WINTER WEATHER ADVISORIES

1 AM UNTIL 4 PM THURSDAY

The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids issues a WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY for Van Buren, Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Jackson, Allegan, Barry, Eaton, Ottawa, Kent, Ionia, Muskegon, Montcalm, Oceana, and Newaygo counties from 1 AM until 4 PM Thursday afternoon.  Snow, sleet, and freezing rain develop shortly after midnight and prior to your Thursday morning commute.  Accumulations of ice are under 1/10" before an ultimate transition to snow everywhere, but we know it doesn't take a lot of ice to cause problems.  Accumulations ... Muskegon to Grand Rapids to Lansing: 1" to 2" ... southwest of that line including Kalamazoo: under 1".

Stay with wwmt.com for your weather today and always!

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Bolger, Schmidt evade charges for election scheme

Updated: Thursday, August 15, 2013
Bolger, Schmidt evade charges for election scheme story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A few days ago, a year-long grand jury of one cleared House Speaker Jase Bolger, of Marshall, and former State Representative Roy Schmidt of any criminal wrong doing in their keystone cops effort to rig an election last year with a fake Democratic opponent.

Tonight in Tom’s Corner, Tom Van Howe says that while they may not be crooks, there’s nothing suggesting either one can be trusted.

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How it can be that an effort to trick, to fool, to defraud voters, is anything but criminal is astonishing to me.

You can go to jail for cheating an innkeeper, but its business as usual when you're caught trying to cheat voters by abusing our electoral process.

In case your memory is foggy, here’s what happened.

Representative Roy Schmidt, a long-time Grand Rapids Democrat, decided he wanted instead to be a Republican.

So he huddled with House Speaker Jase Bolger and came up with a plan. Schmidt would wait until the last minute before the election, then take voters by surprise by filing as a Republican.

By pushing it to the brink it would leave his old party  without sufficient time to field a viable candidate.

But Schmidt and Bolger didn’t leave that to chance either; they recruited a kid—a friend of Schmidt’s son; someone who didn’t even live in the district; someone who has no political ambition—to file perjure himself as the Democratic challenger.

They offered him $1,000 to stay in the race.

But in the glare of media scrutiny, the young sacrificial lamb dropped like rock.

And because no money had actually changed hands—and only because of that—no law was violated.

“Intent,” apparently, only applies to other crimes.

In an incredible collapse, Schmidt went on to lose in the August primary to write-in Democrat Winnie Brinks.

Kent County’s Republican prosecutor William Forsythe said he could find no law that had been broken—but called the Bolger-Schmidt effort to rig an election a “travesty,” and likened it to rigging a boxing match.

There are laws against that, by the way.

So now a grand jury said the pair broke no law; that neither of them is a criminal.

Schmidt is already musing that he’d like to get back into politics. He says a suggestion by a former aide that there ought to be a law to prevent what he did from happening again is a “bunch of crap.”

Bolger has apologized;  but says he’d do it again. Without, the next time, the focus on the phony candidate.

He compared what he and Schmidt did to a football coach running a trick play.

Bolger is in his third term in the house and can’t run again. But the smart money says he’ll make a run for the state senate.

Just two guys who tried to rig an election. Two guys who violated the public trust. Two guys who abused the electoral process. They don’t get it.

Neither one deserves to hold elective office. One can only hope voters remember when the time comes to send them that very message.

In this corner...I’m Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on January 28, 2015 13:05 GMT

YAHOO-ALIBABA SPIN-OFF

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is spinning off the company's prized stake in China's Alibaba Group Holding in a move that will avoid paying billions in future taxes.

A newly formed entity called SpinCo will inherit ownership of Yahoo's 384 million Alibaba shares when the tax-free spin-off is completed toward the end of this year.

Tuesday's much-anticipated announcement about the management of Yahoo's 15 percent stake in Alibaba overshadowed Yahoo's results for the final three months of last year.

Yahoo's shareholders are far more interested in Mayer's plans for the Alibaba stake because it's currently worth about $39 billion. That's far more than the value of Yahoo's own online services, which have been struggling to generate more revenue for the past six years.

CHINA-ALIBABA

BEIJING (AP) -- Chinese regulators have accused e-commerce giant Alibaba of allowing sales of fake and shoddy goods and other mismanagement in a report that was withheld until now to avoid disrupting its U.S. stock market debut.

The report Wednesday by China's industrial regulator said Alibaba allowed unlicensed merchants to use its sales platforms and failed to protect consumers' rights adequately.

The report was the result of a meeting in July but said it was withheld to avoid affecting progress toward Alibaba's stock market listing in New York. The company went public in September after raising a record $25 billion in an initial public stock offering.

An Alibaba spokesman said the company was preparing a public statement about the report.

HEALTH OVERHAUL POLL

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new poll says most Americans would want Congress to restore federal subsidies for millions buying health care coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law if the Supreme Court invalidates some of that aid.

A poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation says more than 6 in 10 would want Congress to restore the assistance.

That could mean Republicans would face a complex political landscape if the Supreme Court annuls part of Obama's health care law this year. Republicans want to repeal and replace that law.

The court is expected to rule in June whether the law allows federal subsidies only to people buying coverage from state-run marketplaces, and not from Washington's HealthCare.gov.

The federal government runs the marketplace in 37 states, covering more than 7 million people.

ALBERTSONS-SAFEWAY-FTC

NEW YORK (AP) -- Supermarket chain Albertsons says U.S. regulators have approved its purchase of competitor Safeway Inc.

The companies say the deal has been cleared by the Federal Trade Commission and should close within five business days.

Albertsons, which is privately held and part-owned by Cerberus Capital Management, agreed to buy Safeway in March for $7.64 billion in cash. The FTC said the sale would hurt consumers in 130 markets by reducing competition, and in December the companies said they would sell 168 stores in eight states.

Most of the stores will be bought by Haggen, a chain based in the Northwest. Haggen will expand to 164 locations from 18.

Excluding the stores that are being sold, Safeway had about 1,300 locations under names including Safeway, Tom Thumb and Carrs. Albertsons had about 1,100 stores under its own name as well as Acme, Jewel-Osco, and others. The companies have about 250,000 employees combined.

WINTER WEATHER-ECONOMIC IMPACT

NEW YORK (AP) -- Experts say New York City's businesses lost about $200 million following the fizzled snowstorm and decision to shut down the transit system. City officials argued it was better to err on the side of caution.

Moody's Analytics economist Adam Kamins says consumers who would have otherwise made other major purchases on Tuesday will likely do so a day or two later. And he notes that many employees forced to stay home were able to telecommute.

Experts say the biggest impact would be on small businesses and hourly workers such as taxi drivers and restaurant workers. The city's 24,000 restaurants could lose millions.

MARIJUANA-TAXES

DENVER (AP) -- Colorado's marijuana experiment was designed to raise tax revenue for the state and its schools, but a state law may give some of the money directly to residents.

The voter-approved constitutional amendment requires Colorado to pay back taxpayers when the state collects more than the limit in a formula based on inflation and population growth.

But lawmakers don't want to put pot taxes back into people's pockets.

Republicans usually want tax dollars returned to taxpayers, but they say marijuana should pay for itself, and general taxes shouldn't pay for things like increased drug education.

Lawmakers might ask voters to exempt pot taxes from the refund requirement. Otherwise, Colorado would have to refund more than $30 million of the $50 million in recreational pot taxes it has collected.

Lawmakers would decide if the money would go to all taxpayers or just people who bought pot.

AMERICAN EXPRESS-CUBA

NEW YORK (AP) -- American Express Co. says it plans to start doing business in Cuba after the Obama administration lifted a ban on U.S. banks and credit card companies operating on the island.

The New York company did not say on Tuesday when people could use American Express cards in Cuba. American Express currently has no terminals set up or merchant relationships there.

MasterCard Inc. last week became the first major U.S. credit card company to say it would start handling U.S. card transactions in Cuba. Visa Inc. did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

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