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Education
7:53 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

Muskegon Heights will vote on renewing millage for privatized public schools

Emergency financial manager Don Weatherspoon speaks to parents at a public forum in May 2012.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The emergency financial manager of Muskegon Heights Public Schools is asking voters to renew an operating millage for the next 16 years.

“The outcome of this millage will change the future of Muskegon Heights forever,” says a letter the school district’s emergency financial manager Don Weatherspoon sent home to parents this week.

Weatherspoon privatized the school district so he could focus on paying off its $16 million debt. That debt is mostly owed to the State of Michigan.

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Education
3:57 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

Despite more school choice, Detroit parents still frustrated

A charter advocacy group gives Michigan's charter law a passing grade
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Eighty percent of Detroit parents say they do not believe the city's public schools are the best choice for their child. But they’re split on the other options as well.

A new survey from the Detroit News and the Thompson Foundation asks Detroit parents how they feel about their school choices.

Only one in five parents picked DPS as the best for their kid. But even with the recent increase in school options - charter, private, public schools outside the city - none was a clear winner.

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Law
3:40 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

Michigan Supreme Court hears medical marijuana cases

The Michigan Supreme Court has taken up two cases that address the distribution of medical marijuana.
user elioja Flickr

The future of medical marijuana dispensaries and growing cooperatives are on the line with two cases before the Michigan Supreme Court. The court heard arguments on those cases Thursday.

Isabella County Prosecutor Risa Scully said the medical marijuana act does not allow dispensaries where patients can share marijuana with each other.

“The act clearly delineates two methods in which a qualified patient may obtain their marijuana—they may grow it themselves or they may designate a caregiver to grow it for them,” Scully said.

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Health
3:36 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

Number of confirmed fungal meningitis cases in Michigan jumps

CDC map showing the spread of fungal meningitis cases tied to tainted steroid injections
Centers for Disease Control

There’s been a big jump in the number of people in Michigan affected by that national fungal meningitis outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control says 39 people in Michigan have contracted fungal meningitis from tainted steroid injections.  Just Wednesday, the CDC listed only 28 confirmed cases in Michigan.

Three Michigan women have died since receiving the injections, which were intended to treat back pain.

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Politics & Government
2:07 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

Former congressman McCotter testifies in campaign case

Former Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter jammed with his blues band after announcing his run for the presidency over the July 4th weekend in 2011.
Vincent Duffy Michigan Radio

LIVONIA, Mich. (AP) - A former Detroit-area congressman says it was "shocking" to learn that he didn't have enough petition signatures to qualify for the 2012 election.

Thaddeus McCotter, a Republican from Livonia, is speaking publicly for the first time. He testified Thursday for the defense in the case against two high-ranking staffers who are charged with conspiracy and other crimes in submitting phony petitions to qualify McCotter for the August Republican primary.

A Livonia judge must determine if Paul Seewald and Don Yowchuang go to trial. McCotter has not been charged, although Judge Sean Kavanagh told him he had the right to remain silent.

McCotter quit Congress in July, weeks after being barred from the ballot.

He testified that he was repeatedly told by aides that he had enough signatures to run again.

Election 2012
12:13 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

4 things to know about Proposal 4: Collective bargaining for home health aides

Anna Strumillo fotopedia

Under the federally-funded Home Help Services Program, qualifying elderly or disabled residents of Michigan are eligible to receive in-home assistance with personal care and household chores.

Participants of the program have discretion in the hiring and firing of home health aides, and have their services paid for by Medicaid funds administered through the Michigan departments of Community Health and Human Services.

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Economy
10:46 am
Thu October 11, 2012

Kellogg's Mini-Wheat recall comes after cutbacks, company reinvesting in supply chain

Kellogg's

Three days ago, Battle Creek cereal maker Kellogg's announced a voluntary recall of Frosted and Unfrosted Mini-Wheats.

From Kellogg's:

We have initiated a voluntary recall due to the possible presence of fragments of flexible metal mesh from a faulty manufacturing part. Recalled products include only Frosted Mini-Wheats Bite Size Original and Mini-Wheats Unfrosted Bite Size with the letters KB, AP or FK before or after the Best If Used Before date.

You can see a list of UPC codes on the Kellogg's website.

The Wall Street Journal reports on how much the recall will cost the company:

Kellogg Co. K +0.54% said Wednesday it would take a charge of up to $30 million to cover the recall of Mini-Wheats cereal in the U.S. due to possible contamination by pieces of metal mesh.

Retailers have been contacted about the recall of 2.8 million packages of Frosted Mini-Wheats Bite-Size Original and Mini-Wheats Unfrosted Bite Size, which are being pulled from store shelves. Kellogg blamed the contamination on "a faulty manufacturing part," and said no injuries had been reported.

The WSJ reports the metal mesh problem comes after the company went through another recall in 2010 for a variety of cereals.

The paper reports the company is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to fix its supply chain, "which suffered deep cost cuts, leaving several manufacturing facilities overworked and too few people overseeing operations."

Politics & Government
9:56 am
Thu October 11, 2012

Commentary: Time to step up against Proposal 5 and 6?

There’s one thing that the vast majority of mainstream Republicans and Democrats agree on—Governor Rick Snyder, the man he defeated, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, and virtually every other elected official in the state:

Ballot Proposal 5, which would require a two-thirds vote of the legislature or a statewide vote of the people to raise any taxes, would be an absolute disaster for Michigan. It would cripple our ability to change with the times, respond to crises or make infrastructure improvements necessary to attract new business.

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Politics & Government
9:25 am
Thu October 11, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

No citizenship box on ballot

"Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says there will be no citizenship box for voters to check on ballot applications this November. Johnson says the election is getting close, so she won’t challenge a federal judge’s ruling that the citizenship question is unconstitutional. But she says there could be further legal action after the election. Johnson says she also intends to press the federal government for naturalization records to help clear voter rolls of non-citizens. She ordered the check box even after Governor Rick Snyder vetoed a bill to require it. No one could be denied a ballot for refusing to check the box, but Johnson says it's useful to remind people that only U.S. citizens can vote," Rick Pluta reports.

DHS says foster care is getting better in Michigan

"Child welfare officials say Michigan’s foster care system is getting better. Steve Yager is the director of Children’s Services for the state Department of Human Services. He told a legislative committee the state is doing a much better job of recruiting and keeping foster parents. Yager also says child welfare workers have more manageable caseloads. The state has been working to overhaul its child welfare system since 2008, after the group Children’s Rights sued the state over problems in the system," Steve Carmody reports.

Michigan foreclosure rate at a five year low

"Michigan’s home foreclosure rate could soon reach a milestone. A few years ago the state's foreclosure rate was near the top of the 50 state list. But Daren Bloomquist with Realty Trac says the latest data shows Michigan is poised to drop out of the top 10 possibly by the end of the year. He says Michigan’s home foreclosure rate is near a five year low," Steve Carmody reports.

Business
9:01 am
Thu October 11, 2012

Michigan's falling home foreclosure rate may reach a milestone soon

file photo
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s home foreclosure rate could soon reach a milestone.

A few years ago the state's foreclosure rate was near the top of the fifty state list.

But Daren Bloomquist with Realty Trac says the latest data shows Michigan is poised to drop out of the top ten, possibly by the end of the year.

"It’s still in that top ten…but it’s moving down," says Bloomquist,  "(Michigan) had often been showing up in the top five over the last few years….now it’s moved down to number nine in September.”

Social Media
5:38 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

How to survive social media during this election season

If you haven’t figured it out by now, not everybody in your virtual circle of friends shares the same political beliefs as you.

Jennifer White talks with Cliff Lampe, Assistant Professor in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. He gives some tips on how to survive social media, especially Facebook during this election season.

Take a vacation from social media

“If for instance, you were ever thinking about trying out Pinterest, now might be the time because there you’ll see a lot of pictures of cupcakes and dresses, and very few political campaign messages. Or if you were thinking about trying out Instagram and sharing your photos with people. So, this might be a great time to try another site and explore that for a little bit,” Lampe said.

Hide posts if you must, but try to embrace political differences

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Energy
5:09 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Fremont digester turning food scraps into electricity, fertilizer and compost

Bacteria insode the Fremont Community Digester will turn organic waste into energy, compost and liquid fertilizer.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A small farming community in West Michigan is celebrating the opening of plant that will turn organic waste into electricity.

Colonies of specialized bacteria will do the bulk of the work.

“The little fellows are just hungry as heck,” said Anand Gangadharan, president of Novi Energy. The company designed and will help manage the new Fremont Community Digester. They held a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the digester’s opening Tuesday.

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Politics & Government
4:50 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Ypsilanti Twp. rejects street paper vendors

anitapeppers MorgueFile

One Michigan community has said "no" to homeless and poor people who want to sell a nonprofit newspaper on the street.

Groundcover News asked Ypsilanti Township for permission to sell its paper near fast-food restaurants and other businesses. But the township's trustees worried about safety and whether businesses would object.

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Education
4:27 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Ann Arbor parents protest school tests

Michigan students may have more rigorous performance expectations on MEAP and other standardized tests.
Alberto G. Creative Commons

Parents of children in Ann Arbor public schools are gathering signatures against what they call the overuse of standardized tests. 

More than 150 people have signed the online petition so far.

They say students are tested too often between the pre-tests, practice tests and targeted testing for reading and math. 

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Law
4:25 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Suit claims state's child abuse registry is unfair

southernfried MorgueFile

Four Michigan people are suing the state to change the process used to put someone on Michigan's Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect. 

The suit claims the registry is an unconstitutional and unfair blacklist of people accused by investigators of harming a child.

Attorney Elizabeth Warner represents the plaintiffs. She says some people are on the list for reporting abuse or neglect, or were victims of domestic violence. Warner says others were never notified that they were put on the list, and have never had a hearing.

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Politics & Government
4:21 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Election fraud and the case of the two John Scotts

This John Scott is the Republican commissioner of Oakland County. But there's another John Scott on this fall's ballot.
Oakland County Michigan

2012 just may go down as the year of election fraud in Michigan.  After scandals involving Jase Bolger and Thad McCotter, now it's the case of the two John Scotts.

The elder Scott is the Republican commissioner of Oakland County. He says this summer he heard about another John Scott, this one a 22-year-old Eastern Michigan University college student,  who was gathering signatures to get on the ballot as an independent. 

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Politics & Government
4:19 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Michigan Secretary of State will not appeal citizenship checkbox ruling

Update 4:19 p.m.

There will be no citizenship checkbox on ballot applications for Michigan voters this November.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said she won’t challenge a federal judge’s ruling that the citizenship question is unconstitutional because the election is getting so close.

She did say there could be further legal action after the election.

Johnson says she also intends to press the federal government for naturalization records that would help her clear voter rolls of non-citizens.

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Law
3:39 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Report critical of Michigan policies placing teen offenders in solitary confinement

An isolation cell is shown on the cover of a 141 page report on the effects of solitary confinement on teenage offenders
ACLU

Michigan jail and prison policies that place teenage offenders in solitary confinement are getting criticized in a new report.

“Growing Up Locked Down: Youth in Solitary Confinement in Jails and Prisons Across the United States,” is based on research in U.S. jails and prisons in Michigan and four other states: Colorado, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania

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Economy
1:05 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

It might be more difficult to climb the social ladder than we thought

Biscarotte flickr

What if I told you that you don't just have your parents to thank for where you are today but your ancestors hundreds and hundreds of years ago?

That's what Gregory Clark, an Economic Historian at the University of California - Davis, told State of Opportunity's Dustin Dwyer.

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Politics & Government
1:02 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Teachers and school employees face pension plan deadline

Michigan’s 250,000 teachers and state school employees face a  deadline of October 26th to choose a new retirement plan. But some groups are asking the State Supreme Court to extend that deadline.

State legislators passed a law changing the pension system in August. Ellen Hoekstra represents the Michigan Federation of Teachers.

"We’re advising people to get as much information as they can and at least fix in their own mind what option they think would be best for themselves and their own family – prior to the 26th – in case that ends up being the deadline," said Hoekstra.

School employees will have four options.

One would require them to pay more than they pay now, to get the same pension.

Another option would allow people to pay the same amount they pay now, but get a smaller pension when they retire.

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