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Politics
8:14 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Michigan Catholics rally against the proposed contraception insurance coverage mandate

Hundreds of people gathered in Lansing to protest the proposed contraception coverage mandate
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Several hundred people gathered at the state capitol today to protest the Obama Administration’s push to make all employer-provided health care plans carry contraception coverage.    Similar rallies took place in Detroit, Flint, Ann Arbor and other Michigan cities.

The Catholic Church is a main opponent of the contraception mandate. Church leaders held rallies across the country today.

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Politics
7:22 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Bing: Detroit will go broke within a week if city lawyer doesn't back off lawsuit

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing at a recent Detroit groundbreaking.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and his Chief Financial Officer, Jack Martin, warn the city could go broke as soon as next week.

That’s because Detroit’s top lawyer, Kyrstal Crittendon, filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of the city’s consent agreement with the state.

Crittendon argues the agreement is “void and unenforceable” because the state owes the city money—and it’s illegal to enter into a contract with a debtor.

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It's Just Politics
6:59 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Just how does a politican decide whether or not to back an income tax rollback

Zoe Clark: It's Just Politics, I'm Zoe Clark.

Rick Pluta: And, I'm Rick Pluta.

ZC: And, Rick, I think it’s only fair to say that Democratic lawmakers at the state Capitol are not happy.

RP: Indeed, they’re mad.

ZC: Mad about the passage of an income-tax reduction.

RP: And they made their point known on the House floor.

ZC: So, of course, when it came time to actually vote, Democrats rallied together and voted a resounding, “No.”

RP: Whoa, whoa, whoa, Zoe, don’t go that far. Yes, they railed against it. Said it’s too little by way of “tax relief” – that phrase that gets tossed about when we’re discussing tax cuts -- for middle class families compared to all the tax exemptions and credits that were scrapped last year by Republicans in the name of tax fairness.

ZC: Democrats say this is the wrong use of $90 million earmarked for so-called “tax relief.” They say it’s also pretty paltry and that Republicans are just playing election year politics. But they still voted for it. So, what gives?

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Politics & Government
5:46 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Voters still in limbo: Court rules on ballot measure challenging emergency manager law

A three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals says the referendum to challenge Michigan’s emergency manager law should go on the November ballot. But the judges say they don’t agree with the precedent governing their decision.

The court found the referendum campaign was in substantial compliance with state election law. That’s despite a question over whether a portion of its petition was printed in the wrong font size. But the court said it does not agree with the earlier decision that governs the case. So the court delayed enforcement of its decision, and called for a rarely used procedure that’s usually used to reconcile conflicting case law.

A majority of the 28 judges on the state Court of Appeals would have to vote to convene a “super-panel” of seven judges to decide whether the precedent was wrongly decided. That could clear the way for the Court of Appeals to keep the referendum off the ballot.

Lessons from Isle Royale
2:51 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Extinction of wolves could lead to extinction of study on Isle Royale

Rolf Peterson holds up the song sheet for the evening. Candy Peterson loves to get people singing. She says "people shouldn't say, 'I can't sing,' they should say 'I don't sing very often.'"
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

We've been posting radio pieces, videos, and blog posts all week as part of our series Lessons from Isle Royale's Wolves and Moose.

Researchers like Durwood Allen, and Michigan Tech's John Vucetich and Rolf Peterson have been keeping a close eye on the animals on the island for more than five decades.

Peterson has been doing it the longest. He's been watching and documenting things on Isle Royale for 42 years.

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Health
2:26 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Lansing's Sparrow Hospital will work with the famed Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic Care Network medical director Dr. David Hayes at today's announcement that Sparrow Health Systems is joining the network
(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Lansing’s Sparrow Hospital is joining a national health care network run by the Mayo Clinic.

Sparrow Hospital is not being bought by the Mayo Clinic. But instead the Lansing hospital, which also has facilities in St. Johns and Ionia, is joining the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

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Commentary
10:00 am
Fri June 8, 2012

Commentary: Happy Warrior

How many people do you know who really love politics? I don’t necessarily mean those politically active or intense about the issues. I know lots of people like that, conservative and liberal. But I don’t sense that many of them are having a good time.

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Politics
9:28 am
Fri June 8, 2012

In this morning's news...

In this morning's news...
Brother O'Mara Flickr

State threatens to pull revenue if consent deal challenge continues

Detroit’s top lawyer, Krystal Crittendon, is challenging the city's consent deal with the state of Michigan. State officials want the challenge to stop. The state Treasurer's Office sent the city a letter. From the Detroit Free Press:

The state Treasurer's Office warned the City of Detroit on Thursday that it could lose $80 million or more in state revenue sharing unless Mayor Dave Bing gets a lawsuit dropped by next week that challenges the city's financial stability agreement with the state.

Mayor Bing issued a statement last night saying he'd received the letter. Bing said Crittendon "believes she has the right to file the complaint."

However, as I have said before, this action only impedes our progress and places the City’s fiscal recovery in grave jeopardy. My team is working closely with the State to mitigate any negative impacts on my administration’s plan to financially stabilize the City. We want this matter resolved expeditiously for the sake of the citizens of Detroit.

Michigan House panel aims to put limits on abortion

A set of bills going through the legislature will put more restrictions on abortion providers in the state. A state House panel passed them yesterday, and now the bills are on the way to the state House floor. More from the Detroit News:

A House committee on Thursday advanced a three-bill package to the floor requiring abortion clinics to be licensed surgical centers, imposing new requirements for disposing of the remains of aborted fetuses and making it a crime to coerce a woman into terminating a pregnancy.

One of the bills includes a ban on late-term abortions for unborn children 20 or more weeks developed, with a narrow exception when the mother's life is at risk, said the bill sponsor, Rep. Deb Shaughnessy, R-Charlotte.

Polls show it's close between Obama and Romney in Michigan

Michigan is looking more and more like a swing state for either candidate. From the Huffington Post:

A poll released on Thursday by Lansing-based pollster EPIC-MRA has President Obama and Mitt Romney running neck and neck in Michigan, with Romney leading with 46 percent to Obama's 45 percent.

In a release, the Michigan Republican Party touted the results as evidence of Romney's growing strength in his home state. That would represent a shift from other polling conducted in the state, as well as EPIC's polling in April, which gave Obama a 4-point lead.

Education
7:32 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

Teachers' union, emergency manager at Muskegon Heights schools settle lawsuit

Muskegon Heights High School
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The teachers’ union at Muskegon Heights Public Schools has settled a lawsuit against the district. The union had alleged the district’s emergency manager was engaged in unfair labor practices.

Muskegon Heights schools' emergency manager Don Weatherspoon says allowing a charter school operator to run the public school district is the only way he can afford to keep school open next year. The deficit is more than $12 million. 

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Politics
6:33 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

Wayne commission votes to censure Ficano

Wayne Co. Commissioner Joe Palamara (D-Grosse Ile) sponsored the censure resolution.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano has been formally censured by the board elected to run the county with him. The censure vote comes in the wake of a federal probe into how county contracts are awarded.

The Wayne County Commission was widely criticized for pulling its punches when it approved a censure resolution last month that did not actually include Ficano's name.

The amended resolution does name Ficano. But it does not call for the executive's resignation, as Commissioner Laura Cox (R-Livonia) wanted. Cox was the lone "no" vote on the resolution.

Commissioner Joe Palamara (D-Grosse Ile) sponsored the censure resolution. He says the commission has no power to force Ficano to step down - so a resolution calling for his resignation would be pointless.

"It's akin to firing a starter's pistol at a track meet," said Palamara. "At the end of the day it makes a lot of noise, gets a lot of attention, but all it is is firing a blank."

Four people have been indicted on federal corruption charges related to Wayne County contracts. Ficano has denied any wrongdoing.

Education
5:58 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

Pontiac Schools avoids state takeover

State officials say they won't recommend a financial review team for the Pontiac School District.

That's after the District implemented a deficit elimination plan.

A financial review team would have put the district one step closer to a state takeover. 

It could also have meant a longer delay in getting April and May payments from the state. Those were withheld as required by law during the preliminary review of the district's finances. 

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Politics
5:46 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

Retired Michigan state lawmakers may soon pay more for their health care

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Retired lawmakers would pay the same 20 percent of their health care premiums that other public retirees are being asked to pay under legislation passed by the Michigan House.

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Lansing
4:26 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

City of Lansing officially asks developers for proposals for the old Red Cedar golf course

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A major economic development project in Lansing took an important step today.

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Economy
4:18 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

Pfizer spinning off animal health division

About 750 Pfizer employees in Kalamazoo are going to have a new boss.

Pfizer announced today it's spinning its “animal health” division off into its own company.

The new company’s name will be Zoetis. An odd, though appropriate name for the company. The Z-O in Zoetis is supposed to stand for ZOO, or zoetic, which means "pertaining to life".

Pfizer’s animal health division is a major employer in Kalamazoo. Damien Conover expects that will stay the same under the new company. Conover is an analyst with Morningstar Financial.

“There’s probably going to be some consolidation with the new business,” says Conover,  “but for the most part I’m not anticipating a big shakeup of the business.”

Conover expects Zoetis will be worth more than eleven billion dollars. That would make it the largest stand-alone company focused on animal pharmaceuticals in the world.

Politics
3:55 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

Michigan House committee approves stricter abortion rules

A set of bills aiming to more strictly regulate abortion providers in Michigan is on the way to the state House floor after clearing committee by a wide margin. 

Update 5:19 p.m. -From Michigan Radio's Rick Pluta:

The measures are backed by the Catholic Church and by the anti-abortion group Right to Life. Ed Rivet of Right to Life says critics are mis-representing their motives. He says the purpose is to ensure women have safe facilities 

“Every time we’ve  done this either women are going to die, or they’re going to be denied access to abortion and neither of those is true," Rivet said. "Those threats are always veiled, empty threats that never come true. The fact that 28 out of 32 abortion clinics in Michigan are not inspected or licensed is a fact.”

3:55 p.m.

The Detroit News reports that House Bills 5711-13 would make abortion providers follow new guidelines when handling the remains of aborted fetuses and require facilities where abortions are performed to seek the same licensing as surgery facilities, even if they only administer oral abortion medications. The bills would also make it a criminal act to coerce a woman into having an abortion. 

From the News:

In written testimony, the head of Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan said the bills place "burdensome requirements" on women's health care clinics that only dispense oral abortion medication to upgrade their facilities to handle surgical abortions they do not perform.

"Women rightfully don't turn to politicians for advice about mammograms, prenatal care or cancer treatments," said Lori Lamerand, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan. "Politicians should not be involved in a woman's personal medical decisions about her pregnancy."

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Law
3:52 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

Released from prison after 26 years, man cleared of charges he killed family

Arson cases are being reexamined after the science behind some convictions has been questioned.
Marcus Obal creative commons

Some forensic science often used in police investigations is being called into question.

PBS' Frontline did an excellent series calling out the questionable science behind many arson cases.

In "Death by Fire" they showed how testimony from so-called fire experts led to the convictions of people for arson.

In one case, a potentially innocent man, Cameron Todd Willingham, was put to death in Texas based on questionable fire evidence.

Did Texas execute an innocent man?

Several controversial death penalty cases are currently under examination in Texas and in other states, but it's the 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham -- convicted for the arson deaths of his three young children -- that's now at the center of the national debate.

Today, we hear the story of David Lee Gavitt from the Detroit Free Press. Gavitt, from Ionia, was convicted in 1986 of first-degree felony murder for the deaths of his wife and two young daughters in a house fire. He was sentenced to life in prison.

His conviction was overturned and he was released yesterday after spending 26 years in prison.

His first stop, the grave sites of his wife and daughters.

"It was a very emotional scene," said David Moran, a law professor and co-founder of the Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School, which fought for the release of 54-year-old David Lee Gavitt. Moran said 15-20 of Gavitt's family members also arrived to welcome him home.

Since Gavitt's conviction in 1986, fire science has advanced significantly. A fire science expert, John Lentini, reviewed some of the evidence in Gavitt's case for the Innocence Clinic:

He told the clinic that the burn patterns that had caused investigators to suspect arson weren't caused by an accelerant, like gasoline, but by flashover -- a then-misunderstood phenomenon in which a closed room fills with toxic gases and bursts into flames.

"In light of modern fire science, there is simply not one shred of credible evidence that the fire at the Gavitt residence was intentionally set," Lentini said in a 65-page affidavit the clinic presented last September to Judge Hoseth Kreeger.

As Frontline points out, there are several arson cases around the country being reviewed. And the case of Cameron Todd Willingham has caused experts to re-examine old assumptions:

These include assumptions about fire patterns on floors and v-shaped marks on walls, the identifying characteristics of an accelerant, and what happens to glass windows during a blaze. Gerald Hurst, who wrote a report discrediting the evidence used against Willingham in a last-minute death row appeal, declared: “One might well wonder how anyone could make so many critical errors in interpreting the evidence.”

Politics
2:49 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

Wayne county commissioners censure executive Ficano

Robert Ficano, Wayne County Executive.
Wayne County YouTube

DETROIT (AP) - Wayne County commissioners have censured executive Robert Ficano, whose office is under an FBI investigation and mired in allegations of corruption.

The commission approved the resolution Thursday on a 14-1 vote. Ficano is elected, and commissioners can't force him out.

Grosse Ile Democrat Joe Palamara sponsored the resolution and says "the power to elect and remove the county executive rests solely with the people."

Federal authorities began investigating county government last summer following reports of a $200,000 severance deal for a Ficano staffer.

Ex-Ficano aide David Edwards pleaded guilty last month to bribery charges involving $13,000 accepted from a private contractor.

Ficano has denied any wrongdoing.

Michigan Radio History
11:29 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Audio: remembering the station's early years

  • Charity Nebbe talks to three people who remember the station's early years.
  • Vince Duffy takes a look at WUOM's role in creating public broadcasting as we know it.
Michigan Radio History
11:25 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Michigan Radio History: Photos Then and Now

Front of LSA Building

History Photos

Michigan Radio History
11:00 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Michigan Radio History Timeline

1948: WUOM goes on the air July 5, 1948 from studios in Angell Hall on the University of Michigan campus, broadcasting 20 hours per week, monaural, at 44,000 watts. Among the early programs were Prof. Preston Slosson's commentary on the news, Prof. Warren Good's "Record Collector", and "Hymns of Faith". The policy of originating play-by-play broadcasts of University football games for pick-up by a network of Michigan stations was established.

1949: WUOM moves into new studios and offices of the Administration Building occupying the entire fifth floor, becoming one of the most elaborate educational broadcasting plants in existence. The station originates its' first broadcast of Michigan football, with play-by-play from station sports director Bill Fleming. The first broadcast of Handel's Messiah was made from Hill Auditorium.
View the WUOM program schedule from September, 1949 (PDF)

1950: Official dedication of WUOM. The station joins National Association of Educational Broadcasters and exchanges taped programs with other educational stations throughout the country.
View information from the station dedication (PDF)

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