Michigan Radio Newsroom

News and Production Staff

Michigan Radio offers internships in its newsroom and production departments. Check our employment page for current openings.

*Updates coming soon!

Newsroom

Michelle Huan

Reem Nasr

Chrissy Yates

State of Opportunity

Megha Satyanarayana

Stateside

Bre'Anna Tinsley

Operations

Pages

Politics
2:44 pm
Wed April 25, 2012

Group appears to have enough signatures to put emergency manager repeal on ballot

Update 2:44 p.m.

A report from Michigan's Bureau of Elections confirms the group "Stand Up For Democracy" appears to have enough signatures from registered voters in Michigan to put a referendum on the state's emergency manager law on the November ballot.

The recommendation from the Michigan Bureau of Elections is to "certify petition as sufficient."

A challenge to the referendum drive still remains. The Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility has challenged the petition drive alleging five defects in the format of the petitions:

  1. The type size of the petition heading, REFERENDUM OF LEGISLATION PROPOSED BY INITIATIVE PETITION purportedly does not comply with the requirement of MCL 168.482(1) that it be “printed in capital letters in 14-point boldfaced type [.]”
  2. The summary that appears on the signature side of the petition form is, in their view, “incomplete and misleading.”
  3. The petition omits the prior law, 1990 PA 72, which will be revived if 2011 PA 4 is suspended.
  4. The petition omits the effective date of 2011 PA 4.
  5. The petition omits 2011 PA 9, which was tie-barred to 2011 PA4.

2:02 p.m.

Citizens in the Stand Up for Democracy Coalition say they were notified by the Board of State Canvassers that the group collected 203,238 valid voter signatures needed to place the repeal of Public Act 4 (aka the Emergency Manager Law) on the November 2012 general election ballot.

According to the report, the group exceeded the 161,305 valid signatures needed by more than 40,000.

The Coalition still faces a challenge from a Republican group that claims the petitions should be invalidated because the wrong font size was used.

From a Stand Up for Democracy Coalition press release:

 “This is an important step in the effort to stand up for democracy in Michigan,” said Herb Sanders, director of the coalition. “This report clearly shows that people across the state want the opportunity to vote to repeal the emergency manager dictator law. Now it is up to the State Board of Canvassers to honor the democratic process and let the people vote.”

   On Thursday, April 26, 2012 the members of the State Board of Canvassers will meet in Lansing to decide if the petition will be placed on the November general election ballot. They will also have the opportunity to review a memo from the Secretary of the Board of State Canvassers that dismisses the challenges of a republican group seeking to prevent voters from deciding the fate of PA 4.

Politics
3:44 pm
Tue April 24, 2012

"Fracking" debate comes to Lansing

A gas drilling rig in Appalachia.
User Meridithw Wikimedia Commons

Michigan politicians are beginning to wrestle with an issue that's proven to be contentious in other parts of the country.

"Fracking" or hydraulic fracturing is a controversial method of extracting natural gas by pumping water, sand and chemicals into deep underground wells. Both opponents and advocates of the process have started taking action in the state legislature.

The Associated Press writes that "House Democrats on Wednesday plan to discuss a bill that would regulate [fracking]," while "the House's natural gas subcommittee released a report Tuesday encouraging more natural gas production."

An official from Gov. Rick Snyder's administration says the governor is reviewing both the bill and the report.

Some exploratory drilling has already occurred in Michigan's Lower Peninsula.

Take a look at the video below to see an animated view of the fracking process:

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics
2:02 pm
Tue April 24, 2012

Michigan grad student takes on "Dean of the House," U.S. Rep. Dingell

Daniel Marcin campaigning in Ann Arbor
Marcin's Facebook page

Michigan's Rep. John Dingell,  the longest serving member in the U.S. Congress, is running for his 30th term---his first came during the Eisenhower administration back in 1955. But as WNYC's the Takeaway tells us, he is facing an extra hurdle that he hasn't seen for a decade: A primary challenger.

Daniel Marcin is a Ph.D. student in economics at the University of Michigan and he is currently campaigning to get on the ballot for the state's 12th District, pitting himself against Dingell in the August 7 Democratic primary.

Marcin spoke to the Takeaway, saying he's not overly concerned with taking on such a long-standing incumbent:

"This election for me is not about experience," he said. "This election is about ideas. And John Dingell has failed to deliver on environmental action. He's failed to deliver on same-sex marriage and he's failed to deliver on sound economics."

You can listen to the full interview below:

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Offbeat
3:30 pm
Mon April 23, 2012

Underground pot mine in Michigan? Not as far out as it sounds

A PPS marijuana crop in Canada
Prarie Plant Systems

A Canadian company specializing in plant-based pharmaceuticals wants to turn an old copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula into a large-scale medical marijuana farm.

Paul Egan from the Detroit Free Press reports that Prairie Plant Systems (PPS), along with their stateside subsidiary SubTerra, purchased the White Pine Mine in 2003 and began using it for other types of plant-based research. But the company hopes to start using the facility to produce pot and tap into Michigan's market of 131,000 medical marijuana users.

According to Egan, PPS already operates a marijuana growing facility in Canada and has a lucrative contract to supply medical pot to the Canadian government. But while Michigan voters have approved medical marijuana use, the project is still a long way from becoming a reality.

Egan writes:

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder would all have to sign off, and in the case of the first two agencies, reverse direction on policy. Federal agencies consider marijuana illegal. DEA agents have not cracked down on small operations to supply licensed patients but almost certainly would view SubTerra as a major bust opportunity.

Legal hurdles aside, why use a mine to grow an underground pot crop?

Egan spoke to Brent Zettl, president and CEO of PPS:

Growing marijuana hundreds of feet underground - the same way the company started its Canadian operations in 2001 - provides security, constant temperature, controlled light and humidity, and protects the plants from bugs and diseases, eliminating the need for harmful pesticides and herbicides, Zettl said. He said any medical marijuana sold in Michigan should be subject to the same regular and rigorous testing as is found in Canada.

However, according to Egan, PPS's regulated growing techniques have caused some Canadian users to complain about the quality and taste of the company's product.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics
3:32 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

Wayland City Manager fires police chief after 26-year tenure

After 26 years on the job, Wayland police chief Dan Miller was fired this morning by the city's interim manager, according to a report by John Tunison of the Grand Rapids Press.

Miller believes the decision was political, and wasn't based on the severity of infractions he is alleged to have made.

Read more
Politics
4:16 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

Financing presidential and state races

The Michigan State Capitol.
Jimmy Emerson Flickr

Every Thursday we speak with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

This week it’s all about campaign finance. Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White discusses the money behind presidential and state races.

Read more
Changing Gears
4:38 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

“Where Did Everybody Go?" A Changing Gears audio documentary

Over the past few months the Changing Gears team has been bringing you stories of Midwest Migration---about those who have left the region for other parts of the country and beyond.

Tune into Michigan Radio this Sunday at 9p.m. to hear “Where Did Everybody Go?, " an hour-long Changing Gears documentary that tells the stories of people who left the Midwest, and some who came home.

More info at Changing Gears.

Education
2:54 pm
Tue April 17, 2012

Online petition seeks to reinstate fired Pontiac teacher

screen grab of Harris on Democracy Now

A Pontiac teacher who says she was fired after helping her students organize a fundraiser for the family of Trayvon Martin is receiving support in the form of over 200,000 petition signatures. According to the Detroit Free Press, the online petition calls for Brooke Harris to be reinstated to her post at Pontiac Academy for Excellence and organizers plan to present the signatures during a meeting of the school's board at 5p.m. today.

From the Free Press:

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a nonprofit based in Montgomery, Ala., started the petition.

The district has denied Harris was fired because of the fundraiser, but Superintendent Jacqueline Cassell previously told the Free Press she could not discuss a personnel issue.

According to Harris, the Free Press writes, students in her yearbook class planned to raise money and pledged to wear hoodies to school, a violation of the school's dress code meant to show solidarity with Martin who was wearing one when he was shot and killed in Florida earlier this year.

Harris told the Free Press that when school administrators became aware of the plan, they moved to block it:

Harris said Cassell said no, and when she asked whether students could meet with Cassell to make their case, she was suspended for two days for being insubordinate.

Harris said she came to the school while suspended, so her suspension was extended to two weeks, but she was fired after questioning it.

It remains to be seen if the petition will have any effect on Harris' employment status.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Environment
9:00 am
Tue April 17, 2012

Northern Michigan man clones ancient trees

Clones of the Buckley elm - the first tree that David Milarch cloned.
Peter Payette/Interlochen Public Radio

by Peter Payette for The Environment Report

There’s a new book out today about an unusual conservation project based in northern Michigan.  For most of the last two decades, a man from Copemish has been cloning old trees around the world.  David Milarch believes the genetics of these trees are superior and could be useful in the era of climate change.  The author of the book says he might have a point. 

Back in the year 2000, an elm tree not far from David Milarch’s home was diagnosed with Dutch elm disease.

It was not just any elm.

It was the National Champion American elm at the time. That means it was the largest known elm in the country. Milarch tried to heal the tree with a soil treatment but it died. He did manage to clone the Buckley elm.

Today at the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, there are about a dozen copies of the tree.

"Here’s the Buckley elm, the greatest elm in America.  And it’s living on and it can be utilized. That’s really what it’s all about."

Read more
Science/Medicine
5:12 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Northville student diagnosed with TB, Michigan rate low

Administering a tuberculosis skin test.
CDC wikimedia commons

Health officials have confirmed a case of  tuberculosis at a high school in suburban Detroit.

WXYZ-TV reports that a student at Northville High School was diagnosed with an active case of the disease and local health officials are working to determine the extent of possible exposure.

From WXYZ:

Parents were notified Monday by a letter from Principal Robert E. Watson, “The protocol followed by the Health Department is to identify other individuals who may be at higher risk of exposure to Tuberculosis during the infectious time period… and to provide an opportunity for testing the identified individuals. ” The infectious time period in this case was January 2012 through April 2012.

Active TB, unlike the latent form of the disease, causes symptoms, is transmittable, and can be fatal if untreated.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, TB bacteria are primarily spread through the air from person to person (e.g. through coughing or sneezing and inhaling bacteria) but not through physical contact like shaking hands.

Data from the CDC show Michigan as having a relatively low incidence rate of TB - 184 cases in 2010 (or 1.9 per 100,000 people). That compares to 11,182 cases nationwide (or 3.6 per 100,00o).

U.S. rates, which have declined steadily for the past 20 years, are dwarfed by the roughly 9 million global cases  in 2010 estimated by the World Health Organization.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics
5:08 pm
Thu April 12, 2012

ACLU condemns invasive strip searches at women's prison

Michigan Department of Corrections

 The Michigan American Civil Liberties Union is criticizing Michigan’s only women’s prison for conducting invasive strip searches.

The ACLU says the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility uses invasive body cavity searches after family visits, whether or not they believe a woman is hiding contraband.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled law enforcement officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense before admitting them to jails.

Read more
Offbeat
9:30 am
Thu April 12, 2012

Searching for Bigfoot in the Mitten State

An alleged Bigfoot in the famous Patterson-Gimlin film from 1967
wikimedia commons

In terms of hotspots for giant, bipedal ape-men, Michigan might not come to mind, especially compared to states in the Pacific Northwest. But the mitten state is not without its share of alleged Bigfoot sightings.

According to the Detroit News, some high-profile Bigfoot hunters are paying visit to Michigan with camera crew in tow, hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive cryptid.

From the News:

Producers from the Animal Planet TV program "Finding Bigfoot" have been filming in the Houghton Lake area this week, looking for signs of Sasquatch.

Phil Shaw, a member of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, said there have been more than 130 Bigfoot sightings in almost every county in Michigan.

The episode including the Michigan investigation is set to air sometime this summer, the Detroit News reports.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Auto/Economy
3:00 pm
Tue April 10, 2012

Record-breaking March for fuel-efficient car sales

user BrokenSphere wikimedia commons

The average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the US reached an all-time high last month.

That's according to a recently-released report from the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute.

A U of M press release has more:

Average fuel economy (window-sticker values) of cars, light trucks, minivans and SUVs purchased in March was 24.1 mpg, up from 23.9 in February and 23.6 in January, and now 20 percent (4 mpg) higher than October 2007, the first month of monitoring by UMTRI researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle.

The Detroit News reports that US automakers have also noticed this trend:

General Motors Co. said last week that its 12 vehicles getting 30 mpg or better on the highway had combined U.S. sales of about 100,000 for March — the automaker's highest ever monthly total.

"Three years ago, about 16 percent of the vehicles GM sold achieved at least 30 mpg on the highway. Today, that number is about 40 percent," said GM North America President Mark Reuss.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Environment
9:00 am
Tue April 10, 2012

Hard freeze hurts Michigan cherry crop

Cherry blossoms arrived early this year. To look for damage, researchers cut into the flower parts to look at four fruit buds in each blossom. Each bud is capable of forming a cherry.
Photo courtesy of Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station

by Bob Allen for The Environment Report

A hard freeze has wiped out a big portion of the cherry crop in Northwest Michigan this spring.  The area produces more than half the state’s cherries that end up in desserts, juice and as dried fruit.

An historic early warm-up in March left fruit trees vulnerable to frost once the weather turned cooler again.

Temperatures broke records for the month of March across the Great Lakes region.

Climate researchers say there’s never been anything like it going back more than a hundred years.

“We’re seeing history made before our eyes at least in terms of climatology.”

Jeff Andresen is the state’s climatologist and professor of geography at Michigan State.

“And in some ways if we look at where our vegetation is and how advanced it is, it’s probably a month ahead of where it typically is.”

Andresen is careful to point out that this year’s early warm-up is an extreme weather event.

He says it far outpaces the previous warmest March on record in 1945.

He can’t say it’s a direct result of climate change.

But it fits the predicted long term pattern of change that includes extreme fluctuations.

Read more
Environment
5:21 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

The way the wind blows

screencap of Michigan's current surface winds hint.fm/wind/index.html

Looking for a strong visual argument for the untapped potential of wind power in the Great Lakes? Wondering why it's been rather blustery the last few days?

NPR science correspondent and Radiolab co-host Robert Krulwich might have found just the thing you're looking for (or at least something guaranteed to keep you mesmerized by your internet browser for a while).

Read more
Detroit
3:21 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

Detroiters receive White House honor for fighting youth violence

De Quan O'Neal at the Lincoln Memorial
NSO YIP Facebook page

Two community activists from Detroit have been honored by the White House as "Champions of Change" for their work against youth violence in the city.

According to the White House, Detroit's Frank McGhee and De Quan O'Neal were among 12 community leaders from across the nation recognized for their "work to prevent youth violence within their communities as part of the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention..., a network of communities and federal agencies working together to share information and build local capacity to...keep our kids safe."

WXYZ's Detroit 2020 project congratulated the honorees, describing their work:

McGhee mentors and coaches young leaders to educate their peers about violence in Detroit. He’s the program director for the Detroit-Based Neighborhood Service Organization’s Youth Initiative Project.

O’Neal is a program youth director [with the Youth Initiative Project]. He helped discourage gun violence and gunfire on New Year’s Eve.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Business
12:00 pm
Sun April 8, 2012

Snyder will sign bills authorizing sale of Michigan state fairgrounds on Monday

Bob Vigiletti / Michigan Radio Picture Project

In 2009, Michigan hosted its last state fair after 161 years.

It was the second oldest in the country. But the event was losing too much money. Between 1970 and 1995, the fair lost on average 2 million dollars a year. Attendance was down 39 percent over the final eight years. In 2009, Governor Granholm ended all state financing.

Since then, not much has happened with the Fairgrounds. On Monday, Governor Snyder will sign bills which will authorize the state to sell the property. The 157 acre property is located just south of Woodward Avenue. Any money made from the sale of the Fairgrounds will be added to the state’s general fund.

Film
4:27 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

Michigan teen lowers documentary rating

Kayty Butler on the Ellen DeGeneres Show
screengrab from Ellen DeGeneres

An Ann Arbor-area teen took on the MPAA and won.

Bob Needham from AnnArbor.com writes that earlier this year, high-schooler Katy Butler started an online petition urging the Motion Picture Association of America to change its rating of the forthcoming documentary "Bully" from R to PG-13. Butler gathered over half a million signatures in hopes of making the film accessible to younger viewers, Needham says, and now it appears she has achieved her goal.

Read more
Crime
6:12 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Michigan Supreme Court hears arguments in MSU Free Speech case

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Michigan Supreme Court has heard oral arguments in a case that questions the constitutionality of a Michigan State University ordinance.  

In 2008,  MSU law student Jared Rapp received a parking ticket on campus.  Rapp reportedly yelled at the parking attendant, took his photo and demanded his name. 

The question arises as to whether MSU’s ordinance prohibiting anyone from disrupting a university employee’s official business is too broad, and whether it infringed upon Rapp’s right of free speech. 

Read more
Generation Y
9:30 am
Wed April 4, 2012

Happy at home: Generation Y looks for success on its own terms

Sanford Bledsoe and Anna Foster at the (espresso) bar in Ann Arbor, the cafe they co-own
Jonathan Alexander Facebook

Members of Generation Y---those Americans born in the 1980s and 1990s who are currently in college or cutting their teeth in the working world---have received their share of scrutiny in recent years. But where their parents might be discussed in terms of day-glo paint and ideological revolution, Gen Y-ers tends to garner attention for their inseparable relationship with technology and their bad timing, starting their adult lives in America's worst economic climate since the Great Depression.

Going Nowhere?

Last month, the New York Times ran an op-ed piece co-written by economist Todd Buchholz and his daughter Victoria, a student at Cambridge University. It bore the headline “The Go-Nowhere Generation” and in it the Buchholzs argued that unlike previous generations, Generation Y has "become risk-averse and sedentary," unwilling to leave home in search of "sunnier economic climes."

Read more

Pages