NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE
SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER 2002

Table of Contents

  1. 900 Numbers Spark Lawsuit
  2. 1930 U.S. Census Now Available at Library of Michigan
  3. Engler Announces 24 Hour Michigan eLibrary
  4. MDOT Unveils New Web Site
  5. Michigan Newswire
  6. Michigan Voter Information Center
  7. State Launches Curriculum Web Site for Educators
  8. State Launches Child Day Care Locator
  9. New Michigan School Data Released
  10. FIA Launches Missing Child Locator
  11. New Michigan Authors and Illustrators Database Launched
  12. What Do South Lyon-Brighton-Howell and Monroe Have In Common
  13. Michigan Insurance Agent Database Launched
  14. Michigan eLibrary Adds LearnATest for Job Seekers and Students
  15. Do You Have Lost Treasure in Michigan?


(1) 900 Numbers Spark Lawsuit

Want to check whether a Michigan doctor is licensed and in good standing? Or find out the winning numbers in the latest lottery drawing?

As a taxpayer, David Katz of Melvindale is outraged that he has to resort to dialing 900 toll telephone lines to access State of Michigan public information - for as much as $1.50 a minute.

As a result, he has filed a class action suit in the Waynce County Circuit Court against the state lottery, corporations, and health licensing agencies, claiming they violated the state Freedom of Information Act by selling public information for profit.

State officials claim the information sought is available for free over the internet or by mail or by visiting a local public library. The toll lines are provided not to make a profit but to allow Michigan citizens to get to the information easier and quicker for a fee.

Source: Article by Tina Lam in the Detroit Free Press, July 16, 2002, p. 1B and 4B.

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(2) 1930 U.S. Census Now Available at Library of Michigan

Long-Awaited Records Enhance the
Library's Extensive Genealogy and Local History Collection

Recently released records from the 1930 United States census, an important resource for genealogy and local history researchers, are now available at the Library of Michigan. Thanks to the generous support of the Talbert and Leota Abrams Foundation, the Library has purchased the complete set of population schedules of the Fifteenth Census of the United States. The addition of these long-awaited microfilm reels to its collection helps make the Library of Michigan one of the foremost genealogy and local history research centers in the country.

"This new Census material adds to the vast array of resources the Library of Michigan offers," said State Librarian Christie Pearson Brandau. "The Library's genealogy and local history collection is one of the nation's largest, and we continually enhance it to provide the best research tools."

Census data is collected every 10 years, as required by the U.S. Constitution, to count everyone in the country. In order to protect the confidentiality of individual census records, the Census Bureau and the National Archives withhold the release of these records for 72 years. The original 1930 documents were destroyed long ago, but not before their photographic images were transferred to rolls of microfilm, kept in locked vaults at the National Archives.

While the original intent of the census was to determine how many representatives each state was entitled to send to the U.S. Congress, it has become a key research tool for sociologists, demographers, historians, political scientists and genealogists.

The 1930 census provides a wealth of socio-economic information, such as the names of all persons living in each home, the relationship of each person to the head of household, whether the home is owned or rented, the value of the home, whether the family owns a radio, whether they own a farm, whether they attended school or college, whether they can read or write, place of birth, citizenship status and occupation. It was the last census that asked U.S. residents if they could read or write and the last census in which everyone was asked the same set of questions. More information about the 1930 census is available on the National Archives and Records Administration Web page at http://1930census.archives.gov.

To check the Library of Michigan complete census holdings, go to ANSWER, the Library's online catalog, at http://www.michigan.gov/hal. If you have questions, please contact the Library of Michigan Public Services Division at 517-373-1300.

Source: Casey Kremers (517-373-5578) via Michigan Newswire, June 19, 2002, press release.

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(3) Engler Announces 24 Hour Michigan eLibrary

The Library of Michigan's extensive - and virtual - resources are now available to Michigan residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from any Internet connection.

The Governor and State Librarian Christie Pearson Brandau unveiled the new Michigan eLibrary (www.mel.org) at a press conference on June 28, 2002 at the Michigan Library and Historical Center in Lansing.

"The Michigan eLibrary is a tremendous resource for the people of Michigan, and one more example of our state's commitment to technology and innovation", said Governor Engler. "MeL is a powerful research tool now accessible to all Michigan residents anytime and anywhere there is an Internet connection. In today's digital world, that's a must."

The Michigan eLibrary contains "Best of the Internet" resources screened by professional librarians and more than $3.6 million worth of online encyclopedias, directories, almanacs, electronic books and newspaper and magazine articles - exactly the kinds of resources one would expect to find in the world's great research libraries.

According to John C. Dvorak of PC Magazine, "MeL is an astonishing site. It puts Michigan at the top of the heap for providing its citizens with a powerful information portal that is far superior to most commercial sites."

Because the Library has secured access to these electronic resources for libraries and their users statewide, the savings are substantial. In fact, if each of the more than 2,000 Michigan libraries were to subscribe individually to this package of databases with unlimited simultaneous access, it would collectively cost more than $250 million.

"The Internet can be a treasure chest of information," noted Brandau, "but you have to have the right key. MeL gives Web users a way to wade through targeted collections of information rather than casting a net out blindly and hoping for good results."

In addition, MeL is completely non-commercial, accepts no sponsorship, and the selecting librarians make a great effort to choose sites that have minimal, if any, advertising. Any Web site matches returned in a MeL search result are there solely for their content and suitability.

Brandau also said MeL works in tandem with local public and school libraries. "MeL is available anywhere there is an Internet connection, and one of the best places to get connected is at the library", she said. "Librarians are pros at finding the best information on the Web. A great way to try out MeL is to tour it with your local librarian."

For more information about MeL, see http://mel.org/about/aboutmel.html.

Source: Michigan Newswire, June 28, 2002.

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(4) MDOT Unveils New Web Site

The Michigan Department of Transportation unveiled a new Web site designed to offer easier access to the huge amount of information offered regarding roads, bridges, airports and railroads on May 31, 2002.

"Our site contains a wealth of information about the department, who we are and what we do," said State Transportation Director Gregory J. Rosine. "Whether it's historical data or up-to-the-minute lane closures for highway work zones, our customers can now find what they need quicker and easier."

The new site, at http://www.michigan.gov/mdot, furthers Michigan's ability to ensure a single face of government to residents and visitors alike. The new Department of Transportation Web site includes many important features designed to increase access to Michigan's services. These features include a common look-and-feel, search engine, and quick links, as well as featured and spotlighted services that continually change.

The site is divided into eight main sections: Roads & Travel; Bridges, Borders & Ferries; News & Information; Projects & Programs; Maps & Publications; About MDOT; Doing Business; and Aeronautics.

"Many staff members worked long hours to bring our fresh and exciting new site to the public," Rosine said. "I think everyone will enjoy their ride on Michigan's new information superhighway."

Source: Michigan Newswire, May 31, 2002.

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(5) Michigan Newswire

Governor John Engler announced on May 21, 2002 that a new online wire service called MI Newswire has been incorporated into the state’s award-winning web portal http://www.michigan.gov.

MI Newswire, available at http://www.michigan.gov/minewswire, will provide easy access to press releases from virtually all state departments and agencies.

"With MI Newswire, both the public and the news media can access breaking state news quickly and without complication," said Governor Engler. "This site is all news all the time."

The new wire service also provides convenient links to recently archived press releases from state departments and agencies.

For easy access, MI Newswire will also be available as a quicklink on the right navigation area of Michigan.gov.

Editor's note: The Red Tape Editor will mine this resource frequently to uncover news items of possible interest to Red Tape readers.

Source: Michigan Newswire, May 21, 2002.

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(6) Michigan Voter Information Center

The Michigan Secretary of State Voter Information Center is a partnership between the Michigan Department of State and Publius, a non-profit corporation dedicated to developing web tools to enhance citizen participation in elections. The partnership combines the talent and expertise of these two organizations to further their mutual commitment to Michigan’s elections process.

The Voter Information Center is an online source for one-stop election information.

On the web page, Michigan residents can :

The Qualified Voter File, a nationally recognized statewide voter registration system developed by the Michigan Department of State, provides data for the site.

Publius has been providing online information to Michigan voters since 1998. The name “Publius” has a strong connection to the foundation of American representative democracy. “Publius” was the pen name used by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison in 1787 and 1788 when they published 86 articles entitled The Federalist (collectively know as The Federalist Papers) in defense of the federal republic created by the new constitution.

Try it out at http://65.42.172.210/

The Michigan Voter Information Center allows one to type in your name or search by your address. It provides your polling location (and a map of its location!) and what kind of ballot you should expect (punch card, mechanical lever machine, etc.). You may see instructions on how to use the equipment, and even see a video about how to use your voting equipment. http://www.sos.state.mi.us/election/votesys/equipment.html is a shortcut to seeing all the videos about using all the equipment.

Sometimes people don't know what township or city they live in, especially if they live in sprawlsville or out in the country. If that is the case, you may use the Census Tract Street Locator at http://tier2.census.gov/ctsl/ctsl.htm to determine your city or township. Many academic and public libraries can refer to Carroll's Municipal/County Directory to determine the address and telephone phone number of their nearest township or city hall.

Those who know they will be traveling on election day can also request absentee ballots from thier local voting headquarters. There is more information about getting an absentee ballot at http://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,1607,7-127-1633_8716_8728-21037--,00.html .

Source: Michigan Newswire, September 6, 2002. Additional information supplied by Kathleen Weessies, Maps/GIS Librarian, Michigan State University and Shawn Nicholson, State Documents Librarian, Michigan State University.

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(7) State Launches Curriculum Web Site

The Michigan Department of Treasury is giving teachers and educators access to high-quality, coordinated curriculum and lesson plans, developed by the top teachers in the state, through a new Web site called SCoPE (Sample Curriculum and Plans for Education). Teachers and educators will now be able to download plans for math, science, language arts and social studies for grades K-11 and immediately put those plans to work in the classroom.

In the making for nearly a year, SCoPE is unlike any other teacher resource now available on the Internet. Teachers can access the single site to obtain year-by-year curriculum with units of study for each grade level, clearly linked to Michigan's content standards, benchmarks and statewide assessments. The site also offers daily lesson plans with classroom activities, suggested methods of assessment and homework assignments.

For more information, and to access the site, visit http://www.michigan.gov/scope.

Source: Michigan Newswire, August 26, 2002.

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(8) Child Day Care Locator Now Available Online

The Michigan Department of Consumer and Industry Services, the Michigan Family Independence agency, and Michigan eGovernment have teamed together to create a new web site to help parents seeking licensed child care providers or looking for guidelines for finding quality child care or other child care related information.

After opening the site, parents can click on "Find Licensed Child Care Centers and Homes" to locate licensed child care centers, group homes and registered family homes by a name, address or zip code search. Parents can review information such as hours of operation, age of children each center will care for and licensed capacities.

For more information, and to access this service, please visit the FIA's web site at http://www.michigan.gov/fia/0,1607,7-124-5453_5529_7143-20904--,00.html.

Source: Michigan Newswire, August 26, 2002.

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(9) New Data About Michigan's Schools Released

The Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI) today announced that Standard & Poor’s School Evaluation Services (SES) released new data and analyses about Michigan school districts and added new research tools to the SES Web site (http://www.ses.standardandpoors.com). CEPI provides the data to this service.

"Michigan now has the most powerful and most objective accountability tool in the country — five years of data and written reports provided by Standard & Poor's School Evaluation Services," Gov. John Engler said. "Michigan is the first state to introduce a powerful tool to find schools and districts that are making the best progress toward meeting new federal goals for all students."

CEPI director Andrew Henry and SES director Jonathan Jacobson met with education reporters in Lansing to showcase the new data and Internet research tools.

With the addition of 2000-2001 school year data to the SES Web site, some five-year trends are noted by Standard & Poor’s researchers:

Standard & Poor’s also has added several new features to the SES Web site: “With the latest release of data through the SES, parents and educators have access to more information about Michigan’s public schools than ever before. We hope that these new data and Web site tools encourage superintendents and principals to seek information about ‘best practices’ from their colleagues,” noted CEPI’s director, Andrew Henry.

CEPI is an office located within the Office of the State Budget and manages the state’s contract with Standard & Poor’s SES. CEPI is responsible for collecting, managing, and reporting data about the performance of Michigan’s public schools and students. To find out more about CEPI and resources provided by CEPI, please visit http://www.michigan.gov/cepi. Source: Michigan Newswire, Sept. 20, 2002.

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(10) FIA Launches Missing Child Locator Web Site & Toll Free Number

On September 17, 2002, the Michigan Family Independence Agency announced a new web site that contains information about, and when available, pictures of Michigan children who have been reported to law enforcement as runaways or potential abductions. This information is being provided by the State of Michigan because it is believed the children are at risk, and it is in the best interest of these children that they be located.

Because these children are listed as endangered by law enforcement, FIA Director Doug Howard determined it was in the best interests of these children to make identifying information available to the public. "Every day that a teenager is on the run, or a child is not with their legal guardian, is a day they are at risk. We've developed this web site to help get these children off the streets or be returned when taken illegally by a relative."

For those children on the web site who are absent without legal permission (AWOLP), the majority are 16 years or older and have run away. The majority of younger children have been taken without permission.

"Our number 1 priority is locating these children and assuring their safety," said Howard.

The agency also announced a new toll-free phone line, 1-866-729-0026, where citizens can call with information on any youth highlighted on the site.

In addition to the web site and toll-free number, FIA has stepped up uniform computer searches of state and national data banks, with a priority on locating the younger children and/or their families. "We are working with a number of partner and stakeholder groups," noted Howard. The agency will be working with the Michigan Foster and Adoptive Parent Association (MFAPA) about ways to prevent and discourage runaways. They are also working very closely with law enforcement on ways to strengthen the existing system and are working with a small work group of court staff designated by Chief Justice Maura Corrigan on ensuring strong and consistent communications and action between FIA and the courts.

Historically, FIA has been able to track the children's status through its automated case management system. Last spring, FIA began reviewing and strengthening procedures for children in the foster care system including those AWOLP. Particular attention was given to documentation, direct and collateral contacts, and supervisory reviews.

"As we launch the web site, we are seeking assistance from law enforcement, social services and the community at large," said Howard. "This web site will be updated regularly."

For more information, go directly to http://www.michigan.gov/fia/0,1607,7-124-20950---,00.html.

Source: Michigan Newswire, Sept. 17, 2002

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(11) New Michigan Authors and Illustrators Database Launched

The Library of Michigan, the Michigan Center for the Book and the Michigan Association of Media in Education recently announced the launch of their collaborative project, the Michigan Authors and Illustrators database. This online resource, available through the Michigan eLibrary at http://www.mel.org/miai/miai.html, offers information on authors and illustrators born in Michigan, who live in Michigan, or who have written books about or set in Michigan.

“After more than a year of hard work, we are proud to present a valuable resource to those interested in Michigan’s literary heritage and culture,” said Michigan Center for the Book Coordinator Karren Reish. “This database will provide information on authors to readers interested in our state, librarians looking for titles to purchase, students working on school assignments and people looking for authors to speak at events.”

The Michigan Authors and Illustrators database, which is updated continually, includes biographical information on the author, a bibliography of works by and about the author, lists of awards, photos and book covers, personal statements and whether or not the author is available for presentations.

The database was unveiled during a reception at the Michigan Library and Historical Center. The event featured Gijsbert van Frankenhuysen, illustrator of children’s titles such as The Legend of Sleeping Bear and The Legend of Mackinac Island, who spoke about the importance of encouraging reading by providing the tools for children and adults to find authors and works of interest.

The Michigan Association for Media in Education (MAME) provides, researches and edits the database’s content, and the Library of Michigan and the Michigan Center for the Book provide programming and technical administration of the database. The database is partially funded by the federal Library Services and Technology Act.

MAME, a professional association of more than 1400 school library media professionals, has produced several previous reference works on Michigan authors. The database follows the format and criteria of those earlier works.

The launch of the database is part of a nationwide celebration of U.S. literary culture and the joy of reading in conjunction with the National Book Festival, sponsored by the Library of Congress. Michigan’s is one of 22 state Centers for the Book hosting events to highlight the festival, which takes place October 12 at the U.S. Capitol.

Source: Michigan Newswire, Sept. 12, 2002.

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(12) What Do South Lyon-Brigton-Howell and Monroe Have In Common?

According to the May 1, 2002 Federal Register, these two census geographic areas are the only new Urbanized Areas in Michigan!

The Federal Register defines an urbanized area as one that "consists of a densely settled territory that contains 50,000 people or more." Seventy-six new urban areas emerged nationally since 1990, for a total of 453.

For extra credit, name the other urbanized areas in Michigan. Ok, if you don't want to think, they are Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Bay City, Benton Harbor-St. Joseph, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Holland, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Muskegon, Port Huron, and Saginaw. Ok, add Elkhart, In-Mi, Michigan City, In-Mi, South Bend, In-Mi, and Toledo, Oh-Mi if you count urbanized areas in other states that spill over into Michigan.

For a humorous article about this momentous occasion, see "What's In a Name? 3 Cities, 2 Hyphens," an article by by Sheryl James, appearing in the May 24, 2002 Detroit Free Press.

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(13) Michigan Insurance Agent Database Launched

The Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Services (OFIS) announced on October 7th that insurance agent and agency information is available in searchable format at http://www.michigan.gov/ofis.

“Michigan consumers can now access the web and search, by zip code or city, for insurance agents and agencies in their community,” said OFIS Commissioner Frank M. Fitzgerald. “The web site also provides the information for consumers to make sure an insurance agent is licensed, review which insurance companies the agent is appointed to sell insurance for, and confirm what type of insurance they are licensed to sell. All of this information is also accessible by calling OFIS toll free at 877-999-6442.”

This new web-based searchable database also provides important information for insurance agents and companies. Verification of current license status, appointment, and continuing education information is immediately accessible to the insurance industry. The information is updated on a daily basis.

The searchable agent and agency information is available on the OFIS home page at www.michigan.gov/ofis. The information will be permanently housed on the OFIS web site under the “Who We Regulate” insurance section.

“This information continues the effort to make Michigan government information immediately accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” added Fitzgerald. “The searchable agent and agency electronic information represents a tremendous amount of hard work from both OFIS and Department of Information Technology staff.”

Source: Michigan Newswire, Oct. 7, 2002.

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(14) Michigan eLibrary Adds LearnATest for Job Seekers and Students

Tests of any kind can be a source of anxiety for people of all ages. You know the material, but when the time comes to be tested it’s as if you’re reading a foreign language. Sometimes all it takes is a little extra practice. Since the Library of Michigan has recently added LearnATest to the Michigan eLibrary (MeL) collection of electronic resources at http://www.MeL.org, that extra practice is just a few mouse-clicks away, at no charge!

“This is a fabulous addition to the Michigan eLibrary!” said State Librarian Christie Brandau. “The materials available through LearnATest are exactly the types of reference materials of which there never seem to be enough to go around. The unemployed and others pursuing a new career, as well as parents who want extra exam help for a child, now have an excellent, free resource on which to draw.”

Funding for this new service comes from a $4 million appropriation of federal Reed Act funds to the Library of Michigan. The cost of the statewide access to LearnATest through Sept. 30, 2005 is $450,000. The Library’s remaining Reed Act funds will be used to support other library programs statewide that assist patrons applying for unemployment and seeking employment via the Internet.

LearnATest is the leading source of test preparation materials and interactive practice exams based on official tests. The purpose of this service is to help users improve scores on academic, civil service, military and professional licensing and certification exams. Features include immediate scoring, complete answer explanations and individualized analysis of test scores.

“Anything that helps individuals improve their skills and prepare for a career is a welcome addition to the many excellent career development programs and services offered by the state of Michigan,” Dr. Barbara Bolin, director of the Michigan Department of Career Development (MDCD), said.

LearnATest is provided by Learning Express, LLC, a New York-based publisher of print and online test preparation, career guidance and basic skill practice materials geared to help students and adults improve academic and job-related abilities.

Source: Michigan NewsWire, Oct. 1, 2002.

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(15) Do You Have Lost Treasure in Michigan?

The Michigan Department of Treasury published its annual Unclaimed Property list in the October 13, 2002, edition of the Detroit News/Free Press. This year’s publication includes a record 87-thousand names of individuals and entities that have abandoned property with the state. Under Michigan law, the Department of Treasury acts as custodian of unclaimed property until claimed by its rightful owner. There is no statute of limitations for claiming property, which generally consists of shares of stock, uncashed checks, and dormant bank accounts as well as contents of safe deposit boxes.

In each of the last two years, the Unclaimed Property Division has paid out record amounts to Michigan citizens. "In Fiscal Year 2002, more than $27 million in abandoned property and cash has been returned to Michigan citizens," says State Treasurer Douglas B. Roberts. "We can only hope that a record listing in this weekend’s Unclaimed Property publication will lead to another record payout in 2003."

The Department of Treasury Web site at http://www.michigan.gov/unclaimedproperty continues to offer the easiest access to the extensive database of unclaimed property. A search engine (Michigan's Money Quest) is available to see if an individual’s name might be included on the list. While the statewide publication includes only those properties turned into the state within the last year, the online database contains several years. An inquiry form is also available online.

Source: Michigan NewsWire, Oct. 10, 2002.

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