Lindsey Smith

West Michigan Reporter/Producer

Lindsey Smith is Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. Lindsey has worked as a reporter at radio stations in both West and Southeast Michigan, and her work has been recognized by both the Michigan Association of Broadcasters and Michigan AP. She's a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and Specs Howard School of Media Arts.

Q&A

What has been your most memorable experience as a reporter?
Reporting from a hot air balloon was one of the scariest. Trying to bubble-wrap my recording equipment to come with me down a giant waterslide took the most preparation and ingenuity. Mostly I remember people; so many downtrodden, truthful, funny, inspiring, regular-everyday people. Nearly everyone I meet and talk to shapes how I view life in at least the slightest way.

What is your favorite program on Michigan Radio?
"Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me." It's hilarious. "On the Media" is a very, very close second.

What do you like best about working in public radio?
Mostly, I'm proud of what we do and the stories we produce.

What modern convenience would it be most difficult for you to live without?
The internet! What did anyone do without it! I mean, I remember life without it, but it's amazing how much I rely on it every day.

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?
It depends on the season. I love wakeboarding in the summer, hanging out on the beach, going on long walks with my dog Lola, grilling. In the winter I wish I could hibernate. I do enjoy snowboarding and movies and warm drinks indoors then.

What are people usually very surprised to learn about you?
If I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise!

Pages

Education
5:10 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Muskegon Heights schools face dramatic cuts and wait for emergency manager

A new plan to eliminate a running deficit at Muskegon Heights Public Schools would close schools and cut teacher pay by 40-percent. That means a teacher with a PhD and 20 years of experience would make around $40,000 a year. New teachers would make around $20,000.

But school leaders admit the plan is still unlikely to work.

Unions haven’t even voted on the concessions. But interim superintendent Dave Sipka had to submit the plan anyway to get the money the district needed from the state in order to make payroll.

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health care
4:48 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Holland wins $1.6 million in Blue Cross Blue Shield lawsuit

An Ottawa County Circuit Court judge is ordering Blue Cross Blue Shield to pay the City of Holland $1.6 million. Holland is one of dozens of communities that sued Blue Cross over variable fees charged on insurance claims filed by employees.  The city claims the insurer didn’t tell them about the fees for 17 years.

Blue Cross Blue Shield spokesperson Helen Stojic says the fees were not hidden.“As the lawsuit proceeds to the appellate courts we’re confident that the legal process will result in a finding that our access fee were known to our customers,” Stojic said.

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Politics
6:32 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

Rick Santorum stops in Muskegon, Holland and Grand Rapids

Santorum greets guests and signs autographs after the rally in Muskegon Monday.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is finishing his last stop in West Michigan Monday evening.

At a rally in Muskegon Monday afternoon Santorum mostly criticized President Obama, rather than his republican rivals in the presidential primary.

“Ladies and gentlemen this president is doing everything he can to shut down the manufacturing sector of this economy; from an environmental, energy, regulatory, and tax position,” Santorum said.

Santorum spent a lot of time talking about producing more energy in the United States by drilling for oil and natural gas. Santorum criticized President Obama for voting against a pipeline that would’ve sent crude oil from Canada to the southern U.S. for refining.

“(Obama and environmentalists) see an opportunity to go out and scare people. ‘Oh look at what’s going on - they’re producing all this dangerous stuff near you and they’re drilling wells. Oh and they’re going to pollute this and pollute that,” Santorum said sarcastically. “It’s a bunch of garbage.”

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Politics
12:55 pm
Thu February 2, 2012

Kalamazoo faith leaders discuss LGBT issues at prayer breakfast

While the national prayer breakfast was happening in Washington this morning, faith leaders in Kalamazoo held their own prayer breakfast.

The group of leaders from different faiths discussed state laws affecting people who are lesbian, gay or transgender.

The Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center helped organize the breakfast. Executive Director Zach Bauer says faith has meant two things to the LGBT community.

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manufacturing
2:01 pm
Wed February 1, 2012

VP Joe Biden: America "will lead the world in the 21st century in manufacturing"

Vice President Joe Biden greets workers at American Seating Company in Grand Rapids after his 40 minute long speech Wednesday.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Vice President Joe Biden says good paying manufacturing jobs are vital to the U.S. economy and the American Dream of home ownership and upward mobility.

Biden made his comments following a tour of American Seating Company in Grand Rapids. The company has been making seats for busses, trains and stadiums in West Michigan for more than a century.

“It’s not the only source of good paying jobs but I see no way in which we can meet that American commitment to that dream unless we once again reestablish ourselves as the manufacturing hub of the world with high end products,” Biden said.

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Arts/Culture
7:45 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

Music partnership blossoming between New York's Lincoln Center and Grand Rapids

Cathy Holbrook has been St. Cecilia Music Center's Executive Director for 6 years.
Lindsey Smtih Michigan Radio

The Chamber Music Society of the Lincoln Center in New York City is partnering with a music center in Grand Rapids.

The prestigious center in New York will produce at least three concerts at St. Cecilia Music Center beginning this year. St. Cecilia Music Center was created 130 year ago in downtown Grand Rapids.

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Environment
12:30 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

6th Circuit Ct. of Appeals rules for developers in Jean Klock Park case

Updated 12:30p.m. 1/31/12

90-acres of land along the Lake Michigan shore were donated nearly a century ago to the City of Benton Harbor for public recreation. In 2008, city leaders agreed to lease 22 acres of Jean Klock Park to a non-profit developer known as Harbor Shores. The developer converted the land into 3 holes of a Jack Nicklaus golf course.

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manufacturing
6:26 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Vice Pres. Joe Biden to return to Grand Rapids to promote Obama agenda

American Seating Company has been based in Grand Rapids for more than a century.
American Seating Company

Biden visited a Grand Rapids Public High School back in October to promote the President’s jobs bill. Biden returns this week, this time he’s expected to talk to workers at a manufacturing plant about the administration’s tax plan that’s supposed to boost American manufacturing.

Biden will visit American Seating Company in Grand Rapids on Wednesday. American Seating Company has been making seats for tour busses, trains, and big stadiums for about 125 years. Dave McLaughlin is Vice President and General Sales Manager of Transportation Products Group at American Seating. He’s been working there for 27 years. He says the company is trying not to view Biden’s visit as simply a political event.

“I’m sure there are people that are looking at it as a political event,” McLaughlin said, “We really need help as a nation in rebuilding our manufacturing infrastructure.”

The company employs 500, mostly unionized workers. Most are in Grand Rapids, but all in the United States. McLaughlin says about 75-percent of the company’s goods and services are sourced from companies based in Michigan, Ohio or Indiana.

“We just like to do things here,” McLaughlin said simply. “Now having said that we clearly are in the minority.” He says labor costs are the biggest challenge in staying in the U.S.

So if labor costs are the challenge, what can the U.S. government help manufacturers out with?

  1. Tax incentives: “Certainly a way of mitigating that fact of life could be through tax breaks of one sort or another,” McLaughlin said.
  2. Strengthening the Buy America content provisions: “They could raise that threshold to the point where it’s more difficult for offshore organizations to meet,” McLaughlin said.
  3. Have local, state, national projects buy American made products: “It seems ridiculous to me to see those dollars go offshore when quite often they don’t get reinvested back into the United States,” McLaughlin said.
Politics
1:04 pm
Sat January 28, 2012

Grand Rapids Mayor on state of city: "Our children need us NOW"

Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell dedicated his entire state of the city speech Saturday morning to highlighting the problems facing kids in the community. 

Heartwell noted nearly 2 in 5 children in Michigan's 2nd largest city live in poverty. More than 1 in 5 students in Grand Rapids Public Schools drops out of high school. Many don’t have regular access to the internet.

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Politics
3:54 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

Michigan will get another emergency manager, Snyder names EM for Highland Park schools

Jack Martin when he was the CFO for the U.S. Department of Education. He will officially be the emergency manager of Highland Park public schools on Monday, January 30.
U.S. Dept. of Ed.

Governor Snyder named an emergency manager, Jack Marin, for the Highland Park public schools. today. His appointment will be effective on Monday, January 30.

Update 4:00 p.m.

Governor Rick Snyder says it’s "unacceptable" that that Highland Park School District may not have enough money to finish the school year. Snyder made the comments following a tour of a factory in West Michigan Friday afternoon.

Highland Park Schools has already borrowed money from the state to make payroll. The district will need more money in order to pay teachers and other employees next month. But Snyder says it’s unclear where that money will come from.

“I can’t give you the answer other than to say I want to make sure these kids finish the school year and we’re going to work with the legislature or other places to see if we can really make that happen as quickly as possible," Snyder said, following the tour. 

Update 3:54 p.m.

The Highland Park school district is the sixth public entity in Michigan to be placed under the control of a state-appointed Emergency Manager.

That’s after Governor Rick Snyder concurred with the findings of a review team that the school district is deep in debt with no credible plan to fix its finances.

Jack Martin will assume the role of Highland Park public schools emergency manager on Monday. Miller is a certified public accountant and the former chief financial officer for the U.S. Department of Education.

Martin said his first task will be to determine how quickly Highland Park is losing students, and how that will affect the district’s finances in the coming school year.

"We want to get an accurate forecast, as best we can, of what the student population’s going to be; try to match the expenditures to what the revenues will be; and we’ll make adjustments to expenditures as we feel are necessary to sustain the district and manage the deficit," said Martin.

Martin will have 45 days to submit a preliminary plan for addressing the deficit to the state treasurer.

3:03 p.m.

Here's more about Jack Martin from a Department of Treasury press release:

Martin is founder and chairman of Martin, Arrington, Desai & Meyers, P.C. and has 40 years of experience in both the public and private sectors. Martin was chief financial officer for the U.S. Department of Education after serving as CEO and managing director of Jack Martin & Co. Certified Public Accountants and Consultants and acting CEO of Home Federal Savings Bank of Detroit.

2:03 p.m.

Michigan will have six emergency managers operating in the state.

Governor Snyder has just named an emergency manager for Highland Park public schools.

More from MPRN's Capital Bureau Chief Rick Pluta:

Governor Rick Snyder has affirmed a state of financial emergency exists in the Highland Park public schools and named an emergency manager to run the district.

The governor has named Jackie Martin to be the emergency manager.

The neighboring Detroit public school district is also being run by an emergency manager, as are the cities of Pontiac, Benton Harbor, Flint, and Ecorse.

Politics
2:40 am
Wed January 25, 2012

GOP senate candidates debate bailouts for banks and car companies

Six Republicans hoping to unseat U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow debated an incredible range of issues at a forum organized by the Ottawa County Patriots Tuesday night. This is the second time the presumed front runner, former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra, has debated his rivals.

“It’s a great group of candidates. I could vote for any of them,” Bob Carr said after the 2-hour-long forum. Carr is a tea party member who drove more than an hour to Zeeland from Oceana County.

Dozens of the roughly 250 people crammed into the town’s library sport Carr’s own “Dump Debbie” political buttons. Carr says he’s given away around a thousand of them.

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Education
10:14 pm
Mon January 23, 2012

Grand Rapids Community College to ask Kent County voters to approve $100 million bond

Grand Rapids Community College campus downtown.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Voters in Kent County will decide on a millage increase for Grand Rapids Community College this May. The college’s board of trustees voted to put the question on the May ballot Monday night.

GRCC’s President Steven Enders says the tax increase is worth it for everyone living near Grand Rapids. “You cannot begin to put a value of the impact of this institution on Kent County and this region. It is just not as simple as counting numbers," Enders said. 

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Education
7:16 pm
Mon January 23, 2012

Grand Rapids schools suspends superintendent search

GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The school board of Michigan’s third largest public school district voted unanimously Monday night to extend interim Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal’s contract for 18 months and suspend the superintendent search.

Neal replaces former superintendent Bernard Taylor. Taylor had agreed to resign from Grand Rapids schools at the end of this school year after he was a finalist for other jobs beginning last spring. But he departed abruptly earlier this month.

In a written statement school board president Senita Lenear said:

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Politics
8:00 pm
Sun January 22, 2012

Tea party group to host GOP senate hopefuls, this time with Hoekstra

Former Congressman Pete Hoesktra is the presumed front runner in the race to become the Republican nominee for U.S. Sentate. The winner will face incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow.
Republican Conference Creative Commons

(This post has been updated to clarify Hoekstra's campaign responded to requests for information; adds information.)

A West Michigan tea party group is hosting a major Republican forum this week. All but one candidate running to become the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate are expected to appear at a debate in West Michigan this week. The nominee will face incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow in the general election in November.

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Politics
11:00 am
Fri January 20, 2012

Trying to sort out Emergency Manager limbo

Teryy Hall Flickr

The group “Michigan Forward” is collecting signatures to repeal the state’s Emergency Manager law.

At last check they we’re up to 180,000.

They only really need about 162,000, but they’re hoping to collect somewhere around 250,000 signatures (I think to prove a point).

And they have time.

They don’t need to turn the signatures in until the end of March to be able to put the repeal question to voters.

Questions, and more questions (I could talk about this all day)

Ever since I realized there was a real possibility voters could have a chance to repeal the Emergency Manager law I’ve been trying to figure out: what in the world would happen in cities and school districts with an Emergency Manager already in place?

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energy
10:45 am
Thu January 19, 2012

Wind farm in Mason County taking shape despite legal challenge

Consumers Energy map of the Lake Winds Energy Park in Mason County. Construction of access roads and turbine bases began in November 2011.
Consumers Energy lakewindsenergypark.com

Consumers Energy is wrapping up the initial phase of its first wind farm. Construction of the 100 mega-watt farm began last fall. Consumers plans to have the wind farm operating by the end of this year.

The project is known as the Lake Winds Energy Park. Since construction began last fall, workers have built about half of the large bases for 58 utility sized wind turbines.

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Politics
11:36 pm
Wed January 18, 2012

Holland group fighting for anti-discrimination laws accepts social justice award

Holland Is Ready leader Rev. Jen Adams accepts the City's Social Justice Award. "We smile not only because there is a little humor here, but because there is also hope here," Adams said.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A community organization in Holland has accepted an award from the city after unsuccessfully lobbying for an anti-discrimination law there.

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Auto/Economy
12:39 pm
Wed January 18, 2012

Economists expect modest growth in Grand Rapids area will continue

Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids area economy will continue to grow at a modest pace in 2012. Economists at Grand Valley State University are predicting employment growth between 1.5 and 2-percent this year.

GVSU Professor of Economics Hari Singh surveyed close to 300 business owners in Allegan, Ottawa, Kent and Muskegon counties to compile his report. He says 70-percent of employers told him they plan to hire permanent employees this year.

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Politics
5:43 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Hoogendyk challenges Upton…again

Jack Hoogendyk holds up his pocket-sized constitution, which he vows to uphold. His wife Erin is at his side at the event in Kalamazoo Tuesday.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Updated 5:09p.m.

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Politics
10:26 pm
Mon January 16, 2012

Wyoming City Council adopts zoning limits on where parolees may live

A Grand Rapids suburb has adopted zoning changes (on page 31) that will limit where the state and federal government can house people on parole. The changes will limit the number of parolees who can live in 1 place to 2 people.

Most parolees go home when they’re released from jail. Those who don’t have a safe place to reintegrate into society are housed through reentry programs. People are usually on parole for two years or less. Usually state parolees are housed in the county where they were sentenced.

Police Chief James Carmody says he supports efforts to house and rehabilitate parolees from Wyoming. But he’s concerned too many are being concentrated in a couple of motels in his city. At a meeting last month Carmody said the concentration of dozens of parolees in a couple of motels was “beyond (his) department’s ability to control.” 

Facilities for housing parolees in the future would only be allowed in an industrial area. The two inns would be grandfathered in. The zoning change includes a wide-ranging exemption for family members.

 “As long as they stay out of trouble and they don’t offend, that’s great,” Carmody said. “The problem is the residual effect on my organization is we’ve got to constantly monitor these individuals and keep track of them. So that’s a huge undertaking.”

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