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Politics & Culture
5:03 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Stateside for Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Should Michigan's Legislature go part-time?

Forty-six other states have done it. Now a new group is pushing for it here, but some argue a part-time Legislature could have disastrous results. On today's show, we talk about just how much time lawmakers should spend in Lansing. And then, just in time for the New Year, we'll get some money advice from the Detroit News' Personal Finance Editor Brian O'Connor. His new book is “The One-Thousand Dollar Challenge: How One Family Slashed Its Budget Without Moving Under a Bridge or Living on Government Cheese."

But first we check in on Michigan's kids. A new report out today says life is not getting as good as it should for children in Michigan, even as the state crawls out of the Great Recession.

Jane Zehnder-Merrell is the Project Director for Kids Count in Michigan. It's part of the Michigan League for Public Policy. She joined us to tell us more about the Kids Count report.

Politics & Culture
5:28 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Stateside for Monday, December 16th, 2013

The Great recession and the accompanying housing meltdown changed the way many of us think about home-ownership. For decades, owning a home seemed to be part of the American Dream, but that dream has changed. On today’s show -- the rise of renters and what it means for the state’s housing market.Then, this month marks the 100 year anniversary of one of the most painful chapters in Michigan’s labor history. We explored the Copper Country Strike of 1913 later in the hour.

And, the U.S. birth rate is at a record low as more and more married couples choose to remain child free. We spoke with the director of the Childless by Choice Project about what goes behind this choice and what are the future consequences.

First on the show, Back in 2010, the State Board of Education approved the Common Core State Standards for Michigan — a set of math and English goals for K-12 students.

School districts across the state have spent the past three years integrating the standards into their curriculums. At the same time, we've heard a lot of political debate about Common Core, mostly about the involvement of the federal government in our classrooms.

But in October of this year, state lawmakers OK'd funding for Common Core, and now it is becoming a reality in Michigan classrooms.

We wanted to find out: What does this mean — day-in, day-out — for Michigan's students?

What does a school year under Common Core really look like?

Joining us is Naomi Norman, the executive director of Achievement Initiatives at Washtenaw Intermediate School District and Livingston Educational Service Agency.

Stateside
5:10 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Is it better to buy or rent a house in Michigan?

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

If you're a baby boomer, chances are you grew up with your parents pounding one basic truth of life into your head, and that truth was that you are always better off owning your own home rather than renting.

Well, the Great Recession and its housing meltdown certainly gave us some new thoughts on renting versus buying.

An Oakland County developer remarked that of late, he's seen more baby boomers deciding to skip home ownership and go with renting.

We wondered how things are looking in Michigan, the housing market and renting versus buying.

Daren Blomquist, Vice President of RealtyTrac, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
5:09 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Remembering one of the biggest tragedies in Michigan 100 years later

The town of Calumet.

An interview with historian Steve Lehto.

This month marks the 100 year anniversary of one of the saddest chapters in Michigan history. It’s called The Italian Hall Disaster, a terrible tragedy that happened on Christmas Eve, 1913, in the Upper Peninsula town of Calumet. Someone yelled "Fire!" in a packed hall and the resulting stampede killed 73--60 of them children.

It happened during the Copper Country Strike, one of the most painful chapters in Michigan's labor history.

The Copper Country Strike of 1913 and the Italian Hall Disaster is the subject of new documentary called “Red Metal,” soon to air on PBS. It is drawn from a book about the disaster called Death’s Door, written by Steve Lehto. He’s a historian with ties to the Copper Country that go back to that bitter time.

Steve Lehto joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
5:07 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

The U.S. birth rate is at a record low as more couples choose to remain child-free

Laura Scott, director of the Childless by Choice Project.
Facebook

It seems the Great Recession--the lingering economic worries, the slow-poke recovery--all of that seems to have made people more hesitant than ever to take "the baby plunge."

U.S. births are at a record low. Last year saw 63 births per 1000 women. Put that into context. Around a century ago, that figure was 127 births per 1000 women.

So we are at the lowest birth rate since the government started tracking America's fertility.

And our next guest is not surprised.

Laura Scott is a life coach, she's the author of "Two Is Enough: A Couple's Guide to Living Childless By Choice." And she's the director of the "Childless by Choice Project."

Read more
Stateside
4:34 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Talking about the restrictions on abortion coverage passed by Michigan lawmakers

Michigan Capitol Building, Lansing, Michigan
Thetoad Flickr

The Michigan House and Senate have approved a controversial law that will require consumers to buy separate policies for abortion coverage.

The question was put to the Legislature by a petition drive pushed by Right To Life, which was launched after Governor Snyder vetoed a similar measure last year. He vetoed that measure because there were no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

But, because this 2013 version is a voter-initiated law, the Governor does not have veto-power this time around.

We caught up with Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network , to talk about this bill.

Stateside
4:30 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Michigan students begin drone start-up

One of the robots built by SkySpecs
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science University of Michigan

Jeffrey P. Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, recently turned a few heads with his announcement that within a few years he expects deliveries to your home courtesy of unmanned aerial vehicles — also known as drones.

It’s been predicted that by 2025, there could be 175,000 of these UAVs in United States airspace — ranging from teeny, tiny nano-sized UAVs to a full-sized, pilotless airplane hauling cargo for UPS.

Development of these drones are popping up everywhere, including right here in Michigan. SkySpecs, a start-up coming out of the University of Michigan, is developing new ways to use UAVs — creating drones that can inspect everything from bridges to wind turbines and make sure these structures are safe.

We talked to Danny Ellis, the CEO of SkySpecs.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
4:05 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

With this week's announcements, is there a new future for Michigan's auto industry?

This week, GM announced that Mary Barra will be the company's first female CEO.
Dave Pinter Flickr

It’s been a big week for Michigan’s auto industry.

A report from Business Leaders for Michigan revealed a plan to bring 100,000 automotive jobs to the sector. And General Motors announced the next CEO of the company will be Mary Barra. She’ll be the first female CEO in the car industry.

Daniel Howes, a business columnist from The Detroit News, talks with us about this week’s announcements.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
4:05 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

How will Michigan's housing market fare in 2014?

Will it be a buyers or sellers year for Michigan's housing market?
Katy Batdorff

One of the common traditions as we end one year and begin another is taking stock — reviewing where we've been and figuring out where we want to go in the New Year.

A good place to focus that review would be finances, and the prospects for the housing market.

A consumer credit forecast was released today that can give us a look into where Michigan’s market may be headed in 2014.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
3:39 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

The surprising history of one of Michigan's small island communities

A ferry heading to Beaver Island.
user urban.houstonian Flickr

An interview about Beaver Island's unusual history.

We turn now to a little-known and absolutely fascinating slice of Michigan history: Beaver Island.

It's a fairly remote island, plunked right there in the middle of northern Lake Michigan. Take a ferry northwest from Charlevoix, and you're there.

Fewer than 500 people live on Beaver Island year-round. A lot of them are descendants from Irish fishermen who fled the famine and troubles in 19th-century Ireland, and wound up on Beaver Island.

That's part of the fascinating history of Beaver Island. Later, years after settlement, one Mormon on the island proclaimed himself "King" of Beaver Island!

But how did Irish emigrants find their way to this island in Lake Michigan? And who was the island’s self-proclaimed king?

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
4:56 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Stateside for Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Renewable resources, such as wind and solar, are likely to supply 10% of Michigan electricity by 2015, as state law mandates. On today’s program, we looked at a recent report that says we could be doing more, boosting the number to 30% by 2035.

Then, the losing streak of Medora, Indiana's high school basketball team compelled two Michigan filmmakers to move there, and to tell the story of this small industrial town and the people who live there.

And, federal Judge Stephen Rhodes gave Detroit the go-ahead to slash its public pension and healthcare benefits. What will this mean for Detroit retirees?

First on the show, it was one year ago this day that the State Legislature and Governor Rick Snyder passed a set of bills into law that made some very contentious history in our State.

On December 11th, 2012, Michigan became the nation's 24th right-to-work state.

The laws took effect in March, making it illegal to force workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

One year later, has right-to-work changed Michigan?

We were joined for this discussion by Michigan State University economist Charley Ballard, and, from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Wendy Block.

Economy
4:40 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

What would cutting pensions mean for future Detroit retirees?

user: jodelli Flickr

Federal Judge Stephen Rhodes gave Detroit the go-ahead to make cuts to public pension and healthcare benefits.

Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr maintains that Detroit's pension funds are unfunded by $8 billion. That's a big chunk of the city's $18 billion in overall debts and long-term liabilities. 

So what will happen to future pensions?

Cynthia Canty spoke with Alicia Munnell about the possibility of cutting pensions for future city retirees. Munnell is the director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.  

Read more
Stateside
4:40 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

It's been one year, has right-to-work changed Michigan?

Supporters of making Michigan a "right to work" state expect legislation will be introduced in January. Critics call such laws "right to work for less."
dannybirchall flickr

It was one year ago this day that the State Legislature and Governor Rick Snyder passed a set of bills into law that made some very contentious history in our State.

On December 11th, 2012, Michigan became the nation's 24th right-to-work state.

The laws took effect in March, making it illegal to force workers to pay union dues or union fees as a condition of employment.

One year later, has right-to-work changed Michigan?

We were joined for this discussion by Michigan State University economist Charley Ballard, and, from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Wendy Block.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
4:38 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Can Michigan reach 30% renewable energy sources by 2035?

warrenski Creative Commons

Our state is working to get its energy needs met by wind and other renewable sources.

Right now, state law mandates that electric providers must obtain 10% of their electricity sales from renewable resources by 2015.

We're on track to do that.

But a recent report turned in to Governor Snyder says we could boost that to 30% by 2035. And when compared to neighboring states, Michigan's Renewable Portfolio Standard, the RPS, is not as robust as it could be.

John Quackenbush is the Chairman of the State Public Service Commission who led the renewable energy study at the Governor's request, and James Clift is the director of the Michigan Environmental Council. They joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
3:07 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Ann Arbor filmmakers document a struggling high school basketball team

Assistant Coach Rudie Crain talks to the Medora team.
MedoraFilm

Cyndy Canty interviews filmmakers Davy Rothbart and Andrew Cohn.

It began with a New York Times feature story about a struggling boys' high school basketball team in a tiny town in southern Indiana.

The story of the 0-22 Medora Hornets so gripped a pair of Ann Arbor filmmakers that they picked up and moved to struggling, hardscrabble Medora, Indiana for a full year to follow the team as it fought for just one win.

In doing so, Davy Rothbart and Andrew Cohn discovered layers and layers of compelling stories, which they have packed into a powerful documentary.

"Medora," which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival, is now being screened all around Michigan.

There will be a live screening tomorrow night in Ann Arbor at the Michigan Theater. Additional screenings will be held in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo (see listings here).

Davy Rothbart and Andrew Cohn joined us today (listen to the interview above).

Watch a trailer for the film below, and here's a link to their website.

MEDORA OFFICIAL TRAILER from beachside on Vimeo.

Politics & Culture
5:17 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Stateside for Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

We saw them rise, then fall, then rise again -- small, independent bookstores are making a come-back in Michigan. We'll explore the renaissance on today's show.

And, then, the state is close to wrapping its plans to make programs more accessible to people with disabilities - that's in order to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. We'll talk to the state's compliance director later in the hour.

But we start with the first woman to be placed in the top spot of a major automaker. She began her career at General Motors as an engineering co-op student in 1980. 33 years later, Mary Barra has made history by being named the next CEO of GM.

GM made the ground-breaking announcement today that CEO Dan Akerson has moved up his retirement to January 15th after discovering his wife is battling advanced stage cancer.

Michigan Radio’s auto reporter, Tracy Samilton, tells us more about Mary Barra and what this appointment means to America's auto industry.

Stateside
5:15 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

What does GM's first female CEO mean for the auto industry?

General Motors's next CEO, Mary Barra.
Carlos Osorio Associated Press

She began her career at General Motors as an engineering co-op student in 1980.

33 years later, Mary Barra has made history by being named the next CEO of GM — the first time a woman has been placed in the top spot of a major automaker.

GM made the groundbreaking announcement today that CEO Dan Akerson has moved up his retirement to January 15, after discovering his wife is battling advanced-stage cancer.

But who is Mary Barra, and what does this appointment mean to America's auto industry?

Listen to the full interview above. 

Stateside
5:14 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

After 150 years, Keystone State steamer discovered in the Lake Huron

Divers found the shipwreck submerged in Lake Huron.
user Brucegirl wikimedia commons

It's been a mystery that has haunted Lake Huron since the Civil War: What happened to the Keystone State?

The wooden steamer set out from Detroit, bound for Milwaukee, around November 9th, 1861.

She never made it — and no one knew the Keystone State had run into trouble until wreckage washed up on the shore near Lexington.

But thanks to David Trotter, the Keystone State has been found — in nearly 175 feet of water.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Stateside
1:31 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Getting State offices and programs more accessible to people with disabilities

The State of Michigan is close to wrapping up a plan to make its programs more accessible to people with disabilities.

The goal is to get State offices, communications and web sites to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

We wanted to get a better idea of what that really looks like, how much progress has been made and what it all means for people with disabilities.

Laura Hall is an Assistive Technology Coordinator for the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition, and Sharon Ellis is the State ADA Compliance Director. They both joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
1:30 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Independent bookstores are enjoying a renaissance

Inside Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor
Photo courtesy of Nicola's Books

Remember "You've Got Mail," The Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan romantic comedy?

Writer-director Norah Ephron says she wanted to make a point about little independent bookstores like Meg Ryan's "Shop Around the Corner" being crushed by the big-chain bookstores, Tom Hanks' "Fox Books."

That was 1998, and many small independent bookstores were indeed fighting for their lives in the face of the big-chain stores.

Now, in 2013, the book-selling landscape has changed. Borders books collapsed in 2011 and Barnes & Noble closed many of its stores.

There is Amazon with its talk of using drones to drop your order at your door in a few years. But guess what? Independent bookstores are enjoying something of a renaissance.

Deborah Leonard, director of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association, and Peter Makin, owners of Brilliant Books in Traverse City, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

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