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Conversations about what matters in Michigan.

Stateside 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 focuses on topics and events that matter to people all across the state. Stateside is hosted by Cynthia Canty (Mon-Thu) and Lester Graham (Fri). 

To find audio for the full show you can subscribe to our podcast or go here.

Michael Jackman told us the RTA's plan is short-sighted, and that investing in light rail would serve Detroit better in the long term.
flickr user Matt Picio /


The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan’s new transportation plan needs money. On the November ballot, voters in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne Counties will be asked to approve a 20-year property tax millage. Its estimated cost for the average homeowner is about $95 a year.


The millage will pay for new bus rapid transit lines and rail service between Detroit and Ann Arbor. It would also fix what has been a dysfunctional transit system that never really connected the suburban SMART buses with the Detroit Department of Transportation bus system.

According to Pete Bigelow, the Willow Run facility could be open for its first phase of testing as soon as the end of 2017.
Ford Motor Company

Last week the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx made the rounds through the news outlets, excitedly talking about new guidelines for autonomous cars.

But Foxx admitted there's a lot not covered in the guidelines because there's a lot the auto industry and the government have yet to figure out.

NPR’s Sonari Glinton joined us today to talk about the secretary’s comments, and the ongoing push toward autonomous vehicles.

Michigan State's 30-6 loss to Wisconsin was its fewest points scored since a 2012 home loss to Notre Dame.
Steven Depolo / Flickr -

It was a full weekend of sports across the state of Michigan, headlined by the Wolverines and the Spartans hosting games in their respective home stadiums. Michigan, which remains ranked No. 4 in the nation, flexed its muscles with a 49-10 blowout of Penn State. Meanwhile, in East Lansing, it was a battle between two Big Ten teams ranked in the top ten. However, Michigan State suffered a rare one-sided loss, 30-6, to the Wisconsin Badgers.

Flickr user Andy Rogers/Flickr /

When you think about water pollution, you might think about massive sewer overflows, factory pollution or agricultural runoff. But there’s another source of water pollution that might be in your backyard: septic systems that have failed.

They pollute lakes and streams around the state – and in fact, around the country.

Sean Hammond, deputy policy director for the Michigan Environmental Council, is calling for better rules for septic systems and inspections.

“We are the only state in the country to not have a statewide septic code,” Hammond said.

Citizens at a public event last year expressed some concern about making Battle Creek a military target. But more were interested in the potential jobs the missile complex may deliver.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

All of the Michigan congressional delegation -- with the exception of Congressman Justin Amash -- signed a letter urging the Missile Defense Agency to locate interceptor missiles at Fort Custer near Battle Creek.

Amash said he didn’t sign the letter because it emphasized economic reasons rather than military ones. He basically said those decisions should be based on military necessity. Fort Custer is one of three final sites being considered. The other two are Camp Ravenna in Ohio and Fort Drum in New York.

These interceptor missiles are called the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system- GMD for short. They’re designed to intercept incoming nuclear missiles. However, the problem is that the GMD system is flawed. The L.A. Times reported during tests the interceptors failed to destroy their targets six out of eleven times. That’s a dismal record when the job is to intercept nuclear missiles from North Korea, or Russia, or another hostile country. Despite the failure rate, the manufacturer got a $2 billion bonus.

Courtesy of Zarinah El-Amin Naeem


This coming Sunday brings the fourth annual Headwrap Expo & Fashion Show in Dearborn.

It will feature head wraps from a wide array of cultural and spiritual perspectives.

Courtesy of Kevin Fitzgerald /

On Sunday, there will be more than 300 concerts being held across the United States as part of the event "Concert Across America to End Gun Violence." One of those concerts will be held in Ann Arbor. 

Kevin Fitzgerald is conducting roughly 40 Michigan-based musicians in the show. The goal is to raise awareness and continue a conversation about gun violence in hopes of ultimately finding solutions to what he calls a "major crisis" in our country. 

"We hear the statistics about the young men, but we don't hear the voices of the women who are trying to raise them and do the right thing," Katarina Grosska told us.
screengrab of Never Alone in Detroit

Being a single parent is a tough job. Being a single mother raising a son in one of the nation's most violent cities is really tough. 

Loyola High School in Detroit interviewed more than 100 women who have raised or are raising young men. Many of them said they felt very alone. 

Those interviews eventually took form as a video entitled Never Alone in Detroit. The project was produced by Loyola and funded by the Michigan Council for the Humanities.

Attorney General Bill Schuette
Bill Schuette


It's time for another political roundup with Ken Sikkema and Susan Demas​.

Attorney General Bill Schuette joined a lawsuit this week to try to block an overtime pay rule that came out of Washington.

It would require businesses to pay overtime to salary workers who earn less than $47,500 a year. That’s up from about $24,000.

According to Sikkema, “Any of these federal regulations that deal with pay, whether it’s minimum wage or whether it’s overtime pay, are going to be looked at skeptically by Republicans. [Schuette] is not the only one.”

Courtesy of Shirley Burke

The National Museum of African American History and Culture opens this weekend in Washington. One of the items on display is a violin that, until now, was in Michigan with Shirley Burke.

Temesgen Hussein of East Lansing with his begena harp.
Ben Foote / Michigan Radio

As part of our Songs from Studio East series we're exploring music that combines both contemporary and traditional music from around the globe.

Today we meet Temesgen Hussein of East Lansing. He was born and raised in Ethiopia. And he’s one of just a few outside that country who plays the begena.

It’s used mainly in religious festivities almost exclusively, but Temesgen is breaking with tradition and introducing the begena to contemporary music.

The former Hudson's site, prime real estate along Woodward in the heart of downtown Detroit, has been a city-owned underground parking garage since the Hudson's building was demolished in 1998.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A state Senate committee gave its unanimous approval this week to a package of state tax incentives that could allow developers to capture state sales and income taxes to help pay for large development projects in Michigan.

This "brownfield legislation" is something that developers like Dan Gilbert are pushing hard for as the package goes to the full Senate for consideration. Brownfield sites are often abandoned industrial sites that would require a significant clean-up and a major financial investment. 

How would this legislation work? And since it appears to be a case of "picking winners and losers," is this something Gov. Rick Snyder will support? 

Antonio Cosme feels the city is trying to make an example of him, and fellow artist William Lucka
Courtesy of Raiz Up


When does graffiti cross the line from artistic political statement to crime?

That’s the question raised in the criminal charges leveled against Antonio Cosme. In November 2014, he allegedly spray painted “Free The Water,” with the image of a fist, on the side of a water tower in Highland Park.

A year and a half passed, and Cosme was charged with malicious destruction of property and trespassing. His pre-trial date is this Friday. He is currently raising money to support the court fees.

"I just don't like the same old summers -- you know, same old summers over and over and over -- but, fall," John Clark said. "I feel nice in the fall."
Flickr user PROJim Sorbie/Flickr /

It's that time of year again: the end of summer.

The nights are getting colder, the days are getting shorter. And today is the fall equinox. 

How do you feel about it? Are you happy to say hello to fall, or more sorry to say goodbye to summer? 

MDOC Spokesperson Chris Gautz told us that while it was “a very serious situation,” the events of September 10 at Kinross Correctional Facility don’t meet the definition of a “riot.”
flickr user Thomas Hawk /


On September 10, there was an uprising at Kinross Correctional Facility in the Upper Peninsula.

According to the Michigan Department of Corrections, it’s the most serious incident inside a Michigan prison anyone can recall since the 1981 riot at what was then called Southern Michigan Prison in Jackson.

For the next two Sundays, the Downtown Detroit Partnership is shutting down almost 4 miles of road and inviting pedestrians to wander the streets
flickr user Ken Lund /

The Next Idea

Two years ago, on a sunny September afternoon, there was a special celebration to mark the end of a long spell of construction on I-96 in western Wayne County.

Before opening the freeway to traffic, the Michigan Department of Transportation invited the public to come play on the nearly two-mile stretch of renovated road.

The turnout was big: the freeway filled with people walking, running, biking and rollerblading.

The Bigfoot (not pictured) captured by the trail camera turned out to be a black bear.
flickr user Robert Emperley /

A recent photo from Michigan flew around the internet: a trail cam photo showing the rear end of a big, dark-furred "something or another."

See it below:

Some believed the big critter was a Bigfoot, until a second photo from the same trail cam showed it was in fact a bear.

But that is not deterring the quest to find and photograph a Bigfoot - or, if you will, Sasquatch.

Jan Worth-Nelson told us that high-quality writing and photography have always been staples of "East Village Magazine."
Courtesy of East Village Magazine

This year marks the 40th anniversary of East Village Magazine.

The nonprofit magazine has been bringing community news to people in Flint since 1976, a labor of love for its founder, the late Gary Custer.

East Village Magazine has hung in there to become one of the nation's oldest community media outlets. 

United States Department of Education /

As Michigan kids get settled into this new school year, there's one group that can use some extra support: children who are immigrants or refugees.

"Human trafficking has gone underground," Stephanie Sandberg said. "It's gone on to places where you can no longer see it, and so you have to find ways to recognize it in a new way."
Courtesy of Stephanie Sandberg

ArtPrize opens today in Grand Rapids. 

Among the 1,453 artist entries for this year's competition is a play being performed each evening by ADAPT. Theatre Company of Grand Rapids.

The play is Stories in Blue: A Pilgrimage to Heal Human Trafficking.

It's theater, it's an art piece, and it's a social justice campaign.

Sheriff Jerry Clayton is making changes that emphasize and strengthen the partnership between communities and their police forces.
flickr user Elsa Blaine /

The rise in police shootings of unarmed black people, and the sharp rise in ambush-style attacks on police officers, among other factors, have many law enforcement agencies taking a new look at the way they protect and serve their communities.

That's certainly the case with the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office, where Sheriff Jerry Clayton is implementing "fundamental" changes in staff training and in talking with the community. 

Flickr user/_chrisUK /

As the summer road construction season moves into its final weeks, you might find yourself wondering: instead of pouring time and money into patching roads that crack every year during the winter, why not make better concrete?

Flickr user/Devon Buchanan /

It was a case that ignited the nation: Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was convicted of raping an unconscious woman behind an alley dumpster after a party.

Michele McDonald


Eileen Pollack's new novel, A Perfect Life, took a while to find a publisher.

The book features a postdoctoral research scientist on a quest to uncover a genetic test for the disease that cut short her mother's life. This medical mystery also features a love story between the protagonist, Jane Weiss, and a man who may also carry the disease, adding human drama to the scientific exploration.

Still, the complexities of this plot were sometimes lost on publishers. One even told Pollack that "men don’t read fiction written by women, and women’s book groups don’t want to read something with science in it!"

Cara AnnMarie and Jacléne Wilk in a scene from the film "Liberty's Secret"
Tripp Greene Press

Take a presidential campaign. Mix in a large serving of old-fashioned musicals, and top it off with two women realizing they are in love, and you've got the new film Liberty's Secret.

Andy Kirshner is the writer, composer, director, producer and he has a role in the film, which is having its premiere this Thursday at the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor. Kirshner is also an associate professor of both music and art & design at the University of Michigan.

The film, which the website describes as "the all-American lesbian movie-musical," tells the story of a struggling presidential campaign fronted by moderate Republican Kenny Weston, who recruits the charismatic Liberty Smith to be his running mate. This singing and dancing preacher's daughter is just what the campaign needs to get back into the race to the White House. That is, until she falls in love with one of the campaign's political consultants, who is a woman.

Flint river
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Amidst the headlines about Attorney General Schuette's criminal investigation and charges filed in the Flint water disaster, there is another legal story unfolding.

Four separate civil lawsuits were filed on behalf of thousands of Flint residents between November of last year and this past April. And, as we mark one year since the breadth and depth of the Flint water crisis became known to the world, we decided to measure the progress of these suits.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio



It has been a year now since Michigan and the world learned that the lead levels of children living in areas of Flint has doubled, even tripled.

It was September 2015 when pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha braved the scorn of certain state employees to present her stunning research findings that proved that elevated lead levels in Flint children correlated to the the switch to Flint River water.


As we know by now, the dismissive state officials were wrong, and Hanna-Attisha was right.

Christopher Hebert's Angels of Detroit has a rich cast of feckless and out of their time hippies who make their way to Detroit for no good purpose. Hebert is a generous and perceptive writer who gives his characters a long hard look, but his anarchists have a difficult time explaining why blowing up Detroit will lead to something better.

A contemporary engraving depicting President Garfield leaning after being shot by Charles Guiteau. He is supported by Secretary of State James Blaine.
Public Domain

The next time you're at the doctor's office and you notice all the hand washing and sterile equipment, think of President James Garfield and count your blessings that it's 2016 and not 1881.

On this day in 1881, President Garfield died, completing what Dr. Howard Markel describes as "an agonizing march towards oblivion that began on July 2." 

Courtesy of Lynne Golodner

The Next Idea

I grew up in a suburb of Detroit and went to school where most of the kids looked like me. During the Jewish holidays, teachers didn't assign work because so many of us were absent. There might have been five or six African-American kids in my high school, and no one wore a hijab in public.

I’ve always been curious about the way other people live. My journey as a journalist and author and writing professor has taken me to find common ground in people different from me. I visited a mosque, attended a candlelight service in a Catholic church in Ireland, and spent a plane ride to Israel having a deep, powerful conversation with a Palestinian man going to see his family. As I developed my writing craft, I continued to seek out stories that showed the similarities in people, the beliefs we share, and the customs we have in common.