News

Ken Bosma / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Representatives from the Great Lakes and Canada met last week to consider a Wisconsin city's request to pump water from Lake Michigan.

The groundwater in Waukesha is contaminated with radium, so the city wants to draw about 10 million gallons of water from Lake Michigan daily.

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Regional Body came up with a tentative plan that would reduce the number of communities in a future water service area.

Robert Bobb helps student with homework
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

In Detroit, 12 public school principals are accused of taking kickbacks on supplies that were never delivered.

The charges, announced late last month, pose another blow to the long-troubled Detroit Public Schools, which needs hundreds of millions of dollars in long-term state aid if it wants to see another school year.

Here's how the alleged kickback scheme worked: 12 principals, all working separately, gave contracts for school supplies to a vendor, Norman Shy, who then kicked back some profits to them.

DTE Energy

Michigan’s US Senators want the Environmental Protection Agency to step in if the state doesn’t act on a plan to curb Wayne County air pollution soon.

In a letter to EPA head Gina McCarthy Friday, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters urged “swift completion” of that plan.

In 2013, part the county was found to be in “non-attainment” with new National Ambient Air Quality Standards for sulfur dioxide emissions.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality was supposed to submit a plan to fix that to the EPA in April 2015. But to date, MDEQ still hasn’t done that.

The Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

An article in The Free Press reported 2016 is "shaping up as a raucous and competitive election season with incumbent politicians facing strong challenges up and down the ballot, and a presidential race that could influence the control of every race."

Rick Pluta and Zach Gorchow join us to talk about upcoming State Representative races, voter turnout, and how the Michigan legislature might change after this election year.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A governor’s task force is urging state lawmakers to approve more money to deal with the Flint water crisis.

The Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee approved a resolution during its weekly meeting today, asking Michigan lawmakers to speed up the budget process.

user cseeman / Flickr

UPDATED at 4:30 pm on 4/22/16 

Imperial Oil of Canada is still tracking chemical levels in the St. Clair River after a spill earlier this week. 

The company announced that Tuesday night an unknown amount of low-concentration hydrochloric acid overflowed into the river. Testing shows no negative impacts, the company said. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

State officials want Flint’s elected leaders to make a decision “soon” as to whether the city will hook up to the new KWA pipeline.

But city officials say there are questions that need to be answered first.

Construction of the new Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline from Lake Huron to Genesee County should be complete this summer. But more work must be done to connect the city to the new pipeline and that may take months. 

Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Dept.

A man accused of killing six people in southwestern Michigan has been found competent to understand the murder charges against him and assist his attorney.

 A judge held a brief hearing Friday to acknowledge the exam results for Jason Dalton. His criminal case in Kalamazoo was on hold for weeks while experts determined whether he understood the process.

 The exam wasn't intended to determine whether Dalton was insane at the time of the Feb. 20 shootings. That's a separate matter.

On Earth Day eight years ago, General Motors and Detroit were in bad shape and getting worse. Detroit was still suffering under Kwame Kilpatrick, the most corrupt mayor in its history, even as events were beginning to unfold that would send him to prison. 

Soon, the city would add a council president who would later vanish into thin air after he was accused of trying to seduce a high school boy.

Andrew Steiner / Feeding America West Michigan

Michigan is boosting efforts to provide healthy food to Flint residents amid the city's crisis with lead-tainted water.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced Thursday it's awarding $100,000 to Feeding America West Michigan.

Feeding America West Michigan’s Andrew Steiner says they knew there was a food processor north of Grand Rapids willing to donate frozen produce; squash, blueberries, cherries, asparagus and more.

“The amount of food that Arbre Farms was able to donate was actually more than we were able to handle,” Steiner said.

Bill would sack local bans on plastic bags

Apr 22, 2016
velkr0 / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Local bans on plastic grocery bags wouldn't be permitted, under a bill in the state Senate.

The bill would block local ordinances that regulate bags, take-out food containers and other types of packaging.

Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, says the bill would allow the state to set one standard for plastic bags and other materials, as opposed to "piecemeal" bans that vary between communities.

white house
David King / Flickr Creative Commons bit.ly/1iowB8m

White House and federal officials met with LGBT advocates in Metro Detroit on Thursday, as part of a summit focused on creating safe schools and improving health for transgender youth.

The Department of Education has said for more than a year now that under Title IX, schools are legally required to treat transgender kids "consistent with their gender identity in all aspects" – including letting students use the bathroom that fits their gender identity.

American Lung Association

Every year, the American Lung Association looks at the state of air pollution in U.S. cities. This year’s State of the Air report is out.

The group analyzes data from air quality monitors on two kinds of air pollution: ground-level ozone pollution (aka smog) and particle pollution – tiny particles from power plants and our cars and trucks.

Michael Coghlan / Flickr Creative Commons / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Ten women have sued Berrien County and two sheriff’s deputies and two sergeants who worked in the county jail.

The women say they were coerced into having sex while they were inmates in the southwest Michigan jail.

The lawsuit filed this month in federal court alleges three of the individual defendants repeatedly requested sexual favors in exchange for money and other benefits between 2008 and 2015.  The complaint says due to the influence of their positions, the three sheriff department personnel were able to coerce or force the plaintiffs to submit to their demands.

lee/flickr creative commons

Republican lawmakers are sending a message to the Michigan State Board of Education: "Remember who holds the purse strings."

That's from Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw Township, who's sponsoring a resolution to replace the board with a Department of Education run by a governor-appointed director.

Morgan Willis

The Next Idea

When Amber Williams and Morgan Willis talk about #ICantBreathe or #BlackLivesMatter, they aren't just talking about Twitter hashtags. For these black activists and many others in Michigan, digital technologies create important spaces of solace, solidarity, struggle, and connection. At a recent conference at University of Michigan called #UMBLACKOUT, Williams, Willis, and an array of local and national black activists discussed the myriad ways that black organizers use technology for both politics and pleasure, online and offline. 

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

President Barack Obama's trip to Cuba last month was a major milestone in the thawing of relations between Washington and Havana.

It was the first visit to Cuba by a sitting president in over 85 years.

This ongoing thaw has many people wondering what's ahead for the island and its people.

Yesterday, while we were waiting to see who would face criminal charges in the Flint water crisis, I asked a friend if he thought that would be a real, no-holds-barred investigation.

“That depends on whether the indictments stop at Hunt, Liddy and the Cubans,” he said.


Officials want people in Flint to open up their bathtub tap first.
Alena Navarro- Whyte / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Starting May first, if you live in Flint, officials with the EPA, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the city want you to flush water through your home or business every day.

They say you should take your water filter off your kitchen tap or flip the lever to bypass the filter, open your cold water taps in your kitchen and your bathtub all the way, and let them run for five minutes. They want you to do that every day for two weeks.

They’re calling the campaign Run to Restore.

St. Louis Public Radio

  

More in this series from Michigan Radio and its Detroit Journalism Cooperative partners can be found at www.detroitjournalism.org

The news has been full of stories in recent years about police killing unarmed African-Americans. Those reports have been disturbing.

Brian Widdis / Bridge

Bill McGraw reports for Bridge, a Michigan Radio partner in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

The Black Lives Matter movement was peaking a year ago, when protesters took to the streets of Baltimore over the death of a black man in police custody. On the same day, an angry crowd gathered on Evergreen Road on Detroit’s west side.

The situation on Evergreen quickly grew tense. An agent from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement who was on a task force with Detroit police had shot and killed a 20-­year-old black Detroiter, Terrance Kellom, a parole absconder who was wanted for armed robbery.

“Huge crowd. We were surrounded,” Assistant Chief Steven Dolunt recalled in late March. “They were calling for the chief. I called him. I said, ‘You need to get here right away. Now.’’’

The chief of police is James Craig. The crowd knew him because in nearly three years at the top of the Detroit Police Department, he has become such a familiar figure on city streets and media outlets that some people, both friends and foes, call him “Hollywood.”

Craig’s style is low­-key and controlled, more Woodward Avenue than Sunset Strip, but he doesn’t mind the nickname. He says his visibility is part of a deliberate strategy to communicate with Detroiters.

Alberto G. / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

 Michigan’s state superintendent has outlined his “vision” for student assessments, and it seems like students might be in for more big changes.

Brian Whiston addressed lawmakers from two State House education panels Wednesday.

The state currently uses the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) to measure student achievement.

This is only the second year for the M-STEP, which students take in the spring.

But Whiston, who took over as state superintendent in July, advocates a different approach.

Domestic violence bills clear Michigan Legislature

Apr 20, 2016
Brian Turner / flickr creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A bipartisan  package of bills that would increase protections for domestic violence victims in Michigan is heading to Gov. Rick Snyder for signature.

"I think we have antiquated domestic violence laws in Michigan," said State Rep. Robert Kosowski, D-Westland, sponsor of one of the bills. "And I think this is a first step to righting the ship and making things right."

One bill in the package would allow victims to include their pets in personal protection orders. 

Kosowski said abusers often threaten  family pets as a means of controlling their victims.

Kate Wells

Firefighters have been pushing to get the cancer coverage they were promised by state lawmakers for more than a year now. 

And while the $3 million approved by the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday still has to be approved by the full House and Senate, it is a sign that crucial Republican leaders are on board. 

Child on computer
Lars Plougmann / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In the search for a better way to educate our children, many have turned to technology. Virtual schools or blended schools that combine virtual and traditional face-to-face teaching are a national trend. However, according to a study from The National Education Policy Center, these virtual schools – most of which are run by private, for-profit companies, are doing a poor job of educating our kids.

Gov. Rick Snyder talks about Wednesday's criminal charges against two MDEQ employees and one Flint official.
SnyderLive / screen grab

Gov. Rick Snyder says two state employees charged with crimes in the Flint water crisis have been suspended. Snyder spoke about the criminal charges filed by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today.

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality District Engineer Mike Prysby, former supervisor of the MDEQ’s Lansing District Office Stephen Busch, and Flint Utilities Administrator Mike Glasgow were all charged.

Read more about the charges here.

Jarrad Henderson / Detroit Free Press

 Michigan will receive $188.1 million in additional federal money to aid the removal of blight in neighborhood around the state, members of Michigan's Congressional delegation announced Wednesday.

The money comes from the Hardest Hit Fund, a program that was originally intended to help people facing foreclosure stay in their homes. But that money has since been steered into blight removal. With the addition of the funds announced today, Michigan has now received more than $262 million from the fund this year.

After criss-crossing the country for more than three decades, and spending 15 years as part of NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, Paula Poundstone has gone from Greyhound bus terminal cafeterias in the 1980s to the Comedy Hall of Fame. Now, she’s back in Michigan.

Anyone who knows Ismael Ahmed knows he is one of the most remarkable people in the Detroit area. He co-founded ACCESS, the nation’s largest Arab-American private human services organization, while he was still a student at the University of Michigan Dearborn.

That was 43 years ago. Today, ACCESS, which he ran for many years, offers more than 90 programs and reports nearly a million client visits a year.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Members of Michigan’s congressional delegation see today’s criminal charges as just a step in the right direction.

On a conference call with reporters, U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, welcomed the filing of criminal charges against two state regulators and a Flint city employee in the Flint water crisis.

“But it would be incomplete if that justice did not also include those who did this to Flint … meaning the state government,” says Kildee.

Pages