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Election 2012
7:41 am
Wed July 20, 2011

Hoekstra decides to run for Senate

Former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra
Republican Conference Flickr

Update 7/20/11 7:32 a.m.:

A press release has been sent out this morning announcing that former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra will file paperwork to establish a campaign for the U.S. Senate. After announcing earlier this year that he wouldn't run, Hoekstra has decided to make a bid for Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow's seat in the 2012 election. An election website has already been set up for Hoekstra's campaign.

Hoekstra released the following statement:

"Over the last couple of years, the spending in Washington has spun out of control.  Michigan needs a U.S. Senator who will cut spending without raising taxes and help create jobs.  Replacing Debbie Stabenow means we'll be one step closer to the economic recovery our state's working families deserve.

After a good deal of reflection, I've decided that I cannot sit on the sidelines while the President and U.S. Senate mortgage our children and grandchildren's future.  For these reasons, I have made the decision to file the appropriate paperwork to build an organization and begin a campaign for the U.S. Senate.  An official campaign announcement will be forthcoming in the months ahead."

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Business
3:26 pm
Tue July 19, 2011

Michigan high-tech start-ups get funding

Andrew Magill Flickr

Michigan Smartzones and Ann Arbor SPARK helped eight high-tech start-up companies get money to help accelerate their businesses. The Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund program matched 1-point-8-million-dollars in outside investments with hopes that the companies create jobs and stimulate the economy. They have invested more than 13-point-4-million-dollars in 62 Michigan companies to date.

Skipp Simms manages the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund at SPARK. He says the program has made great use of state capital.

"It’s 21st century jobs fund money and we think that it certainly is one of the programs that is already delivering some pretty significant returns to the state on this economic development type investment," Simms said.

The Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund is in its third year.

The eight companies getting funding are:

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Economy
1:28 pm
Tue July 19, 2011

Unemployment rate makes Michigan retailers nervous

User: Justin.Beck Flickr

The continued high unemployment rate is making Michigan retailers nervous about sales this summer. Rising commodity prices for things like cotton and petroleum products are costing retailers more. Tom Scott is with the Michigan Retailers Association. He says some retailers are slashing prices for their shoppers, but generally retailers are optimistic despite the uncertainties.

Our unemployment rate seems to be stuck. We’re not seeing much improvement there, so that’s certainly a big concern. One thing that is helping is the recent drop in gas prices.

Scott recognizes gas prices could spike at any time.  He says if shopping continues to move in a positive momentum, retailers should be fine.

-Traci Currie - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics
4:53 pm
Mon July 18, 2011

ACLU sues Genesee County Parks

Steven Depolo Flickr

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued Genesee County Parks over petitioning restrictions. A woman was kicked out of Linden County Park last month while gathering signatures for the Committee to Recall Governor Snyder. When she asked why, the parks said their new policy does not allow petitioning in the park without a permit. Petitioners with permits were given an isolated 9-square-foot spot in the 135-acre park.

Michael Steinberg is with the ACLU in Michigan. He says barring petitioning except for a tiny spot in a park is especially shocking under the First Amendment.

"This problem of restricting petitioners is not isolated to Genesee County. We’ve been getting calls from people all across the state," Steinberg said.

Steinberg says he hopes the lawsuit will be an example for all Michigan officials.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Weather
12:40 pm
Mon July 18, 2011

Heat wave may cause power outages

Marlana Shipley Flickr

The extremely hot weather has caused some electrical outages in metro Detroit. High temperatures and storms last month contributed to power outages across the state. The National Weather Service expects southern Michigan’s heat wave to continue through the weekend.

Scott Simon is with Detroit Edison. He says the electric grid is in good shape and should be able to handle the increased need for power.

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Arts/Culture
12:24 pm
Mon July 18, 2011

Motown film remake brings jobs to Michigan

Judy van der Velden Flickr

A remake of the seventies Motown-inspired movie Sparkle will be filmed in metro Detroit and employ 266 people. The state approved a three-million-dollar film incentive for the seven-million-dollar project. Sparkle tells the story of three  sisters’ journey to musical fame during the height of the Motown era in Detroit.

Michelle Begnoche is with the Michigan Film Office. She says the film will stimulate Michigan’s economy.

"This is a project that’s focused really a lot on hiring Michigan workers for its crew so we will see the economic benefit from that – hiring our workforce – and then obviously it’s something that we can use on the backend after it comes out to kind of help promote tourism in the Detroit area," Begnoche said.

Producers hope to release Sparkle in 2014.

- Amelia Carpenter - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Economy
12:16 pm
Mon July 18, 2011

Michigan's Best campaign expands

Scott Schopieray Flickr

Some grocery store shelves are being filled with more Michigan-made products. Grand Rapids based Spartan Stores recently expanded its Michigan’s Best program by stocking more Michigan products in more stores. Spartan Stores started the Michigan’s Best campaign in 2009 to stimulate local businesses and farms. Alan Hartline is an executive at Spartan Stores. He says the campaign is great for Michigan.

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Politics
5:32 pm
Fri July 15, 2011

Longtime Michigan Congressman Dale Kildee retiring

Rep. Dale Kildee, (D) MI
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

UPDATE:

A number of Michigan politicians are responding to the news of Rep. Dale Kildee's retirement.

Here's the response from Mayor Dayne Walling of Flint:

"Congressman Kildee is an exemplary public servant with a distinguished record of accomplishments that is unmatched in Flint's history."

"Congressman Kildee has been a leader in education, human rights, and social justice. Our community has benefitted time and time again from his wisdom, dedication and hard work."

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Arts/Culture
4:00 pm
Fri July 15, 2011

A kind of intimacy, a kind of edge: An interview with Christopher T. Leland

Christopher T. Leland

Christopher T. Leland is a committed writer.

The author of nine books, Dr. Leland's most recent book includes stories that he began working on when he was 19 years old.

The story collection, Love/Imperfect, was released in April and is part of Wayne State University Press's "Made in Michigan Writers" series.

I spoke with Dr. Leland via phone. We talked about the centrifugal force of cities, the "edge" of small towns, and the seemingly inescapable Michigan stories of Ernest Hemingway.

Brian Short: Welcome Christopher T. Leland to Michigan on the Page. I wanted to start with something I noticed in reading Love/Imperfect, your most recent book. Many of the stories in Love/Imperfect deal with people who either leave or don’t leave the small towns they grew up in. And I was wondering if you grew up in a small town? Did you feel that same kind of gravity pulling at you, trying to keep you there?

Christopher T. Leland: Well, yes and no. I actually grew up in middle-sized cities. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, and then in Charlotte, North Carolina, and then in Huntington Beach, California, which is a suburb of LA.

But I think, just as in small town America, there is this center which is centrifugally pulling you toward it. And when I was a kid, actually, we would visit these places. We would go to New York and go to Chicago. But the city was always the place you ultimately wanted to end up.

I mean it was always, it was always what I aspired to. I mean, I’ve lived in New York, I’ve lived in Buenos Aires, I’ve lived in Madrid, I’ve lived in LA, I’ve lived in San Diego (laughs). I’ve lived in Detroit. I appreciate the attractions of the 'burbs and the attractions, actually of small towns. There’s a kind of intimacy and a kind of comfort and, also (laughs), frankly, a kind of edge that comes with these kinds of communities.

At the same time, I mean, what you love about cities is that you wake up one morning and go, I’m really bored with this, and so you can go, walk or drive or take the subway or the tram or whatever, three miles away and be in a different world.

BS: Do you think it’s easier to write in cities?

CTL: Hmm. Maybe not. Because it’s too easy to get away (laughs). As opposed to being trapped where you kind of go, okay, well, if I’m going to escape this then I have to write about it because I can’t just go to southwest (Detroit). I can go to southwest (Detroit) and speak Spanish and eat Mexican or Salvadorian or Peruvian food and feel like I’m away from the Detroit that I know. Whereas, if I’m in Charlevoix, I can’t do that.

BS: I was wondering, with Love/Imperfect, a number of the stories involve war. But the stories generally stick to telling what happened to people either before or after when the men went. Do you think of this book as at least partly a book about war?

CTL: I think, you know, sadly enough, I think for Americans, somehow, whether you’re a soldier or not, certainly throughout the twentieth century and certainly during the last half of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, our lives have been so over determined  by war. I can’t think of my adolescence and my college years without thinking of the Vietnam War. I mean, it was a constant presence.

BS: When you think of Detroit or Michigan books, what pops into your mind?

CTL: Inevitably, you go back to (Ernest Hemingway’s) “Up in Michigan.” Everybody has to. I mean, I read that as an undergraduate. And I think my favorite story is the one called “The Light of the World” in which nothing happens.

It’s the one that takes place in the railroad station and they argue about Jack Ketchum and Jack Johnson. They argue about boxing matches and all this as they’re all waiting for a train. And it strikes me in that book as the most complex and ambiguous or ambivalent story in the entire collection. Because the only person who ultimately emerges as honest and admirable is the character who everyone dismisses.

It’s just a great story and I mean it shows you because, poor Hemingway, he gets either lionized or bashed. And, I mean, he’s a wonderful writer. He’s better at stories than he is at novels, as everybody says, but a terrific writer and a terrific influence.

BS: Christopher T. Leland is a professor of English at Wayne State University. He is the author of nine books, the most recent of which is Love/Imperfect. Chris, thank you so much for talking with me today.

CTL: Okay! And one more thing I wanted to make sure I got in. 

BS: Go ahead.

CTL: I’ve taught at Wayne (State University) now for 21 years. I can’t imagine — I think this is true — I can’t imagine a better gig. For anybody out there who is sort of developing ambitions in this direction. If you’re going to teach somewhere, teach at a large urban university where you get everybody. Yellow brown and black and white (laughs). The whole nine yards.

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Auto/Economy
3:00 pm
Fri July 15, 2011

Delta discontinues service to five Michigan cities

J. Miguel Rodriguez Flickr

Delta Airlines is discontinuing service to five airports in Michigan, including Alpena, Iron Mountain, Escanaba, Pellston and Sault Ste. Marie, according to the Detroit News:

"Delta Air Lines said today it plans to discontinue flight service in 24 underperforming markets around the country, including at five airports in Michigan."

"'While Delta would prefer to continue serving these communities, the new reality of mounting cost pressures faced by our industry means we can no longer afford to provide this service,' Delta said in a statement."

"Delta, which said it also plans to retire its Saab fleet of aircraft and halt $14 million in annual losses, said it would notify the Department of Transportation of its plans, which would affect Essential Air Service markets."

"The EAS program ensures small communities have access to passenger air service and includes subsidies by the government to airlines."

-Brian Short, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Offbeat
2:00 pm
Fri July 15, 2011

Oak Park drops gardening charges against local woman

Charges against an Oak Park woman relating to an illegal veggie garden have been dropped
Steve Cornelius Flickr

Charges relating to an illegal vegetable garden have been dropped against an Oak Park woman, according to the Baltimore Sun:

"Charges against an Oak Park, Mich., woman, who faced 93 days in jail for having a vegetable garden in her front yard, have apparently been dropped."

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Arts/Culture
9:00 am
Fri July 15, 2011

Revitalizing Detroit with public art (with slideshow)

A group of people gather outside Chazz Miller's art studio in Old Redford.
Emily Fox Michigan Radio

Artists in Seattle and Philadelphia have been painting large murals on abandoned buildings in an effort to revitalize neighborhoods. Philadelphia for example, has around 2,000 murals to help brighten the city.

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Legal
4:35 pm
Thu July 14, 2011

ACLU sues CIA for suspected files on University of Michigan professor

University of Michigan professor Juan Cole
New America Foundation Flickr

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency on behalf of a University of Michigan Professor. Juan Cole is a critic of the Bush administration and Iraq War. A former CIA official claims the Bush administration asked him to dig up some dirt on Cole in 2005 and 2006 to discredit his analysis of the government.

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Investigative
3:51 pm
Thu July 14, 2011

Five arrested for Flint arsons

User:benwatts Flickr

Police in Flint have arrested five people for a string of arsons that has plagued the city. Flint residents and law enforcement have been working together to catch them.  David Leyton is the Genesee County Prosecutor who charged the five offenders.       

"The people are fed up, the people don’t want to live in fear, they don’t want their homes burnt down, they don’t want to have a problem where they live, and so they’re stepping up now and that’s going to make all the difference in the world."

Politics
10:39 am
Thu July 14, 2011

Flint considers reopening city jail

Flint is talking to state officials about reopening the city jail. The jail would be a 72-hour lock-up facility that holds roughly 150 offenders. Dayne Walling is mayor of Flint.  

"The city jail is an essential tool for our officers. There has to be an ability to make arrests and put offenders behind bars when they break our community’s laws."

In May, Flint voters said no to a property tax increase to keep the city jail open. Walling says the short term lock-up facility would most likely be paid for through the city’s general fund.

Rememberance
4:51 pm
Wed July 13, 2011

Services for Betty Ford to be held tonight and tomorrow

Betty and Gerald Ford
ABC News

The body of former first lady Betty Ford is being moved to Michigan for a service, according to the Associated Press.

From the AP:

The body of Betty Ford was placed on an Air Force jet for a final trip to Michigan, where the beloved
former first lady is to be laid to rest next to her late husband, President Gerald R. Ford.

Ford's mahogany casket, covered in flowers, was placed aboard the jet often used by Vice President Joe Biden shortly after 10a.m.

Wednesday for the four-hour flight to Grand Rapids, Mich.

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Education
3:52 pm
Wed July 13, 2011

Universities work toward effective social media strategies

ahans Flickr

Many colleges and universities are still trying to develop their social media strategy. A study by Noel-Levitz Higher Education Consultants shows one in four potential students drops a school from their prospective list after a bad experience on the university’s website.

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Politics
3:16 pm
Wed July 13, 2011

Michigan Senate passes welfare limit, raises wage cap

The Capitol Building in Lansing

Here's some additional material on the welfare limit bill passed by the Michigan Senate today from Rick Pluta.

UPDATE:

The Michigan Senate split along party lines to approve a four-year lifetime limit on welfare benefits.

 The House is expected to concur with the Senate version, and Governor Rick Snyder will almost certainly sign it because the budget relies on more than 60 million dollars in savings from the benefits cap.

It also means 12,600 families will lose benefits come October first.

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Education
11:20 am
Wed July 13, 2011

Growing concerns with increasing lecturers and decreasing tenured and tenure track faculty

Lorien Foote, associate professor of history at UCA
User: ucentralarkansas Flickr

The University of Michigan-Flint is one of many American campuses that has hired more lecturers than tenure track faculty in the past few years. According to AAUP research, nationally the number of non-tenure track faculty increased by more than 200 percent on college campuses while tenured faculty increased 30 percent and tenure track faculty increased 7 percent.

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Environment
2:29 pm
Mon July 11, 2011

Number of bald eagles in Michigan rising

A bald eagle spotted near Horseshoe Lake recently
J Scot Page

The number of bald eagles in Michigan has risen to 700 eagle pairs, up 70 from last year, according to the Associated Press.

Here's more from the AP article (care of the Chicago Tribune):

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