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.

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There is a new board game called “Mackinac Island Treasure Hunt.” It was created to get people thinking more about Michigan's natural beauty and historical treasures.

Jim Muratski, co- creator with Barbara Overdier, said they came up with the idea when they were in the woods thinking to themselves, “what’s a good way to have other people see what’s happening out here?”

“I think people are used to just visiting the downtown part of Mackinac Island and not really getting out into the state park area, which we find pretty fascinating,” Muratski said.

The board game is actually five games in one. There is a card game, a nature hike board game, a cooperative scavenger hunt game, a memory game, and a treasure hunt game.

More information on the board game is available here

*Listen to full interview above. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It's been known for decades as the world's largest walled prison - the State Prison of Southern Michigan in Jackson.

Now some of the very colorful stories from that prison and from Jackson are told in the new Cell Block 7 Prison Museum. It's a joint venture of the Ella Sharp Museum and the Michigan Department of Corrections.

The museum is renting part of cell block seven, which still houses inmates.

MLive’s Leanne Smith said the museum covers the history of the prison, the inmates, wardens, and guards since 1838.

“It is an actual cell block,” Smith said. “You walk in and there is no doubt as to where you are.”

*Listen to full interview above. 

robertafking.com

His name was Noah. He was born with cerebral palsy. When he was 17, he lost his battle against infections that had ravaged his lungs.

Noah's mother, Roberta King, is from West Michigan. She has shared the story of her son's life in her new memoir He Plays A Harp.

“It’s a joy to me to bring him to people that never knew him. And I think through that I feel a little less of the loss,” King said.

The story starts with the Noah’s conscious decision to die and then walks through his parent’s journey in dealing with the loss.

“A lot of parents experience the birth of their children. And, gratefully, not a lot experience their death,” King said. “I wanted people to know what that was like to walk your child from one place to another.”

*Listen to full show above. 

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Get this, 75% of the nation's tart cherries are grown in Michigan, most of that in the northwest Lower Peninsula.

But every year the industry that brings us cherry pies and the Traverse City Cherry Festival faces restrictions set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Ron French, the Senior Writer for Bridge Magazine, said because so many tart cherries are grown in such a small area, the weather can greatly affect the crop. So the USDA puts a limit on the percentage of Michigan's tart cherry crop that can be sold so prices don't swing too dramatically.

“The result of that is that in some years as much as one half or more in cherries produced in Michigan is left rotting on the ground,” French said.

Most growers favor restrictions, but one food processing company in Elk Rapids is suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

French said Elk Rapids is hoping to remove the restrictions on cherries completely.

How much does your vote count? Thanks to gerrymandering, it depends on where you live.
Theresa Thompson / Flickr

The curtain is closing on baby boomers, as the so-called "millennial generation" is taking up a larger share of the electorate. This voting block surpasses seniors who are eligible to vote.

But many millennials are not politically engaged.

“We feel that as one voice, as a younger person, we don’t have a lot of say in politics and I think that also drives their decision to remain out of the discussion as well,” said Connor Walby, a millennial and the campaign manager for State Rep. Frank Foster, R-Petoskey.

Walby also said the negative messages in politics that are seen on social media affect millennials' decision to vote as well.

“With our generation and having Twitter and Facebook, we are blasted with a lot of the 24 hour news cycle. And with that you also get a lot of the negative news coverage,” Walby said.  “I think a lot of our generation is pretty sick and tired of some of the policies that have been put in place and they are just sick of the politicians and the political atmosphere in general.”

  Today on Stateside:

·         The money for K-12. There's nearly 14-billion dollars. Who's getting what?

·         73 years ago a Congressman from Washington State floated a new idea: build a highway from Alaska to Detroit.

·         Unsettling news in the war on HIV: cases in Washtenaw County hit a 15 year high.

·         Every movement has its landmarks and history. And that certainly holds true for the gay rights movement. Other major American cities have had their LGBT history told, but what of Detroit?

·         There is less interest in the “Up North” cottage market, however cottages are now cheaper than ever.

*Listen to full show above. 

user: Jimmie / Flickr

Democrats are accusing Governor Snyder of gutting public education, but Governor Snyder says that’s not so. This year’s education budget is a billion dollars more that it was in 2010, the year before he took office.

There is nearly $14 billion in the education budget.

“It’s really a fight over how we want to spend this large sum of money that we are setting aside for schools every year,” said Brian Smith, MLive education reporter.

In the budget, each school district will get a minimum of $50 additional dollars per pupil, while those who have lower funding may receive an extra $175 equity payment.

Critics say this method disproportionately distributes more money to charter and cyber schools.

NIAID / Flickr

A total of 33 new HIV cases were reported in Washtenaw County in 2013. That's 37% more than the cases reported in 2012. This is the highest number of cases in the County since 1999. This also reflects a trend happening in Southeast Michigan.

Cathy Wilczynski is a nurse practitioner and program supervisor at Washtenaw County Public Health. She said most of the newly infected are younger.  

“We have ten new cases between the ages of 15 and 24. That is unheard of,” Wilcynski said.

The cases are clustered in the African-American and gay communities. Nearly 80% of the cases in the region involved men who identified themselves as men who have sex with men.

Wilcynzski said one of the reasons for the increase could be that the message that HIV exists is not real to those under 30.

“We need to come up with a new message. We need to figure out what message is going to work,” she said. “I had someone tell me the other day that there is no ownership to that message anymore.”

*Listen to full story above. 

Wikimedia Commons

Every movement has its landmarks and history, and that holds true for the gay rights movement.

LGBT history has landmarks in New York, with The Stonewall Inn, Christopher Street, and the theater district.

San Francisco has the Castro and Market Districts, and the San Francisco City Hall where Harvey Milk was assassinated.

Chicago has the Old Town Triangle District and the home of early gay rights leader Henry Gerber.

But what about Detroit? LGBT historian Tim Retzloff says there is a rich history of Detroit’s gay community that has not been properly told.

Retzloff corrected that omission with the dissertation that earned his PhD from Yale: two volumes, 680 pages, taking an exhaustive look at gay life and history in Detroit and its suburbs from 1945 to 1985.

“Detroit had a different story than what you are finding in New York and San Francisco, or even the other cities that had been done,” Retzloff said.

user: gwyrah / Flickr

If you are looking to buy a cottage up north, now is the time to buy. With the recession, the burst of the housing bubble, and the loss of pension plans and other savings, there are a lot of cottages on the market today and they are more affordable than ever.

John Carr is the associate broker with Coldwell Banker in Harbor Springs. Carr said buyers will never see prices this low. Houses on Lake Michigan are as low as $179,000 and condos next to ski resorts are going for under $100,000.

“You are never going to see prices this low,” Carr said.

Emily Fox / Michigan Radio

Owning a cottage up north used to be the ‘Michigan Dream’.  However, with the recession, the burst of the housing bubble, the auto bailout, and the loss of pension plans and other savings, interest in the market is low.

Craig Hinkle, a broker and owner at RE/MAX Grayling, said auto workers used to be one of the biggest cottage buyers, and now many others are not holding on to their second homes. In 2006 values dropped 25-30%. With the market so low, people who want to sell can’t.

“You put up a cute log place on one of these trout streams, you are all proud of it. You get a good price on it, you post it on the internet, you do a mailing, and you get zero responses and it’s just like ‘Oh my goodness, what’s going on here?’” Hinkle said.

John Beck is an associate professor at the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Michigan State University. He said a lot of auto workers had cottages because they had disposable income, but now they are not making enough to do so. The younger generation does not have the income, assets, or savings for a second home, or can’t even afford first homes. The interest is also not there. 

*Listen to the interview on Stateside at 3:00 pm. Audio for this story will be posted on Michigan Radio by 4:30 pm.

Today on Stateside:

  • A new report finds that of the $18 million spent on campaign TV ads over the first half of this year, outside groups kicked in 14 million of that money. We asked who had been working so hard to flood the airwaves, and how it might impact the way you vote.
  • Detroit's bankruptcy settlement has gotten through the State Legislature and the private foundations. Now it's up to 32,000 city employees and retirees. Michigan Radio's Detroit reporter Sarah Cwiek joined us to discuss where the voting is now.
  • Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has been at the job for six months. Today Detroit News Columnist Daniel Howes reviewed his time in office.
  • Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, but today we brushed up on the history of the Star Spangled Banner.
  • And tomorrow's celebration will also mean lots of traditions, fireworks, parades, and barbeques. More often than not, it’s the men doing the grilling. Stateside’s Renee Gross looked at why men are usually the ones manning the grill.
  • We also spoke with one Detroiter who refused to say nice things about his city. He explained why.

Mike Duggan

There seems to be little doubt that Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is making his mark.

His bulldog nature and savvy political instincts have combined to make Mike Duggan a force to be reckoned with, even as he serves under a state-appointed emergency manager.

Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes reviewed Duggan's progress in his first six months. He said that people should not expect that he change the world in 6 months. What’s important here is the process and the direction.

“The direction is positive and bipartisan, and he’s clearly repaired relationships with city council,” he said.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The clock is ticking.

Detroit's bankruptcy settlement has gotten through the State Legislature and the private foundations. Now it's all up to 32,000 city employees and retirees.

They're being asked to say "yes" to having their pensions cut, and promising not to sue the city.

In return, the pension cuts will not be as severe as they would be under what's become known as the Grand Bargain.

Michigan Radio's Detroit reporter Sarah Cwiek joined us on Stateside. She explained the transparency issue surrounding the voting process, what the different classifications of retirees mean, and what we should keep our eyes on, during next week leading up to the July 11th deadline.

*Listen to full interview above.

User: Keith Ivey / flickr

A new report finds that for every dollar spent by a Michigan candidate in campaign ads, outside groups have spent $3.50.

Looking at it another way: of the $18 million spent on campaign TV ads over the first half of this year, outside groups paid for $14 million of that.

Rich Robinson, executive director of the campaign spending watchdog group Michigan Campaign Finance Network, talked about the consequences of outside money in Michigan political campaigns.

U of M School of Music, Theater and Dance Professor Scott Piper (U-M SMTD) and pianist Michael Carpenter at Stamps Auditorium, performing 'The Star-Spangled Banner.'
Courtesy of Mark Clague

It’s one of the most stirring and glorious melodies ever sung – and it can be one of the easiest tunes to sing badly.

But did you know that our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” started out as an English club song? And it has officially been the national anthem for less than a century?

Mark Clague is a musicologist with the University of Michigan. He’s been working on a project, “Poets and Patriots: A Tuneful History of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’” 

Today, he shared some of that history with us.

* Listen to the full interview above. 

This segment originally aired on February 12, 2014.

One of the photos archived on Dickson's blog. This graffiti, in Dickson's word, "does a pretty solid job depicting the city’s main roads."
James David Dickson / Down I-94: a blog about Detroit

"Say Nice Things About Detroit."

That cheery slogan was first launched in the '70s by Emily Gail. She had a shop in downtown Detroit when it was the murder capital of the country, and she grabbed a lot of attention with that slogan.

Now it’s been revived, as Detroit has been under the spotlight of bankruptcy and the "Grand Bargain."

James David Dickson, a commentary editor at the Detroit News, believes the chirpy slogan isn't helping anyone in Detroit or the city itself. His opinion piece "Why I refused to say nice things about Detroit" was on the Detroit News blog.

Wikimedia Commons

“Let us close the springs of racial poison. Let us pray for wise and understanding hearts. Let us lay aside irrelevant differences and make our nation whole.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act outlawed discrimination against African Americans and women.

Leslee Fritz, deputy director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, joined Stateside to reflect on this moment in history and its connections to Michigan.

“It really is the foundational act of so much of the law that we rely on today,” Fritz said.

Fritz said John F. Kennedy really began the process, and Johnson saw it through. The Civil Rights Act led to the Voting Rights Act the following year, as well as the Fair Housing Act, and the Americans with Disability Act.

When the act became law, it was right in the middle of Freedom Summer, the effort to register black voters in Mississippi. Fritz said that the University of Michigan provided the largest number of volunteers for that effort.

Fritz added that Michigan has a proud history of being very progressive. There are a number of people who played key roles, both in the activist effort as well in the legal efforts to get the Civil Rights Act passed. Michigan voters in 1963 approved a new state constitution that set up the first civil rights commission in American history.

“We should be proud of that legacy and frankly, we should be doing a better job today of living up to it,” Fritz said. 

*Listen to the full interview above. 

- Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom. 

Sonja Stark / Flickr

When it comes to great places to SCUBA dive, lots of people immediately think of the waters of the Caribbean or Mexico, with lots of amazing underwater life, beautiful coral, gentle warm water.

But there’s a hardy group of SCUBA divers who point to Michigan as one of the best places to dive.

In the Caribbean, you’re looking at coral and fish. But lakes have great shipwrecks that are over 150 years old.

Today on Stateside:

user: Wystan / Flickr

The 90th anniversary of a Ku Klux Klan rally in Jackson, Michigan is approaching.

On July 4, 1924, 100,000 KKK members marched in a two-mile-long procession.

Joellen Vinyard, a professor of history at Eastern Michigan University, joined Stateside to talk about the history of the Klan in Michigan.

Vinyard said Michigan was fertile ground for Klan recruiters in the early 20th century. As the auto industry grew, white and black southerners traveled north for jobs. Immigrants also came into the state looking for jobs, and most of them were Catholic.

“The Klan in Michigan was as anti-Catholic as it was anti-black,” Vinyard said.

Vinyard said the Klan’s stated aim was to “keep America safe for Americans,” and its members viewed Catholics as a threat to democracy and the Protestant way of life they believed American was based on.

She added that Klan members were not ashamed to be affiliated with the group. Many marched without their hoods. Coca-Cola even openly sponsored one of their rallies.

However, as the country moved into the Great Depression, the Klan began to lose popularity. Scandals were unveiled, funding was being mismanaged, and people began to feel betrayed by some of their own.

Vinyard says we need to study the history of the Klan and understand who they were. 

“The Klan in Michigan in the '20s, it was a grassroots movement. It’s a reflection of democracy in action,” she said. 

*Listen to the full story above. 

–Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom.

Pothole in a road.
Wikimedia Commons

There was much anger and disappointment last month when state lawmakers failed to figure out a way to fund badly needed road repairs before leaving for their summer break.

And now there's road funding trouble ahead in Washington, D.C. Federal gas taxes go into the Federal Highway Trust Fund. The money is handed out to states in the form of road construction payments.

Michigan gets more than $1 billion a year from the trust fund. But that could come to a screeching halt before the summer is out.

Mlive's Jonathon Oosting wrote that the fund is running low due to declining fuel tax revenue, and could be fully depleted by late August or September.

“The federal government is already making plans to scale back payments to states such as Michigan, if Congress doesn’t figure out a way to replenish this fund,” Oosting said.

The fund is not collecting as much money as it used to from gas taxes, as people are driving more fuel-efficient vehicles, or opting out of driving in favor of public transportation.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Wikimedia Commons

There are many different auto museums – some dedicated to displaying cars with unique engineering and designs, and others dedicated to displaying the automobile’s impact on society.

Michigan's auto museums have had little success. Flint’s "Autoworld" theme park closed two years after opening, and the Walter P. Chrysler Museum closed its doors recently.

Europe has had a different experience.

Autostadt, which means “auto city” in German, is in Wolfsburg, Germany. It averages about two million visitors per year. BMW and Porsche also have notable museums in Germany.

Why do auto museums in Europe succeed, while those in the auto capital of the world have not?

“Europeans seem to have such a deep bond with their vehicles,” says Paul Eisenstein, publisher of  The Detroit Bureau. “They are seemingly more interested in the mechanicals and what have you. They have a tendency to be drawn to automotive exhibits, museums, parks, and everything at a much greater rate than Americans are.”

*Listen to our interview with Eisenstein at 3 p.m. today. We'll post the audio for that interview here around 4:30 p.m. 

Wikimedia Commons

30 years ago, "Autoworld" opened its doors on July 4, 1984 in Flint, Michigan.

It was an indoor theme park and museum dedicated to preserving and spreading automotive achievements.  

Bill Shea, editor and reporter for Crain’s Detroit Business, said that the attraction wasn’t that popular and visitors were confused about what Autoworld was.

Was it supposed to be a museum or a theme park?

This led people to ask why a group of people invested $80 million into the endeavor.

Organizers hoped Autoworld would revitalize the inner city of Flint, develop Michigan’s tourism industry, and preserve the automotive history in the city.

But, in 1987, the attraction closed its doors permanently. Here's a video of them imploding the building from ABC News:

*You can hear our interview with Bill Shea today at 3 p.m. We'll add the interview to this post at 4:30 p.m.

Wikimedia Commons

When Gov. Rick Snyder signed Michigan's school aid budget last week, that act officially threw a big curve ball to teachers.

The budget included a provision ordering the Michigan Department of Education to produce and administer a MEAP test in the next school year, not the Smarter Balanced Assessment test they'd been planning to use –the test based on the Common Core standards that the state has been using.

If this all sounds confusing, try being a teacher in Michigan.

MLive’s Brian Smith has been talking with teachers about how they feel about the MEAP being back on.

“A lot of these teachers that I talked to are really just frustrated by the fact that now they just have a couple of months to prepare for a test they still haven’t seen,” Smith says.

He says the problem is that the MEAP hasn’t really been under active development, making sure the test is aligned with the state's content standards and the Common Core. So the test will have to be restructured.

Smith says in his report that all of the back-and-forth on the state's assessment test has left teachers feeling disrespected.

“They feel like their voices are not being heard in this conversation,” Smith says. “They’re not being included in the talk about how we are testing our kids and when we are testing our kids, and what that test is going to look like.”

*Listen to the full story above. 

Wikipedia

We wrestled with the polar vortex all winter long. Now it looks like we could be wrestling with a mosquito vortex all summer long.

Ned Walker is a professor of entomology, microbiology, and molecular genetics at Michigan State University.

Walker anticipates a bad mosquito season this summer. Right now in lower Michigan, for a variety of ecological factors, we have three varieties of mosquitoes flying around at the same time.

The first species is the spring mosquito, a consequence of the polar vortex. They live in woodland pools that were formed by melted snow and spring rains.

“Our mosquitos are cold-hardy; they are used to the northern conditions,” Walker says.

The second species is the flood plain mosquito, which hatches after heavy rainfall in the spring.

The third is the summer flood water mosquito. Their larvae live in places that stay wet from a half-inch of rain or more after seven to 10 days.

Walker says there are about 60 different types of mosquitos in Michigan. 

*Listen to full interview above.

Wikimedia Commons

MLive and farmerweather.com meteorologist Mark Torregrossa’s report on lightning shows that Michigan is one of the most dangerous areas in America during a storm, ranking 13th in lightning fatalities by state.

More than 100 people in Michigan have been killed by lightning since 1959.

Torregrossa says the reason for the high number is that storms often occur when Michiganders are outdoors.

“It’s boating. It’s fishing. It’s camping. And then it’s playing outdoor sports,” Torregrossa says.

The sports that have most lightning fatalities are soccer and golf.

Torregrossa says if you hear thunder or see lightning, you should be inside.

“Lightning can travel quite a distance from a storm,” Torregrossa says. “In fact, 90% of all lightning injuries and deaths happen outside of the thunderstorm.”

So the moments before and after storms are dangerous times as well.

Torregrossa adds that counting the time between lightning and thunder is very accurate.

“About every five seconds, the lightning is about a mile to maybe two miles away,” Torregrossa says.

And that, he says, is too close for you to be outside.

*Listen to full interview above.

Today on Stateside:

  • A conversation with Detroit Police Chief James Craig about the struggles and successes of his first year.
  • Gov. Rick Snyder signed Michigan's school aid budget last week that included a provision ordering the Michigan Department of Education to produce and administer a MEAP test in the next school year – not the Smarter Balanced Assessment test they'd been planning to use.
  • Michigan is one of the more dangerous states in the country when it comes to lightning strikes.
  • A mosquito invasion is coming to Michigan this summer. One species came about as a result of the polar vortex.

*Listen to the full show above.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

It has been exactly one year since James Craig returned to his hometown as Detroit’s 42nd police chief. He was hired by Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

“The city was not the city I had left,” Chief Craig said.

Chief Craig came back to a city facing bankruptcy - a city with soaring crime rates, response times of 58 minutes, police precincts that were not open to citizens after 4 p.m., and uniformed officers who were demoralized and spread thin working 12 hour shifts.

  Today on Stateside:

  • A new report says state disinvestment in roads, schools and other infrastructure has put Michigan's future at risk.
  • University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman has spent the past 12 years at the helm of  one of the most influential universities in the country: During her tenure the university faced a number of challenges, including financial cuts from the state and a challenge to its use of affirmative action in admissions.
  • The Woodward Dream Cruise says it's the largest one-day celebration of classic cars in the world. But many residents who live near Woodward Avenue, especially in the Oakland County city of Royal Oak, complain about screeching tires, revving engines, and the unmistakable roar of glass-pack mufflers.
  • Attorney Kenneth Feinberg will run the General Motors Ignition Compensation Fund. Who's eligible for compensation? When and how do they file a claim? And how much money are we talking about?
  • There are people in Michigan getting a dose of arsenic every time they drink the water coming from their taps. And some of them have arsenic levels well above the federal standards. Michigan Radio's "The Environment Report" is presenting a five-part series this week called "Michigan's Silent Poison," in partnership with The Center for Public Integrity and the public radio show, "Reveal."

*Listen to the full show above. 

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