Michigan business leaders try to improve private and public partnerships

A group of Michigan business leaders held their first meeting yesterday (Wednesday) in an effort to improve private and public partnerships. 
The “Business Roundtable” meeting is being hosted by the Secretary of State.
Fred Woodhams is a spokesperson for Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson. He said the meetings will serve many purposes.
“She wants to hear feedback from business leaders on ways to improve customer service, while stretching every tax dollar further. She also wants to find ways to promote public and private partnerships as a way to create new service options and save scarce state resources.”  
Woodhams said one example of this is by allowing car dealerships to provide licence plates to new car buyers before they leave the lot.
He said members of the group represent boat, car and retail industries. 
The next meeting is scheduled for October.

Michigan hospitals join initiative to make hospital food healthier

You may not think of hospital food as the height of culinary excellence, but some hospitals in Michigan have joined an initiative to make hospital food healthier.
Otsego Memorial Hospital is one of more than 50 facilities in the state that are part of the “Healthy Food Hospital” program.
The hospital is improving the quality of its menu for pediatric patients and working to make cafeteria offerings healthier.
Christie Purdue with Otsego Memorial said the key is to offer a variety of appealing options.
“We’re definitely not forcing a menu on anybody, we’re definitely not making people eat what they don’t want to eat.  We want to provide options, but we want them to be healthy.  It used to be difficult to buy healthy food to feed 500 people in a day and that’s changing.  So we’re excited to be one of the leaders in moving in that direction.”
The hospital has launched a new labeling system to make it easier for patients, staff and visitors to identify healthy offerings in the cafeteria.
And cafeteria workers are using more locally grown food.  They hope to have at least 20% of their menu coming from Michigan sources by 2012.

Cramming may be the reason phone bills are so high

People are being encouraged to look more closely at their phone bills – they might be more expensive than they should be.
State officials say the problem of “cramming” has become an epidemic recently.
Judy Palnau is with the Michigan Public Service Commission. She said there are victims all over the country.
“Cramming occurs when there’s an unauthorized charge on your telephone bill made by a third party without the customer’s knowledge or consent. But it also can include when a customer accidentally subscribes to a service because of deceptive tactics.”
Palnau said people should read the fine print on any online or print form before signing it. They should also make sure they aren’t signing up for a hidden subscription of some sort.
Earlier this month, the United States Senate issued a report detailing how big of a problem cramming is becoming. It said no matter where you live, you can be targeted.
Palnau said she encourages people to keep a good record of the phone services they have to better identify an unauthorized charge.

AG seeks to overturn affirmative action ruling

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has requested a panel of judges reaffirm that affirmative action is unconstitutional.
As Michigan Public Radio’s Laura Weber reports, the request comes after U-S Court of Appeals decision earlier this month that ruled banning affirmative action is unconstitutional.
The U-S Court of Appeals ruled that the Michigan constitutional amendment that bans affirmative action in public university admissions violates the 14th Amendment of the U-S Constitution. Attorney General Schuette said the ruling makes no sense.
“And it was a nutty decision that in essence said it is racially discriminatory to prohibit racial discrimination.”
Schuette has asked a larger panel of judges to overturn the Court of Appeals decision, and expects to have an answer this fall. He said universities should accept students based on achievement and the state should make sure all K-through-12 students graduate with a good education, no matter where they live or what their ethnicity. 
But the University of Michigan was a major voice in the fight to protect affirmative action. And representatives from the university and the American Civil Liberties Union said they hope the panel denies Schuette’s request.

Clinic offers medical marijuana to customers who register to vote

Authorities are looking into whether a Lansing medical marijuana clinic broke the law by offering free pot to customers who stop by and register to vote. The owner of the clinic opposes Lansing’s new medical marijuana ordinance. And, as we hear from Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta, she has called for the ouster of city council members who supported the ordinance. 
The Your Healthy Choices Clinic advertised on its web site that customers who stop in and register would get a half-gram of pot or a marijuana-laced snack item.  It also encouraged people to vote against city council members who supported Lansing’s medical marijuana ordinance. Authorities said that may have put the clinic afoul of state election laws.
John Sellek is the spokesman for Attorney General Bill Schuette. He said clinics have mushroomed far beyond what Michigan voters intended when they approved the medical marijuana law in 2008.
“And they certainly didn’t plan for those pot shops to be handing out marijuana as party favors essentially for their own political, personal agenda.”
Schuette is looking into filing criminal charges. The clinic owner told a Lansing T-V station there was no attempt to buy votes – only to get people to register.

Budget chief: MSU, Wayne State met “technical” requirements of budget cap

The state budget director has determined Michigan State and Wayne State Universities complied with the letter of the law meant to hold tuition increases below seven-point-one percent. But, as we hear from Michigan Public Radio’s Rick Pluta, the schools may have used a loophole to get around the requirement and avoid (m) millions of dollars in sanctions.
M-S-U and Wayne State measured their tuition hikes from the summer term to the fall term and did not compare fall tuition of last year to fall tuition of this year. 
Kurt Weiss of the state budget office said that is strictly “technical compliance.”  
“MSU and Wayne State have done that by the letter of the way it was written, but from an intent standpoint, I think that’s a different matter.”
But that may not be the final word.
State Representative Bob Genetski chairs the House higher education budget subcommittee. 
“MSU used lawyers, accountants and whatever bureaucrats they could find to swindle students.”
Genetski said he has not ruled out passing new budgets that would punish M-S-U and Wayne State for ignoring the intent of tuition restraints. 

Unhappy Michigan voters send a pink slip protest to lawmakers

Some unhappy voters in Michigan sent their message to lawmakers Wednesday with a pink slip protest.
They mailed fake pink slips to members of the state legislature that voted in favor of cuts to the K-12 education budget and in favor of taxing pensions.
Jim Johnson is a protest organizer. He said the message he wants to send is clear.
“That it’s time for the state politicians to get their priorities straight.  Instead of balancing the budget on the backs of Michigan workers, seniors, our elected leaders must focus on re-building our economy and creating good paying jobs.  And if politicians don’t start standing up for working families, we’ll fight back and make sure they get real pink slips next fall.”
Protesters sent some 3-to-4 dozen pink slips to Governor Snyder,  Senator Howard Walker, Represetative Frank Foster and Congressman Dan Beneshek.