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 August 22, 2014 17:58 GMT

YELLEN

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says the Great Recession complicated the Fed's ability to assess the U.S. job market and made it harder to determine when to adjust interest rates.

Yellen's remarks to an annual Fed conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, offer no signal that she's altered her view that the economy still needs Fed support from ultra-low interest rates. The timing of a Fed rate increase remains unclear.

She notes that while the unemployment rate has steadily declined, other gauges of the job market are harder to assess and may reflect continued weakness. These include high levels of people who have been unemployed for more than six months, many people working part time who would like full-time jobs and weak pay growth.

OBAMA-CONTRACEPTION

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration will offer a new accommodation to religious nonprofits that object to covering birth control for their employees. The measure allows those groups to notify the government, rather than their insurance company, that birth control violates their religious beliefs.

The government is also extending an existing accommodation to some for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby that's currently available only to nonprofits. That accommodation requires groups to sign a form transferring responsibility for paying for birth control to their insurers or third-party administrators.

The dual decisions embrace suggestions included in recent Supreme Court rulings. But they're unlikely to go far enough to satisfy religious groups. That's because they would still make the groups complicit in a system that provides birth control through their organizations' health plans.

FITNESS DATA

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- The maker of a popular line of wearable fitness-tracking devices says it has never sold personal data to advertisers, contrary to concerns raised by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.

San Francisco-based Fitbit said Friday that it has clarified its privacy policy to make it clear the company doesn't share information about its users.

Schumer raised concerns about the company's privacy policy earlier this month and called for federal rules to allow consumers to protect their data.

But the company said Friday that it's never sold private data and updated its online privacy policy to make that clear.

Schumer said Friday he hopes other manufacturers of wearable devices adopt similarly transparent rules.

Many Americans wear fitness bracelets and monitors or use mobile apps to monitor their activity.

MCDONALD'S-PRESIDENT

NEW YORK (AP) -- McDonald's has named a new president for its flagship U.S. division, marking the second change in less than two years.

The world's biggest hamburger chain says former McDonald's executive Mike Andres will replace Jeff Stratton, who is retiring, effective Oct. 15.

Stratton, 58, took over in late 2012 and replaced Jan Fields. That shakeup was made after McDonald's Corp. reported its first monthly sales drop in nearly a decade. Sales in the U.S. have remained weak ever since, with the company facing intensifying competition and changing eating habits.

McDonald's has said it's working on fixing basics, such as the speed of service and order accuracy.

Andres, 56, will report directly to CEO Don Thompson. Andres was most recently CEO of Logan's Roadhouse Inc.

DEERE-LAYOFFS

MOLINE, Ill. (AP) -- Agricultural equipment maker Deere is laying off about 460 employees indefinitely from an Iowa tractor factory as it continues to adjust to market demand.

The Moline, Illinois, company said Friday the latest round of layoffs will be effective October 20. Deere said last week that it would lay off more than 600 employees at four Midwest factories that make harvesting and other agricultural equipment due to slumping demand.

Deere & Co. is the world's biggest farm equipment supplier and employs about 67,000 people globally.

It said earlier this month that it planned to reduce agricultural equipment production for the remainder of the year.

Company shares are down 63 cents to $85.58 in early trading.

KRAFT-KEURIG

NEW YORK (AP) -- Keurig Green Mountain says it struck a deal to make Kraft's branded coffees, such as Maxwell House and Gevalia, for its single-serve brewing systems in the U.S.

The companies did not disclose financial terms of the deal.

Keurig, based in Waterbury, Vermont, makes at-home brewing machines that let people make cups of coffee one serving at a time. The company is also working on a machine that would let people make cold, carbonated drinks at home, and has partnered with Coca-Cola to let people make various Coke drinks at home.

Kraft had also announced a deal to distribute packaged McDonald's coffee to supermarkets and other retailers. That deal will mean people will also be able to make McCafe drinks with Keurig machines.

Shares of Keurig rose 9 percent to $127.79.

DYNEGY-ACQUISITION

Dynegy to spend $6.25B on power plant acquisitions

Dynegy plans to spend more than $6 billion to buy several coal and gas power generation plants from Duke Energy and Energy Capital Partners.

The Houston company says the deal will boost its presence in the Midwest and New England. Dynegy produces power that it sells through wholesale markets.

The company plans to spend $2.8 billion for Duke's assets and $3.45 billion for those of Energy Capital Partners, or ECP. It says the deal will add about 12,500 megawatts of coal and gas generation. Dynegy also expects the acquisitions to complement its existing business and add fuel diversification.

Dynegy Inc. says both deals should close by the end of next year's first quarter.

Shares of Dynegy are climbing in premarket trading.

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