News

a giant tooth greets children. Not as terrifying as it sounds.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

New programs are getting underway in Flint to help protect the teeth of thousands of children.

Since Flint’s drinking water crisis began, parents have stopped letting their children drink from the kitchen faucet.  

But while that is protecting the kids from contaminants in the water, it’s also cutting them off from fluoride added to the water to protect their teeth.

“We do know that kids who don’t have access to fluoridated water are much more likely to develop cavities,” says Terri Battaglieri, director of the Delta Dental Foundation.  

student at a desk raising hand
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Yet another Detroit Public Schools administrator is accused of stealing from the district.

This time the alleged scam steered at least $1,275,000 to a former grants manager for tutoring services that were never delivered.

Carolyn StarkeyDarden worked for the district from 1968 to 2005. She went on to set up a series of companies that got tutoring contracts with the district.

DPS interim superintendent Alycia Meriweather makes an announcement.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Amidst tremendous uncertainty about its future existence, the Detroit Public Schools is trying to recruit teachers.

The district is holding a “DPS Day” recruitment fair for new teachers at Martin Luther King High School on Tuesday.

Officials admit that’s a challenging task when the district’s future is so insecure.

It’s waiting on state lawmakers to pass a huge aid package before it runs out of money altogether this summer.

DPS interim superintendent Alycia Meriweather says the sooner Lansing can get that resolved, the better.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The last Flint fire station distributing water to city residents will stop doing it by the end of this week.

Michigan National Guardsmen have been handing out cases of bottled water and filters at the fire station on Martin Luther King for months.

Gen. Greg Vadnais leads the Michigan National Guard. He credits the public’s support for the guard’s ability to respond to the city’s drinking water crisis.

“It’s really helped us to be able to complete our mission to provide the resources to them that they needed,” Vadnais sais last week.

The governor and the legislature are currently fighting over how to rescue the Detroit public schools from financial collapse. There’s a general recognition that this has to be done, if only because the consequences of not doing so would cost the state even more.

The state constitution requires Michigan to provide an education for all children.

Michigan Radio received ten awards for news coverage this weekend from the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors. The station was recognized with five First Place awards and five Second Place awards in the large market radio category. The large market radio category includes both public and commercial radio stations that serve Michigan’s largest market of Detroit.  Here is the complete list of Michigan Radio winners:

First Place

(l to r) Joel Beauvais, Office of Water, EPA - Keith Creagh, Director, MDEQ - Marc Edwards, Virginia Tech - Lee Anne Walters, former Flint Resident
screen grab YouTube

The head of Michigan’s environmental regulatory agency says he won’t take any more administrative action against state employees involved in the Flint water crisis until the criminal cases against them are resolved.

In January, interim director of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality Keith Creagh asked Michigan State Police to investigate employees in his department.

The report was finished in March, but it hasn’t been released to the public yet. A request for the report under the Freedom of Information Act is pending.

C/O MDOC

The Michigan State Police have wrapped up a nearly year-long investigation into who really killed four people in a Detroit home one September night in 2007.

Back then, police brought in a 14-year-old kid named Davontae Sanford. After hours of interrogation without a parent or a lawyer, he confessed and was later sent to prison.

But just weeks later, a professional hitman, Vincent Smothers, was arrested and confessed to those same killings, even leading police to the weapon he used. 

Holocaust survivor sings national anthem at Tigers game

May 21, 2016
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

An 89-year-old Holocaust survivor has fulfilled her longtime wish to sing the U.S. national anthem at a Major League Baseball game.

Hermina Hirsch sang Saturday at Comerica Park in Detroit before the Detroit Tigers played Tampa Bay.

Michigan Oil and Gas Association

Leaders of Michigan’s oil and gas industry are optimistic their business is poised to rebound from a prolonged price slump.

Oil and natural gas prices are half of what they were in recent years. But just over the past few months, oil prices have jumped nearly 50 percent.

Allan Cleaver / Flickr

A new report says the tax burden on Michigan businesses has declined slightly.

The Anderson Economic Group report ranks Michigan’s business tax burden 20th in the nation, improving from 21st last year.

Jason Horwitz is a senior AEG consultant. He expects the trend line will continue to go down in the coming years.

“When you look where taxes are so high for businesses in Michigan, the reason to be optimistic is that even though it’s been going down for five years, we would expect it to continue going down over the next few years,” says Horwitz.

Dioxane concerns prompt collection of groundwater samples

May 21, 2016
Ann Arbor's West Park
adaenn / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

State officials want to collect water samples in the West Park area of Ann Arbor due to concerns that groundwater contaminated by a toxic chemical may be seeping to the surface.

The Ann Arbor News reports that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality plans to start the groundwater collection next week.

The chemical is dioxane, an industrial solvent. Federal agencies say long-term exposure could cause health problems, including cancer.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Cancer patients and survivors are lobbying lawmakers to make Michigan the latest state to require equal insurance coverage of chemotherapy regardless of whether the drugs are given by needle or taken orally.

The bill addresses the tendency for chemo pills to cost patients much more out of pocket than IV chemo.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, by executive order, has re-established the state's commission focusing on reducing lead poisoning among children.

The previous commission was disbanded in 2006 because the state legislature did not renew the statute that created it.

The commission will have a statewide focus.

Snyder says the new commission will focus on the elimination, rather than prevention, of lead poisoning. 

He says the commission will present its report by November, 2016.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint restaurants and bars are hoping to lure back customers turned off by the city’s drinking water crisis.

Many of Flint’s restaurants and bars have seen their business dip since lead was discovered in the city’s drinking water last year.  

To fight back, owners installed water filters and added promotions. 

This week is Flint Restaurant Week, a promotion involving more than 2 dozen establishments.

Sitting in Flint’s Soggy Bottom Bar, organizer Ken Laatz is focused on the future.

user eyspahn / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

This weekend, Michigan Democrats will select most of the state party’s delegates to this summer’s convention.

State Party Chairman Brandon Dillon expects Saturday’s district meetings will go smoothly and avoid the fights between Sanders and Clinton supporters seen recently in Nevada.

“We don’t anticipate any major problems and are confident that things will go as smoothly as possible,” says Dillon.

Steve Monti is a Bernie Sanders supporter.  He’s running to be an alternate at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.    

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

About a dozen protesters, many wearing red paint splashed clothes, tried to get Governor Snyder’s attention today. 

They held a ‘die-in’ outside a Flint conference room where the governor met with his top Flint water crisis advisors.

"We have no say over our future, over our recovery, over what’s coming through our pipes, over the pipes still being in the ground,” says activist Melissa Mays, “All we want is to have a voice in this.”

Governor Snyder did not see the protest.  He left the building through a side door. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Thinking about the upcoming Mackinac Island Policy Conference, Tammy Coxen with Tammy's Tastings offers a new riff on the cocktail called the Conference. The original Conference cocktail originated at Death and Co. in Manhattan's East Village. In turn, that drink is a spin off of the classic Old Fashioned.

The changes made to make the Michigan Conference include substituting Michigan maple syrup for the sugar in the drink, and using chocolate bitters as a playful nod to the fudge shops found on Mackinac Island. 

Courtesy of Imani Harris

The future of the Detroit Public Schools as a functioning district is in doubt. The state Legislature is haggling over whether to give it a fighting chance or shortchange it – and allow uncertified teachers.

That has legislators, the governor, some business leaders and teachers very concerned. But they aren’t the only ones.

Imani Harris, a sophomore at Renaissance High in Detroit, voiced her thoughts on what’s happening to DPS in a letter. She joined us today on Stateside.

NEFCO, a Massachusetts-based company, has partnered with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to turn waste water residue into fertilizer pellets like the ones shown above.
Flickr/City of Geneva / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Waste water sludge is making its way to Michigan farms in the form of fertilizer pellets. The practice has not gone unnoticed in rural Lenawee County, where last fall and this spring, residents have complained about the foul odor emanating from nearby fields. 

Here's how James Bryja of Onsted describes the smell: 

The bar at Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, MI
flickr user Bernt Rostad / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

We Michiganders are pretty spoiled when it comes to our wide variety of beers. 

And we have Founders Brewing Co. to thank for so, so many of those beloved brews. 

A familiar site along US-23 during rush hour.
YouTube Screen grab / MDOT

We have two staffers here at Michigan Radio who get caught in the daily Ann Arbor/Brighton traffic jam.

Sometimes they miss dinner, or have to call in to the news meeting while traffic slows to a crawl on US-23.

That might all end with MDOT's new "Flex Route" project, which is planned for construction in 2017.

Check out their plan in this video:

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus argues a call in 2014.
Keith Allison / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Detroit Tigers entered this season with expectations as big as their payroll. It’s currently at $196 million, the fourth-largest in the major leagues. The only teams who spent more are the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Yankees, and the Boston Red Sox.

You know, big city teams that compete for things like the World Series.

The Tigers might have been paying like the big boys, but they weren’t playing like them.

Brian Turner / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan's problem-solving courts substantially cut crime and reduce unemployment among their graduates, according to a report released Thursday by the Michigan Supreme Court.

The sobriety, drug, mental health, and veterans courts offer treatment and supervision to non-violent offenders, instead of sending them to prison.

Flickr user Alex Proimos/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0
flickr user Bernt Rostad / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit’s population has fallen to a level not seen since before 1920.

But there are signs that long-term trend has bottomed out.

According to the US Census Bureau’s latest estimate, Detroit’s population stood at just over 677,116 people last summer.

That means it’s no longer one of the 20 largest cities in the country.

motorcycle
Pixabay

An annual report by the Governor's Highway Safety Association finds that motorcyclist traffic fatalities rose 10% across the nation between 2014 and 2015, and the increase was substantially greater in Michigan.

Fatal motorcycle accidents rose 23% in Michigan.

Co-author Richard Retting says there could be many factors responsible, including better weather in 2015, along with more vehicles of all kinds on the highways.

But he says Michigan's repeal of its mandatory motorcycle helmet law in 2012 very likely was a factor, too.

2016 GMC Acadia
GM

General Motors says it overstated the fuel economy for three crossovers by 1 to 2 miles per gallon, but says it was a mistake, not an intent to deceive customers. 

The "inadvertent error" means GM overestimated the fuel economy of 170,000 2016 Chevy Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Buick Enclave vehicles by about 10%.

GM says the mistake happened when it installed new emissions-related hardware in the cars. New mileage stickers have been issued, and owners are being notified.

Courtesy of Marilyn McCormick

Marilyn McCormick only expected to stay in Detroit for a year or two before moving to New York to live the “bohemian lifestyle.” Then she got a teaching job at her alma mater, Cass Technical High School. “I was totally enjoying what I was doing…[and] I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing,” McCormick said. Now forty years later, the performing arts teacher will be retiring.

A magazine cover criticizing Canada's stance on climate change.
Kyle Pearce / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

New research finds people often stay quiet when it comes to talking about climate change.

It’s not because they’re afraid of being disliked.

A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that people avoid bringing up the subject for two main reasons:

1) People underestimate how much other people care about the subject.

2) People feel like they don’t know enough about the science of climate change to hold a discussion.

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