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Stateside
5:53 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

A closer look at Aramark and the troubles with privatization in prisons

Credit Kevin Rosseel / morguefile

Sex with inmates - maggots in the food - smuggling drugs to inmates - undercooked or spoiled food.

When is enough "enough" with Aramark, the food service company hired seven months ago to feed inmates in Michigan prisons?

The privatization was supposed to save the state more than $12 million a year. But it's been a Pandora's box of troubles for state prison officials ever since Aramark took over last December.

Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau joined us today. He has reported on all the problems associated with the Aramark contract. Egan said that so far, things are not getting any better.

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Stateside
5:47 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Michigan fish hatcheries, then and now

A state hatchery in Grayling, MI
Credit Don...The UpNorth Memor / flickr

In early July, state officials approved a significant expansion of a northern Michigan commercial fish hatchery’s operations after requiring additional measures to protect the cherished Au Sable River. It got us wondering: how important are fish hatcheries in the Great Lakes State and what is their role?

Gary Whelan joined us today. He is with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources where he's a Research Program Manager.

Whelan said the first hatcheries began in the early 1870’s. Even back then, fishery resources were in decline. The habitat loss was frightening. Fish were difficult to find, and commercial fishermen weren’t doing very well. One of the responses was to build fish hatcheries.

Today, there are six state hatcheries and three federal hatcheries in Michigan.

Whelan pointed out that fish hatcheries can help bring the lakes into balance.

“Using salmons in water where we have way too many prey species can make it into a balanced system that functions properly, ” Whelan said.

* Listen to our conversation with Whelan above.

Politics and Culture
5:43 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Stateside for Thursday, July 17, 2014

Today on Stateside:

  • The private company that provides food to Michigan prisons is in trouble again. Sex with inmates. Maggots in the food. Smuggling drugs to inmates.... When is enough "enough" with Aramark, the food service company hired seven months ago to feed Michigan's inmates?
  • The U.S. Senate dug deeper into GM's deadly recalls, demanding the automaker fire its chief lawyer and open its compensation plan to more potential victims.
  • Tomorrow afternoon at 4:06 is the one-year anniversary of the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in American history. Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes talked with us about how this first year of bankruptcy has gone.
  • There's some encouraging news about home foreclosures in Michigan, but it's not all rosy. That's according to a midyear-2014 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report released today.
  • The news that state officials recently approved an expansion of a northern Michigan commercial fish hatchery got us wondering: how important are fish hatcheries in the Great Lakes state?

* Listen to full show above.

Stateside
1:07 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Detroit's bankruptcy, one year later

Credit JSFauxtaugraphy/Flickr

Tomorrow afternoon at 4:06 is the one-year anniversary of the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history.

Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes has been talking with top business leaders in Detroit for a "temperature check" on how this first year has gone.

He said that the kind of leadership and coalescence that happened in the past year was something he’s never seen before in this community.

Read more
Stateside
5:36 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

New plans for Tiger Stadium site are underway

Tiger Stadium at Michigan and Trumbell
Credit Wikimedia Commons

It's been 15 years since the Detroit Tigers played their final game at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.

The old Tiger Stadium was torn down in 2009. Since then, no one's been able to agree on what to do with the 10-acre site until now.

The field will remain for youth sports, including high school and college baseball.  Along Cochrane Avenue, a new headquarters will be built for the Detroit Police Athletic League, who will maintain the playing field. The headquarters would extend from the street to roughly the old third base line and could cost almost $10 million.

Detroit Free Press business writer John Gallagher said this plan represents a merger of two conflicting visions – preserving the field for baseball - and developing it for new businesses and jobs.

“I think everybody gets a little something out of this,” Gallagher said.

*Listen to full interview above. 

Stateside
5:33 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Mitch Albom's "Ernie" is running for the fourth summer in Detroit

Peter Carey (left) as 'Ernie' and T.J. Corbett (right) as 'the Boy'
Credit David Lou Reed

Mitch Albom’s play “Ernie” is now running its fourth summer at the City Theatre in Detroit.

Peter Carey was the understudy for Will Young for two years and took the stage in 2011 as Ernie Harwell, the Detroit Tigers sportscaster.

This is Carey’s first time performing as Ernie in the play.

The only other person on stage with him is T.J. Corbett, playing a young fan. Both actors joined Stateside today to talk about their experience telling the story of Ernie’s final bow at Comerica Park in 2009.

“It means a lot to a lot of people,” Corbett said. “They just keep coming back, sometimes more than once in a season.”

“They love the feeling, the energy that Ernie is and was,” Carey said.

Carey worked with Ernie in TV, radio, and film, including a Disney movie called “Tiger Town.”

They did commercials and live events together and hosted the Grosse Pointe Action Auction. A few months before Ernie passed, they hosted a live radio show in Ann Arbor at Zingerman’s Roadhouse.

“When you were with Ernie, you were his best friend. You were the most important person in that room because he made you feel that way, and you got his full attention,” Carey said.

Ernie Harwell died at the age of 92 in the spring of 2010 from cancer. He broadcasted for the Tigers for 42 years.

T.J. Corbett sets up the frame of the play.

“He’s about to leave when seemingly out of nowhere this kid dressed in 1930s clothing shows up and says, I want to hear your broadcast,’” Corbett said. “And Ernie says ‘I don’t broadcast games anymore,’ so the kid says, ‘well I want to hear the broadcast of your life.’ So Ernie tells the kid the nine innings of his life.”

Mitch Albom's "Ernie" runs now through August 17 at the City Theatre inside the Hockeytown Cafe in Detroit. You can get ticket information through OlympiaEntertainment.com or Ticketmaster.

To learn more about the cast and crew click here.

*Listen to full interview above. 

-Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Stateside
5:31 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Dearborn man arrested for killing two Irish soldiers in Lebanon 34 years ago

Credit Wikipedia

A 71 year-old ice cream man was arrested Tuesday at his Dearborn home on an immigration violation.

Mahmoud Bazzi is accused of the torture killings of two Irish soldiers in 1980. The soldiers were part of the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon. A third Irish soldier was shot but survived.

Bazzi moved to the United States shortly after the killings and settled in Dearborn.

Jim Schaefer has been covering this story for the Detroit Free Press. He said Bazzi entered the United States about 21 years ago on someone else’s passport. The government intends to deport Bazzi on this violation. Bazzi attempted to apply for citizenship last year.

Schaffer joined Stateside to recount the events in Lebanon that day.

*Listen to the full story above. 

Stateside
5:27 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

GVSU tries to bring new technologies into the classroom

Technology showcase at Grand Valley State University
Credit gvsu.edu/techshowcase / gvsu.edu/techshowcase

How can cutting-edge new technologies be used in the classroom?

Sure, devices like Google Glass or a 3-D printer are cool.

But how can they be used to teach and to learn?

Eric Kunnen is the emerging technologies coordinator at Grand Valley State University.

"Trying to find that sweet spot there between teaching learning and technology is where we are focused and having access to the technology is one piece," Kunnen said.

Kunnen said that Google Glass could be useful in the classroom by providing hands free operations.

“Think in terms of a visual demonstration maybe in a science classroom, where you need both hands as the instructor,” Kunnen said. “Also the ability in wearing the glasses and having information on top of what you are seeing has a lot of potential as well.”

But where is the boundary in using technology for a good purpose, versus using it because it’s cool?

Kunnen said when figuring out when to use the technology, they start with trying to solve an instructional problem.

“How do we address a difficult concept that is very challenging to explain perhaps, or very difficult to visualize, and how do we apply technology to that as a solution?” Kunnen said.

An example he gave was difficulty in visualizing 3D protein molecules, but a 3D projection image could help solve that problem.

New technology are on display in Grand Valley’s Technology showcase, located in the Mary Idema Pew Library on campus.

“The concept really is to interact, learn, discover, and share how technology can transform teaching and learning at the university,’ Kunnen said.

*Listen to full interview above. 

Stateside
5:21 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Stateside for Wednesday, July 16, 2014

   Today on Stateside:

  • A 71 year-old ice cream man was arrested Tuesday at his Dearborn home on an immigration violation.
  • The play “Ernie” is running for its fourth season at the City Theatre in Detroit, this season with a new lead.
  • A compromise has been reached for tentative plans on the old Tiger Stadium site.
  • Berrien County Trial Court is making strides to lower youth recidivism by instilling the importance of family.
  • Grand Valley State University is implementing new technologies such as Google Glass into the classroom.

*Listen to full show above. 

Stateside
12:43 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Berrien County's program is reducing juvenile recidivism

Credit Wikimedia Commons

In a story we aired yesterday on European prisons, we learned the apparent key to reducing recidivism. In Europe, keeping family ties intact is priceless.

There’s a juvenile justice plan in Berrien County that’s been applying these principles since 2001, strengthening family ties, and keeping young offenders out of jail when possible.

And their approach is paying off.

Elvin Gonzalez is the family Division Administrator for the Berrien County Trial Court.

He said that when looking at the youth who come into to court to look at their family system.

“Many of the factors that contributed to them being logged with delinquency came from two primary domains, their family domain and their school domain,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said that it was important to address both of those domains and provide interventions that target those areas, strengthen the families’ ability to supervise, effectively monitor and discipline, and support their children.

“Our belief is, is that kids live in an ecology. That ecology is their family system, their neighborhood, their community, their school and we needed to impact those areas to help youth be successful in our communities," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez added that while they are trying to fix the source of the youth’s actions, accountability for those actions are not forgotten.

The county has seen a lot of success with their programs. In 2001, more than 125 youths were in out-of-home residential placements throughout Michigan. Today, that number has dropped to about 40 youths.

Recidivism has dropped from more than 58% in 1998 to 17.5% in 2012. 

“It’s important that we help kids learn various skills, be more effective in managing conflict, make better decisions – but ultimately, at the end of the day, we need to move the needle on recidivism,” Gonzalez said.

*Listen to full interview above.

Stateside
5:14 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Grab your surf board and hit...Lake Michigan?

Surfing on Lake Michigan
Credit Ben Gauger / Flickr

Surfing in Michigan?

It turns out good surfing is not found just on the North Shore of O’ahu or along the California cost. Try freshwater -- Lake Michigan.

Ella Skrocki is a surf instructor at Sleeping Bear Surf and Kayak.

“Compared to the ocean, it’s not as consistent, but here on the lakes we get a really, really wonderful swell, through the fall is even greater than right now,” Skrocki said.

Skrocki said the inconsistency is actually what makes it special, because on the rare days when the waves start coming in everyone gets excited.

“We have a teeny, tiny community here and everyone gets to connect with each other,” she said.

Skrocki said the best days for a swell is actually when beach goers are in their homes.

“You get these giant storms that bring in on and off shore winds and that creates the waves," she said.

It’s best to wear a wetsuit when surfing on the lakes to protect from the cold water. The surfing season is mainly in the fall, late September through late November.

Skrocki said her best spot to surf really depends on the wind direction, but she prefers Frankfurt, Leland, and Marquette.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Stateside
5:09 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Congressman Conyers says Detroit's water shut off is a human rights issue

Detroit's vigorous effort to collect some $90 million in unpaid water bills has resulted in water being shut off to thousands.

That's drawn angry attention from the United Nations and Congressman John Conyers. He calls this a human rights issue.

Conyers believes that the causes of this crisis include the economic problems with the country, deindustrialization, higher unemployment rates, population decline, and the number of families who cannot afford water.

“We want assurances that households won’t have their water cut off because they cannot afford to pay it, because water is a human right,” Conyers said.

Conyers said that when he advocates to keep water on in every household, he is not including the people who can afford water and simply are not paying the bill. He said 44% of households in Detroit live below the poverty line. These are the ones who need water.

“This is not an appeal for them to get free water. I think everyone that gets water should get a bill and should be held accountable for it,” Conyers said.

Conyers said the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is thinking of increasing shutoffs to 3,000 a week to help recoup financial losses.

He added that increasing shutoffs as a way to reducing the debt is counter-productive. If a disease breakout occurs because of lack of water, the city will end up with a health bill that will exceed the amount of money that is owed.

He wrote a letter to the president, asking for help from the Hardest Hit Fund.

The fund was set up in 2010 to provide targeted aid to states that were hit the hardest by the recession.

Conyers noted that Michigan has drawn down 41% of its total "Hardest Hit" allocation of more than $498 million.

Conyers said he would like to see the money used to on repairs and upkeep of the water pipes.

Conyers said he received an indirect response from the administration saying the Governor, the state treasury department, and others need to present a united proposal for the funds.

*Listen to full interview above. 

Stateside
5:07 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Sci-Fi and fantasy convention, "DetCon1," is coming to Detroit

Author Jim C Hines will be at the 2014 North American Science Fiction Convention from July 17th to the 20th. He is one of the Masters of Ceremonies.
Credit jimchines.com

This week the science fiction spotlight will shine on Detroit.

The Motor City will host the 2014 North American Science Fiction Convention from July 17 to July 20.

Jim Hines is a fantasy novelist from Michigan who is also serving as one of the three Masters of Ceremonies for the big convention that’s known as "DetCon1."

“You’ve got a convention center full of authors and fans, and basically just a hotel packed full of geeks,” Hines said when describing DetCon1.

Hines said this is different from ComicCon, who focuses more on the media and anime, where DetCon1 focuses on the literary, novels, stories and authors.

Hines won a Hugo Award in 2012. He said what he loves about science fiction and fantasy the most is the possibility.

“Whether it’s reading or creating the story, those moments when you just have to ask, ‘well what if this?’ And run with an idea that creates that sense of wonder. There’s nothing like it,” Hines said.

Hines is currently working on a series based in Michigan about a librarian from the Upper Peninsula who can pull anything from books that can fit through the pages.

The 2014 North American Science Fiction Convention will be at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center. You can get details at their website here.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Politics and Culture
5:06 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Stateside for Tuesday, July 15, 2014

 Today on Stateside:

  • Michigan's legislators will be back in Lansing tomorrow. The day will bring committee meetings including attention to a pair of bills dealing with medical marijuana.
  • Congressman Conyers says that Detroit’s water shutoff crisis is a human rights issue.
  • The proposed Rover Pipeline would carry natural gas through about 180 miles of Michigan. Some of it would track the very same route as the controversial Enbridge 6B oil pipeline that was recently replaced.
  • DetCon1, a science fiction and fantasy literary convention will be in Detroit July 17-20.
  • Grab your surf board and hit….Lake Michigan??
  • There are Jobs that are going begging in Michigan, but the skilled workers are nowhere to be found.
  • Can Europe offer the U.S. a model for how to operate prisons?

*Listen to full show above. 

Stateside
4:50 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Lawmakers are back in session for one day, taking up medical marijuana changes

Credit www.misenategop.com

Michigan's Senators are taking a break from their summer break.

They'll be back in Lansing tomorrow.

The day will bring meetings of several committees and the full Senate might take a vote on a pair of bills dealing with medical marijuana and how to get it.

Jake Neher is the Lansing reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.

He said the first bill will allow local communities to say whether or not they want medical marijuana dispensaries and how to regulate them.

The second bill will change the state's medical marijuana act to allow patients to use edible and other non-smokeable forms of medical marijuana.

Neher said that the Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville originally was not interest in expanding the medical marijuana act, but after months of speaking with communities, he changed his mind.

The bills will be voted on in committee, but not in the full Senate.

Neher said there won’t be any movement towards fixing roads. They will look at trying to set up an early warning system for deficit school districts. Another bill being looked at tomorrow would ease driver responsibility fees.

*Listen to full show above. 

Stateside
4:50 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

A large natural gas pipeline might be coming to Michigan

Credit Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

"Here we go again."

That's what some in Michigan are undoubtedly thinking as they learn of a proposed natural gas pipeline that could run through Michigan on its way to Ontario, Canada.

The proposed Rover Pipeline would carry natural gas through about 180 miles of Michigan. Some of it would track the very same route as the controversial Enbridge 6B oil pipeline that was recently replaced.

Keith Metheny is a reporter with the Detroit Free Press.

Metheny said the pipes will take natural gas from areas in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio and ship it westward into Michigan, through the southeast corner, spanning through six counties, and ending up in a hub in Ontario for distribution. The pipeline might follow a portion of the 6B route, around Oakland, Macomb, and St. Clair counties and possibly others.

“It’s going to be the very same people, the very same route, the people who saw their backyards torn up for a year, the people who occasionally had their roads inaccessible,” Metheny said.

Metheny said this pipeline would be large, 42 inches in diameter that will transfer more than 3 billion cubic feet of gas per day.

“In the highest gas demand day ever for Consumers Energy, which was in January 2013, they pushed out less natural gas across the entire state of Michigan than the amount that would pass through this pipeline every day,” Metheny said.

He added that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will determine if the pipes go down, but a decision may not be made until 2015.

Energy Transfer will hold a series of public meetings along the path of the proposed Rover Pipeline.

There will be a meeting this evening in Chelsea at 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the Comfort Inn Village Conference Center on Commerce Park Drive in Chelsea. And there's a meeting tonight in Richmond at the Lois Wagner Memorial Library, again, from 5:30 pm-7:30 pm.

*Listen to full story above. 

Stateside
4:45 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Michigan is begging for skilled workers

Credit kandyjaxx/creative commons

If we don’t find new ways to teach the right skills and train more workers, Michigan is going to be badly hurt.

That’s what Bridge Magazine writer Ted Roelofs heard from top business owners as he explored the skilled labor shortage in Michigan.

His piece in Bridge is called “Help Wanted: Yes, there really are 70,000 good jobs open.”

Read more
Stateside
11:50 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Can Europe provide the US with a model for how to operate prisons?

Prison cell block
Credit Wikimedia Commons

All across Michigan, serious questions are being raised about the way our state deals with criminals.

The annual price tag for corrections in Michigan is around $2 billion a year. That’s more than is given for higher education. Michigan also keeps prisoners behind bars longer than the national average.

Is that money giving us a safer state? Are there other approaches?

Christopher Moraff, a writer for Next City, wrote an article titled: "Can Europe offer the U.S. a Model for Prison Reform?"

In his piece, Moraff looked mostly at prisons in Germany and the Netherlands.

In contrast to Europe’s rehabilitation mission, U.S. prisons focus much more on punishing convicted criminals through concepts such as minimum sentences and exclusion from communities.

“In neither of those countries, in Germany or the Netherlands, is the sole purpose of incarceration to protect society that’s written in law,” Moraff said.

Moraff said there is an effort to create a normalized set of circumstances to mimic community life as much as possible to re-socialize offenders for when they are released.

Many European prisoners go home on the weekends to visit their families, have the right to vote, wear their own clothes and make their own meals. Prisoners live in cells that resemble a college dorm. They are allowed to decorate their rooms, and guards knock before entering to instill a sense of privacy and humanity.

“If we make the goal re-socialization, dehumanization is not the right way to go about that,” Moraff said.

Moraff said that the guards who work at the correctional facilities have backgrounds in law, mental health, and counseling. They are trained to help provide a therapeutic environment for the people they oversee. They do not simply do head counts and prevent fights.

“There is a level of professionalism and a level of training that goes with this that is unlike anything we have in America,” Moraff said.

Moraff said there have been some efforts made in Pennsylvania and Colorado to retrain their staff in these methods.

*Listen to full story above

Read more
Stateside
4:39 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Efforts are being made to boost native fish in St. Clair River

young lake sturgeon
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Fish populations native to Michigan such as lake sturgeon, walleye, and lake whitefish have been declining in recent years.

As a result, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has built spawning reefs in rivers around Michigan, including the St. Clair River.

A spawning reef is a crevice-filled rock bed designed to mimic the natural limestone reefs that previously existed.

Read more
Stateside
4:38 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Stateside for Monday, July 14, 2014

Today on Stateside:

  • The Detroit Water Brigade is helping those whose water has been shut off.
  • A Michigan abolitionist was a crucial part of the Underground Railroad.
  • How do the people of Jackson, Michigan feel about the new Cell Block 7 Prison Museum?
  • The World Cup is over. A lot of teams had die-hard soccer fans in Rio. In Detroit, Michigan, there's another intense fan group. They support the Detroit City Futbol Club's minor-league team, Le Rouge. 
  • Lawmakers are on “summer break.” But what does that mean? And what work is being done?
  • Underwater construction of spawning reefs is happening in the St. Clair River to attract more lake sturgeon, walleye, and lake whitefish.

*Listen to full show above. 

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