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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It's a familiar Michigan story. In 2008, General Motors decided to shutter a stamping plant in Wyoming - just outside Grand Rapids.

But to Austin Bunn, a new professor of writing at Grand Valley State University, the close of the plant wasn't the end of a story, but a beginning.

For the next four years, Bunn interviewed the workers at the plant about the experience of job loss, displacement and their lives after the close.

From these transcripts he created a documentary play, RUST. It was originally produced at the Actors' Theatre of Grand Rapids.

What you're about to hear is adaptation of the play for radio using local actors.

RUST was co-produced by Austin Bunn and Zak Rosen. Interviews conducted by Austin Bunn and Working Group Theatre. Featured actors include Tracey Walker, Rena Dam, Chris Nye, Wayne Swezey, GF Korreck, Paul Arnold, Fred Stella, and Laurence Drozd.

You can learn more about the Actors' Theatre of Grand Rapids and Austin Bunn's work by visiting their websites.

Listen to the full audio above.

macombcountymi.gov

It should be that every senior citizen in Michigan is safe and secure with no threat of abuse.

But that is not the case.

Elder abuse is real, whether that abuse is physical, emotional or even financial. It is one of the most underreported crimes in our state and across the country.

One guess is that 100,000 seniors in Michigan will be victimized by someone looking to take advantage of them.

This morning, Cynthia Canty was given the privilege to emcee the unveiling of a new campaign called "No Excuse for Elder Abuse".

She introduced a panel of high-ranking judges and prosecutors representing seven counties in Southeast Michigan.

Each of the judges and prosecutors at the event this morning have agreed to serve as the "champion" for the No Excuse for Elder Abuse campaign in his or her county.

Among those members was Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith.

Smith joined us on Stateside today, to give us his experiences on elder abuse and to give us a breakdown on the patterns of what is happening, who is taking advantage of Michigan's senior citizens and what he hopes the campaign will achieve. 

There will be Public Service Announcements hitting the airwaves promoting the confidential hotline for reporting abuse. That number is 855-444-3911.

Listen to the full interview above.

UofMHealth.org

How much do you know about palliative care?

If your answer is, 'not a lot,' you're not alone.

Though palliative care can serve an important role in a patient's life, it doesn't get much attention. 

Let's start off with a definition from Dr. Sekaran. 

Dr. Nishant Sekaran is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Michigan, and is the author of reports about the growing palliative care industry in Michigan that Michigan Radio is airing this week. 

"When I talk to my patients, we are going to be very aggressive about focusing on your quality of life," said Sekaran. "That doesn't mean that you can't also be aggressive with pursuing medical therapy that is consistent with your goals and wishes about your care. Palliative care is really about clarifying what the patient's goals of care are while focusing on the physical and psycho-social  aspects of illness."

On today's show - petition-gathers appear to have turned in enough signatures to put a referendum on wolf-hunting in Michigan on a statewide ballot. We spoke to the Director of the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected campaign.

And, it was a familiar story back in 2008 - auto jobs being lost by the hundreds. We talked with a writer who followed the stories of one shuttered GM plant.

And we talk with Dr. Nishant Sekeran about the importance of palliative care in medicine.

But first, it should be that every senior citizen in Michigan is safe and secure, with no threat of abuse. But that is not the case in Michigan. Elder abuse is real. We talk with Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith about elder abuse and what can be done about it.

Wikipedia.org

It was 80 years ago this week that the Detroit Institute of Arts debuted the series of frescoes by Diego Rivera titled "The Detroit Industry Murals."

The 27 panels depict workers and industry in Detroit and Michigan's innovative technology. The murals, and Diego Rivera are renowned around the world.

80 years ago was a stormy time in Detroit history. It was a troubled time for workers, and the country was in the depths of the Depression.

A demonstration by unemployed workers led to five protesters being shot to death by Dearborn Police and Ford security guards - "The Ford Massacre" occurred on March 7th, 1932.

The unveiling of the murals at the DIA sparked a huge controversy. The Detroit News called for the walls of the court to be whitewashed.

The DIA weathered the storm and eventually "Detroit Industry" not only became "accepted," but hailed around the world as a masterpiece.

Unions and labor are in the headlines today, especially with Michigan becoming a right-to-work state this Thursday.

What would Diego Rivera say about the current state of labor and industry in Michigan right now?

Graham Beale is the President of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Graham takes us back to the very beginning, when Diego Rivera was brought to Detroit to create these murals. He talks about the uproar that occurred after the unveiling of the murals and what they mean to us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

www.tsa.gov

The TSA will be relaxing its security standards, at least a little.

Starting April 25th, you will be able to carry onboard pocketknives with blades less than 2.36-inches long and no wider than a half-inch.

Souvenir baseball bats, golf clubs, billiard cues, lacrosse and hockey sticks will also be allowed.

The TSA's announcement was greeted by howls of protest from flight attendants, federal air marshals, some pilot unions, aviation insurers, even airline CEOs.

Critics say in the hands of the wrong passengers, the knives can be used to harm flight attendants and other passengers.

The TSA insists it’s unlikely in these days of hardened cockpit doors and other preventive measures that the small folding knives could be used by terrorists to take over a plane and that allowing the little knives onboard frees up TSA screeners to look for non-metallic bombs.

There's a hitch.

Here in Michigan, pocket knives are not allowed in Michigan airports.

So at the end of next month, Uncle Sam gives the green light to small pocket knives. The question is, will Lansing or the TSA  have the final say on the rules.

We spoke with Aviation attorney Pete Tolley. He gave us a breakdown on the Michigan law that was passed after 9/11, and answers the question, "is there a way states can defer TSA rules when it comes to defining their individual list of forbidden items?"

Listen up, doodlers.

If your kids love drawing, here's a testament to the power of practice.

Ryan Stegman grew up in Troy, and has recently been commissioned to draw the first three parts of the  Superior Spiderman Series, from Marvel Comics.

As a kid, Ryan fell in love with comic books, and set a goal of being a Spiderman comic book illustrator.

Cynthia Canty spoke with Stegman about his love for comic books, and how he made it to the big leagues.

Listen to the full report here.

USFS

Should the Michigan Department of Natural Resources have the power to set aside an area of land specifically to maintain biological diversity?

It means protecting the variety of plants and animals living in that area.

The question has fueled passage of Senate Bill 78 in the State Senate. It awaits action in the State House.

The bill would prohibit  the Michigan DNR from setting aside land specifically for maintaining biodiversity.

The MDNR would have to ask permission each time it wanted to set aside land.

Senate Bill 78 is sponsored by Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba).

He thinks the MDNR should have to request approval from the Legislature each time it wants to set aside land.

Two weeks ago, Stateside spoke with Senator Casperson about the bill.

"Biodiverity can mean different things to different parts of the land. We think there should be oversight. It seems like it's dependent on who's in charge that gets to do that. And we have a concern with that, especially when you look at what they already have. A lot of the argument against this was designed to sound like, if they don't have this specific ability that they're done. They can't do anything to protect biodiversity. I don't believe that to be true. Not with 22 tools in the toolbox to do that."

The MDNR had been planning to create "Biodiversity Stewardship Areas" on both state and private land.

These areas would assist in encouraging biodiversity.

It seemed that most everyone was on board - environmentalists, hunting groups - and then things got derailed with the new bill.

Today, we got a chance to speak with  Marv Roberson, a forest ecologist with the Sierra Club.

He gives us insight on what Biodiversity Stewardship Areas could do for Michigan and how Senate Bill 78 will have an impact on our state.

Listen to the full interview above.

whitehouse.gov

How much will Michigan residents actually feel the effects of the sequester?

Well, we're still waiting to find out. 

The lack of clarity concerning the real amount of jobs being furloughed and cuts to departments and agencies is largely due to a continuing resolution that President Obama will sign this week.

The resolution will fund the government for the next six months in order to get the country through the next fiscal year. 

Todd Spangler covers the nation's Capitol for the Detroit Free Press and joined us from Washington  D.C.

It's been 80 years since the Detroit Industry murals debuted at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

On today's show, we'll take a look at the controversy surrounding those famous works by Diego Rivera

Just what would the artist think about labor and industry in present-day Michigan?

Also, the TSA will allow small knives onboard flights, and we'll have more on the biodiversity bill in front of the Michigan Legislature.

We also met up with Ryan Stegman. From his basement studio in Grand Blanc, Stegman is drawing Spiderman. He's been commissioned to draw the firs three issues of the brand-new "Superior Spider Man" series.

But first up on today's show, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette this morning called for a grand jury investigation into contaminated steroids linked to hundreds of cases of illness and 14 deaths in Michigan.

The request was filed today with the state Court of Appeals.

If the court says yes to the investigation, the judge who would lead it and the grand jurors would be drawn from Macomb, Genesee, Livingston, and Grand Traverse counties. Those are the counties where the clinics that administered the contaminated steroid injections are located.

It’s a somewhat unusual step to ask for a grand jury investigation.

user dbking / Flickr

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court granted cert to another affirmative action case, agreeing to hear a case involving the University of Michigan's effort to ban consideration of race in college admissions.

The case has been added to the list the Court will begin hearing in their next session which will begin in October.

The justices are already considering a challenge to a University of Texas program that takes account of race, among other factors.

Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta joined Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty to explain what this means for both cases.

Listen to the full interview above.

LGBT flag
antiochla.edu / Antioch University

The oral arguments for two gay marriage cases will be heard in the U.S. Supreme Court this week.

The court will focus on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Prop 8 case.

Though they are both cases related to same-sex marriage, each case is different.

There are all sorts of infographics that have been created to accompany commentary on shifting support for gay marriage on a national scale, but what's going on in the Michigan LGBT community?

Michigan Radio's Lester Graham spoke with Cynthia Canty on today's Stateside about the lack of legal protection for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in Michigan and what these cases could mean for them.

Graham is working on a series of reports looking at the legal rights of the LGBT community.

You can listen to Graham's first report here.

And you can listen to our conversation with him above.

State of Michigan

Kevyn Orr referred to his new job as Detroit's emergency manager as an olympic-sized task.

Starting today at 7:30 a.m., he reported for duty at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Building for his first day on the job.

So, how'd he do?

Cynthia Canty spoke with Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek who has been following the emergency manager appointment for Detroit.

Listen to the full audio above.

Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys

When you think of good bluegrass music and good bluegrass musicians, you might think of folks coming from the mountain hollows of West Virginia or Kentucky.

That is where bluegrass began - taking the music brought by Irish, Scottish and English settlers - maybe mixing in some elements of African-American music - and producing a wonderful American music.
 
But today we met some pretty incredible  musicians who can serve up some great bluegrass and lots of other styles of music.

They come from all corners of the Great Lakes State.

This is Bluegrass Michigan-style as served up by Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys.

Husband and wife Lindsay Lou and Joshua Rilko joined us in the studio today. Lindsay Lou is a singer/songwriter and Joshua plays mandolin and sings.
 

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One month ago, Mark Brewer lost his job.

In February, the longtime leader of the Michigan Democratic Party withdrew from the race for party chair at the Democratic Party's convention in Detroit.

Lon Johnson replaced Brewer as the elected chairman.

Johnson is from southeast Michigan and recently lost a race for a state House seat in 2012.

He's worked on Congressman Dingell's campaign. He currently lives in Kalkaska.

For Johnson supporters, he represents a new era of ideas and a fresh energy that the state's Democratic party needed.

Flickr user uzvards

There is a magic to the act of putting pen to paper and writing down one's thoughts and wishes.

Writing a letter.

You can save that letter. And no matter when you open the letter, there you are - right in the moment with the emotions of that moment - connecting with the person to whom you were writing.

That magic certainly touched a Niles man recently.

Bob Rodgers.

The postmaster of New Carlisle Indiana knocked on Bob's door, and handed the 79-year-old man a very special letter.

It was a letter Rodgers had written on June 13, 1953 to his wife Jean. He was at Fort Campbell, Kentucky in basic training with the Army's  503rd Airborne Infantry.
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Bob Rodgers joined us now from Niles, Michigan.

You can listen to the interview above.

Kevyn Orr, the emergency manager of Detroit, began his first day on the job this morning. There were some protests at City Hall. We found out the latest from Detroit today.

And we spoke with the new Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. We asked Lon Johnson just what Democrats need to do to win the Governor's office in 2014.

Lester Graham of Michigan Watch joined us today to talk about his series on the LGBT community in Michigan.

Also, the U.S. Supreme Court said today it will broaden its examination of affirmative action by adding a case about Michigan. Specifically, the state's effort to ban consideration of race in college admissions. The justices are already considering a challenge to a University of Texas program that takes into account race among other factors.

And finally, we spoke with Lindsey Lou and Joshua Rilko husband and wife team in the bluegrass band Lindsey Lou and the Flatbellys.

nancybechtol / Morguefile

There are eight to 10 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, all of whom are central to the heated immigration debate in Washington D.C. 

More specifically, there are undocumented immigrants who are part of a mixed family - in which one family member is undocumented while the rest of the family are American citizens. 

"It's a horrible tragedy and a national shame, but looking on the bright side, [mixed families] have reframed the debates and things are finally looking like something might happen on immigration reform in Washington," said David Koelsch.

Koelsch is an immigration lawyer and a professor at the University of Detroit Mercy Law School.

"You can talk about the eight to 11 million [undocumented immigrants], but all of those people have loved ones and employers...it has a much broader effect in our society and economy beyond just those people," he said.

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It’s been a week since Governor Snyder announced Kevyn Orr as Detroit’s emergency manager.

Orr, begins his new job on Monday.

Today, Business Columnist at the Detroit News Danel Howes wrote a column saying Detroit's situation is reminiscent of General Motors circa 2008.

He argues that what it really takes is an outsider - someone who isn’t inside of the financial problem - to fix things.

That’s what happened with the auto bankruptcy as well.

That creates a problem, particularly for Orr. There's a certain level of distrust among Detroiters who think Orr “isn’t one of us” - that he can’t really understand “our” problems.

What of the very strong cry that bringing in this unelected outside manager effectively strips Detroit citizens of their right to elect their leader?

Howes wrote in today’s column:

"Detroit's culture of denial, dysfunction and entitlement, as obvious in the city's slide as it was in the auto bankruptcies, is a primary reason change here eventually is imposed from the outside."

We’ve seen the auto companies come back from the fiscal edge.

And much like what happened with the auto industry, he argues that over time those associated with the past failures begin to be sidelined and new leadership begins to emerge.

This is the narrative that Howes believes we’ll see from Detroit in due time.

To hear our full interview with Howes, click the link above.

Detroit Derby Girls / Facebook

When you think of Masonic Temple, chances are you think of the shows you've seen in the grand theater or the smaller Scottish Rite Cathedral.

But to a growing group of fans, the Masonic Temple is the arena for roller derby.

Masonic Temple is the home rink of the Detroit Derby Girls, the official roller derby team in Detroit.

steve / wikipedia

It has been nearly 150 years since the beaver has made its presence known along the Detroit and Rouge Rivers.

The hardy little critters were done- in by trappers and toxic water.

Beavers played a major role in Detroit's early history. The beaver and the coureur des bois who traded their pelts and helped the Great Lakes region grow.

Lucky for today's beavers, there's no demand for those shiny men's hats that were in fashion in the 1800s.

There have been encouraging signs that the beaver and other species are enjoying a resurgence in Michigan.

John Hartig is with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and he seems pretty happy about the news.

He calls this, "one of the most dramatic ecological recovery stories in North America."

What does this tell us about efforts to clean up our waters and the tenacity of animal species?

Hartig tells us about the signs showing that beaver are coming back to southeast Michigan and the evidence of "beaver life."

To hear the full report, click the link above.

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March Madness here!

For many of us, it's like Christmas in March. Sixty-eight teams vying to make it to that Final Four.

For others, it's time to say goodbye to the sports fans in your house, and prepare for three weeks of non-stop college hoops on the TV.

Maybe while you're reading a book or watching another TV in another room.

When it comes to March Madness, most people talk brackets.

The odds of picking a perfect bracket in the annual NCAA men’s basketball tournament are one in 9.2 quintillion (that's 18 zeros).

That's  according to calculations by Jeff Bergen who's a mathematics professor at DePaul University.

Michigan and Michigan State both play today at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

They've both spent most of the season in the Top 10.

Michigan in the #1 spot for a while. Michigan State in the Top 5 for a while.

The Big Ten Championship tournament last weekend was disappointing for both.

But what makes March Madness different from the World Series? Or the run to the Super Bowl? Or the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs?

Today we talked March Madness with our sports commentator John U Bacon.

He'll gave us the scoop on how the Big Ten teams will fare in the tournament, and who from the Michigan and Michigan State teams will make it to the NBA.

To hear the full report, click the link above.

Tiberius Images / Flickr

Organizations are filing legal actions against the state's new emergency manager law.

One of the very vocal groups opposed to the law is the Maurice and Jane Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice. 

"At its most basic level, we believe that there's a fundamental right in this country, that if you're going to have a government, that government has to be an elected body and a representative government," said John Philo, the legal director at the Sugar Law Center.

"Under [the emergency manager] law, the emergency management becomes the governing body. It's important to keep in mind that the law doesn't confine their governments to financial matters. The problem with this law is that you're giving full governing power, not just finances [to the emergency manager]. You're putting that one person, who is unelected and unaccountable to the people, in power," he said.

In January, the Michigan Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the law, and allowed Public Act 72 to stay in place until the new version takes effect March 28. 

Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with Philo about his thoughts on the emergency manager law and what it says about our state government.

To hear the full report, click the link above.

Colorful used cars
Zelda Richardson

In a recent study by L.R. Polk, none of the top ten car companies that women prefer were domestic.

Susan Ianni, the general manager of Gordon Chevrolet of Garden City, argued otherwise.

"Women here love domestic cars," she said. "It's in other parts of the country where the problem lies. Women aren't even looking at domestic cars. They aren't even on their shopping list. Women are going for the car they're driving which is probably a foreign car, so they're going back to that dealership and not giving domestic cars a chance."

So what was this study getting at and why do some women prefer foreign cars?



Almost 14,000 kids in Michigan have been taken out of their own homes by the state because of an abuse or neglect allegation.

Those kids then rely upon the state's Department of Human Services (DHS) to keep them safe and put them in an environment where they have a chance to thrive. Most of those kids end up in foster care.

Six years ago the state was sued by the advocacy group Children's Rights over treatment of kids in its care.

The state was back in court today to see where things stand. Everyone agrees things have gotten better since the lawsuit started six years ago, but the court appointed monitor said too many kids are still unsafe.

pbs.org

Filmmaker Ken Burns is hands-down one of the world's leading creators of documentaries.

He has helped modern-day audiences understand and appreciate The Civil War, World War II, the jazz age, prohibition, baseball, the Shakers, America's national parks and many more aspects of American life.

Now, he is returning to Ann Arbor, the town of his boyhood.

He'll be here to talk about race and inequality as part of the Penny W. Stamps lecture series but more importantly to present his film, "The Central Park Five" at the Ann Arbor Film Festival.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

There are seven new police officers patrolling the streets of Flint. They were hired as part of a public safety millage approved by Flint voters last November.

The millage is expected to generate $5.3 million this year, but what's going to happen in future years as the population keeps shrinking and property values drop?

With the recent hiring of seven officers, the Flint Police Department now has 124 officers. That is down from an estimated 350 officers when times were better.

Will these new officers help make a dent in Flint's crime rate? Flint is in the unenviable spot near the top of many of the "most violent city" lists.

Kevin Smith is the president of the Flint Police Officer's Association.

He mentioned that the seven new officers won't make a big difference any time soon.  We asked what it would take, in terms of staffing, to make Flint noticeably safer.

To hear the full interview, click the link above.

Today on the show, the city of Flint recently hired seven new police officers, but some say that might not be enough to make a noticeable difference on the streets.

We explore public safety in the one of the nation's most violent cities.

And, new data show women in the U.S. prefer foreign-made cars to domestics. We find out why and talk about what it will take for the Detroit Three to win over those women.

And there are almost fourteen thousand children in Michigan who have been taken out of their own homes by the state because of an abuse or neglect allegation.

Those kids rely upon the state to keep them safe and put them in an environment where they have a chance to thrive.

Six years ago, the state was sued over treatment of kids in its care. The state was back in court today to see where things stand. Michigan Radio's Sarah Alvarez brought us a report.

Tiberius Images / Flickr

State lawmakers are beginning to wrap up their work for this session before they head out for their Spring recess.

It seems it’s as good a time as any to review what they have (and haven’t) accomplished since the beginning of the New Year.

Governor Snyder  has not been getting a whole lot of love from fellow Republicans. He announced he will take federal money to expand Medicaid rolls in the state.

But Republicans aren’t happy with this. They say they want Medicaid “reform” in exchange for their support.  Is Snyder going to be willing to make this type of deal? After all, he likes to say he doesn’t engage in ‘horse-trading.’

Meanwhile, Governor Snyder signed the Blue Cross/Blue Shield bills into law on Monday. He vetoed the law originally, last year, after it was passed in the lame-duck session of the legislature with measures having to do with abortions that he didn’t like.

And, something we’ve talked a lot about here on Stateside: the creation of a health care exchange mandated under the Affordable Health Care Act.

Michigan will be a hybrid, run between the state and federal government. At first, it was the state House that was dragging its feet. Now, Republican state Senators are stalling on the creation.

State of Michigan

The following is a summary of the above audio. To hear the full interview, click above.

It's been five days since Governor Snyder presented Kevyn Orr as the emergency manager of Detroit.

Many were quick to comment about Orr’s “introduction” to Michigan and that he seemed well-suited for the job.

He is a U-M law school alumnus, an attorney specializing in bankruptcy law and he helped guide Chrysler through its bankruptcy.

At his introductory press conference last Thursday with Governor Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Kevyn Orr certainly seemed ready and willing  to take on the gargantuan task of “fixing” Detroit’s dire financial crisis.

Within the first day of that press conference, it was reported that Orr had some financial troubles of his own. He had liens on his home over unpaid unemployment insurance taxes.

"It is quite embarrassing when something like that comes up, but I took care of that as soon as I could and paid it off," Orr said. "Frankly, I have been too focused on my professional obligations and not as focused enough on my private obligations."

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