Stateside

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Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe.
Photo courtesy of Richardville's office

There's been talk in Lansing about whether term limits should be extended, and that talk is heating up. 

Michigan voters approved term limits for state lawmakers back in 1992, but Republican Sen. Majority Leader Randy Richardville thinks maybe it's time they are extended.

Richardville says Michigan has the most restrictive term limits in the country. Other states have either rescinded or eased term limits and, he believes Michigan should review the legislation as well.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio's political analyst, and he says term limits have been an unmitigated disaster. 

On this first full-day of Fall, we are in for some perfect autumn-weather.

It might be the one time where saying "Michigan weather" actually means a good thing.

We also go hunting for enormous mushrooms;  we learn about new research that finds truth in the saying “happy wife, happy life”;  we talk about cultures assimilating in Detroit; and we hear how the Cass Community United Methodist Church has been helping the poor since the 1930s.

But first on the show, we talked about campaign ads.

With the November election now six weeks away, the campaign ads are ever present.

If you wonder just who's picking up the tab for the ads, particularly the issue-oriented ads, that answer is pretty hard to find in Michigan. Political spending rules allow quite a lack of transparency.

Some say this leads to corruption. Others disagree. Chris Gautz of Crain's Detroit Business has been talking with both sides.

The Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club "Mushroom of the Month" - the Boletus variipes.
MMHC

There may be folks grumbling about the cool, wet end of summer we've had, but not the “shroomers.”

Mushroom hunters are having a blast with a bumper crop of wild mushrooms.

Philip Tedeschi is president of the Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club.

"Fall has been starting out very good. This summer, the chanterelles and black trumpets and some of my favorite mushrooms come up then," said Tedeschi.

"Right now, the hen of the woods are starting. Hen of the woods is a mushroom that averages about three pounds. The ones I pick are typically one to five pounds. In our club, someone brought in a 42-pounder."

Tedeschi says the record for this mushroom weighs in at more than 100 pounds, from Pennsylvania.

Mushrooms love wet, cool weather.

“Mushrooms are even higher percentage water than animals. They need the water to grow. (In) a dry year we won’t see very many mushrooms at all,” he said.

*Listen to our interview with Tedeschi above.

mconnors / morgueFile

Is there anyone who hasn't scanned the radio dial on a long road trip and endured noisy static,  angry talk shows, and music that disappoints  in a desperate search for a classic rock station?

But who knew the classic rock concept was born in Michigan almost 30 years ago?

Fred Jacobs, an Oakland County-based radio consultant, was part of that birth in 1985. He said WMMQ in Charlotte, Michigan, was the first classic rock station, and the format quickly spread across the country.

Jacobs said he was inspired by complaints from listeners who couldn't find the music they had grown up with and loved. 

Jacobs said classic rock is not the same as "golden oldies." It is about the golden age of rock – music people will still be listening to in 100 years. 

Jacobs said classic rock started with music from the 60s and 70s and musicians like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, and Eric Clapton. 

But he said it's all about the music of your youth that you never get tired of hearing.  And as generations move on, classic rock has added 80s and even more recent music to its roster.

More than $50 billion. That's how much Lansing will spend this year. But how to get everyone to agree on where to spend that money. That's where things get interesting.

Today on Stateside, we talked about the fight over taxing and spending.

Also today - Michigan's Freedom of Information Act regulates the disclosure of public records by all public bodies in the state - or so says the State Attorney General's Office in a pamphlet explaining the law.

But, just a few lines down is something that many citizens may not be aware of: the "public body" does not include the governor's office - or the lieutenant governor - or their employees.

Reporter Paul Egan took a look at Michigan's public records law in yesterday's Detroit Free Press.

We also talked about how one band worked Spotify to pay for their tour, the history of the classic rock format, and who owns the Great Lakes.

Vulfpeck

We’ve heard it before. The music industry is changing.

But the band Vulfpeck is challenging the music industry with silence.

Vulfpeck is a funk band that got its start at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

They are in the middle of a cross-country tour.

They aren’t charging admission, they aren’t paying out of pocket.

Their tour is completely funded from an album they put up on the online music steaming service Spotify – an album that was completely silent.

Today on Stateside:

  •  We found out how one Michigan college succeeds at recruiting and graduating low-income students.
  • Why GM can't put the ignition-switch scandal in its rear-view mirror.
  • Our sports commentator digested the late-season roller-coaster ride for Tigers fans.
  • U.S. Sen. Carl Levin is retiring this year. Why does his exit make the corporate world exhale?
  • A conversation with Michigan author Julie Lawson Timmer about her debut novel: "Five Days Left."

*Listen to the full show above.

Kalamazoo College campus
user: Kalamazoo College / facebook

 

When it comes to recruiting and graduating low-income students, one school that is clearly getting it right is Kalamazoo College.

The New York Times ranks Kalamazoo College No. 12 in the nation among elite colleges that enroll a large percentage of PELL-grant eligible students.

The PELL grant is a solid indicator, since many students in families above the poverty level do not qualify for these grants.

Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran is president of Kalamazoo College. She says attracting and keeping low-income students have been a priority of the college and part of its institutional mission: 

User: Adam Wyles / Flickr

 

What goes through the mind of someone who is just worn out from battling a terrible debilitating disease? Someone who has decided the time has come to end her life?

Or the mind of a caring man who opened his home and his heart to a child in great need, only to have the court order that child to be returned to his mother when she gets out of prison?

And how do the lives of these two people intersect?

Those questions drive a new novel "Five Days Left" by Michigan author Julie Lawson Timmer.

Derek DeVries / Grand Rapids Community College

 

Some of America's top business leaders are breathing a big sigh of relief as Democratic U.S. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan prepares to retire.

It turns out that Michigan's senior senator has been running a very tight ship in chairing a Senate subcommittee that's done some deep probing into the workings of some very big businesses.

The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, or PSI, was created back in Harry Truman's time to investigate war profit hearings. Today, the organization looks into practices in government and business. 

Kelsey Snell wrote a piece about it for Politico. She notes that the subcommittee chaired by Levin has a big focus on going after tax evasions and unfair business practices on Wall Street.

J.D. Martinez crushed a two-run blast in Saturday's victory over the Indians.
User: Detroit Tigers / facebook

 

The waning weeks of the regular baseball season have turned into a real roller-coaster ride for the Tigers and their fans.

The Tigers got clobbered by the Twins last night, losing 8-4. And Kansas City won, so that American League Central Division lead is down to just a half game over the Royals. Now the Tigers head to Kansas City for three games that could be the most important series of the season.

Michigan Radio's sports commentator John U. Bacon says as of now, the Tigers' chance to make it into the playoffs is 91%, according to ESPN. 

There are 10 games still ahead of the team.

* Listen to the interview with John U. Bacon above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

When General Motors appointed Kenneth Feinberg as its so-called "compensation czar," it was clear the automaker hoped to have Feinberg determine damages to victims of the ignition-switch debacle, pay, and move on.

But as Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes writes today, things are not working out that way:

User: COD Newsroom / Flickr

As college students explore their campuses, they're likely to find a wide array of student groups that pertain to race: The Black Student Union, Asian-American groups, or Hispanic and Latino groups.

Universities say they're spending time and money on trying to increase the number of minority students, especially since the Supreme Court ban in 2006 on affirmative action.

But Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution says the challenges for American colleges should be not only racial diversity, but also economic diversity. 

Especially when universities, including elite schools, haven't upped their percentage of low-come students in generation. 

Haskins says that's what happens when colleges maintain admission standards.

Today on Stateside

  • Announcement of a new downtown arena for the Detroit Red Wings brought a flood of news stories, but we may not always ask the right questions. We found out why local media struggle when covering new stadium construction.
  • A debate in Michigan's Senate race is now in the planning stages.
  • We learned what's behind a growing grassroots movement to get the pope to visit Detroit in 2015.
  • We met the captain of the No.1-ranked team at the University of Michigan: Women's cross country.
  • A project team in Lapeer, Michigan, has a mission to make the downtown area more attractive, with decorated benches.
  • We learned about Louis Kamper, the gifted architect who helped Detroit earn a reputation as the "Paris of the West".

*Listen to the full show above.

Working on one of the benches
user: The Bench Warming Project / facebook

Can a brightly decorated bench make a downtown area more attractive?

A group of artists in Lapeer, Michigan says absolutely!

Artist Jim Alt belongs to the group. He has launched something he calls The Bench Warming Project in downtown Lapeer.

Alt says the goal of the project is to give downtown a collection of public artwork that hopefully could help bring people back to the community. 

He set a fundraising goal of $1,000 on gofundme.com.  So far, the project has raised more than $2,100.

Alt and his team of artists have finished 4 benches, and they expect to have a total of 21 benches done by next week or so.

*Listen to the full story above.

User: Michigan Women's Track and Field / facebook

Wolverine fans, here's a question for you: What is the best team on campus?

Take the spotlight off football and basketball for a minute, and shine it on the Wolverine team that is ranked No.1 in the nation. According to the NCAA, it's the Michigan Women's Cross-Country team.

Brook Handler of Rochester Hills is the team's captain. She says they train hard everyday and cheer each other on during races. 

"Everyone really really wants to get to that top spot, and the drive that this team has is tenfold what it was a few years ago," says Handler.

* Listen to our conversation with Brook Handler above.

Col. Frank J. Hecker House in Detroit
User: Werewombat / Wikimedia Commons

The talk about blight and crumbling buildings in the city of Detroit can easily drown out another fact: The city is home to some stunning buildings that have a long history.

One of the gifted architects who helped Detroit earn a reputation as the "Paris of the West" was Louis Kamper. He envisioned not just office buildings and fabulous homes, but also bridges, hotels, police stations, and even a bathhouse on Belle Isle.

Historian Bill Loomis blogged about Kamper for the Detroit News. He says Kamper helped define the character of city's downtown architecture. 

Terri Lynn Land
Michigan Republican Party / Facebook

With 48 days to go until the Nov. 4 election, many people are wondering if Michigan voters would ever get a chance to hear a debate between the candidates for U.S. Senate and for governor.

Republican Terri Lynn Land took the first step today toward holding a debate with Democratic rival Gary Peters.

Land's campaign just named Lansing attorney Richard McLellan as its debate negotiator. Land says McLellan will work with Detroit ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV and Peters' campaign to possibly find a West Michigan journalist to co-moderate a debate with WXYZ Editorial Director Chuck Stokes.

Peters named former Lt. Gov. John Cherry as his debate negotiator Aug. 6. Peters has accepted three debate invitations outright and two others on the condition that Land also agrees.

Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta are co-hosts of Michigan Radio's It's Just Politics. In their views, Michigan voters are clearly looking for the candidates' debates. 

A student's letter in an effort to bring Pope Francis to Detroit.
User: Let's Bring Pope Francis to Detroit in 2015 / facebook

The last time a pope visited Michigan was 27 years ago this very week. Pope John Paul spoke to crowds at Hart Plaza and Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit, visited Hamtramck, and celebrated Mass for 90,000 people at the Pontiac Silverdome.

Word that Pope Francis is planning a visit to the United States has ignited a letter-writing and social media campaign called "Let's Bring Pope Francis to Detroit in 2015"

The spark of the campaign began at Cristo Rey High School in southwest Detroit. And the movement is drawing support from some big names, including Detroit's mayor and deputy mayor. 

Cristo Rey Principal Sue Rowe and Detroit Deputy Mayor Ike McKinnon spoke to Stateside about their effort.

Covering the planned Red Wings arena construction
User: WXYZ-TV Detroit / YouTube

Two months ago, the Ilitch family's Olympia Development of Michigan announced plans for a new sports and entertainment district to be built on largely vacant land between downtown and midtown Detroit.

The center piece of the development would be a new home for the Detroit Red Wings.

Tomorrow night, the public will get its first look at the details of the new $450 million venue as Olympia officials present the plans at a meeting of the Detroit City Planning Commission.

David Uberti from the Detroit area recently wrote a piece for the Columbia Journalism Review as its Delacorte fellow. He looks at the way reporters cover new stadium constructions not just in Detroit, but across the country. 

And he notes a distinct "cheerlead first, ask questions later" approach.

Orphan Home in Aleppo, Syria in 1920.
User: George Swain of the University of Michigan / facebook

Next April will mark the 100th anniversary of one of the great atrocities of the 20th Century: the genocide of up to a million and half Armenians by the Ottoman Empire.

Scholars have acknowledged this to be one of the first modern genocides. 

The beginning of the genocide is considered to be April 24, 1915, the day 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Istanbul were arrested.

Men were conscripted or killed. Women, children and elderly went on the death march toward deserts in Syria. 

Today on Stateside:

  • A Congressional report blistered the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over ignition defects in GM vehicles.
  • We looked at tax increment financing (TIFs): public dollars used with few questions asked.
  • We met the MSU professor leading the quest for a better potato.
  • We discovered how Detroit's techno music scene is winning fans around the world.
  • We asked the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality what Michigan is doing to protect our drinking water against cyanobacteria.
  • Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the genocide of up to a million and half Armenians by the Ottoman Empire. We asked a University of Michigan professor how the actions of 100 years ago are being felt in 2014.

* Listen to the full show above.

Dave Douches shows some of his potato memorabilia.
User: Betsy Agosta / The StateNews

A salute, now, to the potato.

This is National Potato Month. Many of the potatoes that make their way onto America's dinner plates, into French fries or into potato chip bags come from Michigan. 

There's some pretty interesting research and development happening right now, all focused on the honest, humble potato.

We found out more from the man known on the Michigan State campus as "Mr. Potato Prof."

David Douches heads up MSU's Potato Breeding and Genetics Program. He says young people nowadays are driving some of the changes in potato consumption habits.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

 

The images of green water in Lake Erie and foul, toxic tap water in Toledo certainly got many of us at least thinking about what's coming out of our taps.

What is Michigan doing to protect our drinking water, the water we get from the Great Lakes system, against cyanobacteria, the toxin that led to a ban on tap water usage in Toledo last month?

Dan Wyant is the director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. He says there needs to be a comprehensive plan to deal with the problems. 

"We all need to work toward improving water qualities throughout not only the Great Lakes, but also rivers and streams," says Wyant.

GM Renaissance Center in Detroit.
John F. Martin / Creative Commons

 

A blistering Congressional report came out today on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's handling of a General Motors ignition switch problem.The defect is blamed in 19 deaths. 

David Shepardson is chief of The Detroit News Washington, D.C. bureau. He says the House Energy and Commerce Committee analysis really hauls NHTSA into the "congressional woodshed."

"They had ample information to have discovered this problem in 2007 but, for a number of different failures, didn't do it," says Shepardson.

The report says the NHTSA misunderstood how vehicles worked, lacked accountability, and failed to share information.

* Listen to the interview with David Shepardson above.

TIF mismanagement can lead to blight.
Flickr.com

 

Tax increment financing, or TIF, is a flexible tool for downtown development authority boards aiming to encourage private investment and increase the taxable value of their municipality.

TIFs enable portions of a city’s regular property tax to be used for economic development, without a vote from taxpayers. There are eight types of authorities in Michigan that can engage in this type of financing.

David Bieri is an assistant professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan.

Bieri explains the good and bad uses of TIFs. In the early 2000s, DDAs from Kalamazoo to Detroit addressed blight through brownfield remitigation. On the other hand, Bieri cites Bloomfield Park, the unfinished mini-city in Bloomfield Hills, as an example of TIFs gone bad: Blight was created rather than mitigated. 

Main stage of Hart Plaza, Detroit
User: The #technoMeccaMixtape / screengrab detroitsoundproject.com

The power of music to build bridges.

In this case, electronic and techno music is building bridges between Detroit and South Africa.

That's the focus of a documentary film called Electric Roots: The Detroit Sound Project. The short film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

Filmmaker Kristian Hill is based in Los Angeles, but he is from Detroit. Hill says in exploring the underground electronic and techno music scenes in Detroit and places like Tokyo, Russia, and South Africa, he got to meet people from all over the world.

Hill says he found music lovers who have a real interest in Detroit music -- beyond just Motown.

“We’ve met people who tell us that you know, Muslims go to Mecca, but techno lovers go to Detroit,” says Hill.

* Listen to our conversation with Kristian Hill above.

Watch a trailer of the documentary:

There will be a screening of the film on September 27, 2014 at Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit. You can get more information on the screening and the progress of Hill's film on his website.

Today on Stateside:

  • The DIA director reacted to Detroit creditor Syncora's settlement with the city.
  • As Michigan businesses complain they can't find workers with the skills they need, is there another side to this "skills gap?"
  • Do you love the online quest for a sweet deal on airfare or hotel room? You may be wasting your time.
  • According to a new study, more than half of the birds in the U.S. will be forced to find a new place to live because of climate change. We found out what that means for birds in Michigan.
  • Health insurers and healthcare.gov are now gearing up for year two of the Affordable Care Act. We talked to director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation at the University of Michigan about what’s at stake.
  • We found out how the idea for the Aeron chairs sold by the Herman Miller Company of West Michigan came about. 

* Listen to the full show above.

Common loon is one of the climate endangered species in Michigan.
User: jackanapes / Flickr

 

A recent report from the National Audubon Society points to troubling times ahead for our bird population.

Climate change could make some huge changes for birds in North America: About half of our 650 species would be driven to smaller spaces or forced to find totally new places to live or become extinct – all of this in just the next 65 years.

Jonathan Lutz is the executive director of the Michigan Audubon Society. He says in Michigan, about 50 species are vulnerable to the changing climate.

healthcare.gov

 

Health insurers and Healthcare.gov are now gearing up for year two of the Affordable Care Act.

Open enrollment begins two months from today – November 15. And this year, there's a new twist: renewals and plan changes.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is the director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation at the University of Michigan. She says consumers have to do their homework to compare different health plans this year.

"Some [rates] are up, and some are down ... Even those who have coverage now, it would be very important for consumers to actually look at the choices again and see what is the best match with the premiums and the networks that are offered," says Udow-Phillips.

* Listen to our conversation with Marianne Udow-Phillips above.

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