lansing

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A major economic development project in Lansing took an important step today.

Michigan Municipal League

Lansing’s mayor is scrapping plans to build a new police headquarters, at least for now.

Mayor Virg Bernero included more than $400,000 in his budget proposal for next year to pay for design and engineering plans for a new consolidated police headquarters.

But Wednesday,  the mayor announced he wants to redirect that money to a fund to pay for 11 police officer positions currently supported by a federal grant that expires in 2015.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Rising pension costs may throw a monkey wrench into the city of Lansing’s plans to hire police officers next year.

Lansing’s mayor proposed using money from a special public safety millage to rehire nine laid off police officers.    But the mayor’s office released a draft report Monday which says the city will have to come up with nearly two million dollars next year to cover rising police and fire pension costs.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Democrats were waiting outside of Mitt Romney’s speech, ready to criticize the Republican presidential contender.

Michigan Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer says Romney's policies will take Michigan in the wrong direction.

“Romney wants to go back to the days of George W. Bush,” says Whitmer, “We need progress in the state of Michigan.  Thank god we had someone like President Obama when the autos needed help.”

Democrats also claim the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s budget plans would hurt college students, like those in his audience at Lansing Community College.

WKAR

Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney gave a speech at Lansing Community College on the economy.

The New York Times blog "The Caucus" Ashley Parker writes that Romney cast the presidential election as a choice between the past and the future:

“President Obama chose to apply liberal ideas of the past to a 21st century America,” Mr. Romney said. “Liberal policies didn’t work back then, they haven’t worked during these last four years, and they will not work in the future. New Democrats had abandoned those policies, but President Obama resurrected them, with the predictable results.”

Standing in front of a backdrop a [sic] six flags — two Michigan state flags, and four American flags, one of which bore a steel border meant to invoke manufacturing strength — Mr. Romney seemed to prefer the “New Democrat” policies of President Bill Clinton, whom he touted as counterpoint to Mr. Obama.

Romney said “Americans are tired of living on the edge, tired about wondering about what kind of country they’re going to leave their children. They’re tired of being tired. This wasn’t what we expected from President Obama. He promised change and hope, and he said we could do anything we wanted together. But rhetoric met reality and reality won.”

Here's the text of Romney's speech.

And here's some reaction from those who came to see Romney speak at Lansing Community College today:

Romney supporter Harry Kost of Lansing says he liked the candidate’s remarks about business creation.

(He’s) Gonna make it easier for businesses to start and then not be taxed to death in that.  And I think he’s going to give us the chance to have more people go to work,” said Kost.

Kost also agrees with Romney about ending so-called ‘Obamacare’ and building a U.S./Canada oil pipeline.

Norma Jean Wiley voted for Newt Gingrich in the Michigan primary.  But the Hillsdale County resident says Governor Romney is growing on her.

“The more that I see of him, I can see that he has a more human, conservative side that I appreciate,” said Wiley.

She feels he has “a good plan for the future.”

Lynn Taylor of Ann Arbor says she plans to follow the details of Romney policies as they take shape.  For now, she is solidly behind the republican.

“He promised he’d end Obamacare and that’s important to me.  And he will fix it.  He said he would do a partnership with the government and the private industry, so I thought that was good,” said Taylor.

Taylor says she thinks Romney is committed to innovation and moving forward.

In a speech in Ohio yesterday, Romney brought up his position on the auto bailouts, going so far as to take credit for the U.S. auto industry's comeback.

It was a topic that The Caucus' Parker says he did not mention once in his speech today.

He did, however, make sure to say that he would “help usher in a revival in American manufacturing.”

“I’m convinced, if we take an entirely new direction in energy and in trade policy and in labor policy, we’re going to see more manufacturing jobs come back to America than those that have left America,” Mr. Romney said. “I am absolutely convinced of this. This is real. With the right policies and the right leadership we can see a resurgence in American manufacturing.”

Rick Pluta / MPRN

Rick Pluta of MPRN sent along this photo. The stage is set for Mitt Romney's speech this afternoon at Lansing Community College.

He's set to talk around 12:30 p.m.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The city of Lansing is turning to a new source for its electric power.

"Thank you all for joining us on this breezy, lovely day in downtown Lansing…perfect for the announcement that we’re here to make," [Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero joked, as high winds spun three small scale wind turbines on the plaza in front of Lansing city hall.    The turbines are part of a one year trial.

John DeGray is with Windstream Technologies, an Indiana company developing  small corkscrew shaped wind turbines for residential and business use.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Unemployment rates declined in most of Michigan during the past month.

State officials reported Thursday the Detroit Metro region saw the sharpest decline, down about six tenths of a percent from February to March.   Unemployment ticked up slightly in Ann Arbor.

In Lansing, unemployment held steady at 7.2%.

Daniel Zanetti was at a job fair in Lansing Thursday.    The recent college graduate is hopefully he can soon find a job in his field.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Most Michigan cities saw their home foreclosure rates tumble during the first quarter of the year. One analyst says that might signal a trend for the rest of 2012. 

Home foreclosure filings dropped between 20% and 30% in Detroit, Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids during the first three months of the year. That's compared to the first quarter of 2011, according to Realty Trac. 

Lansing was the only Michigan city on Realty Trac’s list to see an increase in home foreclosure filings between January and March. Daren Bloomquist is with Realty Trac.

He says Lansing’s foreclosure rate increase was tied to a big increase in final bank repossessions. "It seems like it’s more of a clearing out of the foreclosure pipeline rather than a lot a new foreclosures coming online and starting the process," says Bloomquist. 

Bloomquist expects other Michigan housing markets will see spikes in foreclosure filings as the year goes on, but he predicts the general trend will be fewer foreclosures in Michigan.

 A few hundred people, many wearing hoodie sweatshirts, gathered on the steps of the state capitol in Lansing  Tuesday to demand justice for a teenager shot and killed in Florida last month.

A month ago, 17 year old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed.   The Florida teen’s death has spurred a national debate over what constitutes self-defense and concerns for the safety of young black men.      

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

There’s some good news for people planning on selling their homes in Michigan.

During the last four years, home sale prices in Michigan have been on a rollercoaster, mainly going down.

But Clear Capitol reports today Michigan home prices may finally be stabilizing.

Alex Villacorta is with Clear Capitol. He says an improving job picture,  stronger consumer confidence and more investors buying cheap homes are all contributing to a more stable real estate market.

Villacorta says nationally prices in February were only down about a half percentage point from the previous year.

"Bringing it back to Michigan," says Villacorta, "that fact that prices are actually up 1.2% over the last year is definitely a good sign…and up double digits…about 15% from the low point of 2009.”

But as with all things real estate, 'Location…location…location' is what matters.Villacorta says Grand Rapids’ home sale prices are up about six percent compared with a year ago, while home prices in Lansing and Flint continue to decline.

(Courtesy of scalesonfire.com)

Fights are getting under way between groups that are proposing at least 22 new casinos in Michigan and opponents seeking to protect the business of existing gambling halls or simply opposed to more of them.

The Detroit Free Press (http://on.freep.com/AArZwC ) says it has reviewed confidential documents on proposals for opening new casinos besides the three now operating in Detroit and others charted by Indian groups around Michigan.

Four tribes are working to expand off-reservation gambling, while two investor groups are seeking to amend the Michigan Constitution to allow more casinos.

There are four proposals for casinos in Romulus and two each in Detroit and Port Huron.

Michigan State University tribal law expert Matthew Fletcher calls it a "fantasy" and questions if people want that many casinos in lower Michigan.

___

Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com

Photo courtesy of Lansing Art Gallery

An art gallery in Lansing lets patrons lease original works of art, much like you would a car or a truck.

For nearly five decades, the Lansing Art Gallery has let folks lease select pieces of art from their gallery. Now with the gallery's new Lease/Purchase Exhibit people can lease any of the 43 original pieces of art on display for about ten percent of the sticker price:

(courtesy of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians)

A controversial plan to build a casino in downtown Lansing goes before the public tonight.     A large turnout is expected at the first of two community meetings on the casino project.

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians wants to build a $245 million casino next to Lansing’s convention center.     The tribe will ask the federal government to approve the project this summer.   

But first, the Lansing city council must vote on the development deal by the end of next month.

U.S. mail processing centers in five Michigan cities could close this May.    The U.S. Postal Service says the closings are necessary to help the struggling mail service with its mounting budget deficit.

Mail facilities in Lansing, Kalamazoo, Jackson, Saginaw and Iron Mountain have been on the bubble since the postal service announced last year that it wanted to shut down more than 260 processing centers.   The reason?  Postal officials believe closing the processing centers will save a billion dollars.  

The Postal Service had agreed to put the final decision on hold until May to give Congress time to work out an alternative.   But the chances of a Congressional solution appear increasingly dim.

John Marcotte is the president of the Michigan Postal Workers Union.     He says there’s still time for people to demand Congress and the postal service stop the closing plan.

“Get on the phone.  Tell’em you don’t want this," says Marcotte,  "Tell them you want the jobs in Michigan…you don’t want the mail slowing down."

Marcotte says if the mail processing centers close first class mail delivery will slow dramatically in Michigan.

user images_of_money / Flickr

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and state Attorney General Bill Schuette have told a northern Michigan Indian tribe they will do whatever is necessary to stop a casino from being built in downtown Lansing.

The proposed casino would go up just a few blocks from the state Capitol.

The Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewas already operates five casinos in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The tribe has proposed a new casino in downtown Lansing on a parcel that is not currently considered tribal property.

The governor and the attorney general say that means the land cannot be used for a tribal casino.

“This project just cannot fly the way the law is set up currently,” said John Sellek a spokesman for the attorney general.

“The way they are trying to do it just will not work. If they want to try to get the law changed, that’s something they could do, but, otherwise we would be forced to go to court because the way they want to do this is just plain illegal,” said Sellek.

Tribal spokesman Roger Martin says the legal argument is a new one, but he says the project complies with the law.

“It’s pretty clear. We have the right to take this land into trust,” said Martin. “We intend to vigorously pursue what we believe is our right for this project. We’re very confident in the legal theory that we have.”

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero also backs the project.

Bernero says he “respectfully disagrees” with Governor Snyder, his adversary in the 2010 race for governor.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero will deliver his State of the City address this evening. The mayor is expected to stress Lansing is rebounding from the recession in tonight’s speech.

Over the weekend, the mayor’s office called attention to a new survey that found Lansing is leading the nation’s metropolitan areas in the growth of manufacturing jobs.

But Lansing’s job picture is complex. Last week, the state labor department reported Lansing’s December jobless rate stood at 6.9 percent, nearly 1.5 percent lower than December 2010.

However, the actual number of people with jobs in Lansing remained unchanged. The only difference was nearly 4,000 people left the job market.

The site of the mayor’s speech is part of the message. Mayor Bernero will speak at a former electric power plant, that after a $182 million renovation has become the headquarters for an insurance company. The mayor is also expected to talk about another project, a controversial plan to build a casino in downtown Lansing.

Plans call for a $245 million American Indian casino in downtown Lansing that backers say could create about 2,200 jobs.

The Lansing State Journal, the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News report that the Kewadin casino would be built near the Lansing Center and owned by the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Mayor Virg Bernero says it would improve the viability of the convention center and fund scholarships for Lansing public school students. The 125,000-square-foot facility would offer up to 3,000 slot machines and 48 gambling tables.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Officials in Lansing are expected to announce plans tomorrow to build an Indian casino in the capitol city. Opposition to the plan is already gathering.   

The press release from the mayor’s office only describes it as a ‘Major Economic Development Project’. But everyone is expecting the announcement will confirm months of rumor and speculation that one of Michigan’s Indian tribes wants to build a casino in Lansing.

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians is expected to be the group behind the casino project. The plan is expected to place the casino next to Lansing’s downtown convention center.   

Even before the formal announcement, opposition is lining up to the idea of building a casino in Michigan’s capitol city.

There are two existing Indian casinos within easy driving distance of Lansing. Also, Michigan’s Attorney General is leery of expanding the number of casinos in the state. There are nearly two dozen casinos operating in Michigan today, most of owned by Native American tribes.

Many people in Michigan are using this Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to volunteer.  

In Lansing, volunteers are clearing invasive plant species from the Fenner Nature Center. Brendon Fegan is an Americorps volunteer. He says helping your local community is a great way to honor Dr. King’s legacy.  

"Community is vitally important in people’s lives," said Fegan, "You can’t do anything without a strong community.  Look for anyway to give back to your community and help other people.”    

The King holiday is also being marked by marches and church services around Michigan.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A new report predicts home prices in Detroit will continue to decline. But the report also finds Michigan home prices overall are stabilizing.   

Real estate industry analysts at Clear Capital predict nationally, average home sale prices will remain relatively unchanged in 2012. Prices nationally have been falling since the housing market crash of a few years ago.   

Detroit’s home sale prices have been declining faster than the nationally average and Clear Capital predicts another 5 percent drop this year.    

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 One week ago, a fire destroyed the Saint Vincent de Paul store and warehouse in Lansing.     

The community is helping the charity to rebuild.   

Saint Vincent de Paul provides help to those in need with clothing and other donated goods, heating assistance and even Christmas presents for children.  But last Sunday’s fire threatened all of that.    

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 Lansing public schools may soon undergo a big shake up.    

The plan on the table would affect most children in the school district.    

The Lansing public school district has about half the student population it once had. The district is looking at ways to trim its budget in the short term and stabilize its future finances.   

A special task force has been meeting since this summer to come up with ways to address the district’s problems.   

The plan the board of education will see tonight proposes closing a high school and reconfiguring the district’s elementary and middle schools. 

The plan also addresses ways to improve academic performance among Lansing public school students.   The plan calls for offering preschool and developmental kindergarten to 3 and 4 year olds.

user jdurham / morgueFile

Michigan’s Republican-led Senate has passed a measure that removes the 150-school cap on university-sponsored charters. The bill is now stalled in the House.

The way the current cap works: If a charter is considered "high performing," it is re-labeled a School of Excellence, and removed from the cap, which leaves a vacancy for a new university-sponsored charter school to fill.

Peace Education Center / Flickr

Occupiers in Lansing have become the latest group in the Occupy movement to pack up their camp for the winter. The Lansing State Journal reports that tents and other shelters have been cleared from Reutter Park in downtown Lansing.

More from the LSJ:

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 Some Ingham County sheriff’s deputies may soon be patrolling Lansing city streets.   

The sheriff’s department wants to assign up to four deputies to work part time in the capitol city.   

Budget problems forced the city to lay off 36 police officers earlier this year.   

Teresa Szymanski is Lansing’s chief of police.    She says the added officers would be welcome.   

“Would we like more?  Absolutely.   Is it good?  It’s very good," says Szymanski.   

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 The Lansing City Council will talk about the benefits of meeting less often tonight.  

The city charter requires the council to meet 50 times a year.  City Clerk Chris Swope says, with that schedule, the council is wasting money.   

“It’s not just a matter of that cost but…we should be more efficient. People shouldn’t have to watch 50 times a year to keep an eye on what the city council is doing," says Swope.   

Swope proposes reducing the current city council meeting schedule from 50 required meetings to 26 meetings each year.  

Steve Carmody / Michiganradio

There are several controversial elections taking place in cities and towns around Michigan today.  

A Republican state lawmaker faces a recall vote, spearheaded by the Michigan Education Association. State representative Paul Scott was targeted by the MEA for his support of cuts in state education funding and efforts to weaken the union. Scott tried and failed to get the courts to toss out or delay the recall election.

Voters in Kalamazoo will decide if they want to make possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a ‘low’ local police priority. Supporters say police should focus on violent crime. The city's Public Safety director says the result of the vote will probably not effect how Kalamazoo police do their job.

In Lansing, voters are deciding if they want to increase their property taxes. Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says the millage hike is needed to reduce the chances of future police and fire layoffs.   

“I’m cautiously optimistic.  I’m hopeful.  I’m prayerful….Let’s face it….it’s do or die for us," says Bernero.   

Critics say city leaders are pushing for a millage increase before they truly know if the city will be $12 to $15 million dollars in the hole as predicted. 

Voters in Flint and Jackson are electing mayors today. 

And in Detroit, voters are being asked to approve many changes to their city charter. Supporters say the charter changes would address the city's corruption problems that have lead to numerous investigations, including one which resulted in criminal charges against former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed a lawsuit to close two women's clinics that provide abortions in Saginaw and the Lansing area.

Schuette's office filed a complaint Monday in Eaton County Circuit Court seeking to dissolve Health Care Clinic Inc. in Delta Township and Women's Choice Clinic Inc. in Saginaw. The attorney general's office says an investigation included evidence of improper medical records disposal at the clinics owned by Richard Remund.

The Associated Press left a telephone message Monday for Remund. A person answering the phone at Health Care Clinic declined comment.

Schuette asks state health officials to review evidence suggesting improper records disposal and that at least half of procedures performed at the clinics were abortions. Schuette says the second would put the clinics under more stringent regulations.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan home sale prices increased by more than 6 percent in the last three months. But home prices are not rising everywhere.  

Alex Villacorta is with Clear Capital. He said Michigan’s average home sale prices are still 65 percent below their peak of a few years ago, before the recession.  But Villacorta said prices are finally moving in the right direction. 

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