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

The I-96/23 Interchange only approximates a "Thunderdome." To find the real thing, you would, of course, have to go Burning Man.
Matthew Gordon / Flickr

The I-96/US 23 highway interchange can be like Thunderdome - two cars enter, one car leaves.

But that's about to change.

MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) is set to make what it calls "major safety and operational improvements" to how cars and trucks merge and exit the two major highway systems next month.

How the Great Lakes look from space as of yesterday (Feb. 23, 2015).
NASA

With below freezing and single digit temperatures expected to continue through the week, ice cover on the Great Lakes is expected to continue to increase.

We hit a peak for the season yesterday with almost 86% ice cover for the Great Lakes -- that's well above where we were at this time last year (62%).

Wolf drawing on the cover of the Michigan Wolf Management Plan.
MDNR

Gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region went back on the federal endangered species list last December. That's when a federal judge vacated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2011 delisting of the gray wolf in the western Great Lakes.

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service published the final rule in the Federal Register. From the rule:

Empty desks in a classroom.
Matt Katzenberger / Flickr

Most people in a Michigan Radio/Public Sector Consultants poll would give Michigan a "C" when it comes to the state's education system.

Six-hundred likely voters in Michigan were polled from February 2 through February 5, 2015. Thirty-five percent gave Michigan's school system an A or a B - 49% gave Michigan a C, D, or an F (16% were unsure or didn't offer an answer).

"Telefunken!" from Facebook fan Chris B.
Chris B. / Facebook

Just about every day of the year has something for some niche group out there.

Do you like peanut butter? There's a day for that.

Don't like to wear socks? Wave your sock-free freak flag every year on May 8.

Today is our day. 

Budget tiles
Simon Cunningham / Flickr

A Michigan Radio/Public Sector Consultants poll of 600 likely voters in Michigan found that if they were making today's tough budget decisions, a majority would invest more in job creation, and most would make cuts to prisons.

The findings were released today - a day before Governor Snyder is expected to announce where he thinks money in the state budget should be spent, and where it should be cut.

Relief for former Wayne County executive Robert Ficano as the FBI's investigation into county government ends.
Wayne County / YouTube

No new charges will be filed following a three-year investigation of corruption in Wayne County government.

The announcement came Monday from U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade.

Marsha Caspar and Glenna DeJong with Frizzy. They were the first same-sex couple married in Michigan on March 22, after a federal judge struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. The ban was restored by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Rick Pluta / MPRN

Gov. Rick Snyder says the state will recognize the marriages that were performed in Michigan last March. Those marriages were performed on March 22, 2014 - a day after a federal judge struck down Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage, and before another court put more of those marriages on hold while the case worked its way up through the courts.

The Snyder's new block on Main Street in Ann Arbor.
user ifmuth / Flickr

That's according to a report from Ryan Stanton of the Ann Arbor News. Stanton writes architect Tamara Burns confirmed the news:

A drawing of where the New International Trade Crossing will be located.
MI DOT

It appears Canadian officials won't let a tight-fisted U.S. government stop progress on the New International Trade Crossing between Canada and the U.S.

Canada is footing most of the bill for building the crossing, including $550 million to help pay for access road construction on Michigan's side. 

The ET Rover natural gas pipeline's planned route in Michigan has changed. You can see the oringal planned route on the left, and the revised plan on the right.
Draft FERC filing / Energy Transfer

The Texas-based pipeline company Energy Transfer announced that they plan to cut through fewer counties in Michigan when building the Rover natural gas pipeline.

The company's new agreement, they say, will eliminate their need to build new pipeline in six Michigan counties.

Help! I'm covered in snow! (Ann Arbor, MI)
Mike Perini / Michigan Radio

More than a foot of snow fell on much of Michigan after a major winter storm that lasted around 28 hours.

To get a quick sense for how much snow fell and where it fell, MLive's Andrew Krietz created this map with data from the National Weather Service.  

The storm started on Sunday, February 1, 2015. Monday was a “snow day” across much of the state as schools and businesses closed for the day - even U of M had a snow day - a rare event. 

Campus Martius park.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Update Thursday, January 29th, 10:00 a.m.:

Detroit 300 responded to our requests for comment with this statement:

The Detroit 300 Conservancy only received word of the ACLU filing the lawsuit this morning (Wednesday).  The Conservancy had no prior knowledge of concerns expressed regarding the events of 2013 and 2014 that are cited in the lawsuit.  The Conservancy takes the diverse and inclusive stewardship of Detroit’s public spaces very seriously and has a long history of working with our public and civic community partners. We will proactively review the claims in the suit.

Original post, Wednesday, January 28th, 4:02 p.m.:

Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a lawsuit against a Detroit police officer, and two groups that manage security on Campus Martius Park.

The public park is owned by the city of Detroit. The ACLU contends that members of Guardsmark security, hired by the non-profit group Detroit 300, prevented people from protesting and handing out leaflets on the park’s grounds. They contend that a Detroit police sergeant backed the decision to prohibit the protesters' actions. Detroit 300 runs the city-owned park.

Ivan Lisenkov / Wikimedia Commons

Beginning in April, work on the Blue Water Bridge will temporarily cut the number of lanes on the international crossing in half.

Governor Rick Snyder
Rick Snyder for Michigan / Facebook Page

The Detroit Free Press reports that Gov. Snyder will announce plans to merge the two departments in his State of the State address tonight.

More from the Freep:

Mark Brush

Every year, my neighbor knows spring is almost here because he sees me lying under my 24-year-old VW Vanagon looking for the latest leak from my “wasserboxer” engine.

It’s like Groundhog Day. If the thing starts, spring comes early. If not, we’re all one mail-order part away from warmer weather. So when that VW parts place in California sends me the new hose/temp sensor/gasket/fratastat, I fire up the van and summer starts.  

I’ve been lucky. I’ve kept the thing going. The van still has Fahrvergnügen. And we get to park it in places like this:

 

Lauri Rantala / Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Snyder has long said he's wanted e-cigarettes treated more like tobacco products under the law.

In his veto, Snyder said House Bill 4997, Senate Bills 667 and 668 would have kept e-cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products from being regulated as tobacco products under Michigan law.

user Joshuashearn / wikimedia commons

Today, Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed two bills aimed at changing how a person can obtain a concealed pistol permit in the state.

Senate Bills 789 and 790 were passed during the Legislature's last "lame duck" session. 

Gov. Snyder said there were several elements of the bills he supported, but there was one loophole he didn't support -- the legislation, he said, could have put victims of domestic abuse at risk.

From his veto letter:

Forestland in Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula.
user {inercia} / Flickr

Today, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a bill that attempted to keep state officials from managing the state's forests and parks for biodiversity.

Senate Bill 78 was sponsored by State Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, and it passed the Michigan Legislature during last year's "lame duck" session.

From Gov. Snyder's veto letter:

A cyanobacteria bloom on Lake Erie in 2013.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, announced today that much of this federal money will come to Michigan in the form of conservation projects and water quality improvement projects.

Stabenow's office says the money is the result of last years Farm Bill.

The coal-burning Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette, Michigan is being kept afloat by ratepayers in the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin.
WE Energies

The state of Michigan, several energy providers, and a mine operator have all agreed in principle on a plan that could put a stop to costly rate payments for people in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Utility bills in the Upper Peninsula were expected to jump by 30%. That's in a region where annual wages are much lower than the national average.

The Mercedes F 015 "Luxury in Motion" concept car.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

It's the vision behind the Mercedes F 015 concept car. The car was first unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week. 

This week, the car is in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show and there are plenty of reporters/writers/bloggers curious about what the car is all about.

When you look at it, you can see that the car is a concept. I half expected RoboCop to step out of it.

Instead of a traditional car with good visibility for its passengers, the designers of the F 015 seem to be shielding its passengers from the outside world.

GM hopes the Chevy Bolt will make long range electric cars affordable.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

General Motors officials introduced a concept car, the Chevy Bolt, today at the North American International Auto Show. The car company claims the all-electric car has a range of up to 200 miles on one charge and will be affordable to the typical consumer. The company puts the price of the Bolt at $30,000 including a federal tax credit.

If it’s released, the Bolt would compete with the electric car-maker Tesla. Tesla’s Model S has a range of 265 miles on one charge, but the car’s price tag is out of reach for many consumers with a base price of nearly $70,000.

The 2015 VW Golf (left), and the 2015 Ford F-150 (right) at the North American International Auto Show.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Volkwagen Golf was named the North American Car of the Year, beating out the other two competitors nominated for the award – the Ford Mustang, and the Hyundai Genesis.

Update 9:45 p.m.

Michigan State Police now say there were 193 vehicles in total involved in the pile up.

Police say there were 76 semi-trucks involved in the accident. Some caught fire, including one hauling 44,000 pounds of hazardous materials and another with a load of fireworks.

Several hours after the crash, crews were still putting out flare ups.

One of the truck drivers died. The 57-year old was from Quebec. At least 20 people were injured, including two firemen and a wrecker driver.

Detroit from above. Follow the link in the post to find the slider images.
University of Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma's Institute for Quality Communities looks at Detroit from above in 1951 vs. Detroit in 2010.

Over that 60 year span, a lot changed.

Screen shot of a crime map for Detroit from 12/29/14 to 1/4/2015 generated by crimemapping.com.
crimemapping.com

Final numbers are expected to be released this week, but early indications show a drop in the rate of violent crime in the city of Detroit.

Based on this December report from the Detroit Police Department, you can see that homicides, robberies, and sexual assaults are down.

MGoBlog

An analysis by Forbes' Chris Smith values the University of Michigan's football program at $117 million - behind Notre Dame ($122 million) and the Texas Longhorns ($131 million).

Football teams are school entities, so they can't be bought or sold. Smith calculates the value of the program on four things:

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.

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