News

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A state oversight board is giving the Flint City Council its power back.

The council’s powers have been limited since the Gov. Rick Snyder appointed an emergency manager to run Flint back in 2011. For much of the past four years, the nine City Council members have had little real authority at City Hall.

But today, the Receivership Transition Advisory Board repealed order  No. 3, which reinstates the powers afforded to the City Council by Flint’s city charter.

Council President Kerry Nelson says the board can now be an equal partner with the mayor at City Hall.

Crickets taste more like Hot Cheetos than chicken

May 26, 2016
Mercedes Mejia

I’m very lucky to be an intern for Stateside. So lucky, in fact, that I was provided lunch when I forgot to pack one this week.

On the menu: dried crickets with a dash of chili powder, garlic, salt, and lime.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor is moving forward with the next phase of the city’s lead service line removal program.

Damaged service lines are suspected of being a prime source for lead in Flint’s drinking water. But to date, only 33 lead service lines have been removed from Flint homes.  

However, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says the city is starting the process of hiring contractors to replace hundreds more. She says the requests for proposals will be posted tomorrow.  

Weaver expects the next round of her Fast Start program will begin in about a month.

Daniel Rayzel

Michigan legislators will soon discuss a bill that would outlaw aggressive solicitation in the state and create a fine for violators.

The bill moved from the House Criminal Justice Committee to the floor this week, only a few months after Rep. Mike McCready, R-Bloomfield Hills, introduced it in December.

Life stages of ticks.
CDC

It’s that magical time of year, when you need to start checking yourself for ticks.

The blacklegged tick is the kind of tick we have in Michigan that can transmit Lyme disease, and it’s been expanding its range in our state.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

ROMULUS – An Associated Press investigation has found that people crashed cars into or otherwise breached the security fencing at Detroit Metropolitan Airport more than authorities have disclosed. In all, there were 14 intrusions from 2004 through mid-February.

Officials cited four incidents when AP revealed problems with airport defenses last year.

Federal records showed another five the airport had not told AP about. There also were four breaches in 2015 - the most in any year in Detroit - and one in February.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The board of the Great Lakes Water Authority finalized its first-ever budget Wednesday.

The GLWA emerged from Detroit’s bankruptcy. It now provides wholesale water and sewer services to millions of people in southeast Michigan.

The GLWA inherited some issues when it took over operations from the city of Detroit this year—including millions in bad debt from the city of Highland Park, mostly for unpaid sewer bills dating back many years.

The Authority petitioned Gov. Snyder’s office last month to help resolve that issue.

MICHIGAN SUPREME COURT / COURT.MI.GOV

DETROIT – The Michigan Supreme Court has announced amendments to state rules aimed at keeping people from jail time because they can't pay court fines or fees.

The Detroit News reports changes announced Wednesday take effect Sept. 1. The court says job status, available cash, basic living expenses and other special circumstances can be considered.

Earlier this year, a Detroit-area judge accused of sending poor people to jail if they couldn't immediately pay fines agreed to end so-called pay-or-stay sentences after an American Civil Liberties Union challenge.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING – Michigan is paying criminal defense bills for two state employees charged amid Flint's crisis with lead-tainted water.

The state Department of Environmental Quality is paying fees for Stephen Busch and Mike Prysby, who are charged with evidence tampering, misconduct in office and safe drinking water violations.

The Detroit Free Press reports Michigan must provide or pay for defense for state employees sued in connection with their jobs, but not those facing criminal charges.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

TOLEDO – Ohio's plan to take a big bite out of what's feeding the toxic cyanobacteria in western Lake Erie leans heavily on programs put in place over the last few years.

The strategy obtained by The Associated Press calls for additional water monitoring and more oversight of existing programs, but no new money toward targeting the blooms threatening drinking water.

The plan being rolled out Wednesday is the state's blueprint for reaching a 40% reduction in the phosphorus runoff that fuels the cyanobacteria in the lake's western end.

LANSING – Coercing a woman to have an abortion would be a misdemeanor in Michigan, under a bill sent to Gov. Rick Snyder.

The Senate approved the legislation, 26-11, Wednesday with all Democrats and one Republican voting against it. The bill would make coercion a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $5,000; $10,000 if the accused is the father of the embryo or fetus.

FLICKR USER PLEIN https://flic.kr/p/du7adQ

Republican Senator John Proos of St. Joseph is proposing legislation that would require individuals with solar panels to sell their energy back to the utility companies at a wholesale rate and buy it back at a retail rate. This is also known as net metering.

HTTP://WWW.WAYNECOUNTY.COM/PROSECUTOR/

DETROIT – Charges have been filed in two shootings that killed a child and injured another in Detroit.

Prosecutor Kym Worthy defended her decision to charge relatives of victims who shot themselves after finding unsecured guns at home. She says adults who "adopt, bear or look after children" must be held responsible.

Five-year-old Mariah Davis shot herself in the neck after finding a gun under a pillow on May 11. Her grandparents were charged Wednesday with involuntary manslaughter and other crimes.

John Thomas

In the summer of 2013, we spoke with law professor and music journalist John Thomas about the Kalamazoo Gals on Stateside.

Thomas had uncovered the story of women who built some 9,000 guitars at the Gibson Guitar headquarters in Kalamazoo during World War II.

This discovery clashed with Gibson’s official assertion that they built no instruments during the war.

He tells the story in his book, Kalamazoo Gals: A Story of Extraordinary Women & Gibson’s “Banner” Guitars of WWII.

In the three years since we last spoke, the story has taken some interesting turns. Today Thomas and Kalamazoo Gal Irene Stearns joined us again on Stateside to talk about it.

The Henry Ford

The Beatles have come to The Henry Ford Museum.

The Magical History Tour, a 10,000-square-foot exhibit that explores the full history of the iconic rock band is coming to Dearborn. The exhibit takes fans through the band's early days in Liverpool through its break-up in the 1970s and the solo careers that followed. 

While there are millions of fans of the band in the Great Lakes State, the number of significant connections to Michigan is relatively minimal (Paul McCartney has a Detroit Red Wings sticker on his guitar!). So why was Michigan chosen as the first stop on this tour? 

Michigan restaurant-goers may soon be able to dine with their dogs.

A Senate committee approved a bill that would give restaurant owners the option to allow dogs on their patios.

Margaret O'Brien sponsored the bill.

She says states like New York, California and Florida have similar laws already and have had few to no issues with dogs being at restaurants.

O'Brien says the restaurant owners have final say in dogs being allowed.

 

surgical instrument tray
wikimedia / creative commons

Last fall, operating room nurses at Ann Arbor's Veterans Administration hospital began noticing little specks of particulate matter in surgical instrument trays.

The specks meant that surgery had to be rescheduled or canceled, if a speck-free replacement tray was unavailable. 

Initially attributed solely to a water main break, months later, some surgeries are still being canceled due to particulate matter on the trays, despite the hospital taking a number of steps.

Eric Young is acting director of the Ann Arbor VA. 

TomCasperson.com

LANSING – A Michigan senator has introduced legislation that could stop transgender students from using bathrooms that don't match their "biological sex."

Sen. Tom Casperson, a Republican, unveiled a bill Wednesday that would offer accommodations to transgender students with parental consent. But the accommodation can't include a bathroom, locker room or shower used by students "of the opposite biological sex."

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof says the legislation is not a priority for the Senate. It's been assigned to a committee.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

U.S. and Canadian government agencies took part in a mock oil spill drill along the St. Clair River just south of Port Huron today.

With temperatures in the low 80s and a light breeze, it was a lovely day to respond to a fake disaster.

But while a few first responders spent a sunny day on boats in the river, most of the more than 200 people taking part in the exercise spent their time indoors dealing with a scenario for a fictional disaster that included the need to corral thousands of barrels of oil leaking from Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline.  

For most people, May is one of the best months. The flowers are blooming; it’s pretty clear that it isn’t going to snow any more, and summer is coming. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Michigan Democrats start regarding May with a shudder. For two years in a row, the party has been embarrassed in May by one of their own. Last year it was State Senator Virgil Smith Jr., one of the legislature’s dimmer bulbs.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

GRAND RAPIDS – Michigan's attorney general says his office is investigating allegations of mistreatment at a state-run nursing home for veterans and is encouraging potential victims or witnesses to come forward.

Courser/Gamrat websites

LANSING – Two Michigan lawmakers who were forced from office in a sex scandal face a key hearing on charges that they committed felony misconduct in office.

The preliminary exam scheduled to begin Wednesday in a Lansing courtroom will determine if there is probable cause to go to trial. Todd Courser resigned last September and Cindy Gamrat became the fourth legislator to ever be expelled.

The conservative Republicans had an extramarital affair.

The photo Melissa Gilbert used in her announcement to run for Congress
Melissa Gilbert for Congress

Melissa Gilbert has ended her campaign as the democratic Congressional candidate in Michigan's 8th district. The actress, best known for her role as Laura Ingalls in the television series Little House on the Prairie, said in a statement emailed from her campaign that health concerns make it impossible to run.

From Russia with rockin' love for Detroit

May 24, 2016
Courtesy of Vladislav Yermachenko

In recent years, Detroit hasn't just inspired local artists. It's also inspired artists across the world. Russian rocker Vladislav Yermachenko, drummer for a Kazakhstan-based Russian rock band Polygon, has been inspired by the city since childhood when his father gave him a book on the world’s automotive industry. After seeing pictures of Motor City-made cars, he fell in love with Detroit. He's now a journalist for automotive magazines.

But cars aren’t the only thing that has inspired Yermachenko. Detroit’s resilience in the face of struggle inspired him to write Polygon’s song, “Winners in This Life.” His love for cars and resilient nature show in his lyrics. 

A protester shows her support for Planned Parenthood outside the Supreme Court Building in March
flickr user Lorie Shaull / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Planned Parenthood has been getting some very strong pressure from pro-life supporters, including members of the state Legislature, who want to shut the organization down because it provides abortions.

Or, at the very least, they want to severely restrict Planned Parenthood's funding and operations. 

Don't do this: learning from the Flint water crisis

May 24, 2016
Gov. Snyder at a press conference in Flint
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder promoted his business skills when first running for office, but those skills are now being questioned as the Flint water crisis continues to be a government nightmare. Grand Valley State University is taking the opportunity to learn from the mistakes made by the Snyder administration.

Marie McKendall is a business professor at GVSU who will be using the Flint water crisis as a case study in her business ethics class this fall.

“It’s horrible that it happened, but it’s a wonderful case study,” McKendall said on Stateside. “There are structural problems, there are cultural problems, there are social problems and psychological problems. … It’s a far richer case than a lot of the ones we have used before.”

In the course, McKendall wants to make it clear that there isn’t a “villain” to hunt down, but that government incompetence did make the situation worse.

“I think they completely lost sight of the fact that there were people who were being affected by the decisions they were making," she said.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Government agencies will practice responding to an oil spill from a pipeline crossing the St. Clair River tomorrow. 

The pipeline passes beneath the St. Clair River just south of Port Huron.

The drill will involve a simulated 13-minute, 5,000-barrel oil spill. The exercise will involve boats in the river and absorbent booms in the water, all to corral and collect fictional oil leaking from the pipeline.

The drill involves government agencies and the pipeline’s owner, Enbridge.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder has declared a "state of energy emergency" in Michigan.    

The governor issued the executive order in response to issues at a Detroit oil refinery and a Wisconsin pipeline.

The Marathon refinery in Detroit is currently experiencing an “outage” related to maintenance work.    

Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The effort to get paid sick leave for all Michigan workers on the ballot this November is over for now.

Dave Woodward is the Oakland County Commissioner for Berkley and Royal Oak.

He and the Time to Care coalition organized the campaign to get paid sick leave on the ballot, but aren't confident the group would get enough petition signatures in time.

The proposed law would require businesses with ten or more employees to provide one hour of sick time for every thirty hours worked.

West Park, Ann Arbor
matth / public domaine

State environmental officials say 35 private wells on or near Rose Drive in Ann Arbor had no detectable level of 1,4 dioxane after testing water samples.

It's a little bit of good news in the ongoing saga of Ann Arbor's dioxane-contaminated groundwater. 

A plume of water contaminated with the dangerous chemical is slowly moving under the city towards the Huron River.

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