Tracy Samilton

Auto Reporter/Producer

Tracy Samilton covers the auto beat for Michigan Radio. She has worked for the station for 12 years, and started out as an intern before becoming a part-time and, later, a full-time reporter. Tracy's reports on the auto industry can frequently be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on Michigan Radio. She considers her coverage of the landmark lawsuit against the University of Michigan for its use of affirmative action a highlight of her reporting career.

Tracy graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English Literature. Before beginning her journalism career, she spent time working as a legal assistant at various firms in the Ann Arbor area.

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Politics & Government
3:48 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

UAW-Moroun quid pro quo could backfire

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend."    

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The Detroit Free Press reports that the United Auto Workers union - no friend to Governor Rick Snyder - is considering a deal with billionaire Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun - also no friend to the Governor.

The deal would involve Moroun helping the union pay for ads in support of Proposal 2, which would enshrine labor organizing rights in the state constitution.

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Health
6:00 pm
Fri October 5, 2012

Michigan takes another step towards health care exchange

State officials have chosen Priority Health HMO as the benchmark for a new health care exchange.

It's another step towards the inevitable - unless the next President and Congress make major modifications to the Affordable Care Act, or nullify it completely.

Uninsured people will be required to buy health insurance through state health care exchanges by January 1, 2014.

The state's decision means all other health insurance companies must offer at least the same level of benefits as Priority Health HMO.

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C-Max v. Prius
10:51 am
Thu October 4, 2012

Ford's C-Max ads call out Toyota's Prius with gentle humor

Ford Motor Company hopes to earn a place on the hybrid map in the U.S. with its new C-Max.

The company knows that won't be easy. 

No one comes even close to the dominant sales position of the Toyota Prius line of vehicles - the original Prius, the smaller Prius C, and the larger Prius V.

Ford's new C-Max has a major bragging point:  it beats the fuel economy of the Prius V by 7 miles per gallon on the highway.

The Prius is beloved by its owners; it has one of the highest loyalty ratings of any car. 

So Ford has chosen a gentle style of humor over an aggressive pitch to sell the C-Max.

Ford today launched a series of ads using a cartoon character, "La Linea," -- a revival of the classic 1970s character from a popular Italian animated children’s series.

The ads show the character overcoming the performance limitations of a Toyota Prius, by driving a Ford C-Max.  You can see one of the ads here:

“The ads are done with just the right tonality of competitiveness versus a strong competitor. It clearly positions our product in a fun way,” says Matt VanDyke, director, U.S. Marketing Communications, Ford Motor Company .

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Auto
6:52 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

What do manufacturers want from factory workers? Problem-solving skills

The "factory on wheels"
Henry Ford Community College

It's been a long time since the days you could succeed on the factory floor with "a weak mind and a strong back," as the adage goes.

Modern manufacturers need people who use their minds more than their bodies.  

Today, manufacturing workers need to be computer literate, solve problems when the robots on the line shut down, and work in teams.

The Obama administration says manufacturing companies added jobs for the first time since the 1990s - more than 500,000 jobs in the past 30 months.

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Economy
4:48 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

MSU releases "State of the State" survey

A survey conducted by Michigan State University's Charles Ballard shows an improved approval rating for Governor Snyder.
MSU

The latest "State of the State" survey from Michigan State University indicates people in the state are feeling pretty good about the economy, a little more positive about the Governor, and the same about the President.

MSU Economics Professor Charles Ballard conducts the survey of likely voters in Michigan once a quarter. The latest was taken in August.

It shows that Governor Snyder's approval rating rose, from 33 to 38 percent. 

That's still lower than the President's 41 percent.  But that 41 percent is unchanged from the previous quarter's survey.   

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Ford Fusion
6:07 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Ford launches new Fusion in five cities

Ford CEO Alan Mulally and American Idol host Ryan Seacrest in Times Square
Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company launched the new Fusion today - in five different cities.

The big splash highlights the importance of the car to Ford.

More people buy midsize cars in the U.S. than any other size-- and midsize cars are becoming more popular in other regions of the world, too.

Ford wants to topple the dominant player, the Toyota Camry --and says the new Fusion will make even further inroads.

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Ford CEO Alan Mulally
5:52 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Mulally: "My plan is to continue to serve at Ford"

Ford CEO Alan Mulally in New York on Tuesday, touting the new hybrid Fusion's segment-leading fuel economy
Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally says he has NOT told his company's board when he will retire-- contrary to recent media speculation.

Mulally's retirement date is an obsessively pursued story in the auto press.

Bloomberg, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal especially are all vying to be the first to get it right.

Bloomberg said last week that the Board of Ford Motor Company was poised to promote Mark Fields, Ford's President of the Americas.

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Ford, Mulally and Fields
2:38 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Bloomberg, Reuters trying to out-scoop each other on Ford succession story

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co's (F.N) board of directors is considering keeping Chief Executive Alan Mulally involved with the No. 2 U.S. automaker after his retirement as nonexecutive chairman, a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Auto
12:07 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

The man brave enough to take Alan Mulally at his word could be Ford's next CEO

ford.wieck.com

Ever since Ford CEO Alan Mulally turned 65, one question invariably comes up during media scrums at Ford Motor Company events.  "When are you going to retire?" some reporter or other asks.

Now that he's 67, the question is being asked even more frequently -- even though the man is by all accounts healthy, extremely fit, and a fierce competitor on the tennis court and golf course - and even though he seems to relish his job.  

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CAW talks
10:02 am
Wed September 12, 2012

Will Canadian Auto Workers union strike? We may know in 5 days

Canadian Auto Workers union

Just five days remain before an existing contract between the Canadian Auto Workers and Ford, GM, and Chrysler  expires. 

Members of the union previously authorized their leaders to call a strike - but it's a double edged sword for the union.

Ken Lewenza is National President of the Canadian Auto Workers.

He says the union is willing to come up with a deal that preserves the Detroit Three's Canadian labor costs as they are now.

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Longer CPR
2:31 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

Can longer CPR attempts save lives in hospitals?

A new study suggests that longer CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) attempts in the hospital could save lives. 

How many lives?  That's unclear, but it would be at least in the hundreds, if not a few thousand.

Cardiac arrest is a common occurrence in hospitals.  As many as 250,000 patients's hearts stop beating in the nation's hospitals each year.

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Law
12:38 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

Group says driving-while-texting laws don't help, calls for complete ban

Is he texting or dialing?
C. Todd Lopez Photo courtesy of U.S. Army

All states should ban drivers from using hand-held cell phones, according to a new recommendation by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Only 10 states ban the use of handheld cell phones while driving.

Michigan is not one of them.

But it does have laws against sending a text while driving.

Jonathan Adkins, with the Governors Highway Safety Association, says the texting laws aren't doing as much good as they should.

"States are having some difficulty enforcing texting bans, if you have a texting only ban, it's very easy for a driver to say, oh, I was dialing my phone, I'm allowed to do that, I'm allowed to be on my phone, I'm just not allowed to text on it," says Adkins.

Adkins says banning the use of handheld cell phones altogether would solve that problem.  The safety group is also calling for tougher laws against driving while on drugs.

L. Brooks Patterson
5:42 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Oakland County Executive: "I'm on the mend"

Oakland County

From the press release:

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson released his first official statement today since the Aug. 10 accident in which he and two other individuals were victims of the driver of a Volkswagen Passat who has been charged with three misdemeanors for turning in front of Patterson’s Chrysler 300.

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August U.S. car sales
5:25 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

GM's Chevy Cruze top-selling compact in August

General Motors

General Motors says sales rose 10-percent in August, compared to the same month a year ago.

The Detroit car company also broke several sales records.

GM says it got a noticeable bump from advertising aired during the Olympics.

Sales of the Chevy Cruze, Volt, Spark and Sonic hit an all-time high.

Those are all small cars.  

The Chevy Cruze, a compact car, even beat Honda's perennial top-performer, the Civic, in August.

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international
9:21 pm
Thu August 30, 2012

"We're a broken family," one year after Flint native imprisoned in Iran

Amir Hekmati
freeamir.org

The family of Amir  Hekmati is marking the one-year anniversary of his imprisonment in Iran.

The Flint native and Marine veteran was seized by Iranian authorities while visiting his grandmother. He was charged with spying for the CIA and sentenced to death.

That sentence was lifted, but there's no sign of progress in gaining his release

Hekmati's brother-in-law, Ramy Kurdi, says the family is being careful not to offend Iranian officials by emphasizing his innocence.

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Arts & Culture
6:48 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Michigan State Fair revived under new name, "Great Lakes State Fair"

After a two-year hiatus, organizers say Michigan's state fair is back - but it will have a new name and location.

Blair Bowman  runs the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.   That's the expo center where the "Great Lakes State Fair" will be.  It opens to the public on Friday.

The fair will be under a roof instead of in the open. But it will have the same livestock and agricultural exhibits, pie-eating contests, and the like.

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Politics & Government
6:20 pm
Mon August 27, 2012

Flint's new emergency manager says city does, in fact, need an EM

Flint Emergency Financial Manager Ed Kurtz
City of Flint

Flint's new emergency financial manager disagrees -- strongly -- with recent assertions by the city council's president that Flint doesn't need an emergency financial manager anymore.  

Ed Kurtz was Flint's Emergency Financial Manager a decade ago. He says the city is in much worse shape than the first time he was in charge.

The city has $19 million  of debt, and nearly $1.5 billion in underfunded pension and retiree health care costs.

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Romney in Commerce
5:28 pm
Fri August 24, 2012

Romney makes gaffe -- after mocking Obama gaffes

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan appeared before a crowd of nearly 10,000 in Commerce, Michigan on Friday.

But an off-script comment garnered most of the media attention.

The rally was held at Long Family Orchard Farm and Cider Mill. 

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Auto
11:42 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Ford's touch screens get thumbs-down from Consumer Reports

Randy Stern Wikimedia Commons

Consumer Reports says it's not just picking on Ford with its latest blog, entitled "Why the MyFord Touch control system stinks."  The magazine says Ford is one of the worst offenders, but it says any car touch screen that takes the driver's eyes off the road is a bad idea. 

MyFord Touch controls the radio, heat or air conditioning, navigation, trip computer, and, well,  just about everything except the gas, brakes and steering wheel. 

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Migrant workers
5:52 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Two Michigan farms accused of treating workers inhumanely

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed complaints against two Michigan farms for treating migrant workers inhumanely.

The department says migrant housing at Berrybrook Farms in Dowagiac was infested with rodents and insects, and workers didn't have access to refrigerators or hot running water.

Darryl Howes farms in Copemish  is accused of underpaying workers and providing unsanitary housing and toilets.

Calls to both companies were not returned.

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