The Associated Press

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Politics
11:31 am
Wed March 21, 2012

Tribe considers recognizing same-sex marriages

HARBOR SPRINGS, Mich. (AP) - The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians' tribal council is considering a constitutional amendment that would recognize same-sex marriages.

The Petoskey News-Review and WPBN-TV report the American Indian tribe would be the first in Michigan and among a few nationwide to legalize gay marriages if the amendment is adopted.

Most of the about 4,000 people in the tribe live in Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula. If the measure is approved, at least one of partner would have to be a member of the tribe. The idea was initially encouraged by two tribal citizens in a letter to the tribal council urging consideration of an amendment.

The proposal currently is in a public comment period. The current tribal constitution defines marriage as between "one man and one woman."

Politics
10:36 am
Wed March 21, 2012

Report: State lawmaker's blood alcohol level was over the legal limit after his DUI arrest

Rep. Bob Genetski, (R) Saugatuck
Official website

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Test results say state Rep. Bob Genetski's blood-alcohol level was at a point considered intoxicated under Michigan law about an hour and a half after his drunken driving arrest.

MLive.com reports  Genetski's blood-alcohol level was at Michigan's legal limit of 0.08 percent following the early Jan. 19 traffic stop in East Lansing. The news organization obtained the results of the court-ordered test following a Freedom of Information Act request.

Genetski's attorney, Mike Nichols, on Wednesday told The Associated Press he was restrained from commenting about the results of the test because they would be evidence.

The Saugatuck Republican was arrested after he refused to take a Breathalyzer test. He was ticketed and his drunken driving case is pending.

Education
10:25 am
Wed March 21, 2012

Ypsilanti, Willow Run school districts consider consolidation

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — Leaders of the Willow Run and Ypsilanti school districts say plans to consolidate could prevent them from being placed under the control of an emergency financial manager.

AnnArbor.com reports both school districts have been on the state's list of districts operating with a deficit consistently since 2009. Ypsilanti Public Schools has a total projected deficit of $9.4 million and Willow Run Community Schools has a $1.7 million deficit.

The superintendents of both districts said Tuesday that consolidation could prevent an emergency manager and improve student achievement.

Ypsilanti Superintendent Dedrick Martin says his district has spent more than it has taken in since 2004-05. Willow Run Superintendent Laura Lisiscki says school officials are looking to take a local, proactive approach to solving their schools' growing financial and student achievement problems.

Detroit
2:21 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Judge halts Detroit consent agreement

user southerfried morguefile

DETROIT (AP) — A Michigan judge has temporarily put the brakes on a potential consent agreement between the state and the city of Detroit.

A ruling delivered Tuesday by Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette in Mason says a state-appointed review team and Treasurer Andy Dillon shall not execute or sign a consent agreement or its equivalent with the Detroit until Collette makes further orders.

Collette set a new hearing date of March 29. A meeting was previously scheduled for Thursday.

The new hearing date is after the March 26 deadline that Gov. Rick Snyder set for the financial review team to report to him. The review team could reach a consent agreement with Detroit or recommend an emergency manager financially-battered city that faces a nearly $200 million deficit.

Music
1:36 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Terence Blanchard to lead Detroit Symphony series

Derek Bridges wikimedia commons

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has tapped jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard to oversee its jazz series.

The orchestra announced Tuesday Blanchard will curate acts for the Paradise Jazz Series and contribute to community education. The five-time Grammy winner is serving as the Fred A. & Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Chair.

Orchestra officials say Blanchard will make special guest appearances, serve as a host and at times perform with featured artists. His first appearance at Orchestra Hall in his role will be May 4 for a tribute to the musical relationship between jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie and Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo.

The Paradise Jazz Series is named for the Paradise Theatre, the name of Orchestra Hall during the 1940s after the symphony left and it temporarily closed.

Education
1:28 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Michigan Senate passes bill banning intimate relations between school employees and students

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Senate has approved legislation aimed at expanding prohibitions against sex between school employees and students.

The Senate passed the main bill in a legislative package by a 36-2 vote Tuesday. The legislation advances to the House.

The legislation would make it a crime for school employees such as administrators and teachers to have sex with students even if the student is 18 or older.

Current law sets an age of consent in such cases at 18.

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Environment
1:22 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Tittabawassee River cleanup far from finished

SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) — Federal officials say they're a couple of years away from settling on a plan for cleaning up a 24-mile section of the Tittabawassee River polluted with dioxin from a Dow Chemical Co. plant.

The Environmental Protection Agency provided an update on the cleanup Monday during a community advisory group meeting at Saginaw Valley State University.

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Dexter Tornado
1:13 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Dept. of Corrections crews help in tornado cleanup

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

DEXTER, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Department of Corrections work crews are helping cleanup efforts following last week's tornado that hit Washtenaw County.

The department says crews from its Special Alternative Incarceration Program in Chelsea, a prison boot camp, will be in the Dexter area at least through Wednesday.

The department says the crews will work longer if requested.

Also Tuesday, the Washtenaw County Building Inspection Division announced that it will give priority to permit applications that are submitted as a result of Thursday's tornado damage.

Politics
4:58 pm
Mon March 19, 2012

Bing gives council consent deal counter-proposal

Kate Davidson Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The City Council has received a draft of Mayor Dave Bing's counter-proposal to a state-authored consent agreement involving Detroit's poor finances.

Bing says Monday in a release that a draft of the Financial Stability Agreement was sent Sunday to the nine council members.

The draft was prepared with input from the mayor's staff and council staff.

Bing said the counter-proposal "is designed to provide a reliable roadmap for the city and state to collaborate in resolving the city's short-term cash flow challenges and long-term structural changes."

Bing and council members said the agreement proposed last week by Gov. Rick Snyder gives a nine-member financial advisory board whose members would be appointed by state and city officials too much authority over the decisions made by the elected mayor and City Council.

Politics
1:27 pm
Mon March 19, 2012

Union-backed measures a step closer to November ballot in Michigan

Dmitri Beljan Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Two proposed constitutional amendments supported by Michigan unions have cleared procedural hurdles allowing their campaigns to continue.

The forms of petitions sponsored by the groups were approved Monday by the Board of State Canvassers. Supporters would need to collect at least 322,609 valid voter signatures to put the proposed constitutional amendments before voters in November.

The newest of the proposals aims to put what is now called the Michigan Quality Community Care Council in the state constitution.

The proposal would protect some collective bargaining rights for employees, a clause opponents say may conflict with federal law.

The other proposal is backed by a broad union coalition. The Protect Our Jobs campaign would enshrine collective bargaining rights in the constitution and serve as a pre-emptive strike against possible right-to-work legislation.

Dexter Tornado
11:20 am
Mon March 19, 2012

More homes damaged by Dexter tornado than originally thought

DEXTER, Mich. (AP) — Officials now say 207 homes were damaged in last week's tornado in Dexter and about 20 will need to be demolished.

Dexter Area Fire Chief Loren Yates provided the figures on Monday. Officials initially said Thursday's tornado damaged more than 100 homes and destroyed at least 13. Still, Yates says the numbers could change again as efforts continue to assess the damage inflicted by the storm.

Meanwhile Monday, classes were resuming for students in the Washtenaw County community. Dexter Community Schools had canceled classes Friday.

No serious injuries were reported following the tornado, which hit Dexter, located west of Ann Arbor, as well as other parts of the county.

Cleanup efforts continued over the weekend. At Sunday church services, thanks was expressed that no lives were lost in the storm.

Postal Service
2:57 pm
Sun March 18, 2012

Michigan postal centers prepare to close & consolidate

usps.com

An ailing U.S. Postal Service is preparing to close and consolidate processing facilities across Michigan as the state in turn emerges from its own economic woes. The agency's planned actions affect operations in and around Gaylord, Iron Mountain, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Saginaw.

The moves affect 475 jobs, though officials say that number includes an undetermined mix of layoffs, transfers and retraining.
    

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Economy
10:34 am
Sun March 18, 2012

Pure Michigan rolling out Summer tourism ads

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — As the seasons turn, it's time for this year's Pure Michigan national advertising campaign.

The $12 million ad blitz on cable TV starts Monday and runs through June on more than 20 networks, ranging from Animal Planet to CNN to the Weather Channel.

Crime
8:37 pm
Sat March 17, 2012

Michigan Supreme Court declines to weigh in on issue involving jury discussions

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

DETROIT (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court has turned down an appeal from a Macomb County man who claims his constitutional rights were violated when jurors were allowed to discuss evidence before the end of his trial.

The court heard arguments but recently decided not to issue a formal opinion. A state appeals court ruling upholding Maurice Richards' carjacking conviction will stand.

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Dexter Tornado
8:33 pm
Sat March 17, 2012

Dexter tornado cleanup continues

DEXTER, Mich. (AP) — The American Red Cross says hundreds of volunteers turned out to help people whose homes were damaged or destroyed by a tornado in Washtenaw County.

Spokeswoman Jenni Hawes says the village of Dexter is quickly getting cleaned up. The Red Cross moved its services Saturday to Creekside Intermediate School, which is more centrally located.

A tornado damaged more than 100 homes Thursday and destroyed at least 13.   The Red Cross no longer will offer an overnight shelter. No one had spent the last two nights at a school.

Weather
7:01 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

Severe weather rips through parts of southeast Michigan

Zoe Clark / Michigan Radio

DEXTER, Mich. (AP) — A Washtenaw County official says his office is responding to reports of "lots of damage" after reports of at least one tornado striking the ground.

County director of Emergency Management Marc Breckenridge says he could not confirm any reports of injuries or deaths from the twister Thursday afternoon. He could not provide details of the damage. No injuries or deaths have been reported.

National Weather Service spotters are reporting a tornado touchdown in the Dexter and Pinckney area of Washtenaw County. Weather Service Observation Program Leader Debra Elliott says radar also "is highly suggesting" a touchdown.

Annarbor.com posted a video of the possible twister near Dexter.

Rain, hail and high winds have been moving across parts of southeastern Michigan late Thursday afternoon.

Politics
2:29 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

Lawmakers may seek less expensive Michigan budget

Michigan's Capitol in Lansing.
user auntowwee Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Lower-than-expected tax collections could threaten parts of Gov. Rick Snyder's next state government budget plan.

Republicans who control the Michigan Senate have preliminary plans to spend roughly $150 million less overall than Snyder has proposed for the fiscal year starting in October.

The targets include about $25 million less than Snyder proposed for information technology system upgrades and $45 million less on the state prison system.

The Senate targets do not reduce Snyder's funding proposals for education. Proposed spending would be relatively flat for K-12 schools, while universities and community colleges could get average increases of about 3 percent.

The Snyder administration says it's too early to change its budget plan, noting more information will be available when state economists gather in May for an official revenue estimating conference.

Politics
2:58 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Mayor Bing: I won't be Detroit's emergency manager

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
Dave Hogg Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says he won't accept the position of emergency manager for the city even if it's offered by the state.

The mayor's remarks came Wednesday during a forum at Wayne County Community College District, one day after state officials delivered a proposed consent agreement for the city. The proposal was an ultimatum that would shift political power, consolidate public utilities and shrink city staff and salaries.

Bing says he disagrees with the proposed consent deal and had no input in the consent agreement proposed by Gov. Rick Snyder and Treasurer Andy Dillon.

Detroit is facing cash flow problems and a $197 million budget deficit. A state review team has already been digging into its troubled finances, and the governor could appoint an emergency manager.

Politics
1:28 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Governor Snyder urges Detroit leaders to accept consent deal

Detroit City Council chamber
City of Detroit Facebook page

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder is urging Detroit leaders to accept a consent agreement that would make them accountable to a financial advisory board, even though Mayor Dave Bing and some council members are unhappy with the deal.

Speaking Wednesday in Lansing, the Republican governor says the initial reaction from officials has been "go away."

He says it's a "cultural challenge" to get leaders to accept that the city can't fix its financial woes on its own.

Snyder could appoint an emergency manager, but prefers to reach a consent agreement he says would leave the mayor and council members in charge of policy. City leaders got details of the agreement Tuesday and found lots to criticize.

Bing called Snyder "disingenuous." Snyder says it's unfortunate "to make a personal attack out of this."

Education
1:26 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

East Detroit school gives 'white flight' warning

East Detroit High School
East Detroit Public Schools

EASTPOINTE, Mich. (AP) - A suburban Detroit school board member warns that his district's participation in a Michigan Schools of Choice program could lead to white students leaving the district.

On Monday night, the East Detroit Board of Education in a 5-2 vote approved opening the district to neighboring Wayne County schools, including Detroit and Harper Woods.

The Macomb Daily of Mount Clemens and MLlive.com report board member Jon Gruenberg said Schools of Choice in other districts has caused a "second wave of white flight."

He predicted that could happen in East Detroit, where the number of minority students continues to increase.

East Detroit school officials long had opposed the Schools of Choice concept, but said the district needed to participate in order to survive financially.

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