WUOMFM

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.  

Ways to Connect

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."

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:

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:

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.

Photographing the so-called 'ruins' of Detroit

Jan 9, 2011
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.

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.

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.

Texting while driving
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."

No Smoking sign
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. "

The Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor
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.

Grocery cart
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.

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."

Homeless
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.

Grand Rapids Symphony
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.

Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians
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.

Detroit Symphony Orchestra
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."

Bookstore
Photo courtesy of Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor

Need help finding the perfect holiday gift for the bibliophile in your life?

The folks at the Library of Michigan have come up with their annual "Michigan Notable Books" list: 20 books about Michigan or by Michigan authors.

We interview Randy Riley on this week's Artpod. Riley is in charge of special collections at the Library of Michigan, and he says "there’s something for everybody on this list."

Homeless man
SamPac / creative commons

More Michigan families are seeking out homeless shelters and warming centers this winter. And the need will likely continue to increase as temperatures fall below zero.

The HOPE Hospitality and Warming Center in Pontiac is a place people can go for a warm meal, a blanket and a spot on the floor to sleep during the winter months.

Elizabeth Kelly is HOPE's executive director. She says in addition to the core group of chronically homeless the shelter usually serves, she’s also seen an increase in the number of families seeking shelter: 

"These are people finding themselves in a homeless condition for the first time in their lives or its just not something that’s typically happened to them before."

 

MSU's Broad Art Museum
Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects.

Michael Rush will be the founding director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University.

Rush is well known in the art world – he’s published numerous books and articles about late 20th century art. He also directed the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University and the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art.

DSO
Nate Luzod / creative commons

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra posted a $6.7 million budget shortfall for the 2010 fiscal year. Add to that the roughly $2 million the DSO spent on pension obligations and debt service on the Max M Fisher Music Center, and the total operating loss for the orchestra is $8.8 million.

Khaled Mattawa
Amanda Abel / Courtesy of U.S. Artists

A Michigan poet is $50,000 richer, thanks to the arts advocacy organization United States Artists.

Libyan-born poet Khaled Mattawa was one of 50 artists around the country to receive a U.S. Artists award this year. More than 300 artists were nominated for the award.

Aretha Franklin
KtKatrina / creative commons

Several Detroit media outlets are reporting that soul legend Aretha Franklin has pancreatic cancer. Michigan Radio contacted Franklin's publicist for confirmation, but has yet to hear back.

The National Enquirer was the first to report the Queen of Soul's illness. Fox2 Detroit followed with a similar story:

"A relative of Aretha Franklin tells reporter Al Allen that the icon has cancer.  Another relative says the family is very concerned. At this time Franklin's family says she is doing "OK", but they are asking for the continued prayers and thoughts from the community."

Aretha Franklin underwent surgery in Detroit last Thursday. Neither she nor her publicist would say what kind of surgery Franklin was going in for or the nature of the illness.

Woman crafting
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

This week's Artpod episode has a little something for everyone. Today's podcast features local holiday art fairs, ideas for inexpensive gifts (homemade marshmallows anyone?), and a musical rendition of how to make eggnog.

Robert Bobb
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Update: 5:13 pm:

Emergency financial manager Robert Bobb and his team have already put in place several classroom reforms. Some of the reforms include two hours of math and reading instruction every day for elementary students, requiring all 7th graders to take pre-Algebra, and conducting "quarterly assessments" of students' skills.

Robert Bobb with a student
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Update: 5:15 pm:

Anthony Adams, president of the Detroit Board of Education, spoke with Michigan Radio about Judge Baxter's ruling. Adams says the ruling "isn't a victory per se":

"The only victory that we’ll have in the city of Detroit is when every child can read, can write, can learn to the best of their abilities, and we as adults have to sit at the table and make sure that we work together in a cooperative fashion."

Students at computers
User: Extra Ketchup / creative commons

Michigan State University students received more than 700 complaints of illegal downloading since September. That’s up from the nearly 200 complaints MSU received this time last year.

Here's how it works:

If a group like the recording industry or a movie studio thinks someone is downloading files illegally, they contact the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and issue what’s called a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaint.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Want to open up a charter school? A new report says Michigan has one of the nation’s friendliest laws when it comes to allowing charter schools to open.

The Center for Education Reform, a charter advocacy group in Washington, DC, says Michigan has the 5th best charter school law in the country.

Church
OZinOH / creative commons

Americans exaggerate how often they go to church, according to a new University of Michigan study. The findings brining into question just how much of an outlier America is when it comes to religion.

The study finds that 40% of Americans say they attend church regularly, but only 25% actually do.

Musicians perform
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has issued yet another round of concert cancellations at Orchestra Hall since the musicians went on strike Oct. 4

All orchestral concerts are now cancelled through Dec. 11th.

Haden McKay, a cellist with the DSO, says the musicians are "very disappointed to hear about more weeks being lost for the concert goers in Detroit."

Salvation Army
elstudio / creative commons

Over the next couple of weeks, chances are you’ll find lots of letters in your mailbox asking for charitable donations. That's because nonprofits across Michigan are doing their annual end-of-year holiday push for financial donations.

Kyle Caldwell is with the Michigan Nonprofit Association. He likes to call the holiday season the “giving season.”

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