lansing

(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.

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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. 

Lansing voters will decide on election day  whether they want to increase their property taxes.    

It’s the second time they’ve been asked this year. The first time they said ‘no’.    

Sitting at his dining room table, as three of his sons watch cartoons on a TV in the next room, Paul Johns recalled a time when he thought he smelled smoke in his south Lansing home.  

State of MI website

The state of Michigan says its surplus store no longer will be open on weekdays and instead will open only on the third Saturday of each month.

The change takes effect Tuesday. MiStore, as it's known, will hold its first Saturday opening Nov. 19 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The state store has a vast inventory of surplus items. Some are property seized by police, while others were voluntarily surrendered at airports.

The store also has property no longer needed by government agencies, such as desks and computers. Among the items for sale are police cars, flat screen TVs, jewelry, cameras, paddle boats, pocket knives and lawn maintenance equipment.

The surplus store is located at 3201 W. St. Joseph St., Lansing, MI, 48917.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A proposed expansion plan for Lansing’s airport took a big step forward Monday night.  

The Lansing city council and DeWitt Township both approved a deal to share tax revenues from the airport.  

 Some city council members say they’re concerned Lansing is giving up control as part of the deal.   

Bob Trezise is the city’s economic development director.   He says the deal shows what must be done to make regional cooperation work. 

The Lansing city council has moved a step closer to approving a tax deal that could lead to an expansion of  Capital Region International Airport.   A final vote is scheduled for next week.   

Businesses at the airport oppose the tax deal.     George Carr owns a hanger at the airport.  He says the tax deal is a 'killer'.

“This…pits the existing tenants and businesses against future tenants and businesses.   It does it by raising taxes…on existing businesses…so they can abate taxes on future businesses that may or may not locate there," says Carr.   

A city economic development official says  the proposal will help improve business at Lansing’s airport.  Bob Trezise with the Lansing Economic Development Corporation says the tax increase is a question of ‘fairness’.  

"We just merely are saying  ‘We wish you to pay a small amount to participate in supporting the airport, like all the businesses and residents of Ingham County do.  And you’re at the airport'," says Trezise.  

The tax deal must be in place by the end of the month so the airport can apply for a state development grant.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Moody's Investors Service has downgraded Lansing's credit rating. The city's rating has gone from Aa2, Moody's third-highest rating, to A1, its fifth highest. City finance director Jerry Ambrose says the downgrade impacts the interest rate Lansing would pay to borrow money.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero calls it a ‘debacle’.    

The battle between two local colleges over an empty apartment building is in a holding pattern.   

(courtesy of BIGHABER.com)

A silent noon-hour vigil at the state capital in Lansing will mark the tenth anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan.  Its organizers say the U.S. has not learned the lessons of the war. 

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The “Occupy Wall Street” campaign is starting to pop up in towns and cities across Michigan.  

Last night the campaign came to Ann Arbor.  

A crowd of about a hundred gathered on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor to talk and listen. Many in the crowd have been inspired by the anti-corporate protest that’s been taking place on Wall Street for the past several weeks.  Others were just curious.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Lansing city council is facing November deadlines to act on a pair of high dollar agreements.   But at least one council member complains they are not getting all the information they need about the deals.  

The Lansing city council scheduled time last night to discuss a proposed tax deal involving the capital city’s airport and a land swap deal with a local college. But both discussions were cut short because of a lack of information.  

Media reports claim the city of Lansing is talking with a native American tribe about opening a casino in the capital city.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 A Lansing-based non-profit that works to improve the computer skills of teens and  young adults is getting a new home.  Local dignitaries were on hand to cut the ribbon officially opening ITEC’s new headquarters on Lansing’s eastside. 

ITEC stands for Information Technology Empowerment Center.  ITEC  works with Michigan State University and local I-T firms to provide instruction that will help young people hone their skills.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 Lansing’s ordinance requiring people to shovel snow from their sidewalks might get a tweak before the snow flies this winter.   

Last night, the Lansing City Council voted to allow four people off the hook for failing to shovel snow from their sidewalks last winter.  The reason?  They either didn’t actually own the property last winter or there was an administrative mistake.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Tonight, the Lansing City Council will begin weighing in on a  land swap deal that’s pitted two local colleges against each other.    A final council decision may come next month.

 Officials with Lansing Community College have been complaining that they didn’t get a chance to bid on the Old Oliver Towers apartment building before city officials cut a deal with Davenport University. 

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