The Edmund Fitzgerald in 1971.
user Greenmars / wikimedia commons

What would it be like to have a long, useful live, but only be remembered by the way you die?

Such is the case with the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in a Lake Superior storm 40 years ago today.

But there’s a new documentary that focuses on the life of the Edmund Fitzgerald and what the ship did in her time on the Great Lakes.

The film is called A Good Ship and Crew Well Seasoned, and it’s produced by the Great Lakes Historical Society.

It was 2008 when Michigan launched a generous tax-credit program to lure Hollywood filmmakers here. At the time it was so popular, only one legislator voted against it. And Hollywood came: big stars, big productions could be seen shooting throughout the state.

flickr user Thomas Hawk /

Over the past few days, thousands of federal inmates were released from prison due to a change in the way the federal government sentences drug criminals.

It adds up to the largest one-time release of federal prisoners.

Brandon Sample is the executive director of Prisology, a national nonprofit movement dedicated to reform of the criminal justice system.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

By Mike Wilkinson
Bridge Magazine

When state-appointed emergency financial manager Kevyn Orr first pleaded with a federal bankruptcy court to help Detroit in July 2013, he made his case with sobering statistics: the city’s high levels of poverty, blight, and abandonment, its declining population and tax revenues, and its insane crime rate.

EPA region 5 director Susan Hedman (file photo).
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A federal agency will review how the state of Michigan monitors local drinking water.

Regional EPA administrator Susan Hedman says her agency will conduct an audit of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s drinking water program.

Yesterday, the Center for Public Integrity, the highly respected nonpartisan watchdog organization, released a long-awaited report on government integrity in all fifty states.

Not surprisingly, most states stink. In Idaho, a lobbyist who represented a company that makes betting machines tried to get the state legislature to buy them to revive the potato state’s economy.

Nor did he tell lawmakers he represented that company. He was exposed, but no worries; what he did was perfectly legal.

The SS Edmund Fitzgerald in May of 1975.
Bob Campbell / NOAA

I had a friend I never met in person.

His name was Mike Simonson and he was a reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio based in Superior.

Mike and I spoke often by phone when he filed stories for the Great Lakes Radio Consortium – the predecessor of The Environment Report.

Mike had done a lot of interviews and research on the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. He spoke with many people who are still personally connected to the ship. He was our “go-to-guy” whenever we looked back on the sinking.


Snowy owls are doing some unusual things again this year.

The last two winters, people in Michigan saw a lot of them. There were big migrations of owls called irruptions – that’s when they fly south from their breeding grounds in the Arctic.

This year, researchers don’t expect those big numbers again, but they are surprised by how early owls are arriving.

Most snowy owls start arriving here in the middle of November into December, but owls started showing up in the Great Lakes region in mid-October this year.

A deli that accepts food stamps
Flickr user Eric / Creative Commons

A Michigan senate bill would let some state workers arrest people for retail trafficking of food stamps and other benefits.

The bill would give a small group of specialized state agents power to arrest retailers without a warrant if they have probable cause.

Currently, agents with the state Department of Health and Human Services can only take action against benefit recipients engaged in trafficking.

These 14 states were in the bottom of the rankings. Michigan was ranked the worst.
Center for Public Integrity

Fiftieth out of fifty states.

That's where Michigan ranks in a report released today by the Center for Public Integrity.

The last time we wrote about this, Michigan ranked 43rd out of 50. 

Funeral homes in the area make sure the veterans get a burial at the Great Lakes National Cemetery
flickr user abarndweller /

It's impossible to know just how many homeless veterans are on America's streets.

The federal government estimates that there are nearly 50,000 vets who are homeless on any given night.

The National Coalition on Homeless Veterans tells us they've served in every conflict from World War II right up to Iraq and Afghanistan, although nearly half of homeless veterans served in Vietnam.

The reasons they are homeless are many: lack of affordable housing, inability to make a livable income, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

New tests suggest high lead levels in the drinking water at one Flint school may have a simple and inexpensive solution.

Initial test results on drinking water samples taken at Freeman Elementary showed high levels of lead in the water: 101 parts per billion or roughly six times the federal action level for lead in tap water.

Follow-up tests were conducted last month on water at four Flint schools that tested at or above the federal action level. 

Gov. Rick Snyder

Now that state lawmakers have cobbled together a roads package, the spotlight can turn to fresh priorities.

For example, fixing Detroit’s collapsing school system.

The governor estimates it will take more than $700 million to rehabilitate Detroit’s public schools and warns that if the state doesn’t tackle the mammoth school debt, things will only get worse.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A meeting this week may help produce an update into a possible federal probe of Flint’s water problems.

Congressman Dan Kildee says he plans to meet this week with Regional EPA director Susan Hedman to discuss the status of an investigation into Flint’s drinking water problems.

Kildee says the investigation has to look beyond just assessing blame.

Ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Elijah J. McCoy Patent and Trademark Office in Detroit in 2012
flickr user Senator Stabenow /

The Next Idea

Innovation means new ideas, and new ideas mean investments, all of which need to be protected.

That’s where the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office comes in.

Three years ago, they opened their first office outside of Washington D.C., and chose to put it in Detroit.

What does that mean for Michigan inventors, entrepreneurs, startups and researchers?


The US Environmental Protection Agency has pledged almost $20 million dollars to help clean up the Clinton River in southeast Michigan.

The river, which flows largely through Macomb County into Lake Saint Clair, has been designated a Great Lakes Area of Concern for many years.

EPA officials announced Monday that more federal money is coming through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s new mayor says she wants her city to return to total local control.

Soon after Karen Weaver took her oath of office as Flint mayor, she called on Governor Snyder re-instate total local control in her city.

“I do not embrace the current governance model on a moral or political basis,” Weaver told the standing room crowd that packed the city council chambers to watch her take her oath of office. 

Michigan kids may soon be required to learn engineering

Nov 9, 2015
Tommy Cohn, a junior at Skyline High School, teaches a few students about motors.
Gabrielle Emanuel/Michigan Radio

Biology, chemistry, physics, these traditional science classes may soon be getting a new bedfellow, engineering.

On Tuesday, Michigan’s State Board of Education is voting on new science standards that would, for the first time, require students to learn engineering. This is prompting both excitement and concern.

Tom Casperson

State Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, announced early Monday that he will run for the 1st U.S. House District, which represents northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

He is the first Republican to officially announce to succeed Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, who is retiring. Casperson has served almost 11 years in the Michigan Legislature.

Sixty days.  That’s how long universities are supposed to take to investigate sexual assault cases.

But at Michigan State University, those investigations can drag on for seven, eight, even nine months.

A recent federal report slammed MSU for taking too long to resolve sexual assault cases.

But a Michigan Radio investigation has found the problems at MSU go far deeper than that. 

For the last three years, Governor Rick Snyder has been fighting to try to get the legislature to come up with the money to repair Michigan’s disgracefully bad roads and bridges.

The governor, like most of us, thought better roads were essential. The legislature agreed in principle, but for years, has been unwilling to pass the new taxes needed to fix the roads.

 There’s been lots of debate over the past few days about the political wisdom of going ahead in Michigan with a couple of ballot campaigns after similar efforts suffered big defeats last week in Houston and Ohio.

OH to MI? Apples to oranges

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A one-man effort to recall Governor Rick Snyder from office faces a big hurdle this week.

Angelo Brown says Governor Snyder deserves to be recalled because of the role his administration played in the Flint drinking water crisis.

Brown’s recall petition accuses the governor of being “culpable” in the decisions that lead to the use of corrosive Flint River water as the city’s drinking water source. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is hoping for peace between the city's casinos and thousands of workers.

  Contract talks are expected to resume Monday. Taxes from casinos account for about 16 percent of Detroit's revenue or roughly $170 million a year. Duggan tells the Detroit Free Press that he hopes labor and management "find a middle ground and work it out."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s new mayor will be sworn into office at noon Monday.

Karen Weaver started the year as a Flint businesswoman.  She’ll end it as Flint’s mayor. 

Weaver defeated incumbent Mayor Dayne Walling in last week’s election.

Weaver emerged as the least known of a four person field in the August primary and campaigned hard on the city’s water problems.

When she takes the oath of office, she’ll become the first woman elected mayor in Flint.

Weaver will be mayor of a city still under control of a state oversight board. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - A jury says doctors at a northern Michigan clinic weren't negligent in using tainted steroids that were part of a national meningitis outbreak.

  More than 100 patients sued doctors and the clinic, Neuromuscular & Rehabilitation Associates in Traverse City. The Traverse City Record-Eagle says a jury ruled in favor of the doctors and the clinic Thursday after a civil trial.

stevendepolo / flickr

  A successful program that rewards students with cash for boosting their grades has expanded to a second high school in Westland, Michigan. Bill Gray, a retired school psychologist with Wayne Memorial High School, started the Champions of Wayne program in 2009 with the goal of improving performance of at-risk students.

The program offers mentorship and a $200 reward each semester to each students who successfully increase their grade point averages. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor-elect Karen Weaver will be sworn in on Monday.   But she’s starting with less power than her predecessors.

When he took office six years ago, outgoing mayor Dayne Walling appointed more than a dozen top city officials.   But incoming mayor Karen Weaver can not appoint a single department head.

One of the last decisions by Flint’s last emergency manager was to give all personnel decisions to the city administrator. 

Pinhole-sized leak plugged on sunken barge in Lake Erie

Nov 7, 2015
Tom Kowalczk

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - The U.S. Coast Guard says divers in Lake Erie have found and plugged a pinhole-sized leak on a sunken barge near where an oil-based substance has been spotted in recent weeks.

The Coast Guard says there appeared to be a colorless liquid coming from the tiny leak.

Crews have been monitoring the site near the U.S.-Canadian border since discovering a sheen on the surface late last month.

The substance is believed to be coming from the barge that sank in 1937 and is on a federal registry of the most serious pollution threats to U.S. waters.

Michigan Attorney General's office

NEW YORK (AP) - Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is embarking on a $10 million-plus ad campaign to take on opponents of President Barack Obama's plan to reduce power plant carbon emissions.

  Bloomberg's Independence USA political action committee announced plans Friday to run TV spots aimed at the attorneys general of Florida, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin.