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

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.

Chad Carr (held by father Jason) and his family in Sept. 2014.
Brad Muckenthaler / Flickr

Chad Carr, son of Tammi and Jason Carr, and grandson of former U of M head football coach Lloyd Carr and former U of M safety Tom Curtis, died today at the age of 5.

Chad Carr was diagnosed with a highly aggressive form of brain cancer, known as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, last year.

The family sought multiple treatments for Chad's brain cancer and gave the public updates on his condition. Today, the family announced that Chad died this afternoon.

From the Pray for Chad Carr Facebook page:

Jos Campau Historic District in Hamtramck, Michigan.
Andrew Jameson / Wikimedia Commons

In her piece on tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims in HamtramckWashington Post reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey writes that the city in 2013 "earned the distinction of becoming what appears to be the first majority-Muslim city in the United States following the arrival of thousands of immigrants from Yemen, Bangladesh and Bosnia over a decade."

William Melendez in court.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Former Inkster police officer William Melendez has been found guilty on two of the three charges against him.

In January, Melendez pulled over and arrested Floyd Dent, 57, of Detroit for cocaine possession and resisting arrest. Dashcam footage later revealed how Melendez beat Dent during the arrest.

9-11 veterans: Jamaine Atkins, Sherman Powell, Russ Dotson (top, L-R), Cassie Michael, Curtis Gibson, Andrew Hunter (middle), Eric Fretz, Cody Barnhart, Brendan Lejeune (bottom).
Mark Brush, Paula Friedrich, Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The United States military is currently involved in the longest period of sustained, armed conflict in our nation’s history.

Yet only around 0.5% of the U.S. population is on active military duty.

Contrast that with 9% of the U.S. population who served during WWII, and you can understand how there’s been a growing gap between those who haven't served in the military and those who have.

Listen to how these post 9/11 vets from Michigan describe some of the more awkward interactions they’ve had with people:

The SS Edmund Fitzgerald in May of 1975.
Bob Campbell / NOAA

I had a friend I never met in person.

His name was Mike Simonson and he was a reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio based in Superior.

Mike and I spoke often by phone when he filed stories for the Great Lakes Radio Consortium – the predecessor of The Environment Report.

Mike had done a lot of interviews and research on the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. He spoke with many people who are still personally connected to the ship. He was our “go-to-guy” whenever we looked back on the sinking.

These 14 states were in the bottom of the rankings. Michigan was ranked the worst.
Center for Public Integrity

Fiftieth out of fifty states.

That's where Michigan ranks in a report released today by the Center for Public Integrity.

The last time we wrote about this, Michigan ranked 43rd out of 50. 

Tap water in a Flint hospital on Oct. 16, 2015.
Joyce Zhu / Flintwaterstudy.org

The Environmental Protection Agency says it’s conducting a full review of what happened in Flint.

For more than a year, state officials assured city residents their water was safe. Those assurances turned out to be wrong.

And it wasn’t until some residents got outside experts involved -- who not only found elevated lead levels in the drinking water, but that blood lead levels were also rising in Flint kids – that the state admitted there was a problem.

Numbers on a dry erase board. We had help calculating a 90th percentile.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has been under a lot of scrutiny ever since it was revealed that Flint had a problem with elevated lead levels in its water supply.

The agency oversees how the city of Flint manages its drinking water. And when they made the switch from Detroit water to water drawn from the Flint River, city water officials relied heavily on guidance from the state.

So shouldn’t the state have known about the lead problem?

And why did it take tests from independent scientists to finally push the state to admit there was a problem?

The "Holy Quintet" in Detroit.
Kevin Fox / Fox Photography

Halloween is Saturday, but that won’t stop people from dressing up early.

Youmacon kicks off in Detroit today.

It’s the biggest anime, gaming, and comic convention in the state. The event is in its 11th year, and – along with a lot of other “cons” around the state – it continue to grow.

The popularity of these conventions piqued Lorraine Schleter’s curiosity, so she posted her question to MI Curious:

We are doing some maintenance on our tower in Grand Rapids today. As a result, our WVGR signal (104.1 FM) has been reduced by 50%. We'll be back at full power later today.

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 quality of Flint's tap water 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.

Pages