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May 15, 2013

Small conservative groups describe big burdens of IRS scrutiny

By Nick Carey

(Reuters) – For Kevin Kookogey, the Internal Revenue Service’s scrutiny of his one-man outfit providing conservative mentoring for students was so onerous he thought it was trying to deter him from political activity.

“It worked,” said the Tennessean who ran the group Linchpins of Liberty. “I completely shut down and do my mentoring without fundraising so I can avoid getting audited.”

May 13, 2013

Detroit emergency manager says city ‘clearly insolvent’

By Nick Carey and Steve Neavling

(Reuters) – Michigan’s biggest city is “clearly insolvent” and needs to restructure its debt and renegotiate its labor contracts to address its problems, Detroit’s emergency financial manager said on Monday.

Emergency Financial Manager Kevyn Orr in a report issued online presented a sweeping review of Detroit’s problems, from gaping budget deficits to a crushing debt load to abandoned homes and broken streetlights.

May 12, 2013

As Detroit emergency manager readies fix-it plan, hard work ahead

DETROIT, May 12 (Reuters) – Six weeks into his work as
Detroit’s emergency manager, former bankruptcy lawyer Kevyn Orr
has found the city’s finances in worse shape than expected, with
long-term debt at $15 billion, $2 billion worse than figures
disclosed before he took the job.

The city has set aside far less than expected for retiree
healthcare benefits, too. A report from Michigan State
University in March stated that Detroit has $4.9 billion of
unfunded benefit liabilities. But Orr’s review has found the
shortfall actually is $5.7 billion, 16 percent higher than
expected, according to Orr’s spokesman, Bill Nowling.

Apr 21, 2013

Texas blast highlights risks for volunteer firefighters

WEST, Texas/CHICAGO (Reuters) – When Cody Dragoo set out with his fellow volunteer firefighters to stop the fire raging at the West Fertilizer Co, he more than anyone knew the dangers that loomed, family and friends said.

A team leader for the all-volunteer firefighting force in West, the 50-year-old worked at the plant mixing combustible chemicals to make fertilizer for use on the fields of corn and other crops that surround the rural Texas town.

Mar 26, 2013

Wisconsin Gov. Walker writing book, could signal White House hopes

March 26 (Reuters) – Wisconsin’s Republican governor, Scott
Walker, is working on a book on the lessons he learned in his
2011 battle with the Midwest state’s labor unions and how
conservatives could apply them at a national level.

Observers said the book could be a signal that Walker, who
last year became the first U.S. governor to survive a recall
election, is contemplating a presidential bid.

Mar 14, 2013

Beyond Detroit, city takeover may benefit Michigan governor

March 14 (Reuters) – Rick Snyder’s decision to put Detroit
in the hands of an emergency financial manager on Thursday may
not go down well in the heavily Democratic Motor City, but the
Republican governor has the chance to go down in Michigan
history as the man who saved Detroit.

The biggest state takeover of an American city in over two
decades comes the year before many expect the
businessman-turned-governor to seek re-election in 2014. In any
political calculating, Snyder probably didn’t count on
Detroiters getting him to a second term.

Mar 5, 2013

UAW’s King juggles diversification, southern strategy

DETROIT, March 5 (Reuters) – United Auto Workers President
Bob King says he has finally begun to stem the decades-long
membership decline in one of America’s most powerful labor
unions, but his goal of organizing at least one foreign-owned
automaker in the South continues to elude him.

King, 66, who is slated to step down in June 2014, said two
years ago that the UAW did not have a future if it could not
organize workers at plants in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and
Tennessee that are owned by Japanese, German and South Korean
auto makers.

Feb 19, 2013

Nerdy CEO-turned-governor faces the Detroit challenge

LANSING, Michigan (Reuters) – In today’s partisan environment, many U.S. politicians tend to hew close to their base and not worry about angering their opponents, but Michigan Governor Rick Snyder possesses a rare talent for raising hackles on both sides.

In early December, the Republican governor angered the state’s powerful labor unions by signing so-called “right-to-work” legislation allowing workers to opt out of union membership. Then earlier this month, Snyder annoyed Michigan’s small-government conservatives with a plan to expand Medicaid and raise the gas tax for road repairs.

Feb 19, 2013

Mortgage lender Quicken bets on downtown Detroit’s revival

DETROIT (Reuters) – Dan Gilbert has a vision for downtown Detroit that many would find hard to square with the long, painful decline commonly associated with this city: a vibrant urban core full of creative, innovative and talented young people.

Yet Quicken Loans, the mortgage lender Gilbert co-founded in 1985, has invested $1 billion over three years, bought some 2.6 million square feet of commercial space in the downtown area and moved 7,000 employees there in a bid to make that vision a reality.

Feb 19, 2013

Forget the big comeback; Detroit focuses on what can be saved

DETROIT, Feb 18 (Reuters) – Imagine a city with open space
larger than the size of Paris, where people are planting
hardwood trees and vegetable gardens, and neighbors have plenty
of room to spread out.

It would sound so idyllic, if only it weren’t Detroit.

The open space is largely abandoned land, the lack of
neighbors the result of an inexorable exodus, the planting the
work of residents striving to stop the blight from spreading.

    • About Nick

      "Nick Carey is a Chicago-based, British-born journalist who has covered everything from the near-collapse of the Big Three automakers to the U.S. housing crisis. Nick is currently on general assignment, reporting on the human impact of the recession. He previously spent ten years working in central and eastern Europe."
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