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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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Election 2012
3:28 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Romney, Stabenow far outspend opponents on ads in Michigan

A new TV ad for Senator Debbie Stabenow.
screen grab

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow are both far outspending their opponents on TV ads in Michigan.

That’s according to a report released Monday by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

The report says groups supporting Romney have spent about $13 million for ads in Michigan since the February primary.

The Obama campaign and supporters haven’t spent as much in Michigan, but Obama still has a lead among likely voters, according to most polls.

Rich Robinson is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

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Election 2012
3:24 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Romney closes on Obama in new poll; Stabenow extends lead

The Romney campaign has made significant gains in a recent EPIC-MRA poll.
Gage Skidmore Flickr

A poll released yesterday by EPIC-MRA of Lansing shows the presidential race tightening in Michigan.

Aided by a strong debate performance, Mitt Romney has reduced President Barack Obama’s ten point lead to just three points—within the margin of error for the poll reports the Detroit Free Press.

From the Free Press:

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Health
3:19 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

CDC: Meningitis outbreak claims third life in Michigan

Map of Meningitis outbreak,as of 10/09/12
CDC

The Centers for Disease Control reports a third fatality in Michigan tied to a nationwide meningitis outbreak.

A 78 year old Washtenaw County woman is the latest fatality.   Previously,  a 56 year old woman from Genesee County and a 67 year old woman from Livingston County were the only known fatalities in Michigan.

The CDC now says 25 patients in Michigan are linked to the outbreak tied to tainted steroid injections.   

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Election 2012
2:49 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

6 things to know about Proposal 2; Collective bargaining

Protestors outside the Indiana Capitol building when the "right-to-work" legislation passed earlier this year.
screen grab from video The Statehouse File

Michigan voters are faced with a choice:

Should the right to collective bargaining for all Michigan workers be enshrined in the Michigan Constitution?

The amendment would affect the rights of workers in private companies and workers in the public sector.

If you work for a private company, the right to collectively bargain is upheld by federal law (the National Labor Relations Act). But the NLRA does not cover government workers.

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State of Opportunity
2:03 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Personal stories of babies born too small, too early or gone too soon

Cheryl Haggard with her son Maddux after his death. Haggard later founded Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a nonprofit that has provides families of babies who are stillborn or are at risk of dying with free professional portraits.
courtesy of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

State of Opportunity's documentary on Michigan’s infant mortality crisis airs today at 3 p.m.

This is a heavy topic, for those looking to share or read some more personal stories there is the site “Too Small, Too Early, or Gone Too Soon.”

The site is a collection of stories from parents whose children were in the NICU or who lost a child. Some of these stories are sad, of course, but some are very hopeful.

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Energy
2:01 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Chair of House Energy and Commerce Committee suggests cutting subsidies for oil and gas companies

Congressman Fred Upton
Republican Conference Creative Commons

Congressman Fred Upton says he’s in favor of getting rid of federal subsidies for the oil and gas industry.

He made the comments during a debate last Monday night in Kalamazoo. The debate was hosted by The Kalamazoo Gazette/Mlive.com and public radio station WMUK. You can hear the entire debate on their website.

During a discussion about renewable energy, Upton said the country “doesn’t need tax subsidies” for any energy companies.

Upton railed against President Obama’s investment in failed solar panel company Solyndra.

“We don’t need subsidies like this, particularly when the taxpayer losses every dime in their pocket. So I’m for putting all of these on an even footing. Let’s look at the oil and gas subsidies. Let’s taken them away. Let’s let them compete just like everyone else at the same level. We can do that with the tax code to take those special provisions away,” Upton said.

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2:01 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Longtime Red Wings announcer, Budd Lynch dies

Lead in text: 
Lynch was 95. The Detroit Free Press has more.
Who: Frank Joseph James Lynch - legally changed to Budd after World War II when he became a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen. * Died this morning at age 95. * Born: Windsor, Ontario. * Resided: Wyandotte. * Family: Six children, eight grandchildren, two great grandchildren.
Energy
1:57 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Palisades sues federal government over lack of waste storage

Nuclear waste cools off in a storage pool, before being stored in dry casks. Most waste is stored on-site at nuclear power plants around the country.
NRC

Nuclear waste is the 800 lb gorilla for the nuclear power industry.

Where do you stash waste that can have a half-life of tens of thousands of years?

The federal government has been trying to figure out a long term nuclear waste plan for decades. Yucca Mountain in Nevada was to be the site, but that plan was defunded by the Obama Administration in 2010.

Without a long-term solution, nuclear waste is typically stored on-site at nuclear power plants around the nation.

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Health
11:35 am
Tue October 9, 2012

Stories of the meningitis outbreak in Michigan, cases treated in Ann Arbor

Map of Healthcare Facilities which received three lots of Methylprednisolone Acetate (PF) recalled from New England Compounding Center.
CDC

News about the meningitis outbreak continues this morning. The outbreak has been linked to patients receiving steroid injections for back pain. The steroid shots could be contaminated with a meningitis-causing fungus.

From the CDC:

At this point, there is not enough evidence to determine the original source of the outbreak, however there is a link to an injectable steroid medication.

The company responsible for the medication, New England Compounding Pharmacy, Inc., announced a recall on Oct. 6 "of all products currently in circulation that were compounded at and distributed from its facility in Framingham, Massachusetts."

Ed White of the Associated Press reports on the heartbreaking case of 67-year-old Lilian Cary of Howell, Michigan.

Late last month, Cary had been responding to treatment at the University of Michigan hospital:

"She was responding to medication. Her spirits were up. Her fever was broken," George Cary said. "She was walking the hallway and Skyping with grandsons."

But she became unresponsive Sept. 26, and eventually was removed from life support after suffering a stroke, he said.

Cary said he was informed Saturday that his wife had been treated with tainted steroids for back pain. The doctor at Michigan Pain Specialists in Brighton, one of four Michigan clinics to get shipments from the Massachusetts pharmacy, said Cary also was at risk.

George Cary is now waiting to hear whether he was exposed when he received an injectable steroid shot.

The CDC reports that as many as 13,000 people received steroid shots suspected in the outbreak, but who is in danger is unclear.

From the Associated Press:

About 17,700 single-dose vials of the steroid sent to 23 states have been recalled. Inspectors found at least one sealed vial contaminated with fungus, and tests were being done on other vials.

The first known case of the rarely seen fungal meningitis was diagnosed last month in Tennessee.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by a bacteria or virus. Exposure from fungi is a less common way to contract meningitis.

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Politics & Government
10:01 am
Tue October 9, 2012

Striking water workers suspended without pay

DETROIT (AP) - Three dozen Detroit Water and Sewerage workers will be suspended without pay for walking off the job in protest of the city's plans to downsize the department and eliminate most of the jobs over several years.

Water department director Sue F. McCormick says Monday in a release that 33 workers will get 5-day suspensions, while three union leaders each will be suspended for 10 days.

The suspensions follow 10 hours of disciplinary hearings Friday. They come with agreements that the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Local 207 workers may be fired for any future action that can be punished by suspension. The 36 workers walked off the job Sept. 31 at a wastewater treatment plant in southwest Detroit. Their union local announced the strike over on Thursday.

The Environment Report
9:00 am
Tue October 9, 2012

Team resumes search for the oldest shipwreck in the Great Lakes

Le Griffon
Wikimedia Commons

The search for the oldest shipwreck in the Great Lakes has resumed.  The team that believes it has found the wreck is moving ahead after closing a legal dispute with the State of Michigan.  They’re trying to prove that what they’ve found in Lake Michigan could be a French ship that disappeared in 1679.

It’s been thirty years since Great Lakes Exploration began searching for the Griffon.  In fact, the original team has been at it so long, they’re running out of time to see it through themselves.

Jim Cucharski is one of the original divers on the team.  But he’s not in the water today because he recently had a heart attack.

In fact, just one of the original divers, Cucharski’s brother Tom, is in good shape for diving this week.

"You know, time takes its toll. We’re all getting older. I was like thirty years old when I started this and I’m 63 now, so, yeah, it doesn't get any better, you know?"

The group out of Dayton, Ohio spent countless vacations up here camping and combing the bottom of northern Lake Michigan.

Their leader, Steve Libert, lives in Virginia these days. Libert says his interest in the Griffon goes back to junior high. That was when he first heard of the French explorer Robert de La Salle, and his ship with a mythical animal carved on the stern; half lion and half eagle.

"It was a figurehead to ward off evil spirits and they called it the Griffon."

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