Wednesday Morning State News Summary
Wed, 26 Sep 2012 01:58:07 EDT
(Capitol-Kelsey's Law Rally)
Supporters of a bill banning novice drivers from texting or talking on cellphones while driving converged on the state Capitol Tuesday calling on House leaders to take up the legislation they believe will save lives.
Kelsey's Law, named after a 17-year-old high school student from Sault Ste. Marie who fatally crashed her car while talking on the phone, would make it a primary offense for a driver with a level 1 or 2 graduated license to use a cellphone. It passed through the Senate in March but has sat idle before a House committee since that time.
Kelsey's mother and others criticized House Speaker Jase Bolger's suggestions that the state should not be in the business of legislating common sense or personal responsibility.
However, the bill's sponsor, Republican State Senator Howard Walker of Traverse City, says the measure is similar to other restrictions that probationary drivers already have.
More than 30 other states, most recently Wisconsin and Ohio, have enacted similar laws.
Critics say there is little evidence such laws are effective. A 2011 study in California found the state's hands-free-only law did not lead to a significant reduction in crashes.
(MI-EM Law Study)
A University of Michigan study recently surveyed local leaders and found that less than half (38 percent) support the state's emergency manager law.
Less than half (43 percent) of local leaders think the law known as Public Act 4 will be effective at helping protect or restore the fiscal health of local governments. However, 53 percent of leaders that feel well-educated on the law think it will be effective.
The study, conducted April-June, surveyed top elected and appointed officials in all counties, cities, villages and townships in Michigan. The survey saw 1,329 responses with a 1.43 percent margin of error.
(MI-U.S. Senate Poll)
A new poll shows Democratic U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow holds a considerable lead over Repblican challenger Pete Hoekstra (HOOK-Struh).
The poll from Rasmussen Reports shows Stabenow with 53-percent support among likely Michigan voters compared to Hoekstra's 37-percent.
The most recent poll of 500 likely voters was conducted September 20th. It has an error margin of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
Average home prices around the country are at a nine-year high, and Detroit was among the cities with significant improvements.
The latest S&P/Case-Shiller home price index shows the average home price rose by one-point-six percent nationally in July compared to the previous month. July was the third straight month that prices in 20 major markets around the U.S. moved higher.
Analysts attribute these better home prices to mortgage rates that are at record low levels and fewer homes up for sale.
Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis posted some of the biggest home price improvements in July. Home prices in Las Vegas, Cleveland and Dallas showed only small increases.
(MI-Credit Card Debt Down)
The Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint area reduced its credit card debt by nearly 180 (M) million-dollars this year, according to a report released by credit-reporting company Equifax.
The report shows that the Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint metropolitan area had a total of nine-point-97 (B) billion-dollars in credit card debt in August of last year. That fell to nine-point-79 (B) billion in August 2012, a decline of one-point-eight-percent.
Of the top 25 Metropolitan Statistical Areas listed in the report, only Las Vegas reduced its credit card debt more than the Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint area, with a one-point-88-percent decline.
President of the personal solutions unit at Equifax, Trey Loughran, says in places like Detroit and Ohio where the recession was particularly deep because of a dependence on manufacturing, consumers are continuing to be prudent about using credit.
Total consumer credit card debt in August 2012 was 585-point-three (B) billion-dollars, down 22-percent from the peak in October 2008.
(MI-Comerica Economic Index)
The Michigan economy is gaining steam. Comerica Bank's latest Michigan Economic Activity Index shows July rising to levels not seen since November 2002.
Chief Economist Robert Dye says job creation picked up, housing markets are improving and the August vehicle sales figures picked up to rate of 14-point-five million units for the year.
Comerica's Michigan Economic Activity Index bottomed out in the summer of 2009, and the state has been steadily improving since then.
(Kent Co-Jail Attack Charge)
The man accused of attacking a Kent County Correctional Facility guard earlier this month returns to court early next month on his latest charges.
20-year old Willie Williams is facing Assault with Intent to Murder, Assaulting a Prison Employee, Attempt From Jail through Violence and being a Fourth Time Habitual Offender.
He reportedly hid in a day area September 14th after being let out of his cell to get toilet paper. The female guard was beaten and was being choked by Williams when other inmates came to her aid.
Williams had been arrested this summer as the suspect in a number of gas station robberies in Grand Rapids and surrounding towns.
Bond for the four new charges was set at $500,000. A preliminary hearing is set for October 8.
One inmate who helped the corrections officer had his sentence reduced to time served after he had been sentenced in April to up to five years behind bars for fleeing and eluding, though he remains incarcerated because he is wanted on charges out of Indiana.
(Help from: John C. Smith, WOOD, Grand Rapids)
(Emmet Co-New Casino)
Plans are in the works for another tribal casino in Northern Michigan. This one in the shadow of the Mackinac Bridge.
The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians agreed to shift $970,000 to its capital project fund for pre-construction fees and consulting for a new $26 million satellite casino in Mackinaw City.
The tribe already operates the Odawa Casino Resort in Petoskey. Under its compact with the state of Michigan, the tribe is allowed to build two casinos in Emmet County.
Mackinaw City was considered for a casino before the tribe settled on the Petoskey location. The tribe says the new casino could include 550 slot machines and a small delicatessen.
The Petoskey News reports it would be built on property the tribe currently owns on the site of the former King's Inn hotel just north of the Thunder Falls Water Park.
The project still needs the approval of the Mackinaw City Village Council which rejected a proposed casino in September 2003.
(Detroit-Belle Isle Plan)
Detroit City Council officials now have a dollar figure attached to a plan to improve Belle Isle.
The director of the state Department of Natural Resources told council officials Michigan could float bonds for as high as 20-million dollars to be spent on improving Belle Isle. DNR chief Keith Craigh emphasized that is a ballpark figure and is not chiseled in stone.
This is the first time state officials have put a dollar figure on possible state funding if Detroit agrees to lease Belle Island to Michigan to be run as a state park.
It's not just football fans chiming in on the controversy surrounding replacement referees in the National Football League.
It's also politicians.
Example: New Jersey state Senate President Stephen Sweeney is introducing legislation to prevent sports leagues from using replacement refs in his state.
And it's not just a public policy debate. It's also a political one, as Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, a Green Bay Packers fan, said the inexperienced refs remind him of President Obama's budget staffers.
Finally, in Michigan, the referee controversy should be part of the term limit argument, according to one State Senator.
Senate Democrat John Gleason of Flushing says it's an argument in favor of getting rid of term limits, which currently prohibits legislators in Michigan from serving more than a limited time in office.
Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, Gleason said (quote) "unqualified, inexperienced people shouldn't be making tough calls...it not only goes for the football field, it goes for the State Capital as well.....it's more fruitful evidence that term limits have to end."
Controversy over the replacement refs reached a new high this week, when a highly questionable call was made in the last play of a Green Bay-Seattle game, which decided the outcome of the contest.
(MI-Mortgage Settlement Notifications)
Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that claim forms are being mailed to approximately 148,000 Michigan borrowers who lost their home to foreclosure between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011. Qualified Michigan borrowers may be eligible for a cash payment under the $25 billion national mortgage settlement.
Schuette says the funds will help victims of mortgage servicers’ abuses rebuild their lives, but it does not affect victims’ rights to pursue their own lawsuits, if they so choose.
Eligible Michigan borrowers had mortgages serviced by Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers that agreed to the settlement with the federal government and attorneys general for 49 states and the District of Columbia.
The deadline for all claims is January 18, 2013. Schuette noted that payment checks are expected to be mailed in mid-2013.
Schuette says his office’s criminal investigation of mortgage processors connected to robo-signing allegations remains ongoing.
(MI-Keystone Studios Incentive)
The Michigan Film Office has announced that Keystone Studios 100th Anniversary Collection has been approved for a digital media incentive from the state. The project encompasses digitally restoring and remastering 75 classic films from Mack Sennett and Keystone Studios, best known for the Keystone Cops, to air on Turner Classic Movies Network.
CineMuseum LLC and Bottom Line Entertainment LLC are producing the project. Southfield-based Kinetic Post will complete the digital restoration and remastering work.
The project was awarded an incentive of $154,595 on $507,983 of projected in-state expenditures. Existing employees at Kinetic Post will do the work.
The surviving original Mack Sennett and Keystone Studios silent and sound motion picture materials have been gathered from archives, museums and private collectors. Actors in these films include Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle, and W.C. Fields.
The reconstructions, mastered from 35mm nitrate, archival negatives, the Library of Congress paper prints, preservation copies and in some cases the lone known surviving film print include many titles that have been locked away in vaults and unseen for nearly 100 years.
The Canadian Auto Workers are saying leaders of its local units are backing the tentative GM agreement with 99 percent voting their support.
On Tuesday morning, the chairmen, stewards and additional CAW officials voted for the GM deal. The CAW will next conduct ratification votes for employees at its GM plants today (Wednesday) and Thursday.
The CAW is still working on talks with Chrysler, which is the only domestic automaker yet to achieve a new accord with the union.
(MI-Peanut Butter Recall-UPDATE)
A recall of peanut butter sold at national grocery chain Trader Joe’s has been expanded to include 76 different products because of a Salmonella outbreak in 18 states including Michigan.
Sunland Inc., which makes Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter, has now expanded the recall to include its Almond Butter, Cashew Butter, Tahini and Roasted Blanched Peanut products. The recalled products were sold between May 1, and September 24 at Trader Joe’s stores nationwide and online.
The company said the products may be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems.
The recall was issued after learning that 29 people reported Salmonella matching illnesses in approximately 18 states including one child in southeast Michigan between June 11 and Sept. 2, 2012, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Michigan departments of Community Health and Agriculture and Rural Development say they’re working with other agencies on an investigation.
(Help from: WWJ, Detroit)
A new video is making the You-Tube rounds that purports to show retired Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks hockey great Chris Chelios burning a Jay Cutler jersey in a drunken Chicago bar scene.
Chelios is never visible in the video, but shouts are heard throughout saying things like, “”Burn it! Chelios, you’re awesome!”
The only thing really clear in the video is the burning jersey, an attractive young woman, and a jukebox.
Not coincidentally, the only other clear line in the video is this drunken-sounding shout: “Let’s do some shots!”
Cutler is considered one of the most hated players in professional football, widely critisized for never making eye contact and acting like a “petulant child” on and off the field. Chelios, now an advisor to the Wings’ Ken Holland, founded the popular “Cheli’s chili” restaurants in Dearborn and Detroit, a hotspot for families and sports fans.
(Ann Arbor-Dominos New Pizza)
People are trying something new on the menu at Domino's Pizza.
The Ann Arbor-based company is now providing pan pizzas at almost all of its nearly five-thousand stores around the nation. Domino's CEO Patrick Doyle in a release said pan pizzas are thicker than traditional ones and one out of every five pizzas sold nationally is pan-style.
"USA Today" reports Domino's is trying to take a big bite out of competitor Pizza Hut, which has sold pan pizza for 30 years.
(MI-Girls of Big Ten)
Two Michigan State University co-eds and one from the University of Michigan have been selected to be in the latest edition of Playboy’s “Girls of The Big Ten”, now available on news stands.
Bailey Kay and Hannah Leigh of MSU are in the communications college and are both seniors. Brooke Cassidy of U of M is a nursing student who is set to graduate in the spring of 2013.
The eight-page spread also features co-eds from the other 10 conference schools.
Playboy has not had a "Girls of the Big Ten" issue since October 2008.
There were no winners in Tuesday night's Mega Millions drawing.
That means Friday's jackpot will be worth $21 (M) million dollars.
The Mega Millions numbers drawn Tuesday night were: 07, 08, 23, 50, and 51. The mega ball was 26. The megaplier was: 3x
The winning numbers for the Midday 3 lottery were: 8-8-2.
The winning numbers for the Midday 4 lottery were: 5-4-2-4.
The winning numbers for the Evening 3 lottery were: 0-4-3.
The winning numbers for the Evening 4 lottery were: 4-4-6-4.
The winning numbers for the Fantasy 5 lottery were: 09-10-18-28-30.
The winning numbers for the Keno lottery were: 08, 12, 15, 28, 36, 37, 39, 40, 41, 47, 54, 55, 56, 57, 60, 61, 67, 68, 75, 76, 77, 78.
Tonight's (Wed) Classic Lotto 47 jackpot is worth three (M) million dollars.