Archives for September 2018

Road Lockout Ends After 23 Days

The more than three-week-long lockout of union heavy equipment engineers is over and stalled road projects will come back to life soon.

Governor Snyder said Thursday afternoon a deal had been reached to end the labor impasse, which began with the lockout of Operating Engineers Local 324 on September 4 by the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association. MITA represents dozens of construction companies, and the association was looking to bring in non-union workers from out of state due to the lockout. Snyder was also considering activating the Michigan National Guard.

Emerald Ash Borer Interior Quarantine

The state’s Emerald Ash Borer Interior Quarantine is ending October 1, but not because the invasive insect is gone.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says the tree-killing pest has now spread to 79 of the state’s 83 counties, but the 16-year-old quarantine helped to slow its expansion and give officials time to plan ways to combat it. Department officials say the federal quarantine remains in place, and Michigan residents are still encouraged to not move firewood from one part of the state to others. The EAB was first detected in North America in southeast Michigan in 2002 and has spread to 34 other states, Washington, DC and five Canadian provinces.

Whitmer Leads The Race

A new poll is showing the same results as four previous surveys when it comes to the race for Michigan governor.

Democrat Gretchen Whitmer has a 13-point lead over Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette in a new poll commissioned by Reuters, 52-to-39 percent. Her largest lead in a poll to date has been 14 points earlier this month. In the U.S. Senate race, the Reuters poll gives incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow a huge 55-to-35-percent lead over Republican John James.

Poll Finds Broad Support In Great Lakes States For Asian Carp Protection

An overwhelming number of residents of Great Lakes states support immediate action to build structural protections to keep Asian carp out of the lakes.

The survey commissioned by the Great Lakes Partnership to Block Asian Carp asked people in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin about their understanding of the threat posed by the fish. Over 90-percent believe it’s important to immediately take steps to block the Great Lakes from the carp, and over 70-percent support a “fair share” funding proposal, with over 80-percent support having Michigan pay the share of any state that can’t pay its own portion to block Asian carp.

No Break In Road Lockout Stalemate

There is no movement on either side in the labor impasse that has shut down roughly 150 road construction projects statewide.

The Governor says he was unable to get anywhere in direct talks on Tuesday between the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association and Operating Engineers Local 324, which MITA locked out on September 4. Snyder says activating the National Guard to handle some of the more high-priority road projects remains an option, and his office is also trying to find out what they can do legally to try to get the situation settled. He added he is not taking sides in the labor dispute other than to look out for the best interests of drivers who want the roads fixed.

Direct Talks This Week Between Governor, MITA, OE 324

Direct talks will be held this week between Governor Snyder and the two sides in the road construction labor dispute.

Snyder’s office announced a cooling off period on Friday after the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association said they had begun talking to the Michigan National Guard about taking over for Operating Engineers 324 to finish over 100 stalled road projects. MITA locked out the union on September 4, and the governor’s office says all sides have agreed to stop the public battle in the media until further notice.

Psychologist Facing Charges

An Upper Peninsula psychologist is facing 50 felony charges for allegedly trading sexual favors for prescriptions for Oxycodone and other drugs.

Attorney General Bill Schuette charged 61-year-old Michael Varney of Caspian in Marquette, Iron, and Dickinson counties. Varney was arraigned in Marquette County last week and is being held on a one-point-75-million dollar bond with his next court appearance set for October 3. The state began its investigation after getting a tip in the fall of 2017 that the doctor was trading sex for drugs.

Psychologist Facing 50 Felony Charges

An Upper Peninsula psychologist is facing 50 felony charges for allegedly trading sexual favors for prescriptions for Oxycodone and other drugs.

Attorney General Bill Schuette charged 61-year-old Michael Varney of Caspian in Marquette, Iron, and Dickinson counties. Varney was arraigned in Marquette County last week and is being held on a one-point-75-million dollar bond with his next court appearance set for October 3. The state began its investigation after getting a tip in the fall of 2017 that the doctor was trading sex for drugs.

Driver Responsibility Fees End

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is putting out word to people whose driver’s licenses have been suspended for not paying driver responsibility fees that it doesn’t mean everyone’s license will be restored.

Johnson says suspended licenses not linked to the driver responsibility fees will still need to be cleared up. The highly unpopular fees, which were enacted in 2003 to try to fix a budget shortfall, are being wiped off the books on October 1. More than 300-thousand Michigan residents will be relieved of the fees, which Secretary Johnson voted against 15 years ago while serving in the state House.

National Guard For Roads

An ongoing stalemate between the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association and union road builders has Governor Snyder considering a big move.

A spokesman says the state is looking into using the National Guard to do the work on more than 100 projects that are stalled due to MITA locking out the union workers on September 4. The governor’s office has been meeting separately with both sides this week trying to end the lockout that started September 4.