Failing to tackle our roads

Updated: Friday, June 20, 2014
Failing to tackle our roads story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Many Michigan residents were taken by surprise last week when the Michigan Senate failed once again to make a plan to deal with our overwhelmingly bad and ever deteriorating roads.

Even as legislators left Lansing to vacation and campaign, there were reports from around the state of local residents taking it upon themselves to fix potholes in their neighborhoods.

We've seen it happen in Emmett Township.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says it's time for Michiganders to stand up and be heard.

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To put it as straightforward as I can: the Michigan Senate--long controlled by Republicans--is a chamber of cowardice.

Here we are, in a state that virtually gave birth to the automobile, that put the nation on wheels more than a century ago; and we simply refuse to take on the massive task of fixing what are arguably the worst roads and bridges in the United States.

How embarrassing.

The argument goes that Republicans are either too caught up in an anti-tax manifesto, or are too afraid that conservatives in their districts will vote them out if they raise the gas tax by 25-cents a gallon.

Well, assuming their heads are in fact stuck in the sand, I've got news for them. A road tax is one of the few things people would be willing to pay.

Yes. A new poll last month by the Center for Michigan found that 58 percent of us are willing to pay more at the pump to attack what we--not our Senators--but what "we" think is an urgent priority.

Our Senators obviously have a different view. They've gone on vacation.

Not to suggest there are no Republicans trying to get the ball moving. Governor Snyder has been asking for action from almost the day he was elected.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, who's soon to be term-limited out of office, has been trying to lead a charge. But nobody is following.

Richardville hasn't always been on board, but he is now.

"The Detroit three," he said, "have learned to make better cars. People are working harder and smarter. It's time for state legislators to support a commonsense way to build better, longer-lasting roads. It's time to fix the damn roads."

I can sense the growing anger over the lack of action everywhere I go. If it's a given that our elected officials are afraid to tackle the issue, the case can now be made they should be even more afraid to continue ignoring it.

This is the same bunch who so cleverly headed off a minimum wage ballot proposal a couple of weeks ago to keep voters away from the polls in November. And they did it in one day.

It's time for them to show a little courage now and do a little something for people of all income brackets. If they refuse to budge, I can hear the chant of "throw the bums out" beginning to grow.

We need good roads for our own safety. To protect the investments we make in our cars. For more efficient commerce. For the tourists on whom we so heavily rely for our economy. To help attract business. To make us proud of our state and its infrastructure.

If our legislators fail us... it's time to replace them with a new crew who won't.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on October 01, 2014 07:31 GMT

EBOLA TREATMENTS-MOVER

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of companies that are studying potential vaccines for Ebola have been climbing in aftermarket trading after federal officials announced that the first case of the disease has been diagnosed in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a patient being treated at a hospital in Dallas tested positive for the disease.

Ebola is believed to have sickened more than 6,500 people in West Africa, and more than 3,000 people have died. Symptoms can start as much as 21 days after exposure, and the disease isn't contagious until symptoms begin. It takes close contact with bodily fluids to spread the disease.

The World Health Organization has worked to speed up the use of some experimental vaccines and companies are ramping up testing.

OBAMA-ECONOMY

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama will deliver an economic address this week seeking to promote the recovery as the campaign season heads into its final weeks before midterm congressional elections.

Obama plans to deliver a speech tomorrow at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois, drawing attention to economic advances since he took office. The White House says he will also press for additional steps that the government can undertake to create jobs and improve wages.

The speech comes amid polls that still show the economy is the top issue with voters and that a majority of voters disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy. The speech marks a shift from Obama's recent attention to international crises, particularly the start of a new bombing campaign against Islamic extremists.

TRUMP ENTERTAINMENT-BANKRUPTCY

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) -- A Delaware bankruptcy judge will hold a hearing tomorrow on a request by Trump Entertainment Resorts to be relieved of its pension obligations under a collective bargaining agreement with workers at the Taj Mahal casino.

The judge had previously scheduled a mid-October hearing on Trump's request for permission to terminate the labor agreement as part of an effort to reorganize and avoid closing the casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

But company attorneys have been unable to persuade the union to agree to replace the pension plan with a 401(k) plan. They said yesterday that they need a quick decision on the pension liability because it could torpedo efforts to reorganize.

Union attorneys argue that the pension question can't be separated from the larger issue of the collective bargaining agreement.

PLASTIC BAG BAN-THINGS TO KNOW

SACRAMENTO (AP) -- The American Progressive Bag Alliance, a coalition of plastic bag manufacturers, says it will seek a voter referendum to overturn California's law banning single-use shopping bags, signaling the fight between environmentalists and manufacturers is not over. California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the nation's first statewide ban on the bags yesterday, following the lead of more than 100 California cities and counties.

The group has three months to gather more than 500,000 valid signatures, the number needed to place a referendum on the November 2016 ballot. The group says it will push to make sure the law does not take effect until voters have a say.

LEGALIZING POT-COLORADO COMPETITION

DENVER (AP) -- Colorado's new marijuana industry is in for a brand new element today -- competition.

The state gave medical marijuana dispensaries and growers a nine-month exclusive on the new recreational pot business, fearing an unmanageable explosion of new businesses.

The grandfathering period expires today, meaning pot shops and growers who weren't in business before voters approved recreational pot in 2012 are just now able to enter the market.

"There's going to a price war coming. It's inevitable," predicted Toni Fox, a marijuana grower and owner of a Denver pot shop. Fox has received a license for a second shop opening today in Salida (suh-LY'-duh).

Colorado is issuing licenses for 46 more pot shops, in addition to about 200 already in place. Colorado is also licensing 37 more growing facilities and 13 new product manufacturers who make marijuana-infused products.

The expansion means pot prices for consumers could soon drop. Recreational marijuana in Colorado currently wholesales for about $1,800 to $2,500 a pound, depending on quality. The addition of new growers starting today could push the price below $1,000 a pound once those plants mature.

FILM-NETFLIX'S GAMBIT

NEW YORK (AP) -- Hollywood's carefully controlled system of movie rollouts is officially under siege.

Windowing -- the practice of opening a movie first in theaters and then in other stages of home video, streaming and television release -- has been under increasing pressure as smaller screens fight against the prominence of the theatrical big screen. Now, Netflix has fired the most notable missive across the bow of windowing, announcing plans to release a sequel to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" on the day it hits Imax theaters next August.

The film, produced by the Weinstein Co., isn't a studio production, so it's in many ways only marginally more significant than the plethora of independent films regularly released on video-on-demand. But the announcement constitutes the biggest move yet by a major digital outlet to blow up Hollywood's traditional release pattern.

"This is a very unique opportunity for somebody from the outside coming in to shake up what appears to be an increasingly antiquated release strategy," says Rich Greenfield, a media analyst for BTIG Research. "They had to get into the movie business to reduce windowing, and I think this is an important Step 1 for Netflix."

Exhibitors, in tandem with the major studios, have long sought to guard the theatrical window. Yesterday two of the country's largest theater chains, Regal Cinemas and Cinemark, which both have some Imax theaters, promptly refused to carry the film.

REDSKINS NAME-FCC

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The head of the Federal Communications Commission says the agency will consider a petition to ban the Washington Redskins nickname from the public airwaves.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said yesterday that the commission "will be dealing with that issue on the merits, and we'll be responding accordingly."

A law professor has challenged the use of the name on broadcast television, saying it violates FCC rules against indecent content. Native American and other groups have demanded the name be changed, calling it a racial slur.

Wheeler did not offer a timetable for a ruling on the matter. He has previously said he finds the name "offensive and derogatory," but that he hoped Redskins owner Dan Snyder would change it without any formal action.

Snyder has vowed never to change the name.

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