The Associated Press

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Auto/Economy
12:10 pm
Thu April 12, 2012

Government proposes throttle override system in cars

The government wants make brake-throttle override systems more common in vehicles.
Chrystal Foxx wikimedia commons

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal regulators are proposing cars be required to have throttle override systems to prevent runaway acceleration in instances where the driver steps on the gas pedal and brake at the same time.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Thursday that it's proposing changing safety standards to require brake-throttle override systems in all vehicle models regardless of size, including trucks and buses. The systems automatically brake while overriding the accelerator when both are pressed.

Many car models already come equipped with such systems.

The proposal is an outgrowth of investigations two years ago into claims that mechanical defects had caused unintended acceleration in some Toyota models. Government studies rejected those claims, but the probe uncovered several cases of drivers inadvertently pressing the brake and gas pedal at the same time.

Detroit
6:45 am
Thu April 12, 2012

Mayor's office to present budget to City Council

Ifmuth Flickr

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's office is presenting the city's 2012-13 fiscal year budget to the City Council. The presentation is planned for 11 a.m. Thursday.

The annual budget process comes about a week after Bing, the council and Gov. Rick Snyder's office agreed for Michigan to have a role in fixing Detroit's $200 million budget deficit and long-term fiscal restructuring.

Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis said this week that the city is "nowhere near where" it "needs to be" in the budget process due to the time spent negotiating the agreement with Snyder.

A financial advisory board called for under the deal is expected to have little input on the upcoming budget. It will make recommendations to the mayor and help the city when Detroit begins preparations for 3-year budgets.

Auto/Economy
3:40 pm
Wed April 11, 2012

Feds expand investigation of Jeep Wrangler fires

user KFearnside wikimedia commons

DETROIT (AP) - U.S. safety regulators have expanded an investigation into Jeep Wrangler fires.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is asking Chrysler for information about Wranglers from 2007 through 2012.

That is an expansion of a probe that began March 28, and focused on vehicles from the 2010 model year.

Chrysler makes Jeeps. It sold more than 532,000 Wranglers from 2007 through March.

The government says 23 Wrangler owners have complained about fires. Complaints say four people were hurt and two houses were damaged. Three of the injuries were minor burns.

Chrysler had no immediate comment on the expanded probe Wednesday. It has said the Wrangler meets or exceeds all safety standards and has an excellent safety record.

An investigation can lead to a recall.

Politics
2:20 pm
Tue April 10, 2012

Detroit leaders vetting names for financial review board

Laughlin Elkind Flickr

The process leading to the selection of a nine-person financial review board to help Detroit monitor its finances and set budget revenue projections has started, even as some community leaders question whether the mayor and City Council too easily gave up control of the city to Gov. Rick Snyder.

Detroit NAACP President Wendell Anthony told Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis during a forum Tuesday that city residents want to be a partner with the state, but "don't want to surrender who we are."

The agreement is aimed at turning around Detroit's finances while preventing the appointment of an emergency manager who would have had the authority to dismiss elected leaders. The deal includes forming a financial review board.

Lewis said names are currently being vetted for possible selection to the board.

Politics
1:19 pm
Tue April 10, 2012

Michigan Gov. Snyder signs bill affecting home health program

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation aimed at making sure union dues aren't collected from certain home health care workers.

The bill that the Republican governor announced signing Tuesday would exclude those who receive a government subsidy for private employment from the definition of a public employee.

Snyder said the legislation clarifies Michigan law to its original intent.

Republicans who control the Michigan Legislature have been critical of what they consider stealth, unilaterally imposed union dues collection from those who serve as care providers through a program called the Michigan Quality Community Care Council.

Unions are attempting to counteract the legislation through a ballot campaign aimed at getting features of the program enshrined in the state constitution.

They'd have to collect nearly 323,000 voter signatures to make the November ballot.

Politics
5:50 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

State House Republicans win round in court over their use of "immediate effect"

A view of the state capitol building in Lansing, Michigan
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Court of Appeals has stayed a temporary restraining order that favored Democrats in a procedural spat with House Republicans.

Ingham County Circuit Judge Clinton Canady III last week issued the order aimed at ensuring Republicans follow certain procedures when granting what is called "immediate effect" to bills approved by lawmakers.

That status determines how quickly a new law kicks in once signed by the governor.

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Politics
12:56 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

Federal court dismisses Michigan redistricting case

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A federal court has tossed out a challenge to Michigan's redistricting plans for the state Legislature.

An order last week from a three-judge panel says the legal opposition to the new districts was "too factually
underdeveloped" to proceed.

The new boundaries are based on Census counts and begin with this year's elections.

Civil rights groups and Democrats sued late last year to challenge new boundaries for Detroit seats in the state House. Opponents said the map forces black incumbents to run against each other and dilutes the political representation of Hispanics.

Melvin Hollowell, an attorney for the NAACP and others who sued in the case, said Monday possible next steps are under review.

Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger said the ruling affirms that the Legislature drew fair and legal maps.

Arts/Culture
8:35 pm
Sun April 8, 2012

The late Mike Wallace enjoyed his ties to the University of Michigan

Legendary broadcast journalist Mike Wallace died Saturday. He was 93.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Three-quarters of a century after Mike Wallace graduated from the University of Michigan, his name and his contributions live on at the Ann Arbor school.

The veteran CBS newsman died Saturday in New Canaan, Conn., at age 93.

Wallace came to Michigan from Brookline, Mass. He reported for the student-run newspaper The Michigan Daily and did radio work as well, graduating in 1939.

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Arts/Culture
10:57 am
Sun April 8, 2012

Mike Wallace, legendary broadcast journalist and U of M alumnus, dies

Mike Wallace ringing a bell at a 2006 Knight-Wallace fellowship event
(Courtesy of KWF)

NEW YORK (AP) — A spokesman says CBS newsman Mike Wallace, famed for his tough interviews on "60 Minutes," has died. He was 93.

CBS spokesman Kevin Tedesco says Wallace died Saturday night.

Wallace was on the staff of "60 Minutes" when it began in 1968, and was one of its mainstays from then on.

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Transportation
3:51 pm
Sat April 7, 2012

Suburban resident plans private Detroit bus line

The Detroit News reports Andy Didorosi is set to open the Detroit Bus Co., a private company with three full-size school buses.

The 25-year-old Ferndale resident says he's invested $10,000, and insurance will cost another $10,000 per bus per year. His plan comes as frustrations linger over city buses running late or not at all.

Didorosi's first bus will launch the last week of April, and the other two will follow.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26 President Henry Gaffney says city service could be better, but he's not a fan of a private citizen tackling the issue. Gaffney says Didorosi doesn't really know what he's doing.

Politics
2:07 pm
Sat April 7, 2012

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing released from hospital

Mayor Bing meeting at the mayoral residence
City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has been released from the hospital, where he was being treated for blood clots in his lungs.

Bing's office says he left Henry Ford Hospital on Saturday. The 68-year-old mayor on Wednesday was readmitted to the hospital, where he'd recently undergone surgery for a perforated colon.

Bing is expected to return to the office by the end of the month. His office says he continues to be involved in city operations through regular meetings with Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis and other members of the staff.

Auto/Economy
11:19 am
Sat April 7, 2012

Ford recalling Focuses for wiper problem

(courtesy of CarDomain.com)

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is recalling more than 140,000 Focus compact cars because the passenger side windshield wiper can fail.

Federal Safety regulators say a seal in the wiper motor wiring may be missing. Water can get inside and cause the wiper to stop working, increasing the risk of a crash. Ford Motor Co. says there haven't been any crashes or injuries from the problem.

Auto/Economy
11:15 am
Sat April 7, 2012

Mild winter = Lower home heating bills

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Warmer weather wasn't the only factor lowering heating bills in Michigan this winter, but it sure helped.

The Michigan Public Service Commission notes that lower natural gas prices also contributed to lower heating bills in the state. Roughly 80 percent of Michigan households use natural gas for home heating

But the biggest factor probably was the weather. The state agency said Friday that temperatures were around 20 percent warmer than normal during the recently completed November through March heating season.

Auto/Economy
12:48 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

Ford to expand Chinese factories again

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) - Ford says it will spend $600 million to expand its factory capacity in China as it tries to play catch-up with competitors.

The company says it will add to its factories in Chongqing to handle growing demand. The additions will give Ford the ability to make 350,000 more vehicles per year by 2014. That will increase its
total to 950,000.

Ford Motor Co. says it plans to triple the cars in its Chinese lineup to 15 over the next three years. It also will add 20 new engines and transmissions.

The company will build a new assembly line, body shop and paint shop at the Chongqing site in southwestern China. The investment will be made with the company's joint-venture partner, Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Limited.

Detroit
6:46 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Detroit Consent Agreement process brought to a standstill

Spirit of Detroit
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 DETROIT (AP) — A judge has issued a temporary order to block a state-appointed team reviewing Detroit's finances from meeting Tuesday.   The panel was expected to vote on a proposed "consent agreement". 

The order was issued late Monday afternoon by Ingham County Judge Joyce Draganchuk. 

The order brings to a standstill the process that was expected to result in a "consent agreement" for the city of Detroit.

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Environment
5:12 pm
Fri March 30, 2012

Michigan and 4 other states join feds to push for Great Lakes wind farms

A wind farm off the coast of Sweden
Mariusz Paździora wikimedia commons

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Federal officials say a deal to speed up consideration of proposed offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes should cut red tape and open the way for more clean energy production.

Officials announced the agreement Friday between the federal government and Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania.

There are no wind turbines in the Great Lakes now. But one project is in the works for Lake Erie.

Nancy Sutley of the White House Council on Environmental Quality said there's "tremendous" potential for wind energy development in the region. She said it's hard to know when other offshore wind proposals may arise, but government agencies should have an efficient system in place to evaluate them.

Politics
11:10 am
Fri March 30, 2012

Top Snyder aide: More needed from Detroit unions

State and city leaders have been working to avoid an emergency manager appointment in Detroit, but so far, no deal has been reached.
user jodelli Flickr

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder's chief of staff says more concessions will be needed from Detroit unions before a financial oversight deal can be worked out with city leaders, but he adds "we're moving strongly forward" toward agreement.

Dennis Muchmore said during Friday's taping of public television's "Off the Record" program that he thinks five of nine city council members ultimately will approve a deal between the state and the city. At the moment only three have publicly expressed support.

If an agreement isn't reached by next Thursday, Snyder will have to decide whether to appoint an emergency manager with sweeping powers to run Detroit. Muchmore says an appeal period starts then, so the absolute deadline on a decision isn't until April 13.

Council members are expected to vote early next week.

Economy
10:04 am
Fri March 30, 2012

Some Red Cross workers in Michigan go on strike

American Red Cross workers during a previous strike (file photo)
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - More than 200 American Red Cross workers in Michigan are on strike in a dispute related to contract negotiations.

Red Cross spokeswoman Monica Stoneking tells The Associated Press some blood drives have been cancelled or rescheduled because of Friday's work stoppage.

The American Red Cross Great Lakes Blood Services Region had earlier gotten notices of intent to strike from staff members represented by the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 459 and Teamsters Local 580. The Great Lakes region covers more than 60 counties.

Stoneking says Friday marks the third time the unions have gone on strike in the past two years.

The Teamsters union said in a statement Thursday night announcing the strike that staffing concerns and health care benefits are among the reasons for the labor action.

Politics
6:55 am
Thu March 29, 2012

Review of emergency manager petitions continues

Opponents of the campaign aimed at overturning Michigan's revised emergency manager law have until April 9 to challenge voter signatures turned in on petitions supporting the repeal effort.

The deadline for challenging signatures that may be invalid was set this week by state election officials.

Election officials are reviewing signatures turned in by a group called Stand Up for Democracy. The group wants to give voters a chance to overturn Michigan's 2011 emergency manager law during the November election.

The group turned in petitions containing 225,885 signatures. The coalition must have at least 161,305 valid voter signatures to make the ballot.

State election officials are expected to determine by late April whether enough valid signatures were filed.

Politics
10:15 am
Wed March 28, 2012

Court says some welfare recipients in Michigan wrongly cut off

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A judge says some Michigan welfare recipients protected from losing benefits under state law can't be cut off because they exceed federal limits.

Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Geoffrey Neithercut ruled Tuesday that state Department of Human Services director Maura Corrigan "exceeded her authority" by ending benefits for most welfare recipients once they reached the five-year federal limit.

Michigan lawmakers in 2007 adopted a four-year limit that had several exceptions, then approved stricter enforcement last year.

The four-year limit doesn't include months where a parent is needed at home to care for a disabled child or other family member, but those months count under the federal limit.

Neithercut says the state can't deny benefits to those who haven't reached the four-year state cap.

The department says it's reviewing the decision.

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