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 December 22, 2014 18:13 GMT

HOME SALES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fewer Americans bought homes in November as buying slid to its slowest pace in six months.

The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes fell 6.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.93 million. That's down from a revised pace of 5.26 million in October. Over the past 12 months, sales have risen 2.1 percent.

The combination of higher home prices and relatively stagnant incomes has reduced affordability and restrained buying activity. The recent decline in mortgage rates has yet to lure more buyers into the market, just as fewer distressed properties and bargains that attract investors are coming onto the market.

The Realtors estimate that 2014 sales will fall below 2013 levels.

Median home prices rose 5 percent over the past 12 months to $205,300.

CHINA-US-HACKING

BEIJING (AP) -- China says it has told the U.S. that it is against cyberattacks and opposes any nation or individual launching such attacks from a third country, but did not directly condemn the Sony hackings that Washington has blamed on North Korea.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the comments to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a phone conversation Sunday night, but did not blame North Korea for the hackings against Sony Pictures, according to a statement by the Foreign Ministry.

Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying warned Monday against suggesting that China was used as a platform for the attacks without sufficient evidence.

Sony Pictures canceled the release of "The Interview" after receiving threats of terrorist attacks from hackers. U.S. federal investigators have connected the hackings to North Korea.

RUSSIA-ECONOMY

MOSCOW (AP) -- The slide in the value of Russia's ruble is straining the country's banking system.

Russia's Central Bank says it has bailed out a mid-sized bank, at a cost of about $500 million, in order to save it from bankruptcy. It will also place Trust Bank under its supervision until it finds an investor.

The bank's problems follow a tumultuous period for the ruble, which is one of the worst-performing currencies this year, along with Ukraine's currency. It has fallen by a half as oil prices have fallen. Last week, its descent gathered pace, sparking a consumer boom as worried Russians flocked to shops to buy cars and durable goods before prices rose further.

Russia's deputy prime minister responsible for overseeing the economy says he expects the ruble to rally following moderate gains at the end of last week. Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov also says the government is not planning to introduce currency controls on Russian companies.

Still, a respected former finance minister, Alexei Kudrin, calls the ruble's plunge a "serious challenge" to Russia's economy and warns that "a full-blown economic crisis" could be ahead.

CUBAN RUMS

MIAMI (AP) -- U.S. rum aficionados are abuzz over the possibility of mixing a Cuba Libre with authentic Cuban rum, now that they will be able to bring home liquor distilled in the communist nation.

Relaxed limits on what licensed U.S. travelers can bring home mean that Americans will be able to enjoy small quantities of the liquor at home. But, with the embargo still in place, the rum won't be flooding bars or the market.

It's unclear what the news means for industry titan Bacardi, which was driven from its Cuba headquarters by the 1959 Castro revolution. In the past, Bacardi has left the door open for a possible return to its homeland.

In a statement, the company says it's waiting to see what effects thawing U.S.-Cuba relations may have.

ITALY-TRIPADVISOR

MILAN (AP) -- Italy's antitrust authority has fined travel planning website TripAdvisor 500,000 euros ($600,000) following complaints of improper business practices lodged by a national hoteliers' association and a consumer protection agency.

The antitrust authority said Monday that TripAdvisor had failed to adopt controls to prevent false reviews, while at the same time promoting the site's content as "authentic and genuine."

It's given TripAdvisor 90 days to present a remedy.

The Federalberghi federation of hoteliers welcomed the decision, citing the numerous examples of "defamatory" reviews that have appeared on the site.

A U.K. regulator has previously said that TripAdvisor must stop claiming that all the reviews on its British site were written by independent travelers, and therefore reliable.

TRUMP ENTERTAINMENT-BANKRUPTCY

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) -- Trump Entertainment Resorts says a new $20 million pledge by billionaire investor Carl Icahn will give it time to restructure while keeping the struggling Taj Mahal casino open.

Icahn's proposal is $15 million more than his previous bankruptcy financing offer. Trump attorneys say it runs through Dec. 31, 2015.

It also comes without some of the conditions upon which Icahn had insisted as part of a plan that would transfer ownership of the Atlantic City, New Jersey casino to him.

The revised plan omits a demand for $175 million in state and local tax relief, but it also eliminates a pledge by Icahn, who holds $288 million in secured Trump Entertainment debt, to pump $100 million into the company.

A hearing on the latest proposal is set for Jan. 9.

DRONES-SAFETY CAMPAIGN

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The drone industry is teaming up with the government and model aircraft hobbyists to launch a safety campaign in response to increasing encounters between small drones and manned aircraft

The campaign by two unmanned aircraft trade associations, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Academy of Model Aeronautics includes the launch of a website, www.knowbeforefly.org , and the distribution of safety pamphlets.

Retailers say small drones, which are indistinguishable from today's more sophisticated model aircraft, are flying off the shelves this Christmas. But the FAA is concerned that amateurs are using the drones in a reckless manner, increasing the likelihood of a collision that could bring down a plane or rain debris down on people.

The FAA is receiving about 25 reports per month of drones sighted flying near manned aircraft.

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