News Bites

Official Would Need 7-Day, 14-Hour Schedule to Juggle Three City Jobs

Accountant Carl Johnson has held high-pay, high-responsibility positions for three different southeast Michigan municipalities — simultaneously. The Canton man works as the finance director for the city of Novi, which pays him $120,100 a year. As an outside contractor, he fills the same position for the city of River Rouge at $150,000 a year. That’s a combined $270,100 a year for the two jobs.

Johnson has also has applied for the controller position at Northfield Township, advertised at 20 hours per week. If the two full-time jobs with their six-figure pay require 40 hours per week each, and the part-time gig adds 20 hours more, Johnson would have to work more than 14 hours a day, seven days a week to meet the combined 100 hours per week.

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Interest on School Pension Underfunding Could Pay Entire Prison System Cost

Michigan’s school pension funding hole just got deeper. As of 2016, the system is $29.1 billion short of the amount its own analysts say is needed to cover future benefits. In 2015, the shortfall was $26.7 billion. The new figure means the pension fund has only enough to cover 59.7 percent of the benefits owed to current and future school retirees.

The $29.1 billion unfunded liability is $2.4 billion higher than the previous year. It represents a debt that will cost taxpayers an additional $2.18 billion in annual interest. That’s more than the $2.00 billion the state will spend on its prison system this year.

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Michigan Pothole Hotline Has More Business This Year

The Michigan Department of Transportation has a “Report a Pothole” program people can use to notify the agency of potholes on state roads. The toll-free phone line took in 215 calls in 2016. From Jan. 1 to April 10, 2017, it received 299 calls. According to a state news release in February, unseasonably warm temperatures this winter made roads vulnerable to potholes. People can either call 888-296-4546 or fill out a form on the website.

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Planting Trees in Vacant Parking Lots to Save Great Lakes

The city of Detroit received $1 million from a federal spending program called the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in 2014 for two projects.

The city would turn 40 publicly owned vacant lots into green space consisting of meadows, trees and other vegetation. And it would also install drainage ditches and porous pavement on roadways and developed sites near the Recovery Park area, about 3 miles north of downtown. Both federally-funded projects were intended to deal with rainwater runoff.

President Donald Trump's budget proposes cutting most Great Lakes Restoration Initiative spending, which has prompted critics to say the funding is critical to protecting the Great Lakes.

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1,400 Michigan Wind Turbines Needed To Replace The Palisades Nuclear Plant

The Palisades nuclear power plant in South Haven is scheduled to close in 2018. That single facility puts out around 720 megawatts of electricity. A typical wind turbine in Michigan has an average output of about half a megawatt of electricity. So it would take around 1,400 wind turbines to replace the energy produced by the Palisades plant. There are currently 883 wind turbines working in Michigan, most in the Thumb region.

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Michigan to Pay $660 Million in Secret Corporate Giveaways This Year

The state of Michigan is expected to pay $660.7 million in refundable tax credits to favored businesses in 2016-17 as part of its corporate welfare programs. That’s enough money to give all 99,000-plus Michigan public school teachers a $6,665 bonus.

The state keeps the names of the companies secret, but it is known that as of February, $433.6 million had already been paid during the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 2016. It’s important to note that these were not “tax breaks” but actual cash payments — money redistributed from people and small businesses to a handful of large and privileged corporations.

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Better Managed Moose Get $203k From 'Critical' Great Lakes Funds

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative gave $203,874 in 2014 for Indian reservations in Minnesota “to evaluate moose and deer use of habitat sites designed and managed for the benefit of moose.” President Donald Trump's budget proposes cutting 97 percent of the spending covered under the grant program, which defenders have called critical.

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Great Lakes Restoration: $62k For 'Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience'

The federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative slated for reductions under President Trump's first budget proposal gave $62,300 in 2011 to Grand Valley State University. The money provided “professional development” to four teachers and an administrator at two schools in Kent County, for the purpose of adding information on protecting the Great Lakes to the school curriculum. Each school would also do a project that would “serve as school-wide meaningful watershed educational experiences creating a culture of stewardship.”

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$581k In Great Lakes Restoration Money For Mohawk Tribe To Talk Fish, Tribal Beliefs

Opponents have loudly criticized President Trump’s proposal to stop spending $300 million annually on a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, some calling it “critical.”

One of the program's line items was $581,851 in 2010 to help the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe write advisories for members and “communicate benefits and risks of consuming fish caught from the St. Lawrence River Basin.” The project would also “engage the community in the design and development of new fish advisory communications, increase awareness and understanding of advisory messages, and maintain and respect traditional tribal customs and beliefs.”

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State Government Workforce Up First Time In 7 Years

Last year marked the first time in seven years that the number of people working for Michigan’s state government increased. It employed 46,692 people in 2016, or 415 more employees than the previous year, according to the Civil Service Commission’s annual report. The state had 62,057 employees in 2001. … more

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Participants in the 2016 Detroit Children's Business Fair show their grasp on how markets work. Featured are responses to the such thoughts as hoarding profit for personal gain, penalizing those who earn more and regulating private business.

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