The week in review

Oct 23, 2012
User: David Defoe / flickr

Every Saturday Michigan Radio's Rina Miller talks with political analyst Jack Lessenberry about the week's top regional news stories. This week they talked about who Michiganders are likely to vote for in the presidential election, how the Teamsters are backing Proposal 6, and the death of inventor, Stan Ovshinsky.

courtesy of Dan Moilanen

Flint is a much maligned city. While there is plenty of good happening in the city it does have challenges that go far beyond an image problem.

Detroit City Council will once again take up a plan today that calls for making Belle Isle a state park.

Last week, Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported council members called the plan "ridiculous" and "terrible."

James Tate was the Council’s leading voice for some kind of state partnership on Belle Isle. But Tate said the proposal, as it stands, is “very flawed” and “rife with a lack of detail.”

“I think it’s ridiculous for us to be asked to vote, or even consider, a document that’s so incomplete,” Tate said.

“At this moment, I’m an absolute no. What we have in front of us is way beyond disrespect. It’s stupid.”

Council member Saunteel Jenkins agreed.

The state has promised more details and is confident a deal can be reached. From today's Detroit Free Press:

Ingham County

Calhoun County residents who are coping with deteriorating roads won't be able to blame the Road Commission anymore.

The state legislature passed a law in the spring that allows County Commissions to disband their Road Commissions.

Ingham County did so right away, and now Calhoun County has followed suit.

Art Kale chairs the Calhoun County Board of Commissioners.  He said the board took the action because of what it saw as financial mismanagement by the Road Commission.

Kale said the change had bipartisan support.

"When I hit a pothole, I don't look to see if it's a red pothole or a blue pothole. All I know is that this was the biggest issue our citizens were complaining about," said Kale.

Kale said the Road Commission's managing director will stay on at least through the end of his year-long contract and that no employee changes are planned.

He also said the Teamsters, which represents Road Commission workers, were in favor of dissolving the commission.


Earlier this week, Michigan Radio's Rina Miller reported on an MSU study that links a parasite found in cat stomachs and undercooked meat to suicides.

That may be just the beginning for Toxoplasma gondii.

The infection it can cause in humans, called toxoplasmosis, appears innocent enough.

Many cases exhibit no symptoms and typically require no treatment.

Commentary: Watching for progress in Detroit

Apr 20, 2012

If I were the late Andy Rooney, I might start today by asking whether you see your glass as half full -- or half empty?

Meaning -- do you focus on the positive or the negative? On the other hand, there’s an old joke about the difference between an optimist, a pessimist, and a Detroiter. The optimist sees the glass as half full; the pessimist, as half empty.

Right to Vote

Mar 16, 2012

Generalizations are always dangerous, but here’s two that are pretty safe. Most Republicans are not happy that Barack Obama was elected president four years ago. And in Michigan, Democrats are unhappy with Governor Snyder and the Republican legislature.

I don’t think I’ll get much argument there. But now consider this: Two years ago in Michigan, fifty-five percent of registered voters didn’t vote at all. When you consider that some people don’t ever register, the picture is even worse.

Republicans complete action on two anti-union bills

Mar 8, 2012

Yesterday, I talked about a major effort the state’s labor unions were launching to counteract what they feel is a major assault on collective bargaining. They are attempting to amend the constitution to make it impossible to take collective bargaining rights away from any group, no matter the circumstances.

The new emergency manager appointed to run the Highland Park schools began work today.

Meanwhile, community leaders gathered at the school district’s administrative building to call for residents and parents to publicly challenge the state’s decision to appoint an emergency manager and the emergency manager law.

Democratic State Senator Bert Johnson said state officials should view Highland Park as an opportunity to include residents and parents in on the conversation about turning school districts around.

“Once an emergency manager has left, what has resulted from their leadership, or the lack-there-of, the citizens will grapple with into the future,” said Johnson. “And so I hope they understand that this is a smart move in the right direction. And if you can’t get behind this, you can’t get behind democracy.”

Glenda McDonald is a resident of Highland Park and a former school district employee. She said students have been leaving the district in droves because of chronic disinvestment in the schools and community.

“We want our children to come back,” said McDonald. “And in order to do that, the community must be a part of this process. We must have community involvement. We must have parent involvement.”

The Highland Park district joins Detroit Public Schools as the only school districts with emergency managers. The cities of Ecorse, Pontiac, Flint and Benton Harbor also have emergency managers.


With the U.S. House of Representatives starting off a new session today and Senators coming back to work next week, both parties will be eager to make headway on their respective legislative agendas.

For congressional leaders, part of this means making sure their party members fall in line when it's time to vote and don't stray across the aisle.

user mariodo / wikimedia commons

The Associated Press reports that "a person briefed on the matter" says GM will ask Volt owners to come in to dealers so the structure around their car's batteries can be strengthened.

Michigan Radio's Rina Miller is following this story and will have more soon.

More from the Associated Press:

The move is similar to a recall and involves the 8,000 Volts sold in the U.S. in the past two years.

The move comes after three batteries caught fire after side-impact crash tests done by federal safety regulators. The fires occurred seven days to three weeks after the tests and have been blamed on a coolant leak that caused an electrical short. No fires have broken out in real-world crashes.

The person says GM will contact Volt owners and have them return the cars to dealers for several structural repairs.

The repairs are a step below a formal recall.

The person did not want to be identified because GM executives will announce the plan later Thursday.

The Future of Michigan Railroads

Aug 23, 2011

A few weeks ago, I talked about efforts Michigan is making to improve passenger rail service between Detroit and Chicago, efforts which include buying and upgrading a portion of the track.

That prompted some enthusiastic response from people who said they were eager for more passenger rail service.

Not just to Chicago, that is, but everywhere. Some were older listeners, who had fond memories of Pullman cars and traveling the nation by rail back in the day. Others were romantics or environmentalists or people not in love with automobiles.

There do seem to be a lot of us who are tired of fighting roads and traffic jams and paying four dollars a gallon for gas. This got me to wondering whether railroads are in fact mostly a part of our romantic past, or an important segment of our transportation future.