Mark is a senior reporter/producer at Michigan Radio where he's been working to develop the station's online news content since 2010.
From 2000 to 2006, he worked as the technical director and senior producer for Michigan Radio's regional environmental news service known as the Great Lakes Radio Consortium.
From 2006 to 2010, as the unit's co-manager and senior producer, Mark helped transition the GLRC into an award-winningnational news service known as The Environment Report. The service was heard on more that 130 stations around the country including WBEZ in Chicago, WAMU in Washington D.C., KUOW in Seattle, and KWMU in St. Louis.
Mark is a graduate of the University of Michigan ('00 MS in Environmental Policy and Planning & '91 BA in Political Science) and has been "a board certified public radio junkie" since 1992. He discovered public radio on his commutes to work in his trusty 1984 VW Rabbit. Much of Mark's storytelling philosophy was influenced through his close work with veteran CBC "réalisateur" David Candow.
The state's prison system is in line for some budget cuts like a lot of other parts of the state government.
Now, a recent audit says the prison system could save more in prescription costs.
From the Associated Press:
DETROIT (AP) - State auditors say Michigan could have saved millions of dollars by choosing lower-cost alternatives to a mental-health drug that is widely prescribed in prisons.
The audit released Friday says psychotropic drugs are dominating the cost of prescriptions in the prison system. They added up to more than $8 million from January through July last year - 41 percent of all pharmaceuticals.
Seroquel is the most prescribed antipsychotic drug. Auditors say the Corrections Department could have saved $350,000 a month by switching just half of those prescriptions to a drug called Risperdal.
The Corrections Department says it's taking steps to control costs. The audit also found that prisoners are not being charged for over-the-counter medicine even if they can afford it.
After the devastating earthquake and resulting tsunamis in Japan, many people in the U.S. are trying to locate friends an family in Japan.
The Red Cross reports that they are unable to help at the moment but point to some resources:
At this time the Red Cross in unable to accept inquiries to contact or locate family and friends in Japan. However, there are several resources available as follows.
Inquiries concerning U.S. citizens living or traveling in Japan should be referred to the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747 or 202 647-5225.
For inquiries about relatives living in Japan who are not US citizens, encourage the members of your community to keep calling or to try contacting other family members who live in the region. Even though communication networks overloaded right now, the situation may change and access to mobile networks and the internet may improve.
Big fish kills in Lake St. Clair and along the St. Clair river this winter puzzled some residents and scientists in the area. The Detroit News reported that, "the cause of the massive fish die-offs, which began in mid-December, remains a mystery to state investigators...Dead gizzard shad is a common sight this time of year — but not in the tens to hundreds of thousands being reported this winter."
The Detroit News reports that court records show DPS Board president Anthony Adams is not meeting the Board's residency requirements.
From the Detroit News:
The estranged wife of Detroit school board President Anthony Adams has accused him of living outside the city — a violation of board policy.
Deborah Ross Adams, a judge in Wayne County Circuit Court, contends Adams lives in Oakland County, according to court records related to their divorce proceedings, and that he is improperly using their marital home in Detroit's Palmer Woods as the basis of residency for his school board seat.
Adams filed for divorce from his wife in June 2009 in Wayne County after 31 years of marriage. In his filing, he says the couple separated in January 2009.
One board member is quoted as saying she doesn't have any concerns about the matter.
The board's vice president, Tyrone Winfrey, says the school district has more important things to worry about at the moment.
Reports that Tsunami waves have reached Hawaii. This from ABC news:
Tsunami waves reached Hawaii early today, following a massive 8.9 magnitutde earthquake in Japan, that triggered tidal wave warnings as far away as Oregon as the giant wave makes its way to the West Coast of the United States.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says Kauai was the first island hit early by the tsunami, which was quickly sweeping through the Hawaiian Island chain.
Screeching tsunami warning sirens woke residents through the night and Hawaiians were warned to seek higher ground and officials braced for the first 6 foot waves to make landfall just before 3 a.m. local time, 9 a.m. EST
Update 8:04 a.m.:
Hawaii is bracing for a possible tsunami following the magnitude 8.9 earthquake that hit Japan early this morning (Eastern time). The AP reports:
Warning sirens have been sounding and coastal areas are being evacuated. The first waves are expected to hit around 9 a.m. Eastern time today. Waves are predicted to hit the U.S. Western Coast between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Eastern.
Update 7:46 a.m.:
President Obama has issued his condolences for the people who died in the earthquake in Japan. The President said the United States, "stands ready to help" in any way it can. The Associated Press reports:
At the same time, Obama said in a statement early Friday that his administration will "continue to closely monitor tsunamis around Japan and the Pacific going forward."
The largest earthquake in Japan's history - measured at a magnitude of 8.9 - pummeled the eastern coast of Japan Friday, accompanied by a towering tsunami. A rising death toll is in the dozens.
Obama said he has told the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be ready to assist Hawaii and any other U.S. states and territories that might be affected. He said he's ready to support the Japanese people "in this time of great trial."
Officials in Japan say more than 30 people have died in the magnitude 8.9 quake and 13-foot tsunami that hit the northeast part of the country, the Associated Press reports:
People, boats, cars, buildings and tons of debris were swept away by the wave. The death toll has been rising.
Fires triggered by Friday's quake are burning out of control up and down the coast, including one at an oil refinery.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was a magnitude 8.9, while Japan's meteorological agency measured it at 8.8. It was followed by more than 19 aftershocks, including several at least 6.3, the size of the quake that struck New Zealand recently.
Dozens of cities and villages along a 1,300-mile stretch of coastline were shaken by violent tremors that reached as far away as Tokyo, hundreds of miles from the epicenter.
A tsunami warning was issued for the entire Pacific, including areas as far away as South America, the entire U.S. West Coast, Canada and Alaska.
And now... add the lack of a State Fair to that list.
In this age of austerity, Nevada has decided to cut its State Fair. Michigan cut its Fair back in 2009.
The Associated Press reports Nevada and Michigan are the only two states without a State Fair.
From the AP:
The board of directors for the Nevada State Fair says there won't be one this summer.
Board members say budget shortfalls leave them no choice but to bring an end to the fair for the first time in 136 years.
Executive director Rich Crombie said in a statement Wednesday that a last-ditch fundraising effort had produced only a fraction of the estimated $250,000 needed to keep the fair from folding up its tent.
It means Nevada will join Michigan as the only states in the nation without state fairs.
Crombie says they are debt but don't intend to file bankruptcy. He says the hope is to continue to raise money for another state fair in the years ahead. The first Nevada fair was held in 1874.
The Michigan State Fair, said to be the country's oldest, was closed in 2009 because of declining attendance and budget shortfalls.
Michigan Radio's "Picture Project" has some fantastic images of Michigan's now defunct State Fair.
Today, within the framework of the Charter for Tibetans in Exile, the Kalon Tripa, the political leadership, and the people’s representatives are directly elected by the people. We have been able to implement democracy in exile that is in keeping with the standards of an open society.
As early as the 1960s, I have repeatedly stressed that Tibetans need a leader, elected freely by the Tibetan people, to whom I can devolve power. Now, we have clearly reached the time to put this into effect. During the forthcoming eleventh session of the fourteenth Tibetan Parliament in Exile, which begins on 14th March, I will formally propose that the necessary amendments be made to the Charter for Tibetans in Exile, reflecting my decision to devolve my formal authority to the elected leader.
During the interview Young asked Hamilton about her time in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Young says, "like a lot of Americans, you thought, 'Ann Arbor, Michigan… cheese cubes.'"
You can hear Young's comment in the audio here. It's at the 6 minute mark.
That comment sparked one listener to write in. Phillip wrote:
I do hope that someone from your Michigan network of stations will contact the host of Here and Now about her comment yesterday regarding Ann Arbor; specifically, in an interview with the chef/ author of Prune, the host remarked something to the effect that "When most of us think of Ann Arbor, we think of cheese cubes..." Give me a break!
Well, we did share that comment with the producers at Here & Now and host Robin Young wrote back:
OY YI YI!!!!
The cheese cube kerfuffle!!
We're going to address on a letters segment on air, but I've been writing the (many!) people who've written.
Just to clarify.. what I said was, "YOU" (meaning the author) thought Michigan meant cheese cubes. This is what she writes in the book! Then I went on to say, but you found otherwise.
I buy from Zingermans!! I don't think Ann Arbor means cheese cubes!
Today’s House hearing on “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and That Community’s Response” has created a firestorm of criticism by civil rights groups and Democrats who say that Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., is intentionally isolating Muslims.
Democrats and rights groups say he’s guilty of “modern-day McCarthyism,” and is using religion to divide Americans.
Legislation that would allow emergency financial managers to throw out union contracts and overrule elected officials in financially distressed municipalities and school districts was approved in the Senate today.
The measure passed 26-12 along party lines in the Republican-controlled chamber. Similar bills passed in the House in late February. The chambers must now agree on a final version to send to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature. More than 1,000 union members demonstrated opposition to the bills Tuesday, chanting loudly outside the chamber doors as senators worked through details of the legislation.
This follows yesterday's news that then-NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller (no relation) was videotaped slamming conservatives and questioning whether NPR needs federal funding during a lunch with men posing as members of a Muslim organization (they were working with political activist James O'Keefe on a "sting.")
NPR's Board of Directors is responsible for the governance of NPR. Chairman Dave Edwards released a statement to staff and member stations. In the statement, Edwards said Schiller resigned:
It is with deep regret that I tell you that the NPR Board of Directors has accepted the resignation of Vivian Schiller as President and CEO of NPR, effective immediately.
The Board accepted her resignation with understanding, genuine regret, and great respect for her leadership of NPR these past two years.
But NPR's media reporter, David Folkenflik, says that's not the case. This from NPR news:
NPR's David Folkenflik talks with Renee Montagne about the latest developments, saying CEO Vivian Schiller was ousted in the wake of the controversy over News Analyst Juan Williams' firing last year and gaffes by an NPR fundraiser that came to light Tuesday in a secret video.
Folkenflik said the latest development, the secret filming of a top NPR fundraiser making disparaging remarks about conservatives, was the last straw for NPR's Board.
Snyder says the bills are important for the state's agriculture industry.
The program aims to help farmers evaluate their operations to better identify and prevent possible environmental problems. About 1,000 farms have become verified through the program. Thousands more are in earlier stages of the verification process.
Critics of the bills say they're too much carrot and not enough stick.
They worry large farms could increase pollution without strict state oversight.
Anne Woiwode of the Michigan Sierra Club, a group that has long battled against pollution from large-scale livestock operations, says the new measures protect polluters.
Opponents say the legislation violates the Clean Water Act and jeopardizes the state’s water quality program.“With just barely 2 months in this new legislature and Governor, it appears the course toward weakening Michiganders’ well-being is off to a jump start here,” Michigan Sierra Club Director Anne Woiwode said via e-mail.
Laura Weber, of the Michigan Public Radio Network, reported that Governor Snyder said it was important to him to put the voluntary program into law:
"Because our Ag community is a critical part of our state," said Snyder. "It’s one of our largest industries. It’s one of our greatest opportunities, and it was one of the areas that supported us over this last decade of really tough times."
The Detroit News reports the Michigan Senate is expected to pass the Emergency Financial Manager bill despite the protests taking place in the capitol. From the Detroit News:
A bill to give broad authority to emergency financial managers to fix a governing body's finances is expected to pass in the Senate on Wednesday despite boisterous union protests that punctuated today's session.
Senate Republicans voted down more than 20 Democratic amendments as more than 1,000 union members chanted "Kill the Bill" outside the Senate chamber. Their chants were audible as the chamber debated the bill, as were the catcalls of protesters crammed into the gallery above the Senate floor.
The union members protesting the bill say it would make emergency financial managers too powerful, "allowing them to toss out union contracts, overrule elected officials and dissolve city councils and school boards."
Protesters have arrived at the state Capitol to show their opposition to a measure that would give more power to Emergency Financial Managers. Laura Weber sent this report from Lansing:
The state Capitol is jammed this morning with a raucous group of union members and supporters who are opposed to a proposal to grant more power to Emergency Financial Managers. Hundreds of protesters are chanting "kill the bill" loudly outside of the Michigan Senate chamber as lawmakers prepare to vote on the controversial measure.
Still hundreds more are on the Capitol lawn rallying against the emergency manager bills. The package of bills would strip unions of collective bargaining rights, and dissolve union contracts, if an emergency manager was put in place to take over the finances of a struggling city, township, or school district.
The Associated Press reports there are around 1,000 people demonstrating:
...protesters are at the Capitol objecting to bills that would give broad new powers to emergency financial managers appointed by the state to run struggling cities and schools.
The Senate plans to vote on the measures Tuesday. The House passed the bills two weeks ago.
Groups opposed to legislation they consider anti-union are holding the morning rally and also are chanting inside the Capitol.
Local officials warned during a Monday news conference that the financial manager measures would take away voters' rights by removing the authority of elected school board members, mayors and council members.
Workers warn that the bills could allow financial managers to terminate union contracts.
Supporters of the legislation say it would lead to earlier intervention in financially troubled communities and schools, avoiding bigger crises.
"I find it less than honest that you would portray the cut as 15 percent, and call additional money an 'incentive' if you keep tuition less than 7.1 percent. It's clearly less than transparent in the way it's been presented."
Governor Snyder's spokesperson said the proposed cuts were portrayed clearly.
To keep their cuts at 15%, universities have to agree to keep their annual tuition hikes under 7.1%.
If they don't, cuts in state aid could be greater than 15%.
The cuts proposed for the 15 public universities in the state average 21%, according to the article.
Some of the specific proposed cuts mentioned in the piece (cuts if universities don't hold tuition increases under 7.1%):
23.3% for Central Michigan University
19% for Eastern Michigan University
21.9% for Grand Valley State University
Some university officials said "they will try to hold tuition increases under the 7.1 percent cap, although they can't be sure until their boards begin approving next year's budgets in June or July."
According to the article, the largest cut universities have seen in the last 32 years was 8.5%.
It's Fat Tuesday, and while many of us are toiling away at work, others are gearing up to 'act a fool' in New Orleans.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune has a collection of live webcams on nola.com.
On "parade cam" we'll be able to catch the Rex Parade starting at 10 a.m. The Rex Parade is one of many parades taking place today. Here's a description of the parade from their website:
The Rex Procession has been the highlight of Mardi Gras day since the Rex Organization was formed and first paraded in 1872. While there had been celebrations in many forms on Mardi Gras before that time, the Rex Parade gave a brilliant daytime focus to the festivities, and provided a perfect opportunity for Rex, King of Carnival, to greet his city and his subjects.
The theme for this year's Rex Parade is "This Sceptred Isle."
It kicks off at 10 a.m. (it looks a little wet there today):
The Rex Parade will be followed by the parade by the Elks Krewe of Orleanians, and then the Crescent City parade. Enjoy!
By the way, have you ever been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras? If you can keep it clean, share your experiences with us below!
Diane Ravitch, education historian and author of the book The Death and Life of the Great American School System, spoke at the Novi Sheraton Hotel today at an education symposium about the current state of education and education reform in the country.
Ravitch had a welcome audience, getting a standing ovation before and after she spoke at the conference...She said national policy makers say they want to reform education. But, what they’re really doing “is tearing education apart and demonizing teachers.”
She alluded to Detroit as she talked about districts that are eliminating programs, laying off thousands of teachers, getting rid of art education and increasing class sizes, saying it’s kids in Detroit "who need much smaller classes."
Ravitch said poverty plays a big role in the success or failure of students in a school system.
The Grand Rapid Press had more on Ravitch's talk in which she said the United States is in an age of "national stupidity" in terms of how it views education.
From the Grand Rapids Press:
Ravich, a former assistant U.S. secretary of education who had a role in developing No Child Left Behind and the charter school movement, renounced both reforms, saying they've given way to a culture of incentives and punishments through testing that does little to help students...Ravitch said the country can't improve schools by constantly cutting budgets and using standardized tests to paint teachers as ineffective in an attempt to “de-professionalize” the work.
She said that current reforms that rely on test scores are a mistake:
“I take standardized test scores with a grain of salt – make that a ton of salt,” she said. “We've watched a gaming of the system and an increase in cheating because the stakes are so high.”
USA Today and the Detroit Free Press had stories over the weekend on this very subject. Their investigation showed anomalies in standardized test score results - anomalies that suggest cheating may have taken place.
Here is a clip of Ravitch talking about education reform and her book on the Daily Show:
Gas prices continue to go up in that wake of tensions in the Middle East.
The price of a barrel of crude oil has gone over $100 - that number was a record breaker back in early 2008 - the start of the Great Recession.
From the Associated Press:
Gas prices AAA Michigan says gasoline prices are up 8.4 cents per gallon over the past week to a statewide average of $3.53. The auto club said Monday the statewide average is 80.5 cents per gallon higher than last year at this time. Of the cities it surveys, AAA Michigan says the cheapest price for self-serve regular fuel is in the Saginaw/Bay City area, where it's $3.48 a gallon. The highest average can be found in the Marquette area at $3.59. Dearborn-based AAA Michigan surveys 2,800 Michigan gas stations daily.
The White House chief of staff Bill Daley said on NBC's Meet the Press that opening up the country's strategic oil reserves is an option the Obama Administration is considering:
"It is something that only is done--has been done in very rare occasions. There's a bunch of factors that have to be looked at, and it is just not the price. Again, the uncertainty--I think there's no one who doubts that the uncertainty in the Middle East right now has caused this tremendous increase in the last number of weeks."
Many people wonder why we're seeing an increase in gas prices when the U.S. imports most of it's oil from Canada and Mexico.
The answer, simply, is that oil is a global commodity, so when the global price of crude goes up, we all pay more. Crude oil prices influence the price of gas more than other factors like refining, distribution, and taxes.
How Stuff Works has a write up of how the complex system of gas prices are factored here in the U.S.
They break the cost of a dollar of gas down this way:
Now, the Fennville Blackhawks (20-0) have decided to play on despite their immense sadness.
The Fennville team will play Monday night against Lawrence High in the Class C district playoffs. The game has been moved to Hope College in Holland.
The Sporting News says the game was moved from Lawrence High School to Hope College to accommodate an expected large crowd and large media presence.
The Lawrence High School coach spoke with ESPN about how he expects the Fennville boys team to play. From the Sporting News:
Lawrence coach Curt Meat told ESPN of Monday’s game, “Either they’re going to come out and break down and be terrible, and I’d hate to see that … or they’re going to come out and they’re going to have angels on their shoulders and really light it up.”
Drew Sharp has an opinion piece in today's Detroit Free Press. He quoted a statement from Fennville superintendent Dirk Weeldreyer talking about Lawrence High School decision to change the venue:
"They have been more than gracious and accommodating in making this decision. By doing so, they are relinquishing home-court advantage. We also recognize that Lawrence has been cast in an unenviable position and must feel as if the world will be rooting against them. Rather than focusing on the outcome of Monday's game, our joint goal is to make it a fitting tribute to the memory of Wes Leonard."
Wes Leonard’s funeral is scheduled for Tuesday morning at Holland's Christ Memorial Church.
Visitation is today from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at Fennville United Methodist Church.
The rally was the brainchild of AARP member and retiree Mary Lee Woodward of Oxford, who launched the effort on Facebook with the help of her daughter. Woodward says she's heard from thousands of seniors who say new taxes on their pensions and other income will make it difficult to pay their bills. Many also object to elimination of a tax credit for low-income working families, and proposed cuts to schools, universities and local police and fire protection and road maintenance.