Thursday Afternoon State News Summary
Thu, 14 Feb 2013 12:14:55 EST
Any further Pure Michigan ads that include reference to Michigan's new "right to work" law are on hold, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Speaking before a legislative committee in Lansing today (Thurs) MEDC Vice President Jim McBryde admits there was "tremendous reaction on both sides" regarding the campaign, which included a Wall Street Journal ad that touted Michigan as a 'right to work' state.
Labor unions and many Democrats have blasted the right to work law, saying it's intended to bust unions.
McBryde says his boss, Mike Finney, president and CEO of the MEDC, is re-evaluating the use of the Pure Michigan logo in future economic development ads.
Until then, McBryde says "any further advertising with the combination of Pure Michigan and right to work is on hold."
A move is underway in Michigan to constitutionally change the referendum process in Michigan.
Currently if laws approved by the legislature also include an appropriation of money, such as the recent 'right to work' law, they cannot be reversed through a ballot referendum.
A Detroit-based group, which calls itself the "Voters for Fair Use of Ballot Referendum," is preparing a petition drive that would change the constitution to allow referendums against new laws even if those laws contain appropriations.
The Board of State Canvassers in Lansing on Friday will consider an effort by the group to gain approval of the form of the petition.
Some labor unions and Democrat lawmakers in Lansing have accused the Republican-controlled legislature of purposely putting a small appropriation into the right to work law, specifically to block any effort by the public to repeal it through referendum.
Supporters of right-to-work deny the charge, saying the appropriation was added to help administer the law.
A 70-year-old assistant basketball coach who killed one teenager and wounded another as they attempted to rob him at gunpoint outside of a Detroit high school will not face charges in the case.
The Wayne County Prosecutors Office said Ernest Robinson was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed 16-year-old Michael Scott earlier this month.
Robinson was leaving Martin Luther King Jr. High School the night of February 1 with two female basketball players when he was accosted by two teenage boys in the parking lot. As Robinson approached the drivers side of his car, Scott and a 15-year-old boy, both of Detroit, approached Robinson and ordered him not to move.
Its alleged that the 15-year-old tugged at a chain Robinson was wearing. At the same time, Scott reportedly pointed a gun toward the two females, who were on the passenger side of the coachs car, and instructed them to leave the area. The girls ran off and were unharmed.
While he was being robbed at gunpoint, Robinson pulled out his handgun and fired at the teens. Scott was fatally shot and discovered by the police near the scene of the robbery.
Prosecutors said Robinson, who is also a reserve officer with the Detroit Police Department, has a concealed pistol license and was armed with a registered concealed handgun.
The 15-year-old, who is being held at the countys juvenile detention center, is charged with armed robbery and assault with intent to rob while armed. Hes due back in court on Saturday for a preliminary hearing.
Toyota Motor Corporation has agreed to a $29 million national settlement with Michigan and 28 other states over allegations it concealed safety issues related to unintended acceleration.
Attorney General Bill Schuette says Michigans share of the settlement is nearly one-point-seven million dollars.
Toyota must also provide additional restitution and incentives to vehicle owners who may have incurred costs related to unintended acceleration safety recalls. In Michigan, 56,660 drivers were affected by floor mat recalls issued by Toyota from 2009 to 2010.
As a result of the settlement, Toyota will be restricted from advertising the safety of vehicles without sound engineering data to back such safety claims.
In a complaint filed today (Thursday) along with the settlement agreement in Ingham County Circuit Court, Schuette alleges Toyota engaged in unfair and deceptive practices when it failed to disclose known safety defects with accelerator pedals in a timely fashion.
Beginning in 2010, the Michigan Attorney General's office launched an investigation with other state attorneys general.
The investigation determined poor communication between Toyotas headquarters in Japan and Toyotas United States holdings were partially responsible for the automakers failure to timely report known safety issues.
A group of armed men dressed as fake police officers broke into a home in Detroit and began firing shots, killing a woman and injuring a child.
Police say the shooting happened around 6 a.m. this morning (Thursday) on the cityts west side.
According to police, a 35-year-old woman was killed and her 12-year-old sister was shot multiple times. The girl was rushed to Childrens Hospital, where she was last listed in temporary-serious condition. Four other females, ages six to 22, living in the house were uninjured.
Police say they are now looking for three suspects who were possibly involved.
(Ron Dewey, WWJ, Detroit)
General Motors 2012 earnings fell from the prevoius year, because of problems in Europe, higher taxes and one time charges. But a strong performance in North America will lead to profit sharing checks averaging $6,750 for 49-thousand hourly employees.
GM earned $4.9 billion in 2012, compared to $7.6 billion in 2011. Still, after many years of losses, its General Motors third consecutive annual profit.
Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson (ACK-er-SUN) called the news a "solid report" and says the company will focus on new vehicle launches, controlling costs and delivering new products.
GMs profit-sharing is off slightly from 2011, when workers received checks averaging $7000. The profit-sharing is based on GMs earnings here in North America, $7 billion in 2012, vs. $7.2 in 2011.
The automaker posted a profit of 892-million dollars for the fourth quarter of 2012. On the downside, GM posted a loss of nearly 700-million dollars in Europe.
(Jeff Gilbert, WWJ, Detroit)
(Big Rapids-Missing Man)
Big Rapids Police are hoping to find a 49 year old man missing since Tuesday.
Authorities say Frederic Byrne was last seen leaving his mother's home in Holland after taking his son back to school at Hope College. He planned on stopping at the Rivertown Crossings Mall in Grandville on his way back home to Big Rapids to pick up a Valentines Day gift for his wife.
Byrne is 6'3", 290 pounds and was wearing a brown Carhartt jacket, blue jeans and a ball cap. He was driving a silver 2005 Chevy Malibu with a Michigan license plate BSY 0298.
Investigators say Byrne had no medical or personal problems to affect his behavior.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Big Rapids Police Department.
(WBRN, Big Rapids/John C. Smith, WOOD, Grand Rapids)
(Emmet Co-Husband Murder)
A Northwest Lower Michigan woman will stand trial for the murder of her husband last year.
An Emmet County District Court judge ruled Wednesday that there was enough evidence to bind 59-year old Carol Ann Kopenkoskey of Petoskey over to Circuit Court on a charge of first degree premeditated murder and using a firearm in committing a felony.
58-year old Lyle Kopenkoskey was found shot to death October 2, 2012 in a ditch not far from where his truck was discovered on a road in Emmet County's Resort Township.
Court documents show that during searches of the Kopenkoskey home, sheriff deputies found an empty .38 caliber pistol case. Investigators also found numerous books on committing murder and cleaning up crime scenes in Carol Kopenkoskey's possession.
Interviews also revealed that it was likely that Kopenkoskey was having an affair with a business partner. Reports also state that she tried to withdraw $100,000 worth of insurance claims only a short period after her husband died.
Kopenkoskey is free on bond. No trial date has been set.
The Midland Board of Education will begin searching for a new superintendent later this month.
The district's current chief, Carl Ellinger, said earlier this week that he will step down at the end of the current school year. Trustees will seek bids from executive search firms, with presentations possible during the board's February 25th session.
Ellinger has been Midland's school superintendent for six years. He was previously the leader of the Charlotte school district near Lansing.
The 58-year-old Ellinger says it was time to move on to a healthier, more relaxed future. He and his family will remain in Midland after his retirement.
(Barry Co-Fatal Standoff Probe)
State Police investigators say a southwest Michigan man shot himself once in the head before he was shot and killed by a Barry County Sheriff's deputy last weekend.
Officers responded to the home in Baltimore Township near Dowling last Saturday where the man identified as 41-year-old Ralph Elliot was reported to be involved in a domestic dispute with his wife.
Police say Elliot fired two shots, one of which hit him around the head. Elliot survived the first shot and police surrounded the house.
Officers say Elliot came out of the house about a half an hour after police arrived and that they tried to bring him down with a taser when he didnt stop. Investigators say Elliot was shot when he tried to reach into his pocket and later died at Pennock Hospital in Hastings.
Elliot was on probation for a domestic incident last August.
(WBCK, Battle Creek/Jean Gallup, WBCH, Hastings)
(Grand Rapids-Hostage Suspect)
A Grand Rapids man accused of holding his mother hostage in their apartment for several days last June has been found competent to stand trial.
33-year old Joshua Hoffman surrendered after a 10 day standoff with police at the Stonebrook Apartments. He's charged with unlawful imprisonment and domestic violence.
WOOD TV reported that his mother had said, years ago, that her son had bi-polar disorder.
Hoffman has a prior criminal record in Kent County. In 1999, he plead guilty of charges of delivering cocaine. He also plead guilty to charges to possession with intent to deliver marijuana earlier that same year.
(Help from: John Bry, WOOD, Grand Rapids)
(Grand Traverse Co-Deputy Fired)
A Grand Traverse County Sheriffs deputy has been fired after being convicted of disturbing the peace last month.
35-year old Ryan Salisbury pled guilty in January to a misdemeanor count of disturbing the peace after a fight at a Traverse City bar on December 6. Salisbury received probation as part of a delayed sentence. Prosectors say if he completes court-ordered terms during the next year, the conviction will be vacated.
Salisbury was placed on suspension after the incident. He worked for the department for about 10 years.
(Calumet-Medicare Phone Scam)
Michigan State Police at the Calumet post in the Upper Peninsula are warning residents of a new phone scam in the area.
Authorities say the caller claims to be sending new Medicare cards, but they need to know the individuals checking account number to complete the transaction.
According to the police, the caller knows the name of their potential victim and possibly their banking information. Troopers say if anyone receives a call like this they should hang up immediately and call their local police department.
(Rick Allen, WCCY/WOLV, Houghton)