Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 4:20 p.m. EST
Snyder, self-described nerd, will use Excel to plan UP trip
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Attention Yoopers: That guy pumping gas might be Rick Snyder.
The Michigan governor released a brief video Sunday about his plans after leaving state government. He says he and wife Sue plan to take an Upper Peninsula “whirlwind waterfall” tour at some point in 2019.
Snyder says most people know about Tahquamenon Falls in the eastern Upper Peninsula. He also mentioned Bond Falls, Angel Falls and Canyon Falls. He says he owes his wife “some vacations” and “another honeymoon period” after eight years as governor.
Snyder, who enjoys calling himself a nerd, says he’ll use an Excel spreadsheet to plan the waterfall trip. He leaves office Tuesday.
Small-town lawyer who became appeals court judge dies
(Information from: The Argus-Press, http://www.argus-press.com)
OWOSSO, Mich. (AP) — A former Michigan appeals court judge who spent more than 20 years on the bench after a law career in a small town has died.
E. Thomas Fitzgerald of Owosso was 79. His obituary says he died Thursday at Sparrow Health Systems.
Fitzgerald was elected to the appeals court in 1990. In 1994, he was part of the 2-1 majority that struck down, on very technical grounds, Michigan’s ban on assisted suicide.
He opened a law office in Owosso a few years after graduating from law school in 1966. Fitzgerald told The Argus-Press that he won a big case and business “just mushroomed.” He says he would sometimes see two dozen people a day.
Gerald Lostracco, a former Shiawassee County judge and prosecutor, says Fitzgerald was a “fierce competitor.”
DTE Energy agrees to $840,000 fine in shut-off snafu
DETROIT (AP) — A mess over billings and improper shutoffs has led to an $840,000 fine for DTE Energy.
State regulators approved the settlement earlier this month. Sally Talberg of the Michigan Public Service Commission says the commission has “great concern when utilities violated consumer protection rules.”
The investigation began a year ago, months after DTE began using a new billing system. The commission received complaints that power was being improperly shut off. More than 4,000 customers did not receive a proper shut-off notice for nonpayment.
DTE has agreed to refund all deposits and reconnection fees. The utility also will be audited over its shut-off procedures until 2020.
A group known as the Residential Customer Group watched the case and objected to the settlement. Michelle Rison says the fine isn’t high enough, especially when some shut-offs occurred during cold weather.
ASIAN CARP-GREAT LAKES
Illinois rejects $8M from Michigan for Asian carp project
(Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/)
DETROIT (AP) — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has rejected Michigan’s offer of $8 million to support a project to keep invasive carp from establishing themselves in the Great Lakes.
The Detroit News reports Rauner told Michigan’s governor that the offer to support operations at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois, won’t be useful until after an upgrade there is completed in 10 years.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has recommended adding a new electric barrier that will repel or stun Asian carp. The agency also recommended flushing jets and underwater speakers to deter the fish.
The project is estimated to cost almost $780 million, while maintenance and operations may cost about $8 million a year.
Rauner and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder are leaving office on Tuesday.
Sunday Mass canceled after firecrackers are found in church
GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (AP) — Masses have been canceled at a Roman Catholic church in western Michigan after firecrackers were discovered inside and outside the building.
The incident occurred Sunday at St. Patrick-St. Anthony church in Grand Haven. Police say parts of the church were vandalized and a television was broken. A man from Newaygo County was captured after threatening officers with wood from a broken chair.
The firecrackers were described as the “M5000 Jumbo,” which are commercially available to the public. They were not ignited.
Police were called around 7 a.m., two hours before the first Mass.
Church member Steve Shannon says he didn’t know the 11 a.m. Mass was canceled. He tells WOOD-TV that the incident is bothersome. Shannon says vandalism is “one thing,” but explosives are a “totally different thing.”
NEW LAWS-MINIMUM WAGE
Minimum wage rising in 20 states and numerous cities
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Wages will be increasing for millions of low-income workers across the U.S. as the new year ushers in new laws in numerous states.
New minimum wage requirements will take effect in 20 states and nearly two dozen cities.
The state wage hikes range from an extra nickel per hour in Alaska to a $1-an-hour bump in Maine, Massachusetts and for California employers with more than 25 workers.
Seattle’s largest employers will have to pay workers at least $16 an hour starting Tuesday. That’s more than twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
In Missouri and Arkansas, minimum wages are rising as a result of voter-approved ballot initiatives.
The wage increases come amid a multi-year push by unions and liberal advocacy groups to raise the minimum wage nationwide.
PERE MARQUETTE TRAIN
Planners want to keep Amtrak moving in SW Michigan
(Information from: The Herald-Palladium, http://www.heraldpalladium.com)
ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (AP) — Planners in southwestern Michigan are trying to keep a passenger train operating between Chicago and Grand Rapids.
The Herald-Palladium of St. Joseph reports that the Twin Cities Area Transportation Study has passed resolutions in support of the Pere Marquette Amtrak train. A recommendation also was made to increase service by connecting tracks to New Buffalo.
The train now passes through St. Joseph, Bangor and Holland.
Most of the line is owned by CSX Railroad and accommodates freight as well as Amtrak service. Ridership has been dropping.
Ryan Fellows of the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission says the Twin Cities Area Transportation Study is committed to seeing that the Pere Marquette remains a successful line by promoting improvements to increase efficiency and ridership.
Indiana governor remains against legalizing marijuana
(Information from: The Times, http://www.nwitimes.com)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb says he remains opposed to efforts to legalize medical or recreational marijuana in the state, even though voters in neighboring Michigan approved a November ballot initiative legalizing the drug’s recreational use.
The Republican governor tells The (Northwest Indiana) Times that he’s “just not willing to look at that, especially since it is illegal right now according to the federal government.”
The federal government doesn’t accept marijuana for medical use and warns of its high potential for abuse.
However, Holcomb in March signed a bill legalizing the sale and use of cannabidiol. CBD is derived from marijuana but has low levels of the compound that causes a high.
Holcomb says marijuana, unlike CBD, is considered a gateway drug that could lead casual users to more dangerous narcotics.
Police abuses lawsuit fades due to Detroit’s bankruptcy
DETROIT (AP) — A police abuse lawsuit could have cost Detroit millions of dollars. But lawyers are closing the case after eight years, acknowledging that the claims of possibly 200,000 people are practically worthless.
The reason? Detroit’s 2013 bankruptcy.
The lawsuit claimed there were poor conditions in holding cells and excessive detentions. It was in progress when Detroit became the largest U.S. city to seek protection from creditors. The city emerged with a clean balance sheet, but that doesn’t mean a windfall for people who won the class-action case.
They would need to get in line like other creditors because the lawsuit was pending during the bankruptcy. A $1,000 recovery per person could be worth as little as $40 — and paid over many years. Lawyers say it’s not worth it.