Mark Brush

Reporter/Producer

Mark is a senior reporter/producer at Michigan Radio where he's been working to develop the station's online news content since 2010.

From 2000 to 2006, he worked as the technical director and senior producer for Michigan Radio's regional environmental news service known as the Great Lakes Radio Consortium.

From 2006 to 2010, as the unit's co-manager and senior producer, Mark helped transition the GLRC into an award-winning national news service known as The Environment Report.

He has won several state and national awards for his work, including a 2011 national Edward R. Murrow award for best audio news documentary on the future of coal in the United States.

Mark is a graduate of the University of Michigan ('00 MS in Environmental Policy and Planning & '91 BA in Political Science) and has been a "public radio junkie" since 1992. Much of Mark's storytelling philosophy was influenced through his close work with veteran CBC "réalisateur" David Candow.

Ways to Connect

Charles Pugh in 2010.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Former Detroit City Council president and Fox 2 news anchor Charles Pugh was arrested today in New York City. He was charged with six counts of criminal sexual conduct. The charges stem from Pugh's contact with a 14-year-old boy between September 2003 and May 2004.

More from a press release from the Wayne County Prosecutor's office:

Michigan AG Bill Schuette
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that his office has filed a civil suit against three companies involved in the Flint water crisis.

The suit names Veolia North America, Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, and Leo A. Daly Co. as defendants.

Schuette said these companies "botched the job" when it came to providing safe drinking water to Flint.

Enbridge Energy says they’ll spend $7 million over the next two years to buy new clean up tools in case there’s a spill along its Line 5 pipeline.   There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Line 5 where it crosses at the Straits of Mackinac. At the
Enbridge Energy

Officials with Enbridge Energy say they’ll spend $7 million over the next two years to buy new clean up tools in case there’s a spill along its Line 5 pipeline.

 

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Line 5 where it crosses at the Straits of Mackinac. At the Straits, the oil and liquid natural gas pipeline splits into two smaller diameter pipelines to make the underwater crossing.

 

Gov. Snyder speaks at a Flint news conference.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s been almost six months since the Flint Water Task Force blamed the culture of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for the Flint water crisis.

The Task Force said a culture of quote “technical compliance” exists inside the drinking water office.

Its report found that officials were buried in technical rules – thinking less about why the rules existed. In this case, making sure Flint’s water was safe to drink.

Every morning at 9 a.m. we bat around story ideas for the day during our news meetings. We come up with our own ideas, but we don't always know what YOU are interested in.

That's why we have this little project called MI CuriousIt works like this:

State Capitol
user aunt owwee / Flickr

The State of the State Survey reveals trust in state government is low in Michigan.

The Flint water crisis, cities run by emergency managers, gerrymandered political districts and election campaigns influenced by “dark” money -- these things and more have contributed to eroding trust in our elected officials.

Michigan Radio and the Center for Michigan discussed what it will take to restore faith in state government at Brewery Becker in Brighton on June 14, 2016.

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

If you can't make it to the island, you can watch what's happening at the Mackinac Policy Conference on Detroit Public Television's live stream.

See below, or go here to find the stream:

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:

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.

A photocopy of a photo of Line 5 being installed in 1953.
State of Michigan

The state of Michigan, environmental groups, and reporters like myself have been asking Enbridge for more specific information about the condition of the pipelines for more than two years now.

The company has released limited information in the past, but stopped short of releasing detailed reports that show the condition of the pipelines. When it comes to this kind of information, the company holds all the cards. 

Stateside went on the road for a live show from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit on Thursday, May 12, 2016.

You can watch the live broadcast below as host Cynthia Canty interviews several guests, including:

Michael Byers introduces his English 346 class.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Some say you can mark the day the “golden age of radio” ended.

CBS Radio aired the final episode of the radio drama Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar at 6:35 p.m. on September 30th, 1962.

(You can find that last episode here.)

One English teacher at the University of Michigan says there’s a lot to learn from that era.

Crowd waits to hear President Obama speak in Flint, Michigan.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

That was the question I asked Flint's Eleasha Aubrey yesterday.

We were waiting for President Obama to speak at Northwestern High School in Flint.

She had a good seat, so I asked her how she got it.

Aubrey said she usually doesn't answer anonymous phone calls, but she was glad she took this particular call. 

Listen to her explain:

President Obama speaking in Flint, Michigan on May 4, 2016.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

President Obama came to Flint, Michigan as the drinking water crisis continues in the city. The people in the city have been dealing with bad drinking water for more than two years, and the water system still hasn't recovered.

Residents have craved action and answers from government leaders since the crisis began, but many haven't trusted the messages coming from Governor Snyder and the state government. 

Gov. Snyder speaks to a crowd at Northwestern High School in Flint, MI.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder made a surprise appearance before the crowd of about of 1000 people in Flint waiting to hear from President Obama.

He was instantly and loudly booed by the crowd at Northwestern High School.

The crowd refused to quiet down for several moments, even as Snyder tried to speak.

Listen to his remarks below:

President Obama in the Oval Office in April 2016.
Pete Souza / White House

President Barack Obama plans to make his first trip to Flint, Michigan, since the city's drinking water was found to be tainted with lead.

The White House announced Mr. Obama will visit the city on May 4. He's slated to receive a briefing on the federal effort to assist in the cleanup and to hear from Flint residents.

Obama first notified eight-year-old Amariyanna Copeny about his plans to visit her city. Copeny -- aka "Little Miss Flint" -- wrote the President prior to her visit to Washington D.C. asking if she could meet him. 

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.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announces charges in his team's investigation into the Flint water crisis on April 20, 2016.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An official in the state Attorney General's office says warrants were issued this morning in 67th District Court against Flint Utilities Administrator Mike Glasgow, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality District Engineer Mike Prysby, and former Supervisor of the MDEQ’s Lansing District Office Stephen Busch.

The charges stem from their involvement in the Flint water crisis.

Attorney General Schuette launched the investigation three months ago.

In addition to the charges against the three individuals, Schuette said more people will be charged.

DNR Fisheries Biologist Tim Cwalinski holds a sturgeon with Michigan State University students on the Black River.
MSU

Lake sturgeon are a threatened species in Michigan. And there’s one spot in the state where the fish are in particular danger.

One group gets together every year to watch over them, and they want your help.

Most people never see this rare fish -- which is too bad, because they’re quite a sight. Lake sturgeon can live to be 100 years old and can weigh hundreds of pounds.

They spawn in several rivers in Michigan in the spring – but parts of the Black River in the northern-lower-peninsula are shallow, so you can see these fish as they swim upstream.

A postcard from 1953 shows Line 5 being installed in the Straits of Mackinac. The group says it's proof the easement wasn't followed in the first place. Enbridge says that's not true.
Oil & Water Don't Mix

Several environmental groups and tribes say Enbridge Energy is operating its oil pipelines under Lake Michigan illegally. They sent a letter to Governor Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and others calling for the immediate shutdown of the twin pipelines.

The Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign put together a list of what they say are eight violations of the state’s easement with Enbridge.

Back in 1953, the state allowed the pipelines to cross the Straits of Mackinac under this legal contract.

Marc Edwards alerts the people of Flint that they should take precautions when dealing with drinking water in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Marc Edwards and his team from Virginia Tech tested 269 Flint homes last summer to help uncover the major lead problem in the city's drinking water.

The team came back to Flint last month to try to retest those same homes.

They found that the city is still not meeting the federal action level for lead, 15 ppm, today. They recommend that residents continue to use water filters and bottled water for drinking and cooking.

Watch Edwards and the Virginia Tech team talk about the results of those tests below:

Marc Edwards delivers the results of the tests on April 12, 2016.
YouTube / screen grab

New tests from the team at Virginia Tech show Flint’s water is “highly variable” and still not safe to drink without a filter.

Marc Edwards says tests done last month show Flint’s water is still above the federal action level for lead.

More from their press release:

Maps of lead testing results from October through February 2016.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Random water testing is still ongoing in Flint, Michigan. The state of Michigan first started offering free water testing to people in Flint last October.

Some people started to take advantage early on, but this free testing didn’t really take off until January 2016. That was when the story of what was happening in Flint really got a lot of attention. And that’s when a lot people in the city began to realize that their water could be affected.

The tests help people understand what's going on in their home.

Workers in Holland applying a special ice to the tulip beds.
YouTube screen grab / City of Holland

Early tulip blooms have hampered the annual Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Michigan in past years.

Sometimes it gets so bad that locals simply call it "Stemfest."

This year's festival is being held from May 7 through May 14, and the city of Holland has come up with a way to guarantee that visitors will be greeted with vibrant petals.

Watch below:

David Schwab looked at 840 simulated spill scenarios. This map shows the probabilities of where oil might go after a spill in the Straits of Mackinac.
From the UM Water Center report

Enbridge Energy has maintained that their twin oil and natural gas liquid pipelines under Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac are safe.

But what if one of them did break open? Where might the oil go?

Today, the University of Michigan’s Water Center released new computer simulations to help answer that question.

David Schwab is a hydrodynamics expert with the Water Center.

“I don’t know any place where the currents are as strong, and change direction as quickly, and as frequently as in the Straits of Mackinac,” Schwab said.

Enbridge Energy's Line 5 oil and liquid natural gas pipelines runs under Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 goes right under Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac.

At the Straits, it splits into two pipelines. Both pipelines are 63 years old (they were installed in 1953).

Right now, we don’t have all the information about the condition of those pipelines. As we’ve reported many times, Enbridge holds all the cards. The company has shared some information with the public, but not a lot.

Residents in Flint, Mich., are still living in a state of emergency, waiting for answers about the safety of their water.

After almost two years of bad drinking water, it can be hard for them to trust researchers and officials – except for a group of independent researchers from Virginia Tech who exposed the problem last summer.

"So we trust them. We don't trust nobody else," says Bishop Bernadel Jefferson, a resident of Flint.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy were sworn in before their testimony in Congress on the Flint water crisis on March 17, 2016.
YouTube - screenshot

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testified before a congressional committee on Thursday, March 17.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held two previous hearings on the Flint water crisis. You can watch those hearings here and here.

Watch part 1 of Thursday's hearing below:

Jeff Daniels and Stephen Colbert on "Community Calendar."
YouTube - screenshot

It wasn't quite Between Two Ferns, but Jeff Daniels and Stephen Colbert did sit beside a fern-like plant when delivering Chelsea, Michigan's "Community Calendar."

Check out a rundown of Chelsea's March events below:

The Michigan Capitol in Lansing.
Matt Katzenberger / flickr.com

While most people watched the big presidential primary races in Michigan, Grand Rapids voters, and voters in Allegan and Lapeer counties ,filled empty seats in the Michigan House of Representatives.

In Grand Rapids, a vacancy in the 75th District was left when Brandon Dillon resigned last summer to become the Democratic Party chairman in Michigan.

In that district, Democrat David LaGrand beat out Republican Blake Edmonds. LaGrand is a business owner, a lawyer, and Grand Rapids school board member.

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