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 focuses on topics and events that matter to people all across the state.

Dittrich Furs today
User: Jamie / Flickr

When the French built Fort Pontchartrain on the banks of the Detroit River in 1701, there was a very big reason why: fur.

The trappers who brought their pelts to the fort gave Detroit its first industry.

In the 300-plus years since, Detroit's fur industry has seen good times and bad. And it is still standing in 2014.

Writer Josie Schneider tracked this history in her story for Hour Detroit magazine called Passion for Pelts. In her piece, Schneider stated that the fur industry literally formed the city of Detroit.

Homeless man
SamPac / creative commons

When you see people who are homeless, especially young people, it can be easy to make assumptions about their lives. At least that’s what Robert Sporny says.

And he says your assumptions about homeless youth are probably wrong. As a baby, he was adopted, and his childhood with his adopted family was difficult. 

There was alcoholism and abuse in the family. On the last day of high school, at age 17, Sporny decided to permanently leave the situation.

“And I got on my bicycle and basically rode all the way across town to a friend’s house," Sporny said.

Gary Peters
User: Gary Peters / facebook

It's a tight race as Democrat Gary Peters fights to succeed Carl Levin in the United States Senate. The latest Detroit Free Press/WXYZ-TV poll shows Peters with a six-point lead over Republican challenger Terri Lynn Land.

It has become clear that Congressman Peters has decided to make climate change one of the central issues of his campaign.

Andrew Restuccia reported on the Peters "Green Theme" for Politico.

Restuccia said it’s unusual for political candidates to make climate change one of their campaign focuses, especially in such a tight race, and Michigan in particular.

User: lanier67 / Flickr

Have you ever noticed there are certain places where smokers seem to congregate? How about mental health agencies? People with mental illness are far more likely to smoke than the rest of the population.

Part of the problem is that smoking has been seen as therapeutic for people with anxiety or schizophrenia. But advocates in northern Michigan say the short-term effects of nicotine don't outweigh the long-term consequences of smoking.

And they say it’s time to help a vulnerable population quit.

Interlochen Public Radio’s Linda Stephan reported on the initiative.

*Listen to the full story above.

Detroit skyline.
user JSFauxtaugraphy / Flickr

The official name for it is the “plan confirmation hearing.” The commonly used term is “Detroit’s bankruptcy trial.” And it begins today.

Stephen Henderson is the editorial page editor at the Detroit Free Press. He joined Stateside today to talk about what will be decided and the big questions in the trial.

“(The central question) really has to do with the grand bargain,” says Henderson, “which brings into the bankruptcy proceeding more than $700 million from people who have nothing to do with this proceeding.”

user: Kate Henderson / Flickr

One of Michigan's leading quilting shows is canceling its October date.

For 15 years, the Keepers of Quilting Traditions show in Durand has been considered one of the best in the state, and a major draw for the small mid-Michigan town.

Loretta Rolfes, secretary of the group, says they have struggled to keep a quality show over the past couple of years, and there are just not enough hands to get everything done this year.

Last year, the Keepers of Quilting Traditions show in Durand saw over 700 attendees. Rolfes says some young people are interested in quilting, but busy lifestyles prevent them from doing crafts like this.

“We want to keep that interest alive,” says Rolfes.

* Listen to our conversation with Loretta Rolfes above.

(courtesy of KQED)

What makes a teacher great?

And how should we measure a teacher's success and effectiveness?

These are questions that take up a lot of the debate about education in Michigan. We've got policymakers, educators, politicians and parents all weighing in, and the resulting conversation is often loud and unproductive.

Education writer Elizabeth Green explores these challenging questions, and looks at how we are preparing teachers for the realities of the classroom.

Green’s new book is Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach it to Everyone). She says great teachers are not born, but trained.

“By assuming (some teachers are born great, and some teachers aren’t), we fail to prepare teachers with the specialized knowledge that nobody is born knowing how to do. And as a result, we leave students vulnerable to teachers who haven’t learned the basic things they need to know to help students learn,” says Green.

* Listen to the full interview with Elizabeth Green above.

Today on Stateside:

  • The official name for it is the "plan confirmation hearing," but the commonly used term is “Detroit’s bankruptcy trial.” And it starts today.
  • It's back to school for students all across the state, many of whom will be meeting new teachers for the first time. Are great teachers born or trained? We took a look at what actually makes a good teacher through the book Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach it to Everyone).
  • We'd like to think issues are what matter in political campaigns. But when you're a female candidate, that's not always the case. Are women in politics covered with an unfair amount of "snarkiness"?
  • Interlochen Public Radio’s Linda Stephan reported on a debate up north over smoking among the mentally ill.
  • One of Michigan's leading quilting shows is canceling its October event. We found out why.

*Listen to the full show above.

Hillary Clinton speaks in Louisville.
User: UMWomen / Flickr

We'd like to believe that women, after all of these years, are treated equally in politics, but, as we know, that's not always the case.

A recent Detroit News column by writer Laura Berman has some examples of what she calls "a continuing snark campaign" that happens when women candidates run.

Berman’s column is titled "Candidate might dispute notion that it helps to be female." She talks about how women candidates are often subtly undermined.

The Detroit Institute of Arts
Flickr

A New York lender called Art Capital Group is offering a $4 billion loan to the city of Detroit if it puts up its art collection as collateral.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes said the city would be wise to pass on this offer.

The proposal is being backed by holdout bond insurers Syncora, and the Financial Guaranty Insurance Company.

Howes said the proposal would put DIA art one step closer to being sold, pensioners would receive a lot less money, and the loan would be spread around to other creditors.

Howes said city officials said they were not interested in discussing the deal, and that they say they will stand behind the "Grand Bargain" because it is money in hand and the deal will help avoid legal issues.

Howes also said the offer is just now coming up to stall the bankruptcy trial.

Read Howes column in the Detroit News here.

*Listen to the full interview with Daniel Howes above. 

Michigan Stadium.
UM Photography

Saturday brings the start of a new college football season. Michigan Radio’s sports commentator John U. Bacon joined Stateside to talk about what is in store for the teams.

Bacon discussed the re-match between Michigan Wolverines and Appalachian State, the pending Michigan State against Jacksonville State game, and the Big Ten.

*Listen to the full interview with John Bacon above. 

dwaynegill.com/comedy / dwaynegill.com/comedy

Michigan State Police Sgt. Dwayne Gill uses his day job as a reference pool for his stand-up sets.

Gill said that comedy came first for him, but open-mic nights did not bring in enough money, so he became a police officer.

“They knew that I was doing stand-up in the academy and I was called 'Recruit Joker,'” Gill said.

Gill started his comedic journey in 1989. He signed up for an Apollo Night contest in April 1995. After getting booed off the stage, he decided to quit comedy and focus on his police work.

Seven years later, he went to a retirement party for a trooper at the Ann Arbor Showcase, and said that gave him the itch to try comedy again.

He read books, took a class in New York, and learned more about comedy. September 11, 2002 he was back on stage, and started getting paid for his jokes in 2004.

Now he has opened up for celebrities like Tim Allen, and recently for Aretha Franklin.  

Gill has been working in law enforcement for 21 years. He is now the Michigan State Police liaison to the Legislature, and he still continues to do stand-up work.

*Listen to our full interview with Dwayne Gill above. 

Today on Stateside:

·         A New York lender called Art Capital Group is offering a $4 billion loan to the city of Detroit if it puts up its art collection as collateral.

·         College football season is starting Saturday and we took a look at the upcoming games for the Wolverines and Spartans.

·         A Michigan State Trooper doubles as a stand-up comic in his spare time.

·         40 years later, Gerald R. Ford is seen as just an average President. But is he more than that?

*Listen to the full show above. 

Wikimedia Commons

It has been 40 years since Richard Nixon resigned and Michigan’s Gerald Ford was sworn in as president. He is the only Michigander to be president, and the first  not elected by the Electoral College.

Today on Stateside, we look at Ford’s legacy with guests Patrick McLean and Gleaves Whitney. McLean is director of the Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service at Albion College. Whitney is the director of Grand Valley State University's Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies.

What kind of president was Gerald Ford? Reviews are mixed.

A 2012 Gallup poll found Americans judge Gerald Ford to be just an average president. Patrick McLean wrote a piece in Bridge Magazine that challenges that view, and said that we should appreciate Ford’s leadership.

McLean said Ford was dealt a bad hand when he was sworn in.

There was the unpopular war in Vietnam, the beginning of stagflation, high unemployment rates, and low job growth. He inherited the presidency when trust in the political establishment was at a low point.

One dollar bills
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

About 36% of Americans aren't financially prepared for their retirement, according to a recent survey by Bankrate.com.

Detroit News personal finance writer Brian O’Connor said the number isn't that surprising, given what's happened in the last several years.

“A lot of people wound up having to raid their retirements. A lot of people got nervous and took their money out of retirement accounts when the stock market fell,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor added that there are people living paycheck-to-paycheck, with wages not keeping pace with inflation. Although jobs are coming back to Michigan, those jobs aren't paying what they used to.

The survey found 69% percent of younger Americans between ages 18 and 29 don’t have anything saved. That’s understandable, because they have student loans, are trying set up households, and are getting businesses launched.

However, the 14% of people aged 65 and older with no savings are in a tight spot. These people may have had a financial crisis – a divorce, bankruptcy, medical issues, etc.

“It’s going to be a serious, serious problem,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor said one of the reasons that people aren’t saving is that there are relying on their pensions. But as we have seen in the Detroit bankruptcy, pensions are not always guaranteed.

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute / www.forestgeo.si.edu

It might just be a 57-acre stand of trees in Livingston County, but it's been added to a global network with a distinguished name: “The Smithsonian Institution’s Forest Global Earth Observatory.”

The Livingston County plot is part of the University of Michigan’s Edwin S. George Preserve.

Christopher Dick is the director of the preserve. He said the Smithsonian Global Network started in Panama in 1982, when researchers were interested in learning more about the numerous tree species packed in small areas of rain forests, so they began to protect large-scale forest inventory plots around the world.

Dick said what makes this stand in Livingston County important is that researchers from the University of Michigan have been researching these trees intensively since the 1930s.

Dick said what this means for researchers is that they now have a standardized way of comparing data from forests around the world. They are currently studying the trees to see what is happening to forests as a result of increased atmospheric carbon.

What they expect to see is that a lot of forests, whether tropical or temperate, will experience increased production of wood and increased growth rates.

*Listen to the full interview with Christopher Dick above. 

user: NHN_2009 / Flickr

State money is being used to attract everything from a Jehovah's Witnesses convention in Detroit to an international soccer match in Ann Arbor.

Detroit Free Press business columnist Tom Walsh, notes that the Michigan Economic Development Corporation has spent more than a million dollars this year to bring in things like conventions and sporting events.

Walsh says it's a common practice and could generate a lot of state tax revenue from out-of-state visitors.

Walsh says the payback from the first few events is about $20 million in state tax revenue.

Tuesday the Michigan Strategic Fund OK'd another $1 million for the program through Sept. 15, 2015.

Read more in Tom Walsh’s article in the Detroit Free Press.

*Listen to the full story above. 

www-personal.umich.edu/~ktfreese / www-personal.umich.edu/~ktfreese

What is the universe made of?

It’s a fundamental question that has been asked numerous times over the years, and Katherine Freese is devoting her scientific career to answering it.

Freese is the George E. Uhlenbeck Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan. Her book is called “The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter.”

Freese the answer is surprising ,and finding it begins by starting with what we do know.

“Your body, the air, the walls, let’s even throw in the stars and planets. All of that is made of atoms, but all of that only adds up to about 5% of the universe,” Freese said.

Freese said the quest to find the answer dates back to a Swiss astronomer in the 1930s who found something was pulling at the universe, causing it to expand. He called it dark matter.

So what does dark matter mean?

“It means that it does not shine,” Freese said. “It is invisible to our eyes and our ordinary telescopes."

Freese said scientists believe they are close to detecting it, and believe it is made of some new particle – entirely different from neutrons, protons, and everything we have learned in science class.

Freese said her book served two purposes: to talk about the hunt for dark matter, and to talk about her experience as a scientist.

*Listen to the full interview with Katherine Freese above. 

–Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom

User Motown31 / Creative Commons

There is much at stake for the Michigan Education Association in these waning days of August.

That's because teachers and school workers who are MEA members have until Sunday to decide whether to remain in their union.

Dave Eggert covers Lansing for the Associated Press. He says this is a big litmus test for right-to-work in Michigan because the MEA is Michigan’s largest public sector union. There's a one-month window every year to allow members to opt out.

There are 112,000 active members. There isn’t an estimate on how many may opt out this month. Last year, only about 1,500 members left during the opt-out window.

Read Dave Eggert's story in the Detroit News here

*Listen to the full interview with Dave Eggert above. 

  Today on Stateside:

  • Schoolteachers are deciding this month whether or not to opt out of their unions.
  •  The Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum and research complex, is adding a U of M forest to its network.
  • Michigan boasts a fine array of museums, with something for everybody: The Henry Ford in Dearborn, the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, the Great Lakes Children's Museum in Traverse City, and the Pickle Barrel House Museum in Grand Marais.
  • Music lovers will be focused this weekend on downtown Detroit for the largest free jazz festival in the world. 
  • We talked with Katherine Freese about her new book,  "The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter."

*Listen to the full show above. 

A Detroit Jazz Festival float.
Maia C / Flickr

The 35th annual Detroit Jazz Festival is this Labor Day weekend. It is the largest free jazz festival in the world, and it will be held in downtown Detroit at Campus Martius and Hart Plaza.

Chris Collins, the artistic director, and Jim Gallert, jazz broadcaster, writer and researcher, joined Stateside today to talk about the history of this festival and of jazz in Detroit.

“The Detroit Jazz Festival celebrates not only the greater jazz landscape, but, in particular, this amazing legacy of the city of Detroit,” Collins said.

Detroit came into the jazz scene in the early 1920s. Gallert said Detroit was an important feeder city. A lot of Detroit bands set the style for bands in New York.

“Many of us think of Detroit as the New Orleans of the north,” Gallert said.

The Detroit Jazz Festival is a year round effort to spread the gospel of jazz and support jazz artists. They work with students in Detroit Public Schools in what is called the "Jazz Infusion" where professional jazz artists work with the students to teach jazz, form bands, and put on shows.

The Detroit Jazz Festival runs this Labor Day weekend in downtown Detroit. You can get schedules, artists and all the information at their website.

*Listen to the full interview with Chris Collins and Jim Gallert on Stateside at 3:00 pm. Audio for this story will be added by 4:30 pm. 

Wikimedia Commons

Michigan boasts a fine array of museums. It seems there's something for everybody: 

  • The Henry Ford in Dearborn
  • The Gerald R Ford Museum in Grand Rapids
  • The Sloan Museum in Flint
  • The Great Lakes Children's Museum in Traverse City

And how about "The Pickle Barrel House Museum" in Grand Marais?

Pat Munger, president of the Grand Marais Historical Society, said the museum was originally built for William Donahey, a cartoonist and author of children’s books from 1914 to 1972.

His cartoons were about people who were about two inches tall and lived in the woods around Grand Marais.

For a promotional campaign for Monarch Food’s Pickles, Donahey drew a tiny family that lived in a pickle. The pickles were put in little pickle barrels.

One of the owners of Monarch Foods, named Mr. Murdock, was friends with Donahey and built him a pickle barrel house as a surprise to Donahey’s wife.

That house now serves as a museum.

*Listen to the full interview with Pat Munger on Stateside at 3:00 pm. Audio for this story will be added by 4:30 pm. 

dailyinvention / Creative Commons

While we were begging for winter to end, the Michigan Apple Committee was happy for the cold temperatures.

As a result, the 2014 Michigan apple crop is expected to be 28.74 million bushels. That’s about 435 million apple pies.

Diane Smith, executive Director of the Michigan Apple Committee, said that apple trees like the cold winter. The past lengthy winter allowed for the trees to stay dormant, and not wake too early before the spring.

“The apples look beautiful, there aren't any issues, and everything’s coming along the right way,” Said Smith.

*Listen to the full interview with Diane Smith above. 

Augustas Didzgalvis / Wikimedia Commons

Michigan law requires each county to file an annual report spelling out crimes committed by concealed handgun holders.

These reports were ordered by lawmakers at the same time they were overhauling Michigan's concealed handgun law to make it easier to obtain permits.

The reports were supposed to make it easier to take away the permits of any concealed gun holder who broke the law.

However, some counties are not filing the mandated reports.

John Barnes dug into this story for MLive. He found that last year, 11 counties broke this law.

Barnes says the main reason given for not filing the reports is that the law was an "unfunded mandate."

From 2011 to 2013, there has been an estimated 50% increase in people who have concealed gun permits. One in 16 adults have the permit, but that does not meant that they are all carrying a gun.

Barnes said there is not a penalty for counties who do not comply.

“What you see are some extreme examples of people who commit heinous crimes, who continue to carry gun permits, even though they are in prison,” Barnes said.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Christian Jansky / wikimedia commons

  Lawmakers in the state House are back for a special summer session day tomorrow. It’s just one day and it’s the last session day before the Legislature returns from its summer break in September.

MLive’s Lansing reporter Jonathon Oosting joined Stateside today to talk about what will be covered in the session.

First: Wolf hunting.

Oosting said the Senate initiated legislation would enact the third wolf hunting law in as many years. Two of those have already been suspended by anti-wolf-hunting groups. This third law would render those two moot. If the House approves this legislation tomorrow, wolf hunting will continue to be allowed in Michigan regardless of what voters say in November.

Second: Building protection for LGBT rights.

Oosting said legislation still needs to be introduced. Lawmakers have been debating the issue behind the scenes for months. There is a possibility legislation would appear tomorrow, but we're more likely to see it in September. Republicans seem to be willing to have the discussion, but are still sympathetic to arguments regarding religious freedom.

Third: IBM ruling

It is a Supreme Court ruling dealing with tax liability in the state. Oosting said the Supreme Court found that the state left a few loopholes in place when it eliminated the Michigan business tax. As a result, IBM is owed what could be $1 billion by next year.

*Listen to the full interview with Jonathon Oosting above. 

user: The.Rohit / Flickr

If you've spent any time in Michigan, chances are strong that you've enjoyed the beauty of the Lake Michigan.

We've talked to scuba divers, snorkelers, even surfers who love Lake Michigan. Well, how about this: crossing Lake Michigan on stand-up paddleboards.

That's what Andrew Pritchard and four of his friends are planning to do.

Pritchard said the idea started about a year ago. He and his friends decided it would be a fun challenge a great way to raise money. They hope to raise $10,000 for the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

The trip would be 58 miles, starting in Algoma, Wisconsin and paddling straight east to Frankfort, Michigan 24 hours later.

They will have a support boat with them, equipment with communication and emergency gear. They will keep food and refreshments on their boards so that they won’t have to step foot on the boat.

Go to here to find out how to support Andrew and the guys in their stand-up paddleboard trek across Lake Michigan.

*Listen to the full interview with Andrew Pritchard above. 

Today on Stateside:

·         Lawmakers in the state House will be back for a special summer session day tomorrow.

·         Eleven counties failed to file an annual report required by law that spells out crimes committed by concealed weapon holders.

·         Michigan apple growers are having a hearty year thanks to the cold winter.

·         A recent survey found that 36% of Americans have nothing saved for retirement. Detroit News personal finance reporter Brian O’Connor tells us more.

·         Michigan may accept 36 tons of radioactive waste after other states have refused to take it.

·         A group of friends plan to trek across Lake Michigan on Stand-Up Paddleboards to raise money for the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

·         Fur trapping in Michigan: then and now. 

*Listen to the full show above. 

Ari Moore / Flickr

You could say Michigan was built on fur pelts.

Native tribes were trapping animals for fur long before the French founded Detroit in order to control the rich fur trade in the Old Northwest.

We wondered what trapping is like in Michigan today.

Roy Dahlgren is the man to ask.

He's the District 3 President of the Upper Peninsula Trappers Association.

Dahlgren said trapping was at its peak before Michigan was a state, and that Mackinac Island was built to protect the fur trade.

Dahlgren said fur trapping has become a hobby where you can make a little money on the side. There are still some who rely on it as a good source of income.

In addition to supporting today's trappers, Dalhgren’s organization also works to get children involved in trapping.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Eusko Jaurlaritza / Flickr

Michigan officials might allow up to 36 tons of low-level radioactive waste from Pennsylvania into a landfill in Belleville after other states have refused to accept it.

The technical term for this sludge is "technologically enhanced, naturally occurring radioactive materials," or TENORM. The waste comes from oil and gas drilling.

Keith Matheny’s article in the Detroit Free Press prompted action by Governor Snyder, who announced he will convene a panel to look at the situation.

Matheny said in another article that EQ, a USEcology company, announced yesterday that they have decided to voluntarily stop taking oil and gas related waste while this panel makes its decision.

State Representative Dian Slavens, D-Canton, plans to introduce a House bill to ban importing radioactive waste into Michigan. And State Senator Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said he will do the same in the Senate.

*Listen to the full interview with Keith Matheny above.

Today on Stateside:

  • It was a busy political weekend as Michigan Democrats and Republicans held their respective conventions. Two Lansing reporters gave us a roundup of these state conventions.
  • The emerald ash borer is said to be the most destructive bug to ever attack U.S. trees. Its attack on America's trees began in a corner of Wayne County.
  • A Michigan poet spent some 40 years translating the powerful words of Peruvian poet Cesar Vallejo.
  • A labor shortage is slowing down new home construction. We talked to the CEO of the Homebuilders Association of Michigan about what it means for the state's economy if new houses just can't be built.

* Listen to the full show above.

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