Mark Brush | Michigan Radio

Mark Brush

Digital Media Director

Mark is Michigan Radio's Digital Media Director. He works to develop and maintain the station's overall digital strategy. As a senior producer/reporter from 2010 to 2016 he helped move the station toward publishing more online-first stories.  

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

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

Part of Flint's  hand-written records showing drinking water lines last updated in 1984.
Image courtesty of Jacob Abernethy / U of M

New research suggests there may be many more lead service lines in Flint that need to be replaced than previously thought.

A team of University of Michigan researchers examined 171 drinking water service lines removed as part of Flint’s “Fast Start” program. The pipes had connected homes to city water mains.

Based on the city's records, they expected around 40% of them would contain lead, but they found 96% did.

More from a summary of findings by the U of M researchers:

On EMU's campus.
user F Delventhal / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Two incidents of racist graffiti found on Eastern Michigan University’s campus in Ypsilanti have sparked protests and dialogue between students and faculty.

The first racial slur was found spray painted on a wall outside King Hall this past Tuesday:

The Michigan State Capitol
user aunt owwee / Flickr

Michigan is one of two states that completely exempts the governor's office from the state's Freedom of Information Act.

Massachusetts is the other. Michigan's public records law also exempts the Legislature, one of a minority of states to do so.

That could change under a package of bills being voted on by the House today.

Average surface temperatures for 2015.
NOAA

Every day, you and I burn up all kinds of things.

We burn gasoline to get to work, mow the lawn, or fly to a conference. We burn natural gas, coal, or heating oil to heat our homes. And we burn up coal or natural gas when flipping on that light switch.   

Whenever we burn stuff, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Burned a gallon of gas driving around town? You just put around 20 pounds of CO2 into the air.

That CO2 traps heat, and all the burning we do is causing the planet to warm dramatically.

Donald Trump plans to visit Flint.
DonaldJTrump.com

Ever since the Flint water crisis broke open this past January, Flint has been no stranger to visitors.

Politicians, movie stars, musicians, and media from all over the world have come to see the city stricken by lead-tainted water.

Now it's Donald Trump's turn to visit Flint.

One of the anchors used to hold Line 5 in place under the Straits of Mackinac.
Screen shot of a Ballard Marine inspection video / Enbridge Energy

 

Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 goes right under Lake Michigan. It splits into two pipelines at the Straits, and it was recently announced that the supports that hold the pipeline in place are not in compliance with a 1953 easement agreement with the state.

Rylee, a 10 month Belgian Malinois made her way back to her family.
screen grab from Associated Press video / Associated Press

These stories always amaze me. They're like a little window into a world we barely understand: how animals interpret and navigate the world around us.

Word of Rylee's feat is making the rounds as news agencies pick up on what happened over the weekend.

Rylee, a 10-month-old Belgian Malinois, was lost overboard in Lake Michigan this past Sunday.

President Obama greets inmates during a visit to El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Okla., July 16, 2015.
Pete Souza / White House

President Obama is using the power of his office to reduce the sentences of people convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. Today his office announced that he cut short the sentences of 111 federal inmates.

The commutations announced today included three identified as being from Michigan:

Photo of a cell phone with online comment section.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

You may have read the recent news that NPR decided to discontinue online comments at NPR.org. Editors at NPR reasoned there are better ways to connect with people than what these sections at the bottom of news articles provide.

Inside one of the more successful recycling programs in the state - Emmet County's Material Recovery Facility.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Recycling programs in Michigan have run into some problems.

Some, like the University of Michigan's program, cut back on what they take. And businesses are paying some of the highest prices they've seen in recent years to have their leftover material recycled.

The folks at Ventura Manufacturing wrote to us to say they're having a hard time finding a good recycling option for their facility in Zeeland.

The confluence of Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River in 2010 (left), and in 2015 (right).
USEPA and Mark Brush / USEPA, Michigan Radio

You probably remember hearing about fines levied against Enbridge for the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill before. You're right. You did.

The company paid fines and settlements to the state of Michigan, fines to tribes, and fines to the U.S. Department of Transportation, and settlements with nearby homeowners and landowners.

A lead service line removed from a Flint home. Lead service lines were useful because the metal is flexible and can bend - making installation easier.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

There are several potential sources of lead in your home plumbing that can get into your drinking water.

  • The service line connecting the water main to your house could be made out of lead
  • The solder in your plumbing could have lead in it
  • And older brass faucets and valves can contain lead

So how do you figure out what you have in your house?

This question has been nagging at me for some time. At our house, we drink the water straight from the tap.

Courtesy of UICA, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University

Few things are as polarizing in American society as the debate between gun control advocates and gun rights activists.

These arguments often play out in national and state legislatures, with many gun control advocates feeling the National Rifle Association has undue influence over politicians.

Michigan Radio’s Vincent Duffy hosted a panel discussion on the role that guns play in politics and elections at our latest Issues & Ale event.

Cale Nordmeyer searches for the endangered Poweshiek skipperling.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A lot of people spent the Fourth of July weekend grilling out or swimming at the beach. But Cale Nordmeyer spent his time trudging through the muck and grasses in a Michigan wetland.

Nordmeyer works for the Minnesota Zoo and he’s on a mission with a small window of time. He’s part of a small team of researchers working to save endangered Poweshiek skipperlings.

Governor Snyder patches potholes on M-37.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder today vetoed a road funding bill aimed at giving some relief to cities.

Right now, cities with more than 25,000 people have to share the costs of nearby state trunk line road construction projects. Senate Bill 557 sought to end that practice. It passed both the state House and Senate with big majorities.

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:

The Michigan 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:

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