Local

Economy
3:20 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Michigan unemployment rate ticked up for the second month in a row

Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Unemployment in Michigan rose one-tenth of a percentage point in June to 8.6 percent, when seasonally adjusted.

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB) issued a press release today that said the state's labor force, for the first month this year, did not increase, and the number of unemployed people grew by 7,000.

The good news is that this year's unemployment rate is 2 percent lower than last year's June rate, and four tenths of a percent lower than the rate at the beginning of this year.

From the press release:

“The state labor market displayed little change in June, and has been relatively stable through the first half of 2012,” said Rick Waclawek, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives.  “Job gains in Michigan were modest during the second quarter, which was similar to national trends.”

Check out the graph above showing DTMB's data on the labor force and the unemployment rate over the past decade.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Politics & Government
3:06 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Democrats call for House inquiry into actions by Schmidt, Bolger

House Speaker Jase Bolger
Jase Bolger Facebook.com

Democrats are calling for a special inquiry into whether House Speaker Jase Bolger and state Representative Roy Schmidt are guilty of ethics violations. A report by the Kent County prosecutor determined the two did not break any laws as they plotted Schmidt’s switch to the Republican Party, but the report says they did attempt to undermine the integrity of an election.

Their scheme included recruiting and paying a fake Democrat who would appear on the ballot against Schmidt. The idea was, the decoy would not campaign.   

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Commentary
12:26 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Commentary: Perpetrating a fraud

Jase Bolger, the Speaker of Michigan’s House of Representatives, secretly conspired with State Representative Roy Schmidt of Grand Rapids to perpetrate a fraud on the people.

They did that by trying to rig an election.

That’s the conclusion of Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth, who released a stunning report yesterday. The prosecutor, like those two men, is a member of the Republican Party. Except that Forsyth indicated that as a Republican, he is embarrassed.

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Politics & Government
12:25 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

'Vaginagate': Group delivers signatures asking for GOP apology

Lisa Brown
Jeff Winston Youtube.com

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A group upset over last month's silencing of a female Democratic lawmaker who said "vagina" during House debate about anti-abortion legislation and another who said "vasectomy" have delivered over 115,000 signatures asking for an apology.

Members of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy For America brought the signatures Wednesday morning to the office of House Speaker Jase Bolger.

The signers want GOP leaders to make a public apology to state Reps. Lisa Brown and Barb Byrum after suspending their speaking privileges for one day.

Bolger spokesman Ari Adler said Tuesday that he doesn't anticipate any apology is forthcoming. He says the pair "violated the decorum of the House" and "were gaveled down for it."

Several women's groups also planned a Wednesday rally at the Capitol to promote women's issues.

Health
12:12 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

U of M tops ranking of best hospitals in Michigan

The University of Michigan Health System.
UM

U.S. News & World Report has identified 34 high-performing hospitals in Michigan out of more than 175 hospitals statewide. The rankings were released earlier this week.

Regional rankings around the country are based on how hospitals compare nationally in 16 medical specialties.

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Politics & Government
12:05 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Bing cuts Detroit city worker pay, benefits despite City Council's disapproval

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing
Mayor Dave Bing Facebook.com

Today, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing decided to go ahead and impose new contract terms that will cut wages by 10 percent and drastically change their work rules for many of Detroit's city union workers.

This decision comes after the Detroit City Council voted down the proposed plan yesterday, 5-4.

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Politics & Government
12:00 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Bolger/Schmidt contorvery heating up as Michigan Democrats call for investigation

Michigan State House Speaker Jase Bolger.
user: mimem flickr.com

Democrats in the Michigan legislature are calling for investigations and for State House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) to step down amid the controversy surrounding state Rep. Roy Schmidt's (R-Grand Rapids) party switch.

Bolger was involved in seeking out a fake Democratic candidate to run against the newly declared Republican this November.

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith reported on the controversy last night:

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Election 2012
11:08 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Ann Arbor residents will decide on new library building this November

The Ann Arbor District Library wants a new building downtown.
AADL Facebook

Ann Arbor residents can add a new tax levy to the growing list of issues on the November ballot.

The local library board wants $65 million for a new downtown building.

After 60 years, the Ann Arbor library's main branch has done its job, according to the board. 

But now they say they're running out of space, so they want to tear down and rebuild on the same site.

The plan would mean a 30-year tax hike. It would add roughly $54 dollars to the annual tax bill of anyone with a home worth $200,000.

If residents vote no, it would be the first time in 20 years the town's rejected a tax increase for the library.

Opinion
9:46 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Let Detroit go bankrupt: The famous line Romney never said

Charles Brown

The four most famous words that Mitt Romney never wrote are, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

You read that right.  Mitt Romney never wrote those words.  They were the headline of a New York Times op-ed column that was authored by Romney and published in the newspaper on November 18, 2008.

I doubt that most people could accurately recite so much as a sentence of the op-ed that Governor Romney actually wrote in that column.  All that anybody remembers is the headline, which I have discovered was written by a New York Times editor, not Governor Romney.

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News Roundup
8:26 am
Wed July 18, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

MI Education Funding

Public discussions began yesterday on overhauling how Michigan pays for schools. Rick Pluta reports:

Governor Snyder has asked a workgroup to come up with a plan that focuses less on per-student funding and more on proficiency. The workgroup’s first hearing included suggestions from the audience on what Michigan’s education system should look like. The workgroup will revamp the state’s 30-year-old school aid act. It will also revisit key aspects of the Proposal A school funding reforms. Governor Snyder has asked for the recommendations to be done in time to include in his budget proposal next year.

Voting Rolls

Michigan’s Secretary of State will soon ask again for access to immigration records. “The intent is to find non-American citizens who may have ‘inadvertently’ registered to vote in Michigan. For years, a person applying for a driver’s license in Michigan would also be encouraged to register to vote without a check first to see if the person was actually a U.S. citizen. Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has asked for the immigration records before….but was denied. However…last week…the Department of Homeland Security granted a similar request from Florida officials. A spokeswoman for the Secretary of State says its unclear if the review process can be completed before November’s general election,” Steve Carmody reports.

A2 Art Fairs

Visitors from all over the state – and the county – are preparing to converge on Ann Arbor for the city’s annual art fairs. “The four-day celebration kicks off Wednesday, featuring four different fairs: The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair, the State Street Area Art Fair and the South University Art Fair. The original Ann Arbor Street Art Fair is more than 50 years old. The fairs in downtown Ann Arbor and on the University of Michigan campus typically attract hundreds of thousands of visitors,” the Associated Press reports.

Politics & Government
6:13 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Medical malpractice bills before Senate committee

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A hearing is scheduled in Lansing on Wednesday on a package of bills that would prevent some patients from suing doctors for malpractice.

The hearing is 8 a.m. before the state Senate Insurance Committee in Lansing.

Leaders of the 16,000-member Michigan State Medical Society say the Patients First Reform Package closes a legal loophole that allows unnecessary suits to be filed and prevents trial lawyers from artificially inflating awards.

Politics & Government
6:09 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Michigan Senate to vote on changes for teachers retirement health care plans

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Senate is expected to vote on legislation that would end state-provided health care coverage in retirement for new public school hires and require current employees to pay more toward pensions.

The Wednesday legislative session is the only one scheduled for July. The Senate is expected to take up the bill passed last month by the House.

The bill doesn't contain earlier language that would force new teachers into a 401 (k)-style plan. The measure calls for studying how ending the pensions would affect the state.

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Auto
9:10 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Share your car, says GM, and we'll help you do it (with Onstar)

RelayRide will allow car-renters unlock a vehicle they're renting with their smart phone
Onstar

General Motors says its On-Star customers can now use their GM cars to make some extra money - by renting out their vehicles.

Car-sharing allows someone to rent their personal vehicle to people who don't own one. Typically the borrower just needs a car for a few hours, for errands, grocery store visits or the like.

Now, GM car owners who subscribe to Onstar can rent out their cars through a car-sharing company called RelayRides.

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Politics & Government
7:10 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Rep. Roy Schmidt, GOP leader, apologize for recruiting fake Democrat in party switch

Rep. Roy Schmidt (R-Grand Rapids) pictured last summer when he was a Democrat, rallying against Gov. Rick Snyder's K-12 education budget.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The Kent County Prosecutor says a state representative who switched political parties minutes before an election filing deadline may have committed election fraud. But the review concludes Democrat-turned-Republican Roy Schmidt did not do anything criminal.

You can view the full report here.

The prosecutor’s investigation shows Roy Schmidt (R-Grand Rapids) worked with House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) to switch parties and run as a Republican.

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Environment & Science
6:04 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

A good day to sit next to an air conditioner in Michigan

Is it hot or is it just me? No, it's hot.
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

How hot was it today?

Hot enough for Consumers Energy to smash its all-time record for electricity demand.

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Law
6:01 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Juvenile lifer ruling requires authorities to track down victims

There is some question on the reach of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down automatic life-without-parole sentences for juveniles.

Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office says it may only apply going forward and not to the 366 juvenile lifers currently serving in Michigan prisons.

Dawn Van Hoek directs the State Appellate Defender Office, which represents some of the juvenile lifers. She disagrees and said every juvenile sentenced to life without parole should get a new hearing.

“I think they’ve already signaled, the Supreme Court has, and, you know, you have to wonder why even bother if you’re not going to apply it to the hundreds of people who were affected nationwide by these unconstitutional laws,” said Van Hoek.

That would also require the state to track down the families of murder victims who have a right under Michigan law to testify at sentencing hearings.

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Transportation
5:35 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Gov. Snyder: Ambassador Bridge bomb threat exposes need for new crossing

The Ambassador Bridge
user Patr1ck Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Rick Snyder says last night's bomb-threat that closed the Ambassador bridge for hours provides another reason to build a second bridge.

Last week, when a similar bomb-threat closed down the Detroit-Windsor tunnel, Michigan Radio's Lester Graham had his mind 1.5 miles down river, on the Ambassador Bridge. 

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Offbeat
5:34 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Facebook followers share 'up north' highlights

Lake Michigan Sunset
User acrylicartist MorgueFile.com

Earlier today, Michigan Radio’s Kyle Norris posted a story about Michiganders’ love of traveling north of their hometowns for an in-state getaway.  On our facebook page, we asked fans to join the conversation:

“Ok, let's hear your favorite thing about going ‘up north.’”

Followers posted comments detailing the perks of their favorite spots up north.

Several answered that the drive north is the best part of the experience.

Gary: Crossing the tension line (or "ecotone") between southern and northern forests. The pines and sand sneak in so slowly you barely notice, until they seem suddenly to dominate.

Cathrin: Not only do the trees change, but the landscape begins to rise and fall in drastic contrast to the flat plains of the center of the mitten. So beautiful!

Dani: crossing the bridge to the u.p ...being so close to 3 of the great lakes the beautiful scenery the falls the fudge in mackinaw smoked fish in st ignance and most of all being away from the big city

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Law
4:12 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Investigators say they have new evidence in the Oakland County child killings of the 1970's

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan prosecutor says investigators have DNA evidence linking the deaths of two of four children killed during a 13-month period in the 1970s.

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said Tuesday that DNA tests fond hairs found during the investigation of the deaths of 11-year-old Timothy King and 12-year-old Mark Stebbins came from the same person. They're seeking tips from the public in the case.

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Politics & Government
3:44 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Michigan will ask for immigration records as part of purge of voter rolls

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Secretary of State will soon ask again for access to immigration records.

The intent is to find non-American citizens who may have “inadvertently” registered to vote in Michigan.

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