The Associated Press

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Politics
12:01 pm
Mon November 21, 2011

Detroit Water and Sewerage Department gets director

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is getting a new director.

The city of Detroit announced Monday that Sue McCormick has been approved for the post by the Board of Water Commissioners. She's most recently served as Public Services Administrator for Ann Arbor and previously worked for the Lansing Board of Water and Light.

The job has been vacant since mid-2010. McCormick will start work Jan. 1.

McCormick's appointment by Mayor Dave Bing followed a Nov. 4 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox, who is ensuring the department's compliance with Clean Water Act regulations. The ruling reorganized the department and gave the director's position expanded power.

The department supplies water to about 4 million people southeast Michigan.

Detroit
6:33 am
Mon November 21, 2011

Detroit schools emergency boss reports on finances

Roy Roberts, Emergency Manager of Detroit Public Schools
Photo courtesy of Detroit Public Schools

The state-appointed emergency manager of the Detroit Public Schools is releasing a half-year financial update on
the district Monday.

Roy Roberts has called a news conference for 11 a.m. to announce a six-month update and revised budget deficit projections.

In September, the district was facing a $327 million budget deficit. Its finances have been under state control since 2009.

Enrollment is about 66,000, down from 104,000 in 2007.

Detroit's schools have lost millions of dollars in state per-pupil funding as thousands of parents fled the district for city charters or suburban schools.

Auto/Economy
3:20 pm
Sun November 20, 2011

Could the auto industry help revive Toledo?

Three big, new investments by automakers in one Ohio city are raising hopes for a revived economy. Chrysler and General Motors have promised to spend more than $800 million on retooling and expanding their factories in Toledo.

These moves announced in recent months will create at least 1,400 jobs and keep thousands more. Parts suppliers also are expected to add more jobs in and around Toledo.

Chrysler announced plans on Wednesday to build a new Jeep SUV at its Toledo assembly plant while adding 1,100 jobs. It also hinted that more work could be coming.

That's why Toledo Mayor Mike Bell calls the news "the equivalent of a blood transfusion for our city."

Politics
2:46 pm
Sat November 19, 2011

Dear whiskey maker, please come visit MI

user cookbookman17 Flickr

A top Michigan Republican would like the makers of Jack Daniel's whiskey to consider moving north if the company decides to leave Tennessee.

House Speaker Jase Bolger has invited distillery managers to visit Michigan. He says the state's business climate is improving, and he noted the state's large supply of fresh water.

A spokesman for Jack Daniel's parent company said Friday there are no plans to visit Michigan or other places that have made similar offers since a dispute about taxes sprouted in Tennessee.

Some Moore County citizens have proposed a "barrel tax" for the Lynchburg, Tenn., distillery that could raise up to $5 million a year. They're asking Tennessee lawmakers to authorize a local referendum.  

The distillery is waiting to see what happens with the tax issue.

Detroit
11:53 am
Fri November 18, 2011

Mayor Bing: 1,000 job cuts amid budget crisis

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says 1,000 job cuts are planned by early next year to help deal with the city's budget crisis.

The mayor's office said in a statement Friday that layoff notices will be delivered the week of Dec. 5. He says the cuts represent 9 percent of the city's about 11,000 employees and will save about $12 million.

On Wednesday, Bing said the city faces a $45 million cash shortfall by the end of its fiscal year in June.

Bing said the positions will be eliminated by Feb. 25. He said additional 2,000 positions have been eliminated since he took office in 2009.

Bing also ordered an immediate hiring freeze for all civil service positions except the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

Politics
12:10 pm
Wed November 16, 2011

Mayor to speak about Detroit's bleak finances

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing will talk about the city's finances tonight at 6 p.m.
Kate Davidson Changing Gears

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is planning to discuss the city's fiscal crisis and problems with its transportation and lighting systems.

The address to residents is scheduled for Wednesday evening at the Northwest Activities Center.

Bing recently said Detroit's continued financial struggles may require the intervention of an emergency financial manager and he would consider filling that role if asked by the governor. He's said the city faces a $150 million "cash shortage" by the end of the first quarter of 2012.

The mayor said in April that Detroit faced a possible state takeover if the city couldn't make improvements to its finances. A state law passed in March gives state-appointed financial managers more power when fixing the finances of municipalities and school districts.

Crime
10:36 am
Wed November 16, 2011

Video surveillance leads to drug smuggler arrest

COTTRELLVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Federal authorities say they caught a suspected marijuana smuggler after a boat from Canada was spotted on video surveillance making a brief stop in Michigan.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement Wednesday that the bust was made Friday.

The agency says the boat was spotted entering U.S. waters on the St. Clair River and landed in St. Clair County's Cottrellville Township, about 40 miles northeast of Detroit. Border Patrol agents then spotted and stopped a van seen leaving the area.

Inside the van they found a hockey bag containing more than 33 pounds of marijuana. One arrest was made.

Federal authorities have video surveillance in operation along the St. Clair River to help monitor water traffic between Canada and the U.S.

Environment
6:15 am
Wed November 16, 2011

House OKs bill setting national ballast standard

The U.S. House has approved a bill that would set a national policy for cleansing ship ballast water to kill invasive species while prohibiting states from imposing tougher requirements.

The measure that passed the Republican-controlled chamber Tuesday would adopt an international standard limiting the number of live organisms in ballast water. Vessel operators would have to install technology to comply.

The shipping industry says an existing patchwork of more than two dozen state and tribal policies is unworkable because vessels move constantly from one jurisdiction to another. New York rules scheduled to take effect in 2013 would be 100 times tougher than the House standards.

Environmentalists say the House measure isn't strong enough to prevent more invasive species from reaching the Great Lakes. They say they hope to derail it in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Politics
10:57 am
Tue November 15, 2011

FBI investigating Wayne County government

DETROIT (AP) - The head of the FBI office in Detroit says agents are busy investigating corruption in Wayne County government. Andrew Arena says agents were looking at the county before an economic development official was given a $200,000 severance for resigning to take a more lucrative job at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. After much criticism, she lost the airport post and agreed to repay the severance.

Politics
1:34 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

Michigan Democrats promote small business measures

The Michigan House of Representatives.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Democrats in the Michigan House are promoting legislation they say is designed to help small businesses hire more workers.

One measure detailed by Democrats on Monday would provide tax credits of up to $4,000 per person for small businesses that hire unemployed workers. The tax credits would be largest for hiring military veterans who have been jobless for a long time.

Other bills are aimed at developing a pool of money to loan to small businesses. The money would come through investments of a small percentage of state trust funds with Michigan credit unions and community banks, which in turn would make loans available to small businesses.

Democrats are in the minority in the House. The legislation could face an uphill climb to gain traction in the Republican-led chamber.

Tourism
10:32 am
Mon November 14, 2011

Cruise ships to ply waters of the Great Lakes

Two cruise ships are getting ready to travel the Great Lakes starting next year. The Yorktown, a new vessel, is scheduled for 13 stops in Detroit. The Grand Mariner will have one stop.

Officials credit Detroit's new Public Dock and Terminal with generating at least some of the interest. The new terminal opened last July. The 14 planned stops are up from two stops by cruise ships this year.

*Correction - A previous version of this story stated that "roughly two-dozen cruise ships are getting ready to travel the Great Lakes starting next year." An official from the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority says just two ships will be making more than a dozen stops at the Public Dock and Terminal. The copy has been corrected above.

Politics
1:30 pm
Sat November 12, 2011

Stronger fireworks may soon be available in MI

A Roman Candle
Flickr/jcarter

Michigan could soon expand the lineup of legal fireworks that consumers can buy without special permits.

The state Legislature has approved measures that would allow some consumer fireworks such as firecrackers, bottle rockets and Roman candles to legally be sold in the state. Governor Snyder likely will sign the bill in time for it to become law in 2012.

Politics
2:40 pm
Fri November 11, 2011

Michigan GOP presidential primary ballot lists 11 candidates

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Eleven Republican presidential candidates are on the ballot so far for Michigan's Feb. 28 presidential primary.

The Michigan Department of State released the list Friday. President Barack Obama is the only Democrat. Democratic activists plan to nominate their favorite at May 5 party caucuses, not through a primary election.

The chairmen of the state Democratic and Republican parties have until Tuesday to add the names of other candidates to the list, and candidates have until Dec. 9 to remove their names.

The GOP list includes Michele Bachman, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. All eight participated in a southeast Michigan debate Wednesday night.

Others on the GOP list are Gary Johnson, Fred Karger and Buddy Roemer.

politics
11:18 am
Fri November 11, 2011

Michigan Supreme Court won't intervene in $100M deal with Prisoners

user: abay flickr.com

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court has declined to intervene in a dispute over a $100 million settlement with former and current female prisoners who claimed they were sexually harassed behind bars Oakland County wants the women's names so victims of their crimes can also be paid. While that dispute is pending, the county wants the state to suspend payments.

Politics
12:25 pm
Thu November 10, 2011

Permit allowing group to 'Occupy' Detroit park to expire

The group pitched tents Oct. 14 in the park
user: detdan flickr.com

DETROIT (AP) - A permit allowing a group to camp out overnight  in a Detroit park while protesting the roles of Wall Street and banks  in the nation's economic troubles is scheduled to expire next week.

Lucianna  Sabgash of Occupy Detroit said Thursday city workers  have posted signs stating Grand Circus Park closes at 10 p.m. She says the permit runs out on Monday, but the group is  expected to seek a renewal.

Auto/Economy
3:22 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Michigan solar company suspends production, plans job cuts

Solar panels in Michigan
Ford Motor Company Flickr

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) - Solar energy product maker Energy Conversion Devices Inc. says it has temporarily suspended manufacturing and is planning about 500 job cuts.

The Auburn Hills-based company announced Tuesday that manufacturing has been halted because of excess inventory. The company says about 400 workers will be furloughed at its manufacturing facilities in Michigan, Mexico and Ontario, Canada.

The production cuts include United Solar Ovonic facilities in Greenville, where more than 140 layoffs recently were announced. Other Michigan manufacturing facilities are in Auburn Hills.

The company said that to help cut costs about 500 full-time job cuts were expected by the end of the year.

Energy Conversion Devices has been restructuring its operations since May. It said it expects to return to normal production levels within 60 days.

Politics
11:07 am
Tue November 8, 2011

Some elections workers don't show in Pontiac, Michigan

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) - Some Pontiac elections workers didn't show up to the polls following the recent firing of the city's clerk by a state-appointed emergency financial manager.

The Oakland Press, the Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News and WWJ-AM report voting took place as scheduled Tuesday. Oakland County Clerk Bill Bullard says other workers have been brought in and precincts consolidated after some workers didn't show up as expected.

Oakland County's elections director and a representative from the secretary of state were on hand to assist. Voters in Pontiac were choosing Democratic and Republican nominees for the state House's 29th District and making school board picks.

Lou Schimmel last month fired Yvette Talley as well as the city's attorney and director of public works in what he called a realignment of City Hall.

Recreation
10:20 am
Tue November 8, 2011

Snowmobile permits rising $10 to $45 in Michigan

A snowmobile trail near Cadillac, Michigan.
user harrisMI Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The state is increasing snowmobile permit fees for the 2011 season.

 The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday that this season the price for a permit is $45, an increase of $10 over last year's price. The fee will be $45 through the 2015 snowmobile season. A state law signed in 2008 provided for the incremental increase in snowmobile trail fees, which support maintenance and grooming of the state's snowmobile trail network.

Politics
4:26 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

Michigan Attorney General sues to shut down 2 abortion clinics

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed a lawsuit to close two women's clinics that provide abortions in Saginaw and the Lansing area.

Schuette's office filed a complaint Monday in Eaton County Circuit Court seeking to dissolve Health Care Clinic Inc. in Delta Township and Women's Choice Clinic Inc. in Saginaw. The attorney general's office says an investigation included evidence of improper medical records disposal at the clinics owned by Richard Remund.

The Associated Press left a telephone message Monday for Remund. A person answering the phone at Health Care Clinic declined comment.

Schuette asks state health officials to review evidence suggesting improper records disposal and that at least half of procedures performed at the clinics were abortions. Schuette says the second would put the clinics under more stringent regulations.

Senior Citizens
2:15 pm
Sat November 5, 2011

Playground for senior citizens opens in Ohio

This senior playground is located in a British park
The Royal Parks website

A community near Akron, Ohio opened a new playground last week - one specially designed for senior citizens.
    

The Akron Beacon Journal reports that the playground consists of eight pieces of low-impact athletic equipment designed for older adults.
    

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