Jennifer Guerra

Reporter/Producer

Jennifer is a reporter for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, which looks at kids from low-income families and what it takes to get them ahead. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and was one of the lead reporters on the award-winning education series Rebuilding Detroit Schools. Prior to working at Michigan Radio, Jennifer lived in New York where she was a producer at WFUV, an NPR station in the Bronx.

Her stories and documentaries have won numerous regional and national awards, and her work has aired on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace and Studio 360.

Jennifer graduated from the University of Michigan and received her M.A. in broadcast journalism from Fordham University. When she's not on the radio, she and her husband are making up lyrics to songs and singing them to their adorable baby girl.  

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Education
4:57 pm
Mon January 17, 2011

Detroit school board to talk about district's academic plan

A Wayne County judge says the Detroit school board has the final word when it comes to academics in the district, not state-appointed financial manager Robert Bobb.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

The Detroit Board of Education will meet Tuesday to go over a proposed settlement with Robert Bobb, the district’s emergency financial manager.

A Wayne County judge ruled last month that the Detroit school board is in charge of academics for the district, not the district’s financial manager. But both sides have to come to an agreement on how to implement the ruling, since Bobb’s team implemented several classroom reforms while the lawsuit was pending.

Anthony Adams is the school board’s president. He says it’s in the district’s best interest to keep most of  Bobb’s reforms in place:

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Arts/Culture
4:44 pm
Mon January 17, 2011

Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians, management to head back to bargaining table

DSO players and management submitted $36 million proposals to a federal mediator
Nate Luzod Creative commons

Detroit Symphony Orchestra management and its striking musicians are headed back to the bargaining table.

The players have been on strike since Oct. 4.

DSO management and the musicians have submitted new proposals to a federal mediator. Both sides’ proposals revolve around a $36 million compensation package. That dollar amount roughly splits the difference between the two sides’ previous proposals and was suggested by U.S. Senator Carl Levin and then Governor Jennifer Granholm last month.

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Arts/Culture
4:48 pm
Sun January 16, 2011

MSU exhibit uses art to explore racial equality

MSU professor James Lawton created "Evolutionary Artifacts," a multimedia exhibition that focuses on human equality and social justice.
G.L. Kohuth

Michigan State University will unveil a new exhibit on Monday that uses art and sound to explore Martin Luther King Junior’s dream of racial equality.

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Arts/Culture
2:16 pm
Fri January 14, 2011

Michael Rush starts new job as director of MSU's Broad Art Museum

Michael Rush is the founding director of the Broad Art Museum at MSU
Mike Lovett

Michael Rush takes the reins as founding director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University this weekend:

"Personally I think this is the most extraordinary opportunity in contemporary arts in the States right now."

The contemporary art scholar moved from New York to East Lansing to kick start the new museum.

Listen to an excerpt of his conversation with Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra:

Rush's first day on the job is Saturday, Jan. 15, though the museum isn't set to open until spring of 2012.

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Arts/Culture
8:07 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

DSO musicians urge compromise, say strike is hurting area businesses

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra playing in Greenfield Village in 2002
flickr - user paintitblack22

Update Thursday, 9:57 a.m.:

DSO management wrote to us saying the information provided below regarding the DSO contract proposal was dated. We've updated the copy to clarify that this was one of management's original proposals.

Update 6:45 p.m.: 

At today's press conference, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians urged management to return to the bargaining table. They say the strike is hurting area businesses, especially restaurants.

David Zainea co-owns the Majestic Cafe in Midtown, and he says business has taken a big hit since the musicians went on strike Oct. 4: 

"We’re down almost 25% in the course of three months."

The musicians said they wanted to use the suggested proposal U.S. Senator Carl Levin and then-governor Jennifer Granholm had issued as a roadmap. 

That proposal called for a $36 million, 3-year contract that would require sacrifice from both sides. 

DSO management issued a statement this afternoon saying they would submit a proposal to the federal mediator "detailing how it would spend $36 million over three years once it secures additional, sustainable funding that would both close the gap between its position and the union's and support the enhanced communal and educational activities that are now even more important for the orchestra to revive and thrive."

DSO board chair Stanley Frankel had originally said he took the Granholm-Levin recommendation seriously, but:

"A $36 million compensation package is beyond what every consultant and our Board have said is feasible."

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Artpod
12:07 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

Artpod: Art vs. ruin porn

Detroit's abandoned landscape is a muse for many photographers
Photo courtesy of Andrew Moore

Photographers from around the world parachute in to take pictures of Detroit’s abandoned landscape. Some call it journalism or art, others call it ruin porn. On today's podcast, we talk with photographers about how and why they use Detroit as a muse.

You can see some of the photographers' photos of Detroit here.

Listen to the podcast:

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Arts/Culture
4:23 pm
Tue January 11, 2011

Ann Arbor illustrator wins prestigious Caldecott Medal

Erin Stead won the Caldecott Medeal for her wood block and pencil illustrations
Photo courtesy of Macmillan Publishers

Erin Stead won the 2011 Caldecott Medal for her wood block and pencil illustrations in the children's book, "A Sick Day for Amos McGee." The book was written by her husband, Philip.

When Erin Stead found out she won the prestigious Caldecott Medal, she was shocked:

"I was floored. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t see this coming!"

So shocked she had to call her editor to verify the news. "A Sick Day for Amos McGee," the first book Erin Stead has illustrated, is about a zoo keeper named Amos McGee:

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Economy
4:23 pm
Mon January 10, 2011

Report says Michigan consumers, businesses will pay more if health care law is repealed

A new report says repealing the federal health care law will cost Michigan consumers and small businesses a lot of money.

PIRGIM, the consumer advocacy group that issued the report, says individuals could see their premiums go up by 20% by 2016 if the repeal goes through. The repeal would also increase the cost of offering employer-based health insurance over the long term by more than $3,000 a year.

Meghan Hess is with PIRGIM. She says rolling back the law "would also terminate the establishment or expansion of over 184 community health centers across the state, and these community health centers help fill gaps in access to care, giving more people the ability to seek preventive care instead of going to the emergency room."

Attorneys General in Michigan and at least twenty other states have filed a lawsuit challenging the health care law.

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Arts/Culture
3:29 pm
Sun January 9, 2011

Photographing the so-called 'ruins' of Detroit

Photographer Andrew Moore says taking photos of ruins is "a way of talking about man’s life, there’s a kind of mortality involved.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Moore

Art vs. ruin porn

Photographers from around the world parachute in to take pictures of Detroit’s crumbling, abandoned landscape. Some call it journalism or art; others call it ruin porn.

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Economy
12:19 pm
Sun January 9, 2011

Michigan has to repay billions it borrowed for unemployment benefits

Michigan borrowed more than $3.8 billion to pay unemployment benefits
Graph courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Michigan and several other states have had to borrow money from the federal government to pay for unemployment benefits. And now, the federal government wants states to repay.

Unemployment benefits are funded by Michigan businesses through a payroll tax.  When the recession caused the state’s unemployment rate to skyrocket (as high as 15% at one point), the state had to borrow more than $3.8 billion to pay jobless benefits.

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Economy
4:35 pm
Wed January 5, 2011

More Borders stores to close, including one in Michigan

Borders to close at least 17 stores nationwide this quarter
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

A Borders bookstore in Farmington Hills is set to close Friday, Jan. 7.

Borders Books is starting the New Year by closing the Farmington Hills store and at least 16 other stores nationwide. A Borders spokesperson says more closures could be announced in March.

The Farmington Hills store is plastered with bright yellow "Going Out of Business" banners. Books are up to 80% off, and everything has to go in the next two days.

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Auto/Economy
4:38 pm
Tue January 4, 2011

Troy police enforce "distracted driving" law, issue tickets

It's illegal to text or talk on the phone while driving in Troy, MI
C. Todd Lopez Photo courtesy of U.S. Army

The city of Troy, Michigan has taken the state’s “no texting while driving” law a bit further, making it illegal to talk on the phone while driving, among other things.

The city's distracted driving ordinance went into effect last July, but the city didn’t officially start to enforce it until the first week of January, 2011. According to the city's website, the following actions can cause "distracted driving":

"Such action can include but is not limited to: eating, reading, writing, performing personal hygiene/grooming, physical interaction with pets, passengers, or unsecured cargo, any of which is

done in a manner tat prohibits the driver from maintaining direct physical control of the motor vehicle steering mechanism with at least one hand that is free of all other objects and used entirely to form a controlled grip on the steering mechanism."

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Health
10:53 am
Tue January 4, 2011

Update: An estimated 700 Michigan bars took part in NYE smoking ban protest

A spokesman says 700 bars protested the state's smoking ban on New Year's Eve
user capl@washjeff.edu creative commons

We reported last week that some 400 Michigan bar owners planned to ignore the state's smoking ban and allow patrons to light up on New Year's Eve.

Steve Mace is with the Protect Private Property Rights Movement in Michigan, the group that organized the protest. He issued a press release today with an update on how the protest went:

"There were an estimated 700 bars that took back their property right on New Years Eve. Exceeding all expectations. While confirmations continue to come in, we are confident this number will grow significantly. Several bar owners have reported already receiving calls from county health departments. Bar owners remain hopeful that the pro-ban lobby and the minority that support them, did in fact flood the county and district health departments with complaints. This will assist to provide conclusive evidence that this ban is in fact enforced 45 separate ways statewide. "

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Arts/Culture
12:54 pm
Fri December 31, 2010

Utah's Sundance Film Festival comes to Michigan

"Win Win" will make its Sundance premiere at the Michigan Theater on Jan. 27
user otzberg Flickr

Michigan film buffs won’t have to fly to Utah to experience this month’s Sundance Film Festival. That’s because Sundance is bringing part of the festival to Ann Arbor.

This is the second year in a row that the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor has been tapped to premiere a Sundance Film during the actual festival in Utah.

Last year, the Michigan Theater premiered Cyrus, a movie by the Duplass brothers. This year, filmmaker Tom McCarthy will fly to Ann Arbor to premiere his movie Win Win on January 27.

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Economy
3:55 pm
Thu December 30, 2010

Michigan to change its food stamp distribution policy in 2011

Michigan will spread out its food stamp distributions throughout the month beginning Jan. 4, 2011
user mytvdinner Flickr

Michigan residents who rely on food stamps will see some changes beginning in January.

Michigan's 1.9 million food stamp recipients get their benefits in lump sum at the beginning of the month. Most food stamp purchases are made at that time, which can lead to long lines at the checkout counter and a shortage of fresh produce at some stores.

"We know that we’re going to be busier those days, so we typically have more staff in the store," says Joe Gappy, manager at Gigante Prince Valley Supermercado in southwest Detroit.

Beginning January 4th, Michigan will spread its food stamp distributions throughout the month. That means some recipients will receive their lump sum benefits on the 5th of the month, for example, others on the 19th.  Click here to see a chart detailing date changes for food assistance benefits.

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Education
2:32 pm
Fri December 17, 2010

Study: Michigan among the worst at improving, closing failing schools

New study says Michigan has one of the worst turnaround success rates for failing schools
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Michigan has one of the worst success rates when it comes to turning around failing schools, according to a new report.

The study by the Fordham Institute, an education policy think tank, looked at the lowest-performing public schools in 10 states, including Michigan. The goal of the study was to see if a failing school could improve its test scores over a 5-year period.

Mike Petrilli is the think tank's executive vice president:

"What we see in the study is that Michigan, compared to other states, was reluctant to close low-performing schools, and didn’t have much success in improving these low-performing schools either."

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Economy
12:06 pm
Fri December 17, 2010

United Way holds 'Triple Money Monday' fundraiser for needy in Livingston County

Poverty has doubled in Livingston County over the last 5 years
SamPac creative commons

The Livingston County United Way is doing a 1-day only fundraiser to try to alleviate the growing need in the area.

It's called Triple Money Monday: On Dec. 20, from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m., all donations made to nonprofit will be tripled, thanks to the Ted and Jane Von Voigtlander Foundation and two anonymous donors.

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Arts/Culture
11:33 am
Fri December 17, 2010

Grand Rapids Symphony posts $65K budget surplus

The Grand Rapids Symphony posts a $65K budget surplus for FY10
Photo courtesy of the Grand Rapids Symphony

It's not all bad news coming out of the symphony world.

The Grand Rapids Symphony is the second largest orchestra in Michigan, after the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. And yet the two arts organizations finances couldn't be farther apart. The GR Symphony posted a $65,000 budget surplus for the 2010 fiscal year; the DSO posted an $8.8 million deficit.

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Arts/Culture
10:19 am
Fri December 17, 2010

Detroit Symphony management: Granholm, Levin proposal not "feasible"

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians have been on strike since Oct. 4
Nate Luzod creative commons

Governor Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Senator Carl Levin issued a joint letter Thursday detailing the framework for a possible resolution between Detroit Symphony Orchestra management and its musicians who have been on strike since October 4.

Granholm and Levin's proposal called for a 3-year deal that would cost a total of $36 million.

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Arts/Culture
8:06 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

Granholm, Levin outline possible Detroit Symphony Orchestra compromise

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians have been on strike since October 4
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

Update 8:01 p.m.:

Detroit Symphony Orchestra management issued this statement in response to the joint letter issued earlier today by Governor Granholm and Senator Levin:

We appreciate Senator Levin and Governor Granholm’s commitment to the DSO and their personal time and effort to assist in finding a resolution to the ongoing dispute between the DSO and its musicians.  We take their recommendations very seriously. 

A $36 million compensation package is beyond what every consultant and our Board have said is feasible.   In order to fund our current proposal, we have already cut our staff and operations severely and pushed our revenue expectations beyond every advisor’s recommendations.  Even with these dramatic cuts and ambitious goals, the DSO will continue to operate in a deficit position. 

We all want and need this strike to end with a mutually acceptable package and we stand ready to return to the bargaining table to pursue an agreement.  We appreciate the constructive offer of a framework within which this agreement might be reached and look forward to the continued engagement and support of community leadership as we pursue our goals.  

6:03 p.m.:

Governor Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Senator Carl Levin issued a joint letter Thursday detailing the framework for a possible resolution between Detroit Symphony Orchestra management and its musicians.

The DSO musicians went on strike Oct. 4 after management demanded a slew of concessions to deal with its growing deficit. The DSO recently announced a $8.8 million budget deficit for the 2010 fiscal year.

Granholm and Levin's proposal called for a 3-year deal that would cost a total of $36 million. (Management's most recent proposal totaled $34 million, the musicians countered with a roughly $38 million proposal.) 

Andy Levin is the Governor’s representative. He says both Granholm and Sen. Levin hoped that they "could get the parties across the finish line to a collective bargaining agreement  by making a suggestion about a difficult compromise."

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