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.

Today on Stateside, a former Nixon official talks about possibly forming a third political party.

And Michigan writer Natalie Burg talks about being au pair for a family in Sweden. 

Also, Kinetic Affect uses the power of poetry to help people unlock their voices.

That and more on today's Stateside.

*Listen to audio above.

On today's show, protecting the practice of breastfeeding. Michigan is one of only five states that doesn't legally protect the practice.

And solving a 50-year-old cold case in Battle Creek.

Also, it's the 75th anniversary of legendary folklorist Alan Lomax' trip to Michigan. That and more on today's Stateside.

Listen to the audio above.

It seems hard to believe in 2013, but it's true -- Michigan is one of only five states without a law protecting breastfeeding moms, allowing them to breastfeed their babies in any public or private location.

But that might change soon.
 
The State Senate recently passed a bill that would protect breastfeeding Moms. The bill now goes to the State House for lawmakers to discuss in the new session, starting January 8. 
 
Joining me is a lawmaker who has been working on the bill, State Senator Rebekah Warren.

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.

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