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Five Things you need to know about Michigan: Spring Forward Edition

1Loyola High School in Detroit

Detroit schools have been in the news a lot of late, and there’s a tendency to believe that schools and students can’t succeed in Detroit. The public radio show Here & Now looked at Loyola High School and what they are able to do with adequate resources and staff. This receives our “must listen” rating!

Loyola High School in Detroit was founded in the early 1990s to address the city’s soaring drop-out rate among young, black males. Today, the Catholic Jesuit school, which serves teens in a lower-income part of Detroit’s northwest side, graduates 100 percent of its students. And every student in the past few years of graduating classes has been admitted into a two- or four-year college.

Editor’s note: Let me stress I don’t see this as a solution for every school, more as a counter to arguments that “these kids can’t learn.” My experience has shown that all kids can learn if you make the right effort.


Pure Michigan gets its Foodie on

Pure Michigan has released a new series of videos that you can watch above:

The new 30 second ads aim to inspire travelers to take to the road to find the unexpected, savor life – and a Michigan craft beer – and experience the farm-to-table revolution thriving in the state’s fertile ground. The spots, titled Along the Way, Fertile Ground and Small Batches are a part of the evolution of the Pure Michigan campaign as it celebrates its 10th anniversary.

…Destinations across the state are featured in the new spots, including the Mackinac Bridge, Brewery Vivant, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Bonobo Winery, Trattoria Stella, Selden Standard, Dinosaur Gardens, Empire Hops Farm, the Michigan Farm Initiative and the Platte River.


Poe Lock failure would have serious impact

The Freep reported on dire consequences for the US & Michigan if the Soo Locks fail:

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security report indicates a 6-month shutdown of the Poe Lock in Sault Ste. Marie, if one occurred, would plunge the nation into recession, closing factories and mines, halting auto and appliance production in the U.S. for most of a year and result in the loss of some 11 million jobs across the nation.

The report, obtained by the Free Press through the Freedom of Information Act, paints a grim picture of the outcome of any long-term shutdown of the Poe, the only one of the so-called Soo Locks able to handle the 1,000-foot-long vessels that each year move millions of tons of iron ore from mines in Minnesota and northern Michigan to steel mills dotting the lower Great Lakes and beyond.

…But what is also clear from the Homeland Security report is that while a longer-term shutdown would be catastrophic, even a shorter one could have a much wider impact than previously thought: If such a closure occurred at the Poe during the March 25-Jan. 15 shipping season, for instance, as much as 75% of the nation’s steel output could be halted within two to six weeks.

Click above for more including a video of a ship in the Poe Lock.

4Flint Emails “Written to stay secret”

The hits just keep on coming in the Flint Water Crisis saga with a report that Michigan government officials used phrases in bid to avoid FOIA disclosure. It’s an especially instructive read asMichigan is regarded to have the least transparent state government, and this week is “Sunshine Week” celebrating public access to government information:

Sunshine WeekMichigan’s FOIA law includes an exemption for records that are notes between and within government agencies that are advisory in nature, don’t deal with purely factual matters, and are preliminary to an agency’s final determination of a policy or action. Many draft reports are withheld from disclosure based upon what is sometimes called the “preliminary and deliberative” exemption. But even when it meets the other criteria, the exemption is only supposed to be applied when the public interest in encouraging frank discussions among government officials clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

The e-mails released related to the Flint crisis show that although in some cases a draft document was being discussed, some DEQ and Department of Health and Human Services employees appeared to include “preliminary and deliberative,” and “not subject to FOIA” as standard subject headings on e-mails, regardless of the contents of the messages.

5Michigan joblessness down in latest report

Let’s end on an up note with news from Crain’s Detroit that Michigan’s unemployment rate has hit the lowest point since June of 2001:

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget said the seasonally adjusted jobless rate for January was 4.9 percent. That’s down two-tenths of a percentage point from December and 1.1 percentage points below the January 2015 rate.

…The state’s January unemployment rate matched the nation’s for the same period. Officials said Michigan’s rate hasn’t been 4.9 percent since June 2001, but the labor force and employment levels have dropped by more than 300,000 since then.