Local

News from the local region for a station

A classroom of students hard at work at MHacks.
Ari Sandberg

As a self-proclaimed geek with a passion for engineering, I have known my fair share of programmers. Whenever one of them tells me with a devilish gleam in their eye that they've been dabbling with hacking, I jump to the conclusion (often correctly) that they're up to no good.

So when I heard a “Hack-a-thon” was descending on the University of Michigan campus over Martin Luther King weekend, I immediately had a vision of my old robotics teammates: disheveled, manically excited, awake only by the grace of Mountain Dew, trying to break into the secrets of the free world. 

Thetoad / Flickr

State Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Twp.,  plans to introduce a bill next week requiring high school graduates to pass the same citizenship test immigrants take. Students would need to score 60% or higher on the test to receive their diplomas. Lucido says that he hopes the exam will encourage participation and increase voter turnout for elections. If passed, the law would be in effect for the 2016-17 school year.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

State wildlife officials are concerned a large bat die-off in Keweenaw County this month might be a sign of things to come.

The small brown bats died from white-nose syndrome. The distinctive white nose is created by a fungal growth that typically kills most of the bats hibernating in an infected cave.

We saw this week in Lansing the first big partisan kerfuffle of the new session of the Michigan Legislature; a fiercely partisan dispute with very little at stake.

The battle was over the prized position of Minority Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

Now, we really shouldn’t diminish the position. It matters.  This is the Democrats’ point person when it comes to negotiating budget deals with the Republican majority and arguing for priorities and projects that will benefit the districts of the 47 Democrats serving in the state House.

 We live in an era of what seems to be one of increasing nastiness and pettiness, especially perhaps in politics.

Job Description:
Michigan Radio seeks a qualified Receptionist/Business Assistant for its Business Office operations in the Ann Arbor location.  As primary receptionist, duties include answering the main phone line for the radio station, greeting visitors, tracking staff as they are in and out of the office, maintain the conference room schedule, and coordinate the servicing and maintenance of business machines.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A consultant’s report says Flint police should stop responding to non-emergency 911 calls. The consultants say that would give police more time to investigate violent crimes in Flint. 

That’s just part of a report delivered by a Washington, D.C. consulting group to the Flint city council, mayor, emergency manager, as well as the city’s police and fire chiefs last night. 

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

A group of Republican state lawmakers will try again to protect religious practices against state and local government interference.

The Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) failed to pass before the legislative session ended last year.

State Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, introduced the bill again this week.

“It’s simply all about protecting and preserving the rights that the Constitution provides for all citizens – not just select groups of citizens,” he said.

Brian Turner / Flickr Creative Commons

A Muslim woman is challenging the policy of a suburban Detroit police department that she says required her to remove her head scarf for a mug shot.

Malak  Kazan's lawsuit against Dearborn Heights was filed this week in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

Her attorney, Emir Makled, said the policy violates his client's civil rights and her right to religious expression.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Black women historically have lower rates of breast-feeding than white women do.

An Orgeon-based breast milk company called Medolac said it had a way to help that: it claims its "donor moms" (as the company calls the women it pays for breast milk) report breast-feeding their own kids for longer periods.

One of those women is Andrea Short of Newport, Michigan.

"She was probably four months old when I realized I had an overflow problem," says Short, looking on as her 15-month-old daughter Johanna munches strawberries on the couch.

Rick Snyder wants the U.S., not Canada, to pay for the Ambassador Bridge's customs plaza.
Michigan.gov

Each week I discuss what's happening in Michigan politics with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former state Senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

This week we talk about the agenda Governor Rick Snyder laid out in his State of the State address, and the likely response from the Legislature.

Flickr user Joel Dinda / Flickr

Ghost towns don't only belong to the Old West. You can find them scattered all over Michigan, including Glen Haven, located in the Leelanau Peninsula right inside the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Marie Scott is a park ranger in the area. She says the town began before the civil war as a stop for steamers to pick up wood for fuel. As the traffic picked up, it grew from only a dock to a fully functioning town.

Photo courtesy of www.gophouse.com

In his State of the State address this week, Governor Snyder highlighted how Michigan has made a comeback since the Great Recession. But Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says the state still has a long recovery ahead.

Howes highlights in his recent article how Michigan has gone through a transformation that makes it impossible to truly return to where we once were. He emphasizes that Michigan shouldn’t be thinking in terms of the past, but instead focusing on truly moving forward.

Today on Stateside:

portrait of Phoebe Gloeckner
Stamps School of Art and Design / Stamps School of Art and Design website

This year's Sundance Film Festival has extra-special meaning for a University of Michigan professor.

Phoebe Gloeckner is a professor at the Stamps School of Art and Design. Her 2002 graphic novel The Diary of a Teenage Girl has been made into a feature film starring Alexander Skarsgard and Kristen Wiig that will premiere this weekend at Sundance.

user: Alden Jewell / Flickr

With the North American International Auto Show under way in Detroit, we thought we'd dig up some archival photos of what the auto show used to look like for throw back Thursday. Click on the photo above to see more images of past Detroit Auto Shows. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report claims the Flint Police Department is tops in the nation when it comes to its return on investment.

Flint’s police department has endured budget cuts for years as the city has struggling with high violent crime rate.

A rally last year in Canton, Mississippi for Nissan workers.
user peoplesworld / Flickr

  Amidst the buzz over the shiny new cars, trucks and SUVs on display at the North American International Auto Show are voices of protest. They represent workers at Nissan's assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi who feel betrayed by the automaker's promise of good jobs.

Flickr/CityGypsy11

The Next Idea

In the recent elections last November, Michigan had the lowest turnout, percentage-wise, since 1990. 

Recent national polls show more citizens lack trust in elected officials to serve the public good over private interests than ever before. Elections across the country are now more driven by the excessive wealth of a few, mostly white males, who also help shape the issues discussed, and when they are discussed.

The coal-burning Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette, Michigan is being kept afloat by ratepayers in the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin.
WE Energies

In his State of the State address this week, Governor Snyder said we need a long-term energy policy.

“It needs to be an adaptable policy, because of the lack of federal policy and the challenges of a global marketplace," he said. "We need to focus on important things such as eliminating energy waste, and the conversion from coal to natural gas—an asset of the state of Michigan—and renewables."

User: Sean_Marshall / Flickr

Developers say they will turn the Wurlitzer building and the Professional Plaza building into a hotel and apartment complex, respectively. 

Detroit's historic Wurlitzer building was deemed one of the city's 'most dangerous structures' because it's been raining bricks onto neighboring buildings, such as 1515 Broadway Cafe. Comically, the cafe responded with a sign that reads 'Free coffee with purchase of Wurlitzer Building'. 

Did you know that in Michigan it is against the law to try to get people to dance to the Star-Spangled Banner?

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Fewer and fewer Michigan homeowners are seriously underwater on their mortgages. 

Realty Trac reports 10% of Michigan homeowners owe at least 25% more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.   

The percentage of Michigan homeowners seriously underwater on their mortgages has been declining steadily since the Great Recession. 

Metro Detroit has any number of problems, but finding affordable housing isn’t one of them.

In fact—by one measure at least—the region offers some of the most affordable housing anywhere in the world.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials tried again last night to convince city residents their tap water is safe to drink. 

Most of the people at the meeting left with doubts.

FLICKR USER TARAN RAMPERSAD / FLICKR

A team of researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of Washington believes that Beethoven’s music came from his heart – literally. The team is proposing an intriguing theory: that Beethoven’s masterful compositions were influenced by his cardiac arrhythmia.

Dr. Joel Howell is a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan School of Medicine, a medical historian and a member of the team that has developed this theory.

The team also includes Zachary Goldberger, a cardiologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine, and Robert Johnson, a musicologist specializing in Beethoven from the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

Today on Stateside:

  • U.S. Reps. Dan Kildee and Mike Bishop discuss their reaction to the State of the Union address last night.
  • Craig Thiel, the Senior Research Associate with the Citizens Research Council, talks about the council’s new report, which spotlights shrinking school enrollment, and offers solutions.
  • Dr. Joel Howell talks about his team’s new theory:  Beethoven’s music was influenced by his cardiac arrhythmia.
  • Rick Pluta of Michigan Public Radio Network and our own Zoe Clark of Michigan Radio report on the State of the Union address last night.
Gov. Rick Snyder

Gov. Rick Snyder says he has faith the public will approve a May ballot proposal to boost road funding. That’s despite a recent study from a Michigan State University researcher that said the measure might already be in trouble.

The proposal would raise the state’s sales tax from six percent to seven percent. It would increase funding for roads, schools, and local governments.

Gov. Rick Snyder

Gov. Rick Snyder is following up his State of the State address on Tuesday by continuing to promote skilled trades. In the speech, Snyder highlighted skilled trades as a way to boost employment, education, and Michigan’s economy during.

The governor visited a mold and die plant in Lansing the morning after the speech to highlight programs that train skilled workers.

“They’re not jobs that go away easily,” Snyder told reporters at the event. “If you think about huge capital equipment, you need well-trained, really good people running that equipment.”

wikipedia

Michigan agriculture producers say it's time to lift the trade embargo against Cuba.

They say Cuba is an untapped market for Michigan's black beans, fruits, milk and other products.

Dave Armstrong is CEO of GreenStone Farm Credit.

"Foreign competitors like Canada, Brazil, the European Union and Argentina – which don't have such restrictions – are taking U.S. and Michigan market share," says Dave Armstrong, CEO of Greenstone Farm Credit.

Jim Byrum is President of the Michigan Agri-Business Association.

Pages