Stateside Staff

The Severstal steel plant complex in Dearborn has been cited 37 times for violating its current state air quality permit. Now the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says it had set some standards too high. Two Detroit lawmakers have asked the EPA to step in.

Today, we heard more about what the recent permitting process could mean for the people who live around the Severstal facility.

And we checked in with the veterans and dog lovers who have joined forces to honor the state's war dogs.

Also, there is all sorts of political news coming out of Lansing and Detroit - from the political fate of a long-time Michigan Congressman - to a political move by a top Republican to derail a ballot proposal boosting Michigan's minimum wage - and news on that perennial Michigan topic: repairing potholed, crumbling roads.

So much political news that Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics hosts joined us - Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark.

There's all sorts of political news coming out of Lansing and Detroit this week, from the political fate of a long-time Michigan congressman, to a political move by a top Republican lawmaker to derail a ballot proposal boosting Michigan's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. And of course, there is news on that perennial Michigan topic of fixing our potholed, crumbling roads. 

There's so much political news that we decided to bring in Michigan Radio's "It's Just Politics" team of Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark to sort it all out for us. 

*Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint's state-appointed emergency manager is proposing a $55 million budget that would cut 36 police officer positions and 19 firefighter jobs. 

Darnell Earley's two-year budget plan also includes higher fees for property owners for street lighting, garbage pickup and water and sewer service. 

Dayne Walling, the mayor of Flint, joined us today. 

*Listen to the full interview above.

It was June 2012 when Gov. Rick Snyder and Michael Finney, the CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, attended a ceremony at the Severstal steel plant in Dearborn. 

The two spoke with the CEO of the steel plant, Sergei Kuznetsov. 

A Detroit Free Press investigation raises questions about what happened after that conversation in the summer of 2012. 

The Michigan Economic Development Corp., Gov. Rick Snyder's business-promoting agency, worked for months behind the scenes with one of the state's most flagrantly polluting businesses as the company lobbied the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for permission to release even higher levels of pollutants and avoid current air quality regulations, DEQ e-mails obtained by the Free Press show.

Keith Matheny, a writer for the Detroit Free Press, joined us to talk about the investigation. 

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Photo by T.Sgt. J. Sarno / Wikimedia Commons

When you think of a war hero, what image comes to your mind?

Most likely, you think of a man or a woman dressed in desert camouflage, or a wounded warrior learning to walk again after being wounded in battle.

But there is another group of war heroes: the four-legged heroes. War dogs. 

Their history in the U.S. military is long and proud. They were used as messenger dogs, scout or patrol dogs, and in the cases of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they have been used as explosive detection dogs. 

Unbeknownst to many of the locals, Michigan has one of the few war dog memorials in the nation, located between Milford and South Lyon in Oakland County. 

Phil Weitlauf is a U.S. Army veteran, as well as a champion of the Michigan War Dog Memorial. He joined us on Stateside. 

*Listen to the full interview above.

Wikimedia Commons

While the debate over transportation funding continues this week in Lansing, a recent report finds most states are spending more to build new roads than they are in repairing the crumbling roads we already have.

A study from the nonpartisan budget watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense says that there are exceptions: states that are spending a significant percentage of their road money on repairs. One of those states is Michigan. 

Steve Ellis, Vice President of Taxpayers for Common Sense, joined us. 

*Listen to the full interview above.

Eleven-thousand rape kits were discovered abandoned in a Detroit Police crime lab five years ago. Since that discovery, only about 2,000 kits have undergone DNA testing.

Why have thousands of rape kits still gone untested? And what's the broader message sent to victims of rape?

Later in the show, a recent Oxford University report warns that robots could replace nearly half of the current U.S. workforce. Can humans keep ahead of the technology that's changing the workforce?

First on the show, a poll released today by the group Business Leaders for Michigan finds that 66% of Michigan voters support Gov. Rick Snyder's pledge to have the state contribute to help settle Detroit's bankruptcy. The survey found 20% of voters oppose a state contribution, and slightly more than 13% don't know if they are for or against.

There have been several ideas floated as to how much the state would give to what's known as the “grand bargain.” Today, folks are getting a look at legislation that could spell that all out.

Detroit News reporter Chad Livengood joined us.

user: Vanillase / Wikimedia Commons

A recent Oxford University report estimates that robots could replace nearly half of the current U.S. workforce.

The report found that office administrators, sales personnel, and those in the service industry are among those at risk of losing their jobs to robots.

Robots have become common in many workplaces since General Motors installed the first robot at a plant in New Jersey in 1961 ("Unimate," as it was called, could weld and move parts that weighed up to 500 pounds).

So can humans keep up, or at least keep ahead of the technology that is changing the workforce?

These are especially important questions here in Michigan, with its historic ties to the auto industry that makes up about 40% of the global supply of industrial robots. 

Stephen Spurr, Chair of the Department of Economics and professor at Wayne State University, joined us today to explore the possibilities (You can listen to our interview with Spurr above.)

David Grant / Flickr

Preparations are well underway as Belle Isle gets primped and polished for the upcoming Grand Prix, officially called the "Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix," from May 30 to June 1. 

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes talked with the man who revived Detroit's Grand Prix in 2007. 

This is the first time the race has been held since the state took over management of Belle Isle. What has been done to prepare for the race and fix up the island?

*Listen to the interview above. 

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A federal visa program called EB-5 offers a conditional green card to foreign nationals who invest $1 million in a qualified project in the U.S., or invest half a million in a depressed urban or rural area.

EB-5 is the cornerstone of Gov. Rick Snyder's strategy to attract more immigrants to Michigan. In fact, Michigan will be only the second state in the country to open a statewide center to attract immigrant investment and offer a possible path to citizenship.

The first state to open such a center was Vermont. 

Brent Raymond, the director of the Vermont EB-5 Regional Center, joined us. 

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Office of the Washtenaw County Prosecutor

Five years ago, 11,000 rape kits were discovered abandoned in a Detroit police warehouse. That discovery sparked outrage. 

Since then, only about 2,000 of the kits have undergone DNA testing.

Why? And what's the broader message sent out to victims of rape? Does it make it seem like they don't matter?

Rebecca Campbell is a professor of community psychology and program evaluation at Michigan State University. She was brought on board by the National Institute of Justice to evaluate how these Detroit rape kits were handled. 

*Listen to the full interview above. 

A recent survey done by the group Business Leaders for Michigan finds that 66 percent of Michigan voters support Gov. Rick Snyder's pledge to have the state contribute to help settle Detroit's bankruptcy. 

The survey found that 20 percent of voters oppose a state contribution, and more than 13 percent don't know if they are for or against.

There have been several ideas floated as to how much the state would give to what's known as the grand bargain – whether it would be a lump sum or spread out over a number of years, and where the money would come from. 

Today, the State house unveiled legislation that spells out its idea for the best way to help Detroit out of bankruptcy. 

Detroit News capitol reporter Chad Livengood joined us to discuss. 

*Listen to the full interview above.

getoverit.org

A basic tenet of the Affordable Care Act is preventive care: Get people into the health care system before disease or disability set in.

But that's highlighting a problem with our medical education system. Medical schools are turning out too many specialists and not enough primary care physicians. Cynthia Canty spoke with Dr. William Strampel, dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University. 

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A package of bills before state lawmakers could make Michigan the very first state to adopt a roadside test that would tell police whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana.

Current law allows police to test the blood, breath and urine of drivers pulled over for erratic driving. The proposed legislation now being debated would add a roadside saliva test that could tell police if a driver is impaired by pot.

Cynthia Canty spoke with State Representative Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway Twp., who sponsored the legislation. 

Frog legs on the grill.
Tomas Castelazo / Wikimedia Commons

Treating yourself to a good restaurant meal in Detroit these days might mean biting into some great Coney Islands, or a plate of flaming souvlaki in Greektown, or barbeque, or soul food.

Now roll the clock back about 90 or 100 years.

How about frog leg salad? Frog ravioli? Frog leg pie? Pickled or poached frog leg?

It seems early 20th century foodies just loved frog legs, and Detroit was happy to provide them.

As one New York columnist gushed in 1905: "If you have never eaten frog legs in Detroit, you have something to live for, something for which to strive."

Food historian Bill Loomis wrote about this often-overlooked period in Detroit's culinary history for the May issue of Hour:Detroit magazine.

The piece is called "When Frogs Were King."

Loomis joined us today on the program.

*Listen to our interview above.

Irene Butter speaks to 400 students in Germany about her life in Germany and the Netherlands when the Nazis where in power.
http://www.ggg-laupheim.de/

She was born in Germany, but as life for Jews in Germany became more dangerous through the 1930s, she and her family moved to the Netherlands – to Amsterdam, in the same neighborhood as a young girl named Anne Frank.

And like Anne Frank, she was captured by the Nazis and taken to the notorious Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

But unlike Anne, young Irene Butter survived the camp.

Today, Dr. Irene Butter is a professor emeritus at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health.

Her life has been a remarkable journey, knit together by Irene's decision that she was going to live as a Holocaust survivor, not as a victim.

Irene Butter is the subject of the  film "Never a Bystander," by Ann Arbor filmmaker Evelyn Neuhaus.”

Irene Butter and Evelyn Neuhaus joined us today on the show.

*Listen to our interview above.

automotiveauto.info

The upcoming August primary ballot will feature something not usually seen on August primary ballots: a statewide ballot proposal, something we haven't seen in August since 2002.

This ballot proposal will ask you to decide the fate of a reform of Michigan's industrial personal property tax, but there is a pretty significant hurdle that backers have to face: that icky little three-letter word – tax.

Chris Gautz, reporter for Crain's Detroit Business, joined us to talk about all this.

*Listen to our interview above.

Michigan could become the first state to adopt a roadside saliva test for marijuana impairment if lawmakers pass a package of bills introduced in both the state House and Senate.

Critics dispute the accuracy of the tests – expressing concern for medical marijuana users. State Rep. Dan Lauwers, R-St. Clair County, sponsored the legislation.

Then we talk about what needs to happen in the education process to correct the imbalance between specialists and primary care physicians.

Also,  the upcoming August primary ballot will feature something not usually seen on August primary ballots: a statewide ballot proposal, something we haven't seen in August since 2002.

This ballot proposal will ask you to decide the fate of a reform of Michigan's industrial personal property tax, but there is a pretty significant hurdle that backers have to face – that icky little three-letter word: tax.

Chris Gautz, reporter for Crain's Detroit Business, joined us to talk about all this.

*Listen to the show above.

State lawmakers are waist-deep in the big budget process. The mission is to iron out differences in what the governor wants, and what the House and Senate are willing to give. 

Then, John U. Bacon discussed the debate over whether college athletes should be recognized as school employees, and be allowed to unionize. 

Next, the Detroit Red Wings are getting a new home in 2016, and Joe Louis Arena may be no more. What will happen to the riverfront property the arena stands on now? 

The Center for Michigan has been listening to what voters are saying, and has compiled a citizen's agenda for the 2014 elections. 

The CDC has said that there is a high rate of heart attack and heart disease in the Upper Peninsula. We looked at what these rates say about health care and health habits in the UP. 

Polling place.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are plenty of issues on the minds of Michigan voters as we look to the November elections: education, college, poverty, how to spend public dollars, our economy, our quality of life. 

The Center for Michigan has been listening to what voters are saying. The result is Michigan Speaks: The Citizen's Agenda for the 2014 election. 

It's being released today.

Here to tell us what the voters are thinking about and hoping for is Phil Power, founder of the Center for Michigan. 

Listen to the full interview above. 

user striatic / Flickr

There's some pretty unsettling data that has come out about the health of the people who call the Upper Peninsula home. 

The Centers for Disease Control numbers say heart attack rates for the entire western and eastern UP for 2008-2010 are right up there at the highest level for the top five categories the CDC tracks.

What does the high rate of heart attack and heart disease say about health care and health habits in the UP? And what can bring those high rates down?

Dr. Teresa Frankovich, medical director for the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department, joined us. 

Listen to the full interview above. 

user: jacdupree / Flickr

Now that the Detroit Red Wings are going to get a new home in 2016, Joe Louis Arena seems destined for the wrecking ball. 

And that is focusing fresh attention on Detroit's riverfront, as the city searches for a new use for that riverfront site. 

There could be some valuable lessons Detroit could learn from Buffalo, which is doing more than just about any Great Lakes City to reconnect with its waterfront after generations of industrial abuse and neglect. 

Writer Edward McClelland spelled out the story of the ongoing process of reclaiming Buffalo's waterfront in a story for Belt Magazine. He joined us to discuss what Buffalo is doing, and what Detroit could do. 

Listen to the interview above. 

Northwestern's Kain Colter is tackled during a game with Army in 2011. Colter has argued the players should be allowed to form a union.
West Point / Flickr

Earlier this spring, the National Labor Relations Board made big headlines when it granted Northwestern University football players permission to unionize if they chose to. 

That decision has opened up a big national discussion and debate over whether college athletes should be recognized as school employees. 

So we wanted to bring in sports commentator and coach, John U. Bacon. His most recent book is Fourth and Long: the Fight for the Soul of College Football

Listen to the full interview above. 

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

State lawmakers are waist-deep in the big budget process. The mission is to iron out the differences in what the governor wants and what the House and Senate are willing to give.

It's looking like many differing views add up to lots of haggling, lots of need for compromise, and it has one State Senator talking like Mr. T as Clubber Lang in Rocky 3. 

Kathy Gray of the Detroit Free Press joined us to explain why Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Roger Kahn is predicting "pain". 

Listen to the story above.

endangeredspecieslawandpolicy.com

The 45-day wolf hunting season that began November 15 inflamed passions, both pro and con.

Now that the first-ever wolf hunt is wrapped up, what were the results?

John Barnes explored the impact of the hunt in a recent piece for MLive, which breaks down the ages of the 22 wolves killed over the course of the hunt. He joined us on Stateside today (you can listen to the audio above).

user: Njaelkies Lea / Wikimedia Commons

If you've been wondering why your favorite pine tree has been turning brown as the weather warms up, you can stop wondering and start blaming winter.

Bert Cregg is an associate professor in the horticulture department at Michigan State University. He joined us to explain what the snow, cold and wind has done to our conifer trees. 

Listen to the full interview above. 

user striatic / Flickr

There is a distinct health care trend happening in Michigan. For-profit health care systems are taking over community hospitals.

The question has become, is this a way for a community hospital to stay alive, or even for it to expand and modernize? Or is it a trend where "bottom-line thinking" is going to affect patient costs and quality of care? 

Writer Julie Edgar explored these questions in her recent article for Bridge Magazine, and she joined us to discuss. 

user: Dwight Burdette / Wikimedia Commons

It began as a series of annual workshops for K-12 students who were visually impaired to introduce them to art, and to help them experience the joy of creating. 

That was 15 years ago. Those workshops became engagement courses where University of Michigan Art and Design students worked closely with people who are visually impaired. 

Bringing the low vision and sighted communities together to discover the joy of creating art was the idea of internationally renowned ceramic artist, Sadashi Inuzuka. He is the Arthur Thurnau Professor at the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan, and he joined us to discuss the program. 

Peter Martorano / Flickr

Even before Detroit got itself an emergency manager and became the biggest city in American history to declare bankruptcy, the headlines and images coming out of the Motor City have been pretty grim. 

And, as travelers abroad are discovering, that has led to all kinds of encounters with "the locals" when they discover you're from Detroit. 

So, do you tell them that you're from Detroit, or do you hide it?

That's the question posed by Detroit Free Press travel writer Ellen Creager. 

A wave of nonprofit community hospitals has been selling out to large health care systems over the past four years.

For-profits promise to bring a significant amount of cash to hospitals and the people who live around them, but what does consolidation mean for what you will pay for health care?

We look at recent hospital acquisitions in Michigan.

Also on today’s show, a renowned artist who is legally blind has been helping visually impaired kids in the Detroit area discover that they can make art. As his 15-year involvement with the program comes to a close, we talk to University of Michigan professor Sadashi Inuzuka about the future of the art workshops.

But first on the show today, new data is out on Michigan's first, and very controversial wolf-hunting season. Mlive’s John Barnes dug through the results.

*Listen to the show above.

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