News

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University professors and neighborhood volunteers have come up with a design for a major overhaul of the old Saginaw County fairgrounds. 

The 54-acre site on Saginaw’s south side have sat decaying for more than a decade.

Warren Rauhe is with the Michigan State University School of Planning, Design and Construction. He says it may not look like it, but the fairgrounds site is a “gem.”

Gordie Howe circa 1966.
Arnie Lee / Wikimedia Commons

Hockey legend Gordie Howe has died. He was 88 years old.

Howe played pro hockey longer than anyone else, and he remains “Mr. Hockey” to generations of fans.

Gordie Howe played hockey with an intensity he learned as a boy in Saskatoon during the Depression.

In his 2014 autobiography, Howe wrote about playing for his school team -- not on the right wing where generations of hockey fans were used to seeing him -- but as a goaltender.

Auchter's Art: Where to find moderate Republicans

Jun 10, 2016
This week's cartoon
John Auchter

CARTOONIST'S POV:

People ask me all the time, "What are you?" This can be disconcerting. But what they mean is, "As an editorial cartoonist, are you Republican or Democrat? Conservative or Liberal? Socialist or Capitalist? Left Wing or Right Wing?" And so on. My standard reply is that I am not strictly defined by any of those things — I am, if anything, a Contrarian.

Carol Hutchins.
video screen grab / BTN Network

Under coach Carol Hutchins, the Michigan softball team has won 19 Big Ten titles, and nine in a row -- more than the rest of the Big Ten combined. She has led her team to 18 regional crowns, and made it to the College World Series 12 times in the past 22 years.

But what’s more impressive is how she’s done it.

Since 1995, every player who’s played on Carol Hutchins’ Michigan softball team for four years – which is pretty much all of them – has made it to the College World Series.

Davontae Sanford with family and supporters after his release.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A young Detroit man who spent nine years in prison for crimes he didn’t commit says he’s ready to make a new life for himself.

Davontae Sanford was just 14 when he confessed to four murders.

But a hit man confessed to the same crimes just a year later. Advocates for the wrongfully incarcerated have fought to free him ever since.

This week, following a Michigan State Police re-investigation of the case, a judge vacated Sanford’s convictions and freed him.

Detroit Public Schools

Wytrice Harris is disheartened.

The mother of twins, sophomores at Detroit's Renaissance High, has been working to improve conditions in the district for two years. She hoped for much more from legislation designed to save and reform the city's nearly-bankrupt school system.

"They're just going to prolong the death of DPS," she says flatly.

The legislation includes $617 million in funding to split the district in two. One district will deal with paying off debt, and the other will handle day-to-day operations. 

Simon Blackley/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

A child's first day of school can be both an exciting and stressful time for a parent, especially for those who are starting out in a new country. The Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) has created a program to help immigrants adapt to their new community and prepare their children for school.

A bike painted white in memory of a cyclist
Matthew Peoples / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A Michigan prosecutor has charged 50-year-old Charles Edward Pickett Jr. with five counts of second degree murder after a pickup truck crashed into a group of bicyclists and killed five people.

Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting also charged him Thursday with four counts of reckless driving resulting in serious injury to four others near Kalamazoo.

The bicyclists were part of a group that called themselves "The Chain Gang," who ranged in age from 40 to 74.

user A7nubis / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A state elections board has rejected petitions filed by the campaign to legalize marijuana in Michigan. The action by the Board of State Canvassers tees up a court battle over time limits for petition drives to gather signatures.

  

Thomas Lavigne is an attorney with MI Legalize. He says a requirement that petition campaigns collect signatures within a 180-day period violates the state constitution. He says the framers did not envision this sort of barrier.

FLICKR USER RICHARD DRDUL https://flic.kr/p/gErZu

 

The biking community of Kalamazoo turned out last evening for a five mile silent ride, honoring the cyclists hit by an alleged drunk driver. Five people were killed and four were injured.

 

“The ride was part of what will be…a gradual healing process,” said Paul Selden, director of road safety for the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club.

Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, speaks to reporters on the Senate floor after the Senate passed Senate Bills 710, 711, and 819 - 822, measures that would reform Detroit's public schools.
senatorgoeffhansen.com

A $617 million bailout of Detroit Public Schools was approved by Michigan late Wednesday, eliciting a range of responses from lawmakers across the state. Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, came to tears during last night’s legislative session.

“We’ve been living this for over a year,” Hansen said on Stateside. “You get to the end and it’s not exactly as you envisioned it.”

Courtesy of Michigan House Republicans

The Michigan Senate approved a $617 million bailout for Detroit Public Schools Wednesday night, and lawmakers are sharing their thoughts. State Rep. Amanda Price believes that the package’s approval will bring a “brighter future” for the kids of Detroit.

Senator David Knezek of Dearborn Heights says the legislature missed a huge opportunity to help struggling Detroit schools.
Courtesy of Sen. Knezek

State lawmakers passed a $617 million dollar package for Detroit Public Schools on Wednesday night.

Democratic Senator David Knezek of District Five, which includes part of Detroit, joined us on Stateside to discuss the package.

It’s a big step backwards for DPS, he said.

“The package that we passed last night sets up Detroit Public Schools for failure,” Knezek said. “It sets up the children for failure.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A small group of Flint pastors came to the state Capitol today to thank lawmakers for approving more money for Flint.

“We thank you Lord for the resources that have been allocated for Flint,” one of the pastors intoned beneath the Capitol dome around noon.

The pastors and others prayed in a small circle in the Capitol rotunda, the day after lawmakers approved $165 million for Flint’s water crisis. 

Reverend Ira Edwards calls the money “patchwork," but says he’s glad to see lawmakers moving forward.

Kym Worthy (file photo).
waynecounty.com

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy defended her office’s handling of the Davontae Sanford case today.

Sanford confessed to four Detroit murders in 2007, when he was just 14 years old.

But a judge overturned Sanford’s convictions and freed him this week.

Worthy says that became possible only after a recent Michigan State Police investigation she requested found a Detroit police officer lied about key aspects of Sanford’s confession.

Questions about Sanford’s guilt arose as early as 2008, when a hit man named Vincent Smothers confessed to the same crimes.

Relatives of Devontae Sanford advocate for his release in 2015.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Davontae Sanford is 23 years old, but he hasn't known freedom since age 14. For the last nine years, Sanford has served time in prison for four murders he didn't commit.

Shortly into Sanford's prison sentence, a hit man who had been arrested for other killings in Detroit had insisted Sanford couldn't possibly have committed the crimes. Vincent Smothers' reasoning was simple -- he was the one who carried out the murders.

Despite Smothers' claims, it took eight years for the court system to finally declare Sanford innocent.

Eight years ago, I was writing an article, and called Senator Bernie Sanders’ office for some information. The senator himself called back a couple hours later, and talked to me for 15 minutes or so.

He wasn’t nationally famous then; he was a political independent from a state with half the population of Michigan’s Oakland County.

You could have made a lot of money in Las Vegas a year ago had you bet on him to win this year’s Democratic primary in Michigan.

But win it he did.

A grass carp.
Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee

Researchers say they’ve found grass carp eggs in the Sandusky River for the first time. The river flows into Lake Erie near Cedar Point.

Grass carp are a type of invasive Asian carp. This is the first time scientists have had direct confirmation that the fish are reproducing in the river.

Holly Embke found the eggs. She’s a master’s student at the University of Toledo.

“The reason we were looking where we were looking in the Sandusky River was because we thought there was the possibility of spawning, so it wasn’t wholly surprising to find eggs,” she says.

DTE's St. Clair Power Plant in East China, Michigan.
user cgord / wikimedia commons

DTE Energy is the state’s largest utility. It provides electricity to more than two million people in southeast Michigan. Until very recently, DTE leaned on coal-fired power to generate about 3/4 of that electricity.

But that’s about to change dramatically.

The news came down this week that DTE will close three of its remaining coal-fired power plants between 2020 and 2023.

Two of those plants are just south of Detroit, in River Rouge and Trenton. The other is in St. Clair County.

Dustin Dwyer

Just before noon, a woman rode past with multicolored carnations pinned to her handlebars. She kneeled briefly at the site on N. Westnedge Ave. north of Kalamazoo where on Tuesday nine people were struck, five of them struck dead, four still recovering from injuries. The woman left her flowers and a note, then moved on without speaking.

Many came to the site to pay their respects Wednesday. Many struggled to find the words to describe what had happened here. But they came anyway. The tributes and memorials grew among the lush grass as the day wore on. 

Meg Zapalowski was one of a group of bicyclists who prepared "ghost bikes" -- stripped down cycles, painted white, one for each of those who died in Tuesday's tragedy. 

"The cycling community in Kalamazoo is not just a community, it's a family," she said. "And that's just how we roll." 

Michigan Senate OKs bailout for Detroit schools

Jun 8, 2016
flickr user Motown31 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan senators have approved a $617 million bailout of Detroit's debt-ridden school district.

The Republican-controlled Senate narrowly passed the restructuring package late Wednesday, nearly a week after House passage. The bills soon will reach Gov. Rick Snyder for his expected signature as long as the House OKs some changes, likely later in the night.

The rescue comes two years after the state helped bail out Detroit's municipal government as part of its bankruptcy case.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint city officials will require contractors pay a prevailing wage to workers who replace the city’s lead service lines.  Though for a time, that wasn’t going to be the case.

Next week, the city of Flint will receive bids on a project to remove up to 500 lead service lines.

When the formal request for proposals went out earlier this month, it contained a provision that workers would receive standard union wages. But Wednesday, city officials proposed an addendum that the prevailing wage would not be applied to this project.

City of Inkster sign.
City of Inkster

The city of Inkster has been released a year early from its consent agreement with the state.

Inkster agreed in 2012 to eliminate a $3.5 million deficit.

Over the next four years, the city privatized and reduced many services, slashed health care benefits for city retirees, laid off staff, and increased fees.

Treasury spokesman Jeremy Sampson praised Inkster's city council and its mayor Byron Nolen for working hard to balance the books.

"This is just an example of the emergency manager process and how it can work," says Sampson.

Raheel Siddiqui
Facebook

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, has received a response to an inquiry submitted to the United States Marine Corps following the death of Private Raheel Siddiqui, a 20-year-old trainee from Taylor, Michigan who died on March 18 while at Parris Island, S.C., for basic training.

Flickr user Leonard Witzel/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

It’s been four years since the repeal of a Michigan law that required motorcycle riders to wear helmets – an effort that was led by American Bikers Aiming Toward Education (ABATE) of Michigan.

Vince Consiglio is the president of ABATE of Michigan and has averaged 25,000 miles a year on his motorcycle since 1974. He believes wearing a helmet should be a choice made by motorcyclists.

“If you are riding at 50 miles an hour and you hit [a car] head-on,” Consiglio said on Stateside. “There’s no helmet that can protect you.”

Catie Newell, Nightly

To many of us, darkness and light are just something you affect by flicking a light switch or snuffing a candle.

But for University of Michigan architecture assistant Catie Newell, light is a condition and a "material."

Anne Corlett painting in Wyoming
photo courtesty of Anne Corlett

Let's say you're an artist.

You've spent years capturing the beauty of your home state.

And now, a new adventure calls to you: hit the road with your paints, brushes and easel, and capture a landscape from all 50 states.

Do you talk yourself out of this immense undertaking? Or give in to that siren call?

Saugatuck artist Anne Corlett chose to answer that call of adventure.

After three years, 29,604 miles of driving and 164 days away from home, she's done it.

Davontae Sanford
Michigan Department of Corrections

He was just 14 years old when he confessed to and was convicted of a quadruple murder.

But today, 23-year-old Davontae Sanford walks out of Ionia State Prison a free man.

His conviction was vacated Tuesday by Wayne County Circuit Judge Brian Sullivan, who agreed with arguments that Sanford's case had all the hallmarks of a false confession.

David Moran is with the Michigan Innocence Clinic and was co-counsel on this case.

Andrew Malone / Flickr

A migrant worker advocacy group has filed a lawsuit against a Michigan blueberry farm.

Teresa Hendricks is the executive director of Migrant Legal Aid.

She says Blue Star Farms failed to pay workers fairly.

"Workers that come up to Michigan to harvest, they're the poorest of the working poor," Hendricks says, "and so every dollar that they earn is critical to their survival."

Hendricks says Blue Star Farms shouldn't have much trouble abiding by these laws, because the protections workers have a right to are simple.

Shayan Sanyal / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Legislation up for a vote in the state Senate tomorrow would compensate felons who are exonerated for the time they were wrongfully imprisoned. It would allow $50,000 for every year of wrongful incarceration. It would also offer aftercare services to freed inmates.    

State Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, says Michigan is one just a handful of states that does not compensate people for wrongful imprisonment. He says it offers a measure of justice.

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