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Photo from the 2011 Capital Pride Parade in Washington, D.C.
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We are now into week two of the trial in federal court in Detroit centering on the challenge to Michigan's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Two Hazel Park nurses are challenging that ban, which was passed by Michigan voters in 2004. The women want to get married so they can adopt each other's children.

As picketers on both sides of the issue march outside the federal court building in downtown Detroit comes word of a new State of the State survey conducted by Michigan State University.

It finds a majority of Michigan residents support gay marriage.

MSU Economics Professor Charles Ballard joined us to talk about this survey. He directs the survey.

*Listen to the interview above.

Sharon Drummond / Flickr

There are fewer Michigan school districts running into the red this year, and even more are projected to work their way out of budget deficits by the end of the school year.

Politicians in Lansing say they're encouraged by the trend, but peel away the top layer and it's not all good news. MLive Capitol reporter Jonathon Oosting joined us to explain why.

*Listen to the interview above.

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All right, you fans of West Michigan's Whitecaps, it's your chance to decide what treat will be added to the concession menu at Fifth Third Ballpark.

The annual online poll lets fans choose their favorite item from ideas submitted by fans. The team has pulled a top-10 list from hundreds of ideas.

Mickey Graham is with the West Michigan Whitecaps, and he joined us today to discuss some of the top choices. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Peter Martorano / Flickr

As Mayor Duggan does the heavy lifting to get Detroit actually up on its physical "feet," the other part of its rehab is, of course, the historic bankruptcy.

So many pieces, so many players.

Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes has been keeping a close eye on all of it, and he joined us today for our weekly check-in.

Listen to the full interview above.

Mike Duggan

Detroit Mayor Michael Duggan delivered his first State of the City speech last night before a packed, invitation-only crowd. And his message was clear: We are going to change what it means to live in Detroit.

Even among those who have a "wait-and-see" attitude, the mayor's speech is being praised for what many believe is a refreshing attention to detail and the sense that a team is at work.

Detroit Free Press columnist Nancy Kaffer joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

You’ve heard it before, folks, time and time again. In today's economy, the more education one attains after high school, the better, right? But what if some students might be better served in other settings, academic or otherwise? Is it time for Michigan to develop some credible alternatives for high school grads? We’ll find out more on today’s show.

Then, we spoke to Daniel Howes about his reporting on Detroit's historic bankruptcy. 

And, Fifth Third Ballpark wants to expand its concessions menu. We took a look at some of the food options fans can vote for, including deep-fried lasagna and a bacon-and-chocolate taco.

Also, how can we keep young entrepreneurs fresh out of college in Michigan? The Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize awards them for launching their start-ups in state.

And, a new fee system for hunting and fishing goes into effect soon, and it’s the first significant raise in over 15 years. We spoke with Ed Golder of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources about what’s behind this increase.

First on the show, Detroit Mayor Michael Duggan delivered his first State of the City speech last night before a packed, invitation-only crowd. And his message was clear: We are going to change what it means to live in Detroit.

Even among those who have a "wait-and-see" attitude, the mayor's speech is being praised for what many believe is a refreshing attention to detail and the sense that a team is at work.

Detroit Free Press columnist Nancy Kaffer joined us today.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

If you like to hunt or fish in Michigan, heads up. There's a new fee system going into effect this coming Saturday, March 1.

It's the first significant hike in hunting and fishing fees in over 15 years.

Ed Golder of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources joined us today to tell us what's new and what the increase will go toward.

Listen to the full interview above.

http://bec.umich.edu/

How do we keep our smart, energetic, bright college graduates from packing up and leaving Michigan?

One good way is by helping those with that entrepreneurial spirit to launch their start-ups in Michigan.

That's the idea behind a contest called the Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize.

More than 81 teams from more than 16 colleges and universities around the state applied to be a part of the contest. At stake? More than $100,000 in prizes and intensive start-up training.

Amy Klinke with the U of M Center for Entrepreneurship in the College of Engineering is the contest director. Dr. Mark Keil is a pathology resident at the U of M Medical School, and he is a member of one of the winning teams. They both joined us today to discuss the experience.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This is the time of year when many high school juniors are taking their ACTs and scheduling campus tours. And high school seniors are looking in the mailbox for college acceptance letters and – hopefully –financial aid packages.

There are many in Michigan who believe that heading to college is the key to a successful life for these kids. There's plenty of evidence that young adults with that four-year degree will do better in terms of employment and wages than their peers with some college, or a two-year degree, or only a high school diploma.

But there is another side to the discussion – the one that raises the question: Is college truly the right choice for all high school grads? Are we overlooking the opportunities offered by skilled trades and other careers that do not require a degree?

Glenda Price is the former president of Marygrove College in Detroit and is now the president of the Detroit Public Schools Foundation. And Lou Glazer is the president of Michigan Future, Inc. They both joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Attracting skilled immigrants is good for the economy, right?

Gov. Snyder has proposed a plan to attract 50,000 highly skilled immigrants to the state. It's a plan that would require them to live and work in Detroit as a way to help boost the city’s economy, but some say we’re not doing enough for immigrants already here. On today's program: What can our state do to keep the immigrants who are here while attracting new immigrants?

Then, we all take shortcuts right? Just think about your walk to work, or to the store. Do you cut through a parking lot, or cut across an empty field? Well, there is so much vacant land in Detroit that is exactly what people are doing. So much so, that you can see their tracks from Google Earth. Later in the hour we’ll explore Detroit’s urban footpaths.

But first we talk about how the defense spending cuts will affect Michigan.

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Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel unveiled his latest budget proposal. And it is clear that as the drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan continues, the Obama administration's priority is now reducing military size and spending.

Secretary Hagel declared that budget reductions cut “so deep, so quickly, that we cannot shrink the size of our military fast enough.”

For instance, the active-duty Army would shrink to its smallest level since just before the U.S. entered World War II. There would be base closings, troop cuts, trimmed salary increases, and the complete elimination of several Air Force aircraft fleets.

That includes the A-10, an aircraft that dates back to the Cold War.

The A-10, also known as "The Warthog," was designed to take out Soviet tanks.

Twenty-four of America's 300 Warthogs are at Selfridge Air National Guard Base near Mt Clemens in Macomb County. Eliminating that fleet would be a gut punch to Selfridge.

Here to explain is Detroit News Washington Bureau Chief David Shepardson.

Listen to the full interview above. 

  

Jesus Valdez is from Zacatecas, Mexico. He owns and operates a shoe repair store in Ann Arbor. His story is like so many others across the state. He knew his skill was valuable and saw an opportunity to make his dream of owning a business a reality.

Listen to our conversation with him below:


Andrew Jameson / Wikimedia Commons

One of Detroit’s many great challenges could also turn out to be a great opportunity to figure out how we might imagine big cities that are more liveable, more walkable, more sustainable.

One of the challenges in Detroit is what to do with large parcels of empty land that are abandoned and unpaved.

Joshua Newell sees those parcels as something that can hold the key to a better American city. He's an assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources.

Listen to his ideas below:


Peter Martorano / Flickr

Rick Snyder has been one of the most enthusiastic governors in pressing Congress and the White House for immigration reform.

He recently proposed a plan to attract 50,000 highly skilled immigrants to Michigan, essentially "rolling out the red carpet" to attract immigrants to fill vacant technology, engineering, medical and health care jobs in Detroit.

His plan would require immigrants to live and work in bankrupt Detroit, using their skills in science, business or the arts to help power the city back to health.

But some believe the governor's plan overlooks the immigrants who are already here, people who might be able to use a little of that support. And what about immigrants who might not possess an engineering or science degree, but have energy and an entrepreneurial spirit – are they being slighted by the governor's plan?

Here to discuss the future of Michigan’s immigrant population is Steve Tobocman, director of Global Detroit, and Nikki Cicerani, president and CEO of Upwardly Global, a resource for skilled immigrants.

Listen to the full interview above.

One of the most painful and divisive times in Michigan's history were the five days in July 1967 known as "the Detroit riots,"  which left 43 people dead, nearly 1,200 hurt, more than 2,000 buildings destroyed and more than 7,200 people arrested.

One of the most infamous events of those five days came just after midnight on July 25, 1967. The riots were at their peak when Detroit police and National Guard troops swept into the Algiers Motel, searching for snipers.

Two hours later, police left the Algiers. They had found no snipers. But they left behind them the bodies of three black youths.

The Algiers Motel incident is the subject of a play by Detroit native Mercilee Jenkins: "Spirit of Detroit," a play about the '67  riot/rebellion."

It will soon be presented at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Bob Smith of the Museum, and the director of the play, Kate Mendeloff, who is a theatre professor and director from the University of Michigan Residential College, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It's been five days since emergency manager Kevyn Orr released the bankruptcy reorganization blueprint, which maps out a way to wipe out billions in debt, spend over half a billion in tearing down abandoned buildings and invest one billion to improve city services.

Now that all stakeholders have had a chance to digest the blueprint, the battle lines are being drawn.

Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley joined us today to give us a look ahead.

Listen to the full interview above.

The face of farming in America, and here in Michigan, is changing.

More and more often, that farmer raising crops or tending to a dairy herd is a woman.

As women move from a supporting role to a starring role on Michigan farms, how is this changing agriculture?

Sue Raker is the owner and operator of Cloverland Apiary and Farm on Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula.

And Wynne Wright is a professor in community sustainability and sociology at Michigan State University. They both joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

psmag.com

Michigan's new state treasurer, Kevin Clinton,  is calling for Michigan residents to pay the state's 6% sales tax on Internet purchases.

Right now, online shoppers in the state don't have to pay the sales tax to companies that don't have actual stores in Michigan, like Amazon or Overstock.com.

There are currently bills in the state Legislature known as "Main Street Fairness" legislation that would change that.

So will you soon have to pay sales tax on your Amazon purchases? Chad Livengood, Lansing reporter for the Detroit News, joined us today to try and answer that question.

Listen to the full interview above.

We've almost all done it – you might have even done it just today: Made a purchase online.

But have you ever wondered why you have to pay sales tax on online purchases from some retailers like Target, but not others, like Amazon? There's new legislation in Lansing that might change that. We found out more on today's show.

Then, close your eyes. Now, picture a farmer. What comes to mind? You probably pictured a man, but more women are raising crops now in Michigan. We took a look at what's behind the rise in female farmers.

And, it was the most infamous event of one of the most painful and divisive times in Michigan's history. A new play at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History explores the Algiers incident which occurred during the Detroit riots. 

First on the show, it's been five days since emergency manager Kevyn Orr released the bankruptcy reorganization blueprint, which maps out a way to wipe out billions in debt, spend over half a billion in tearing down abandoned buildings and invest $1 billion to improve city services.

Now that all stakeholders have had a chance to digest the blueprint, the battle lines are being drawn.

Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley joined us today to give us a look ahead.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

"I am not leaving Congress. I am coming home to Michigan."

With those words, Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan, has announced he is leaving Congress after serving more than 58 years.

Dingell was first elected in 1955 to the House seat that had been held by his late father.

The 87-year-old Dearborn Democrat has gone on to carve out his own piece of American history: No one has ever served longer in Congress.

Michigan Radio political commentator Jack Lessenberry joined us to talk about Dingell's legacy.

You can listen to our conversation with him below:


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Zoning laws.

Those two words alone might not grab your interest.

But watch residents pour into city commission and council chambers when there is some proposed change to the zoning laws in their neighborhood.

Maybe it's deciding whether to allow big-footprint houses and extra-large garages. Maybe it's deciding whether to permit residential and commercial buildings to coexist or how many stories a building may be.

But what one person thinks is a great idea, such as allowing more shops or restaurants into an area, might be a horrible idea to that homeowner who wants to come home to a peaceful street.

Grand Rapids recently implemented a new zoning policy that allows more mixed uses. Director of the Grand Rapids Planning Department, Suzanne Schultz, and University of Michigan Urban Planning Professor Dr. Jonathan Levine joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

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It's Thursday – time for our weekly check-in with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes. 

 He's picking through the rubble of the UAW's bid to unionize workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. We know that VW workers said "no thanks" to the UAW by a vote of 712-626, but what are the deeper implications of that "no" vote? Daniel Howes joined us today. Listen to the full interview above.

Flickr user Synergy by Jasmine / Flickr

Picture this: thousands of people rolling out their yoga mats and getting into downward-facing dog, all in unison.

That's the vision behind the upcoming "Yoga Rocks Ford Field." It's happening this Saturday at the home of the Detroit Lions with the hope of getting 3,000 people to form the world's largest indoor yoga session.

Justin Jacobs is the president and founder of ComePlayDetroit, which is organizing Saturday's session, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

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The state of Michigan is ending its exclusive contract with the Education Achievement Authority to oversee the worst-performing schools in the state.

State School Superintendent Mike Flangan sent a letter to the EAA saying the state will pull out of its exclusivity agreement with the Authority one year from now.

Martin Ackley is with the Michigan Department of Education. He says the state still intends to use the EAA to help turn around struggling schools.

“Now, this is in no way a statement or an indication of a lack of confidence in the EAA or its academic strategies. This is just an action that needed to be taken in order to provide flexibility and to provide options other than the EAA in which to place these most struggling schools.”

So, what are the other options that the State might use to help failing schools? And what's ahead for the controversial EAA?

Jake Neher, who covers Lansing for the Michigan Public Radio Network, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Just what do you want your city, your community, to look like? Crowded bustling streets? Quiet, residential homes only? Zoning laws determine these things, and although those two words don't sound altogether exciting, zoning laws are creating debate all over the state. We found out more on today's show.

Then, what was that noise outside today? Did you hear it? Sounded like thunder? Well, in this crazy Michigan weather, we're getting thundersnow. We found out about this winter novelty.

And, we spoke with the man who designed and painted the masks on the U.S. Olympic hockey teams. 

Also, we checked in with Daniel Howes on the UAW bid to unionize workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

And, head to Ford Field on Saturday if you want to be part of a world record. ComePlayDetroit is organizing the world's largest indoor yoga session at the home of the Detroit Lions.

First on the show, the state of Michigan is ending its exclusive contract with the Education Achievement Authority to oversee the worst-performing schools in the state.

Michigan School Superintendent Mike Flangan sent a letter to the EAA saying the state will pull out of its exclusivity agreement with the Authority one year from now.

Martin Ackley is with the Michigan Department of Education. He says the state still intends to use the EAA to help turn around struggling schools.

“Now, this is in no way a statement or an indication of a lack of confidence in the EAA or its academic strategies. This is just an action that needed to be taken in order to provide flexibility and to provide options other than the EAA in which to place these most-struggling schools.”

So, what are the other options the state might use to help failing schools? And what's ahead for the controversial EAA?

Jake Neher, who covers Lansing for the Michigan Public Radio Network, joined us today.

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As the world watches the U.S. Olympic hockey teams in Sochi, they’re getting a good look at some real, made-in-Michigan artistry.

The masks worn by goaltenders Ryan Miller, Jimmy Howard, and Bianne McLaughlin were all painted by artist Ray Bishop at his shop in Grand Blanc.  

“I started painting masks mostly for young players,” said Bishop. “My first professional mask was for the Detroit Vipers.”

He worked his way up from there. This is not the first time Bishop's handiwork has been featured in the Olympics. He painted goalie masks in 2002, 2006, and 2010.

For this year's games, Miller’s mask features Uncle Sam holding the Sochi torch. Howard's has a stars-and-stripes pattern. Brianne’s mask sports the shield from the U.S. jerseys. 

“It really just gives you goose bumps ... to think how many people actually can see a piece of artwork that you’ve done," Bishop said. "I can say I’m pretty fortunate to have the opportunity to do it.”

You can listen to our conversation with Bishop below.


Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

With many Michigan schools racking up snow days, what's the best way to make up lost time? Adding minutes onto the school day? Or adding days at the end of the school year? Should local districts be allowed to decide for themselves or should Lansing make the decision for them?

Bridge Magazine contributing writer Ted Roelofs dug into these questions for his story in this week's Bridge.

Listen to the full interview above.

What can be done to save our failing schools? Some believe teachers should be held accountable, but are we are giving them enough support?

Then, snow days aren’t so simple for Michigan schools. Some districts are already over the limit of six missed days that they can have before they must add days to make up for lost class time. And with a month left of winter, there’s still a chance for even more snow days. Later in the hour we ask, what's the best way to make up lost time?

First, like an unwelcome guest, this winter keeps hanging on, serving up record amounts of snow and bitterly cold temperatures.

And then there's a propane shortage.  So those in Michigan and throughout the Midwest who rely on propane for their heat have to worry about getting propane, and when they do, dealing with major price increases.

What's behind the shortage? And what does it mean for the 9 to 10 percent of Michigan homes that use propane for heat?

Judy Palnau of the Michigan Public Service Commission joined us today.

There are more than 70 virtual currencies in the marketplace.

You may have heard of the biggest players: Bitcoin, Ripples, and Litecoin, which are taking out the middleman and reinventing the meaning of money. The idea is gaining momentum among college students. Today, we heard how virtual money is opening doors for young Michigan entrepreneurs.

Then, school districts around the nation and right here in Michigan are talking about ways to accommodate transgender students. The ACLU of Michigan's LGBT Project (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) is already working on model policies.

And we spoke with some talented Michigan musicians about how their EP (extended play recording) reached No. 2 on the iTunes electronic charts with virtually no promotion.

Potholes
Peter Ito / flickr

As the winter of 2013-2014 drags on, we're really seeing what it's done to our roads.

Patching crews try in vain to keep up with a bumper crop of potholes. More and more of us are losing tires, blowing the suspension as we bang into one of those gaping potholes.

And keep in mind, Michigan's roads were crumbling before this winter.

With more winter to go, we wondered where our roads stand and what needs to happen in Lansing to do what it takes to repair and maintain the roads.

Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudle knows all too well what this winter has done to the pavement, and he joined us today. 

Listen to the full interview above.

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