4:54 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Stateside for Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Today on Stateside:

  • A conversation with Detroit Police Chief James Craig about the struggles and successes of his first year.
  • Gov. Rick Snyder signed Michigan's school aid budget last week that included a provision ordering the Michigan Department of Education to produce and administer a MEAP test in the next school year – not the Smarter Balanced Assessment test they'd been planning to use.
  • Michigan is one of the more dangerous states in the country when it comes to lightning strikes.
  • A mosquito invasion is coming to Michigan this summer. One species came about as a result of the polar vortex.

*Listen to the full show above.

12:29 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

After one year on the job, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said the department is turning around

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

It has been exactly one year since James Craig returned to his hometown as Detroit’s 42nd police chief. He was hired by Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

“The city was not the city I had left,” Chief Craig said.

Chief Craig came back to a city facing bankruptcy - a city with soaring crime rates, response times of 58 minutes, police precincts that were not open to citizens after 4 p.m., and uniformed officers who were demoralized and spread thin working 12 hour shifts.

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6:45 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Stateside for Monday, June 30, 2014

  Today on Stateside:

  • A new report says state disinvestment in roads, schools and other infrastructure has put Michigan's future at risk.
  • University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman has spent the past 12 years at the helm of  one of the most influential universities in the country: During her tenure the university faced a number of challenges, including financial cuts from the state and a challenge to its use of affirmative action in admissions.
  • The Woodward Dream Cruise says it's the largest one-day celebration of classic cars in the world. But many residents who live near Woodward Avenue, especially in the Oakland County city of Royal Oak, complain about screeching tires, revving engines, and the unmistakable roar of glass-pack mufflers.
  • Attorney Kenneth Feinberg will run the General Motors Ignition Compensation Fund. Who's eligible for compensation? When and how do they file a claim? And how much money are we talking about?
  • There are people in Michigan getting a dose of arsenic every time they drink the water coming from their taps. And some of them have arsenic levels well above the federal standards. Michigan Radio's "The Environment Report" is presenting a five-part series this week called "Michigan's Silent Poison," in partnership with The Center for Public Integrity and the public radio show, "Reveal."

*Listen to the full show above. 

5:16 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Interview: High levels of arsenic could be in your well water

Arsenic is a deadly poison, and there are people in Michigan getting arsenic at levels high above federal standards every time they drink the water coming from their taps.

Michigan Radio's "The Environment Report" is presenting a five-part series this week called "Michigan's Silent Poison," in partnership with The Center for Public Integrity and the public radio show "Reveal."

The Environment Report’s Rebecca Williams spoke on Stateside today, along with David Heath from the Center for Public Integrity.

“No organ system goes untouched by arsenic,” Williams said.

Extremely high doses of arsenic can kill you. Smaller doses have been linked to lung, bladder, skin, prostate, and liver cancers. You can also get arsenic poisoning with symptoms such as nausea, headaches, gastrointestinal pains, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Arsenic can be found in rice, apple juice, beer and wine, and drinking water. The levels are exceptionally high in private wells at people's homes, mostly in the thumb region of Michigan.

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Politics & Culture
3:15 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Stateside for Tuesday, June 17, 2014

 Here is what was covered on Stateside today:

·         State lawmakers are back home after failing to raise money needed to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads. Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said the failure was “not a big deal, really.”

·         Cow manure may become the source for clean water.

·         Poet and writer Keith Taylor shares his picks for summer reading.

·         A Los Angeles company called Celebrity Black Card hopes to attract A-list celebs to Northeast Michigan. So they're setting up an eco-friendly lodge west of Alpena from eco-friendly materials that come from Michigan companies.

·         General Motors is recalling another 3.2 million cars because of ignition-switch problems. What does that mean for consumer confidence and GM sales?

·         More than a half-million kids in Michigan who could be eating for free or at a reduced price won’t be fed this summer, even though the school lunch program does make food available through the summer.

·         What song saved your life? Jason Towler, a special-education teacher, shares his.

*Listen to full show above. 

10:26 am
Mon June 30, 2014

U of M president says university fought for financial aid amid 75% tuition increase over her tenure

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman wraps up her 12-year tenure on July 13, 2014.

She spoke on Stateside with Cynthia Canty today. Listen to our interview with her here:

Coleman oversaw a time of growth at the university – spearheading a capital campaign that resulted in the most money ever raised by a public university.

U of M also saw a building boom on Coleman's watch.

But there was another kind of boom during Coleman's tenure. Undergraduate tuition went up more than 75%.

Coleman says the university has worked hard to keep tuition affordable in spite of spiraling tuition rates.

"And what we've done here at the University of Michigan is to work extremely hard to raise money for financial aid and to make it available."

*Correction: A previous version of this story said that today was Coleman's last day as president. Her final day is July 13. We regret the error.

4:55 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Stateside for Thursday, June 26, 2014

Today on Stateside:

  • The United Nations has issued a statement calling Detroit’s mass water shutoff campaign a likely human rights violation. On today’s Stateside we talked with one of those groups appealing to the United Nations.
  • Some folks in Northern Michigan are getting tired of all the tourists and festivals taking over their towns. They say they just want some peace and quiet. But others argue the economic boom to small communities is just too good to pass up.
  • Producer and U of M student Arjun Singh talks about teaming up with local talent to make electronic pop with wide appeal on his new EP "The Drift."
  • We continue our weeklong look at how Detroit is doing under bankruptcy and Mayor Duggan's first  six months in office. Today we focused on the city's efforts to turn the streetlights back on.
  • As Ford CEO Alan Mulally steps down, Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes joined us today to talk about what Mullaly has built and how he created big shoes for his successor to fill.

*Listen to full show above.

4:52 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Can Mayor Duggan make Detroit streets look brighter?

Credit Flickr user Molly Des Jardin

All week long, the Detroit Journalism Cooperative is examining how Detroit is doing under bankruptcy and the leadership of Mayor Mike Duggan.

We've looked at the mayor himself. We've also looked at blight, transportation, and the bus system.

Now we turn to a challenge that seemed to have caught the collective attention of writers and reporters around the world as they talk about Detroit's bankruptcy: the streetlights.

The fact that almost half the streetlights in Detroit didn't work became a sort of symbol of how "broken" the city had become.

Let's find out if things are looking brighter in the neighborhoods and streets of Detroit.

We were joined by Lester Graham of Michigan Watch.

*Listen to full interview above.

4:50 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Traverse City fights "festival fatigue"

The National Cherry Festival runs from July 5th through July 12th. Set up begins this weekend in Traverse City.
Credit User: Michigan Municipal League / flickr

Sometimes too much of a good thing is, well, too much.

That seems to be what some residents and city commissioners in Traverse City are thinking about the upcoming National Cherry Festival, and the many other festivals that draw visitors to Traverse City through the year.

In short, some of the locals are starting to push back. It’s been dubbed “festival fatigue.” Some residents complain in particular about the Cherry Festival in a downtown park called the “Open Space” that runs along Grand Traverse Bay. They grumble about noise, trash, and crowds.

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4:48 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Welfare rights group backs UN criticism over Detroit water shutoffs

Credit User: Firesmile / flickr

The United Nations says recent water shutoffs at the homes of poor Detroiters are a violation of international human rights.

That came after a letter was sent this week to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The letter came from a coalition of welfare rights groups. They accuse Detroit's water department of putting poor people at risk with mass shutoffs.

Back in March, the city began to shut off water service to more than 150,000 delinquent customers who collectively owed more than $118 million.

One of the groups appealing to the United Nations is the Blue Planet Project, based in Ottawa, Ontario. We were joined today by its founder Maude Barlow.

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4:30 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

"The Drift" EP combines Michigan music talents, including Michelle Chamuel from The Voice

Michelle Chamuel fan page Facebook

An interview with producer Arjun Singh and rapper Isaac Castor.

His name is Arjun Singh. He's a 24-year-old student at the University of Michigan.

Singh has teamed up with former U of M student Michelle Chamuel to produce an extended-play recording called "The Drift."

And if that name and voice ring a bell, they should.  Chamuel came in second on season four of "The Voice."

With virtually no promotion, the EP hit No. 2 on the iTunes electronic charts.

And the title track of "The Drift" features more Michigan talent, including rapper Isaac Castor of Saline High School. Castor and Arjun Singh joined us today.

 Listen to the full interview above.
 * This segment originally aired on February 18, 2014.

12:02 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Ford CEO Mulally leaves behind big shoes for successor to fill

Outgoing Ford CEO Alan Mulally.
Credit Ford Motor Company

Alan Mulally will hand over his Ford CEO job to Mark Fields next Tuesday. 

Fields has been with Ford since 1989 and the chief operating officer since 2012.

Mulally came to Ford as an auto outsider and many questioned his ability to turn the struggling company around.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes was one of the doubters. Howes is now happy to say he was wrong. And Mulally has created big shoes for Fields to fill

Read more
6:26 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Are you a Yooper looking for love? Find your lumberjack here

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The Pew Research Center tells us that 1 in 10​ Americans has turned to online dating sites.

Some are very general, such as eHarmony or

And some get very specific, such as JDate for Jewish singles, or for ... well, you get the picture.

Bugsy Sailor, a born-and-bred Yooper, realized that finding love in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is challenging.

So he founded

It started off as an April Fool’s joke. But on the first day, nearly 1,000 people had signed up. Sailor realized that this might be something to look into.

“Yoopers are a unique breed,” Sailor said. “We have a culture that is one of its own and it’s a remote area. It’s different meeting people here than I would say in the city.”

Sailor said one of the main challenges is finding someone with the same interests. A Yooper would have to find someone who can handle the mosquito bites and the cold winters.

“If you find love in Florida, it’s kind of difficult to convince them to move to the UP,” Sailor said.

Subscribers list their interests. Some are simple, like kayaking, hiking, or basketball. Sailor said home brewing is big in the UP.  

“Interestingly enough, a large number of users have selected bear wrestling as a potential interest,” Sailor said.

Another question: “How do you like your pasty? With ketchup, gravy or naked?”

*Listen to interview above.

6:16 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Could there be a practical rail line linking Michigan's 3 major cities?

Map of the three potential routes between Holland and Detroit to be considered in the upcoming feasibility study.
Credit Michigan Environmental Council

In the never-ending quest to improve transportation in Michigan, how do you get from Detroit to Grand Rapids – the two largest metropolitan areas in the state – with the state Capitol parked right in the middle?

The only answer you get is the highway.

There is no rail line connecting Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit.

That has caught the attention of the Michigan Department of Transportion, which will study the viability of a passenger rail line linking those three major Michigan cities.

Dan Somerville is with the Michigan Environmental Council.

He said the study will look at the market demand, destination patterns, population densities, and current traffic patterns in the highway corridor.

Existing train tracks haven’t had been used for passenger trains since 1971, but are used for freight traffic. They could be upgraded for passenger trains, which would be much easier than buying new land for tracks.

Somerville said train transportation could also be environmentally friendly.

“We do need folks to continue to communicate to their elected officials that investments in transportation infrastructure is important,” Somerville said.

The study will take place over the next nine to twelve months.  

*Listen to full interview above. 

5:51 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

As Baby Boomers age, how are cities preparing for them?

Credit PublicDomainPictures /

As we watch Baby Boomers swell the ranks of America’s senior citizens, how are cities and towns preparing for them?

How will Boomers reshape cities and what can cities do to look ahead and plan for what seniors will need?

Bradley Winick is the founder of the Planning/Aging consulting firm and adjunct professor of urban planning at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Winick said that while many of the issues that Baby Boomers are facing are the same as issues for previous seniors, one major difference is economic circumstance.

For Baby Boomers, the recession challenged the assumption of flexibility.

“I think a lot of folks felt that they had this fabulous financial nest egg, which was largely in their home,” Winick said.

However, when the economy changes and the lending climate changes, your home is only worth how much someone is willing to pay you for it.

“I think the impact of that manifests itself in a number of ways in respects to how our communities will look in the future,” Winick said.

Winick added that when a city is planning for an older population, it’s important to make sure the city makes the community livable for all ages but also takes a close look at the availability and accessibility of pharmacies, grocery stores and transportation.

*Listen to full interview above. 

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. 

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. 

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:
  • 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. 

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. 

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.