Category: News Briefs Written by Matt Rousch, WWJ
JACKSON — Consumers Energy’s 1.7 million natural gas customers are paying at least 10 percent less for fuel costs now compared to last winter.
In addition, Michigan’s largest gas utility is planning a further 15 percent price reduction in its fuel price charged to customers beginning in April.
“Prices charged by Consumers Energy for natural gas are the lowest they’ve been in a decade — since 2003,” said Tim Sparks, Consumers Energy’s vice president of energy supply operations. “We’re planning an additional 15 percent price reduction beginning in April and continuing at that level on a go-forward basis. As part of our promise to Michigan, we’re working hard to control our costs and help our gas customers manage their household budgets.”
The utility provides natural gas service to 1.7 million customers in 45 counties in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Consumers Energy operates 15 natural gas storage fields in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, one of the largest systems of its kind in the nation.
Consumers Energy recommends that customers save additional money by making their homes more energy efficient. Information on the utility’s energy efficiency programs is available at www.consumersenergy.com
The website also features an easy-to-use calculator to compare natural gas costs to other heating fuels, such as propane or heating oil. For details, visit www.consumersenergy.com/gascenter and choose “Natural Gas Value Calculator.”
Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), provides natural gas and electricity to 6.8 million of Michigan’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 08:44
Category: News Briefs Written by Minehaha Forman
Two years and 30,000 conversations in the making, a long-term plan to repurpose city land and strengthen target neighborhoods is complete.
But the Detroit Future City proposal does present major land use changes that some believe need careful guidance to ensure they are implemented fairly, especially for residents living in sparsely populated areas of the city.
State Rep. Alberta Tinsley Talabi (D-Detroit) was the first elected official to publically speak out on the topic after the plan’s unveiling last week.
She called for a protocol that would give residents in sparsely populated areas of the city where major landscape transformations are planned, “first option to purchase these properties” and a “negotiated purchase price recognizes their ability to pay."
"We must be careful to not minimize or trivialize the time, money and energy our neighbors and friends have invested in either maintaining property or community gardens," Tinsley-Talabi said.
What the state legislator is referring to is the land use element of the Detroit Future project, one of 24 elements that make up the 347-page plan.
Still, in a city struggling to support it’s meager tax base with depleted funds and a sprawling area to serve, changes have to be made to condense city functions according to Detroit Future planners.
“We suggest that Detroit’s land area is not too big, it’s economy too small,” said Toni Griffin, Director of the project’s technical planning team. She said the plan will focus funds on seven areas of the city that are already showing promising recovery. “There is not just one downtown in this city there are seven strong opportunities for people to find employment and grow business,” Griffin said.
The plan includes encouraging residents to move from the city’s sparsely populated areas with one family per house to “denser, mixed use neighborhoods.”
Now that that planning phase is complete, it’s up to residents o help guide the project to fruition Mayor Dave Bing said.
“The work really starts today,” Bing told a standing room only crowd at last week’s kickoff event in Eastern Market.
“We’ve got a lot of recommendations. We’ve got a lot of data. And now we’re ready to move forward.”
The implementation phase may just be starting but the two-year planning leg leading up to now has not been an easy one.
Early on, rumors spread that the plan aimed to remove people from their property in thinly populated areas and that large swaths of the city would be cut off from basic services like trash removal. Both of these have been since been debunked.
“Within our city systems element we ensure that every resident and business continues to have service,” Griffon, said. “But we do boldly suggest that landscape is the new 21st century infrastructure.”
But there have other roadblocks, too.
Early in, a spat between the Mayor and big-ticket donor Kresge Foundation President and CEO Rip Rapson temporarily put the Detroit Future project into limbo.
Kresge cut funding to Detroit Works in 2011 after what The Wall Street Journal called a “tug of war” between the Bing administration and Kresge over the power outside consultants in a city fighting for a voice in financially compromising times.
Since then, the two have abandoned any disagreements and Rapson last week pledged $150 million to the Detroit Future project.
“Over the next five years we are dedicating every single dollar spent in Detroit to this plan,” Rapson said. “It’s a fundamental believe on our part that every dollar we spend simply has to reinforce the spirit, the letter and the intent of this plan."
Bing acknowledged the challenges leading to the current phase of the project.
“I know that it has been very, very difficult to get from there we were two years ago to where we are today,” he said. “I think the beauty of this is that we had so many people from so many different walks of life that came to the table. Change is always very difficult … But [people] got together and they made it a work of love.”
Last Updated on Monday, 14 January 2013 09:18
Category: News Briefs Written by Zack Burgess, Chronicle Senior Writer
While President Barack Obama gets ready for a historic second term, he is quietly under siege, for the lack of diversity at the top of his Cabinet.
President Obama made women’s issues core to his reelection campaign and has named John F. Kerry as secretary of state, Chuck Hagel at Defense and John Brennan at the top of the CIA — who were all white men. Last week, the New York Times ran its own story featuring a photo from the Oval Office of the president’s top group of advisers.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg View columnist Margaret Carlson offered the ultimate critique with an op-ed titled “Obama to Romney: Send me your Binders Full of Women,” writing that “at the rate he is going, Obama is going to have a Cabinet that looks more like the Augusta National Golf Club than America.”
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), the second-longest serving African-American congressman in the House, criticized the lack of diversity in the president's second-term.
"It's as embarrassing as hell," Rangel said on MSNBC's "Jansing & Co." of Obama's top picks. "We've been through all of this with Mitt Romney. And we were very hard on Mitt Romney with the women binder and a variety of things."
"I kinda think there's no excuse when it's the second term. If it's the first term, you could see people got to know who is around and qualified in order to get this job, number one," he continued.
"I had thought that it could be the Harvard problem where people just know each other, trust each other. And women and minorities don't get a chance to rub elbows and their reputations and experience is not known ... so in the second term, these people should be just as experienced as anybody, any other American."
Obama's picks for Treasury, State and Defense are all white men. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leaving, as is Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. A photo of Obama's inner circle highlighted by The New York Times showed just one woman addressing the president, Valerie Jarrett. The Times reported that about 43 percent of Obama's appointees have been women, about the same as President Bill Clinton but about 10 percent more than President George W. Bush.
Last Updated on Monday, 14 January 2013 08:31
Category: News Briefs Written by Zack Burgess, Chronicle Senior Writer
As Detroit’s crime rate continues to plague the city, one tactic the mayor and the police department may have been considering looks to be off limits – the controversial stop-and-frisk program.
This week, a U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin, handed out an injunction prohibiting New York Police Department officers from engaging in stop and frisk outside buildings designated by the Trespass Affidavit Program, or TAP, which allowed officers to stop and question residents both inside and outside private property (in residences dubbed "clean halls" buildings).
The program was originally intended to curb gun violence.
Stop-and-frisk has come under scrutiny because NYPD officers have racially profiled young males in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods.
With the help of the New York Civil Liberties Union, city residents sued the NYPD. The plaintiffs in the case argued that the NYPD "has a widespread practice of making unlawful stops on suspicion of trespass." Apparently the facts of the case revealed that patrolling officers never differentiated between potential criminals and citizens. Black and Latino residents were stopped on suspicion of being Black and Latino alone.
Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City's stop-and-frisk program has been extremely controversial. Critics believe that the practice forces Black and Latino residents to random violations of their Fourth Amendment constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure.
Last year the NYCLU published a report that showed that more young African-American men had been subjected to stop and frisk than there were Black males living in the entire city. After the release of the report, civil rights activists called for the immediate dismantling of the program, but Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly continued to defend the practice, maintaining that the practice has been a key component to fighting gun violence in the city.
Scheindlin wrote in her injunction: "While it may be difficult to say where, precisely, to draw the line between constitutional and unconstitutional police encounters, such a line exists, and the NYPD has systematically crossed it."
Last Updated on Friday, 11 January 2013 09:34
Category: News Briefs Written by thehuffingtonpost
A movie documenting the search for an elusive Detroit folk singer has received an Oscar nomination. "Searching for Sugar Man," which explores the life of musician Sixto Rodriguez, is one of five films vying for the title of Best Documentary at this year's Academy Awards.
Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul follows the epic search of two South Africans to track down the singer, who had become a legend in their country while living a life of relative obscurity in Detroit. Watch the 60 Minutes story on Rodriguez at a 2012 concert in Detroit.
The nomination was announced Thursday morning at a press conference in Beverly Hills, Calif.
"Detropia," another Detroit-based documentary, had also been considered for nomination, but didn't make the final cut.
The 85th annual Academy Awards will be presented Sunday, Feb. 24 in Los Angeles. For a full list of nominees, visit the Academy Awards website.
Last Updated on Friday, 11 January 2013 09:04
Category: News Briefs Written by Hillary Crosley , The Root
Following the Newtown, Conn., shooting spree that left 20 children dead, Vice President Joe Biden met with victims and gun control supporters on Wednesday. According to NBC News, Biden is hosting a number of meetings this week, including one with Wal-Mart, on behalf of the Obama administration and its upcoming decisions concerning gun control.
"If our actions result in saving only one life, they're worth taking," Biden said at a meeting of victims and gun control proponents at the White House. "But I'm convinced we can affect the well-being of millions of Americans and take thousands of people out of harm's way if we act responsibly."
Biden indicated that President Barack Obama is considering executive action to address the gun issue, although he noted that it's not yet clear what options may be plausible outside of legislative movement.
"The president is going to act," Biden said. "There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken."
The meeting was the first in a series scheduled for this week with the task force led by the vice president. On Thursday, Biden will meet with sportsman's organizations, gun sellers -- including Wal-Mart -- and the National Rifle Association. Biden is also expected to meet with representatives of the entertainment and video game industries this week.
Last Updated on Thursday, 10 January 2013 09:32
Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano appoints respected Clark Hill lawyer to the Airport Authority Board
Category: News Briefs Written by Sarah Bazzi
Detroit, MI— Wayne County Executive Robert A. Ficano announced the appointment of Reginald Turner to the Wayne County Airport Authority Board today for a term commencing immediately and ending October 1, 2018. A graduate of the University of Michigan School of Law and a highly regarded litigator, Turner currently resides in Detroit and serves as a member of Clark Hill’s Executive Committee. He will replace Charlie Williams on the board.
“I am proud to appoint Reginald Turner to the Wayne County Airport Authority Board. His background and unmatched experience make him one of the most-respected in his field, and will help us in moving the region forward as a global economic hub. We look forward to all that he will offer in the future,” said Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.
Turner is named in the peer review guides, The Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers and Crain’s Detroit Power Lawyers. He is a past president of the National Bar Association, State Bar of Michigan and the Barristers of the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association. Currently, Turner chairs the American Bar Association’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. He is a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, an honor reserved to less than one percent of lawyers in each state and. Turner is Vice Chair of the Detroit Public Safety Foundation, and a member of the Boards of Directors of the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the Hudson-Webber Foundation.
Turner has government experience at the federal, state and local levels. He has served as a Special Assistant to Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros and Andrew Cuomo, as a member of the Michigan State Board of Education, and on several local government boards and commissions.
“I am honored to have this opportunity to serve our region because the airports are important engines for economic growth that require sound stewardship and good governance” said Turner in response to the appointment.
“The management team welcomes Reginald Turner to the Board with great enthusiasm,” said Wayne County Airport Authority CEO Tom Naughton. “Mr. Turner has an impressive history of service to this community and we look forward to working with him and the entire Board to move Detroit Metropolitan and Willow Run Airports to a brighter future.”
About the Wayne County Airport Authority:
The Wayne County Airport Authority was created by the state legislature in March 2002, and became effective in August of that same year. Responsible for the management and operation of Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and Willow Run Airport - including the power to plan, promote, extend, maintain, acquire, purchase, construct, improve, repair, enlarge, and operate both Airports, the Authority is managed by an independent, seven-member Board of Directors. Four members are appointed by the Wayne County Executive; two members by the Governor; and one member by the Wayne County Commission, all serving a six-year term.
The Authority has established guidelines for competitive bidding of contracts, including provisions to ensure maximum participation of disadvantaged businesses, minority businesses and other targeted business enterprises. They’ve also developed ethical standards that preclude transactions that would create conflicts of interest involving Board members and employees. The Authority includes an Audit Committee, which can order audits of any and all Airport activities.
About Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) welcomed more than 32 million passengers in 2012 and is one of the world’s leading air transportation hubs. With service from 13 scheduled passenger airlines, Michigan’s largest airport offers more than 1,200 flights per day to and from nearly 150 non-stop destinations on four continents. In 2010, DTW ranked highest in overall customer satisfaction among large airports in the J.D. Power and Associates North America Airport Satisfaction Study. With two new state-of-the-art passenger terminals, six jet runways, and an onsite AAA Four-Diamond Westin Hotel, DTW is among the world’s most efficient, customer friendly and operationally capable airports in North America. Nearby Willow Run Airport is an important corporate, cargo and general aviation facility. Visit www.metroairport.com for more information.
Last Updated on Thursday, 10 January 2013 09:09
Category: News Briefs Written by Zack Burgess
For far too many years now, African Americans have been overlooked by the mainstream media when it comes to being major players at how the American public looks at the concerns of the Black audience.
Well earlier this week, the African-American media-watching site Shadow and Act, reported on how all of that may have changed, as MSNBC reported a huge increase in their overall ratings.
The cable news network saw a monstrous 20% increase in 2012. And while much of that can be attributed to the 2012 Presidential campaign, much of it is due to another major factor - Black viewership. The network announced an incredible increase in African American viewers – a mammoth 60.5% increase during the past year.
The numbers were compared to CNN, whose African American viewership increased last year by 23.7%, while Fox News' Black audience decreased by the same amount of 23.7%.
Surely, MSNBC's progressive leaning approach to the news and their wide array of black hosts and pundits such as Toure, Melissa Harris-Perry, Tamron Hall, Joy-Ann Reid, Karen Finney, Michael Steele, Al Sharpton, Eugene Robinson, Jonathan Capehart and Goldie Taylor.
"I think we made a commitment, we decided, that in order for this channel to succeed, that we had to reflect the country,” MSNBC president Phil Griffith said to Shadow and Act. “This meant that we had to be part of the country in ways that the other channels weren’t."
He went on to say:
”We have a diverse on-air group of people, because that matters, and people want to know that we reflect their world. And it’s not just a single show – it's across the board. You look at the guests every hour and we make sure that we have women, African Americans, everything, and I think to spend a day watching MSNBC is to see America as we have seen it."
Finally, he said:
"It wasn’t like we said ‘Oh, we have to have a diverse person on here and there,’” he said. “We made a decision. We made a commitment in ideas, issues and everything – the audience followed, and that goes back to four or five years ago. As we grew, we recognized that it was the right thing to do. It’s giving a voice to people in these kinds of programs who don’t always get a voice. Our look is as diverse as any on mainstream TV. I’m incredibly proud of it. It’s not like we decided ‘We’re going to increase our African American viewership by 60%,’ but I’m thrilled that it happened, and it says a lot about what we’ve been doing over the last few years."
Last Updated on Thursday, 10 January 2013 08:52
Category: News Briefs Written by WWJ
CANTON (CBS Detroit) Getting in shape for the New Year? There’s plenty of support for that, including this new effort brought by Canton Leisure Services and Oakwood Healthcare System.
The two are promoting healthy living and community wellness by offering a “100 Days to Health” program. Registration for this community-wide health and wellness program is currently in progress offering plenty of opportunities to learn about health and nutrition and participate in recreational activities.
This popular fitness program will officially kickoff on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at the Summit on the Park, located at 46000 Summit Parkway, from noon to 1:30 p.m. Oakwood Healthcare System staff will be on hand during the kickoff providing health screenings. Other activities planned during the kick-off include: Summit tours; Family Zumba; and snacks. Plus, participants can also enjoy a special open swim starting at 1:30 p.m.
This year’s program offers everything you need to build a healthier lifestyle for you and your family. Register now for Canton’s 100 Days to Health 2013 HERE, at the Summit front desk, or at the 100 Days Kickoff Event on January 12.
Registration fees for Canton residents are: $15 for adults ages 12 and up and $5 for youth ages 11 and under. Non-resident fees are $25 for adults 12 and up and $5 for youth ages 11 and under. Youth and children must register with an adult.
Once registered, you’ll have free access to all classes and events on the 100 Days to Health calendar. Participants can register any time during the 100 Days to Health program.
This year’s participants will also receive: a punch-card for five free visits to the Summit on the Park during the program; classes and events offered at a variety of convenient times to accommodate your busy schedules; innovative new classes; and the return of some of our most popular events including Zumba, Boot Camps, and Healthy Cooking with Chef Paul. Be sure to check out these healthy offerings throughout this program, which ends in April 2013.
To learn more about 100 Days to Health program, visit Cantonfun.org or call 734-394-5460.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 08:49
Category: News Briefs Written by William Julius Wilson
The Root) -- Despite all the rhetoric about reclaiming the American dream for middle-class Americans in this past presidential election, Barack Obama has done more for lower-income Americans than any president since Lyndon Baines Johnson. Quite frankly, I think that Obama's programs prevented poverty -- including concentrated poverty -- from rapidly rising over the past several years, considering the terrible economy.
Obama's stimulus package (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) earmarked $80 billion dollars for low-income Americans, which included an extension of unemployment benefits, a temporary increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit and substantial additional funds for food stamps (what we now call the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). It also included nearly $4 billion in job training and workforce-enhancement programs, and $2 billion for neighborhood-stabilization efforts.
Moreover, I consider the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly termed Obamacare) as an antipoverty program. Over the long term, this health care legislation will significantly benefit lower-income Americans. Indeed, the share of Americans who are uninsured declined between 2010 and 2011. And this improvement was in part due to a provision of the health care bill that allows children to remain on their parents' health insurance plan until they reach age 26.
Also, Obama worked out a deal with Congress to address the impact of the recession on lower-income Americans, a negotiation that led to a 13-month extension of federal unemployment benefits for more than 7 million jobless workers, as well as the continuation of programs that benefit the poor and working classes, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, the refundable component of the Child Tax Credit and the 2 percent reduction in the Social Security payroll tax for one year -- all of which put more money in the hands of ordinary Americans. Finally, I should mention the $144 billion package passed in early 2012 by Congress to extend the payroll-tax cut and unemployment insurance, programs that Obama pushed.
Considering how these policies fit in with the broader sweep of policy changes over the last few decades, one has to acknowledge that the legislation enacted was in response to the extraordinary economic situation that now plagues this country. Taken together, they far exceed any legislation beneficial to low-income Americans passed during the Carter, Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton or George W. Bush administrations.
But much more needs to be done to address the continuing effects of fundamental changes in the economy, especially the impact of these changes on the African-American community.
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Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 08:41
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