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. The service was heard on more that 130 stations around the country including WBEZ in Chicago, WAMU in Washington D.C., KUOW in Seattle, and KWMU in St. Louis.

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 board certified public radio junkie" since 1992. He discovered public radio on his commutes to work in his trusty 1984 VW Rabbit. Much of Mark's storytelling philosophy was influenced through his close work with veteran CBC "réalisateur" David Candow.

Ways To Connect

The site of the former Velsicol Chemical Corporation in St. Louis is going to take a long time to clean up.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The city of St. Louis, Michigan would much rather be talked about as the geographic center of the Lower Peninsula.

Instead, there's a lot of focus on the legacy of pollution here.

The story of Velsicol Chemical in St. Louis, Michigan is quite complicated. 

Velsicol Chemical operated on the banks of the Pine River in St. Louis, Michigan from 1938 to 1978. It was the site of the infamous PBB mixup. The entire plant was buried in place and now it's leaking.
Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force

There are a lot of former industrial sites in Michigan that need to be cleaned up, but the Velsicol Superfund sites in St. Louis, Michigan are unusual in their size and in the amount of nasty chemicals lurking in the ground where people live, work and play.

The company tried to contain the pollution before, but its solution didn’t work. Ask some of the community members about that original plan and they say they could have told you it wasn’t going to work.

One thing we’ll miss after Rep. John Dingell retires at the end of this year will be his “jingles.”

Dingell releases these jingles each year for the holidays. The longest serving member in U.S. Congress  kills it on Twitter. And today he announced - via Twitter, of course - that his annual jingle is ready:

An ailing robin fledging in Teri Kniffen's yard in St. Louis, Michigan in June of 2013.  Some of the highest levels of DDT ever recorded in bird livers and brains were found in this neighborhood.
Teri Kniffen

All this week we're bringing you stories about the chemical company responsible for the PBB tragedy in Michigan. Michigan Chemical accidentally contaminated the state’s food supply in the 1970s, but the legacy of that company is still very much with us today.

Michigan Chemical – which later became Velsicol Chemical – made more than just PBB, and it left these toxic chemicals behind in St. Louis, Michigan.

One woman insists something is wrong with the birds

Detroit from space. MacLean got a little closer than this.
NASA

It's called getting perspective - climbing up on the mountain and having a look around.

That's exactly what Alex MacLean does. As a pilot and a trained architect, MacLean goes up in the air to find out what's happening on the ground.

He's flown all around the United States, and recently his flight over Detroit was featured in the New York Times Sunday Review.

We've come a long way with technology, but a good story is still a good story.
Jenn Durfey / Flickr

Michigan Radio is looking for an online news intern to help produce and improve the content available on michiganradio.org.

This internship runs from January 5  through May 1, 2015.

Interns will search for relevant news stories and help create daily posts for online news publication.

They will work with content created by Michigan Radio reporters and format copy, add photos or videos, add links, build maps, create polls, and come up with other creative content to improve story presentation.

The online news intern will also work with reporters to prepare stories for online publication ahead of time. Depending on the projects that come up, other duties could include gathering and taking photos, shooting video, and gathering or producing audio.

The online news intern will develop insights into multimedia production and presentation.

They will also become familiar with how a public radio station in a major market operates.

Applicants should have strong interest and/or knowledge of online news and online news presentation.

They should also have strong writing and communication skills and be self-motivated and dependable. Knowledge of multimedia software applications is a plus. The internship is unpaid and a 10-15 hour/week commitment during normal business hours is requested.

If interested, please e-mail a cover letter and resume to Senior Producer Mark Brush (mark@michiganradio.org).

Please include times and dates available for work in your letter.

Today on Stateside:

  • Right now in Michigan, you can be fired from a job, or be denied housing if you're gay. A group of LGBT rights advocates want that changed.
  • Life at the University of Michigan after Brady Hoke’s departure.
  • The rise of celebrity wines. One reviewer says they're not all that good, so why are people buying them?
  • A mother and daughter write about faith and world adventures.
  • What are Democrats in Michigan doing wrong?
Pothole in a road.
Wikimedia Commons

State lawmakers return to Lansing this week after a two week break for deer hunting and Thanksgiving.

Every Republican and Democratic leader at the state Capitol says fixing Michigan’s roads will be the top priority between now and the end of the year.

“Certainly, the primary focus will be on discovering a solution for funding of transportation in Michigan, specifically roads and bridges that are in desperate need of repair,” said Ari Adler, a spokesperson for state House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall.

Adler says the speaker wants more taxes paid at the pump to go to roads.

The "Taxi House" in the Heidelberg Project.
Heather Phillips / Flickr

Another fire has been reported at the Heidelberg Project in Detroit.

The "Taxi House" was burned inside and in the rear, according to the Detroit News. The paper reports it's the 12th fire in 18 months at the Heidelberg Project.

Security cameras and security patrols were put in place in the last year after a string of arsons struck the project.

Lauren Abdel-Razzaq of the Detroit News reported that Tyree Guyton, the artist behind the decades-old installation, was sweeping up outside the burned house on Sunday afternoon.

More from the News:

Although the art installation's brainchild wasn't saying much about the fire, he was sending a message by standing out front of the house cleaning up what he could: He's standing strong and not going anywhere.

"Mother Teresa said, 'what you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build it anyway,' " Guyton said. "That's all I want to say."

He declined to say whether any suspects have been spotted on the organizations security cameras. 

After the string of arsons, the Cultural Landscape Foundation has listed the Heidelberg Project as "among the most endangered in the United States."

The Mackinac Bridge on a warmer day.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Strong winds are sweeping across the state today leading the Mackinac Bridge Authority to take some precautions. Workers will escort some larger vehicles across the bridge. 

From MDOT:

Currently we are experiencing winds of sufficient force in the Straits area to require an escort of certain "high profile" vehicles across the Mackinac Bridge.

Examples of high profile vehicles include pickup trucks with campers; cars with small boats, bicycles or luggage attached to the roof; Ryder or U-Haul trucks; any vehicle pulling a boat; semi-tractors with enclosed trailers and all trailers with side walls over two feet in height. High profile vehicles must be escorted.

Motorists are asked to reduce their speed to 20 miles per hour as they approach the bridge and be prepared to stop. Bridge personnel are stationed at both ends of the structure to provide instructions regarding how and when to proceed across the bridge.

Since the bridge first opened, only two vehicles have gone over the edge, according to the Associated Press and MLive's Fritz Klug. The strong winds can lead to accidents on the bridge. 

Check out the wind map for a visual on how the winds are blowing today.

Vernor's always manages to make these lists. Is it on yours?
user @rogerjfrank / Flickr

If the magazine racks at the grocery story are any indication, we love lists.

Lists of the "top" vacation spots - lists of the "top" TV shows - and lists of the "top"... ahem... bedroom moves.

So why wouldn't we love a list about the state we live in? 

Buzzfeed collected a list of 37 Facts That Prove Michigan Is Undeniably The Greatest State.

Thirty-seven. Wow. That's long. Let's boil it down to 10. It'll save time.

Pick your "Top 10 facts that prove Michigan is the greatest state" below. If the form doesn't load for you, go here to pick your top 10.

The Queen of Soul at President Obama's inauguration.
Cecilio Ricardo / U.S. Air Force

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Christopher John Farley, the Queen of Soul spoke about the success of her recent album, her thoughts on current and past “divas,” and negotiations over her upcoming biopic.

Farley had a broad list of questions, which brought us to some awkward places when Franklin made it clear she didn’t want to discuss some things.

The use of “auto-tune” by some singers was something to which Franklin hadn’t given much thought. Farley wanted to know what Franklin thought of younger artists using the device.

AF: “What is auto-tune? I don’t even know what auto-tune is.

WSJ: “It’s a kind of way of electronically adjusting your voice ..."

 AF: “Oh, please.”

WSJ: “…so it doesn’t sound pitchy - it doesn’t sound wrong…”

 AF: “Oh that’s ridiculous.”

Other interview highlights:

  • Farley asked about Franklin considering the ballet as a career choice – “I love the ballet.”
  • About her thoughts on Nicki Minaj – “Hmmm. I’m going to pass on that one.”
  • Her thoughts about President Obama’s performance in office – “It’s really not for me to say.”
  • About her upcoming biopic – Franklin can see Jennifer Hudson or Audra McDonald playing the role.

You can watch the interview here:

Detroit's riverfront.
Ian Freimuth / Flickr

Matt Helms at the Detroit Free Press reports that Mayor Mike Duggan has some sticker shock over the cost of Detroit’s bankruptcy.

Helms reports that Duggan “is alarmed” that the city will have to pay lawyers and consultants close to $200 million. Duggan worries the payout could put the city at risk of not meeting the terms of the city’s plan of adjustment – a plan the federal bankruptcy judge approved last week.

More from Helms and the Detroit Free Press:

Three people familiar with Duggan's views on the fees told the Free Press that the mayor believes the total fees could climb close to $200 million, an amount he worries could jeopardize the city's ability to meet the bankruptcy's financial terms. That compares to the roughly $100 million that many bankruptcy experts predicted would be the cost when Detroit filed for the nation's largest-ever municipal bankruptcy in July 2013.

A spokesperson for former emergency manager Kevyn Orr disputes that the bill could reach $200 million, saying the fees charged to the city reached $144.3 million as of October 31.

The snowstorm hitting the UP on radar.
NWS

Winter is upon us and we barely had time to dig our mittens out of that box in the basement.

Our compatriots in the Northwoods are being hammered by an early snowstorm.

Officials from the National Weather Service say at least a foot of snow has fallen on parts of the Upper Peninsula and another foot or two could accumulate in some areas before the front passes through the region tomorrow.

Northern Michigan University in Marquette has closed.

More from the Associated Press:

This trail camera photo of a cougar was taken on public land in western Mackinac County in early November.
MDNR

Cougars were wiped out in Michigan more than 100 years ago, but a few of the big cats have been returning.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently confirmed two new cougar sightings in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

MDNR officials say the two photographs were taken this fall – one was taken on a camera phone 30 miles south-southeast of Sault Ste. Marie in late October – another was taken with a trail camera on public land near Mackinac County’s Garfield Township.

Detroit will exit bankruptcy.
Ian Freimuth / Flickr

Federal bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes has approved Detroit's plan to exit bankruptcy. Rhodes' ruling comes after several major creditors reached deals with the city in recent weeks.

The ruling clears the way for the city to shed around $7 billion in debt.

More from the Detroit News:

Photo from the 2011 Capital Pride Parade in Washington, D.C.
user ep_jhu / Flickr

A federal appeals court in Cincinnati has upheld anti-gay marriage laws in four states, including Michigan's.

The court's ruling counters rulings from other courts that have ruled against the bans.

The justices reiterated the question in front of them is not whether gay marriage is a good idea, but whether the 14th amendment prohibits a state from defining marriage.

Ups and downs in voter turnout in Michigan.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The number we're talking about is the percentage of the population old enough to vote.

Less than half of those people showed up at the polls on Election Day in Michigan.

Voter turnout for this year's election came in at 41.6%. In Michigan's last gubernatorial election four years ago, 42.9% of the voting age population turned up to vote.

Michigan's secretary of state's office reports that about 3.2 million votes were cast Tuesday - around 83,000 fewer than in the 2010 midterm election.

To find a lower turnout stat for midterm or presidential elections, you have to go back to 1990 in Michigan.

Here's a chart showing the history of voter turnout in Michigan since 1948. It shows gubernatorial election years and presidential election years. Presidential elections traditionally draw more people to the polls - hence the zig-zag. (The Pew Research Center has more on why that is.)

The chart:

This cartogram depicts 2012 election results. It's a map adjusted for population size.
Mark Newman / Dept. of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan

Here are the election results for the races we're watching here at Michigan Radio.

Please go to your county's election page for more detailed results in your area.

You can also find information about the races not listed below on the Secretary of State's general elections website.

Winners will be in bold.

(NPR has national results here.)

American flag.
Corey Seeman / Flickr

We're following the races as they're called. You can see results here, and we have a rolling summary of results below.

You can also follow our team as they tweet from the Republican and Democratic parties in Michigan:

Gov. Rick Snyder has been elected to a second term.
Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Rick Snyder has been reelected to a second term.

Snyder was first elected governor in 2010. During Snyder’s first term, he oversaw major tax reforms that largely shifted the burden from business to individuals. He also appointed the emergency manager that’s ushering Detroit through bankruptcy.

Democratic challenger Mark Schauer represented Michigan’s 7th Congressional District from 2009-2011.

Michigan's next Senator Gary Peters.
U.S. Representative Gary Peters

Gary Peters will represent Michigan in the U.S. Senate. The Associated Press has called the race with 9% of the precincts reporting.

Peters is a three-term congressman who had good name recognition. His opponent, Terri Lynn Land, Michigan's former Secretary of State, was also a recognized political figure across the state, but her campaign foundered as Peters took a lead in the polls in the spring.

Peters succeeds retiring U.S. Senator Carl Levin, one of the longest-serving members of the Senate, and chairman of the influential Armed Services Committee. 

A fall leaf asks us to vote this Election Day.
Mike Perini / Michigan Radio

Across the state, voters have had a chance to weigh in on a variety of issues this election season.

We have updates for you on the major races in Michigan, but if you want to know more about the local races in your area, you'll need to check your county elections page.  

To review your county's page, right-click on the map below and select "open link in new tab [or window]":

Flag at half-staff near the Capitol in Lansing.
Matt Katzenberger / Flickr

We asked you to share one word that best describes your feeling about Election Day.

Based on the responses, it looks like most people are somewhere between hopeful, nervous, and "meh."

We had a strict one word limit, but one new voter managed to get around the rule to express their excitement.

"omgitsmyfirsttimevotingijustturned18andgotmyvoterregistrationzomg!!!"

You can share your word here, excited or not.

Here are the words bubbling to the top:

Polling place.
Stephen Velasco / Flickr

Tomorrow is Election Day. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Michigan.

Candidates are out making their final push. Mostly, they just want you to get out of your house and vote.

Not a lot of people go out and vote during midterm elections. In our last midterm election, less than half of Michigan's registered voters cast a ballot.

When you head to the polls tomorrow, your ballot is going to be long. Here are two quick links to get your started from the Michigan Secretary of State:

Don't tell the kids, but there is a way to get rid of all that candy.
rochelle hartman / Flickr

It goes without saying that you should NOT tell your kids about these dentists and their plan to buy their hard-earned candy back.

But if you find your house inundated, this just might be a good option - and who knows, maybe the kids will participate if they know there's a little money involved (the dentists pay $1 per pound of candy).

Dave Brandon, for better or worse, was tied to his hire as Michigan football head coach, Brady Hoke.
Adam Glanzman / Flickr

The University of Michigan's Athletic Director, David Brandon, has resigned.

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel made the announcement this afternoon at a press conference. Schlissel said Brandon told him about his decision to resign on Wednesday (Oct. 29). Schlissel said the terms and conditions of Brandon's departure will be released later today. 

People in Brandon's position always have their critics, but the severe storm around Brandon grew over the last several weeks.

2012 election results as depticted by a cartogram - a map adjusted for population size.
Mark Newman / Dept. of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan

Next week, we'll chart another course for our democracy by heading to the voting booth.

By this time next week, we'll know which party will rule the day in Congress and in our state Legislature. We'll also know who Michigan's next governor will be.

So how are you feeling about this big day?

I'm sure we could all take a lot of time to articulate exactly how we're feeling about next Tuesday, but can we find one word that captures it?

That's the challenge we're putting to you here:

The moment GM's Rikk Wilde became the "Chevy Guy."
screen grab from YouTube video

The "number one" fear got the best of GM regional manager Rikk Wilde last night as he presented the Most Valuable Player award to San Franciso's ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner.

Watch Wilde tell Bumgarner about the Chevy Colorado's "class-leading technology and stuff" here:

GM got publicity for presenting the award, and is getting more publicity this morning as bloggers write about last night's awkward moment.

Some are writing about Wilde's "bumbling" performance, while others say he "stole the show."

Good presentation or not, GM says he was there because he loves baseball.

From Jim Lynch of the Detroit News:

On Thursday, a spokesman for General Motors Co. said Wilde is not a regular public speaker but a rabid baseball fan.

"He is a life-long Kansas City Royals fan, so he was suffering the woes of having watched his team just lose Game 7," said Mike Albano, Chevrolet's director of communications. "His day job is selling cars and trucks and that's what he'll be back doing again today.

"And nothing he said was wrong. We've got a lot of stuff in the Chevy Colorado."

A new ad for GM?

Either way, the Internet has a new star

Detroit bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes.
John Meiu / Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC

During a brief hearing this morning in U.S. bankruptcy court, Judge Steven Rhodes declared his intention to make a final ruling on Detroit's plan to get out of bankruptcy.

Rhodes said he'll make his decision during the first week of November.

His announcement comes after the city announced that it had reached a deal with one of its last remaining major creditors. The Financial Guaranty Insurance Company will no longer oppose Detroit's plan to exit bankruptcy under the terms of a deal reached at 2:30 in the morning last week.

FGIC, which stood to lose $1.1 billion, agreed to terms that gives the company the right to develop the area where the Joe Louis Arena and parking garage now stand. The deal also gave them millions of dollars in credits for future purchases and city notes.

Rod Meloni of WDIV-TV was in court this morning live-blogging. He wrote about what we can expect next for the days remaining in Detroit's bankruptcy trial:

Pages