Crain's Detroit Business - December 19, 2011 - (Page 1)
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SPECIAL HOLIDAY EDITION 2011
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Page 3 AG in no hurry for action on health insurance exchange
M1 Rail back where it started
Private backers see rail complementing bus plan
BY DANIEL DUGGAN AND NANCY KAFFER
CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS
Entrée to China: Neapco calls the shots St. John makes ‘strategic’ purchase in Farmington Hills Inside Village Green plans new apartment complexes, Page 10
What started as a small, privately funded rail system took three years to morph into a regional, federally funded bus system. In between are a number of decisions that, in hindsight, the private backers of the M1 light rail project in Detroit — who remain committed to the concept — say could have been made differently.
As the corporate donors and leaders of the rail project regroup for another run at Woodward light rail, they say they’ve learned from the experience. And, they say, those lessons will inform the second life of M1 Rail. “There must have been 20 critical decision points that at the time seemed reasonable and necessary to follow,” said Rip Rapson, president of the Troy-based Kresge Foundation, one of the groups backing the rail plan in Detroit.
Rapson was one of close to 20 corporate and nonprofit leaders on a conference call Wednesday in which it was decided to press on with the plan. “We had an informal call yesterday of the M1 memberRapson ship, almost two dozen people,” Rapson said Thurs-
day. “And the clear sense coming from that is that there is every reason to press forward.” Timing of the project is contingent on government approvals, but construction could start 12 months after getting a green light.
Back to 2007
The original vision for M1 was simple: Find corporate investors to back a privately funded rail system that would run from Jefferson Avenue to Grand Boulevard.
See Rail, Page 5
A year in business
Features look back – and forth
Page views at crainsdetroit.com reveal the top 25 stories of 2011, according to Crain’s readers. Hint: A guy named Dan was a big draw, Pages 8-9
Universities: Veto bill banning partner benefits
Perk called important to schools’ recruitment
BY DUSTIN WALSH
CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS
This Just In
Water department bond sale meets ‘good demand’
Despite the city’s financial woes, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department had no trouble selling $484 million in water and sewer debt last week, The Wall Street Journal reported. The bonds were sold with yields ranging from 0.60 to 1.80 percentage points more than top-rated municipal bonds. Detroit’s bonds are generally rated junk, and Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings have placed the city’s rating on review for a downgrade. Still, that yield is lower than in an earlier pricing, The Journal reported Thursday, “an indicator of good demand.” Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s rated the sale “midlevel investment grade” or A1 and A-, according to the report. Proceeds will finance capital improvements and “terminate the water department’s outstanding swaps,” which have a net termination value of about $210 million. Water department officials say that the sale was a routine offering and that a November court ruling gives the water department more autonomy. — Nancy Kaffer
Ten images that helped tell the year’s stories, Page 11
LOOKING BOTH WAYS
Analyzing the past and peering into the future, reporters break down their beats, blog style, Pages 12-17
The best of Crain’s online reader comments from the past year of Talk on the Web, Page 17
Michigan universities face uncertainty over the right to offer what for some is a valuable recruitment tool: domestic partner benefits. The Michigan House and Senate are at odds over a bill banning domestic partner benefits for state employees. At issue is whether the bill applies to the state’s 14 public universities and whether the state constitution protects them from the bill. House Bill 4770, sponsored by Rep. Dave Agema, R-Grandville, passed the Senate this month with amended language that may exempt university employees from the ban. However, several House Republicans told reporters the bill will apply to university employees. Sara Wurfel, Gov. Rick Snyder’s press secretary, said the governor’s legal team is assessing the bill’s language to determine whether universities are in fact exempt but would not speculate on whether the governor would sign the bill. Snyder has until Dec. 27 to sign or veto the bill. The uncertainty has university officials urging Snyder to veto it. “The language is amBoulus biguous and about as clear as mud,” said Mike Boulus, executive director of Lansing-based Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan. “At this point, we don’t know whether the bill includes us, so we’re urging the governor to veto.” University officials believe the ban will
See Bill, Page 4
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Crain's Detroit Business - December 19, 2011
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