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Politics
3:22 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Michigan Governor Snyder to hold "online town hall" Thursday

A day after Governor Snyder delivers his "State of the State" address, he plans to go live on the web with an "online town hall." The event is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday. Details can be found on the Governor's Facebook page.
"Rick Snyder for Michigan" Facebook Page

Governor Rick Snyder plans to hold an "online town hall" with Michigan residents a day after giving his second State of the State address.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday.

It will be streamed live on Facebook on the governor’s Rick for Michigan page.

Residents can submit questions in advance at the state website.

They can also post questions on the governor’s Facebook wall or send a message on Twitter to the governor at @onetoughnerd using the hash tag, #AskGovSnyder.

Questions also can be submitted through Facebook and Twitter once the town hall meeting has started.

Snyder will deliver his State of the State address to lawmakers, top administration officials and others at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Capitol.

Environment
12:49 pm
Mon January 16, 2012

Feds delay report on Kalamazoo oil spill

USEPA

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - The release of a federal report detailing the cause of a 2010 pipeline rupture that spilled more than 800,000 gallons of oil in southern Michigan has been delayed.

The Kalamazoo Gazette says  the report is expected to be released this fall, about six months later than expected. The National Transportation Safety Board attributed the delay to other investigations into separate pipeline incidents.

The report also is expected to offer future safety recommendations for the pipeline industry.

The July 2010 spill from Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge Inc.'s pipeline sent oil into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River. Enbridge says it will be able to finish its internal investigation after the report is released.

Cleanup efforts continue this year. The pipeline runs from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario.

Politics
1:28 pm
Sun January 15, 2012

Sharpton will protest takeover law at Snyder's house

The Reverend Al Sharpton in Washington D.C.
Flickr/theqspeaks

The Reverend Al Sharpton and others say they plan a demonstration Monday outside the home of Governor Rick
Snyder to protest a law that makes it easier for Michigan to take over financially struggling communities and school districts.

Organizers say the protest will happen on Martin Luther King Day at Snyder's home in Washtenaw County's Superior Township, near Ann Arbor.

Sharpton and other ministers and civil rights activists will participate. Organizers say the law seems to target black communities. Snyder has said the law isn't racially motivated.

Emergency managers are in place in Benton Harbor, Pontiac, Flint and Detroit schools. Detroit's finances are under a review that could bring the city under state financial control as well.

Politics
1:19 pm
Fri January 13, 2012

Michigan Tea partiers try to unite behind 1 Senate entrant

Former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra
Republican Conference / Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Many of Michigan's tea party activists are trying to coalesce behind one of the eight Republicans running for the chance to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

But former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra fears the setup favors one of his rivals and plans to skip a Saturday Senate debate with tea partiers at Central Michigan University. Five of the GOP hopefuls are participating in the event.

The internal politics could hurt the GOP's chances of denying Stabenow a third term.

Hoekstra has come in for criticism from some tea party groups who say he's not paying enough attention to them. Hoekstra's campaign says he's meeting with many tea party groups.

It's unclear if the tea partiers will be able to unite behind one candidate. Some groups aren't attending Saturday's debate.

Winter Weather
6:26 am
Fri January 13, 2012

Storm warnings in effect in Mich. as snow falls

LisaW123 Flickr

A winter storm brought at least 7 inches of snow to parts of Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula and could bring more than a foot to parts of the Upper Peninsula.

The National Weather Service says winter storm warnings were in effect Friday for much of the western Lower Peninsula along Lake Michigan and the northwestern Upper Peninsula along Lake Superior.

The storm moved in Thursday. Forecasters say 1 to 3 inches could fall Friday in areas including Detroit.

The weather service says areas around Grayling and Houghton Lake reported 7 inches by Friday morning, while snow totals in other parts of the northern Lower Peninsula ranged from 3 to 6 inches.

In West Michigan, 2 to 6 inches fell. Ironwood in the northwestern Upper Peninsula got at least 8 inches.

State Legislature
6:44 am
Thu January 12, 2012

Michigan Democrats developing college grant plan

Democratic state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer
Photo courtesy of Senator Whitmer's office

A developing proposal from Senate Democrats would allow Michigan high school graduates to get grants of up to roughly $9,500 a year for attending college by ending some tax credits and other revenue changes.

The grants could be used to pay tuition or associated costs for attending public universities and community colleges in the state.

The plan would be paid for by closing what Democrats call "tax loopholes" and ending some tax credits, collecting sales tax from out-of-state Internet retailers and saving money on state contracts.

Democratic Senator Gretchen Whitmer told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it's a bold step needed to make Michigan more prosperous and attractive to businesses.

The proposal likely would face stiff opposition in the Republican-dominated Legislature, particularly at a time of tight state budgets.

Afghanistan
3:40 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Flags lowered for airman killed in Afghan attack

ACME TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder has ordered the lowering of U.S. flags in Michigan on Friday in honor of Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew S. Schwartz.

The Pentagon says the 34-year-old Traverse City native and two others died last Thursday when an improvised explosive device hit their vehicle in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

Reynolds Jonkhoff funeral home in Traverse City says visitation for Schwartz will be 5-8 p.m. Friday at Christ the King Catholic Church. It's in Grand Traverse County's Acme Township.

The funeral is at the church at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Schwartz was an explosive ordnance disposal specialist assigned to F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming.

He was a 1996 Traverse City Central High School graduate with 12 years in the Air Force and on his sixth deployment.

Auto/Economy
4:01 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Hyundai plans Michigan temperature testing facility

DETROIT (AP) - Hyundai Motor Co. says it plans to build a Michigan testing facility to help examine the effects of extreme hot and cold temperatures for vehicle development.

The expansion announced Tuesday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit will be at the South Korean automaker's Hyundai America Technical Center in Washtenaw County's Superior Township, near Ann Arbor. Hyundai will spend $15 million on the facility and other upgrades.

Hyundai says 50 full-time jobs will be added at the location in the coming years.

To secure the deal, the governor's office says the state agreed to make a $2.5 million loan to build a power substation.

The deal was announced after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley toured the show on the second day of media previews.

Breaking
6:57 am
Mon January 9, 2012

Iran sentences Michigan man to death in CIA case

Iran's state radio says a court has convicted a Michigan man of working for the CIA and sentenced him to death.

Monday's report said Amir Mirzaei Hekmati was also convicted of trying to accuse Iran of involvement in terrorism.

The report didn't say when the verdict was issued. Under Iranian law, he has 20 days to appeal.

Iran charges that as a former U.S. Marine, Hekmati received special training and served at U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan before heading to Iran for his alleged intelligence mission.

His father, a professor at a community college in Flint, Mich., has said his son is not a CIA spy and was visiting his grandmothers in Iran when he was arrested.

The 28-year-old was born in Arizona and graduated from high school in Michigan. His family is of Iranian origin.

Sports
11:37 pm
Sat January 7, 2012

New Orleans Saints overpower Detroit Lions to win NFL wildcard playoff

For three quarters, the Detroit Lions performed like playoff veterans.

They led Drew Brees and the mighty New Orleans Saints at halftime. They were still right in the game heading to the fourth quarter.

But Brees and the Saints blew it open in the final period, turning Detroit's postseason return into a one-and-done affair with a 45-28 NFC playoff victory that was much closer most of the night on a raucous Saturday at the Superdome.

Energy
9:32 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Palisades plant goes offline for maintenance work

The Palisades nuclear power plant is on the shore of Lake Michigan six miles south of South Haven.
wikimedia commons

COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - The Palisades nuclear power plant in southwestern Michigan is being shut down temporarily for maintenance.

Spokesman Mark Savage said in a statement that control room operators removed the plant from service Thursday night. The plant is near Lake Michigan in Van Buren County's Covert Township.

Savage says the plant was being cooled down Friday morning.

The maintenance work involves the system that controls the nuclear reactor's power level.

There are 45 seals that form a boundary between the cooling system and the atmosphere inside the building that houses the reactor. Officials say one of the seals is showing signs of wear and will be replaced.

Savage says the plant will return to service when the job is finished. Palisades is owned by New Orleans-based Entergy Corp.

Election 2012
6:27 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Michigan Democrats plan 'endorsement convention'

Michigan Democrats plan to endorse their candidates for the state Supreme Court and statewide education boards on March 10.

The Michigan Democratic Party announced the move Thursday. It will allow Democrats to get a head start on campaigning in those races for the November 2012 election.

The endorsements will come several months before Democrats can officially nominate candidates to run for those offices. Nominating conventions typically are scheduled for August or later.

Democrats also used an endorsement convention to get a head start on campaigning for some races in 2010.

Democrats plan to endorse three candidates for the Michigan Supreme Court during the March event at Cobo Center in Detroit.

Politics
12:30 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

Michigan child-care workers lose union lawsuit

DETROIT (AP) - A lawsuit aimed at recouping millions in union dues paid by Michigan child-care providers has fizzled.

A federal judge in Grand Rapids has issued two key rulings, including a recent decision that said there simply are too many conflicts to make it a class-action case. Judge Robert Jonker says there may be child-care providers who had no objection to paying dues. An appeal is planned.

The case centered on the representation of 40,000 home-based workers. The union was created in 2006, although only 15 percent of providers cast ballots. During the Granholm administration, officials deducted dues from subsidies paid to people who watched low-income kids.

Critics said the workers are not public employees and got no benefit from the union. Gov. Rick Snyder's administration stopped the dues last year.

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Courts
10:13 am
Thu January 5, 2012

Woman sues over wagon accident in Washtenaw County

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - An employee of a Michigan market who was paralyzed from the waist down after being run over by a horse-drawn wagon during a hayride has filed a lawsuit.

AnnArbor.com reports 23-year-old Mary Armbruster of Ann Arbor sued Tuesday in Washtenaw County Circuit Court seeking more than $25,000 from Jenny's Dexter Market in Webster Township.

Armbruster claims the market gave her faulty equipment and didn't fix it when she complained.

Jennifer Lambers, who owns the market, declined to comment to Ann Arbor.com. A telephone listing for the market was busy when called Thursday morning by The Associated Press.

The market is a popular weekend destination in Washtenaw County near Dexter, about 40 miles west of Detroit.

Detroit Finances
7:02 am
Thu January 5, 2012

Detroit City Council to discuss Mayor Bing's budget plan

Ifmuth Flickr

The Detroit City Council has scheduled a discussion of Mayor Dave Bing's budget reduction plan. It's set for Thursday afternoon.

A review team is looking into Detroit's finances - a step in a process that could lead to Michigan taking over the city's government. Its recommendations will be forwarded to Gov. Rick Snyder.

A preliminary review determined there was "probable financial stress" in city government and that Detroit faces a general fund deficit of about $200 million. Auditors say Detroit may run out of money as early as April.

Bing, the council and city labor union leaders have been collaborating to convince the state that an emergency manager is unneeded.

Bing has said he'll cut 1,000 jobs early this year to save about $14 million.

Politics
4:08 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

Michigan family of Iran detainee says he needs better legal help

Amir Hekmati
Released by the family

The Michigan family of an Iranian-American detained in Iran for four months on espionage charges says he's not getting adequate legal representation. 

The family of Amir Hekmati said in a statement that his "only advocate in Iran is a government-appointed lawyer who he first met on the day of his trial." The statement says the family has tried to hire "at least 10 different attorneys ... but to no avail."

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Politics
3:32 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

An Assistant Attorney General in Michigan suspended after arrest

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - An assistant state attorney general has been suspended following his arrest on gun charges.

Eaton County Prosecutor Jeffrey Sauter told The Associated Press Wednesday that he authorized two misdemeanor warrants charging James Shell with possession of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol and reckless use of a firearm.

Shell's attorney is expected to turn him in for arraignment at a later date.

Shell also is president of the Grand Ledge School Board and was arrested Thursday. Sauter says no one was injured during the incident southwest of Lansing.

Attorney general's office spokesman John Sellek says that Shell was suspended pending the Eaton County investigation.

There's no listed home phone number for Shell. A message seeking comment was sent to his work email address.

Education
1:01 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

Another Michigan school district in a 'financial emergency' - "It is what it is"

Update 2:00 p.m.

An emergency manager may soon take charge of the Highland Park School District. A state review panel today  recommended the governor appoint someone to fix the school district’s "financial emergency."  

The financial review team has been looking at the Highland Park School District’s books since November.   

The panel’s report to the governor finds the school district is $11 million in the red. That works out to about $10 thousand for every student enrolled.  The school district’s deficit has grown by $3 million in just the last year. The school district’s debt has grown, as its student population has fallen. Nearly 3,200 students attended Highland Park schools in 2006.   This year, fewer than a thousand students are enrolled.   

“It is what it is.," laments Edith Hightower, Highland Park’s School Superintendent,  "I don’t disagree with any of the statements that were documented [in the report]."    

Emergency managers are already running the Detroit public schools,  as well as the cities of Flint, Pontiac, Ecorse and Benton Harbor. Financial review teams are also looking at Detroit and Inkster.       

The state Education Department is also conducting a preliminary review of the financial status of the Muskegon Heights School District. 

1:04 p.m.

HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. (AP) - A review team is recommending an emergency manager for Highland Park Schools after determining the district is in a financial emergency.

Michigan's Treasury Department says in a release Wednesday that a final report by the 10-member independent review team has been given to Gov. Rick Snyder. Snyder has 10 days to review the report and make a decision if the district is in a financial emergency.

Highland Park is a small city partially surrounded by Detroit. The school district's budget deficit stands at $11.3 million. The Treasury Department says expenditures outpaced revenues by nearly $4 million in the last fiscal year. The district also has had an operating deficit in five of the past six years.

Enrollment has dropped from 3,179 students to 969 over the past five years.

Emergency Manager Law
7:08 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Bid to end Mich. emergency manager law continues

A coalition seeking to overturn Michigan's law granting expanded powers to emergency managers appointed to run financially struggling cities and schools is continuing its petition drive.

Stand Up for Democracy says it plans to gather more voter signatures at southeastern Michigan churches the next two Sundays.

The group needs to collect roughly 161,300 valid signatures to temporarily suspend the law and make the November ballot. Group leaders wouldn't say this week exactly when they plan to turn in the signatures.

Supporters of the new law say it's needed to help fix financially troubled schools and cities. Emergency managers are operating in Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Flint, Pontiac and the Detroit public schools system.

The city of Detroit is under a state financial review that could result in an emergency manager.

Sports
12:43 am
Wed January 4, 2012

Wolverines win Sugar Bowl in overtime

Brendan Gibbons drilled a 37-yard field goal down the middle in overtime to lift Michigan to a 23-20 victory over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday night.

The victory capped an impressive debut season for head coach Brady Hoke, who has led the Wolverines (11-2) back to prominence with a BCS bowl victory. Denard Robinson highlighted an otherwise unspectacular night with touchdown passes of 45 and 18 yards to Junior Hemingway.

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