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

Bernie Sanders speaking in Traverse City, Michigan.
Todd Church / Flickr

Bernie Sanders pulled off an upset win over rival Hillary Clinton in Michigan's Democratic primary.

Polls going into Tuesday indicated that Clinton had a double-digit lead over Sanders -- so much for the polls.

Sanders took 49.9% of the vote. Clinton took 48.2%. 

Republican presidential candidate at a campaign stop in Warren, Michigan (prior to his stop in Cadillac).
Jake Neher / MPRN

In a crowded field for the Republican nomination for president, Donald Trump continued to stay at the front of the pack.

With the win in Michigan, Trump picked up more delegates toward his goal of winning the Republican nomination.

If he secures the nomination, Trump will seek to become the first Republican to win Michigan in a presidential election since 1988, when George H.W. Bush was elected.

A worker holds a lead service line removed from a home in Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

In Flint, there is no shortage of testing going on.

Right now, the state, the EPA, and outside researchers are testing all kinds of water samples collected throughout the city.

The Environmental Protection Agency's Flint on-scene coordinator Mark Durno says all parties will get together in a few weeks to go over the data they've collected.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver (right) stands next to the lead drinking water line that was pulled from a home in Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

It was a symbolic day in Flint on Friday as the city removed its first lead water service line under Mayor Karen Weaver’s “FAST Start” program.

The Mayor wants to remove all the lead water lines in the city under the program. She’s seeking $55 million to fund the program. Right now, they’ve started the program with $2 million from the state. That money was reimbursed to the city after it spent it last fall as part of the payment to reconnect Flint’s water supply to Detroit’s system. Weaver says the state could pay for the rest using its "rainy day" fund.

Gov. Snyder at a press conference in Flint
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Snyder hired two outside lawyers to assist him with representation in a number of ongoing legal investigations related to the Flint water crisis.

The contracts are with Eugene Driker, a civil defense attorney, and Brian Lennon, a criminal defense attorney.

Ari Adler, spokesman for the Governor, told Crain's Detroit Business and the Detroit Free Press that the outside council will help Gov. Snyder with civil representation and to search and process emails and other records connected to the crisis.

Laith Al-Saadi on The Voice.
screen grab / YouTube

Last night's episode of The Voice, a reality show singing competition on ABC, featured a hard-working singer-songwriter from Ann Arbor.

Laith Al-Saadi has been playing around this region for a long-time.

"For the last 20 years, I've played over 300 dates a year," Al-Saadi told the judges last night.

Now he's working to up his national exposure -- and it worked.

Watch Al-Saadi's performance on The Voice below:

(L to R) Dr. Nicole Lurie of the U.S. DHHS, Michigan Gov. Snyder, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The drinking water crisis in Flint unearthed major problems with how the government in Michigan serves the public.

We're coming up on the two-year anniversary of the water source switch in Flint. That's two years since the people in Flint first started complaining about the condition of their drinking water.

And today, the people in Flint still don't have a clear answer on when they can expect their water supply to be safe.

Tattoo artist Carrie Metz-Caporusso applies her first Flint tattoo of the day.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Carrie Metz-Caporusso had an idea: Use her skills to create a one-day fundraiser for the people in Flint.

She came up with a tattoo design to represent the drinking water crisis in Flint, posted her plan on Facebook, and waited for folks to show up.

Watch what happened below:

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

The people in charge of the drinking water in Flint didn't do their jobs correctly.

A state-appointed emergency manager forced the city to switch where they got their drinking water from to try to save money. The city switched water sources from Lake Huron water from Detroit, to water from the Flint River. And when they made the switch, they failed to understand that there was something Detroit was adding to the water to protect them.

Phosphates.

These phosphates create a protective layer inside drinking water pipes.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and retired National Guard Brigadier General Michael McDaniel.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says the city plans to team up with technical experts from the Lansing Board of Water and Light to replace all the lead lines in one year.

Officials say the Lansing BWL has removed 13,500 lead pipes over the last 12 years at a cost of $42 million.

The Flint lead pipe removal project is estimated to cost $55 million. That’s money the city doesn’t have, so Weaver is calling on the state and Congress to make the money available.

A dive team works on Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Recently released information about the condition of Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac shows some signs of corrosion. But company officials continue to say the twin pipelines running under Lake Michigan are safe.

Governor Snyder speaking at a Flint water press conference on January 27, 2016.
SnyderLive

Gov. Snyder spoke at a morning meeting of the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee.

His remarks come after revelations that one of his top aides knew about an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Flint and its possible links to the Flint River, almost a year before Snyder says he found out about it.

The witnesses called to testify before Congress today.
screen shot YouTube

The House Oversight & Government Reform Committee chaired by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, held a hearing titled, "Examining Federal Administration of the Safe Drinking Water Act in Flint, Michigan."

Rep. Dan Kildee, D-MI, kicked things off in the first panel laying most of the blame for the crisis on the State of Michigan.

From his testimony:

(l to r) Joel Beauvais, Office of Water, EPA - Keith Creagh, Director, MDEQ - Marc Edwards, Virginia Tech - Lee Anne Walters, former Flint Resident
screen grab YouTube

Today, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing titled, "Examining Federal Administration of the Safe Drinking Water Act in Flint, Michigan."

The hearing started at 9:00 a.m. and adjourned just before 1 p.m.

Watch part one of the hearing below. U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-MI, testifies before the committee. Read his statement to the committee here.

A screen shot of the map below.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Ever since the state admitted there was a problem with Flint's drinking water, we all have been waiting for more information about how bad – how widespread – the problem might be.

Many people in Flint have been practically screaming that their water is bad for almost two years. When outside researchers and experts finally convinced state leaders to do something, one of the first things they did was to push people to get their water tested.

Governor Snyder speaking at a Flint water press conference on January 27, 2016.
SnyderLive

There are a lot of questions coming up daily about the water crisis in Flint.

Today, Gov. Snyder, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, Michigan State Police Capt. Chris Kelenske, Department of Environmental Quality Interim Director Keith Creagh, and Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon worked to address some of these questions at an 11 a.m. press conference.

Watch it below.

People in Flint are relying on bottled water while officials try to figure out how to fix the tap water.
Michigan State Police

In his State of the State address this week, Governor Rick Snyder apologized to people in Flint for the water crisis. 

“I’m sorry most of all that I let you down,” he said. “You deserve better. You deserve accountability. You deserve to know that the buck stops here with me. Most of all, you deserve to know the truth, and I have a responsibility to tell the truth.”

The governor said he would release his emails related to Flint. Those emails came out late yesterday afternoon.

In general, the emails didn’t divulge anything big. They pretty much underscored what’s already been revealed. That the state didn't recognize the severity of the problem, and downplayed or dismissed the warning signs.

EPA Region 5 director Susan Hedman (file photo).
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman will resign as of February 1.

Hedman headed up the EPA regional department that oversees the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. She was appointed to lead the EPA’s Region 5 office in 2010, where she oversaw EPA operations in six states. Before that, she was an environmental attorney with the Illinois Attorney General’s office.

Amir Hekmati steps off a plane at Bishop Airport in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After being held for more than four years in an Iranian prison, Amir Hekmati, the former U.S. Marine from Flint, is home. The Flint man was part of a prisoner swap between the U.S. and Iran. Hekmati was arrested in Iran in 2011 while he was visiting his grandmother. He was charged with spying.  At one time, he was sentenced to death. His sentence was eventually changed to 10 years. Hekmati and a handful of other Americans were exchanged for seven Iranians held in the U.S. The Iranians were charged with violating a trade embargo. 

We updated this post as he traveled home. You can scroll below and read up to follow the events.

Gov. Snyder delivers his 2016 State of the State address on January 19, 2016.
House Republicans Instagram screen shot

In case you missed Gov. Snyder's State of the State speech, you can watch it below. (If it doesn't load for you, try this link.)

President Obama.
Pete Souza / White House

President Obama made the declaration after a request from Gov. Snyder for federal help in responding to the drinking water crisis in the Flint area.

People in the city and in outlying areas served by the city’s water system have been urged not to drink the water since October 1, 2015.

 

From a state summary report. It shows 45 cases. Forty-two more cases were found from  May 2015 to Nov. 2015.
State of Michigan

There has been a spike in Legionnaires' disease in the Flint area, and state officials say it's unclear whether the spike is related to the contaminated water in Flint.

The potentially fatal respiratory disease is caused by Legionella, a type of bacterium found naturally in fresh water. 

The CDC says it can grow in the water of hot tubs, air conditioning units, hot water tanks, fountains, and large plumbing systems.

Mark Brush/Michigan Radio

Battery-powered cars and trucks seem to be winning the day as the way forward to increase fuel efficiency and to cut carbon pollution.

But there was a time when we heard a lot about fuel cells. The cells convert hydrogen into electricity that can then power a car or truck.

That hype died down as people realized there are significant barriers to powering our vehicles with hydrogen.

An internal e-mail obtained through a FOIA request by Marc Edwards. The author was later confirmed as Dennis Muchmore, Gov. Snyder's then chief of staff.
FlintWaterStudy

A new set of e-mails released today show that an official with Governor Snyder's office expressed concern about the Flint water situation as early as July 2015.

The internal e-mails were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by Virginia Tech’s Marc Edwards.

You can view them here.

In one e-mail, Dennis Muchmore, Gov. Snyder’s then-chief of staff, writes the following:

The Flint River and the Flint water treatment plant.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency launched a federal audit -- Governor Rick Snyder appointed a panel to look into it -- and there is a federal class action lawsuit underway.

Everyone wants to know how the water went bad in one of Michigan's biggest cities.

Amir Baghdadchi shows us what his passport picture looks like.
Mark Brush / The Moth

Racial profiling by the police, at border crossings, and at airports is a thing

Recently, Amir Baghdadchi of Hamburg, Michigan told a story about having a "chat" with a government agent, in a windowless room, at the London Stansted Airport.

His story is featured on this week's The Moth's podcast.

Watch his story below:

Inside the Michigan House of Representatives.
user - CedarBendDrive / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Keith Allard and Ben Graham, the two ex-staffers of former Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit against the Michigan House of Representatives.

In their lawsuit, the ex-staffers allege that House Speaker Kevin Cotter’s office ignored their reports that Gamrat and Courser were engaging in an extra-marital affair, and that the two representatives were misusing their office by forcing the staffers to do political work with taxpayer money.

They say they first reported the problems in February 2015. They were later fired in July.

Michigan Radio

We're going to go out on a limb here and say most parents want to know how their child's school measures up in terms of standardized test scores, graduation rates, demographics and so on. 

Another big question parents ask when looking at a school: 

“How many kids are in a typical classroom?”

When you hear people talk about ineffective school systems, you’ll often hear something like, “there aren’t enough desks or books,” or “there are more than 30 kids in that classroom.”

Location of the January, 2015 I-94 pileup involving close to 200 vehicles.
MDOT

Earlier this year, on January 9, a massive pileup along I-94 involved close to 200 vehicles in eastern Kalamazoo County. One person was killed. Today, federal and state officials released a 94-page report that makes several recommendations to improve many parts of the I-94 corridor, including the area around mile-marker 90 where the crash occurred.

Jim Harbaugh pleads his case. Michigan's head coach first arrived in Ann Arbor as a kid in 1973.
MGoBlog / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

At a recent press conference, Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh was asked how he was preparing his team for the upcoming games with Penn State and Ohio State.

Harbaugh responded that he coaches them like it's playoff football: If you win, you get to keep playing.

He likened the games to the pick-up basketball games he played at Pattengill Elementary in Ann Arbor.

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