Stateside

Stateside
5:14 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Is Detroit's bus service improving?

Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

We continued our week-long Detroit Journalism Cooperative series with a look at how Detroit is functioning under bankruptcy and the leadership of Mayor Mike Duggan.

Today, we focused  on mass transportation in the city.

Lester Graham of Michigan Watch and Megan Owens, the executive director of Transportation Riders United, joined Stateside.

Graham said one out of three Detroit households doesn't own a car and relies on the bus system. Megan Owens said it’s hard to measure whether things are improving because the bus service stopped publishing the daily pull-out rate. That’s the actual number of buses that operate versus the number scheduled for a day.

“So we don’t have any explicit data to show concrete improvements,” Owens said.

At the main garage at DDOT headquarters, they’re working to get more buses on the road.

Detroit needs 270 buses to properly serve its 100,000 passengers a day. The city only has 228 buses and a lot of them are broken down.

Read Lester Graham's report here

*Listen to full story above. 

Stateside
4:57 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Putting the evolution in revolution: Detroit's Grace Lee Boggs featured on PBS

Credit On Being / Flickr

Grace Lee Boggs celebrates her 99th birthday this week.

The Detroit woman is an icon of the Black Power, civil rights and labor movements.

She was born to Chinese immigrant parents in 1915. Eventually, she became one of the only non-black and female leaders in the Black Power Movement.

A new film about Grace Lee Boggs, "American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs," will debut on the PBS series "POV" on June 30.   

Filmmaker Grace Lee joined Stateside today.

Grace Lee is not related to Grace Lee Boggs but said their names brought them together when Lee created a film called "The Grace Lee Project," which explored the many facets of Asian American women and the common name of Grace Lee.

“I knew that when I met Grace Lee Boggs that I would have to make a longer film about her someday,” Lee said.

And that’s what she did. Lee said what really drew her in was the idea that evolution is part of revolution, a comment made in a lot of Grace Lee Boggs' writing.

“I think the ability to really reflect on what a certain movement has given us and where there might be contradictions and where you can sort of move forward from that has really been helpful for me in my own life,” Lee said.

Lee said that what she hopes viewers take away from the film is that the story is not just an evolution of Boggs, but of the story of Detroit and the United States.

“I think it is really important for us to know these stories that may not necessarily be so familiar, but they are just sort of under the surface,” Lee said.

You can read more about the film on PBS website here.

*Listen to full interview above. 

Stateside
3:07 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Stateside for Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Today on Stateside:

  • We continue our week-long series looking at how Detroit is functioning under bankruptcy and the leadership of Mayor Duggan. Today's topic: transportation.
  • Looking for love in the UP? A new dating site has you covered: YooperSingles.com
  • A new film about Grace Lee Boggs will debut on the POV series on PBS. Its title: American Revolutionary: the Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs.
  • In the never-ending quest to improve transportation in Michigan, here's a question worth asking: how do you get from Detroit to Grand Rapids, the two largest metropolitan areas in the state?
  • And we ask: As we watch the Baby Boomers swell the ranks of America’s senior citizens, are cities and towns prepared for them?

*Listen to full show above. 

Stateside
4:44 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

The Michigan Shakespeare Festival "goes big" for 20th season

Credit Wikimedia Commons

This year brings the 20th season for the Michigan Shakespeare Festival.

Since its founding, the non-profit professional theater group has brought the bard to thousands of theater lovers in southeast and mid-Michigan.

The new season will run July 17 to August 17.

Janice Blixt is the artistic director of the Michigan Shakespeare Festival.

“For the 20th season we decided to go big or go home, so we are going big,” Blixt said on Stateside.

You can find the full schedule and all details on their website.

*Listen to full interview above. 

Stateside
4:44 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Michigan film incentive gets $50 million budget, praised by Hollywood for cash program

Credit Erik Helgestad / Flickr

Michigan used to have one of the most generous film incentive programs in the nation. But when Rick Snyder was elected governor, he cut way back on the film incentives.

For the 2015 fiscal year, the Michigan film incentive program got $50 million, for the third year in a row.

The director of the Michigan Film Office, Margaret O’Riley shared her thoughts about the budget.

O’Riley said the incentive is a cash incentive, versus a tax credit incentive that most states use.  She says this is better for the Legislature because they know exactly how much money is being spent.

“We continue to get a lot of kudos from the industry for having a cash incentive approach,” O’Riley said.

Right now, Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill are filming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in Pontiac and around Detroit. It's  Michigan’s biggest production to date, with a $131 million budget.

O’Riley said it’s important to have a mixture of big projects, like the Superman movie, and smaller projects to keep Michigan on the radar.

“I’m very proud of the fact that they often comment on the great workforce we have,” O’Riley said. “That coupled with the fact that we have such a variety of locations within a fairly short distance. You can get pretty much any kind of look you want within Michigan within just a short drive.”

There are still critics who say the incentive is a poor use of money, but O’Riley said the amount of money returned to tax payers has increased under the new cash incentive program. 

There are a number of ways to measure the money that comes in: tax dollars that go out versus tax money that comes in to replace it; tax dollars out versus production dollars invested in the state; etc. However, O’Riley said none of these are able to put a dollar value on the cool factor.

“The fact that you’ve got Mark Wahlberg on [The Tonight Show Starring] Jimmy Fallon talking about what a wonderful time he had in Detroit and that everybody in America should go to Detroit,” O’Riley said. “The fact that we’re able to say Superman was filmed in Michigan; it’s the largest production in the country right now. That’s fabulous!”

*Listen to full interview above. 

-Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom. 

Politics & Culture
4:43 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Stateside for Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Today on Stateside:

  • 30% of Detroit's buildings are blighted. That’s upwards of 70,000 rundown and dilapidated properties. We continued our week-long series looking at how Detroit is functioning under bankruptcy.
  • It's the 20th season of the Michigan Shakespeare Festival. We found out about this year's productions and how they're trying to attract larger audiences.
  • The film incentive program got $50,000,000 for fiscal year 2015, signed into law this morning by Snyder.
  • Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin  was fundraising for a wildlife sanctuary and a food depot in his home state of New Mexico. For a $20,000 donation, Martin plans to use the donor's name in a future novel.
  • An aviation museum has signed an agreement to buy a piece of the Willow Run Bomber Plant in Ypsilanti, that's where the original Rosie the Riveter helped turn out B24 Liberator bombers in World War II.
  • EAA Chancellor John Covington has stepped down with a year left on his contract, which has led many to ask: what does this mean for the future of the EAA and what does it mean for the students at its 15 schools?

*Listen to full show above.

Stateside
4:43 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Michigan's program for troubled schools has a new leader

Credit Jane M Sawyer / morgue file

Michigan's Education Achievement Authority, formed in 2011, was created to help failing schools. It currently operates 15 schools in Detroit.

EAA Chancellor John Covington stepped down with one year left on his contract. What does this mean for the EAA and the students in its 15 schools?

Bridge Magazine education writer Chastity Pratt Dawsey covers the EAA extensively. She said there had been talk for months that Covington was going to resign.

Veronica Conforme was named the interim replacement. She’s from New York City, where she was Chief Operating Officer for New York City public schools. Pratt said it's unclear if they are going to keep Conforme at the helm or if they are going to hire someone new.

Pratt added that the EAA had to do damage control in the media and let everyone know that they are trying to do better.

“There were some misgivings about [Covington's] leadership and whether or not the EAA was going in the right direction,” Pratt said.

Pratt added that the EAA had problems since it was put together hastily in 2011. In its first year, it was supposed to be funded by donations, which has not been done for any school in the United States.

“The first year, the donations did not come in as expected. They get the kids the second year of operations, they don’t get the Title I money that they think they are going to get,” Pratt said.

The EAA had to borrow money, using the Detroit Public Schools as a conduit. They started to lose students. MEAP scores were lower than promised. Their online individualized education plan did not see the success people thought it would. State legislators even complained about a lack of transparency in the system, and that Covington had a lucrative contract.

Pratt said that the EAA needs to turn around their academics. Parents and teachers are saying they want results, not excuses.

“Do something, make it happen. Otherwise, what was the point?” Pratt said. 

*Listen to full interview above.

-Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom.

Stateside
4:41 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

The long piggy-back ride for cerebral palsy awareness

Credit The Cerebral Palsy Swagger / Facebook

To say it was a story that captured the hearts of the world is no exaggeration.

Fourteen-year-old Hunter Gandee was searching for a way to call attention to cerebral palsy and its challenges because he’d seen his little brother, Braden living with it for all of his seven years.

Hunter carried his brother on his back for 40 miles, from their hometown in Temperance, Michigan to the University of Michigan Wrestling Center. They called it the Cerebral Palsy Swagger.

The trip was not easy for Hunter, but he said it wasn’t easy for his younger brother either, who suffered chafing on his inner thighs from being carried.

“We weren’t sure if we were going to make it,” Hunter said. He said the plan was to push Braden in a stroller, but fortunately they didn’t have to.

“We called a few friends and I had a friend pray for me over the phone,” Hunter said.

They also had input from a therapist and physical therapist on how to fix Braden’s sling. After the help, the journey was much easier.

Braden and Hunter’s mother said the real story is not what the boys did, but the people who helped along the way.

“If Hunter would have walked and nobody paid attention, it wouldn’t have made a difference,” Danielle Gandee said. “It’s everybody else that paid attention and wanted to hear more and wanted to learn more that actually made it a story.”

Hunter is now fighting to get Braden's school playground completely reconstructed so that he can play with his friends.  Hunter also said he wants to study biomedical engineering at the University of Michigan and build mobility aids for people with CP or other disabilities.

You can follow Hunter’s effort on the Facebook page the Cerebral Palsy Swagger, or you can follow their blog.

*Listen to full story above. 

Stateside
6:44 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Study shows overall poor health of those receiving Medicaid

Credit Alex Proimos / flickr

April 1 was an important day for many in Michigan. It was the day nearly half a million people in our state became newly eligible for the expanded Medicaid program.

Since then, more than 300,000 people have enrolled. Many have not seen a physician for a long time. Or, they have relied on emergency rooms for their medical care.

As revealed in a study published in the medical journal JAMA Surgery, there's good news and challenging news in all of this.

Certainly it's good that patients will be able to turn to a physician for medical care.

But the challenge is the overall poor health of many of these patients, especially surgical patients, and that has many implications – to the patients, to the hospitals and to the surgeons treating them.

Chief Medical Officer of the University of Michigan Health System, Dr. Darrell Campbell, Junior, talked about the study on Stateside.

Campbell analyzed data on 14,000 patients who had operations in 52 hospitals in Michigan from July 2012 to June 2013. The study looked at the Medicaid population and compared them to people with private insurance but were around the same age. The study analyzed the condition those patients were in prior to their surgical procedure.

“What we found was that they weren’t in very good shape,” Campbell said. “And that has consequences for the results after they have surgery, not only in terms of how well they do from physical point of view but also the cost and resources that are used afterwards.”

Read more
Stateside
6:31 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

A new initiative tries to get Muskegon from 82nd to 1st in health behaviors

Credit user: THEMACGIRL / flickr

Muskegon County ranks 82nd out of 82 counties in health behaviors and 64th out of 82 in health outcomes in Michigan. A health initiative has been organized to raise their ranks. 

It's called 1 in 21.

The goal is to raise the county's health behaviors from last to first by the year 2021. 

Linda Jaurez is co-chair of the 1 in 21 campaign and CEO of Hackley Community Care Center. Ken Krause is the director of public health for Muskegon County.

Kruase says the purpose of the initiative is to get the community to commit to changing something in their personal, family, or community life, and move toward healthier habits to create a culture change.

“It’s looking at how do we get people to think of ‘what can you do?’ rather than trying to tell them what to do,” Krause says.

Jaurez says they were able to put together the initiative with little funding.

The campaign has already started some new programs in the county, such as “Bike to Work Week," and had a school participate in an “Eating an Apple” challenge with New Zealand.

The campaign reaches out to those who are health conscious and those who aren’t through health care providers and physicians providing the information to patients about the campaign.

Jaurez and Krause have some advice for all of Michigan on how they can get together to become more health conscious.

“Don’t wait for a big corporation to give money – begin now,” Jaurez said.

*Listen to full interview above.

–Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michgan Radio Newsroom. 

Stateside
6:13 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Duggan's six months is up. It's time to check the score

Credit Mike Duggan

“Six months from now, you are going to be able to judge for yourself whether the leadership of this city has a sound plan and is achieving it.”

Those were the words of Mayor Mike Duggan when he was sworn in.

His six-month challenge is coming to an end. All this week, The Detroit Journalism Cooperative will look at the changes in Detroit over the past six months and how the city is functioning under bankruptcy.

Michigan Radio’s Detroit reporter, Sarah Cwiek, and investigative reporter Lester Graham spoke with Cynthia Canty on Stateside about Duggan's efforts.

Though emergency manager Kevyn Orr is still running the show, Duggan has shown potential.

“He’s showing some real leadership skills for a guy who has been elected to serve a city with no power,” Graham says.

During Duggan’s campaign, he talked a lot about being involved in the bankruptcy progress and being aggressive with Kevyn Orr. They signed a power-sharing agreement after the election. While Orr continues to manage the bankruptcy, Duggan is focusing on the day-to-day operations of the city.

So far, Duggan has been focusing on blight, public lighting, and putting city buses on the roads. Cwiek says Duggan is building a good reputation with most of the city.

When judging Duggan’s efforts, he has no control over the bankruptcy, police department, or school district.

Duggan has said that he wants to bring in more residents, and he has made a bit of progress. His effort to rehabilitate vacant homes and sell them on online auctions helps a little. But crime and schools remain a key issue for potential residents.

“He really does have a knack for actually interacting with and talking to people,” Cwiek said. “I think while there may remain a few people in the communities who are a little suspicious of him, I think he’s managed to build a pretty good rapport with his constituents.”

Graham says as a white mayor in a city that is 80% African American, Duggan knows that he has to be seen as one of the people to make connections.

“He doesn’t dress like our past mayors; he’s a little more casual about his dress,” Graham said. “He drives himself around, he stops in the neighborhoods, he talks with people because he wants to be seen as a regular guy. And he’s not running around, like in the past, with five bodyguards and an entourage.”

The Detroit Journalism Cooperative will be looking at Duggan’s efforts on blight, mass transit, and lighting. Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett will have a report on crime and Sarah Cwiek will look at the city's schools. Those reports will air on Morning Edition and All Things Considered on Michigan Radio.

*Listen to full story above.

–Bre’Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom. 

Stateside
6:00 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

It's summer camp ... for adults

Credit Craig Titley / Flickr

“Camp Kitigin is a chance for adults to get outside and be a kid again,” says Stephanie Wirtz, outdoor recreation and events coordinator for the Saginaw County Parks and Recreation Commission.  

There is one condition: The camp is screen-free –which means no laptops, smartphones, or any other devices. It’s a chance for adults to get away from the screens and social media sites and reconnect with nature.

Wirtz says documenting  every moment has become a part of our daily lives, and you'll still be able to do so at the camp. You'll just have to do it the old-fashioned way. 

Camp Kitigin will provide you with a journal and disposable camera, so you can still capture those fun moments.

Activities at the camp will include fishing, hiking, kayaking, campfires, zip-lining, and more.

Wirtz said there will be men's and women's cabins; each cabin sleeps 10 campers.

Just like when you were a kid, except no curfews.

“We want to get people outside and we want them to get excited about being outside again,” Wirtz says.

Camp Kitigin will be open August 15-17 and again September 12-14 at YMCA’s Camp Timbers in West Branch. Registration is $200 and all proceeds go to athletic programs throughout Michigan. 

*Listen to full story above.

–Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom. 

Stateside
5:25 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Minnesota's economy is top dog in the Great Lakes region

Minnesota
Credit Wikimedia Commons

As Michigan keeps trying to climb back out of the huge hole that was the Great Recession, a new report suggests we might want to take a closer look at one of our Great Lakes neighbors: Minnesota.

A new study done for the nonpartisan think tank Michigan Future examines the policies, priorities and economies of Michigan and Minnesota.

Because Minnesota has the best economy in the Great Lakes, it's worth trying to figure out what they're doing right, and what Michigan might learn from that.

Business writer Rick Haglund authored the report.

Minnesota is one of the top-ten best economies in the country; it is also a high-tax and high-spending economy.

“For so long, the accepted formula is that in order to have a healthy state economy, you have to have low taxes, low spending, and right-to-work laws,” Haglund says. “Minnesota actually has turned all of that on its head.”

Read more
Stateside
4:43 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Stateside for Monday, June 23, 2014

Today on Stateside:

  • Mayor Mike Duggan challenged us to "watch what happens in six months' when he was sworn in. The six months is almost up and the Detroit Journalism Cooperative will take the mayor up on his offer.
  • The U.S. Justice Department is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit by the Detroit-area rap-metal duo Insane Clown Posse, which objects to a report that describes its fans as a dangerous gang.
  • Muskegon is ranked 82nd out of 82 in health behaviors. A health initiative called "1 in 21" is trying to change that.
  • A summer camp for adults is coming this summer to get adults excited about the great outdoors again. There is one catch: no smartphones. 
  • Minnesota is ranked the best economy in the Great Lakes region. What can Michigan learn from them?
  • A study shows overall poor health of patients on Medicaid, especially surgical patients.

*Listen to full show above.

Stateside
5:34 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

How can commercial drones boost the economy?

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The word “drone” holds some negative connotations. However, some believe that commercial drones could help boost the economy. Aaron Cook, director of aviation at Northwestern Michigan College, is one of those people. He joined us today on Stateside.

Cook says when people understand what drones are, what they are not, and what they can do, they will realize the many business opportunities and safety opportunities these drones can provide. They could possibly improve the quality of life and increase productivity.

So what is a drone?

It’s basically a flying robot. It is an aircraft that does not need a human on board, but is controlled by people on the ground using GPS communication technology.

Cook emphasized that drones are not armed, specifically ones flying over U.S. soil, and are not intended to be used to invade citizens' privacy.

They are only meant for commercial use. BP was just approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to use drones in Alaska to monitor pipelines, roads, and equipment. Cook said drones can be used for similar options here in Michigan.

Read more
Stateside
4:47 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Proposal would overturn law requiring Michigan women to buy abortion coverage

Credit Sean Marshall / flickr

It was during the lame-duck session late last year when the state Legislature passed a law blocking insurers from paying for abortions as part of general coverage in company health care plans.

Under the law, women would have to buy extra coverage for an abortion, even in cases of rape or when the woman's life is in danger.

The law was passed without a public hearing on the basis of petitions that had been circulated by Right To Life of Michigan. It took effect in March.

Now two lawmakers are trying to get that law overturned. Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, will introduce the measure in the Senate while Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores, will do so in the House.

Read more
Stateside
4:32 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Mary Barra appears before House subcommittee on ignition-switch debacle

Credit General Motors

General Motors CEO Mary Barra appeared this week before a House subcommittee that is investigating the automaker's ignition-switch debacle.

Barra didn't sugarcoat the fact that GM bungled this terribly. She freely admitted their engineers knew about the switch problems 12 years ago, but didn't connect that to the airbag malfunction linked to at least 13 deaths.

And Barra had a litany of changes she's instituted in response, including firing 15 high-level employees.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says this has to go deeper.

“Members of Congress, to put it gently, (are) skeptical that a company like this with the track record that it’s had, particularly in the last five years, would be able to do that,” Howes said.

Howes says with exception of the president of GM, those at the top of the company are longtime General Motors people.

Read more
Stateside
4:14 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Stateside for Thursday, June 19, 2014

On Stateside today: 

  • An update with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes on the GM ignition-switch debacle.
  • Two Democratic representatives try to overturn a law that makes women buy extra coverage for an abortion. 
  • The last day of Stateside's music series, Songs Save Lives.
  • Mary Erlewine’s seventh studio album was released today by Earthwork Music.
  • There are those who see a wealth of ways drones could help us and boost the economy. And they see Michigan as being a key player in the future of drones. But what are the regulations for commercial drones?
  • Did you know that Jiffy Mix is made in Michigan?

*Listen to full story above. 

Stateside
3:09 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Michigan artist May Erlewine's 7th album "Where We Are" released today

Credit Steven Davy / flickr

Michigan singer and songwriter May Erlewine’s seventh full-length album “Where We Are” was released today on Earthwork Music.

May tells Stateside that writing the album was a bit of a challenge, as life threw her many curve balls.

May and her husband, Seth Bernard, lost two close friends and a grandmother, and then discovered they were pregnant with now four-month-old Iris Betsy, 

“The album is sort of a time capsule of that experience and that time,” May says. “I just sort of sat down with the feelings each day and just let it flow through."

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Made in Michigan
2:57 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Found in kitchens nationwide, Jiffy Mix is made in Michigan

Credit Andrew Filer / flickr

When you think of Jiffy Mix, you may think biscuits and corn muffins. But did you know they are also Michigan made?

Howdy Holmes is the president and CEO of Jiffy Mix. His grandmother is the one who started it all.

When Howdy’s father and uncle, Howard and Dudley, were young, they had a friend who was being raised by a single parent. The young boys invited their friend over for lunch, and he arrived with a bag lunch made by his dad. Howard and Dudley’s mother was concerned about what the father had made for his son.

“She opened the bag and right on top was a biscuit, which she said looked more like a white hockey puck,” Howdy said.

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