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Stateside Staff

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St Patrick's Day is coming up this Sunday.

For many people, whether Irish or not, the holiday brings a chance to hear musicians playing  toe-tapping jigs, reels, hornpipes and other Old Celtic tunes at clubs and pubs all over Michigan.

One of those musicians is 22-year-old Asher Perkins of Oakland County.

At age 22, Asher has been playing button accordion and concertina largely as part of his family's acclaimed Celtic music band, Finvarra's Wren.

Making music like this  has been a part of Asher's life for the past 17 years.

Here's an example of an Irish reel by Finvarra Wren:

Even as he has carved out a national reputation in traditional Irish music, Asher Perkins has been making a name for himself in a totally different area.

With his  EP "Hammers on Trees" and a project called "Evasion", Asher Perkins is branching out from his Irish musical background into the realm of techno music.

Here's a sample of some of Perkins' techno work:



Asher Perkins joined us today at Stateside to tell us about his music with Finvarra's Wren and his move into the electronic music scene.

Asher Perkins, his family's band Finvarra's Wren plays a regular schedule of dates, you can visit their website up at www.finvarraswren.com  as well as a link to his techno music at www.asherperkins.com.

SnyderLive / LiveStream

Some Detroit City Council officials have formally appealed the determination that their city is in a financial emergency.

That designation is part of the ramp up to a take-over by an emergency financial manager.

City Council representatives argued their case to Chief Deputy Treasurer Mary McDowell.

Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, was at the hearing today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Photo courtesy of the Snyder administration

When Governor Snyder and Michigan legislature cut part of the Earned Income Tax, they argued that it was just a move that piggy-backed on the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. 

Michigan lawmakers cut the 20 percent rate of the federal credit to 6 percent of federal credit.

This meant that many poor, working-class families saw an increase in their taxes in addition to tax increases they felt from other legislative changes.

The state's advocates for the poor have called upon the legislature to restore the Earned Income Tax Credit to Michigan in order to ease the financial stress felt by poor families.

Michigan Radio's Lester Graham spoke with Gilda Jacobs, the President and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. 

Listen to the audio above to hear the story.

http://yooperbars.com

Anybody who lives in Michigan would not be shocked to hear that there is a lot of good beer, and a lot of good bars to support it.

The problem is finding where exactly are all of the good bars and drinks.

That mystery has been left to word of mouth, hearsay, and luck - until now.

Recently a father-son duo have helped in providing a solution to that problem by doing the kind of research that many dream about. 

On a month long road trip they searched every corner of the Upper Peninsula to find exactly where good bars,  good drinks, and good times can be found. 

The results of their bar hopping excursion were thoroughly documented in a travel guide, entitled Yooper Bars.

In their guide, they break down the history, flavor and atmosphere of over 100 bars that help make the Upper Peninsula unique.

The guide is packed full of facts, bar savvy and humor, such as each bar's specialty drink, food, staff,  celebrity sightings, and favorite jokes.

We had an opportunity to sit down father and researcher emeritus, Randy Kluck as well as his son, author and entrepreneur, Kevin Kluck. 

The two give us the details on memorable food, drink, stories, and tell us about what it takes to visit 110 out of the 300 bars that are located in the Upper Peninsula.

Listen to the full interview above.

It's back.

Legislation to change the state's auto no-fault insurance keeps popping back up at the Capitol.

On today's show, we take a look at why it keeps coming back and what the changes would mean for you.

And, we head Up North for a tour of some of the Upper Peninsula's best-known bars.

But we start the show with the city of Detroit.

Some Detroit City Council officials have formally appealed the determination that their city is in a financial emergency. That designation is part of the ramp up to a take-over by an emergency financial manager.

City Council representatives argued their case to Chief Deputy Treasurer Mary MacDowell.
   
Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, was at the hearing today and we asked him if the appeal will change the Governor's mind about appointing an emergency manager.

Toby Oxborrow / Flickr

Depending on where you live in the state, your auto insurance rates could be outrageously high.

During the last session of the Michigan Legislature, there was an attempt to change the state’s auto no-fault insurance with claims that it would lower rates.

This is something the auto insurance agencies keep lobbying for, and Governor Rick Snyder said in his State of the State address we need to keep costs down.

But there’s little evidence that your insurance rates would go down that much, or at all, by these limits.

That’s because the real reason auto insurance is so high in some areas is theft, fraud, and uninsured motorists.

The part of no-fault that guarantees someone severely hurt will get the reasonable care they need is just a fraction of the cost, and some would argue the best bargain in the nation.

Joining me now is a lawyer who, we should point out, fights the insurance companies over claims on a regular basis.

Steven Gursten is with the law firm Michigan Auto Law.

Most of us find auto insurance coverage a little confusing at best, so we started off by explaining what catastrophic coverage is, and what the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association is.

Listen to the full interview above.

USFS

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

The State Department of Natural Resources has been in the planning process of this idea to create what it calls Biodiversity Stewardship Areas.

These areas would include both state and private land.

All the stakeholders were on board in the early planning process - hunting groups, environmentalists - most everyone - until someone became alarmed because the plan could have potentially stopped human access to some areas.

Well, if you even hint that hunters or timber companies can’t have access, you’ve got a problem.

State Senator Tom Casperson (R- Escanaba) has introduced a bill that would prohibit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources from setting aside an area of land specifically for the purpose of maintaining biological diversity.

In part it reads:

THE DEPARTMENT, DIRECTOR, OR COMMISSION SHALL NOT PROMULGATE OR ENFORCE A RULE OR ISSUE OR ENFORCE AN ORDER UNDER THIS ACT THAT DESIGNATES OR CLASSIFIES AN AREA OF LAND SPECIFICALLY FOR THE PURPOSE OF ACHIEVING OR MAINTAINING BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY...

According to Casperson, the MDNR should request approval for each proposal from the State Legislature.

“It’s not that they can’t do it, but it needs oversight,” Casperson said in an interview with Michigan Radio’s Lester Graham.

It lasted about six months, and today, a federal jury found former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick guilty of 24 counts of racketeering, bribery, and extortion.  

You might remember Kilpatrick previously spent a year in prison for lying under oath about a sexting-affair he had with his Chief of Staff and for violating his probation.

So, here we are today.

It’s not going to be just a few weeks or few months, the former Mayor is going to be facing some serious prison-time.
 
We spoke with Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek who's been covering the case for Michigan Radio, and with Larry Dubin of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

Listen to their thoughts on the verdict above.

LGBT flag.
Guillaume Paumier / Flickr

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to rule on two cases involving same sex marriage this year, bringing LGBT rights to the forefront of political discussion.

In Michigan, the Eliot-Larsen Civil Rights law doesn't protect members of the LGBT community.

This means that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals can be fired, denied housing, and turned away from restaurants and hotels based on their sexual identity.

Michigan Radio's Lester Graham spoke with Jay Kaplan with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.

Kaplan has been the staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan’s LGBT Project since its founding in 2001. He has fought against Michigan’s constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying.

Listen to the full interview above.

  On today's show, balancing the state's budget - there's a fight in Lansing over whether or not the state should add money to it's so-called "rainy-day fund." Just how much money should be in the state's savings account? And, two cases involving same sex marriage will soon be in front of the Supreme Court. We find out what that could mean for gays and lesbians here in Michigan.

But first, It lasted about six months and today, a federal jury found former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick guilty of 24 counts of racketeering, bribery, and extortion.  

Now, you might remember Kilpatrick previously spent a year in prison for lying under oath about a sexting-affair he had with his Chief of Staff and for violating his probation.

So, here we are today. It’s not going to be just a few weeks or few months, the Mayor is going to be facing some serious prison-time.
 
We spoke with Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek. She’s been covering the case for Michigan Radio.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan's "Understanding Race Project" will examine race through storytelling tomorrow evening at the Michigan Theater.

La'Ron Williams  is a member of the National Storytelling Network, the Detroit Association of Black Storytellers, and the National Association of Black Storytellers.

He is set to perform his work Elm Park, 1955, in which he shares his interaction with race as a kid growing up in Flint, Michigan.

Michigan Radio's Lester Graham spoke with Williams about the power of storytelling, race, and the University's project.

Listen to the full interview above.

automotiveauto.info

Michigan's economy is recovering faster than most states and much of that growth is because the auto industry is doing better these days.

Ford, GM, and Chrysler are all seeing increased sales in North America and China.

But just how healthy is it for the state to be reliant on building cars and trucks?

The state's economy has not diversified. It's riding along with the ups and downs of the auto industry.

The auto industry is booming for now, but for how long?

We spoke with Rick Haglund of Bridge Magazine about this. He covers Michigan business, economics, and the auto industry for Bridge Magazine.

Listen to the full interview above.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman heard arguments today for and against Michigan's constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage and civil unions.

There was some thought that the judge would rule on the case today. Instead, he decided to wait until after the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on two unrelated same-sex marriage cases.

On today's show, we got an update on the court case in Detroit.

And, we heard about what's working to increase high school graduation rates. One Wayne County school district has made a dramatic difference in how many of its kids graduate from high school.

But first, we talk "re-shoring" with Tobias Schoenherr, a professor of supply chain management at Michigan State University, and Tom Harrison, CEO of Michigan Ladder Company based in Ypsilanti.

"Re-shoring is the opposite of "outsourcing" and "off-shoring."

Listen to these interview and more by clicking on the audio above.

Shawn Wilson / wikimedia

The Detroit City Council will challenge Governor Snyder’s decision to appoint an emergency financial manager for the city.

The Council also approved a resolution asking Governor Snyder to delay his appointment.

They’re asking that he wait until a new emergency manager law kicks in later this month.

Council member Ken Cockrel Junior says that would give the city more choices.

"You could take the existing consent agreement, actually rewrite it and enhance it. So, what do you want to call that? A new consent agreement, or modification of the old one? I think we’d have the ability to do that," said Cockrel.

The appeal comes even as Detroit mayor Dave Bing declined to sign on to the effort.

"This decision does not mean that I'm turning the keys to our city over to the state or throwing in the towel," said Bing. "It is simply a fight that we cannot win at the eleventh hour in a 30-minute appeals hearing."

A hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday in Lansing.

It is with this backdrop that we turned to Detroit News businesses columnist Daniel Howes.

He wrote a column about how businesses are moving to Detroit despite all these problems.

Listen to the full interview above.

There's a little shop on the Main Street of Lake Orion in Oakland County that can teach the rest of the state a big lesson in how to create jobs for workers with disabilities.

The shop is called "Everything Michigan," and it's located in the North Oakland Vocational Association building.

NOVA has been around since 1992 helping disabled workers train for and find jobs around North Oakland County.

One of those workers is Barbara Bell. She has set up her "Everything Michigan" shop to sell products that are all about Michigan.

Store manager LaToi English joined us today from Lake Orion.

DeBoer Rowse Adoption Legal Fund

Federal Judge Bernard Friedman decided not to rule on Michigan's gay marriage ban this morning.

He said he wanted to wait until after the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on same-sex marriage.

Rick Pluta was at today’s hearing in Detroit and he joined to talk about this surprise decision.

He talked with us about the takeaway from today's hearing.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

From Maine, to California - from Alaska to Hawaii - one of the biggest challenges facing governors and state lawmakers is how to plug the gaping holes in their budgets.

Certainly, Michigan is right in the thick of that challenge.
 
There are plenty of belt-tightening measures that have been taken - cost-cutting steps that can leave the quality of life for citizens somehow diminished.
 
But a new report offers another way to plug those holes in struggling state budgets: keep our kids from dropping out of high school. Increase the graduation rates.

The education advocates who put this report together find that high school dropouts cost our nation some $1.8 billion in lost tax revenue.
 
Today we took a closer look at the cost of high school dropouts, and we found out how one Michigan school district has successfully managed to raise its graduation rate.
 
We were joined by Michigan State University economist Charley Ballard and the Superintendent of Dearborn Public Schools, Brian Whiston.
 
Listen to the full interview above.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

“Outsourcing” and “off-shoring” - those are words our parents and grandparents never really encountered.

But if you’ve worked in Michigan the past 10 to 15 years, it’s a pretty safe bet you are very aware of outsourcing and off-shoring.

American manufacturers have sent tens of thousands of jobs overseas or across the border - to Mexico, to China, to India, and other countries - setting up foreign plants or farming out work to foreign manufacturers in those countries where labor is cheaper, and costs are lower.

But there’s a new term being heard these days - "Re-Shoring."

Could it be that work is coming home from those distant shores?

Tobias Schoenherr, a professor of supply chain management at Michigan State University, and Tom Harrison, CEO of Michigan Ladder Company based in Ypsilanti, joined us today.

You can listen to the full interview above.

Job search seminar in Ohio
flickr user Daniel Johnson / Flickr

We're more than three years into an economic recovery, but as we in Michigan battle our way back to that recovery, it's a fair question to wonder: when will we get our jobs back to where they were before the Great Recession came smashing its way into our lives?

According to a new forecast from IHS Global Insight, an economics and financial forecasting firm, the answer seems to be "don't hold your breath". Even though six states have made their way back to their peak employment levels, meaning the pre-Great-Recession levels, the news is not as bright for Michigan. Bob Tomarelli, an economist with IHS Global Insight, joined us from Philadelphia. 

Michigan Supreme Court
Courtesy of the MI Supreme Court

The State Supreme Court began hearing cases this week with a full bench.

With Governor Snyder's appointment of new Justice David Viviano to replace former Justice Diane Hathaway, it was the first time in some six weeks that the court has had seven sitting justices.

Of course, Diane Hathway had to step down from the court in January and has since pleaded guilty to a federal bank fraud charge in connection with a family real estate deal. Detroit News columnist Laura Berman had been giving a lot of thought to the appointment of Justice Viviano, and her column in Tuesday's Detroit News reflects her disappointment in Governor Snyder's  choice of a man to replace Diane Hathaway. We now have five men and two women on the Supreme Court. Click the audio link above to hear the full interview.

FLICKR USER THE COSUMERIST / Flickr

Like it or not- for it or against it - Obamacare is coming, and coming soon.

The Affordable Care Act requires that most Americans carry some form of health insurance beginning next January or pay a fee. And by October 1, less than seven months from now, states need to have health care exchanges in place where consumers can buy the required insurance.

Last week, the State House agreed to let the state spend a federal grant worth nearly $31 million to help set up that health care exchange.

What would it mean for Michigan to partner with Uncle Sam in running this exchange?

For that answer, we spoke with Helen Levy. Levy is a research associate professor at the Institute for Social Research, the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy, and the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has just wrapped up its Beethoven Festival to great acclaim and great ticket sales.

For the finale, they played Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in D-Minor.

The DSO streamed that final concert in hi-def over the internet. It's a clear sign that the DSO is finding new ways to reach more people to become a true 21st Century Orchestra and to become "the most accessible orchestra on the planet."

Just what does it take to keep the DSO thriving, and to make it a more "sustainable" business?

Paul Hogle is the man who has been tasked with that challenge. He's the Executive Vice President of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and he joined us today in the studio.

To listen to the full interview, click the audio above.

The Affordable Care Act requires that most Americans carry some form of health insurance beginning next January or pay a fee.

And by October 1, 2013, states need to have health care exchanges in place where consumers can buy the required insurance.  What would it mean for Michigan to partner with Uncle Sam in running this exchange?

For that answer, we spoke with Helen Levy. Levy is a research associate professor at the Institute for Social Research, the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy, and the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan.

The state Supreme Court is back in action this week. We speak with one columnist who isn't so happy with Governor Snyder's recent appointment of a male judge to replace former Justice Diane Hathaway. Does gender matter on the state's highest court?

And then, we'll take a look at the business side of classical music. What’s the future like for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra? We talked with Paul Hogle, the Executive Vice President of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

khalidhanifi.com

Khalid Hanifi is a singer-songwriter who brings an unusual perspective to the songs and lyrics that he writes.

He's based in Ann Arbor, but as the son of an Afghan man who came from Kabul to the United States in 1956, Khalid has a foot in both worlds, and that informs his writing, from songs to his blog on the Huffington Post.
 
His latest CD is "A Brief Respite From Shooting Fish In A Barrel."

To hear the full interview, listen to the link above.

MSU board
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Anyone writing tuition checks to a college or university will tell you it takes a big bite out of your checking account.

Senate Democrats in Lansing are now re-introducing their Michigan 2020 plan.

Under their plan, Michigan high school grads would receive grants allowing them to pay tuition at our state's public universities and community colleges.

user tami.vroma / Flickr

So, we're still here in it.

Stuck in the middle of winter and its hard to think about putting on flip-flops, sunglasses, and heading out for fresh, summer veggies from the farmers market.

But, it seems more and more people are going to farmers markets throughout the year, and paying for their purchases with Bridge cards.

Numbers are out from last year and they show the use of Bridge Cards at farmers markets around the state went up by 42 % in 2012.

Amanda Shreve joined us today. She's the Food Assistance Partnership Coordinator with the Michigan Farmers Market Association.

Rich Mondky / NWS

A new survey released by U of M's Ford School of Public Policy finds global warming is becoming more and more real to more and more Americans.

Barry Rabeis one of the authors of the study, and the director of the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy.

He talked with us about why more of us are believing in the reality of global warming.

Click the link above the to hear the whole interview.

We always like to say here on Stateside that we are eager to get your ideas for stories that we should tell and people we should profile.

So when we got an email from Charlie Todd and Barb Schmidt of Howell - proud grandparents - telling us about a very special teacher at Howell High School, and his very special students, we soon realized that this was a story we wanted to share with the rest of Michigan.

We hear lots about the victories of high school teams all over the state. Generally it has to do with football, basketball, soccer, hockey.

This victory is different. The competition is called "We The People."

Schools compete based on their students' knowledge of the U.S. Constitution.

And this year Howell High School came in first in the state in the "We The People Competition," which was a first for Howell High and for any high school on the east side of the State.

The three competing students, Jon Reck, Aaron Osborne, Jake Tholen, and their teacher Mark Oglesby joined us today. Oglesby won the Michigan Civic Education Teacher of the Year in 2011.

Today on the show, anyone writing tuition checks to a college or university will tell you it takes a big bite out of your checking account.

Senate Democrats in Lansing are now re-introducing their Michigan 2020 plan.

Under their plan, Michigan high school grads would receive grants allowing them to pay tuition at our state's public universities and community colleges.

They tried to get this Michigan 2020 plan off the ground last year, but it got a hearing and never advanced beyond that.

We talked with Senator Gretchen Whimer (D- East Lansing) about how the plan would work and where the money would come from.

Also, a new study released by the University of Michigan shows belief in global warming among Americans is going back up.

We ask why and how this change in public opinion will impact public policy.

And, we'll talk with singer/songwriter Khalid Hanifi about his new album and his first song that was translated into Pashto.

Gary Peters
Gary Peters / peters.house.gov

Cyndi talked with Michigan Congressman Gary Peters (D) today.

Peters is the new co-chair of the House Automotive Caucus along with Republican Congressman John Campbell (R-CA).

Peters talked about what it's like in a bi-partisan caucus and what it might mean for Michigan and the auto industry.

Click the audio above to hear the full interview.

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