Auto

Auto/Economy
4:38 pm
Tue January 4, 2011

Troy police enforce "distracted driving" law, issue tickets

It's illegal to text or talk on the phone while driving in Troy, MI
C. Todd Lopez Photo courtesy of U.S. Army

The city of Troy, Michigan has taken the state’s “no texting while driving” law a bit further, making it illegal to talk on the phone while driving, among other things.

The city's distracted driving ordinance went into effect last July, but the city didn’t officially start to enforce it until the first week of January, 2011. According to the city's website, the following actions can cause "distracted driving":

"Such action can include but is not limited to: eating, reading, writing, performing personal hygiene/grooming, physical interaction with pets, passengers, or unsecured cargo, any of which is

done in a manner tat prohibits the driver from maintaining direct physical control of the motor vehicle steering mechanism with at least one hand that is free of all other objects and used entirely to form a controlled grip on the steering mechanism."

Read more
Economy
8:52 am
Tue January 4, 2011

Food for Thought - Food Safety vs Michigan Farmers

Farm fresh vegetables at Witherbees Market in Flint, Michigan
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

President Obama is expected today to sign legislation to improve the nation’s food safety.  The new law will put more regulations on Michigan farmers. 


2010 ended with national recalls of parsley, alfalfa sprouts and cilantro because of possible salmonella contamination.  The recalls were just the latest problems that prompted Congress to revamp the nation’s food safety system. The changes include better tracking of all kinds of food, from the farmer’s field to the consumer’s plate.  

Read more
AUTO
6:43 am
Tue January 4, 2011

GM CEO to meet with Michigan lawmakers

General Motors' Headquarters, Detroit, MI
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Dan Akerson, Chairman and CEO of General Motors, is planning to meet Friday with members of Michigan's congressional delegation.  That's according to an official familiar with the meeting.  The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that, "it will give Akerson a chance to meet some Michigan lawmakers for the first time".

Akerson was named GM's CEO in September, 2010. GM has not yet commented on the meeting.

As the AP notes:

Michigan's 15 House members and two senators were key allies for GM as it underwent a government-led bankruptcy in 2009. The Detroit company had its initial public offering last November, reducing the government's ownership share to 33.3 percent.

Auto/Economy
3:59 pm
Mon January 3, 2011

Auto sales expected to maintain momentum

December auto sales numbers are due tomorrow. It’s expected to be another good month for Detroit’s automakers. 

After watching auto sales dwindle in the depths of the recession, auto companies have seen a surge in buying demand in recent months.  December is expected to be the third straight month of strong domestic auto sales.

Read more
Economy
3:55 pm
Thu December 30, 2010

Michigan to change its food stamp distribution policy in 2011

Michigan will spread out its food stamp distributions throughout the month beginning Jan. 4, 2011
user mytvdinner Flickr

Michigan residents who rely on food stamps will see some changes beginning in January.

Michigan's 1.9 million food stamp recipients get their benefits in lump sum at the beginning of the month. Most food stamp purchases are made at that time, which can lead to long lines at the checkout counter and a shortage of fresh produce at some stores.

"We know that we’re going to be busier those days, so we typically have more staff in the store," says Joe Gappy, manager at Gigante Prince Valley Supermercado in southwest Detroit.

Beginning January 4th, Michigan will spread its food stamp distributions throughout the month. That means some recipients will receive their lump sum benefits on the 5th of the month, for example, others on the 19th.  Click here to see a chart detailing date changes for food assistance benefits.

Read more
Foreclosures
5:49 pm
Wed December 29, 2010

Grand Rapids skyscraper listed in foreclosure auction

Bridgewater Place is the blue building on the far left.
John Eisenschenk Creative Commons

One of the biggest office buildings in Grand Rapids is listed for sale at a public foreclosure auction next month. The 17-story sleek blue-glass Bridgewater Place dramatically changed the city’s skyline when it was built in the early 90s. Many people refer to the building as the Varnum building, because of the law firms’ prominent logo near the top floor. Varnun rents the tops 6 floors.

Read more
Auto/Economy
2:59 pm
Wed December 29, 2010

Energy credit brings businesses last-minute flurry

The tax credit can be applied to projects including insulation.
Ryan McFarland Flickr

Michigan businesses that make and install residential furnaces, windows and other energy-related products are getting a burst of last-minute jobs before the year ends.


Tony Ianni is a sales manager for WeatherGard, which installs windows, roofs and insulation – all of which qualify for a federal tax credit for energy efficiency:



"It’s definitely been a big push, everybody’s calling and the first question out of their mouths is, 'Can we still get the tax credit?'” 


Ianni says informing customers about the credit has been a big push for his industry. "Of course all your last-minute people are coming through now, trying to get everything done," he said. 


The tax credit also applies to hot water heaters, furnaces and stoves that burn wood or pellets. It’s good for 30 percent of the cost of the project, up to 15-hundred dollars.

Auto/Economy
10:16 am
Wed December 29, 2010

Michigan home prices likely to fall again in 2011

Michigan home prices keep falling
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Michigan’s home prices are expected to tumble again next year.


 But, some parts of the state might see a slight increase in price.


 Home sale prices in Michigan rocked up and down this year. Government incentives helped boost prices in the first half of the year. When those incentives expired, prices dropped.


Alex Villacorta is with Clear Capitol. He says home prices in Michigan should get a boost in the Spring, but then should fall at the end of the year. 

Read more
Seasonal giving
5:38 pm
Mon December 27, 2010

Michigan Salvation Army divisions still working toward 'Red Kettle' goals

Evan P. Cordes Creative Commons

The signature red kettles may be packed away, but the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign is still underway.

Money from the kettles supports the Salvation Army’s programs; helping victims of disasters, low-income seniors, and running summer camps for kids.

Read more
Electric vehicles
10:17 am
Mon December 27, 2010

Electric vehicle charging stations starting to pop up in west Michigan

The first Charge Point station is near Diamond and Lake drive.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

West Michigan will get 50 free public charging stations through a program funded by the federal stimulus program. The first one in downtown Grand Rapids is now up and running. It’s one of only a handful on the west side of the state. The other two are in Holland and a fourth is set to come online soon in Muskegon.

Read more
Christmas
8:26 am
Thu December 23, 2010

Online Christmas sales have Michigan tax officials saying 'Bah Humbug'

Online sales are reportedly up about 12 percent this holiday shopping season. That could be bad news for Michigan tax collectors.  Michigan residents are supposed to pay sales tax on items bought online, but few do. 


 Caleb Booth is a spokesman for the state Treasury Department.  He says the state lost out on $328 million dollars in uncollected sales taxes on online purchases in 2009. 

Read more
Auto/Economy
7:53 pm
Wed December 22, 2010

The critics pick the "ugliest cars of the decade"

The car that inspired the ugly car selections. The Fiat Multipla wasn't sold in the U.S. so it didn't count in our poll.
user corvettec6r Wikimedia Commons

The auto analysts have weighed in and the car that tops the list (all together now)... The Pontiac Aztek!

Former Car & Driver editor Csaba Csere says of the Aztec:

If you have ever heard that saying that a camel is a horse designed by a committee, the Aztek is the application of that concept to a car.

Read more
Auto/Economy
4:44 pm
Wed December 22, 2010

Your 7 fugliest cars from the past decade

The Pontiac Aztek takes the cake in our Facebook poll.
IFCAR Wikimedia Commons

We asked our Facebook friends to give us their picks for ugliest car of the past decade.

As Tanya M. says, "clearly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

That's true Tanya... except when it comes to the Pontiac Aztek (sorry Elizabeth C.!).

If our Facebook friends were stranded on a desert island with twelve strangers, and they were the last ones standing, clearly they would not appreciate being given an Aztek as a tribute to their survival skills.

Read more
Retail Sales
11:36 am
Wed December 22, 2010

Christmas sales strong for Michigan retailers

What's under the tree?
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

It’s not Christmas yet, but Michigan retailers are in the holiday spirit. There are signs this will be the best holiday shopping season in Michigan in many years. 

When the holiday shopping season was getting started a month ago, a survey showed a majority of Michigan retailers were optimistic that they would see increased sales compared to last Christmas. The latest data is backing up that optimism.

Read more
Economy
3:20 pm
Sun December 19, 2010

Flint police department will close on weekends

More cuts for Flint's Police Department
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The Flint Police Department is closed on the weekends following the latest round of officer layoffs.

The Flint Journal reports new office hours took effect Saturday, the day after 20 police officers were laid off.

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling laid off a total of 66 police officers this year to cope with a multi-million-dollar deficit. The city also made other cuts.

Read more
Economy
12:06 pm
Fri December 17, 2010

United Way holds 'Triple Money Monday' fundraiser for needy in Livingston County

Poverty has doubled in Livingston County over the last 5 years
SamPac creative commons

The Livingston County United Way is doing a 1-day only fundraiser to try to alleviate the growing need in the area.

It's called Triple Money Monday: On Dec. 20, from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m., all donations made to nonprofit will be tripled, thanks to the Ted and Jane Von Voigtlander Foundation and two anonymous donors.

Read more
Economy
11:10 am
Fri December 17, 2010

Retailers expect a surge in sales this weekend

Holiday shoppers will be making the rounds this weekend.
Jenn Forman Orth Flickr

Michigan retailers were optimistic that this would be a better holiday shopping season than they’ve had the last few years.

And so far, those expectations appear to be warranted.

The National Retail Federation upped its prediction for holiday sales from a 2.3% increase to a 3.3% increase over last year.

Read more
Changing Gears
1:31 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

Changing Gears talks reinvention

The Changing Gears team has put together a one-hour special Reinventing Our Cities.

It airs today at 2 pm eastern and 1 pm central. You can hear it on Chicago Public Radio, Michigan Radio and Cleveland's Ideastream, or, you can click this audio link to take a listen:

Here's how the team describes the one-hour special:

Read more
Economy
1:04 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

Foreclosure rate falls in Michigan... for now

Foreclosure rates declined, but the dip could be temporary.
Damon Duncan Flickr

Foreclosure filings in Michigan fell 20% between October and November, but most of the decline came in homes in the final stages of foreclosure according to data released by Realty Trac, a group that calls itself "the nation's leading online foreclosure marketplace."

The pace of homes entering the system remained relatively unchanged.

Read more
Winter Weather
8:49 am
Thu December 16, 2010

Blue Water Bridge reopened

The Blue Water Bridge connects Michigan to Ontario
K.l.macke/Flickr

The Blue Water Bridge has been reopened. The bridge, which links Port Huron, Michigan and Sarnia, Ontario, was shut down Monday and Tuesday to commercial traffic as crews worked to clear snow from the week's severe winter storm.

As The Associated Press reports, the bridge's closing:

...forced several General Motors Co. plants in Michigan to interrupt production and caused long delays at the Ambassador Bridge crossing between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

Pages