WUOMFM

Tracy Samilton

Auto Reporter/Producer

Tracy Samilton covers the auto industry, business, and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio.   She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly "bitten by the radio bug," and never recovered.  She took over the auto beat in January, 2009, just a few months before Chrysler and General Motors filed for bankruptcy.  Tracy's reports on the auto industry can frequently be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on Michigan Radio.   Her coverage of Michigan's Detroit Three automakers has taken her as far as Germany, and China. 

Tracy graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English Literature. 

Tracy Samilton

The future of medical marijuana dispensaries in Michigan could be decided tomorrow, when the state Medical Marijuana Licensing Board meets again to discuss whether current dispensaries should be able to get a license.

At the last meeting, one member said dispensaries should have to close their doors until the application process opens – or risk not getting a license at all.

The state’s licensing department will make a recommendation on the issue at the meeting.

Protesters in Detroit supporting DACA recipients.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Some immigration attorneys are going to be working long hours to help people in a soon-to-expire program that defers deportation for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

That's after President Trump announced this week he's ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — or DACA — program.

Those attorneys are especially eager to counsel people eligible to renew their protection, so they don't miss the deadline to do so.  

drinking fountain
jasongillman / pixabay

A teacher is suing Detroit Public Schools for allegedly retaliating against her after she reported unsafe water at her school, John R. King Academy. 

According to the lawsuit, in the spring of 2016, Detroit Public Schools shut down water fountains in more than a dozen schools after high levels of lead or copper – or both – were found in the drinking water. 

John R. King Academy had too much copper. 

BasicGov / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

Michigan's "Hardest Hit" program for homeowners is winding down.

Hardest Hit is the federal program to help people keep their homes after the Great Recession.

Mary Townley is vice president of Step Forward. That's the name of the state's Hardest Hit program.

She says Michigan has received $761 million from the federal government since late 2010.

A little more than half has gone to blight demolitions, and the rest to homeowners in distress.

a chevy bolt
General Motors

The U.S. House will vote on bills after Labor Day that would let automakers test self-driving cars in every state, replacing the current state-by-state patchwork of regulations, and allow cars without steering wheels and other human-operated controls.

Two Michigan members of the House, Democrat Debbie Dingell and Republican Fred Upton, helped draft the bills.

kids in classroom
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Kids in charter schools in Detroit performed twice as well as those in traditional public schools on the M-STEP test. However, both groups still had extremely low scores on the state's yearly standardized assessment.

Only 23.6 percent of charter school students were proficient in English language arts, compared to 10.6 percent in traditional public schools.

In math, it was 12.7 percent versus 6.1 percent.

The historic Whitney Mansion
Levin Energy Partners

The 123-year old Whitney Mansion wastes a lot of electricity. But now the Detroit icon is going green. Let's just hope the ghost living there is okay with it.

UPDATED version
Scio Residents for Safe Water

More than 130 people who live in Ann Arbor and neighboring townships attended a town hall about the city's dioxane-tainted groundwater Wednesday night.

The plume of contaminated water has been spreading from the former Pall Gelman plant on Wagner Road for decades. 

Over the years, Ann Arbor has had to shut down one of its city wells after detectable levels of the suspected carcinogen was found in them, and a number of homes in Scio Township had to be taken off well water and connected to Ann Arbor's water system because dioxane got into their wells. 

Vimeo

The Michigan Department of Transportation and a foundation started by a grieving father are splitting the cost to add a protective cable median barrier on a stretch of I-96.

Steve Kiefer is a GM executive who lost his son Mitchel in an accident caused by a distracted driver who was texting.

"Mitchell's car was struck from behind with such force that it was driven across the median into oncoming traffic," Kiefer said at a press conference.  "Mitchell's car was broadsided by a truck and Mitchell was killed instantly."

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

People in the Howell area gathered Thursday night at the First Presbyterian Church for a special "prayer service for racial harmony and peace," singing hymns, reciting prayers, and listening to a sermon by Pastor Judi McMillan.

McMillan says she decided to hold the service to help the many people in her congregation who are feeling distressed after seeing the racial violence in Charlottesville.

They want to know what to do, she says.

Bilal Tawwab, the superintendent of the Flint Community School District: "Right now, we are putting systems in place so that we're able to meet the needs of all of our children."
Flint Community School District

A federal district judge assigned to the ACLU's lawsuit over inadequate special education for Flint schoolchildren says he's "leaning" towards siding with the ACLU. 

The lawsuit claims Flint kids aren't getting screened for disabilities that could be linked to lead poisoning, and even children whose disability is known to the school district are not getting the special education help they need to succeed.

A long table surrounded by red chairs in a school classroom.
BES Photos / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Last year, when Michigan Technical Academy needed money for capital improvements and operations for its elementary and middle school, it turned to private bondholders for a loan.

The contract gave bondholders the right to all but 3% of the district's state school aid money in the event of default. 

So when Central Michigan University revoked the district's charter this spring, CMU got its 3% cut of the July and August school aid payments, and bondholders got the rest.

That left nothing for teachers. 

screen grab MDHHS

Michigan's so-called "Safe Delivery" law has resulted in 202 newborns being safely surrendered since 2001.

The law lets a woman give up a newborn, anonymously if she wishes, at police and fire stations and hospitals.

Nearly all of the infant surrenders have taken place at hospitals, and most of those were at the same hospital where the woman gave birth. 

Program consultant Jean Hoffman says it's often the most desperate and frightened new mothers who have not heard about the law. So publicity efforts focus on trying to educate others who could help her.

screen grab Ford Motor Company

For the second time in 20 years, Ford Motor Company has settled an investigation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over complaints of sexual and racial harassment at its Chicago Stamping and Chicago Assembly plants.

The EEOC says Ford also retaliated against workers who reported the harassment.

Ford has agreed to pay up to $10.1 million to victims, as well as institute training for workers.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Arbor Arbor residents with deep front yards may soon be permitted to put solar arrays in them.  

The city's planning manager, Brett Lenart, says some people think ground-mounted solar panels are unsightly -- but others welcome them as a sign of environmental progress.

So the planning commission aimed to strike a balance when developing recommendations for an ordinance.

People with enough room in the front yard for solar panels will have to hide the back and sides with hedges or fences if that's what the public would see.

FLICKR USER PAHO/WHO / FLICKR

Vaccine education groups are asking parents to get their kids vaccinated before school starts.  

Veronica McNally is with the Franny Strong Foundation. Her baby girl died at age three months from whooping cough.

She says parents are also protecting babies and immune-compromised people when they vaccinate themselves and their children.

"Whooping cough, for example, would require several doses of dTAP (the pertussis vaccine) before an infant would get vaccine-conferred immunity," says McNally. "So it's important to give that infant the circle of protection -- vaccinating everybody around the infant. And the same is true of influenza."

DTE

DTE Energy is disconnecting customers who refuse to have their old analog electric meters replaced with smart meters.  The smart meters use a radio frequency transmission to report real-time electricity use by the customer.

Bob Sitkauskas is in charge of DTE's advanced metering program. He says customers can still opt out of the advanced metering program, but keeping the old meter is out of the question.

"We're still going to replace the meter with one of our advanced meters," says Sitkauskas. "But we will shut the radio off for that (opt-out) customer."

Macomb Daily

Macomb County officials say the county clerk's office is falling into chaos as supervisors and staff flee a hostile workplace of the new clerk's making. 

Courtesy photo / City of Flint

Long-time Flint City Councilman Scott Kincaid plans to run against Flint Mayor Karen Weaver in her November recall election.

Kincaid is already on the November ballot for his 9th Ward seat. He says he could potentially win both the council race and the mayor's race.

"If I win the mayor's race, then I would have to just resign from the city council," says Kincaid.  "And there'd be a special election and then we'd go through that process."

graph showing decline in mortality after vaccination initiatives.
Centers for Disease Control

County health departments are in their usual August scramble to schedule meetings with parents who don't want to vaccinate their children.

Ann Arbor skyline
Gsgeorge / goodfreephotos / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The primary election Tuesday could make a big difference in Ann Arbor's skyline — as well as its future.

The election pits two kinds of Democrats against each other: those who want to slow down the city's growth, especially when it comes to new high-rise development, and those who say continued growth is necessary.

karen weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver will face a recall election in November over her support for a trash removal contract opposed by the city council. Executives at Rizzo, the trash removal company, were later indicted in Macomb County for bribery and fraud.

Weaver wanted the petition thrown out, saying that recall organizers didn't gather enough valid signatures. But Genesee County Clerk John Gleason says his review of the petitions found enough valid signatures to call the election.

United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement

The woman's husband is among the more than 100 Iraqi nationals living in Michigan who were arrested by Immigrations and Customs agents in June. 

Friday, she sat in the back row of federal district judge Mark Goldsmith's courtroom, listening as the government argued her husband and the others they detained should face immediate deportation, and the ACLU argued that amounts to a death sentence for many -- and is against both U.S. and international law.

She withheld her name, for fear of retaliation in her husband's case, but agreed to tell his story.

flickr

Michigan's tourism industry has a lot of trouble finding seasonal workers.

That's especially true for all the bustling hotels, fudge shops, and other summer-only businesses in northern Michigan.

Monday's announcement by the federal government that it will add more H-2B visas for temporary summer workers could help, at least, a little.

Sasha Kravchenko and Jessica Fry, MSU scientists
Michigan State University

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel says proposed cuts to National Institutes of Health grants would be devastating.

He says the U of M could lose $92 million if the cuts go through.

The Trump administration is proposing to strictly cap the amount allowed for overhead, including facilities and administration costs.

A deployed airbag.
Bee Forks / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A federal judge has chosen a new "special master" to oversee Takata restitution payments. 

That's after the first proposed special master, Robert Mueller, was appointed to lead an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.  

Harvard University professor Eric Green will be in charge of disbursing nearly $1 billion in payments to people and companies harmed by Takata's defective airbags. From the court notice:

public domain pictures

It may be audacious, given the current climate in Washington, but U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., has introduced a bill to expand Medicare.

Levin says Medicare should cover vision, dental and hearing problems, which affect many seniors. He says many people don't even realize these conditions are not covered for the elderly, who are the most likely to need treatment for them.

Levin says it's important to improve and expand health insurance in the U.S., not limit it.

Solar panels on a roof
wikimedia commons

Solar roof customers are more than paying their share of maintaining the electric grid, according to a new study commissioned for the Institute for Energy Innovation (IEI).

Michigan's new energy law charges the Michigan Public Service Commission with devising a new rate to compensate people with solar roofs when their extra electricity goes onto the grid. 

A red Dodge RAM pickup
Fiat Chrysler

Fiat Chrysler is being sued for an alleged defect in the emissions systems of some trucks that can result in a 25% drop in fuel economy, according to a lawsuit filed by the firm Hagens Berman.

The lawsuit says Fiat Chrysler sold hundreds of thousands of 2013 to 2017 RAM 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks with faulty emissions systems. 

Owners who brought their trucks in for a repair of the systems found that the fix resulted in dramatically lower fuel economy.  

Michigan Radio

A new study from Harvard University concludes that there is no "safe" level of air pollution.

Researcher Qian Di and colleagues find that particulate matter and ozone kills thousands of people every year, even at levels below the federal standard.  

James Clift of the Michigan Environmental Council says the message for the state is clear: DTE Energy and Consumers Energy should not delay shutting down their remaining coal-burning plants.

Pages