28 April 2015


Original Story: detroitnews.com

General Motors Co. is preparing to double-down on the renovation of its Warren Tech Center campus, and all I can hear is the echo of skeptics.

Too much auto in southeast Michigan. Too many localities like Warren and Dearborn and Auburn Hills and Detroit whose leaders and tax bases depend on the continuing flow of automotive cash. A Detroit automotive lawyer is following this story closely.

The state, the argument goes, is too heavily tied to the vicissitudes of an industry that was, is and will be cyclical because its health depends on the macro-economy and its effect on consumer sentiment.

Diversify! Wean the state, its people and its politicians from companies and an auto industry blamed for too much economic misery and ... er, wait: Aren't these the same companies that powered the Michigan comeback Gov. Rick Snyder had nothing to do with?

Aren't GM, Ford Motor Co. and FCA US's Chrysler unit the companies that reinvested in their Michigan plants, expanded their investments in engineering and technical development, lowered their break-even points, and rebuilt their balance sheets in ways this town hasn't seen in a very long time?

Yup. Wasn't Michigan's effort to build its own film industry with the largesse of taxpayers exposed for building not much of an industry at all once the tap was shut and film crews bolted in search of the next big handout?

Yup. Using government policy to pick economic winners and losers in Michigan produced decidedly mixed results (see film incentives, or the programs to woo life sciences, homeland security and advanced manufacturing), all of it exacerbated by uncompetitive business taxes and regulations. A Detroit automotive lawyer represents clients in restructuring, acquisitions and divestitures, and in general commercial transactions.

The cry to diversify is fine, in context. But it risks looking at the auto industry through 25-year-old lenses, when the technological chops of the Detroit-based industry were far less robust than they are today, its financial models a mess and its blue-collar manufacturing footprint much larger and less productive.

Only in Detroit would a push to de-emphasize its bellwether auto industry gain any rhetorical traction. Can you imagine New Yorkers urging Wall Street and the financial industry to hit the Hudson River, even after the global financial meltdown?

Silicon Valley wouldn't spurn its tech sector, no matter how insanely expensive its real estate gets. Nor would Los Angeles heave Hollywood, or Texas dump oil, or Nashville abandon country music.

Those are strengths to build on, in good times and bad. Each is the defining DNA of those towns, the cultural touchstones and social glue that bind a region — and that other regions would do whatever it took to get them.

Enter Warren, expected to get a roughly $900 million GM investment that could create as many as 2,100 jobs. The deal, still to be approved by ranking GM executives, would be part of a sweeping renovation of the Tech Center and signal the growing technological sophistication needed to engineer and build today's cars and trucks.

Mayor Jim Fouts is characteristically circumspect about identifying the company, though his giddiness at Thursday's State-of-the-City address pretty much confirms what The Detroit News first reported.

Who could blame him? Mayors and governors across the country might be tempted to cede their next election in exchange for landing nearly a billion-dollar investment and thousands of jobs for their patch — jobs, by the way, that are not the caricatured assembly line types of the past. A Chicago investment lawyer is following this story closely.

These would be engineers and IT professionals; they would be white-collar techy types with degrees, solidly middle-class salaries and the tax revenue that comes with them; many of them would be new jobs, not transfers from other parts of the GM empire.

If you want an example of why more taxpayers trump higher tax rates, this is it. More, these jobs represent the kind of investment in intellectual capital that can make southeast Michigan more competitive, not less.

It's a tricky balance. This region, its communities and its people have paid a price for the failure of the industry and its major union to reckon with their lack of competitiveness and managerial incompetence.

They witnessed — and in many cases, experienced — the pain of restructuring, the fears of near-collapse, the embarrassment of bailouts and the ignominy of bankruptcy. No sane person would relish reliving any of it.

Diversify? Absolutely, by creating an environment that invites it. But also build on what you have. Be competitive. Watch (and hope) that the cornerstones of your economy learned well the mistakes of the past.

It matters — to everyone.

13 April 2015


Original Story: detroitnews.com

Lansing — People taking their boats out on Michigan waterways after a few drinks will be subject to stricter alcohol limits — and penalties if they’re over those limits — with a package of new laws taking effect this spring.

The drunken boating laws are among several signed in recent months that will launch new programs or have other implications for Michigan residents. A Westchester County DWI lawyer represents clients facing criminal charges for operating while intoxicated.

The laws regulating drunken and drugged driving were updated in 2003, and new regulations kicking in for sport craft will bring more uniformity to the limits and penalties even when not in a car.

The legal alcohol limit while operating snowmobiles, watercraft and off-road vehicles while intoxicated will be lowered to 0.08 percent from 0.1 percent to match the state’s laws for drunken driving on the road. People under 21 would not be allowed to have alcohol in their system while operating any of these sport craft, and no one would be allowed to operate them with any amount of certain controlled substances in their body.

Rep. Dave Pagel, a Republican from Berrien Springs, was one of the sponsors of the legislation along with former Reps. Matt Lori and Andrew Kandrevas.

Pagel said it is common sense to have one state standard. “I think it sends a message that these are family activities” and people should practice them safely, said. A personal injury lawyer represents clients suffering from an injury caused by the negligent actions of others.

Here’s a look at some other laws taking effect this spring:


All of the state’s school districts and charter schools must add language addressing cyberbullying to their anti-bullying policies by the end of September. The law is an update to the 2011 Matt Epling Safe School Law. That law required school districts and charter schools to develop policies prohibiting bullying.

The update will require cyberbullying to be included in the definition of bullying and define it as any electronic communication that harms students directly or indirectly by interfering with their ability to participate in school, causes substantial emotional distress or places them in fear of physical harm. A Grand Rapids personal injury lawyer is following this story closely.

The update also requires school districts and charter schools to annually report bullying incidents to the state Department of Education.


Michigan drivers will soon be able to buy license plates that serve as a fundraiser for Be the Match, a program supporting bone marrow donation and transplants. Bone marrow transplants are often used to treat various leukemias and lymphomas, and other diseases.

Drivers will also be able to purchase license plates supporting veterans. Money from those plates will go to the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency for its outreach efforts to local groups providing veteran services. Some money will also be put toward tuition support for members of the Michigan National Guard or the Children of Veterans Tuition Grant Program.

The plates are expected to be available in the fall. Drivers will have to pay $25, which will go to the associated funds, plus a $10 service fee for each plate.


An Entrepreneur-in-Residence project at the Michigan Strategic Fund will aim to make economic development programs and incentives more accessible. Up to 10 entrepreneurs-in-residence appointed by the Strategic Fund president will assist with improving outreach to small businesses, providing mentorship and more. The positions will not be compensated.

The search for entrepreneurs to join the project has begun. Anyone interested can reach out to the Michigan Strategic Fund.


Bears will now receive the same treatment as deer when it comes to damaging crops: If a bear is determined to cause damage, the Department of Natural Resources could issue a permit for hunting the bear outside of open season. Bear cubs and female bears with cubs less than 1 year old will be protected.


Original Story: detroitnews.com

Cash-strapped Detroit Public Schools could be $81 million behind on its mandatory state pension contributions by July 1 if the district does not resume full payments soon, state officials say.

Michigan's largest school district has not made a payment since October, and has been building a delinquent balance with the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System since October 2010, said Kurt Weiss, spokesman for the state's retirement services office. A Detroit employee benefits lawyer is following this story closely.

During the past 51 months, 60 percent of the time the Detroit school district has been an average of $7 million behind on Michigan retirement system payments, according to state records. The district is incurring $7,600 a day in interest penalties and a $78,000 monthly fee for its delinquency, Weiss said.

"DPS' largest historical balance is their current outstanding balance of $53 million," he said.

While DPS is behind on its payments, the $38 billion MPSERS serving 204,000 retirees statewide is not in danger of missing pension payments to Detroit schools retirees, Weiss said. Like an unpaid credit card, the interest penalties and monthly fees are added to the district's total balance owed to the state school retirement system.

Like other school districts in Michigan, Detroit Public Schools is saddled with a long-term liability toward the pensions and health care of existing and former employees. It consumes one in every seven dollars the district spends in its roughly $700 million annual operating budget.

Most charter schools — independent public schools sponsored mostly by universities — and the Education Achievement Authority, which runs 15 former Detroit schools, do not participate in the state pension plan.

The Snyder administration legally could withhold state aid from Detroit Public Schools to make up for the missed pension payments. But state officials have been reluctant to do so, privately fearing it would trigger a cash crunch for the Detroit school system and lead to payless paydays for employees, teachers walking off the job or a default on debt payments. A Detroit employee benefits lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

In addition to pensions, the Detroit district is saddled with $56 million in annual debt service payments, most of which stem from a $300 million refinancing scheme former Emergency Manager Roy Roberts engineered in 2012 to roll several past debts into one repayment.

Roberts' successor says payment toward debt is made before all other creditors, to ensure the district doesn't default on the bonds.

"The debt has to be paid, so what results from that is you have a long list of creditors and you have vendors who are three and four months behind in receiving payments," said Jack Martin, who was emergency manager until January. An Encino CPA provides professional accounting services to clients with pension and profit-sharing plans.

The Detroit News first reported Feb. 19 that the Snyder administration is exploring ways to relieve the district of that debt burden. Snyder set aside $75 million in his School Aid budget for assisting Detroit and other financially distressed school districts.

But a Republican-controlled House committee eliminated the increased funding for distressed school districts in a budget plan approved Tuesday. A GOP-dominated Senate committee voted Wednesday for $8.9 million, more than doubling the existing $4 million fund for distressed schools.

"It's probably the thing that needs to be done, but it should be taken care of out of the general fund as opposed to on the backs of the other kids in the state," said David Martell, executive director of the Michigan School Business Officials.

Pension delinquencies

Detroit Public Schools is one of five school districts and a charter school that are behind on payments to the state's pension fund. They include:

  • Detroit: $52.7 million
  • Flint: $11.8 million
  • Pontiac: $3.8 million
  • Muskegon Heights: $1.9 million
  • Highland Park: $719,702
  • New Branches School (Grand Rapids): $128,951


Original Story: detroitnews.com

Several hundred times over the past decade, intruders have hopped fences, slipped past guardhouses, crashed their cars through gates or otherwise breached perimeter security at the nation's busiest airports — sometimes even managing to climb aboard jets.

The security fences and perimeter gates at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus have been breached four times in the past two years. At Chicago O'Hare, a man tossed his bike over a fence and pedaled across a runway, stopping to knock on a terminal door. A business surveillance system provides surveillance technology and communications to secure buildings, property, equipment, and assets.

Another at Philadelphia International rammed a sports-utility vehicle through a security gate and sped down a runway as a plane was about to land. At Los Angeles International, a mentally ill man hopped the fence eight times in less than a year — twice reaching stairs that led to jets.

An Associated Press investigation found 268 perimeter breaches since 2004 at airports that together handle three-quarters of U.S. commercial passenger traffic. And that's an undercount, because two airports among the 31 AP surveyed didn't have data for all years. Boston's Logan and the New York City area's three main airports refused to release any information, citing security concerns.

Until now, few of the incidents have been publicly reported. Most involved intruders who wanted to take a shortcut, were lost, disoriented, drunk or mentally unstable but seemingly harmless. A few had knives, and another was caught with a loaded handgun. A custom virtual security guard provides additional surveillance tailored to meet your corporations needs.

None of the incidents involved a terrorist plot, according to airport officials.

Incidents at Detroit Metro:

— On April 5, 2013, a man drove through a checkpoint after the gate arm was raised to let a service vehicle out. He parked at a hangar and ran inside. Delta Air Lines employees pinned him down. Arresting officers described him as "extremely incoherent and confused."

— On Oct. 27, 2013, a 20-year-old woman walked through an exit gate after a car drove out. She dropped a purple backpack and ran away. Police caught her and found three knives and six road flares in her backpack.

— On April 20, 2014, a woman smashed through a security fence, rolling her Dodge Durango several times. Uninjured, she got a ride home, where police later arrested her. The fence was open for about 45 minutes before officials responded.

— On Sept. 21, a passenger in a construction truck was allowed onto the airfield without a visitor badge.

The lapses nationwide highlight gaps in airport security in a post-9/11 world where passengers inside terminals face rigorous screening and even unsuccessful plots — such as the would-be shoe bomber — have prompted new procedures.

"This might be the next vulnerable area for terrorists as it becomes harder to get the bomb on the plane through the checkpoint," airport security expert Jeff Price said.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to upgrade perimeter fencing, cameras and detection technology. Many airports have dozens of miles of fencing, but not all of that is frequently patrolled or always in view of security cameras. Custom remote video surveillance provides additional security for your business or corporation.

Airport officials insist perimeters are secure, and that an intruder being caught is proof their systems work. They declined to outline specific measures, other than to say they have layers that include fences, cameras and patrols. Employees are required to ask for proof of security clearance if a badge is not obvious.

Authorities said it is neither financially nor physically feasible to keep all intruders out. A Detroit Metro spokesman said airport officials constantly update security.

"The airport authority is continually reviewing safety and security practices, infrastructure and procedures in concert with TSA and the other federal agencies with the objective of improving the overall safety and security of the airports — our #1 priority, "said spokesman Mike Conway. "A good example is the modifications we made to vehicle checkpoint #1. The incident on April 5, 2013 would not be possible today with the new configuration. All airport employees are trained to be aware of potential threats and act in accordance with established procedures if a possible threat is observed."

But LAX Police Chief Patrick Gannon, noted that even the White House has struggled with fence jumpers. "There's nothing that can't be penetrated, " he said.

Among the AP's findings:

— At least 44 times, intruders made it to runways, taxiways or to the gate area where planes park to refuel or load passengers. In seven cases they got onto jets.

— Seven international airports in four states accounted for more than half the breaches, although not all provided data for all years examined. San Francisco had the most, with 37. The others were in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Jose, Miami and Tampa, Florida.

— Few airports revealed how long it took to apprehend suspects, saying this detail could show security vulnerabilities. Available information showed most arrests happened within 10 minutes. Several people went undetected for hours or never were caught.

At a news conference called Thursday in response to AP's findings, the San Francisco airport spokesman said his facility had the most breaches because it disclosed everything, whether the breach was intentional or accidental. Spokesman Doug Yakel said the airport has beefed up security and that while its airfield is safe, "The goal is always zero" breaches.

Security firms sold $650 million worth of fences, gates, sensors and cameras to airports in the decade after the 9/11 attacks, according to industry analyst John Hernandez, though he projects spending will drop.

Officials insist no technology solution is foolproof. Outfit cameras with software designed to help identify intruders, and there may not be enough staff to monitor images. Airports have to weigh the potential threat of harm against the hefty cost of building elaborate defenses, experts said.

"It's one of those issues that I think until something really bad happens, not much is going to change," Price said.

10 April 2015


Original Story: freep.com

Shareholders of Detroit-based Compuware voted to approve the company's purchase by a private equity firm in California.

More than 99% of Compuware shareholders voted for the $2.4 billion deal during a special meeting Monday, according to a news release. The acquisition of the company by San Francisco-based Thoma Bravo is expected to happen before the end of the month, the release said. A Detroit M&A attorney is following this story closely.

"The acquisition by Thoma Bravo provides a great value proposition for Compuware's shareholders and we are very pleased with the level of support this transaction has received from our shareholders," Compuware CEO Bob Paul said in a statement.

Compuware shareholders are in line to receive an aggregate value of $10.75 per share.

A business software and computer services company, Compuware had 3,000 employees worldwide this fall, including about 1,200 in the Detroit area.

Compuware has disclosed plans to split off its declining mainframe computer business from its faster-growing application performance management business, known as Dynatrace, leaving the Compuware name with the mainframe unit once the acquisition deal closes. A Memphis business lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.

When the deal was announced in September, Compuware's CEO said he expected the company to remain in Detroit with management staying in place. But he couldn't rule out layoffs under the new owner.

Top Compuware executives could get nearly $24 million in golden parachute compensation if the new owner tries to fire them without cause.

Last month the company announced a deal to sell its prominent headquarters building around Campus Martius for $142 million to Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert and Meridian Health. Compuware will continue to lease space in the building.

09 April 2015


Original Story: freep.com

An England-based pharmaceutical company has offered to acquire Perrigo, a generic drug maker with deep roots in west Michigan.

Mylan N.V. announced today that it has offered to acquire Perrigo for $28.9 billion, which amounts to $205 per share, in a deal that would combine the two global drugmakers. An Atlanta mergers and acquisitions attorney counsels both buyers and sellers with respect to M&A structuring, purchase price adjustments, and accounting issues.

Perrigo in 2013 moved its corporate headquarters from Allegan, Mich. to Ireland for tax purposes after making an acquisition of its own. But it maintains a significant operation in its hometown. The company had 6,400 employees in the U.S. as of Aug. 9, 2013, according to a regulatory filing.

Perrigo representatives did not respond to a request seeking comment. In a statement released on its website, the company confirmed receipt of Mylan's entree and said its board would meet to discuss the matter.

Although the proposed acquisition reflects a nonbinding offer, the proposal comes after "a number of prior discussions" between the companies, Mylan Executive Chairman Robert Coury said in a statement.

"We have great respect for Perrigo's board and management team and what they have built," he said. "We look forward in the weeks ahead to working with them to capitalize on this tremendous opportunity and working together to create a unique leader with a one-of-a-kind profile in our industry." A Tulsa mergers and acquisitions lawyer is following this story closely.

The deal, which was delivered to Perrigo's board on Monday, sent Perrigo's stock soaring 18% to $195 Wednesday.

Jeffrey Loo, equity analyst with S&P Capital IQ, said the offer reflects a fair valuation of Perrigo and the combined company could be poised to pursue acquisitions of its own.

In a letter to Perrigo CEO Joseph Papa, Coury said Mylan would retain its current executive management team to lead the merged company but would incorporate some of Perrigo's top executives into its ranks.

He said the companies have similar cultures and would benefit from increased scale in drug manufacturing and R&D.

It's unclear whether the proposed acquisition would result in job cuts, but mergers often involve reductions to avoid redundancies. A business tax consultant assists clients with business tax audits, financial statements, and financial planning.

"The combination would provide a broader variety of opportunities to our employees and increased stability for the communities in which we operate and serve," Coury said. "The position of our creditors and suppliers would be enhanced by the combined company's scale and significant free cash flows, and patients would receive improved access to affordable, high quality medicine through increased scale across geographies and robust capabilities to drive innovation."

Collectively, the companies had $15.3 billion in sales in 2014.

06 April 2015


Original Story: freep.com

There have been campaigns calling on Americans to eat locally and shop locally. Now, Michiganders can get on board with a plan to power their lives locally.

That's one of the most interesting elements of Gov. Rick Snyder's vision for a "no-regrets energy future," which focuses on cutting energy waste and prioritizing renewable generation. Instead of wasting energy and relying on coal imported from out of state to generate power, a more efficient Michigan can tap its own plentiful natural gas reserves, and take advantage of the state's tremendous potential for wind, biomass and solar energy, as well.

At Young Conservatives for Energy Reform, we are seeing similarly smart strategies embraced in communities and states across the country. It's becoming a rallying point for conservatives, especially conservatives living far from the partisan wrangling of Washington. We believe embracing clean, efficient energy offers an all-American way to boost Michigan's economy, strengthen national security and promote clean air. A mineral rights lawyer has experience assisting clients in mineral rights issues involving oil and gas production.

As Snyder has pointed out, each Michigan resident uses about 38% more energy than the average American. There are a lot of ways to cut that number down, by helping families, businesses and organizations to become more efficient and cut their energy bills.

As for where you get the energy you still need, why not go local and stop sending dollars to other states for coal? Harness the wind that's already blowing; catch the sun that's already shining. Turn agricultural waste into fuel, and tap the landfill gas that's just sitting there unused. Grow the economy in Michigan — and along the way, clean the air, as well.

Diversifying our energy supplies also helps with national security. Retired Lt. Gen. Richard Zilmer of the CNA Corporation's Military Advisory Board, spoke to about a hundred West Michigan Young Republicans last year, and shared how our overdependence on oil poses a national security risk. It ties us to regimes that don't always have our best interests at heart, and limits our ability to act on the world stage. Sure, gas prices are low now, but they're controlled by a worldwide market and a cartel we're not part of. Controlling our own energy means controlling our own destiny.

We hope to see Snyder and the Legislature work together to put in place an energy plan that works for all the people who live in the state — and that serves as a model for the rest of the country. Building our energy future on clean, efficient, renewable, homegrown sources is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. It's an American issue. And it's the right path forward for the people of Michigan.