State Roundup

Detroit

Detroit unions weigh strike option as layoffs loom

DETROIT (AP) -- Some Detroit municipal union leaders say striking is one of several options being discussed during ramped-up strategy sessions before new contract talks with the city begin.

American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees Council 25 spokesman Ed McNeil says no strike vote has been taken "at this point."

McNeil said "people are looking at the system itself and are pretty disgusted with the city."

Union strategy sessions have become more agitated since Mayor Dave Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder approved a consent agreement that avoided appointment of an emergency manager in Detroit but now calls for steeper benefit cuts and more work rules concessions.

Detroit has an accumulated budget deficit of $265 million. Bing wants to cut more than 2,500 jobs and shave $250 million in annual expenses.

Ely Township

Fire burns more than 60 acres in northern Mich.

ELY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) -- Authorities in Michigan's Upper Peninsula say a wildfire burned more than 60 acres before it was contained.

State police say the fire was reported Tuesday night in Marquette County's Ely Township. There were no injuries, evacuations or damage to homes reported.

WLUC-TV reports about 20 firefighters from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources were on the scene as well as firefighters from another area department.

The cause of the fire wasn't known.

The fire is the latest in northern Michigan to be reported recently. Generally dry conditions mean the danger persists for more blazes across the region.

Leoni Township

Reports: Cost of February train crash about $2.3M

LEONI TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) -- Reports submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration estimate that a crash involving a Chicago-bound Amtrak train in southern Michigan in February caused nearly $2.3 million in damage.

The Jackson Citizen Patriot says the reports from Amtrak and Norfolk Southern were posted Tuesday on the Office of Safety Analysis website.

The damage estimate included $2.2 million to equipment, $37,000 to the track and $50,000 to a semi-truck that was stuck on the tracks and hit by the train. The accident happened in Jackson County's Leoni Township, 45 miles south of Lansing. Authorities say 10 people were sent to the hospital.

Full service was restored the day after the crash.

Detroit

Officer shot 5 times calls sentence 'insulting'

DETROIT (AP) -- A Detroit police officer who was shot five times last year offered a rebuke in court to a judge who sentenced the gunman to 14-25 years in prison.

The Detroit News reports Officer Arthur Matthews stood up during Tuesday's sentencing hearing in Detroit and called Wayne County Circuit Judge Ulysses Boykin's sentence "insulting." Matthews was wounded last May while off-duty during a robbery attempt at a gas station.

Twenty-five-year-old Christopher Proctor pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with intent to commit murder, punishable by up to life in prison.

Boykin described sentencing guidelines that help dictate the actual time in prison as "very lenient." The judge also says he received "numerous" letters from Proctor's family.

The officer uses a cane as a result of his injuries.

Pontiac

State to review finances of Pontiac schools

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) -- The state is planning a preliminary financial review of Pontiac's public school district, a step in a process that could lead to the appointment of an emergency financial manager.

The state informed the district of its plans this week. The district's deficit is projected to be $26 million by the end of June. The review is expected to be completed next month.

The Pontiac School District says it's made changes to shore up its finances and it's planning more cuts next week.

The city of Pontiac already is overseen by a state-appointed emergency financial manager.

Coldwater

Police seize $150K worth of stolen sporting goods

COLDWATER, Mich. (AP) -- Police in southern Michigan say they've seized about $150,000 worth of stolen sporting goods, including 20 canoes and 20 kayaks.

State police announced Tuesday that a 39-year-old Coldwater man was ordering from sporting goods suppliers with no intent to pay for the merchandise.

Police say some of the retailers are from out of state or maybe in Canada. Other items include three paddle boats, dozens of archery targets and nearly 200 fishing rods.

Investigators were seeking tips in the case. They're also trying to return the sporting goods to the retailers.

Lansing

New tools to help DHS deploy staff, track fraud

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- About 1,000 county managers in the Michigan Department of Human Services are gaining new technology to help them identify potential fraud and abuse while helping caseworkers deal with safety net services more efficiently.

The welfare agency and the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget developed the technology in partnership with OptumInsight.

The human services department says the analysis and reporting tool lets managers in 115 offices statewide track assistance that clients receive and make local caseload decisions.

It also lets caseworkers help clients join all programs for which they're eligible. Each caseworker now deals with more than 600 families.

The new tool will work with the state's Bridges program that manages cash assistance, medical assistance, food assistance, child care and low-income home energy programs.

Published: Thu, May 3, 2012

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