Gov. Snyder cool to demand that unions give money
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder isn't embracing a top Republican lawmaker's demand that Detroit unions contribute money to help shore up pensions as part of the city's strategy for exiting bankruptcy.
The Republican governor says House Speaker Jase Bolger's request isn't on his list of conditions for the state to contribute $350 million to pensions and prevent the sale of city-owned art. Snyder told reporters in Lansing on Wednesday that Bolger's requirement will make approving bankruptcy legislation in May more "challenging."
Snyder and legislative leaders have pledged state aid to settle the bankruptcy, partly to ensure city pensioners can't sue Michigan when their benefits are trimmed. But it's not a done deal in the Republican-led Legislature.
Bolger has said unions should help mitigate the impact on pensioners they collected dues from.
Michigan murderer arraigned in prison escape
IONIA, Mich. (AP) - A convicted murderer who broke out of a western Michigan prison in February has been arraigned on escape, carjacking and kidnapping charges.
Michael Elliot appeared Wednesday afternoon in Ionia District Court. Judge Raymond Voet entered a not-guilty plea on Elliot's behalf. Voet scheduled a court conference for May 5 and a probable-cause hearing for May 7.
Elliot was captured Feb. 3 in LaPorte County, Ind., one day after escaping Ionia Correctional Facility, about 30 miles east of Grand Rapids, Mich. Authorities say the 40-year-old slipped under gates and made holes in fences before carjacking a woman in Ionia.
Elliot is serving life without parole for first-degree murder in the shooting of four people during the 1993 robbery of a drug dealer.
Man given life sentence for killing family members
DETROIT (AP) - A man has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for gunning down his 7-year-old daughter, grandmother and aunt at a home in Detroit.
Ferdarius Shine was sentenced on Wednesday in Wayne County Circuit Court. A jury found Shine guilty of first-degree murder earlier this month.
Police say Shine ran from the house after the Feb. 15, 2013, shootings, screaming that "the devil" made him do it.
He surrendered at a psychiatric hospital the next day and underwent a mental competency exam before his trial.
MLive.com reports Shine declined to speak when given an opportunity during the sentencing hearing. Shine's lawyer says mental disease was the cause of his client's violence.
The victims were Shine's daughter, Amera Jones; his 49-year-old aunt, Santangela Williams, and his 68-year-old grandmother, Geraldine Bates.
Priest, aide accused of stealing from church
TROY, Mich. (AP) - A Detroit-area Catholic priest and his parish administrator have been accused of an eight-year scheme to steal nearly $700,000 from their church.
Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment Wednesday charging the Rev. Edward Belczak and Janice Verschuren with conspiracy and fraud.
Belczak was pastor at St. Thomas More church in Troy until he was removed last year.
The indictment describes a wide-ranging scheme to steal money. It says Belczak used $110,000 from a church account to help pay for a Florida condominium that was sold to him by Verschuren.
The indictment says large donations to St. Thomas More were deposited in Belczak's personal accounts.
Defense attorney Jerome Sabbota says Belczak will fight the charges.
A message seeking comment was left with Verschuren's attorney.
GRAND RAPIDS-POWER OUTAGE
Utility: Power restored to downtown Grand Rapids
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Power has been restored to a part of downtown Grand Rapids that was affected by a problem with a utility's underground electrical system.
The Grand Rapids Press reports that the outage earlier in the day affected some apartment and condominium complexes. Consumers Energy spokesman Roger Morgenstern compared the situation to a fuse problem inside a home, though on a larger scale.
Morgenstern says the unit of Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp. was looking into exactly what was to blame for the outage.
Michigan to designate veterans on driver's license
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan will let its 680,000 military veterans get a special designation on their driver's licenses starting May 1.
The new license will have the word "Veteran" in bold red on the front of the card. It's available to all honorably discharged veterans.
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency Director Jeff Barnes unveiled the license Wednesday. A 2013 law creating the designation allows veterans to take advantage of discounts at businesses more easily without carrying their discharge papers.
Veterans renewing their license or applying for the first time will pay normal fees. To get the designation before it's time to renew, they can buy a duplicate license for $9.
Johnson is hoping every store clerk seeing the designation on a license will thank veterans for their service.
Up to 20 beef cattle break out in West Michigan
LEAVITT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Authorities in western Michigan say they're on the lookout for up to 20 cattle that escaped after a fence broke.
A farmer in Oceana County's Leavitt Township reported the beef cattle missing Tuesday, saying they got out through a break in a fence that occurred sometime in January.
TV stations WPBN and WTOM say the missing cattle range from 200 to 1,000 pounds.
The farm is about 25 miles southeast of Ludington.
Strike 13? Flint-area bowler goes after record
CLIO, Mich. (AP) - A Flint-area bowler is taking aim at the Guinness World Records mark for most strikes in a minute.
The Flint Journal reports that Jason Hicks of Clio last month unofficially tied the record, getting 12 at the Clio Bowling Acrade. The 35-year-old is planning to give it another try May 2 at the bowling alley that's owned by his family.
Hicks helps manage the alley and coaches a middle school bowling team. He got 12 strikes on 15 attempts March 7 - and a 13th came one second too late.
The attempts are for a good cause. Hicks used his last one to raise more than $1,300 for a local boy with a rare genetic disease. This time he's planning to split funds between several charities.
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