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 September 22, 2014 17:29 GMT

WALL STREET-PROTEST

NEW YORK (AP) -- Hundreds of activists protesting what they say is Wall Street's role in the climate crisis have gathered in lower Manhattan's financial district.

Scores of environmental activists dressed in blue are marching, carrying signs, chanting and sitting down on Broadway and elsewhere as workers and tourists look on.

Organizers say the protest is meant to highlight the role corporations play in stalling political action to combat global warming. It comes a day after more than 100,000 participated in the People's Climate March through Manhattan.

Participants in Monday's sit-down say they anticipate being arrested to push home their political point.

Urban farmer Ben Shapiro from Youngstown, Ohio, says he came to disrupt Wall Street and actively "confront the system."

HOME SALES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fewer Americans bought homes in August, as investors retreated from real estate and first-time buyers remained scarce.

The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes fell 1.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.05 million. That snaps a four-month streak of gains. August sales are down from a July rate of 5.14 million, a figure that was revised slightly downward.

Much of the slowdown came from the exodus of investors, who had been buying properties in the aftermath of the housing bust and recession. Investors accounted for just 12 percent of August purchases, compared to 17 percent a year earlier.

Overall, the pace of home sales has dropped 5.3 percent year-over-year.

Rising prices through much of 2013 and weak income growth priced out many would-be buyers.

EUROPE-ECONOMY

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- The head of the European Central Bank is warning that the eurozone's already tepid economic recovery "is losing momentum."

Mario Draghi is telling members of the European parliament that recent economic indicators have given "no indication" of an upturn since August. The 18 countries that use the euro saw no economic growth at all in the second quarter.

Draghi says growth is being threatened by geopolitical disturbances and the failure of member governments to reform their economies and make them more efficient.

The ECB chief also defended the bank's new stimulus program, an offer of cheap, long-term loans to banks. Banks took only 82.6 billion euros at the first offering last week, less than many market analysts expected. Draghi says the takeup was within the bank's expectations.

APPLE-IPHONE SALES

NEW YORK (AP) -- Apple says it sold more than 10 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models, a record for a new model, in the three days after the phones went on sale.

A year ago, Apple Inc. said it had sold 9 million of the then-new iPhone 5C and 5S models.

The iPhone is available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the U.K. It will go on sale in 20 more countries on Sept. 26 and others by the end of the year.

CEO Tim Cook said Monday that demand for the phones has exceeded the company's expectations. Besides larger screens, the new phones offer faster performance and a wireless chip for making credit card payments. The phones start at $199 with a two-year service contact.

FED-PLOSSER

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Charles Plosser, a leading inflation "hawk" at the Federal Reserve, says he will retire in March.

Plosser, who has been president of the Fed's Philadelphia regional bank since August 2006, has been among the leaders of the officials known as hawks for their concerns that a continuation of low-interest rate policies could ignite inflation.

He has dissented at the past two Fed meetings, when the central bank voted to maintain its plan to keep a key short-term rate at a record low for a "considerable time."

Plosser, 66, would have given up his vote on the Fed's policymaking committee next year as part of the normal rotation of votes among the regional bank presidents. And the rules governing the Fed's 12 regional banks would have required his retirement in 2016.

GENERAL MOTORS-IGNITION SWITCH DEATHS

DETROIT (AP) -- The death toll from crashes involving General Motors small cars with faulty ignition switches has risen to at least 21.

Compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg says in an Internet posting he received 143 death claims as of Friday. He has determined that 21 are eligible for compensation so far. Last week 19 death claims were deemed eligible for payments.

Feinberg also has received 532 injury claims. Of those, 16 are eligible for compensation thus far. The rest are still being reviewed.

GM has admitted knowing about the ignition switch problem in small cars like the Chevrolet Cobalt for more than a decade. Yet it didn't begin recalling the cars until February.

The switches can unexpectedly shut off the engine and cause crashes.

GM hired Feinberg to compensate crash victims.

FRANCE-PILOTS STRIKE

PARIS (AP) -- Air France pilots are rejecting the company's offer to delay the expansion of its low-cost carrier, Transavia, after a seven-day strike that the airline says is costing it up to 20 million euros ($25 million) a day.

Pilots unions went on strike last week after Air France-KLM announced plans to save 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) over several years in part by transferring European operations to Transavia. The company, which is cutting costs to try to stay competitive with budget airlines, says talks are deadlocked. About half the airlines' flights have been cancelled since the strike began.

The main pilots' union, SNPL, says Monday's offer to delay the expansion until December is a smokescreen, accusing the airline of trying to outsource jobs to countries with lower taxes and cheaper labor.

CLOROX-VENEZUELA

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Clorox is shutting down its operations in Venezuela, citing restrictions by the government, supply disruptions and economic uncertainty.

Shares jumped 3 percent before the opening bell Monday.

The U.S. consumer products company said that for almost three years it has had to sell more than two-thirds of its products at prices frozen by the Venezuelan government. Over that same time span, there has been a sharp rise in inflation that resulted in significantly higher costs for Clorox. The company says it's selling products at a loss in the country.

The Clorox Co. met repeatedly met with government authorities and said it had expected significant price hikes. However, the increases that were approved were "nowhere near sufficient" and it said the company would be forced to continue operating at a loss.

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