WINTER WEATHER ADVISORIES

1 AM UNTIL 4 PM THURSDAY

The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids issues a WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY for Van Buren, Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Jackson, Allegan, Barry, Eaton, Ottawa, Kent, Ionia, Muskegon, Montcalm, Oceana, and Newaygo counties from 1 AM until 4 PM Thursday afternoon.  Snow, sleet, and freezing rain develop shortly after midnight and prior to your Thursday morning commute.  Accumulations of ice are under 1/10" before an ultimate transition to snow everywhere, but we know it doesn't take a lot of ice to cause problems.  Accumulations ... Muskegon to Grand Rapids to Lansing: 1" to 2" ... southwest of that line including Kalamazoo: under 1".

Stay with wwmt.com for your weather today and always!

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The fate of Detroit

Updated: Saturday, August 3, 2013
The fate of Detroit story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - On Wednesday, one week after it declared itself bankruptcy, the City of Detroit celebrated its 312th birthday.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says Detroit's troubles, decades in the making, are only just beginning.

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I'd like to be a rah-rah guy for our state's largest city. But the truth is, no matter how I twist it and turn it and shape it...I Just can't.

The City of Detroit is the result of a train-wreck 50 years in the making. We all watched it happen, one slow-motion, hair-raising leg at a time.

How many times have you seen someone shake his head and say, helplessly, "well...that's Detroit."

And there are so many things to blame it on. Blame it on incompetent or corrupt leadership. Blame it on an auto industry that seemed unable to compete with the rest of the world. Blame it on unfunded pensions.

Blame it on NAFTA that did take hundreds of thousands of jobs south. Blame it on OSHA, which required companies to spend millions to make workplaces safer. Blame it on the cost of oil from the Persian Gulf. Blame it on white flight.

Blame it on loss of tax revenue.

Blame it on what or whomever you please.

The fact is, Detroit is a gigantic mess. It is a failed city.

In 1960 it was the fifth largest, and richest, per capita, city in the country with a population of nearly two million.

Now, with a population of just 700-thousand, 60 percent of its children live in poverty. Unemployment plods along at nearly 20 percent.

Some 30-thousand current and retired city workers are wondering if they'll have any of the pension they helped pay for.

A full third of Detroit's 140-square miles—an area the size of Grand Rapids—is now vacant or desolate.

It's a city that finds it difficult to even maintain street lights.

In the city itself, there is anger and outrage at the predicament people are finding themselves in...as if they believed the city could go on borrowing and running up bills that it never intended to pay. That day is now over.

I thought the defiant column by Mitch Albom, the celebrated Free Press writer, was terrific.

"Yeah, we're broke," he wrote, "But we got up this morning and had breakfast. Yeah we're broke. But we'll carry on...We'll still be here. We're not going anywhere."

It's nice and its easy to be defiant. But its not going to pay any bills. Its not going to bring back people who've already left. It's not going to raise tax revenues. Its not going to make leaders anymore honest.

For the record...Stockton, California, declared bankruptcy 13 months ago. And its parks are reportedly populated with drug dealers, its courts with lawsuits, its business districts with boarded up windows—with little relief in sight.

Are there positive signs in Detroit? Yes.

The Tigers are in first place. Consumer Reports says the new Chevy Malibu is hands down the best car on the road in just about any price range. Private developers want to build a new soccer stadium downtown. The state has agreed to issue $450 million in bonds to help develop a new Red Wings hockey stadium—and $200 million more to help develop 45 blocks near downtown.

So yeah...some things have the patina of progress.

But bright spots aren't enough.  Detroit is in for a long painful recovery. If, in fact, its up for it. There will be no bailouts.

We know that now.

So, in a very real way, Detroit is a new frontier—an urban frontier—waiting for courageous and creative private investment to mold something new from the rubble.

We have our fingers crossed. In the meantime...Happy birthday.

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

Business News

Last Update on January 28, 2015 13:05 GMT

YAHOO-ALIBABA SPIN-OFF

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is spinning off the company's prized stake in China's Alibaba Group Holding in a move that will avoid paying billions in future taxes.

A newly formed entity called SpinCo will inherit ownership of Yahoo's 384 million Alibaba shares when the tax-free spin-off is completed toward the end of this year.

Tuesday's much-anticipated announcement about the management of Yahoo's 15 percent stake in Alibaba overshadowed Yahoo's results for the final three months of last year.

Yahoo's shareholders are far more interested in Mayer's plans for the Alibaba stake because it's currently worth about $39 billion. That's far more than the value of Yahoo's own online services, which have been struggling to generate more revenue for the past six years.

CHINA-ALIBABA

BEIJING (AP) -- Chinese regulators have accused e-commerce giant Alibaba of allowing sales of fake and shoddy goods and other mismanagement in a report that was withheld until now to avoid disrupting its U.S. stock market debut.

The report Wednesday by China's industrial regulator said Alibaba allowed unlicensed merchants to use its sales platforms and failed to protect consumers' rights adequately.

The report was the result of a meeting in July but said it was withheld to avoid affecting progress toward Alibaba's stock market listing in New York. The company went public in September after raising a record $25 billion in an initial public stock offering.

An Alibaba spokesman said the company was preparing a public statement about the report.

HEALTH OVERHAUL POLL

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new poll says most Americans would want Congress to restore federal subsidies for millions buying health care coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law if the Supreme Court invalidates some of that aid.

A poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation says more than 6 in 10 would want Congress to restore the assistance.

That could mean Republicans would face a complex political landscape if the Supreme Court annuls part of Obama's health care law this year. Republicans want to repeal and replace that law.

The court is expected to rule in June whether the law allows federal subsidies only to people buying coverage from state-run marketplaces, and not from Washington's HealthCare.gov.

The federal government runs the marketplace in 37 states, covering more than 7 million people.

ALBERTSONS-SAFEWAY-FTC

NEW YORK (AP) -- Supermarket chain Albertsons says U.S. regulators have approved its purchase of competitor Safeway Inc.

The companies say the deal has been cleared by the Federal Trade Commission and should close within five business days.

Albertsons, which is privately held and part-owned by Cerberus Capital Management, agreed to buy Safeway in March for $7.64 billion in cash. The FTC said the sale would hurt consumers in 130 markets by reducing competition, and in December the companies said they would sell 168 stores in eight states.

Most of the stores will be bought by Haggen, a chain based in the Northwest. Haggen will expand to 164 locations from 18.

Excluding the stores that are being sold, Safeway had about 1,300 locations under names including Safeway, Tom Thumb and Carrs. Albertsons had about 1,100 stores under its own name as well as Acme, Jewel-Osco, and others. The companies have about 250,000 employees combined.

WINTER WEATHER-ECONOMIC IMPACT

NEW YORK (AP) -- Experts say New York City's businesses lost about $200 million following the fizzled snowstorm and decision to shut down the transit system. City officials argued it was better to err on the side of caution.

Moody's Analytics economist Adam Kamins says consumers who would have otherwise made other major purchases on Tuesday will likely do so a day or two later. And he notes that many employees forced to stay home were able to telecommute.

Experts say the biggest impact would be on small businesses and hourly workers such as taxi drivers and restaurant workers. The city's 24,000 restaurants could lose millions.

MARIJUANA-TAXES

DENVER (AP) -- Colorado's marijuana experiment was designed to raise tax revenue for the state and its schools, but a state law may give some of the money directly to residents.

The voter-approved constitutional amendment requires Colorado to pay back taxpayers when the state collects more than the limit in a formula based on inflation and population growth.

But lawmakers don't want to put pot taxes back into people's pockets.

Republicans usually want tax dollars returned to taxpayers, but they say marijuana should pay for itself, and general taxes shouldn't pay for things like increased drug education.

Lawmakers might ask voters to exempt pot taxes from the refund requirement. Otherwise, Colorado would have to refund more than $30 million of the $50 million in recreational pot taxes it has collected.

Lawmakers would decide if the money would go to all taxpayers or just people who bought pot.

AMERICAN EXPRESS-CUBA

NEW YORK (AP) -- American Express Co. says it plans to start doing business in Cuba after the Obama administration lifted a ban on U.S. banks and credit card companies operating on the island.

The New York company did not say on Tuesday when people could use American Express cards in Cuba. American Express currently has no terminals set up or merchant relationships there.

MasterCard Inc. last week became the first major U.S. credit card company to say it would start handling U.S. card transactions in Cuba. Visa Inc. did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

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