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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.

Election 2012
11:56 am
Wed October 10, 2012

5 things to know about Proposal 3: 25 by '25

Wind power could feature prominently in Michigan energy production if voters amend the state constitution to include a new renewable energy standard.
cwwycoff1 flickr

Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) promote the use of renewable energy by requiring that a minimum percentage or amount of energy sold in a state come from sources like wind, solar, biomass, or hydropower. 

There are currently 29 states with some sort of RPS in place. Michigan is one of them. 

Michigan’s current standard, passed by the legislature in 2008, calls for 10 percent of retail electricity sales to be derived from renewable sources by 2015.

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Politics & Government
11:00 am
Wed October 10, 2012

John Scott v. John Scott: Election fraud charge coming in Michigan county race

The candidates for Oakland County Commissioner in the 5th District.
Oakland Co.

Voters in Oakland Co. will see two John Scott's on their ballot this November; one an incumbant Republican, the other an Independent.

The race for Oakland Co. Commissioner in District 5 is between John Scott (R), Alexandria Riley (D), and John Scott (I).

The Oakland County prosecutor's office says it plans to charge John Scott (I) with election fraud over alleged petition-gathering irregularities.

Chief assistant prosecutor Paul Walton says a misdemeanor election fraud warrant would be issued today in Waterford District Court against the independent candidate for commissioner.

John Scott (I) is a 22-year-old Eastern Michigan University college student from West Bloomfield Township.

The incumbent John Scott (R) says his namesake opponent is trying to confuse the election process.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Commissioner Scott said several of his strong supporters had signed the petitions. When he called them to find out more, he learned John Scott was listed as the circulator on some of the petitions, but the people who signed them said a woman had solicited the signature.

Such tactics constitute misdemeanor election fraud, which carries a 93-day maximum jail sentence, said Oakland County chief assistant prosecutor Paul Walton. The warrant will be issued in Waterford District Court today.

Back in July, the incumbent Republican Oakland County Commissioner promised to challenge his namesakes petition gathering tactics.

From the Oakland Press:

Commissioner Scott is seeking a sixth two-year term in a newly drawn district representing parts of Waterford and West Bloomfield townships.

The commissioner says the other Scott’s filing “is just to confuse the election process."

“Naturally we’ll challenge this,” the commissioner said. “It’s fraudulent because there’s friends of mine signing petitions thinking it’s me.”

Back in July, John Scott (I) said he wasn't aware of the issue, “I didn’t really know who was running at first. I just wanted to get my name on the ballot.”

Scott (I) declined to speak with the Detroit Free Press about the issue.

Auto
10:22 am
Wed October 10, 2012

Gov't to warn motorists about counterfeit airbags

media.gm.com

WASHINGTON (AP) - Auto industry officials say the government is preparing to warn car owners whose airbags have been replaced in the past three years that dangerous counterfeit bags may have been installed.

Industry officials said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has alerted them that thousands of car owners may be driving vehicles with counterfeit airbags. Some of the counterfeit bags fail to inflate properly. The officials requested that their names not be used because NHTSA had asked them not to speak publicly about the problem until after an announcement scheduled for Wednesday.

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Politics & Government
8:43 am
Wed October 10, 2012

Commentary: Home health care amendment

Michigan voters next month are going to be asked to decide the fate of five proposed amendments to the state constitution, plus whether they want to keep the Emergency Manager law. Some of the amendments have gotten a lot of publicity, like the one that would require a statewide vote before any new bridge could be constructed.

The amendment that would guarantee collective bargaining rights is getting attention, as is the one that would require utilities to get 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources.

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Politics & Government
8:04 am
Wed October 10, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Election complaint filed against Snyder

"A ballot campaign has filed an elections complaint against Governor Rick Snyder. It says he’s using his official website and other state resources illegally to campaign against Proposal 5. Matt Davis is an attorney for the Proposal 5 campaign. That’s the one to require super-majority votes for the Legislature to raise taxes. Davis says Governor Snyder has posted videos to his official webpage, used staff time, and other public resources to campaign against the ballot question. The complaint was filed with the Michigan Secretary of State. A violation is punishable by a fine of a thousand dollars or a year in jail. Governor Snyder – who is a licensed attorney – says he’s on solid legal ground -- and will continue to campaign for the emergency manager law and against the five proposed amendments to the state constitution on the November ballot," Rick Pluta reports.

More Asian carp DNA found

"More DNA from Asian carp has been found in Chicago-area waters, and officials say an intensive search for the unwelcome fish will take place next week. A committee of federal and state agencies said Tuesday the search was triggered by the discovery of genetic material from Asian carp during three consecutive rounds of water sampling between June and September. Officials say the presence of Asian carp DNA doesn't necessarily signal the presence of live fish," the AP reports.

Meningitis outbreak claims third life in Michigan

"The Centers for Disease Control reports a third fatality in Michigan tied to a nationwide meningitis outbreak. The CDC now says 25 patients in Michigan are linked to the outbreak tied  to tainted steroid injections. The injections were intended to relieve spinal pain.   But a fungus contaminated the compound used in the injections. Nationwide the meningitis outbreak has sickened 119 people. Eleven people have died including three people in Michigan. The Centers for Disease Control believes as many as 13,000 people may have been exposed to the tainted steroid," Steve Carmody reports.

Newsmaker Interviews
5:56 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

How Muslim voters can influence the November elections

The Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, MI.

In the lead up to the November elections we’re hearing a lot about different voting blocs.

Well, the Michigan Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has released a detailed presidential election summary and legislative scorecard focused on issues of concern for Muslims here in Michigan.

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Politics & Government
4:58 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Bill to reform Michigan's public defender system comes before Senate panel

A bill before a Michigan Senate panel would reform the state's public defender system.
Bill Ledbetter flickr

A Senate panel has begun hearing arguments on a bill to fix the way Michigan counties provide defense attorneys to the poor.

The chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee says he’s still skeptical about the legislation.

Senator Rick Jones says it’s clear a handful of counties are having problems appointing competent public defenders. But he says he still doesn’t see it as a statewide issue that requires sweeping changes.

Nancy Diehl is the former president of the State Bar of Michigan, which supports the bill.

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Health
4:35 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Federal grant establishes HIV research center at University of Michigan

The University of Michigan Health System will house a new center for HIV research.
UM

A new $21 million grant will establish a Center for HIV RNA Studies at the University of Michigan.

The National Institutes of Health grant will be distributed over a five-year period and is intended to help researchers better understand the virus on a molecular level.

From the University of Michigan:

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