Stateside Staff

What does the future hold for the way we get from Point A to Point B?

Writer Micki Maynard is looking at what's happening all around the country in terms of personal transportation and she sees big changes on the way.

Micki is the former Detroit bureau chief for the New York Times and she has authored four books, including "The End of Detroit: How the Big Three Lost Their Grip on the American Car Industry."

And now she's got a new project in the works, a proposed e-book called "Curbing Cars."

Micki Maynard joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

user cedarbenddrive / Flickr

A State Senate panel has voted to make more than 300,000 Michiganders eligible for Medicaid in 2014. And that's not all: the GOP-led Government Operations Committee said yes to two alternative plans.

So, from the Senate ticking off Governor Snyder by adjourning without voting on the House-passed Medicaid expansion plan, to this Senate Panel serving up not one, not two, but three Medicaid proposals, it's a lot to keep track of.

We turned to Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing reporter Jake Neher for a little help in sorting this all out.

Listen to the full interview above.

Brandon Shigeta / Google images

The federal Farm Bill is the focus of the latest political battle on Capitol Hill. And in that fight rests the future of SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

1.7 million people here in Michigan and 47.5 million people nationwide receive federal help to buy food. Spending and participation in the food stamp program is at an all-time high.

Funding for the food stamp program is part of the big five-year Farm Bill. Both the House and Senate have approved Farm Bills, but there's a big gulf between the two versions.

The Senate's version would cut about $4 billion from food assistance programs. Senate Democrats say that would root out waste but not strand people in need.

The House version would have cut much deeper, around $20 billion. House Republicans say now that the economy is recovering, food assistance can be cut back, and they maintain that President Obama's expansion of food aid during the recession went well beyond what was truly needed. GOP House leaders stripped food aid out of its farm bill to get it passed.

So now what? The clock is ticking, because the Farm Bill and food stamp programs expire at the end of September.

What does this all mean for those Michiganders who receive federal food assistance?

Melissa Smith is a senior policy analyst for the Michigan League of Public Policy, a Lansing-based group that focuses on social services. She joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Twitter

As Detroit makes unhappy history by becoming the biggest city in American history to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, the focus has been on money and how the city doesn't have enough of it to meet its crushing obligations.

There are financial experts who believe the troubles facing Detroit and many other cities and states is a warning, a warning that we as a society need to rethink our monetary system and look at the advantages of a local currency.

What's wrong with our current money system? And how would local currencies help solve many problems?

We turned to the co-author of the book "Rethinking Money: How New Currencies Turn Scarcity Into Prosperity" for answers. Jacqui Dunne is a currency expert and a journalist.

The FBI has just completed a nationwide sweep resulting in the arrest of 150 pimps and the rescue of 105 children who had been forced into prostitution. We took a closer look at human trafficking in our state.

And, we spoke with Leigh Ann Ulrey, one of 30 college graduates to be selected for the Challenge Detroit program.

And, a new House bill could eliminate state income tax. State Representative Bob Genetski joined us to talk about why he thinks income tax is unnecessary.

Also, self-driving cars could be available to consumers within the next 2-3 years, according to Google. We found out what the future of transportation might look like.

First on the show, there was an important handshake this afternoon in Lansing.

UAW President Bob King shook hands with state government officials to officially launch the start of contract talks.

UAW Local 6000's contract with the state expires at the end of 2014. But the state needs to finalize the next contract by the end of this year in order to get it funded in next year's budget. Local 6000 represents 17,000 state employees.

Let's look at what the big issues might be in the negotiations.

Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing bureau chief, joined us today.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio

There was an important handshake this afternoon in Lansing.

UAW President Bob King shook hands with state government officials to officially launch the start of 2013 labor negotiations.

UAW Local 6000's contract with the state expires at the end of 2014. But the state needs to finalize the next contract by the end of this year in order to get it funded in next year's budget. Local 6000 represents 17,000 state employees.

Let's look at what the big issues might be in the negotiations.

Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing bureau chief, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Wikipedia

Are you ready to let your car do the driving?

Once we thought of the self-driving car as something from science fiction. But technological breakthroughs have been coming at ever-increasing speeds.

Google expects its driverless car will be ready for consumers in the next 3-5 years. GM thinks intelligent vehicles will be on the roads by 2020. Ford predicts 2025.

And researchers at the University of Michigan are making sure the Great Lakes State is front-and-center in developing and testing the connected vehicle technology that is essential to the self-driving car.

The director of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, Dr. Peter Sweatman, and Richard Wallace, the director of Transportation Systems Analysis for the Center for Automotive Research, joined us today to talk about the future of transportation.

Listen to the full interview above.

Republican state Representative Bob Genetski
Photo courtesy of Rep. Genetski's office

How would you like to say farewell to the state income tax?

State Representative Bob Genetski is a Republican from Saugatuck, and he thinks we should do just that.

He has introduced House Bill 4898, which Representative Genetski is calling the “Taxpayer Freedom Act,” and it would allow voters to decide whether to keep the state income tax or get rid of it.

Representative Bob Genetski joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Facebook

There’s been a lot of attention paid to the problem of Michigan’s brain drain, how to keep college graduates in Michigan, applying their talents and energies to issues and challenges that are here at home instead of heading out of state.

We discovered an intriguing program offering a strategy to keep tomorrow’s leaders in the state. It’s called Challenge Detroit. It’s a leadership and professional development program that’s currently in its first year.

Leigh Ann Ulrey was one of the 30 graduates chosen out of hundreds of applicants to be part of the 2012-2013 Challenge Detroit program. She is a culture community and diversity specialist at Compuware in downtown Detroit. She joined us today from the Compuware headquarters.

Listen to the full interview above.

user: The Ohio State University / Flickr

The FBI recently completed a national sweep that led to the arrests of 150 pimps and the rescue of 105 children who were forced into sex slavery. The sweep was called the Innocence Lost National Initiative.

There were ten children (as young as 13-years-old) rescued in Detroit and 18 arrests were made, which put the city in the number two slot in the national sweep's ranking.

Elizabeth Campbell, a staff attorney for the Human Trafficking Clinic at the University of Michigan, wasn't surprised by those numbers, even though they were higher than many of the cities that were included. 

"Every American community has this problem, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I'd like to believe that [higher numbers in Michigan] are because we have great cooperation with law enforcement, but we also have certain factors that have made us susceptible to such operations."

bucklava / flickr

The weather has been really nice lately –maybe a little cool at night- but this is July, people. What happened to the dog days of summer? One week of hot weather and then fall?

It’s time for an expert to weigh in, and that’s why we called MLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa. He joined us today to talk about the unseasonably cool weather. Listen to the full interview above.

Clarita / MorgueFile

By now you’ve heard a bit about Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing. About half of Detroit’s nearly $20 billion in debt is due to shortfalls in the funds for retiree’s benefits. According to emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s estimates, the pension funds are behind by about $3.5 billion and behind in retiree health care funds by about $5.7 billion.

Detroit is not unique in its unfunded pension and retiree health care obligations. Other municipalities in the state are also behind.

Anthony Minghine is the chief operating officer of the Michigan Municipal League.  He joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Sam Beebe / Ecotrust

An opinion piece caught our attention in the wake of the Detroit bankruptcy filing. The headline of the piece in the online magazine site Model D reads “Bankruptcy, the beginning of another opportunity.”

The author was Matthew Naimi, founder of the non-profit Recycle Here in Detroit. He describes bankruptcy as a chance to finally address the city’s dysfunction.

Naimi joined us today to discuss his piece.

Listen to the full interview above.

Flickr/Sarah Sosiak

A group of Michigan writers is headed to the Upper Peninsula where they are going to spend a couple of weeks making stops to talk about books, writing, and presumably talking a little bit about Michigan.

On the tour is Bonnie Jo Campbell, a Michigan author. Her works include the bestselling novel Once Upon a River and American Salvage, a collection of short stories. Ron Riekki, is also a Michigan author and the project director of the book tour.

They both joined us today to talk about the fourth annual Upper Peninsula book tour.

Listen to the full interview above.

user striatic / Flickr

Few things have been more politicized than the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

There’s a lot of misinformation and disinformation about the insurance program. We’re going to try to put politics aside and find out just what’s happening now and what will happen as it continues to be phased in.

Helen Levy is a professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, the Institute for Social Research, and the Ford School of Public Policy. Thomas Buchmueller is a health economist and professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

They joined us today to talk about the insurance program.

“The goal is to reach as many as we can of the approximately 50 million people who have no health insurance. And so the way we’re trying to do that is by expanding access to individual health insurance coverage for people who could by their own coverage but don’t have an employer policy,” said Levy. “And we are also trying to target the uninsured and give them coverage by expanding the Medicaid program in some states.”

It is currently unknown as to whether or not Michigan will be one of those states.

Still not sure what the Affordable Care Act means or what it does or doesn’t do? You’re not alone. Politics aside, we took a closer look at Obamacare and what it all means for you.

And, the unseasonable cool weather in Michigan is probably good for you, but not so good for the crops. Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa joined us today to talk about what is causing it.

And, a Detroit native joined us today to tell us how he sees the city's bankruptcy as a new opportunity.

Also, the fourth annual Upper Peninsula book tour is about to begin. We spoke with a couple Michigan authors who will be participating.

First on the show, by now you’ve heard a bit about Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing. About half of Detroit’s nearly $20 billion in debt is due to shortfalls in the funds for retiree benefits. According to emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s estimates, the pension funds are behind by about $3.5 billion. Unfunded health care obligations are pegged at about $5.7 billion.

Detroit is not unique in its unfunded pension and retiree health care obligations. Other municipalities in the state are also behind.

Anthony Minghine is the chief operating officer of Michigan municipal league.  He joined us today.

dnr.wi.gov

We have had many conversations on Stateside about invasive species, usually the type with scales and gills, such as Asian carp.

Today, we focus on invasive species with chlorophyll. Yes, non-native plants that are invading ecosystems in the Great Lakes.

Jo Latimore is an outreach specialist with the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University, and she joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

Wikipedia

It's been just over a week since Detroit became the largest city in American history to file for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 9.

Until now, that unwanted distinction belonged to Stockton, California.

Earlier this year, Bridge Magazine writer Ron French wrote an article about his visit to bankrupt Stockton and Vallejo, a California town that has emerged from bankruptcy.

As Ron puts it, if Stockton is an example of a city just being diagnosed with fiscal "cancer," Vallejo is a community that has finished chemotherapy. And so far nobody seems particularly thrilled with the results.

Ron French joined us today. 

Willow Run Factory and B-24 bombers
U.S. Army Signal Corps

There's a song from 1942 written by Red Evans and John Jacob Loeb that celebrates one of the most important groups to emerge on the home front in World War Two.

Collectively known as "Rosie the Riveter," women covered their hair with bandanas and picked up their tools to work in war production in factories all across America.

One of the most important plants in the war effort was the Willow Run bomber plant in Ypsilanti Township. Henry Ford built it to make B-24 bombers. 8, 685 bombers rolled off the assembly line at Willow Run during the war.

Emma Rancour was one of those Rosie the Riveters who worked at Willow Run. She installed radios in the flight decks of those Liberators.

These days, Emma Rancour lives in South Lyon. She joined us today to talk about her time at the plant.

Listen to the full interview above.

Tony Buser, flickr / Flickr

Think of a recent purchase you made. Chances are pretty good that your mobile phone was somehow involved, whether you tracked down a store location, you checked out products and prices, or you even closed the deal on your phone. 

One survey done by a digital coupon website found that more than half the consumers it surveyed used their mobile device while they bought something in March of this year.

Or let’s talk dollars and cents, lots of dollars and cents. Mobile commerce transactions are expected to hit $1.5 trillion this year. By 2017 you can look for that to top $3.2 trillion. Clearly something big is going on and we wondered what’s in store for consumers and businesses as more of us trade walking through the door of a brick-and-mortar store to a few thumb clicks on our smart phones.

Mike Vichich from Ann Arbor is the CEO and co-founder of Glyph, a mobile app that lets you pay with your mobile phone and also keep track of what you’re spending. He joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Flickr user uzvards

When it comes to connecting with those who have gone before us -- learning from them, discovering the differences and the similarities between us and great-great-grandma's generation -- you just can't beat a letter.

The words and thoughts that someone puts down on paper can speak clearly through the years and the centuries. And they're worth heeding.

That's the idea behind Michigan In Letters, an online collection. One of the contributors to Michigan In Letters is John Fierst with the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University.

Fierst joined us today to discuss the collection.

Listen to the full interview above.

Wikipedia

While Detroit embarks on the beginning days of its bankruptcy, the city’s Big Three automakers are reemerging from their own financial crises. It was four years ago that GM and Chrysler filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

And as this month marks the 150th year after Henry Ford’s birth, we take a look at what it takes to run a big auto company, and the future of Michigan’s automakers.

Bob Lutz has held top positions at GM, Ford, Chrysler, and BMW. His most recent position was that of Vice Chairman of GM from 2001 to 2010.

His newest book gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the bosses Bob Lutz has worked for, some of the most legendary names in auto history. It's called Icons and Idiots, out from Portfolio/Penguin.

Bob Lutz joined us today to talk about his book.  

Listen to the full interview above.

Today we focused our attention on what it takes to run an auto company, and the future of Michigan’s automakers.

And, we met a real life "Rosie the Riveter." She helped turn out bombers at the Willow Run Bomber Plant nearly 70 years ago.

And, we a got a preview of this year's Traverse City Film Festival, which kicks off this week.

Also, we took a look at what invasive plant species are threatening the Great Lakes and what can be done to stop them.

And, more and more people are doing their shopping on their smart phones. We spoke with a man from Ann Arbor who created an app to help with mobile shopping.

Also, John Fierst with the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University joined us to discuss Michigan In Letters, an online collection of letters that give insight to Michigan’s past.

First on the show, it's been just over a week since Detroit became the largest city in American history to file for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 9.

Until now, that unwanted distinction belonged to Stockton, California. 

Earlier this year, Bridge Magazine writer Ron French wrote an article about his visit to bankrupt Stockton and Vallejo, a California town that has emerged from bankruptcy.

As Ron puts it, if Stockton is an example of a city just being diagnosed with fiscal "cancer," Vallejo is a community that has finished chemotherapy. And so far nobody seems particularly thrilled with the results.

Ron French joined us today. 

Photo by Shawn Allee

Dioxins are environmental pollutants that are known to be toxic to many animal species, and since dioxins work their way up the food chain, there needs to be a clearer understanding of their effects on humans.

That's why we wanted you to know about a more than $14 million study being launched at Michigan State University. Researchers hope to get a better idea of how dioxins affect human health and they hope to figure out new ways of removing them from the environment.

Norbert Kaminski directs Michigan State University's Center for Integrative Toxicology and he is the lead researcher in this major study. He joined us today from the campus in East Lansing.

Listen to the full interview above.

With the historic Detroit bankruptcy filing, there has been much talk about money, about taxes, about shrinking revenue and rising legacy costs.

But two of our guests on Stateside today strongly believe all of those "dollar-based" conversations overlook one of the biggest reasons people leave Detroit and why people don't want to live in Detroit. And that is crime.

According to Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr's report to the city's creditors, Detroit's violent crime rate is five times the national average. And it takes Detroit police an average of 58 minutes to respond to a call, where the national average is 11 minutes.

Those harsh realities are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

How will these chronic, stubbornly high levels of crime affect Detroit's recovery and what can be done going forward to make Detroit a safer place to live and work?

Carl Taylor, Professor of Sociology at Michigan State University, and Jeff Hadden, the former deputy editorial page director for the Detroit News, joined us today.

This week marks three years since an Enbridge Energy pipeline ruptured near Marshall, Michigan. More than a million gallons of tar sands oil have been cleaned up from Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River, but the cleanup isn't over yet. We got an update on the cleanup efforts and what still needs to be done.

And, we heard from Michigan storyteller Allison Downey. She brought us the voices of the workers at a recent summer carnival. And, a new study at Michigan State University is investigating how dioxins affect human health. The lead researcher for this study joined us today. Also, bankruptcy isn't the only issue Detroit is facing. We took a look at how crime is plaguing the city. First on the show, eventually Detroit’s bankruptcy filing will be over. Eventually, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr will no longer be in charge of Detroit’s finances. When those things happen, Detroit will go back to being run by its city government… by a mayor, and a city council. 

Daniel Howes, columnist at The Detroit News, focused on this future in his column yesterday in the News. He joined us today to discuss whether Detroit can shed its bad governance habits in light of the bankruptcy.

Photo courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency

This week marks three years since an Enbridge Energy pipeline ruptured near Marshall, Michigan. More than one million gallons of tar sands oil have been cleaned up from Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River.

The cleanup has already cost Enbridge almost a billion dollars and they still have lots of work ahead of them.

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith has been following the story, and she joined us today from Muskegon.

Listen to the full interview above.

Bernt Rostad / creative commons

Eventually, Detroit’s bankruptcy filing will be over. Eventually, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr will no longer be in charge of Detroit’s finances.

When those things happen, Detroit will go back to being run by its city government, by a mayor, and a city council.

Daniel Howes, columnist at The Detroit News, focused on this future in his column yesterday in the News. He joined us today to discuss whether Detroit can shed its bad governance habits in light of the bankruptcy.

Listen to the full interview above.

Allison Downey / Michigan Radio

In July's segment of The Living Room, Allison Downey investigated the lure of American carnivals.

She interviewed several workers about their experiences living and traveling with the carnival. Some of them were born into the carnival life, some of them turned to the carnival as a means of escape, but all of them are there because it's what they love.

The Living Room on Michigan Radio is produced by Allison Downey and Zak Rosen.

The song at the end of the story,"Take Me to the Fair" was written by Ann Arbor's own Annie Capps and performed by Annie & Rod Capps with Jason Dennie.

Listen to the full interview above.

J. Gabás Esteban / Flickr

There was once a time when Uncle Sam and NASA opened the wallet to fund space travel and space research.

That was then. This is now.

These days, space scientists have to get much more creative in raising those research dollars.

Case in point: Benjamin Longmier, who's an assistant professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan. His special area is propulsion, as he seeks to build the kind of thruster that will push a spacecraft out of Earth's orbit and send that space craft to other planets.

We spoke to Benjamin Longmier about his research a few months ago, and now he's moving to the "creative fundraising" stage of things.

Benjamin Longmier joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Pages