Category: Breaking News Written by Michigan Chronicle
Lansing -- The Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) is currently working to resolve an error that is impacting 85,000 food assistance recipients and their families. As a result of human error, benefits to the Bridge Cards providing food assistance for clients with account numbers ending in “0” were not loaded to the cards as expected.
“DTMB understands the hardship that this situation has caused Michigan families and the inconvenience to the businesses that serve them,” said DTMB spokesperson Kurt Weiss. “We are working around the clock to correct the problem as quickly as possible and we will determine why it occurred.”
DTMB is working closely with vendor partners to ensure the Bridge Cards are correctly filled with the benefits that are needed for food assistance. Benefits will be loaded through the night and throughout the day on Friday, Jan. 4.
Recipients of food assistance can contact the customer service number at 1-888-678-8914 for updates and additional information.
DTMB regrets that this problem has occurred and will be working to ensure that safeguards are put in place to prevent a similar error in the future.
Last Updated on Friday, 04 January 2013 09:59
Category: Breaking News Written by Minehaha Forman
While 2012 proved to be one of Detroit’s bloodiest years on record with homicide rates spiking 12 percent, the overall citywide crime rate is down nearly 3 percent from 2011 according to crime statistics released by the Detroit Police Department (DPD).
Interim Police Chief Chester Logan joined Mayor Dave Bing in announcing year-end crime statistics at a news conference Thursday morning.
At the conference, Logan noted what he called a “nice trend” in the decline of residential break-ins in the city, down nearly 13 percent from 2011.
Also down from last year by smaller margins are violent nonfatal crimes including assault, robbery and rape.
Logan said domestic disputes can be largely be blamed for the spike in killings, something that police patrols can’t curb.
The four most recent murders in the city have been fueled by domestic disputes according to Logan.
“Those are the kind of [homicide] increases that we’ve seen all year long,” Logan said. “There have been domestic anger, arguments something that has caused some kind of conflict and the way they usually resolve that conflict is some kind of deadly force.”
Bing agreed. “You can’t have a police in every home in the city,” he said. “We can’t give up, we can’t give in… all of us have to get involved to help each other solve these problems.”
One reason why Logan said overall citywide crime statistics have not seen a deeper decline is that it is now easier to report a crime thanks to technology.
“We feel firmly that crime is down,” Logan said. “In the City of Detroit, believe it or not, we provide probably some of the best police service in country.”
Logan said it takes the average person about 5 minutes to report a crime over the phone, a service that is available 24-7 as opposed to having to visit a police station.
The DPD is also bringing online in the next 30 days a program called Coplogic that will allow citizens to report crimes online from their computer or smart phone.
Probably why you don’t see as big a decrease in crime is because citizens now have so many avenues that they can make a report,” Logan said.
Despite a drop in overall crime, the growing number of homicides each year is alarming, Bing said. The number of nonfatal shootings is inched up 20 from last year to 1,263. As the city looks at ways to save money during an ongoing financial crisis Bing has said no city workers, including public safety, are off the table for cuts.
But on Thursday he said he plans to work with Logan to train and hire new officers. He said some officers have been lost due to attrition but other wise he has never cut police.
“From a public safety standpoint I have been accused of taking away from public safety. In terms of boots on the street we have not done that,” Bing said. But he added that hiring new officers is not a quick fix, rather an “elongated process.”
When asked why Detroit has not employed more creative (and controversial) crime fighting techniques that helped lower New York City crime rates Logan said the two cities are not comparable.
“The difference between the City of New York and the City Of Detroit is like night and day,” Logan said. “New York has 35,000 or 40,000 police and 319 square miles. Detroit has 140 square miles and a heck of a lot less police officers than that,” Logan said. “The literacy rate is a lot higher than Detroit, the employment rate is a lot higher than Detroit. We are unique.”
Last Updated on Friday, 04 January 2013 10:21
Category: Breaking News Written by Ben Brumfield and Tom Watkins, CNN
(CNN) -- The House is poised to vote Friday on a $9.7 billion Superstorm Sandy aid package after delays over fiscal cliff bickering and a warning from federal officials that funds are running out.
Frustrated victims of the massive October storm in the Northeast watched this week as a vote on a much larger $60 billion package got canceled.
Lawmakers are expected to pass the first portion Friday and weigh in on the remaining $51 billion in broader aid on January 15.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency notified the outgoing Congress on Tuesday -- its last day in session -- that without additional borrowing authority, it will run out of money within days to compensate storm victims under the National Flood Insurance Program.
Boehner promises vote on Sandy aid Friday GOP's King bashes own party over Sandy Rep. King: "Issa is 1,000 percent wrong" King shows anger for disregard of Sandy Fury over Delayed Superstorm Sandy Aid Grimm on Boehner's pledge for Sandy bill Family impacted by Hurricane Sandy
The large aid package not voted on included more than $9.7 billion in new borrowing authority, according to the federal emergency agency.
It urged "timely congressional action" to meet survivors' needs.
Outgoing lawmakers dropped what seemed like a sure thing for the suffering region into the lap of the new Congress, which convened Thursday. It will now consider it in two parts.
Republicans in the last Congress criticized proposed congressional "pork" spending in the bill that was unrelated to Sandy needs.
Democrat and Republican lawmakers in the region, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, had unleashed a firestorm of criticism at their own party in the House for not addressing the measure as originally planned.
"New Jersey deserves better than the duplicity we saw on display," Christie said, adding, that this is "why the American people hate Congress."
Later, closed-door meetings with House Republicans from the Northeast and their leaders Eric Cantor and John Boehner calmed some sentiments.
Boehner is the House speaker while Cantor is the Majority leader.
Democrats were less mollified.
"It's really unbelievable how Speaker Boehner and his party could just walk away," said Christine Quinn, speaker of the New York City Council. "To promise us a vote weeks from now? Why should we believe him at all? It's just shocking."
In a statement, Boehner and Cantor said "critical aid" to storm victims should be the first priority of the new Congress. Both were re-elected and have retained their leadership positions in the new House.
The Senate, which had already approved the larger Sandy plan that the House declined to consider, is expected to sign off on the scaled-back version Friday as well, according to a Democratic leadership aide.
But Senators will hold off on any further action.
Last Updated on Friday, 04 January 2013 09:38
Category: Breaking News Written by Tami Luhby, CNNMoney
The job market ended 2012 with more growth, as moderate hiring continued at the end of the year.
The economy added 155,000 jobs in December, bringing the total number of jobs added in 2012 to 1.84 million, the Labor Department said Friday. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.8%.
Economists surveyed by Briefing.com expected the report to show that 150,000 jobs were created last month and the unemployment rate remained unchanged.
Friday's report appeared a day after a separate survey by payroll processor ADP showed private employers boosted their hiring last month, adding 215,000 jobs and beating economists' forecasts of 140,000 positions.
Last Updated on Friday, 04 January 2013 09:17
Category: News Briefs Written by WWJ
ROYAL OAK (CBS Detroit) – It may not be sandals and T-shirt weather, but that doesn’t mean you have to forego a day strolling at the Detroit Zoo.
The zoo at the intersection of I-696 and I-75 is open all winter, rain, shine, sleet or snow, which means you can experience the magic of the Detroit Zoo in the wintertime and enjoy family-friendly adventures during Wild Winter weekends in January, February and March, 2013. The eighth annual series of winter events feature children’s music, zookeeper talks, games and crafts. All activities are free with regular zoo admission.
Special programs are as follows:
Wild Winter Arctic Adventure – Jan. 12 and 13, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Embrace the arctic chill of winter with arts and crafts and live performances. Watch ice carving demonstrations and learn about the Zoo’s arctic animals with enrichment activities and zookeeper talks.
Wild Winter African Adventure – Feb. 9 and 10, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Celebrate Black History Month with an African drum lesson and listen to stories told by Kenyan naturalist and Detroit Zoo Education Specialist David Gakure. Enjoy live entertainment, arts and crafts, games and educational experiences.
Wild Winter Safari Social – March 9 and 10, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Escape the winter “blahs” with hot drinks and cool treats. Ice cream and hot cocoa will be available for purchase at a discount. Animal arts and crafts, face painting, animal enrichment activities, zookeeper talks and a winter safari scavenger hunt add to the fun.
The Detroit Zoological Society is a nonprofit organization that operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Zoo. The zoo is open 362 days a year, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through Labor Day and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the day after Labor Day through October.
Admission is $14 for adults 15 to 61, $12 for senior citizens 62 and older, and $9 for children 2 to 14 (children under 2 are free).
Last Updated on Friday, 04 January 2013 09:16
Category: Breaking News Written by Joy-Ann Reid , The grio
The House of Representatives cast its votes for speaker on Thursday, and while John Boehner won his gavel back (barely — Boehner needed at least 218 votes to be returned to the speakership, and got 220), he wasn’t the only candidate to get votes. Before the final vote was gaveled in, the Ohio congressman had to face an embarrassing opening flurry of Republican votes for someone else.
So who else got votes on the House floor?
- Allen West got two votes for speaker: He may have been defeated after jumping House districts and finding that not even a more Republican district was interested in two more years of West’s Tea Party antics, including red-baiting in the U.S. House of Representatives; but the former Army lieutenant colonel still has fans. In fact, in the House, he has two big ones in the GOP: Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas and Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia. Both put the ex-congressman’s name into nomination.
- Rep. John Lewis got one, too: Georgia Congressman John Barrow, who serves that state’s 12th congressional district, placed the civil rights legend’s name into nomination for speaker instead of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The four-term congressman is a member of the dwindling House “Blue Dog” moderate caucus.
- And Colin Powell got a vote for himself: Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper, a Democrat, voted for Gen. Powell, who served as George Bush’s secretary of state after being national security adviser and before that, Bill Clinton’s Joint Chiefs of Staff chair. The vote came after both Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and Rep. Mike McIntrye (D-NC) voted for Congressman Cooper.
Turns out you don’t have to actually be in Congress to be speaker. It’s one of the many quirks of the U.S. Constitution. You don’t actually have to be a current member of the House (see Allen West) or even a former congressman at all (a la Collin Powell). Who knew?
Boehner’s deputy, Rep. Eric Cantor, got three votes (and no, he didn’t cast one for himself). Those were cast by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM), and Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL).
So in the end, it was Boehner, 220, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, 192, Cantor, 3 and West, 3.
And the 113th Congress? Off to an… interesting start.
Last Updated on Friday, 04 January 2013 09:05
Category: Breaking News Written by Zack Burgess
As the clock ticks on the mere thought of an emergency financial manager, five council members reiterated that they are not ready to give up on their city or their jobs as public servants.
The members, Ken Cockrel Jr., Saunteel Jenkins, James Tate, Andre Spivey and President Charles Pugh came before the editorial board of the Michigan Chronicle to stress how they are tired of being painted as obstructionists.
“We can do this,” Pugh said. “We can manage through this now. We can come up with a long-term, viable restructuring plan.”
It’s no secret by now that last week Gov. Rick Snyder signed a new emergency manager law that will take effect in the spring. The law will give emergency managers the authority to alter or get rid of collective-bargaining agreements altogether. The most controversial provisions of the previous such law, Public Act 4, was revoked by voters in November.
Snyder has selected a six-member review team to go over Detroit’s books, a huge legal step that will likely see the appointment of an emergency financial manager. The team will have 60 days to complete their review, although the state said Snyder has asked them to accelerate the process.
Each council member, particularly Pugh, talked about how they have been working diligently with Mayor Dave Bing and his administration on how they can avoid a fiscal cliff of their own.
“Now we realize that we all have to sit in the same room and we have to come up with a plan,” Pugh said. “The mayor has got to be clear about when this implementation will be done. What is the first step? What is step two? What is step three? Is this sustainable? Is this long-term or a one-time fix? We still need long-term reforms.”
Pugh talked about how the city is at a watershed moment and the need to make tough decisions in the midst of a crisis. He and the other council members also talked about how they are frustrated with the way they have been often portrayed to the public through the lens of the media, considering Detroit has been going through serious changes for some 50 years now.
Many have blamed Detroit’s troubles on White flight and deindustrialization, but there is more to it than that. When other cities were expanding, Detroit was contracting. For example, in 1950 Houston was roughly the same size as Detroit — it was 160 square miles, Detroit is 139. Yet today Houston is 600 square miles because as their surroundings grew, so did the city, therefore the tax base stayed.
And while people moved to the suburbs, to cities such as Southfield and Farmington Hills, so went the city revenues. As a result, Detroit has created a city income tax, high property tax rates, a utility tax and hundreds of millions of dollars of debt due to what it borrowed to meet current obligations. Unfortunately, the city now has a crisis that has become a serious cancer.
“The reason that we are here is because we realize — me being a former journalist — is we need to do a better job of getting our message across,” said Pugh. “We realize that we may be one step away from an emergency manager.
We have had numerous meetings with the mayor and the financial review team and we feel like this is a salvageable situation, although we are down to just a couple of options. The Council is being proactive. We have offered a plan to the Mayor’s Office. What can do immediately? What will be the long-term restructuring plan?”
The members, Ken Cockrel Jr., Saunteel Jenkins, James Tate, Andre Spivey and Pugh, said they have sent a plan to state Treasurer Andy Dillon, with the hope that Snyder will not appoint an emergency financial manager. The Treasurer’s Office confirmed through a spokesman that they have received the council’s plan, yet it has not been reviewed. The council members agreed that any plan must look at how they improve public safety and other city services.
“When you come into this, you come into it to change things,” said Tate. “Most of us who came into this had jobs. We are all Detroiters. This is about the many people who count on us to do good things. We all grew up here. Our family is here. This is about making this a wonderful city.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 03 January 2013 09:24
Category: Breaking News Written by Olivia Smith and David Oriosto, CNN
(CNN) -- For the first time since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Christine Wilford plans do something remarkable on Thursday that once was routine: drop her child off at school.
The last time her 7-year-old son, Richie, was in class was on December 14, when a gunman smashed his way into his school in Newtown, Connecticut, and killed 26 children and adults.
As shots rang out, Richie's teacher locked the door and huddled her students into the corner as the shooter roamed the hallways, wielding an AR-15 assault rifle and firing.
When it appeared safe, the children were then hurried away to a nearby fire station, where teary parents either reunited with their sons and daughters or learned that they had been killed.
Principal's daughter: She'll be with them Source says Lanza cut dad out of his life Sandy Hook: Obama's worst day
Nearly a month later, Wilford said her son still has trouble sleeping and is often scared by loud noises.
But on Thursday, he will join hundreds of other Newtown students returning to class for the first time since the tragedy.
"We think it's good he's going back," Wilford said. "If I leave my child anywhere, I'm leaving a piece of my heart, so it's difficult to leave him."
But Richie apparently isn't afraid and says he's looking forward to seeing his friends, she said.
They won't be attending Sandy Hook Elementary, which police say remains part of an ongoing investigation into Adam Lanza, the gunman who also killed his mother before opening fire at the school.
Instead, Richie and his classmates are expected to travel to Chalk Hill Middle School in the nearby town of Monroe, where a green-and-white banner greeting the children hangs on a fence.
Newtown Public Schools Superintendent Janet Robinson said that part of the building had been transformed to resemble an elementary school.
"(We want) to have as much (of) a normal routine as possible," she said. "(Thursday) is a regular schedule, and we will do the kinds of things that we know are good for kids."
The school has also been outfitted with rugs and furniture similar to those at Sandy Hook to help ease the transition for students. Even the school's pet turtle was relocated, Robinson said.
Security measures have also been increased, with a new system incorporating more cameras and locks, according to Jim Agostine, superintendent of Monroe Public Schools.
"I think right now it has to be the safest school in America," Monroe Police Lt. Keith White said.
Last Updated on Thursday, 03 January 2013 08:59
Category: Breaking News Written by Matt Smith, CNN
(CNN) -- The bill that backs the United States away from its fiscal cliff awaited President Barack Obama's signature Wednesday, but new battles over taxes and spending await Washington in the next few weeks.
Congress averted that self-built precipice late Tuesday when the House voted to stave off widespread tax increases and deep spending cuts by accepting a brokered Senate compromise. It makes permanent the Bush administration's tax cuts for individuals earning less than $400,000 per year and couples earning less than $450,000.
It raises rates on those who make more than that from 35% to 39.6%, bringing back a top tax bracket from the Clinton administration, and will raise roughly $600 billion in new revenues over 10 years, according to various estimates.
The bill also extends unemployment insurance and delays for two months the threat of sequestration -- a series of automatic, across-the-board cuts in federal spending.
Economists had predicted the combination of those tax increases and spending cuts could have thrown the U.S. economy back into recession and driven unemployment back into the 9% range.
Meanwhile, a new Congress takes office on Thursday, and lawmakers will soon be confronted by the need to raise the federal debt ceiling and what to do about the still-hanging sequester -- a legacy of the last battle over the debt ceiling, in 2011.
Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said the legislation was sent to the White House on Wednesday. Obama said he would sign the bill into law, but he did not say when -- and after the vote, he flew to Hawaii to rejoin his wife and daughters on their winter vacation.
There's no urgency on the president's signature in practical terms. It's up to the Obama administration to implement the budget and tax changes, and since the president has said he will sign the measure, the administration can begin planning for the changes immediately.
"The sum total of all the budget agreements we've reached so far proves that there is a path forward that is possible, if we focus not on our politics but on what's right for the country," Obama told reporters late Tuesday. "And the one thing that I think, hopefully, in the new year, we'll focus on is seeing if we can put a package like this together with a little bit less drama, a little less brinksmanship, not scare the heck out of folks quite as much."
The Bush tax cuts expired at midnight Monday, while sequestration had been scheduled to start when federal offices reopened Wednesday.
World markets rose after the late-night vote. U.S. stocks jumped, too, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising nearly 2% by mid-afternoon.
Tuesday night's 257-167 vote saw Boehner, R-Ohio, and about a third of the GOP majority lining up with Democrats against most of their own caucus, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor and party whip Kevin McCarthy. Rep. Nan Hayworth, an outgoing Republican representative from New York, said she was a "reluctant yes."
"This is the best we can do, given the Senate and the White House sentiment at this point in time, and it is at least a partial victory for the American people," Hayworth said. "I'll take that at this point."
The Senate plan was brokered by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and it passed that Democratic-led chamber 89-8. But many House Republicans complained the bill did too little to cut spending while raising taxes for them to support it.
Conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist, whose Americans for Tax Reform pushes candidates to sign a pledge never to raise taxes, said the plan preserves most of the Bush tax cuts and won't violate his group's beliefs.
"The Bush tax cuts lapsed at midnight last night," Norquist tweeted Tuesday. "Every (Republican) voting for Senate bill is cutting taxes and keeping his/her pledge."
But Rep. Jeff Landry, R-Louisiana, told CNN's "Early Start" that Obama convinced Boehner "to undo everything he promised he would do" after the 2010 elections that gave the GOP control of the House.
"They did a debt ceiling deal, gave the president $2.1 trillion," Landry said. "They turned that deal off for two months. That's going to be another fight on top of the sequestration, a debt ceiling fight."
Other Republicans warned that as they did in 2011, they'll be demanding additional cuts before they agree to raise the federal cap on borrowing.
"The president has maxed out his credit card, and he is not going to get an unlimited credit card," Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, told CNN. "We're going to talk specifically about cuts and specifically focused on tax reform as well as helping to save and strengthen Medicare and Social Security. And that's the next discussion we're going to have in Washington."
The federal government bumped up against its $16.4 trillion debt ceiling on Monday and has about two months before it runs out of ways to shuffle money around to keep Washington within its legal borrowing limit. Obama had sought to resolve the issue as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations, but the issue never made it to a final bill.
Tuesday night, the president warned Congress that he will not tolerate another round of brinksmanship that could have "catastrophic" effects on the global economy.
"While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they've already racked up through the laws that they've passed," he said.
The last debt-ceiling battle led to the sequester, a kind of fiscal doomsday device that Congress was supposed to disarm by agreeing to more than $1 trillion in other cuts over the next decade. They didn't, leaving federal agencies preparing to slash spending by $110 billion by the end of the 2013 budget year.
Before Tuesday night, the Defense Department had been preparing to issue furlough notices for its entire civilian work force of 800,000. Those notices were stayed on Wednesday -- but Pentagon officials say they're worried that unpaid leave may be harder to implement later in the fiscal year.
"We hope Congress can find a way to end sequester once and for all," Pentagon spokesman George Little said.
While the deal gives Obama bragging rights for raising income taxes on the wealthiest Americans -- the first rate increase for any Americans since 1993 -- it also leaves him breaking a promise.
Obama had vowed to raise tax rates for the top-earning 2% of Americans, including those with household income above $250,000 and individuals earning more than $200,000.
Raising the threshold for higher tax rates shrinks the number of Americans affected. While nearly 2% of filers have adjusted gross incomes over $250,000, only 0.6% have incomes above $500,000, according to the Tax Policy Center.
By comparison, Census Bureau figures put the median U.S. household income at just over $50,000.
And despite the last-minute fiscal cliff agreements, Americans are still likely to see their paychecks shrink somewhat because of a separate battle over payroll taxes.
The government temporarily lowered the payroll tax rate in 2011 from 6.2% to 4.2% to put more money in the pockets of Americans. That adjustment, which has cost about $120 billion each year, expired Monday.
Now, Americans earning $30,000 a year will take home $50 less per month. Those earning $113,700 will lose $189.50 a month.
The legislation also caps itemized deductions for individuals making $250,000 and for married couples making $300,000. Taxes on inherited estates over $5 million will go up to 40% from 35%, and that threshold will be indexed for inflation.
The alternative minimum tax, a perennial issue, will be permanently adjusted for inflation. Child care, tuition and research and development tax credits will be renewed. The "Doc Fix" -- reimbursements for doctors who take Medicare patients -- will continue, but it won't be paid for out of the Obama administration's signature health care law.
Last Updated on Thursday, 03 January 2013 09:00
Category: Breaking News Written by thehuffingtonpost
Some recent remarks made by Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon in reference to potential mayoral rival Mike Duggan have the makings of old-fashioned political throwdown.
At a service held Tuesday at Detroit's New Bethel Baptist Church to remember the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Napoleon painted Duggan as an outsider who lacked a personal understanding of the city's challenges.
"[Duggan] cannot say he has the common experiences that Detroiters have," the Detroit News reported him saying.
Both men have set up exploratory committees to run for mayor of Detroit, although neither has formally announced themselves as candidates. Duggan, who previously worked as the CEO of the Detroit Medical Center, relocated from Livonia to Detroit's upscale Palmer Woods neighborhood last year.
Napoleon, who was born and raised in Detroit, also took a dig at his competitor's new digs during Tuesday's event.
"Hell, no," remarked Napoleon at the service, according to the News. "Palmer Woods is not Detroit."
On Wednesday, Duggan responded to the quip on his Facebook page.
"Benny Napoleon unveils his campaign platform: 'Hell no. Palmer Woods is not Detroit.'" Duggan said in a post. "Now we know what this campaign will be like and what's at stake for our community in 2013. Please don't sit on the sidelines."
Napoleon, formerly the top cop of the Detroit Police Department and a frequent HuffPost blogger later backtracked his remarks on Twitter.
Last Updated on Thursday, 03 January 2013 09:01
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