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.

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Detroit
10:16 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Historic government building in downtown Detroit to be sold to New York buyer

Old Wayne County Building in downtown Detroit.
Sean_Marshall Flickr

I know what you’re thinking.

This building that once housed Wayne County’s administrative office is perhaps "one of the nation’s finest surviving examples of Roman Baroque Revival architecture, with a blend of Beaux-Arts and some elements of the Neoclassical style."

I was thinking the exact same thing.

Well, I was really thinking it’s a beautiful building in downtown Detroit and I hope it gets some attention.

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Politics & Government
4:01 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Michigan's campaign for governor gets weird as Republicans deploy spyglasses

From the video put together by Mark Schauer's campaign. The alleged "spy cam" on a Republican staffer.
Credit Mark Schauer / YouTube

I guess we should expect it in our politics these days.

Recording technology is getting smaller and some recordings have been seen as game changers.

When David Corn of Mother Jones released Mitt Romney's "47% video," the predictions came in:

"You can mark my prediction now: A secret recording from a closed-door Mitt Romney fundraiser, released today by David Corn at Mother Jones, has killed Mitt Romney's campaign for president."

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Politics & Government
2:52 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Listen to the call-in show with Mark Schauer, Democratic candidate for Michigan governor

Mark Schauer
Credit www.markschauer.com

This morning, Democratic candidate for Michigan Governor Mark Schauer joined us on a statewide call-in show.

Here’s a shot of the team getting ready for the show in the WKAR studio:

Schauer answered questions about his plans for education, the city of Detroit, retiree pensions, road funding and more during the hour-long program.

If you missed it, you can listen to it here:

The "Michigan Calling" program with Mark Schauer.

Business
2:13 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

The rise and fall of Michigan's Stroh family

Photo of a can of Stroh's beer taken in 2008.
Credit Kyle Freeman / Flickr

Many of us are more than a little curious about the lives of the rich and famous. 

In the mid-1800s, Bernard Stroh came to the U.S. and began selling beer in Detroit.

The business grew and prospered, but around 150 years later, the family company was bought and broken up.

Kerry A. Dolan of Forbes chronicles the rise and fall of the family in her piece, How to blow $9 billion: The fallen Stroh family.

From Dolan's story:

The Stroh family owned it all, a fortune that FORBES then calculated was worth at least $700 million. Just by matching the S&P 500, the family would currently be worth about $9 billion.

Yet today the Strohs, as a family business or even a collective financial entity, have ceased to exist. The company has been sold for parts. The trust funds have doled out their last pennies to shareholders. While there was enough cash flowing for enough years that the fifth generation Strohs still seem pretty comfortable, the family looks destined to go shirtsleeves-to-shirtsleeves in six.

Frances Stroh, a fifth generation family member, is working on a memoir about the family.

h/t Lester Graham

Culture
9:56 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Philanthropist and former Steelcase chairman Peter Wege dies at 94

Peter Wege.
Credit Steelcase

"Do all the good you can for as many people as you can for as long as you can."

- Peter Melvin Wege

The Former Steelcase Inc. chairman and philanthropist Peter Wege died at his home in Grand Rapids yesterday.

He was the son of Peter Martin Wege, who founded Steelcase more than a century ago. Steelcase and rival office furniture manufacturers Haworth Inc. and Herman Miller Inc. anchored the Grand Rapids area's economy for decades.

Peter Melvin Wege created his foundation in 1967. It has given away millions, much of it in his hometown.

More about Wege from his obituary:

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Environment & Science
10:45 am
Thu July 3, 2014

What should we do about the arsenic in our food? Experts say vary your diet, research ongoing

A rice farm in California. These test plots are being used by rice farmers to find ways to limit the amount of arsenic getting into rice.
FDA

All this week, we’ve been talking about the potential for elevated levels of arsenic in groundwater in Michigan.

The upshot of our reports:

  1. Arsenic levels in Michigan’s groundwater can be high.
  2. Arsenic is bad for you.
  3. Scientists are finding health effects at lower exposure levels.
  4. If you’re on a well, test it for arsenic.
  5. If the levels are high, you should consider doing something about it.

This one chart published by the Center for Public Integrity shows you why (the blue bar is arsenic):

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Michigan's Silent Poison
9:00 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Here's how to test and treat your drinking water well for arsenic

Sampling done from 1983 through 2003 shows where arsenic levels in groundwater are the highest in Michigan. Arsenic levels are in micrograms per liter.
Credit Michigan DEQ

In some parts of the U.S., arsenic in the groundwater is just a natural part of the geology. Michigan is one of several states where elevated levels of arsenic in ground water can be found.

This map shows the counties where these elevated levels have been found, but experts caution, elevated arsenic levels in well water can be found just about anywhere in Michigan:

There was a big push to educate people about the dangers of arsenic poisoning around a decade ago, but in some places in Michigan, people still don't know much about it.

And in some other cases, people know about it, but choose to ignore it, for one reason or another.

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The Environment Report
9:00 am
Thu June 26, 2014

Recycling that typical household battery is not as easy as you might think

Alkaline batteries before they're recycled at RBS Metals in Brighton, Michigan.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

I was surprised to find out recently that you can’t recycle household batteries in Ann Arbor anymore. I used to collect them in a little steel can, but Recycle Ann Arbor stopped taking them.

From Recycle Ann Arbor’s website:

Alkaline household batteries do not contain hazardous materials and may be disposed of in the trash.

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The Environment Report
2:13 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Help for honeybee researchers coming from Grand Valley State University

A second grader shares her feelings about bees.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Today's Environment Report from Michigan Radio. Listen to GVSU's Anne Marie Fauvel explain how hive weights can help researchers.

That’s right, bees rule. At least that what my second grader thinks after she studied them at school.

“You wrote bees rule. Why do bees rule?” I asked.

“I think it’s neat for how they can make it into honey and that they can speak to each other by doing a dance," she answered.

She, of course, isn’t the only one who think bees rule. A lot of us think they rule. Especially when you consider that around one out of every three bites of food we eat is the result of a bee.

But as you’ve likely heard, bees are in trouble. Beekeepers have been experiencing losses at alarming rates — and scientists across the country are scrambling to try to stop these losses. Whether from Colony Collapse Disorder, or other bee stressors, the problems bees face are more complicated than it once seemed.

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Auto
5:05 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Ford lowers mileage rating for 6 vehicles, mostly hybrids

The Lincoln MKZ was advertised as "the most fuel-efficient luxury hybrid in America." Not any more.
Credit Michael Gil / Wikimedia Commons

You think Ford was a little embarrassed last year after having to reduce its mileage claims for the Ford C-Max? Now they have to reduce those claims for six 2013 and 2014 models (claims on the C-Max have to be reduced again).

All of Ford's 2013 hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles are affected, as well as most 2014 Fiesta models.

Here's a little damage control from Ford's Raj Nair:

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Politics & Government
4:04 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Remember that plan for a part-time legislature for Michigan?

Capitol dome in Lansing.
Joe Dearman Flickr

Yeah, it's dead, and petition organizers partly blame what we are still talking about in Michigan: the freezing cold winter.

More from Jonathan Oosting from MLive:

Chairman Norm Kammeraad said an unusually cold winter made it difficult for the group to collect 322,609 (signatures) by July 7 in order to put a constitutional amendment on the fall ballot.

"Every time we hit the field with these things, we were overwhelmed by people who wanted to sign them," Kammeraad said Tuesday evening. "It was just phenomenal. Problem is, we couldn't get organized enough because of the weather."

Kammeraad, the chair of the Committee to Restore Michigan’s Part-time Legislature, also blamed "elite Republicans" for coming up short.

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Politics & Government
1:07 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Reporters got a little slaphappy as Michigan lawmakers failed at fixing the roads

Not any of the reporters. Just a tired person.
Credit taholtorf.wordpress.com

Lawmakers in the Michigan Senate stayed up late into the night last night to try to get a road funding deal done.

They failed.

As the night wore on, and the failed votes piled up, reporters watching the proceedings grew tired and took to Twitter to vent their exasperation.

See how it unfolded in the Storify below (or view it here):

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Investigative
5:30 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

VOTE! What story do you want Michigan Radio to investigate?

For this round of M I Curious, the Eloise mental hospital, our relationship with Canada, and Arab culture in Michigan rose to the top.
Dwight Burdette, David Wise, Detroit Historical Society wikimedia commons, Flickr, Detroit Historical Society

Update 5:30 p.m.

Voting for our first M I Curious question has closed and we have a winner!

Jeff Duncan of Sterling Heights asked us to look into the following question:

What was it that initially drew people of Arab descent to Michigan?

We'll begin working on this story this week and will have a report, or series of reports, by the end of this month. In the meantime, if you have some insights into the story, drop a note below.

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Politics & Government
3:20 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Nation's automakers pitch in $26 million to Detroit's bankruptcy reorganization

Reid Bigland of Chrysler speaks at the media event announcing that U.S. automakers will contribute to the 'grand bargain.' Bigland is standing in front of one of the famous Diego River murals at the DIA.
Credit Reem Nasr / Michigan Radio

It seems momentum behind Detroit's municipal bankruptcy reorganization continues to build. If the momentum continues, the city could emerge from bankruptcy this fall.

Today, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler pledged to contribute a combined $26 million to a deal aimed at reducing cuts to Detroit pensioners while preserving the art collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts (part of the collection has been talked about as a city asset that could be sold to satisfy Detroit's creditors).

The money from the automakers will go into large pot of money – more than $800 million – collectively known as the "grand bargain."

So far, money for the grand bargain is coming from private philanthropists, foundations, the state of Michigan, and money raised by the DIA itself. The automakers' money will be counted toward the DIA's goal of $100 million.

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Breaking
9:48 am
Thu June 5, 2014

GM CEO says "pattern of incompetence and neglect" led to ignition switch debacle

GM executives answer questions during this morning's press conference.
Credit GM / YouTube

Update 3:30 p.m.

Texas attorney Bob Hilliard represents about 70 families suing GM in a variety of state and federal courts.  

He says his clients were “stunned” to hear GM CEO Mary Barra admit the problem was a result of "incompetence and neglect."

“I don’t think that GM can come into a court of law anymore and argue it wasn’t their fault,” says Hilliard. He says the only thing GM can argue now is “what is the value of the loss.”

But Hilliard says he does worry GM will claim it's not liable for problems predating its bankruptcy. He cites a case involving a Pennsylvania man who was paralyzed from the chest down in an accident.   

“In court they say GM did not design this vehicle. GM did not manufacture this vehicle. GM did not sell this vehicle. Even though this vehicle was a 2006 GM Cobalt,” says Hilliard.

Hilliard says he's "skeptical" about the victims’ compensation fund GM is offering to establish.

Update 10:34 a.m.

The much-anticipated report that looked into what went wrong at General Motors was given to federal regulators and Congress this morning.

GM executives held a press conference this morning about what the report found and how GM plans to respond.

This is a turning point in the ignition switch recall saga for GM.

CEO Mary Barra refused to answer detailed questions from the press and from Congress until Anton Valukis released the findings of his investigation.

The New York Times' Bill Vlasic writes that GM execs hope this report will relieve some pressure on the company:

Legal experts say that G.M. has taken a calculated risk that Mr. Valukas’s findings and recommendations will sufficiently answer the myriad questions hanging over the company.

“The downside is that members of Congress, the press and the public may think that the report lacks credibility if it is in an in-house investigation,” said Carl W. Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond.

But Professor Tobias said that Mr. Valukas, a former United States attorney, was a good choice for the delicate task of investigating G.M. “His reputation is on the line with this report, so he is not likely to sacrifice that for G.M.,” he said.

But this is just another step in the grand mea culpa for GM.

Vlasic reports the company faces more Congressional hearings, more investigations from the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and it will need to compensate the families of the victims of the ignition switch problems:

... the company is awaiting recommendations from the lawyer Kenneth R. Feinberg on how it will compensate victims of switch-related crashes and family members of people who died as a result of the defect. G.M. faces hundreds of private claims and lawsuits.

Mr. Feinberg, who oversaw compensation claims for victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Boston Marathon bombing, has said he would make his recommendations to G.M. later this month.

To see how this crisis unfolded for GM, check out this timeline from NPR's Tanya Basu.

9:48 a.m.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra says 15 employees have been fired over the company's recent ignition switch recalls.

Barra made the announcement this morning as she released an internal investigation by attorney Anton Valukis into the recall of 2.6 million older small cars for defective ignition switches.

Barra says the internal investigation into its recent ignition switch recall is "brutally tough and deeply troubling."

“What Valukis found in this situation was a pattern of incompetence and neglect,” Barra said. “Repeatedly, individuals failed to disclose critical pieces of information that could have fundamentally changed the lives of those impacted by the faulty ignition switch.”

It took GM more than a decade to report the switch failures, which it blames for 13 deaths.

In a town hall meeting at GM's suburban Detroit technical center, Barra says attorney Anton Valukas interviewed 230 employees and reviewed 41 million documents to produce the report, which makes recommendations to avoid future safety problems.

Education
1:13 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Senior prank season in full swing at Michigan high schools

Big Boy sometimes plays a part in senior pranks in different parts of the country.

The end of the school year is upon us. It puts high school administrators on high alert.

Sometimes they don't have to worry about much.

Even though their seniors try it, no, their high school won't be sold on Craigslist. Seniors at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor gave it a go. As did seniors at Freeland High School in Mid-Michigan.

This kind of prank is harmless and fun. Even the more mature members of the community can appreciate this type of prank – as this news segment shows:

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Transportation
10:43 am
Tue June 3, 2014

I-96 contruction project is back on schedule

Construction on I-96 - part of the $148 million project.
I-96 Fix Facebook

The major I-96 highway construction project west of Detroit was delayed because of the extended winter.

Now the Detroit News reports that the project is back on schedule and should finish on-time in October. The “countdown” clock on the I-96 Fix webpage shows a completion date of October 31, 2014.

The $148 million project to rebuild the roadway also includes bridge repair and replacement work.

According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, the shutdown has forced an estimated 140,000 drivers to seek alternate routes, such as I-94, I-696 or the Lodge Freeway.

From the Detroit News:

“We’re making good progress, and I’d say we’re right on schedule,” said Joe Goodall, project manager for Dan’s Excavating, one of the major companies involved in rebuilding I-96 — which was first built in 1970.
 

The companies working on the project have some incentive to finish on time. The News reports that if contractors finish ahead of schedule, "they receive a $150,000-per-day bonus with a cap of five days." And if they don't finish on time, "they are penalized $150,000 a day with no cap."

Law
4:49 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

ACLU files lawsuit to force Michigan to recognize same-sex marriages

Samantha Wolf and Martha Rutledge are among the plaintiffs in the ACLU's case. They said, "we were so excited when we got married, but it felt like such a blow to have that taken away so soon."
Credit ACLU

The ACLU of Michigan has filed a lawsuit that seeks to force Michigan to recognize the marriages of around 300 same-sex couples.

The couples married on Saturday, March 22 after a federal judge struck down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage the day before. Several county clerks had opened their offices to allow the marriages to go forward. A federal appeals court later issued a stay on the ruling, which put a hold on any more marriages from taking place.

And Gov. Snyder later announced that the state would not recognize the marriages that took place on that Saturday.

From the ACLU’s press release:

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of eight same-sex couples who were married after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban and before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals put the decision on hold.

"As a matter of law and fundamental fairness, the state is obligated to extend the protections that flow from marriage to all those who celebrated their weddings last month," said Kary L. Moss, ACLU of Michigan executive director.

The ACLU has more on the families who have joined the lawsuit. You can read more here.

Politics & Government
12:34 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Watch two of Detroit's top leaders speak at the Mackinac Policy Conference

More than 1,500 statewide businesses, government and community leaders will be at this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference, May 28 through May 30.

The conference will feature speakers, stakeholders and panelists discussing issues in STEM education, workforce development, public policy, and more.

You can join a live chat and screening for two sessions with two of Detroit's top leaders: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

The chat and screening will take place on a social screening platform called OVEE (Online Video Engagement Experience).

Watch and discuss Mayor Duggan's keynote address today at 4:45 p.m. by clicking here. You can also add this event to your calendar.

And you can watch and discuss Kevyn Orr's keynote address on Friday, May 30, at 9:45 a.m. by clicking here, or add it to your calendar.

Politics & Government
2:37 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Report identifies 84,641 structures and vacant lots in Detroit that need help

The main image on the report released today.
Credit Data Driven Detroit

The number comes from a much-anticipated report on the state of decay in Detroit's neighborhoods and what can be done about that decay.

The final report from the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force is titled, "Every Neighborhood Has a Future...And It Doesn't Include Blight."

The report's authors say a combination of blight removal and investment in Detroit's neighborhoods should be the goal for the city's leaders.

From the report:

Structure removal alone will not be enough to fully transform Detroit’s neighborhoods. There must be a concentrated reinvestment in Detroit’s neighborhoods, which will allow for the rebuilding of value.

The report draws heavily on a technology project aimed at cataloging buildings in the city. The Motor City Mapping Project relied on teams of people going out, snapping photos of a building or lot, and then attaching information to that cataloged parcel.

Here's how it worked:

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