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Opinion

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

One of the biggest things to hit Detroit since the moving assembly line marked its fifth anniversary this week. That’s when the Motor City became the largest municipality in American history to declare bankruptcy.

Just weeks before, a union official said, quote: “It’s war.” But the financial restructuring that helped deliver four balanced budgets, drew three credit upgrades, improved delivery of basic city services, and attracted billions in private-sector investment turned out to be anything but.

John U. Bacon

“Hot fun in the summertime. That’s when I had most of my fun.”

For me, the summer of ’76 stands out. I was 12.

It was the bicentennial, my family went to the Montreal Olympics, and everyone cheered for Detroit pitcher Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, the happiest ballplayer I’ve ever seen.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

My household received a mailer this week that was jammed with praise for Lt. Governor Brian Calley and his boss, Governor Snyder. It exhorted me to "take the comeback to the next level," which included the specific goal of "making Michigan's pre K–12 system the best in America."

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

It’s not news that Flint has been struggling to get clean water into its homes and businesses, except maybe to Elon Musk.

He’s the visionary behind PayPal, Space X and Tesla. This week Musk tweeted he’s ready to deliver fresh water to the city. But the offer that has Flint officials wondering what, if anything, is next … looks awfully transparent to faithful Musk watchers. Same for people who know just what happened to the city and what it will take to fix it.

Mark Edwards is the Virginia Tech researcher who helped identify the scale of Flint’s problem. He told The Detroit News that Musk should be, quote, “more focused on meeting” his Model 3 production goals.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio had a story this week about a union, the Michigan State Employees Association, petitioning to allow state park rangers to carry guns. Some rangers do not feel safe, citing a perceived uptick in illegal activity and are suggesting guns and bulletproof vests as a solution.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

By this time, the long-running auto boom was supposed to be coming to an end.

Quick, someone tell that to the truck and SUV buyers who powered the annual selling rate last month to 17.5 million vehicles. That’s according to a Morgan Stanley estimate. If that’s evidence of a slowdown, Detroit and its foreign-owned rivals would like more of the same, please.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Whether you prepare for the looming trade war with a cold beverage by the pool or panicked online shopping (may I suggest the Michigan Radio Shop if you intend to spend money?), I will not take any more of your time this week. No matter what happens, the constant remains that summer in Michigan is too short.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The automakers found their proverbial spines this week. After months of President Donald Trump’s haranguing about tariffs on finished vehicles and auto parts, the industry presented the country with a bill. Realizing the president’s protectionist dream would not come cheaply. The average cost of a vehicle would increase $5,800, says the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Life after "The Hit"

Jun 29, 2018
John U. Bacon

If you’re a casual football fan, or even if you’re not, you’ve probably seen The Hit: one of the most famous tackles in the history of the game.

It was January 1, 2013, when Michigan played South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. In the fourth quarter, with the Wolverines hanging on to a 22-21 lead, Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner handed off to Vincent Smith.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder signed legislation this week that he has championed as a "Marshall Plan for Talent." It's not a precise metaphor — the original Marshall Plan was the post-World War II effort by the United States to fund the economic redevelopment of the war-torn Western Europe. For our version, Michigan will spend $100 million in education initiatives, training, and scholarships to help rebuild our pool of skilled trades talent. So, different scale and stakes, but similar concept.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

After months in the making, Ford Motor’s play for the Michigan Central Depot is official. Let the grousing begin.

It will start in the suburbs, from the generation that came of age during the urban unrest of the late 1960s, witnessed the controversies and power-shifting of the 1970s, and watched during the 1980s and ‘90s as capital and jobs fled Detroit for the suburbs.

Ekaterina Salivanova

My Michigan is…

I am Ekaterina Selivanova, a journalist from Russia, who spent two weeks at MIchigan Radio in Ann Arbor as part of the International Center for Journalists’ Journey of Shared Discovery for Russian and American Journalists program. I’d heard about Michigan before. Detroit — a bankrupt city — had welcomed me since Eminem and Trick Trick's 2005 song. But had I heard anything else? I don't think so!

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

I have something of a Wikipedia problem. In idle moments in between tasks, I tend to wander over to the website for a quick nip — the plotline of a half-watched movie here, the defining geographic features of an obscure African country there. 

Ford's Corktown Play

Jun 16, 2018
Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Ford Motor is planning a big party on Tuesday. It’ll be at the Michigan Central Depot, that gap-toothed hulk looming over Detroit empty and rotting for thirty years.

But not anymore, once Ford’s plans for what it’s calling a campus in Corktown become more clear.

Here’s what you need to know: Detroit’s oldest neighborhood could be transformed by Ford’s plans. The automaker wants to anchor its next-generation mobility, autonomy and electrification work in the 105-year-old train station.

This is huge, people. Detroit hasn’t seen a business move this big in eight years. That’s when Dan Gilbert moved his Quicken Loans headquarters to the city and followed with a downtown real estate buying spree.

This may be even bigger because it’s eight years later. Because Quicken blossomed into a major corporate presence downtown. Because Ford’s presence is likely to turbo-charge redevelopment of a neighborhood … and set the example for more.

Todd Petrie / Flickr

Teaching is my third career, if you count a brief and dismally unsuccessful foray into the world of real estate sales.

But when I finally decided my life’s calling was to be a teacher, I resolved to be a social studies teacher. I would help young people successfully participate in civic life, and assist them in grappling with important questions about what it is to be a member of a free and open society governed by the rule of law.

This was the early 1990s and teaching jobs were scarce. The college academic advisor told me I’d have a better chance getting a teaching job if I’d major in math, or special education – anything else, really.

John U. Bacon

Sunday marks my third father’s day. I had no idea what I was doing for the first two and, it seems, little more this time around. But the kid keeps growing anyway.

I don’t care what anyone says. The first three months are hard. You’re not getting any sleep, and the kid isn’t walking, talking, or even giving you an occasional laugh or a smile. But then things pick up.

Teddy was an early talker and a late walker. Imagine that! The genes are strong with this one. Well, kid, welcome to sports writing!

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Michigan state Senator and gubernatorial candidate Patrick Colbeck was involved in recent efforts to update the social studies curriculum for K–12 public schools. Colbeck's stated goals were to “remove partisanship from the classroom” and move students towards a more "politically neutral" dialogue that offers a balanced view of historical issues. 

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Three thousand delegates and members of the United Auto Workers will descend on Detroit next week for their Constitutional Convention.

They’ll hear happy talk about organizing gains, three years of fiscal discipline and fiery rhetoric, because that’s what these sessions are for. Fire up the membership in advance of next year’s bargaining with the Detroit automakers and others.

It’s what the folks leading today’s UAW won’t be talking about that matters. The union’s three joint-training centers funded by the Detroit Three remain under a federal corruption investigation.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

It happens more or less on a regular basis. Somebody with too much time on their hands will point to the large Middle Eastern and Muslim communities in Southeast Michigan and declare their suspicions of nefarious activity. 

John Beilein at the 2018 NCAA Basketball Championship game.
MGoBlog

University of Michigan men’s basketball coach John Beilein has probably reached his greatest heights – which is saying something.

Since 2012 Beilein’s Wolverines have won four Big Ten titles and got to two NCAA finals, including one of each this spring. No Big Ten coach has done better over that stretch. What’s more impressive is how Beilein has done it: by recruiting genuine student-athletes, then coaching them up to beat teams loaded with stars. Beilein and his staff have pushed six of those underrated players to the first round of the NBA draft.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The race to replace Governor Rick Snyder is on.

Here on Mackinac Island this week, we learned from a gubernatorial debate: That Democrat Gretchen Whitmer is a mom. She’ll “Fix the Damn Roads.” And she has a “backbone of titanium.” Just ask her.

Republican Pat Colbeck has Michigan’s roads disaster all figured out. He’d order “a complete review” of the state’s road-building process and upgrade them to higher standards – all without raising taxes. Right.

Democrat Abdul El-Sayed would dismantle the “Betsy DeVos agenda” for Michigan’s public schools and “end this profit motive in our schools.” And every student coming from a household making $150,000 or less should graduate from college debt-free. How and who’s paying the tab he didn’t say.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

We can get so caught up with ongoing problems here in Michigan (roads, water, schools, etc.) that it's easy to forget some of the reasons we have for taking pride in our state. 

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

President Trump says America needs tariffs on foreign-made cars and trucks to safeguard our “national security.”

Really? How many pickups do the Russians sell in the United States? Zero.

How many cars do the industrious North Koreans and Iranians ship here? Zero.

And how many Chinese-brand cars sit in U.S. showrooms? Essentially zero.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

It may seem a little odd, but this started out as a Memorial Day cartoon. Late last year, a former neighbor passed away. He was in his mid-90s and a well-decorated World War II vet. He never talked about the medals and rarely about the experience, except to explain the significant scar on his left bicep from a sniper's bullet.

Could Mr. Brook go to Washington?

May 23, 2018
Martin Brook
facebook.com/pg/brookforcongress/photos/

Last week, I spoke to a candidate for statewide office who lamented that she hadn’t been able to get out much among the people or keep up on important policy issues because she had to spend all day, every day on the phone, raising money. I also saw a candidate in a hotly contested congressional primary who told me the same thing.

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission defends humanity

May 22, 2018
LGBT Pride Flag
Tyrone Warner / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Let’s say there had been a Michigan Civil Rights Commission in 1961, and it announced that it was going to start investigating claims of discrimination against black people.

The difference between Republicans and Democrats

May 21, 2018

I’ve been asked to speak to a group in Mount Clemens today about the difference between Republicans and Democrats. That may sound easy to answer, but it’s not.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Now we know what incompetent governance cost at Michigan State University.

Half a billion dollars. That's the price to settle with 332 women sexually abused by Dr. Larry Nassar and a reserve fund to compensate women who still might come forward. It’s the prospect of a 2.5 percent budget cut to free up cash to make good on the settlement. It’s untold damage to the university’s reputation, to its attractiveness to would-be students and, yes, to the state.

The man who saw tomorrow

May 18, 2018
ovshinsky standing behind a leather chair
European Patent Office European Inventor Award

Stan Ovshinsky barely had a high school education, and part of him was always more at home in machine shops like the one where began working when he got out of high school.

“For me, manufacturing has always had glamour to it,” he said.

Yet he is remembered as a scientist who made breakthroughs that took your breath away: The first workable solar cells, rewritable CDs and DVD’s, the nickel-metal-hydride battery that powers your laptop.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

"You're an editorial cartoonist? Wow, you must really love the current political climate! So much to draw about!"

I can't tell you how many times I've heard this in the past two years. Yes, there is plenty of material, but it often comes out like a fire hose — too much, too quickly (and in many cases already beyond satire).

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