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Economy
1:21 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Creating a master plan for Ecorse

Ecorse has received $40,000 in private grants to help the city develop a master plan for its future. The city is under state control because of its deficit. Partners like the Michigan Municipal League, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, and C.S. Mott Foundation are investing in the project called Envision Ecorse.

Joyce Parker is the emergency manager for Ecorse.  

"Part of what we would like to do is, as we move forward towards eliminating the deficit and getting the city stabilized, to work with elected officials and the community to sustain that success."

Parker says some of the money will help develop a plan for the city’s greenways. The planning project could serve as a model for other cities under emergency managers.

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Education
5:03 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

New federal mandate requires online aid estimators for colleges

A new federal mandate could make it easier for families to budget for college. Net price calculators will be required by all colleges and universities starting October 29th. At a minimum, net costs are based on a student’s income, how big their family is and their dependency status.

Keith Williams works in the financial aid office at Michigan State University. He says MSU’s net price calculator has been around for several years.

"It just allows a student to make a real, realistic comparison as to what the net price will be at one school versus another school," Williams said.

Margaret Rodriguez works in the financial aid office at the University of Michigan. She says the mandate is a good thing.

"The more information that we can make available to families about the availability of financial aid, the better it is," she said.

Schools can use their own system or the generic calculator provided by the federal government.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

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Education
4:53 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

CMU start date questionable

cmich.edu Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University classes may not start as planned on August 22nd. The faculty and administration have been fighting tooth and nail in contract talks since April. The two sides have not met since last month. Union members are expected to talk about informational picketing or a strike in a meeting 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Jeffrey Weinstock is a professor at CMU. He says he feels as if the faculty is being strong-armed by the administration.

"We have never not had an extension of the current contract during bargaining and we’ve never struck and nobody really wants to but … I get the sense we’re really being backed into a corner and being dared," Weinstock said.

The administration released a statement today welcoming students back for the start of school. The statement says students are moving in and freshmen are attending orientation activities to prepare for next week.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Education
2:52 pm
Fri August 12, 2011

Michigan lawmakers address parental involvement, education

Ben Rollman Flickr

Michigan lawmakers want legislation in place to improve parental involvement in schools. The lack of involvement is seen as one cause of Michigan’s low education scores.

Representative Bob Genetski of Saugatuck is a Republican. He says welfare reform is necessary for education reform.

“I believe much more in workfare than in welfare,” Genetski said. “I think that we need to instill in our kids that nothing comes free and that you earn everything you get.”

Representative Tim Melton of Auburn Hills is a Democrat. He says Child Protective Services should be involved if younger children don’t come to school every day.

“These kids are going to end up in the system either way,” Melton said. “If they’re not showing up at school, that’s an early warning sign of child neglect.”

Melton says Child Protective Services has said they don’t have the resources to take this project on.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Environment
2:37 pm
Fri August 12, 2011

Lake Michigan receives 'C' grade on new report card

Kevin Dooley Flickr

Lake Michigan gets an overall ‘C’ grade on a new report card from the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. Beach water quality and lake water levels got ‘D’ grades, scoring lowest on the report card. Superfund cleanup efforts got a ‘B’ and the fight against invasive species like Asian carp got a ‘C.’

Matt Doss is with the Ann Arbor-based Great Lakes Commission. He says the poor grades will help the state.

“It’s going to help hold us all accountable for improving these grades moving forward,” he said. “We can do better and we need to do better.”

The Great Lakes Commission works to improve the health of all five Great Lakes.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Education
5:21 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Former students sue Cooley Law School for misrepresentation

Michael Tam Flickr

The legal battle between Lansing-based law and some of its former students has deepened. Cooley Law School has been sued by four of its former students for claiming false job placement statistics. They say Cooley is misrepresenting data to improve the school’s image and get more students. Cooley sued the law firm representing the students last month for defamation. Kurzon Strauss law firm in New York had several online advertisements looking for information about Cooley and other law schools misrepresenting job placement numbers.

Jesse Strauss is a lawyer at Kurzon Strauss. He says their posts requesting information about Cooley were not defamatory.

“We regard the Thomas Cooley suit as a pure intimidation tactic – to sort of make us go away and stuff our investigation,” he said. “The whole suit is about our investigation. The postings that they point out were made when this firm was seriously contemplating litigation against them. We believe they are well aware of that.”

James Thelen is an associate dean at Cooley. He says in an email that the students’ allegations are “completely baseless.”

“We will vigorously defend this lawsuit and continue to pursue the defamation and other legal claims we filed against the Kurzon Strauss firm last month," Thelen said.

A similar lawsuit has been filed against New York Law School by three former students with Kurzon Strauss.

- Amelia Carpenter – Michigan Radio Newsroom

Economy
4:36 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

13,000 Michigan families to lose cash assistance

Andrew Magill Flickr

About 13-thousand Michigan families will stop getting money from the state on October 1st. That’s when the families will reach their five-year federal lifetime limit for cash assistance. The cash assistance program is designed to support low-income families with pregnant women or children until they find jobs.

Sheryl Thompson is with the Department of Human Services. She says people with no income who have children will no longer be able to extend the limit for cash assistance.

"This was never meant to be a long-term solution," she said. "It was always supposed to be a short-term solution as a safety net."

Thompson says Michigan will save about 77-million-dollars this year. Other services including job placement and food assistance are available for people who qualify.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Science
3:31 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Comcast announces Internet service for low-income families

laptop
User: whitakerc1985 flickr

Comcast has announced a new national program that provides discounted Internet service for low-income families. Families who live in a Comcast service area and have not been customers with the company for at least 90 days can get the service for $10 per month.

Mary Beth Halprin is with Comcast Michigan.    

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Education
11:41 am
Wed August 10, 2011

CMU contract talks may delay school year

Central Michigan University

Classes at Central Michigan University may be delayed because of contract disputes between the faculty union and administration. Without a contract, faculty may not show for class August 22. The two groups are at a standstill on a number of issues including salary increases, health care or who is allowed to be a union member.

Tim Connors is the former president of the faculty union at the university. He says the union is ready to get back to the table.

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Economy
1:09 pm
Tue August 9, 2011

General Electric hopes to hire 1,100 technology workers by 2013

User: ismh flickr

General Electric hopes to bring 1,100 jobs to a Michigan technology center by 2013. The 2 year old center is located outside of Detroit.  GE is developing new software and other technology.

Deia Campanelli is with GE’s Advanced Manufacturing and Software Technology Center.  

"Michigan has an exceptional number of talented experienced professionals, and the state has some strong advanced manufacturing capabilities and information technologists that are really just on the forefront of where industry is headed. So it makes putting jobs in Michigan a really easy decision."

Campanelli says the center has hired 660 workers to date. 90% of those hires are from Michigan.

-Traci Currie, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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Local
12:53 pm
Tue August 9, 2011

Focus: HOPE co-founder Eleanor Josaitis dies

Focus: HOPE

Focus: HOPE’s co-founder Eleanor Josaitis died of cancer Tuesday morning. Focus: HOPE provides vocational training and food assistance. Josaitis and her partner Reverend William Cunningham founded the social services organization in the aftermath of the Detroit riots. Cunningham died in 1997.

Tim Duperron is the chief operating officer at Focus: HOPE who worked with Josaitis for 13 years. He says she had strong ties and loyalty with many people.

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Environment
10:08 am
Tue August 9, 2011

MSU researchers testing beef tracking from pasture to plate

Beef from the cattle on this 350 acre farm on MSU's campus will be served in the cafeterias at MSU in the fall.
Photo by Emily Fox

Local food is the hottest thing on menus this year. That’s according to a survey by the National Restaurant Association. Michigan State University researchers are trying to give consumers more information about locally grown food.

Some say local is the new green. Here's how two characters in the show Portandia portray the local food movement in America:

Waitress: “My name is Dana, I’ll be taking care of you today if you have any questions about the menu, please let me know.”

Woman: “I guess I do have a question about the chicken. If you could just tell us a little more about it.”

Waitress: “Uh, the chicken is a heritage breed, woodland raised chicken that’s been fed a diet of sheep’s milk, soy and hazelnuts. . .”

Man: “This is local?”

Waitress: “Yes. Absolutely.”

Man: “I’m going to ask you one more time. And it’s local?”

Waitress: “It is.”

Woman: “Is that USDA organic, Oregon organic or Portland organic?”

Waitress: “It’s just all across the board. Organic.”

FOX: Okay, so not every restaurant is like the one featured in this sitcom. But researchers at Michigan State University say people do want more information about their food. They're starting a pilot program to do just that with local beef.

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Money
5:27 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

30,000 college students cut from Michigan food stamps program

daisybush Flickr

Since April, about 30,000 college students were dropped from Michigan’s food assistance program. The Department of Human Services’ new eligibility requirements knocked off more than expected.

Brian Rooney is with DHS. He says Michigan’s rules did not align with the rest of the country.

"If you were going to college then we would count that as an employment-in-training program and you didn’t have to be working part-time, you didn’t have to be a single parent, you could be a single, average college-aged student going to school full-time and qualify for food assistance," Rooney said.

Sydney Watts is a full-time student at Central Michigan University. She says she and her roommates are concerned about losing their benefits.

"It’s hard. It’s very, very hard. I will occasionally eat out with friends and stuff, but other than that it’s Ramen noodles or just crap food because we can’t afford anything. So when all my roommates move back and everything, I don’t know what we’ll do," Watts said.

Rooney says one in five Michiganders is receiving food assistance. He says more people will be cut in October when qualifications are asset-based rather than income-based.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Economy
4:07 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

Consumers Energy seeking rate hike

Consumers Energy customers may see their monthly electric bills increase by the end of the year.  The Jackson-based utility wants to increase the average customer’s bill by more than seven dollars a month.  Jeff Holyfield  is a Consumers Energy spokesman. 

“The increase we have requested in this rate case primarily reflects the major investments…nearly a billion dollars that  Consumers Energy is making to maintain and improve service to its 1.8 million electric customers and to improve the environment.”   

Economy
1:38 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

President Obama will make a statement on the downgrading of US credit

user: Beverly & Pack flicker.com

The White House has announced President Obama will make a statement shortly. We expect the president to address the downgrading of US credit. Click the "listen live" button above, to stream special coverage from NPR. 

Arts/Culture
10:29 am
Mon August 8, 2011

Looking back at the 30th Annual Flint Jazz Festival

Sabrina LaMarr, saxophonist
photo by Traci Currie Michigan Radio

People came out in both rainy and sunny weather to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Flint Jazz Festival this past weekend. The celebration began Thursday evening with the Jazz Walk, a new effort to promote and raise money for the event.

Sabrina LaMarr is a saxophonist from Flint. She has been playing at the jazz festival for years.  She performed Saturday afternoon.

"It rained and we had so many people. And they stayed. And everyone was wise. They had their own umbrella. So that’s a good thing too. They enjoyed it."

World renowned artists like Regina Belle and the After 5 Jazz Ensemble performed at the festival, as well as well-known Flint artists like Bruce Bradley and Tapology Dancers.

The Tito Puente, Jr. Orchestra closed out the festival Sunday evening. The group was able to play a few selections but stopped the performance early due to rain.

-Traci Currie - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics
2:54 pm
Fri August 5, 2011

ACLU of Michigan takes cases of people who cannot pay fines

Joe Gratz Flickr

The ACLU of Michigan is fighting for people they say were jailed unfairly because they can't pay their fines.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

Kyle Dewitt says the last thing he expected when he went fishing in Ionia County in May was to wind up in jail.

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Arts/Culture
11:30 am
Fri August 5, 2011

This is where I belong: A conversation with Lara Zielin

Michigan author Lara Zielin is taking over the world.

She and three other women writers (and some special guests) are kicking off their Girls Taking Over the World Tour tonight at Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor.

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Local
12:30 am
Fri August 5, 2011

Muslim group further from building new school

Community members listened to a line of people share their opinions on the rezoning of property in Pittsfield Township Thursday night.
Amelia Carpenter Michigan Radio Newsroom

An Islamic group is no closer to building a new school in Pittsfield Township after a long and controversial meeting last night. The Michigan Islamic Academy owns a residential property in the township and wants it rezoned. The township turned the Academy down after hearing from about 50 people on both sides of the issue.

Stu Collins lives close to the Academy’s property. He says he was pleased with the outcome.

“I welcome them somewhere else just not at that site. I think most people who were opposed to it can concur with what I’ve just said here,” Collins said.

Tarek Nahlawi is with the Academy. He says they are going to keep fighting.

"We are disappointed," he said. "I wouldn't expect this. We came into this with full hope that they would look at things in an objective way - not in a subjective way."

The Academy has said the Justice Department will get involved if the property is not rezoned. The board of trustees for the township still has to vote on the issue.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Arts/Culture
11:00 am
Thu August 4, 2011

Flint Jazz Festival this weekend

Jazz Yellow 2 - jazz poster
user: echoaa23 flickr

The 2011 Flint Jazz Festival will celebrate its 30th anniversary at Riverbank Park this weekend.

The event will begin with a Jazz Walk from 6 -11 p.m. Thursday.

Greg Fiedler is with the Greater Flint Arts Council.

"We created something entirely new called Jazz Walk, and the Jazz Walk is fashioned sort of as our famous Flint Art Walk that we do every month. Only the difference is that Jazz Walk is going to be in the pubs downtown and we’re in six of the local pubs."

Fiedler also says every year the festival celebrates the jazz drummer and founder of the festival, Joe Freyre. This year his nephew -- who has the same name -- will headline with Freyre’s former band, The People's Jazz Band.

The festival is charging admission for the first time. Fielder explains with corporate sponsorships decreasing, it is important for the community to begin investing in its major annual events.   

Admission is $2 per day or $5 for a three-day pass.

The festival runs through Sunday.

Traci Currie, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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