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

A Flint resident holds a jug of tainted Flint water.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder announced the creation of an “independent advisory task force” that will look into the actions surrounding the management and testing of Flint’s drinking water system.

The goal, according to a press release from the governor’s office, is to investigate what happened and to prevent the kind of problems that occurred with Flint’s drinking water system in other systems in the state.

Jalen Watts-Jackson is mobbed by his teammates after scoring the winning touchdown at the Big House. He says the injury occurred when he was tackled by Michigan's Jake Butt.
screengrab / YouTube

Two updates to "The Game" that ended in dramatic fashion in Ann Arbor Saturday night:

Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh visited President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House today. Harbaugh was there for a "higher-education awareness event" according to David Shepardson of the Detroit News.

Gov. Snyder at a press conference this month announcing his plan to overhaul the Detroit Public School District.
screenshot / Livestream

Gov. Snyder's plan would split the current school district in two.

Similar to the GM bankruptcy, there would essentially be an "old" Detroit Public Schools district and a new district.

The old district would pay down the school system's debt with the current school millage in Detroit.

Snyder says DPS is expected to have $515 million in operating debt by June 2016.

Snyder says that debt could be paid off over 10 years using the $70 million a year the millage brings in.

People upset about the safety and qualitPeople upset about the safety and quality of Flint's tap packed a public meeting last January.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After a failed experiment with Flint River water, city officials announced late this afternoon that Flint is returning to Detroit's system for its drinking water.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center says a strong El Nino in the Pacific is increasing chances for warmer-than-average temperatures this December through February.
NOAA

Yes, we're expecting freezing temperatures in much of Michigan and even snow in the Upper Peninsula this weekend, but call your bookmaker (or, rather, your weather futures trader) and plop down your bet on what might happen this winter.

The front of a "Dutch Boy White Lead" paint can. Dust from old paint is still one of the major ways kids get exposed to lead.
user Thester11 / Wikimedia Commons

What’s happening in Flint has some people wondering about what’s happening in their homes.

The Flint water crisis is highlighting the problem of lead exposure in kids.

Lead can permanently lower IQ and cause behavior problems. Researchers have even linked children with elevated lead levels with a higher propensity toward crime later in life.

Now, state officials are urging schools around the state to test their water for lead.

But it’s also important to know what’s going on at home.

Portrait of a Man, Said to be Christopher Columbus.
Metropolitan Museum of Art / Wikimedia Commons

So much so that they're apparently taking it out on statues now.

Google "Columbus statue vandalism" and you'll drum up all manner of news stories about statues where people have expressed their opinion of the Italian explorer.

Today, it was Detroit's turn.

Gov. Snyder is taking heat regarding decisions made by his Emergency Managers that lead to the Flint water crisis
Gov. Rick Snyder / screengrab

Gov. Rick Snyder this morning held a press conference in which he said he supports reconnecting the city of Flint’s water supply back to Detroit’s water system.

Snyder said he will ask the Legislature to provide half ($6 million) of the $12 million bill to reconnect the system. The city of Flint will pay $2 million, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation will contribute $4 million.

Mayor Dayne Walling said he expects the city to reconnect to the Detroit system in two weeks.

Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder made the announcement at 10 a.m. this morning (Oct. 8).

You can watch the announcement below (if it doesn't load, try this link):

He was joined by Flint Mayor Dayne Walling, Director of Environmental Quality, Dan Wyant, Director of the Department of Health and Human Services, Nick Lyon, Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive at DHHS, and Ridgway White of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
flickr user fiatontheweb / creative commons

The United Auto Workers union is threatening to go on strike against Fiat Chrysler.

The company says in a statement Tuesday that it received a strike notice from the union and it continues to work toward reaching an agreement.

A letter to Fiat Chrysler that was posted on the UAW website says the union is terminating its contract with FCA at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

Then MDEQ Director Dan Wyant at a press conference last fall.
screen grab / MLive UStream

Researchers found elevated lead levels in Flint's drinking water, and pediatricians found that the water was likely poisoning some kids in the city. Today, the state revealed that it too had tested kids and their findings seem to be consistent.

Dr. Eden Wells, the state's chief medical executive, said that before the city switched to Flint River water, kids' lead levels in two "high risk" zip codes were 2.7 times higher than the rest of Genesee County. Now they're 3.2 times higher - a statistically significant difference.

Researchers at Virginia Tech received samples of Flint water (both clear and discolored) from residents. Dr. Edwards and his team there were among the first to call attention to lead contamination in Flint's water.
Flint Water Study / Facebook

Yesterday, Gov. Rick Snyder admitted that the decision to switch the city of Flint's water supply from Detroit's system over to the Flint River was not well planned.

“In terms of a mistake, what I would say is, is there are probably things that were not as fully understood as when that switch was made,” Snyder said.

Joan Larsen will replace Mary Beth Kelly on the Michigan Supreme Court.
University of Michigan Law School / screen grab from YouTube video

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Joan Larsen to the Michigan Supreme Court today.

Larsen will replace outgoing state Supreme Court justice Mary Beth Kelly who will leave the court tomorrow (Oct. 1) to return to private practice.

Larsen is a faculty member at the University of Michigan Law School and special counsel to the dean for student and graduate activities.

Part of a polished Petoskey stone.
Michelle Pemberton / Wikimedia Commons

Tim O'Brien might be regretting the fact that he talked to reporters about the 93-pound Petoskey stone he found near Northport, Michigan.

The Grand Rapids Press story on his haul was the "most read" thing on MLive this morning.

And the stone continued to build momentum on Twitter:

Researchers from the University of Michigan looked at how far oil might travel with a 12-hour release in the Straits of Mackinac.
UM Water Center

The scenario: Someone has spotted oil on Lake Michigan in the Straits of Mackinac. They place a call to an emergency response center.

What happens next?

Today, Enbridge and other emergency response officials will test whether their emergency oil spill response plan is effective.

Representation of a chart that shows how Michigan is one of only six states with negative improvement for early literacy since 2003.
See full charts here - http://midwest.edtrust.org/resource/presentation-to-the-state-board-of-education-on-making-michigan-a-top-ten-education-state/

The state's new schools superintendent Brian Whiston started a series of discussions seeking ideas to make Michigan a “Top 10” education state within 10 years.

Just about every measurement shows that all groups of Michigan students – black, white, poor, rich – are losing ground academically compared to their peers in other states.

Cindy Gamrat speaking at an August 14, 2015 press conference.
screen shot - LiveStream

Cindy Gamrat says she will run in the special election for the seat she was expelled from six days ago. The Allegan County Clerk’s office confirmed she filed for the special election. The primary for the seat will be held Nov. 3.

Gamrat was removed last week by a two-thirds vote of the House over her role in a sex-and-cover-up scandal. She says that decision was not fair to her voters.

Michigan Congressman Dan Benishek, R-MI-1st, will retire.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Congressman Dan Benishek (R-MI 1st) surprised political observers today by announcing he will not seek a fourth term in office. Earlier this year Benishek said he would break a commitment to only serve three terms and seek a fourth. Now he’s returned to his three-term commitment and will retire in 2016.

People living in 80th and 82nd districts in Michigan are currently without a state representative.
Gamrat and Courser websites

The State House lost two members this morning when one resigned and the other was expelled.

(More on that here.)

To fill the gap, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley just announced plans to fill the two vacated seats. He made the call since Gov. Snyder is in Japan on an investment mission.

George Shirley and the University Musical Society will each receive a National Medal of Arts today at the White House.
University of Michigan, and the National Endownment for the Arts

The University of Michigan's University Musical Society and George Shirley, emeritus professor at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, will each received a 2014 National Medal of Arts today.

They are among 11 winners this year - a list that included Sally Field, Stephen King, and Tobias Wolff. A ceremony was held this afternoon at the White House.

This political cartoon was printed in 1812 in reaction to the newly drawn state senate election district of South Essex created by the Massachusetts Legislature to favor the Democratic-Republican Party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry.
Elkanah Tisdale / Boston Centinel, 1812

Michigan Radio and Public Sector Consultants conducted a poll of 600 likely voters from Aug. 4-8 about how they felt financially, possible changes in redistricting, and the potential legalization of recreational marijuana.

In terms of those saying they're better off, Jeff Williams, CEO of Public Sector Consultants says things look relatively "rosy" for Michigan. More than half say they're "about the same," and around a quarter of them say they're "better off."

Much of the corn grown in the U.S. today is genetically engineered to resist the herbicide Roundup.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The study, published in the journal Environmental Health, found that continuous exposure to very low doses of the herbicide Roundup might be linked to liver and kidney damage.

The researchers looked at how genes changed in rats that were given a commercial Roundup formulation containing 0.1 parts per billion of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) over a two-year period.

The red lines show where Enbridge's Line 5 crosses Lake Michigan.
screenshot from Enbridge report to the state

In 2010, we were given a pretty good reason to care about how companies maintain the 3,280 miles of hazardous liquid pipelines crisscrossing our state.

Being the state that suffered through the worst inland oil spill in U.S. history has that effect.

So people perked up when they found out that Enbridge, the company responsible for the Kalamazoo River oil spill, owns another pipeline that travels under Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac.

If Michigan has a “crown jewel,” this area might be it.

Former Michigan Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat.
From Courser/Gamrat websites

A House Business Office investigation into Michigan Reps. Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, and Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, alleges numerous instances of deceptive and "outright dishonest" conduct to cover up their extra-marital affair.

The Founders baby will remain on labels in other states.
Mike Mozart / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

"You wanna sell beer in this state? You gotta go through me, kid."

While not an exact quote, that's essentially what Michigan's Liquor Control Commission said when it found that the label for Founders Breakfast Stout was in violation of its rules, which say:

Michigan is toying with the idea of building open-water fish pens, like this one in Ontario.
Northern Ontario Aquaculture Association

 

OK, this is where I fess up and tell you that the answer to that headline is "only time will tell."

A scientific advisory panel is studying the possibility now (see their names here), and we expect to see their findings this October. After that report, there will be more "time telling" as state officials decide whether to allow it.

The Michigan unemployment rate (red line) graphed with the overall labor force in Michigan (blue line).
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s monthly unemployment rate dropped to 5.3% (the red line in the graph above). That’s the lowest it’s been in 14 years, and it matches the national average.

But the drop this month is due mostly to fewer people out looking for work.

More from the Michigan Department of Labor, Technology and Budget office press release:

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Mary Beth Kelly.
Michigan Supreme Court

The announcement was made today by the Michigan Supreme Court. Justice Mary Beth Kelly will leave the Supreme Court and return to private practice effective October 1, 2015. Kelly is counted as a conservative member on the seven-member court. The court is made up of five Republican nominees and two Democratic nominees.

Cindy Gamrat speaking at an August 14, 2015 press conference.
screen shot - LiveStream

Update 5:32 pm:

Keith Allard, an aide shared by Reps. Courser and Gamrat, issued this response via Twitter: "I look forward to cooperating with any investigation to ensure that taxpayers are protected and faith in our institutions can be restored. Most important, an investigation will reveal the truth. There is absolutely no truth to the accusations against me by Mrs. Gamrat, as will be proven."

A "hacking" sign.
Alexandre Dulaunoy / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Update 4:00 p.m.

The offending posts have been removed from the Facebook pages. Kurt Svoboda, an associate director with U-M's athletic department sent us this statement via e-mail:

We are actively working to resolve the issue with experts throughout the University and at Facebook. That remains our top priority. 

Original post 1:12 p.m.

I was wondering why Michigan Football wanted me to know about "22 Child Stars That Grew Up And Got Superhot" last night as I scrolled through my Facebook feed. 

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