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Stateside
8:32 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Tranparency lacking as Michigan taxpayers bankroll private development

TIF mismanagement can lead to blight.
Credit Flickr.com

 

Tax increment financing – or TIF – is a flexible tool for downtown development authority boards aiming to encourage private investment and increase the taxable value of their municipality.

TIFs enable portions of a city’s regular property tax to be used for economic development, without a vote from taxpayers. There are eight types of authorities in Michigan that can engage in this type of financing.

David Bieri is an assistant professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan.

Bieri explains the good and bad uses of TIFs. In the early 2000s, DDAs from Kalamazoo to Detroit addressed blight through brownfield remitigation. On the other hand, Bieri cites Bloomfield Park, the unfinished mini-city in Bloomfield Hills, as an example of TIFs gone bad: Blight was created rather than mitigated. 

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Stateside
8:20 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Reflecting on the Armenian genocide, 100 years later

Orphan home in Aleppo, Syria in 1920.
Credit User: George Swain of the University of Michigan / facebook

Next April will mark the 100th anniversary of one of the great atrocities of the 20th Century: the genocide of up to a million and half Armenians by the Ottoman Empire.

Scholars have acknowledged this to be one of the first modern genocides. 

The beginning of the genocide is considered to be April 24, 1915, the day 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Istanbul were arrested.

Men were conscripted or killed. Women, children and elderly went on the death march toward deserts in Syria. 

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Stateside
8:16 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Stateside for Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014

Today on Stateside:

  • A Congressional report blistered the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over ignition defects in GM vehicles.
  • We looked at tax increment financing (TIFs): public dollars used with few questions asked.
  • We met the MSU professor leading the quest for a better potato.
  • We discovered how Detroit's techno music scene is winning fans around the world.
  • We asked the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality what Michigan is doing to protect our drinking water against cyanobacteria.
  • Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the genocide of up to a million and half Armenians by the Ottoman Empire. We asked a University of Michigan professor how the actions of 100 years ago are being felt in 2014.

* Listen to the full show above.

Stateside
8:03 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

This MSU professor is leading the quest for a better potato

Dave Douches poses with his potato memorabilia
Credit User: Betsy Agosta / The StateNews

A salute, now, to the potato.

This is National Potato Month. Many of the potatoes that make their way onto America's dinner plates, into French fries or into potato chip bags come from Michigan. 

There's some pretty interesting research and development happening right now, all focused on the honest, humble potato.

We found out more from the man known on the Michigan State campus as "Mr. Potato Prof."

David Douches heads up MSU's Potato Breeding and Genetics Program. He says young people nowadays are driving some of the changes in potato consumption habits.

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Stateside
7:57 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Michigan to monitor drinking water safety, with help from EPA

Credit Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

 

The images of green water in Lake Erie and foul, toxic tap water in Toledo certainly got many of us at least thinking about what's coming out of our taps.

What is Michigan doing to protect our drinking water, the water we get from the Great Lakes system, against cyanobacteria, the toxin that led to a ban on tap water usage in Toledo last month?

Dan Wyant is the director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. He says there needs to be a comprehensive plan to deal with the problems. 

"We all need to work toward improving water qualities throughout not only the Great Lakes, but also rivers and streams," says Wyant.

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Stateside
7:44 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

House report says NHTSA failed to spot GM defect

Credit John F. Martin / Creative Commons

 

A blistering Congressional report came out today on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's handling of a General Motors ignition switch problem.The defect is blamed in 19 deaths. 

David Shepardson is chief of The Detroit News Washington, D.C. bureau. He says the House Energy and Commerce Committee analysis really hauls NHTSA into the "congressional woodshed."

"They had ample information to have discovered this problem in 2007 but, for a number of different failures, didn't do it," says Shepardson.

The report says the NHTSA misunderstood how vehicles worked, lacked accountability, and failed to share information.

* Listen to the interview with David Shepardson above.

Stateside
12:28 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

A Detroit-born filmmaker travels the world to uncover roots of the city's techno music

Main stage of Hart Plaza, Detroit
Credit User: The #technoMeccaMixtape / screengrab detroitsoundproject.com

The power of music to build bridges.

In this case, electronic and techno music is building bridges between Detroit and South Africa.

That's the focus of a documentary film called Electric Roots: The Detroit Sound Project. The short film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

Filmmaker Kristian Hill is based in Los Angeles, but he is from Detroit. Hill says in exploring the underground electronic and techno music scenes in Detroit and places like Tokyo, Russia, and South Africa, he got to meet people from all over the world.

Hill says he found music lovers who have a real interest in Detroit music -- beyond just Motown.

“We’ve met people who tell us that you know, Muslims go to Mecca, but techno lovers go to Detroit,” says Hill.

* Listen to our conversation with Kristian Hill above.

Watch a trailer of the documentary:

There will be a screening of the film on September 27, 2014 at Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit. You can get more information on the screening and the progress of Hill's film on his website.

Stateside
8:14 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Stateside for Monday, Sept. 15, 2014

Today on Stateside:

  • The DIA director reacted to Detroit creditor Syncora's settlement with the city.
  • As Michigan businesses complain they can't find workers with the skills they need, is there another side to this "skills gap?"
  • Do you love the online quest for a sweet deal on airfare or hotel room? You may be wasting your time.
  • According to a new study, more than half of the birds in the U.S. will be forced to find a new place to live because of climate change. We found out what that means for birds in Michigan.
  • Health insurers and healthcare.gov are now gearing up for year two of the Affordable Care Act. We talked to director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation at the University of Michigan about what’s at stake.
  • We found out how the idea for the Aeron chairs sold by the Herman Miller Company of West Michigan came about. 

* Listen to the full show above.

Stateside
8:02 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Michigan bird species threatened by climate change, report says

The common loon is one of the climate-endangered species in Michigan.
Credit User: jackanapes / Flickr

 

A recent report from the National Audubon Society points to troubling times ahead for our bird population.

Climate change could make some huge changes for birds in North America: About half of our 650 species would be driven to smaller spaces or forced to find totally new places to live or become extinct – all of this in just the next 65 years.

Jonathan Lutz is the executive director of the Michigan Audubon Society. He says in Michigan, about 50 species are vulnerable to the changing climate.

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Stateside
7:58 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

A preview of Affordable Care Act marketplace, year 2

Credit healthcare.gov

 

Health insurers and Healthcare.gov are now gearing up for year two of the Affordable Care Act.

Open enrollment begins two months from today – November 15. And this year, there's a new twist: renewals and plan changes.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is the director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation at the University of Michigan. She says consumers have to do their homework to compare different health plans this year.

"Some [rates] are up, and some are down ... Even those who have coverage now, it would be very important for consumers to actually look at the choices again and see what is the best match with the premiums and the networks that are offered," says Udow-Phillips.

* Listen to our conversation with Marianne Udow-Phillips above.

Stateside
7:54 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Love the online quest for a sweet deal on airfare or hotel rooms? You may be wasting your time

A Delta Connection plane.
Credit user Doug / Flickr

    

 

Are you one of those travelers who scours the web, checking for the very best prices on all of the travel sites, big and small?

How much time does it take to find that "best" airfare or hotel room price?

Detroit Free Press travel writer Ellen Creager says if you're just looking for a hotel room or airfare, there really is no point spending hours comparing deals, because the travel sites have all turned into something she calls "inbred goldfish." 

"Let's say Expedia. They own hotels.com, Hotwire, Venere and TravelTicker. Priceline owns Kayak and booking.com. And Sabre Holdings owns Travelocity but they just firmed out their search to Expedia ... they all have ties and links to each other," says Creager.

For those of you who are hunting for travel bargains around the Web, Creager suggests keep looking, just don't spend too much time looking. 

"You can check 100 places, and you are basically going to find the exact same fare," says Creager.

* Listen to the interview with Ellen Creager above.

Stateside
7:49 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

DIA director talks about Detroit bankruptcy battle

Bank of the Oise at Auvers by Van Gogh, owned by the DIA
Credit user: Maia C / Flickr

 

As the Detroit bankruptcy trial moves into its third week, the spotlight has often been trained on the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The discussion over whether the DIA can and should be forced to sell its treasures to help offset Detroit's insolvency has been one of the most hotly debated issues of the bankruptcy.

DIA director Graham Beal recently wrote a letter that was published in the museum's newsletter and then posted on Deadline Detroit under the headline "Museums Should Step Very Carefully 'In Times Of Crisis.'"

Here's an excerpt of the letter:

In the Great Depression, the DIA remained open and staffed, largely thanks to the secret support of Edsel Ford. The city of Detroit arts commissioners could have sold the van Gogh self-portrait, Matisse's The Window, Ruisdael's Jewish Cemetery, or even Breugel's Wedding Dance, but the thought never seems to have crossed anyone's mind.

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Stateside
7:45 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Michigan-made Aeron chair was designed to break away from predictable office style

Credit User: Matt Carey / Flickr

The Aeron Chair: It's the instantly recognizable mesh-backed, ergonomic office chair.

Nearly seven million Aerons have been sold to date by the Herman Miller Company of West Michigan.

But the chair that epitomizes today's office actually began life as something designed for a completely different consumer.

Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf designed the Aeron for Herman Miller. 

Chadwick joined Stateside today. He says that the they believed that what had been done before and what was currently available would not satisfy their approach.

That's why they set out to take a totally different look at how an office chair looks, how it works, and how it responds to the environment it's to be used in.

"To be blunt, a lot of them were boring, because they were predictable," says Chadwick.

* Listen to the full interview with Don Chadwick above.

Stateside
2:30 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Do Michigan employers face a "job skills gap," and, if so, what can be done about it?

Credit User: andjohan / Flickr

Even with the unemployment rate at 7.5% in Michigan, employers say they still can’t find the skilled workers they need to fill available jobs.

But other voices question the skills gap, calling it "overblown", even a "myth" and suggesting that it’s really more the fault of the companies.

Lou Glazer is president and co-founder of Michigan Future. He says companies should take the responsibility making jobs more attractive.

“When you look at the package employers have put together to attract people to the industry, it ain’t so great,” says Glazer.

For cyclical industries like manufacturing and construction, when the employment package is not great, the employers likely get a small pool of entrants.

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Stateside
5:41 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Stateside for Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014

Today on Stateside:

  • State lawmakers return from summer break as a list of groups calling for them to pass LGBT protections is growing.
  • From Lansing to Detroit, in the weeks before the November election, what's at stake in the city's historic bankruptcy?
  • Michigan football coach Brady Hoke is on the hot seat after a big loss to Notre Dame. Should Hoke be worried about job security?
  • Interlochen Public Radio’s Linda Stephan reported on Indian mission churches facing financial pressures.
  • A story of failure from Failure Lab, featuring Kathy Crosby, CEO of Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids.

*Listen to the full show above.

Stateside
5:39 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Grand Rapids businesswoman shares challenges that came with rise to success

Credit Failure:Lab / failure-lab.com

A story of failure from Failure Lab Grand Rapids:

Kathy Crosby is the CEO of Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids. The Grand Rapids Business Journal named her one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan. But, as Crosby shares her story, she tells of pain she experienced in her early childhood in the form of rejection by other children.  

Watch her story here:

To learn more about Failure Lab and hear more stories visit failure-lab.com.

*Listen to Kathy Crosby telling the full story above.

Stateside
5:24 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

U of M football coach Brady Hoke on the hot seat after big loss to Notre Dame

Brady Hoke
Credit User: MGoBlog / Flickr

 

After the University of Michigan's football blowout loss to Notre Dame last Saturday, there's some talk about Michigan head coach Brady Hoke and his job security. 

John U. Bacon is Michigan Radio's sports commentator. He says Michigan hasn't proven to be tough facing road games.

"This team under Hoke is 0-12 on the road against ranked teams. In other word, whenever they play anybody good on the road, they lose, every single time, " says Bacon.

Bacon says Hoke was brought to Michigan with high hopes. Hoke's goal every year is to win Big Ten title, which Michigan failed to achieve during the past three years of his term.

"This year, if it's not make or break for Hoke, it sure is close," says Bacon.

* Listen to our conversation with Bacon above.

Stateside
5:20 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Michigan Dems push news bills on LGBT protections

Credit Guillaume Paumier/Flickr

You can be fired, denied a job or housing in Michigan if you are gay. Michigan's civil rights law, the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, does not include LGBT protections, the same way it does for race, ethnicity, and gender. 

But yesterday, Democrats at the state capitol proposed legislation to add sexual orientation and gender identity to Elliott-Larsen. 

Jonathan Oosting of MLive says whether or not that public debate leads to action remains to be seen.

"There's certainly some belief that it's time to have this debate, although the way things went down this week has sort of raised some questions about how feasible it's going to be to get this through the Legislature," says Oosting.

* Listen to the interview with Jonathan Oosting above.

Stateside
1:30 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Detroit's bankruptcy trial: What happened this week and what comes next

Credit Ian Freimuth / Flickr

We saw big news out of Detroit this week: a deal over a southeast regional water authority and a tentative deal between the city and one of its largest creditors.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are back to the state capitol after their summer recess. And the two big statewide races for governor and the open U.S. Senate seat in Michigan are heating up.

Today on Stateside, we take a step back and see how these events fit together and impact one another.

Daniel Howes is a columnist with Detroit News. He says the good news in Detroit this week shows that leadership matters.

"What you're seeing here is a remarkable alignment of both political and business leadership across the state behind this Detroit bankruptcy effort," says Howes. 

Rick Pluta is the capitol bureau chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network and co-host of It's Just Politics. He says in the next few weeks, he's watching for what Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr puts in place in his final days to set the city up for what comes next. 

"A high level of control will have to be restored to the city," says Pluta.

* Listen to our conversation with Daniel Howes and Rick Pluta on Stateside today at 3 pm. We'll post the audio around 4:30 pm.

Stateside
7:05 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Stateside for Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014

Today on Stateside:

  • The sound of Michigan-made music jumped right across the Atlantic to influence many artists and fans in Great Britain. We talked to a BBC host on how Brits are paying tribute to Michigan music.
  • An 11th-hour deal with Detroit satisfied one of the city's last two creditors.
  • Enterovirus 68 is making kids dangerously sick around the nation. Has it come to Michigan?
  • Is Canada a nation of science geeks? We looked into a new report about that.
  • When a proposed Detroit-Windsor bridge jeopardizes a ferry business, its owner decided to speak up backing the new plan.

*Listen to the full show above.

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