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 July 28, 2015 07:34 GMT

GULF OIL SPILL-SETTLEMENT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A federal judge says BP will begin paying up to $1 billion in settlements to compensate local governments across the Gulf Coast for lost tax revenue and other economic damages they blame on the company's 2010 oil spill.

An order issued Monday by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier (BAHR'-bih-aye) says all of the payments to local governments must be made within 30 days.

July 15 was the deadline for roughly 500 local governments in five states to decide whether to accept BP's settlement offers as part of a broader $18.7 billion agreement with the five Gulf states and the federal government over damage from the spill.

Barbier's order says BP says most local government entities have accepted the settlement.

IN-STORE-WINDOWS 10

UNDATED (AP) -- Windows 10 debuts tomorrow. No one's expected to line up overnight for the new Microsoft operating systems the way people did 20 years ago for Windows 95.

Microsoft says Windows 10 will seem familiar to users of Windows 7. Microsoft and PC makers want to erase the memory of the last big update, 2012's Windows 8, which alienated many with its jarring, clumsy design.

So, how much will Windows 10 cost? Microsoft says the new OS will be a free download for anyone who has the Home or Pro versions of Windows 7 or 8, but not the Enterprise versions.

But you might have to wait a bit to get your copy. Microsoft says it will deliver downloads in waves, to ensure things go smoothly. You can check the Microsoft website for more information on how to update your OS and what to expect from Windows 10.

CHRYSLER-RECALL SETTLEMENT

DETROIT (AP) -- Fiat Chrysler could be required to lay out billions of dollars to get potentially defective Ram pickups and older Jeeps off the road under a deal with safety regulators to settle claims that the automaker mishandled nearly two dozen recalls.

The Italian-American automaker must offer to buy back 500,000 Ram pickup trucks and other vehicles in the biggest such action in U.S. history. It must also either allow owners of more than a million older Jeeps with vulnerable rear-mounted gas tanks to trade them in at above market value or cover the cost of a repair. Fiat Chrysler faces a record civil fine of up to $105 million.

The settlement is the latest sign that auto safety regulators are taking a more aggressive approach toward companies that fail to disclose defects or don't properly conduct a recall.

JAPAN-TOYOTA-VW

TOKYO (AP) -- Volkswagen overtook Toyota in global vehicle sales for January-June, the first time the German automaker has come out at the top in the intensely competitive tallies.

Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it sold 5.02 million vehicles in the first six months of this year.

Volkswagen said earlier it sold 5.04 million vehicles during the same period. Sales were robust in Europe and North America but fell in China, a strong market for the company.

Detroit-based General Motors Corp., the top-selling automaker for more than seven decades until being surpassed by Toyota in 2008, is expected to report its figure Thursday.

Toyota, which makes the Prius hybrid, Camry sedan and Lexus luxury models, has been the world's top-selling automaker for the past three years.

MEXICAN CILANTRO BAN

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration is banning imports of some fresh cilantro from Puebla, Mexico, after a government investigation found human feces and toilet paper in growing fields there.

The FDA announced the partial ban on Monday after cilantro imported from the state of Puebla was linked to 2013 and 2014 outbreaks of stomach illnesses in the United States.

U.S. and Mexican health authorities investigated farms and packing houses in Puebla and found that some of the farms had no running water or toilet facilities.

The ban will only affect certain shipments of fresh cilantro from Puebla from April through August, corresponding to the timing of the outbreaks. The summer ban will continue in future years unless a company can prove to health authorities that its product is safe.

CONGRESS-HIGHWAY BILL

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is ruling out House action on a long-term, must-pass highway bill the Senate is considering.

In an interview with reporters on Monday, the California Republican said definitively: "We're not taking up the Senate bill."

The Senate's version of the highway bill, which is on track to pass later in the week, sets policy and authorizes transportation programs for six years, though with funding for only three of those years. The Senate also is moving toward reviving the federal Export-Import Bank and adding it to the bill.

The House has passed a five-month extension of transportation programs without the Export-Import Bank.

If Congress doesn't act by Friday, states will lose money for highway and transit projects in the middle of the summer construction season.

OFFSHORE WIND

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (AP) -- Federal and state officials say the beginning of construction for the nation's first offshore wind farm is the success the industry needs to surge forward in the United States.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell called it a "pioneering moment" for an important industry.

Deepwater Wind is building a five-turbine wind farm off Block Island, Rhode Island, which it expects to power 17,000 homes as early as next year.

It began attaching the first of the steel foundations to the ocean floor Sunday. The first one touching the seabed is known in the industry as the "first steel in the water."

Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski says it was a spectacular moment.

Deepwater Wind took officials, including Jewell, and project supporters to the site by boat Monday.

APPLE WATCH-BEST BUY

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Apple Watch is heading to some Best Buy stores ahead of the holiday shopping season.

Best Buy Co. says it will sell the Apple Watch at 100 of its stores and on its website on August 7. Another 200 Best Buy stores will offer the smartwatch before the end of the year. Best Buy, which has more than 1,000 stores in the U.S., says it's the first national retailer to sell the watch outside of Apple Inc.'s stores.

The retailer, based in Richfield, Minnesota, will offer models of the smartwatch that cost between $349.99 and $699.99.

Apple unveiled the watch in September and began taking orders in April. The Cupertino, California, company hasn't released any sale figures for the new device.

NIKE-APPLE-FUELBAND

NEW YORK (AP) -- Nike will give partial refunds or gift cards to people who bought FuelBand fitness trackers in the last three and a half years, resolving a lawsuit that says the products can't accurately tally how many steps a user is taking or how many calories they've burned.

A website maintained by Gilardi & Co., a firm that administers settlements, says Nike Inc. will give $15 payments or $25 gift cards to people who bought FuelBands between Jan. 19, 2012 and June 17, 2015. Nike and collaborator Apple aren't acknowledging wrongdoing, but they're offering to settle a class action lawsuit against them.

The lawsuit said the companies engaged in false advertising and breached the terms of the devices' warranty.

Apple Inc. and Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

WORLD TRADE-KAZAKHSTAN

BERLIN (AP) -- Kazakhstan is set to become the 162nd member of the World Trade Organization after the Geneva-based body formally approved the country's membership.

The largest former Soviet republic in Central Asia is rich in natural resources and a key transit country for goods between Asia and Europe.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev says Kazakhstan is committed to opening up its financial and telecommunications sectors as agreed during its 19-year accession process.

Nazarbayev says his country hopes that joining the WTO will encourage foreign investment.

Kazakhstan, which has suffered from the economic downturn in neighboring Russia, must still ratify the membership agreement in its national Parliament by the end of October.

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