Stateside

Monday-Thursday, 3pm on IPR News
  • Hosted by Cynthia Canty

Stateside with Cynthia Canty covers a wide range of Michigan news and policy issues — as well as culture and lifestyle stories. The show is a production of our partner Michigan Radio. It focuses on topics and events that matter to people all across the state.

This is the week we say farewell to autumn and officially welcome winter. (Unofficially, we can all agree, winter has arrived early and seems to have settled right in for the duration.)

And one of the great pleasures of changing seasons here on Stateside is the chance to welcome back poet and writer Keith Taylor. Taylor coordinates the undergraduate creative writing program at the University of Michigan. But we like to think of him as our Friendly Stateside Reading Guide.

Listen to Keith’s book pics above.

Should Michigan revert to the kind of legislature originally called for when Michigan voters drafted the first constitution in 1835?  A part-time legislature? 

Norm Kammeraad says absoluetly, yes.

He is the Chairman of The Committee to Restore Michigan’s Part-Time Legislature. They’re hoping to gather nearly 400,000 voter signatures between January and June in order to put the question on the November 2014 ballot.

Yesterday, we spoke with Michigan columnist Dennis Lennox. He is against a part-time Michigan Legislature. You can find that interview here

Listen to the full interview above.

It's December. That means the airwaves are filled with Holly Jolly Christmases, White Christmases, Jingle Bell Rock and that ever-present Little Drummer Boy.

So, in the interest of public service, we thought we'd present a way for you to hear some fresh holiday music, performed by Michigan artists. The CD is called "A Michigan Christmas of Hope."

Holy Cross Children's Services will receive every penny of money raised from the CD. It's one of the largest private providers of specialized schools and children's services in Michigan.

Devin Scillian is best known as the anchor on WDIV-TV in Detroit. But, he's also built quite a following as a singer-songwriter. And, joining Devin is Russ Russell of Holy Cross Children's Services. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Michigan's economy may be slogging its way up the hill towards recovery, but life is not getting as good as it should for children in our state.

That's the takeaway from the latest Kids Count report.

Here to tell us more is Jane Zehnder-Merrell. She's the project director for Kids Count in Michigan, part of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Listen to the full interview above. 

For many of us, the word “budget” is not on our favorite words list.

But as so many of us across Michigan discovered during the Great Recession, things can get mighty scary when there's a crunch and we don't have much in the piggy bank.

Detroit News Personal Finance Editor Brian O'Connor writes the "Funny Money" column, offering financial advice to his readers. During the Great Recession, Brian and his family felt the pinch. So he decided to find out if his family could cut its monthly expenses by $1,000. He has turned his experiment  into a new book  “The One-Thousand Dollar Challenge: How One Family Slashed Its Budget Without Moving Under a Bridge or Living on Government Cheese."

Listen to the full interview above. 

Back in 2010, the State Board of Education approved the Common Core State Standards for Michigan — a set of math and English goals for K-12 students.

School districts across the state have spent the past three years integrating the standards into their curricula. At the same time, we've heard a lot of political debate about Common Core, mostly about the involvement of the federal government in our classrooms.

But in October of this year, state lawmakers OK'd funding for Common Core, and now it is becoming a reality in Michigan classrooms.

We wanted to find out: What does this mean — day-in, day-out — for Michigan's students?

What does a school year under Common Core really look like?

Joining us is Naomi Norman, the executive director of Achievement Initiatives at Washtenaw Intermediate School District and Livingston Educational Service Agency.

Listen to the full interview above.

It was one year ago this day that the State Legislature and Governor Rick Snyder passed a set of bills into law that made some very contentious history in our State.

On December 11th, 2012, Michigan became the nation's 24th right-to-work state.

The laws took effect in March, making it illegal to force workers to pay union dues or union fees as a condition of employment.

One year later, has right-to-work changed Michigan?

We were joined for this discussion by Michigan State University economist Charley Ballard, and, from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Wendy Block.

Listen to the full interview above.

Federal Judge Stephen Rhodes gave Detroit the go-ahead to make cuts to public pension and healthcare benefits.

Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr maintains that Detroit's pension funds are unfunded by $8 billion. That's a big chunk of the city's $18 billion in overall debts and long-term liabilities. 

So what will happen to future pensions?

Our state is working to get its energy needs met by wind and other renewable sources.

Right now, state law mandates that electric providers must obtain 10% of their electricity sales from renewable resources by 2015.

We're on track to do that.

But a recent report turned in to Governor Snyder says we could boost that to 30% by 2035. And when compared to neighboring states, Michigan's Renewable Portfolio Standard, the RPS, is not as robust as it could be.

John Quackenbush is the Chairman of the State Public Service Commission who led the renewable energy study at the Governor's request, and James Clift is the director of the Michigan Environmental Council. They joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

She began her career at General Motors as an engineering co-op student in 1980.

33 years later, Mary Barra has made history by being named the next CEO of GM — the first time a woman has been placed in the top spot of a major automaker.

GM made the groundbreaking announcement today that CEO Dan Akerson has moved up his retirement to January 15, after discovering his wife is battling advanced-stage cancer.

But who is Mary Barra, and what does this appointment mean to America's auto industry?

Listen to the full interview above. 

It's been a mystery that has haunted Lake Huron since the Civil War: What happened to the Keystone State?

The wooden steamer set out from Detroit, bound for Milwaukee, around November 9th, 1861.

She never made it — and no one knew the Keystone State had run into trouble until wreckage washed up on the shore near Lexington.

But thanks to David Trotter, the Keystone State has been found — in nearly 175 feet of water.

Listen to the full interview above. 

What happens when a child is struggling to read at his or her grade level?

In too many cases, the student moves up a grade anyway and the struggle continues, resulting in high school graduates who are poor, ineffective readers. And that can impact that student's chances of going to college and then getting a job that provides a good level of pay over a lifetime.

There's a package of bills sponsored by Holland Republican Representative Amanda Price now working through the State that tries to tackle this problem. It's called the "read-or-flunk law."

In a nutshell, if third-grade kids aren't reading, hold them back.

Ron French reported on the pros and cons of these bills for Bridge Magazine, and he joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

There's been a new development in the unfolding story about Federal Judge Gerald Rosen and his bid to protect the DIA collection and the pensions of Detroit city retirees.

Judge Rosen is serving as the mediator in the Detroit bankruptcy case. We've heard how he is trying to craft together a plan wherein at least 10 national and local charitable foundations would chip in to create a $500 million fund, a fund that could be leveraged to not only protect the DIA treasures but to lessen the pain of retiree pension cuts.

Late last week, a former Wayne State Chemistry professor stepped forward with an offer.

Dr. A. Paul Schaap developed a molecule that created light through chemistry. His discovery proved very useful in a wide range of medical tests. He then founded the company Lumigen, and he made many millions as a biotech entrepreneur.

Over the years, Paul Schaap has given many millions back to Wayne State, to Hope College, to professors and researchers. Now, Paul Schaap is donating $5 million to help the DIA and the city retirees.

Dr. A. Paul Schaap joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

These days, more and more people are so attached to their cell phones that they've decided they don't need a landline at home.

The FCC tells us the number of landline customers in Michigan was around 7 million in 2000. By 2012, that number had dropped to about 3 million.

And, during that same 12-year stretch, the number of wireless phones more than doubled from nearly 4 million to more than 9 million.

A bill sponsored by Battle Creek Republican Senator Mike Nofs is working its way through the State Senate. It would allow phone companies to phase out traditional landline service beginning in 2017, letting phone companies discontinue the service to homes so long as some type of newer phone service is offered, such as voice-over Internet Protocol.

Many in Michigan might just shrug that off: They've already dropped their landlines. But others are deeply concerned.

Matt Resch, public affairs director for Michigan AT&T, and Melissa Seifert, the Associate State Director of the Michigan AARP, joined us today to talk about Senate Bill 636.

Listen to the full interview above.

We turn now to what’s known as the “underground economy.”

When jobs are scarce, people will do whatever they can to put a meal on the table, pay the mortgage or the rent. Whether it's odd jobs, selling plasma, doing home repairs and getting paid under the table, people are doing it.

One economist gave a best-guess estimate of two trillion dollars worth of this underground activity in the nation last year -- that’s nearly eight percent of the Gross Domestic Product.

Reporter Lynn Moore wrote a piece about the shadow economy in Michigan and she joined us today.

*Listen to the audio above.


What’s going to happen with the Detroit Institute of Arts?

 

That’s the question on the minds of many Michiganders after the city of Detroit was deemed eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy on Tuesday.


Daniel Howes, a business columnist with The Detroit News, talks with us about all things DIA – a recent appraisal of the institute’s collection, emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s interest in the museum, and a possible rescue plan cooked up by a federal judge.

Listen to full interview above. 

All eyes are on Detroit this week, following Tuesday’s historic ruling on Detroit’s eligibility for bankruptcy. For those living outside the city, it's easy to separate themselves from Detroit's problems. 

But many experts say Detroit is not alone.

Detroit is not Michigan's only city that faces enormous budget challenges. Unfunded liabilities and retiree debt are adding up all across our state.

Ted Roelofs, a contributing writer to Bridge Magazine, recently wrote a piece that argues that other cities in Michigan will not be immune to rising legacy costs that, in part, did Detroit in.

Roelofs and John Pottow, a bankruptcy expert at the University of Michigan, talk with us about the future of other Michigan cities in the wake of Detroit’s bankruptcy.

Listen to the full interview above.

Lake Superior is warming up.

Scientists say the largest of the Great Lakes is heating up faster than any other lake on Earth.

What's behind the warming? And could this be good news for those who enjoy Great Lakes fishing?

Tim Cline is a PhD student at the University of Washington's School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. He has studied the effect of temperature on fish in Lake Superior, and he joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Farms are in the spotlight on Capitol Hill these days. Or, more to the point, the lack of a new Farm Bill.

The old Farm Bill expired October 1st.

A new Farm Bill is more than two years overdue. And so far, congressional leaders have not been inclined to consider passing yet another short-term extension.

Leaders of the House and Senate Agricultural Committees met today, trying to work out differences between their respective bills as they face a deadline of January 1st.

Without a new Farm Bill by that date, trips to the grocery store may bring on serious "sticker shock," especially when you push your cart along the dairy aisle.

Joining us once again to look at the Farm Bill and what might happen if Congress can't pass a new one was Ryan Findlay. He's with the National Legislative Council for the Michigan Farm Bureau. And he was joined by David Schweikhardt, professor in the Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics at Michigan State University.

Listen to the full interview above.

Can there be too much of a good thing?

That question is buzzing around Traverse City now that summer is behind them.

Some residents are saying they're not happy with the burst of festivals drawing throngs of visitors to Traverse City. Others say those festivals and those visitors add up to jobs for locals and dollars pumped into the economy.

What's the balance that can be struck as Traverse City works to develop a blue economy based on its beautiful freshwater location?

John Flesher, reporter for The Associated Press, and Ken Winter, the longtime Petoskey newspaper editor and publisher, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Popular music has had stellar examples of singer/songwriters who met in school...whose partnership began at a very young age.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney met when John was 16 and Paul was just 15. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel met in grade school. They were 12 years old and had their first hit record, "Hey Schoolgirl," when they were just 16 years old.

Now we want you to meet a Michigan duo who are getting a lot of buzz for their indie-folk songs, The Accidentals.

The Accidentals are Katie Larson and Savannah Buist, who met at the Interlochen Arts Academy. They are 18 years old, and they joined us today from Traverse City.

Listen to the full interview above.

This week could bring a vote in the State Legislature that will be closely watched by those on either side of the abortion debate.

The vote would be on a citizen-initiated bill that could end abortion coverage as a standard feature in health insurance policies.

Right-To-Life of Michigan turned in more than 315,000 signatures to get this bill before the Legislature. 

And today, the Board of State Canvassers certified this voter-initiated petition, which sends it on to the state Legislature.

MLive reporter Jonathan Oosting joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Newspapers aren’t what they used to be. 

Newsrooms are smaller and big stories are being missed.

Case in point: The Flint Journal apologized recently for not informing voters that a city council candidate was also a convicted murderer until a day after he won the election.

So how will people stay informed as newspapers and their staffs are shrinking?

  The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments this morning in a case that pits Michigan against an Upper Peninsula Indian tribe.

The case revolves around the tribe's plan to open an off-reservation casino.

Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, joined us today from D.C.

Listen to the full interview above.

Tomorrow will be one for the history books, not just here in Michigan but across the nation.

Tuesday morning is when Federal Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes will rule whether or not Detroit is eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.

Detroit News reporter Chad Livengood has covered the bankruptcy trial, and he joined us today to talk about what might happen tomorrow morning.

Listen to the full interview above.

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