Stateside with Cynthia Canty

Monday through Thursday @ 3:00 p.m. & 10 p.m.

Conversations about what matters in Michigan.

Stateside with Cynthia Canty covers a wide range of Michigan news and policy issues — as well as culture and lifestyle stories. In keeping with Michigan Radio’s broad coverage across southern Michigan, Stateside with Cynthia Canty will focus on topics and events that matter to people all across the state.

sun rays shining through clouds
Piccolo Namek / Creative Commons

Summer will officially arrive Saturday.  

MLive and Farmerweather.com meteorologist Mark Torregrossa says the coming summer looks really nice, despite the thunder and rain we've been seeing.

Torregrossa says there is a hot dome of air creating a stationary front over Michigan, which is bringing in the storm system that spawned tornados in Nebraska, and he says the storms could continue over  the weekend.

He also says El Nino may have an effect on our summer.

El Nino is when a large part of the Pacific over South America and Australia begins to warm up more than normal – which could help the second half of our summer stay cooler and lead to a warmer and drier winter.

Torregrossa predicts overall precipitation this summer will likely be normal.

*Listen to full interview above. 

Today on Stateside: 

  • Mary Barra was back on Capitol Hill with independent investigator Anton Valukas and a 300-page report. 
  • European car sales are on the rise after a six-year slump.
Katy Perry / Facebook

All this week I'm doing a special series about music. 

Why? Read this.

I'm asking people a pretty personal question: What’s the song that saved your life?

So far, people have told us why R. Kelly, Bryan Adams (he sang "Summer of '69") and Billy Joel are so important to them. 

Disa Grove's song helped her see herself in a new way. Grove grew up near Los Angeles and moved to Michigan last fall.

Peter Ito / flickr

The state Senate failed to pass a road repair plan.

Drivers who vote have been clear that they want these roads fixed, yet Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, says the failure was "not that big a deal, really."

Chris Gautz, the Lansing reporter for Crain's Detroit Business, explained what Richardville was trying to say.

Gautz said Richardville was trying to point out that the money budgeted for road funding would be in next year’s budget, and that money wouldn't start being generated until January.

“All of the big, monumental changes they were trying to make in the state’s transportation funding system were long-term fixes, and weren’t going to fill a pothole on your street this summer,” Gautz said.

*Listen to the  full interview above. 

Wikimedia Commons

Did you know one cow can produce 10,000 gallons of manure each year?

Now do the math: A large farm with a thousand cows means about 10 million gallons of manure every year.

Now, thanks to research from Michigan State University, that cow poo could become the source of, believe it or not, clean water.

Steve Safferman is an associate professor of biosystems and agricultural engineering at Michigan State University.

Safferman says 90  to 95% of cow manure is water.

There is a multi-step process used to retrieve the water. First the manure goes through pretreatment, then filtration, air stripping, and reverse osmosis.

Research shows that from 100 gallons of cow manure, 50 gallons of water can be retrieved.

The water is just like fresh water that comes out of the faucet. This water even has higher quality of drinking for the cows than well water.

Within a year of commercializing, there has been a lot of interest from farmers who are interested in the water-extraction system.  

Safferman said the system could be very useful for farmers who may have to sell their livestock because there is not enough water. It could also cut their water use potentially in half. 

*Listen to full interview above.

user paul (dex) / Flickr

The recall notices just keep coming.

The ignition-switch crisis took a big new turn Monday as General Motors recalled 3.4 million cars.
That's on top of the 2.6 million small cars already called back for ignition switches that can slip out of the "run" position if the key is carrying extra weight and is somehow jarred. That could cause the engine to stall and kill power steering, power brakes, and air bags.

The problem has been linked to at least 13 deaths and over 40 crashes. However, GM sales have not been greatly affected.

This latest recall comes as CEO Mary Barra prepares for what will undoubtedly be a rough session tomorrow on Capitol Hill before the House Energy and Commerce's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

*Listen to full interview above.

Here's what we talked about on Stateside today:

  • State lawmakers say "yes" to the MEAP and "no" to the Smarter Balanced Assessment tests in Michigan school. What happens for students next year?
  • Just the way students end their school year with a report card, so should our elected representatives be measured in how effectively they tackled issues important to Michigan. Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau reporter Kathy Gray breaks it all down for us in terms of pass, fail, or incomplete.
  • Stateside’s Emily Fox reports from the Upper Peninsula to see if the region has what it takes to develop a new wine region in the state.
  • With soccer, there's a lot of credence put into national identities and how teams play. But our guest Andy Markovits challenges us to think differently.
  • Stateside’s Kyle Norris talks about stories she heard when she asked this question, “Do you have a song that saved your life?”
  • Also, a Michigan traveler describes her 1,000-mile Great Lakes island adventure.

*Listen to full show above. 

You get a taste of a bigger story as people mention the songs that saved their lives, such as this one - Summer of '69 by Bryan Adams.
User: Klaus Hiltscher / flickr

Today we’re starting a new series about music. We’re calling it "What’s the Song That Saved Your Life?"

Stateside’s Kyle Norris asked a lot of people that question. She found that sometimes they have an immediate answer. And other people really have to think about it.  Kyle talked with folks at a bowling alley in Wayne, Michigan, and shares their responses.

*Listen to full interview above.

All this week we’re going to hear from people who say one song saved their life. And we want to hear from you. Do you have a song that saved your life? Tell us the story! Call us and let us know at 248-962-3806. And you can also use #song-saved-me on twitter. Stateside's Kyle Norris produced our series, and she may even use your story on the air.

Loreen Niewenhuis at Manitou Passage (Lake Michigan) with the Manitou Islands visible offshore.
User: Loreen Niewenhuis / Facebook: Loreen Niewenhuis Fan Page

After hiking some 2,000 miles around the Great Lakes, Loreen Niewenhuis is headed to the islands of the Great Lakes for another thousand-mile adventure of hiking, boating, kayaking, and bicycling.

First, she hiked completely around Lake Michigan, her "1,000 Mile Walk on the Beach." Then she decided to hike the shorelines of all five Great Lakes, another 1,000-mile adventure.

She has turned both of those into books.

Now she is working on her third journey: A 1,000-mile Great Lakes Island adventure. This month, she'll be visiting Isle Royale to help out with wolf and moose research.

Niewenhuis joined Stateside today to talk about the environmental issue she observed on her island journeys and recount her amazing experiences, including searching for moose bones on Isle Royale and hiking Pictured Rocks on Lake Superior.

*Listen to the full interview with Loreen above.

Alberto G. / Creative Commons

One of the many decisions made by state lawmakers during their budget actions last week was to keep the MEAP in place for another year.

The more than 40-year-old MEAP exam stays put even though Michigan adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010. And the state's education department has been working for the past three years to bring in the new testing that is aligned to the Common Core. That new test is called the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

The state lawmakers' recent decision could mean that educators and students have to hit the reverse button and go back to MEAP. But State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in April that the MEAP was simply “not an option."

Brian Smith has been reporting on the Common Core and Smarter Balanced vs. MEAP tussle. He said that as the issue moved forward, the Department of Education started to talk to testing vendors and see what could possibly be done.

Playing styles of these soccer players from Brazil and Croatia might not reflect their national characteristics.
User: Diário do Nordeste / flickr

Last Thursday afternoon, the 2014 World Cup began as Brazil and Croatia ran out onto the pitch in Brazil. And with that, fans of Association Football (aka “soccer” here in the USA) plunged into a month of the High Holy Days: World Cup action.

Many fans of “the beautiful game” get downright nationalistic as they cheer on their favorite team, whether it be England, Italy, Brazil, Germany, Ivory Coast ... and of course, the U.S., which opens its World Cup bid this evening at 6 against Ghana.

With soccer, there's a lot of credence put into national identities and how teams play. But, if you think the playing style of your favorite team somehow reflects some deep cultural trait of that country, Stateside guest Andy Markovits says think again.

Markovits is a University of Michigan political scientist and lifelong soccer fan. He joined us today to talk about how generalizations of national characteristics can be superficial and dangerous. 

*Listen to the conversation above. 

pixabay.com

As school ends and summer gets underway, the challenge in many Michigan households is teens trying to find a summer job.

The unemployment rate for teens is expected to hit 26.5% this summer, somewhat better than last year's level.

It certainly matters to parents who aren't thrilled about a 17-year-old sitting around all summer playing X-Box. But how much does it matter to Michigan's economy and to the teens?

Charles Ballard is an economist with Michigan State University.

Ballard says teen unemployment has always been higher than adult unemployment, which isn’t surprising, when teens have the least experience and skills.

One thing to remember is that the unemployment rate is the rate of people who are actively seeking work. A lot of teens may have an unpaid internship, studying abroad, participate in athletics, or are in summer school and are not considered unemployed.

Ballard said that the statistics are not always entirely reliable, as they don’t accurately measure those who are earning money in other ways, such as babysitting or yard work.

The state figuring showed about 170,000 teenagers from ages 16-19 will be working, leaving almost 64,000 actively looking teenagers unemployed.

One of the problems that may be keeping teenagers out of the workforce is adults who are taking jobs from teens due to the recession.

Ballard said another reason more teenagers are not working is also because of the different options available for earning money. It does not mean that all those who are considered unemployed are not just twiddling their thumbs.

However, not having a job in your teenage years may have negative effects for some, such as those who dropped out of school and did not work. They would have a harder time finding employment as adults.

Ballard said that he would like to see Michigan try to improve the educational outcome by having a longer school year. Though it may limit the time students have to work in the summer, it will provide them with a better education and skills which they need in order to get some of these jobs.

Ballard added that he will keep making the case for longer school years.

“When we look at all the other developed countries in the world, they have a longer school year than the U.S. And in an awful lot of cases they have much better educational outcomes,” Ballard said. 

*Listen to full interview above. 

-Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom. 

Wikimedia Commons

The United States has lagged way behind other nations in high-speed rail – which includes trains with top speeds of up to 180 miles an hour. What would it take for us to catch up?

Those are some of the questions being tackled in a study digging into Americans' thoughts on high-speed rail. Wayne State University, in partnership with the University of Michigan and Drexel University, has launched this two-and-a-half-year study.

The study looks into the future of transportation and how high-speed rail in the United States will fit into that future.

The study focuses on how people feel about high-speed rail and how they envision the future of transportation.

Allen Batteau is the leader of the study. He is a cultural anthropologist and associate professor of anthropology at Wayne State University.

Batteau’s hope for the study is to move the discussion of high-speed rail away from "how much will it cost" to forming a vision of how high-speed rail can help bring us together.

Susan Zielinski is the head of the Sustainable Mobility & Accessibility Research & Transformation (SMART) at the University of Michigan.

Zielinski says transportation is evolving into many different options and it is important to look into those options as our society evolves with it. 

*Listen to full interview above.

– Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Here's what we talked about on Stateside today:

· Attempts in the state Senate to come up with more than a billion dollars a year to fix roads fell apart last night, after lawmakers spent 15 hours in session. They only have one more day before summer campaigning.

· One couple’s attempts to live off the grid were almost foiled after local officials said their living arrangements were against the public health code.

· Two Michigan destinations made the top 10 , but there are plenty of other spots that are underappreciated.

· A study looks into the future of high-speed rail in the United States and the future of transportation. 

· The unemployment rates of teens for the summer hit 26.5%. How much does this matter to Michigan’s economy and the teenagers?

*Listen to full show above. 

Brendon Connelly / Flickr

Michigan destinations are working their way into these lists: Saugatuck was voted No. 1 Summer Weekend Escape in America in a recent USA Today reader poll. And a somewhat obscure Upper Peninsula drive got on a top 10 "Best U.S. Road Trips" list.

Ellen Creager, a Detroit Free Press Travel writer, says the big reason for the publicity is the Pure Michigan campaign. However, don’t limit yourself to “Cool Places to Visit” lists when choosing your next Michigan vacation spot.

36th Constitutional Convention

Dennis Williams is the new president of the United Auto Workers Union, and members appear to be very optimistic about the leadership.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes told Stateside that the union views Williams as somebody who can be an innovative bargainer and bring a new perspective.

Howes in his column today said that Dennis Williams has his work cut out for him to correct the mistakes of his predecessor, Bob King. 

Williams is the first UAW president who never headed one of union’s main three departments: Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. He is also the first who has never worked in an auto plant.

*Listen to full interview above. 

Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

After 15 hours in session, the state Senate failed to come up with a plan for more than a billion dollars a year to fix roads.

Today is the last day to come up with a solution before lawmakers leave town to start summer campaigning.

President and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Rich Studley, said the Chamber is pushing for lawmakers to come up with almost $1.6 billion in road funding.

Studley said the governor put forward a plan to invest $1.2 billion, and the state House has approved a plan to reallocate $450 million into road funding.

A statewide public poll showed that motorists are strongly in favor of fixing the roads and are willing to pay for it.

Studley said there is no good reason for the Legislature to recess for the summer.

“Our message is stay in session and do your job,” Studley said. “While Michigan lawmakers have been talking about this issue, virtually every other state in the country has tackled this problem.”

Studley added that for every year the state doesn’t take action, the state loses almost $100 million in value with deteriorating roads and bridges.  

“Michigan’s motorists now in effect pay an inaction tax of over $300 a year in unnecessary road repairs,” Studley said.

*Listen to the full interview above.

– Bre’Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom.

User: Daniel Kulinski / Flickr

One state lawmaker says it's "like controlling very large purse strings with very little accountability."

Since 2011, more than $65 million in state money has been awarded to businesses all around Michigan, all on the signatures of just two individuals.

Is this a worrisome lack of transparency? Or a good effort by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to be nimble, to be able to get state incentives into the hands of businesses to help them grow and strengthen Michigan's economy?

Chris Gautz reported on this for Crain's Detroit Business.

*Listen to full interview above. 

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

When you are a school district where more than 80% of your students live in poverty, every penny that helps those students is critical.

And that's why there has been a collective gasp of disbelief, even anger, with the news that Detroit Public Schools has lost $4 million in Head Start funding.

The reason DPS lost the money is because they missed the application deadline.

A school spokesperson blamed a technical problem in uploading the application.

Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley joined us on our show.

*Listen to our conversation with Rochelle above.

User: Goodiez / flickr

 

Why is it that one product will resonate with a group of consumers, while a similar one just can't quite catch on?

It's the sort of dilemma you can imagine Don Draper and Peggy Olson trying to figure out in an episode of "Mad Men."

Turns out, it was a dilemma for a major tobacco company: trying to figure out why Detroit smokers were so loyal to the competition – in this case, Kool cigarettes in the 1970s.

Steve Neavling is an investigative journalist who looked into this bit of tobacco history for Motor City Muckraker.

*Listen to the full interview above.

User: Ryan Ruppe / flickr

​If you get the sense that your house is becoming increasingly crammed with "stuff", it might be time to declutter.

And that could mean a garage sale.

If you do it right, a garage sale can be a total win-win: You get rid of stuff you really don't need anymore. And you get money!

Writer Micki Maynard not only trolls her way through garage and estate sales around the country, she holds garage sales at her Ann Arbor home two or three times a year.

She joined us today with some tips for a successful sale.

Here's what we covered on today's Stateside:

  • An internal Veterans Affairs audit reveals more than 120,000 veterans are waiting too long for care at the VA. Here in Michigan, 3 VA facilities have been selected for a closer look. For today’s show, we asked our guests what might be happening at those facilities.
  • Since 2011, more than $65 million in state money has been awarded to businesses all around Michigan, all on the signatures of just two individuals. Chris Gautz from Crain's Detroit Business joined us today to discuss the MEDC.
  • Tobacco giant Phillip Morris faced some tough competition from Kool cigarettes in the 1970s. An investigative journalist told us what he found out, and why the brand was overwhelmingly popular with African Americans, especially in Detroit.
  • Also, scenes that might appear in a disaster movie are happening along the Great Lakes. Huge, freak waves have raced ashore and pulled people out into the lake, leaving drowned victims in their wake.
  • Detroit Public Schools blew a deadline and missed out on $4 million in Head Start funding. We asked our guests what can be done now.
  • Grand Valley State University is asking if higher education is becoming too politicized. They will hold a three-day summit to explore this issue.
  • And we'll get tips from a garage sale veteran: how to get the best results and the most money out of your garage sale.

User: Don Harder / flickr

The controversy over long wait times and improper scheduling practices at Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics has cost the job of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

It led to an internal VA audit of its health care facilities.

And that has caused the VA to flag three facilities in Michigan for a closer look.

For this conversation, we asked what might be happening at those facilities, and what this means to veterans in Michigan.

We're joined by Detroit Free Press Washington reporter Todd Spangler and Dr. Joe Schwartz, physician and former Republican Congressman from West Michigan. Dr. Schwartz is now a visiting lecturer at the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.

*Listen to the full interview above.

User: Ken Colwell / flickr

Are the liberal arts becoming too politicized? Are politics – and political ideology – taking too strong a hold on higher education?

A growing number of academics worry that the answer may be "yes."

With that in mind, there's a three-day summit coming up at Grand Valley State University. It's billed as "A Meeting of Minds, Left and Right," exploring these questions.

We were joined today by Gleaves Whitney. He's the director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University.

Wikimedia Commons

If owning a jet is something you've always dreamed of, the Detroit Public School system is auctioning off a couple of them.

An online auction being held today by Biddergy.com gives you the chance to bid on a T-39A North American Sabreliner mid-sized business jet. The U.S. Air Force had donated the plane to the school's aeropsace program. Biddergy says it's in fairly rough shape, which is why the starting bid was $500. 

There's also a 1969 American AA –minus its wings. Starting bid is just $50.

Another auction on June 19 will include vintage items from aircraft engines to propellers and more, dating all the way back to World War II.

Biddergy is helping the DPS sell off stuff it just doesn't need anymore. So far, the auctions have brought more than $370,000 to the district.

Kalamazoo Public Schools

The Kalamazoo Promise, an anonymous benefactor, is providing four-year-scholarships to almost all of the students who graduate from Kalamazoo Public Schools.

One student from Kalamazoo Central High School, Jay Valikodath, said the Promise changed his and his classmates’ lives, because they'll be able to start their careers after college debt free.  

Bob Jorth, the director of the Kalamazoo Promise, says they have covered 43 state-supported community colleges and universities in Michigan. They are partnering with the Michigan Colleges Alliance, which will add 15 private colleges and universities in Michigan.

The Promise will cover tuition at colleges with the same average tuition rate as the University of Michigan’s College of Literature Arts and Sciences. Anything beyond that will be covered by the institution.

The promise has paid more than $54 million in tuition for 3,286 students, not including this current school year.

A total of 679 of those students earned associates, bachelors, or some form of post-secondary education degree. That’s a little more than 20% of those who have received grants.

“The biggest challenge is completion,” Jorth said. “The No. 1 factor in getting kids through college is making sure they are ready to start college.”

Jorth added that the main goal is to get as many students as possible pursue a post-secondary education.

*Listen to full interview above. 

-Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom. 

Heroin abuse in Michigan is on the rise. Felix Sharpe of Michigan's Bureau of Substance Abuse and Addiction Services says that 680 people died from heroin overdoses in Michigan last year.
United Nations Photo

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that heroin use in the U.S. jumped 79% from 2007 through 2012. And heroin overdose deaths rose 45% between 2006 and 2010.

Police and public health officials say Michigan is on the same track, with heroin addiction and overdose deaths on the rise.

Special Agent Rich Isaacson is with the Detroit division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Isaacson says the increase in heroin use and overdose deaths is directly related to the rapid increase in the misuse of opiate drugs, such as OxyContin and Vicodin. Isaacson says these prescriptions can get very expensive, which can result in addicts turning to heroin, which is also an opiate drug, for a much cheaper price.

Isaacson says prevention and education are very important to reduce the addiction and overdose rates. He adds that strict oversight on how the drugs are obtained and educating doctors about addiction could help as well.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

user Nemodus photos / Flickr

A herd of goats has been evicted from weedy lots on Detroit's west side.

The animals were brought into the blight-ridden Brightmoor neighborhoods late last week to eat the overgrown weeds and grass.

But the city of Detroit swooped in straight away to shut down the goat farm, called Idyll Farms Detroit, noting that current zoning laws don't allow goats within the city limits.

Overgrown weeds and trash on Westbrook Street, between Acacia Avenue and Kendall Street, made the block nearly impossible to pass through. The Brightmoor community partnered with Idyll Farms to clear it.

On Memorial Day weekend, the community loaded up five 30-yard Dumpsters with trash. Eighteen male goats were brought in Thursday afternoon to be used as lawn mowers, so volunteers can pick up the trash.

Around noon the next day, Detroit Animal Control showed up to enforce an ordinance against farm animals within the city limits.

Leonard Pollara is a consultant with Idyll Farms Detroit. He said that Idyll Farms was aware that an ordinance existed, but they were asked by the Brightmoor community not to engage with city hall, and said the city would not enforce the animal control ordinance.

Pollara said that Idyll Farms was fully prepared to remove the goats at any time if the city required them to do so.

Pollara added that Detroit has not yet perfected an ordinance that would allow for farm animals within agriculture zones.  However, Idyll Farms has experience in operating farms and managing agriculture systems.

“We are very interested in offering our resources and expertise to the city,” Pollara said.

Pollara added that they are not interested in backing away and want to remain in a partnership with the Brightmoor community.

*Listen to full interview above. 

–Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom

The Michigan House of Representatives.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The budget clock is ticking in Lansing.

Only three days remain for lawmakers to wrap up work on the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year, and get it done before their self-imposed deadline of early June before their summer break.

Some big issues have been tackled, but there are big ones still unsettled.

Jonathan Oosting, the Capitol reporter for MLive, and Kathy Gray, the Lansing reporter for the Detroit Free Press, spoke to us today.

*You can listen to our conversation above.

There are a few things to expect from this new budget:

  • Road funding may receive about $400 million.
  • The higher-education budget could increase significantly.
  • An increase in revenue-sharing payments to cities, counties, villages, and townships.
  • A new helicopter for Michigan State police, and a new post in Marshall.
  • Film incentives will likely stay at $50 million.
  • The School Aid Fund could increase.
  • Community colleges could receive a 3% bump.

–Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Flick

Imagine an international trail around the Great Lakes. Biking. Hiking. Paddling.

7,000 miles, stretching through eight states and the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

That goal was the focus of the recent Great Lakes Coastal Trail Conference.

Dave Lemberg is an associate professor of geography at Western Michigan University and he's with the Lake Michigan Water Trail Association.

Lemberg said the trail is not just for hiking, it also includes sea kayaking, biking, and motoring. The trail will add to the Great Lakes Circle tours, which goes around all the lakes.

The goal is to connect the shoreline cities, resort beach towns, state parks and other areas around the Great Lakes.  

*Listen to full interview above. 

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