Offbeat

Offbeat

Tax Time

Apr 15, 2012
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The clock is ticking if you haven’t filed your state and federal income tax returns.   But there’s still time.

April 15th is usually the day taxpayers must file their income tax forms by.

But since April 15th fell on a Sunday this year, and because of a Washington D.C.  holiday (Emancipation Day) falls on April 16th, the Internal Revenue Service decided to make April 17th the deadline for this year.

Caleb Buhs is with the Michigan Treasury Department.     He says most of the returns filed this year have received refunds.

Courtesy of the Petoskey, Michigan Department of Public Safety.

Earlier this week we told you that Petoskey Batman (a.k.a. Mark Williams) was planning to auction off his... ahem, laundered caped crusader suit to help pay for his legal fees.

Last May, Williams was arrested after police spotted him hanging off the wall of a building in Petoskey. He was charged with trespassing and possession of dangerous weapons (a striking baton, a can of chemical irritant spray, and a pair of lead lined gloves).

Now he's got a little extra cash for his effort. After 8 bids, the suit sold for $152.50. Congrats to the winner!

The suit does not come with the sand-filled Sap gloves, but DOES come with a signed statement of authenticity, and a signed photograph of Williams standing next to the suit.

wikimedia commons

In terms of hotspots for giant, bipedal ape-men, Michigan might not come to mind, especially compared to states in the Pacific Northwest. But the mitten state is not without its share of alleged Bigfoot sightings.

According to the Detroit News, some high-profile Bigfoot hunters are paying visit to Michigan with camera crew in tow, hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive cryptid.

From the News:

Producers from the Animal Planet TV program "Finding Bigfoot" have been filming in the Houghton Lake area this week, looking for signs of Sasquatch.

Phil Shaw, a member of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, said there have been more than 130 Bigfoot sightings in almost every county in Michigan.

The episode including the Michigan investigation is set to air sometime this summer, the Detroit News reports.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Courtesy of the Petoskey, Michigan Department of Public Safety.

It all started last year.

That's when police in Petoskey turned on their caped crusader - "Petoskey Batman."

From UPI:

A Michigan man nicknamed the "Petoskey Batman" after he was arrested while wearing a Batman costume on a rooftop was sentenced to six months of probation.

Mark Wayne Williams, 32, of Harbor Springs, was arrested May 11 after being spotted on a Petoskey rooftop while wearing a Batman costume and carrying weapons including a baton-like striking weapon, a can of chemical irritant spray and a pair of sand-filled Sap gloves.

This raises two questions. What in the world are "sand-filled Sap gloves"? And what was the plan for them?

Last October, a judge sentenced Williams to six months of probation. He was banned from donning his bat-suit for the duration of his probation.

Now we hear news that "Petoskey Batman" plans to hang up the suit permanently.

He's auctioning it off on E-Bay, with a starting bid set at $100. From the listing:

Well folks here's the deal my bud got himself in trouble last year hanging off a building(i'm sure you've all seen it on the news, we got a good chuckle here.) Seems "The Petoskey Batman" Needs some cash for his legal fees. So what were doing is Auctioning off the suit that was made famous round the world on the nightly news and most of the late night comics(gloves not included lol.) Will come with a signed statement and picture of him next to it, hell he'll even sign the picture for you.

p.s. It has been laundered lol
happy bidding folks
Shipping listed is for U.S. only Canada and International will be higher 

So far, there have been zero bids. But there are more than 2 days left. No word on yet on plans for, or the existence of, the Petoskey Batmobile. 

*Correction - a previous version used the phrase "begs the question" incorrectly. It's been corrected in the copy above.

Every Monday morning we speak with someone who is trying to change their community. Today, as our Seeking Change series continues, we speak with Ariana  Bostian-Kentes. She's the co-founder of the group Military Partners and Families Coalition. It’s a support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and  transgender partners of active military service members. The founders came together after testifying in Washington D.C. before  the group analyzing the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, and what would happen post-repeal.

Funny or Die

The RoboCop statue is definitely happening in Detroit.

Thomas van de Weerd / wikipedia commons

It all started in Romeo.

According to the House Fiscal Agency, members of the Romeo Senior Center held weekly Texas Hold 'em poker games.

Five bucks got you a seat at the table and you played until your chips were gone - top four finishers took home a payout.

But some legal-eagle rained on their parade, and the games stopped in the spring of 2010.

Michigan's law, they were told, only allowed recreational poker games at senior housing facilities - not at senior citizen centers. If they wanted to continue, they needed a license.

Michigan legislators in the House have come to the rescue with HB 5009. The bill would make these games legal at senior citizen centers.

The bill passed today and now it's up to the Senate.

The House Fiscal Agency analysis says during committee deliberation, "there was concern that providing exemptions to gambling prohibitions to specific classes of people is unfair."

If recreational card playing for money is going to be permitted then it should be opened up and applied to all citizens, irrespective to age. A substitute bill to this effect was offered, but was voted down by the committee.

So there may be one more freedom offered to those over sixty.

Now, who is going to keep on eye on the tables? As written now, players cannot bet more than 25 cents per bet, and the winnings from any one hand of cards can not exceed $5.

Michigan lottery players have a chance to win the largest lotto prize in U.S. History.

The Mega Millions lottery jackpot on Friday night will be $500 million.   That’s about a hundred million dollars more than the previous U.S. lottery record.

“We do expect with this kind of a jackpot probably lines at many retailers, particularly Friday after work, you know as people are driving home they stop to pick up their ticket," says Andi Brancato, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Lottery, "This is virgin territory." 

sabianmaggy / Flickr

Jeff and Sara Tow have lived through two cycles of postpartum depression. Now they plan to swim across Lake Michigan to raise awareness of postpartum mood disorder, and help others overcome it. As part of our weekly series, "Seeking Change" Michigan Radio's Christina Shockley spoke with the Tows.

user msspider66 / flickr

Five winning tickets in Tuesday’s Mega Millions lottery drawing were purchased at a Meijer store in Northville.

The five tickets matched five of the six numbers drawn and they are worth a quarter million dollars each.

Michigan Lottery spokeswoman Andi Brancato admits one store selling so many winning tickets is unusual.

“There are a lot of things that can sometimes seem like they’re impossible to happen.  But we are talking about elements of chance that are what make up a lottery game," says Brancato.

Brancato says it’s possible that one person bought all five tickets.

“We have had players who’ve purchased multiple tickets, for the same drawing, with the same numbers in the past," says Brancato, "We need to have a ‘red flag’.  We need to have a reason to conduct an investigation.  Certainly if there was a problem, or we even thought that there was a problem, we would take a look at it.”  

Since no one matched all six Mega Millions numbers in Tuesday’s drawing, Friday’s jackpot will be worth 290 million dollars.

Tim Anderson/instructables.com

If you're anything like the folks here at Michigan Radio, the recent (and ongoing) spate of unseasonably warm weather through much of the state has probably inspired you to run from the radio station screaming and throwing off layers spend more time outdoors.

Ifmuth / Flickr

The FBI says Flint is one of the most violent cities in the country. Last week, Governor Rick Snyder  unveiled a plan to combat violence there and other Michigan cities. But a group of Flint residents is already working on the problem. They’ve formed the “Urban forum for the prevention of violence” to encourage others in their neighborhoods to pledge to promote peace. Aaron Dunigan has been attending the meetings. As part of our Seeking Change series, I spoke with Aaron about what he is trying to do to end the violence in his city.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Mega Millions jackpot has risen to an estimated $171 million for the next drawing in the multistate lottery game.

The grand prize amount rolled over because no player matched all the winning numbers to take the $148 million jackpot up for grabs Friday night. Mega Millions will be played again on Tuesday.

One player who bought a ticket in Michigan won a prize of $250,000 and three others won $10,000.

The winning numbers from Friday were: nine, 10, 27, 36 and 42. The Mega Ball number was 11.

George Takei / Facebook

4,887 "likes" and 217 "shares" on Facebook

Those are the numbers you get when you're the helmsman of the Starship Enterprise, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra hopes that will translate into tickets this weekend.

George Takei, a.k.a "Mr. Sulu" will be performing with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra tonight and this weekend.

From Takei's Facebook page:

In my dressing room with stellar soprano Kristen Plumley at Friday's sci-fi concert by Detroit Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jack Everly. We're also doing concerts on Saturday eve and Sunday afternoon. If you're in the Detroit area, please join us at Orchestra Hall!

Here's a description of the DSO's Sci-Fi Spectacular show:

Renowned pops conductor Jack Everly brings an out of this world production featuring music from Star Wars, Star Trek, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Day the Earth Stood Still and more. Complete with an appearance by Mr. Sulu himself, George Takei!

J.D. Redding / wikimedia commons

A Livonia man has filed suit against a Detroit-area AMC movie theater over what he believes to be excessively high snack bar prices.

David Ashenfelter of the the Detroit Free Press reports that Joshua Thompson, a security technician and movie buff decided to pursue legal action after paying $8 for a Coke and a box of Goobers candy at the AMC Livonia theater recently.

According to Ashenfelter,  Thompson is seeking refunds for concession stand customers along with payment of a civil penalty by the theater for what he considers to be a violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

screen grab from a video of Godzilla the turkey / Freep.com

It's not quite Hitchcock movie territory, but it's close.

Luckily for her, Edna Geisler doesn't have to deal with thousands of malevolent birds, but one particularly ornery fowl is making life rather difficult for the Commerce Township resident.

As the Associated press reports, Geisler has been facing daily bullying from a wild turkey "willing to bump, scratch and harass her" if she  so much as sets foot in her front yard.

Nick See / Flickr

The loss of a loved one is difficult enough for an adult. For a child, it can be overwhelming. A group in Lansing and Ann Arbor is trying to help children manage their feelings after someone close to them has passed away.

As we continue our Seeking Change series, we speak with Laurie Strauss Baumer, president and CEO of Ele's Place, an organization that is trying to help children deal with their grief.

Environmental Protection Agency

As part of our weekly series, "Seeking Change," we're meeting with people who are trying to create positive change in the communities in which they live. Planners of the Manitou Arbor Ecovillage want their residential community to be a place where people live harmoniously with each other, and with nature. It’s a planned village near Kalamazoo. Ginny Jones is the founder of the ecovillage.  She’s also an environmental studies professor at Western Michigan University.

There’s another sign that winter never really came to Michigan this year.   And it can be found along the state’s roads.

Every year in preparation for the Spring thaw, county road commissions impose weight restrictions on trucks to reduce wear on roadbeds made brittle by winter’s cold.     But not this year.

About two/thirds of Michigan road commissions haven’t imposed restrictions, and most probably won’t, because freezing winter weather never materialized.    

photo courtesy of Kedron Rhodes

A lot of people like where they live, but there are also people like Kedron Rhodes-who love, love, love, where they live.

The 34 year-old professional designer lives outside of Grand Rapids.

He just can't think of enough ways to show his appreciation for Michigan. But he's trying. One of his ideas is to run a design challenge of sorts. 

Each day in February, Rhodes is making a new graphic design and posting it online.

Anyone can download the designs and use them as they see fit.

Photo courtesy of the Governor's office

Almost 30 Michigan lawmakers jumped into a cold pool yesterday outside of the state's Capitol building. They raised some $20,000 for Special Olympics Michigan. "Proceeds from these plunges help support year-round sports training and athletic competition for more than 20,670 children and adults with intellectual disabilities in Michigan," the Special Olympics Michigan website explains.

After Lt. Governor Brian Calley jumped into the chilly waters  yesterday afternoon, Governor Snyder (@onetoughnerd) tweeted: Who knew @briancalley had such mad hops?

And, just in case you want to see it to believe it, the Michigan Information and Research Service posted this video of many of the lawmakers (many dressed in costumes) taking the plunge:

 “Well it’s been a quiet a week in my hometown…”

Fans of A Prairie Home Companion will recognize those words as the opening to Garrison Keillor’s weekly monologue about the fictional town of Lake Wobegon. But this week the real life of Garrison Keillor was probably more exciting than the tales from “the little town that time forgot,” because this week, Garrison Keillor hosted a fundraising event for President Obama’s re-election campaign.

Courtesy of Detroit Dog Rescue

As we continue our Seeking Change series, Michigan Radio’s Christina Shockley spoke with Daniel "Hush" Carlisle, co-founder of Detroit Dog Rescue (DDR). The former hip-hop artist and producer drives through the streets of Detroit looking for stray dogs, which are then vetted, housed, boarded, and fostered before beginning the adoption process.

How do these dogs get into this situation? Carlisle told us:

(campusmartius.org)

Michigan’s realtors say communities need to rethink how they design and use public spaces.    They say it could affect Michigan’s future economic growth.

It’s a concept called ‘placemaking’.     The idea is to make public spaces, like small parks, into places people want to be that become magnets for business investment.

Detroit’s Campus Martius  is cited as an example of how this has been done well.

I think it’s no secret that reporters get unsolicited gifts in the mail or at posh press events from time to time.

That’s especially true for reporters on the auto beat. 

A bunch of auto beat reporters a couple years ago (not me) got I-Pads in the mail.   I’m pretty sure they were returned due to their various employers’ ethics policies.   No one has owned up to keeping one!

Not all the gifts are that obvious in their attempt to curry favor.

And some are flat-out hilarious.

Jeffs4653 / Flickr

Every Monday, we're checking in with people who are  trying to do what they think is needed to improve life for people in Michigan. This morning we speak with Sean Tracy. He’s a truck driver and World War II buff, and he’s working to show gratitude to the nation’s veterans—especially World War II vets. He builds models of the planes or ships the veterans served on while they were on active duty and gives them as gifts to the vets he finds.

*This story was informed by the Public Insight Network. Add your story here.

Theresa Flores is a social worker, and director of education and training for Gracehaven House, in Ohio. It's a long term faith based care and rehabilitation home for young girls who have been victimized by human trafficking.

Flores grew up in an upper-middle class catholic home. Many years ago she found herself in the same situation as some of the young women she now helps.

Flores says she moved around a lot. Her father had a good job, and her parents were very strict. They landed in Birmingham, Michigan.

user: isabel bolinn / flickr

We continue our series on human trafficking.

Identifying victims of this crime can be difficult. But as Amy Allen tells us, there are signs we can watch out for.

Allen is a victim and witness specialist from Homeland Security Investigations. She is stationed in Michigan and travels locally and abroad to help victims of human trafficking.

UM Law School's Human Trafficking Clinic.

Human trafficking is a growing crime in Michigan, and the U.S.

At its most basic level, even identifying victims of this crime can be difficult.

In the first of our three part series we’ll look at the challenge of providing assistance to victims.

Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White spoke with Elizabeth Campbell, Staff Attorney at the University of Michigan Law School’s Human Trafficking Clinic.

Campbell says there are mostly two categories of human trafficking.

Nell Gable

Long ago, before iPads and Wifi, it wasn’t “cool” or trendy to know how to do things such as mend your own clothes, can fruit or turn old food into compost—it was imperative. And just as valuable as the skills themselves, were the people from whom you learned them.

Now, face-to-face social interaction is often limited to the times when we look up from whatever screen we’re lost in while we wait for the next text message or email to arrive.

Some people in Ann Arbor are hoping to break this cycle by regaining valuable yet forgotten skills and reclaiming community bonds.

The movement takes shape in the form of the Ann Arbor ReSkilling Festival. According to the festival website, "reskilling" is all about sharing often abandoned skills for “resilient, low-energy living,” in a face-to-face community setting.

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