodge the sweetest of parting gifts.

All Keselowski had to do was stay out of trouble over the final 60 miles, which essentially turned out to be 40 victory laps around Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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Education
2:03 pm
Sun November 18, 2012

Rewriting Michigan's funding plan for education

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A proposal that Gov. Rick Snyder commissioned to overhaul Michigan's education system would let students take their public funding to any district that will accept them, enroll in state-funded online learning courses and get $2,500 in scholarship money for each semester they graduate early from high school.

The Detroit Free Press says a group that Michigan's Republican governor asked to propose revisions to the state's K-12 school finance system will release a draft of its bill Monday.

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Arts & Culture
8:55 am
Fri November 16, 2012

Veteran Detroit broadcaster 'Sonny' Eliot dies

Sonny Eliot delivers a weather forecast in the early days of local TV news in Detroit
storytellermn.com

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (AP) - Longtime broadcaster Marvin "Sonny" Eliot, whose corny jokes and genial manner endeared him to Detroit audiences for decades, has died. He was 91.

Friend and co-worker Don Swindell says Eliot died Friday morning at home in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills after an illness.

One of the city's most well-known media personalities, Eliot was a throwback to a time when local television established its identity through non-news programming that made up with enthusiasm and creativity.

His longest-lasting gig was as a weathercaster, first on WWJ radio in 1950 - a job he held well into the 21st century - as well as on local television stations.

Eliot retired in 2010 from broadcasting, announcing the end of his career on WWJ.

Survivors include his wife, Annette. Arrangements were pending Friday.

Politics & Government
6:25 am
Fri November 16, 2012

Former Michigan first lady Helen Milliken dies at 89

Helen Wallbank Milliken
hall.michiganwomen.org

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Helen Wallbank Milliken, who was Michigan's longest-serving first lady and a staunch supporter of women's rights and the environment, has died. She was 89.

Son William Milliken Jr. says she died Friday morning at the family's Traverse City home.

Early in her husband's political career, Milliken dutifully played the role of unassuming, supportive spouse. But she evolved into an outspoken advocate of issues close to her heart during a record 14 years as first lady.

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Law
4:03 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Federal appeals court strikes down Michigan affirmative action ban

file photo of affirmative action supporters on the University of Michigan campus
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Update 4:03 p.m.

A full panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Michigan's constitutional ban on affirmative action does not hold up under the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause (14th amendment).

Last year's Sixth Circuit ruling was 2-1. An appeal was made to a full panel of judges.

Today's ruling striking the ban down was 8-7.

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Economy
11:36 am
Thu November 15, 2012

Economic forecast sees jobs recovery

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - University of Michigan economists say that over the next two years, the U.S. economy will regain the rest of the nearly 9 million jobs lost in the recession.

The prediction came in Thursday's release of the annual forecast of the U.S. economy from UM economists Joan Crary, Daniil Manaenkov and Matthew Hall.

They foresee the creation of 2 million jobs in 2013 and another 2.3 million in 2014 as unemployment falls from 7.9 percent to 7.2 percent during that time.

Employment fell by 8.8 million jobs during the 2008-09 economic downturn, but the economy has recovered 4.5 million jobs in the last three years.

The UM forecast is based on the Michigan Quarterly Econometric Model of the U.S. Economy and compiled by the UM Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics.

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