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State Legislature
6:52 am
Tue April 17, 2012

Michigan lawmakers return; budget high priority

Cedar Bend Drive Flickr

Michigan lawmakers are headed back to the state Capitol after a two-week spring break, with the state budget remaining their top priority.

Legislative sessions resume Tuesday. Lawmakers say they hope to wrap up a spending plan for the fiscal year that starts in October within the next two months.

There are some differences between developing budget plans from Republican lawmakers who hold the majority in the state Legislature and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's initial budget proposal.

Some Republicans want to spend less than Snyder proposed on the state prison system and some other state departments. They say they worry that state revenues won't come in as high as state economists projected earlier this year.

The House and Senate appropriations committees have meetings scheduled for this week.

Politics
10:24 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Michigan Supreme Court lets Detroit Public Schools emergency manager stay

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court has decided to let Detroit Public Schools emergency manager Roy Roberts remain on the job.

The court issued a unanimous decision Monday rejecting an appeal of a lower court decision upholding Roberts' appointment.

The case was brought by Robert Davis, an activist who has filed several suits challenging aspects of Michigan's emergency manager law.

Arts/Culture
1:59 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Michigan Opera Theatre needs $3 millon to pay debt

DETROIT (AP) - A spokesman for Michigan Opera Theatre says the organization needs to raise $3 million by May 31 to retire its debt.

Jeff Strayer said Monday the MOT actually needs to pay $11 million by that date, but already has raised $5 million and expects to rely on financing for another $3 million.

That means it's on the hook for $3 million, for which it currently is seeking donations.

Strayer says the situation is "not that dire," and he predicts the MOT will gather the money in time.

Offbeat
11:08 am
Mon April 16, 2012

Michigan pair lose appeal in John Stamos extortion

John Stamos. A Michigan pair tried to blackmail the actor.
user hyku wikimedia commons

MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) - A federal appeals court has upheld the convictions of a man and woman from Michigan's Upper Peninsula who were accused of trying to blackmail actor John Stamos.

A three-judge panel in Cincinnati rejected challenges to the indictment Monday as well as claims that Allison Coss and Scott Sippola should have received a break at sentencing for accepting responsibility.

They were sentenced to four years in prison in 2010 after a jury convicted them of conspiracy and using email to threaten a person's reputation. Coss and Sippola threatened to sell old photos of Stamos with strippers and cocaine to the tabloids unless he paid $680,000. The FBI said the photos didn't exist.

Stamos met Coss in Florida in 2004 and had a friendship.

Agriculture
1:45 pm
Sun April 15, 2012

Frost wipes out juice grapes in SW Michigan

user rkramer62 Flickr

A devastating frost has wiped out grapes grown for juice in southwestern Michigan. John Jasper, a surveyor for Welch's Foods, tells TV station ABC57 that he went through hundreds of acres before even finding a live bud. He estimates more than 10,000 acres were destroyed Thursday, mostly in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties.

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Politics
3:53 pm
Thu April 12, 2012

Rights group: Suit over Muslim treatment at U.S.-Canada border

U.S. Canada border crossing.
Premshree Pillai Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - A Muslim rights advocacy group says it's filing suit against the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for what it says is the mistreatment of Muslims at the U.S.-Canada border.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations announced plans for the lawsuit Thursday, saying it will release details at a news conference Friday in Detroit.

The council says the suit is based on "the repeated detention and questioning of Muslims" on religious matters at and near the border.

In a statement, the group says the suit is by four U.S. citizens who say that Customs and FBI agents "detained and handcuffed them without evidence of wrongdoing and questioned them about their
religious beliefs and worship habits."

The Associated Press has asked the U.S. Justice Department for comment.

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.

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