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. The service was heard on more that 130 stations around the country including WBEZ in Chicago, WAMU in Washington D.C., KUOW in Seattle, and KWMU in St. Louis.

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 board certified public radio junkie" since 1992. He discovered public radio on his commutes to work in his trusty 1984 VW Rabbit. Much of Mark's storytelling philosophy was influenced through his close work with veteran CBC "réalisateur" David Candow.

Ways To Connect

Detroit's riverfront.
Ian Freimuth / Flickr

Judge Steven Rhodes has suspended Detroit's bankruptcy trial until Monday so the city can work out details of a deal with one of its major creditors.

News of the potential deal broke last night. Syncora, a bond insurer, stands to lose $400 million in Detroit's bankruptcy.

Alisa Priddle of the Detroit Free Press reports the deal the city is trying to work out with Syncora would be worth 26 cents on the dollar vs. 10 cents on the dollar under the city's current plan.

More from the Freep:

Among the goodies are $23.5 million in payment in the form of B-notes; a long-term lease on a centrally located parking garage; a 20-year extension of the lease to run the U.S. side of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel to 2040; and $6.2 million in credits towards the purchase of some parcels of land in the future.

The pause in the trial also gives the city time to reach other settlements with other creditors. One of the biggest is Financial Guaranty Insurance Co.

FGIC insured a deal made under the Kwame Kilpatrick administration that shored up the city's pension liabilities.

Here's how that deal was described by the Freep last spring:

Under former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Detroit sold the pension obligation certificates of participation to boost funding at the city’s General Retirement System and Police and Fire Retirement System to nearly 100%. The city also bought so-called swaps, or derivatives, to permanently lock in steady interest rates around 6% on the arrangement. But three years later, as the national economy tanked, interest rates plummeted, souring the deal.

Robert Snell and Christine Ferretti of the Detroit News spoke with one of Syncora's lawyers, Ryan Bennett.

Bennett said the deal before Syncora now relies on the city settling its issue with FGIC. 

Bennett said he’s not aware of any deals in the works between the city and FGIC. But the holdout creditor could benefit as well from the “shared asset pool” and that Syncora’s tentative agreement “sets a path” for FGIC, he said.

The Freep's Priddle reports that an FGIC lawyer said they need to "better understand the deal" and it will affect the witnesses he calls when the bankruptcy trial resumes next week.

*This post has been updated.

How Michigan's gubernatorial race has changed over the last six months.
Real Clear Politics

Public Policy Polling released a poll today that shows Gov. Rick Snyder leading his Democratic challenger Mark Schauer 43% to 42%. With a margin of error of +/- 3.7%, that means this race is still a toss up at this point.

That wasn't the case six months ago. It looked like Gov. Snyder was on his way, easily, to being re-elected.

Work being done on Orchard Lake Rd where a power pole fell.
DTE Energy

Three days after severe thunderstorms knocked out service to 462,000 customers, utility companies are reporting that tens of thousands of Michigan homes and businesses are still without power. More from the Associated Press: 

Detroit-based DTE Energy Co. says 89,000 of its customers were without power late Monday morning, down from 375,000 hit by Friday's storms. Some schools that lost power were closed Monday. DTE says full restoration probably will take until Tuesday or Wednesday. Wayne County has 53,000 outages and Oakland County has 19,000. Crews from Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New York and Tennessee are helping. Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp.'s Consumers Energy unit says about 580 customers were without power Monday morning, down from more than 87,000 affected.

DTE said the storms were among "the most damaging in the companies' history."  

Wind gusts of more than 75 miles per hour caused more than 2,000 downed power lines across DTE’s Southeast Michigan service area. 

Chris Bauer, a project manager for Ballard Marine Construction, points out the crew that supports the diver.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Over the last month, Enbridge has been working to secure their two 20-inch pipelines to the lake bottom, and weather permitting, officials say they should finish their work over the next few days.

Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline runs 645 miles from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario. At the Straits, the single 30-inch pipeline splits into two 20-inch pipelines.

Enbridge says Line 5 carries natural gas liquids and light crude oils. They say it does not carry the heavy dilbit crude that proved so difficult to clean up in the Kalamazoo River oil spill.

Compuware's world headquarters in downtown Detroit.
user Bnosnhoj

Compuware, one of the largest employers in the city of Detroit, is likely to become a privately held company under a proposed deal with a private equity firm.

Thoma Bravo, LLC agreed to buy the company for around $2.5 billion. The deal still has to be approved by shareholders.

David Gelles of the New York Times blog DealBook writes this transaction ends the pressure put on the company by the hedge fund "Elliot Management":

The agreement ends a process that began in 2012, when Elliott took a stake in the Detroit-based company and made an offer of $11 a share to acquire it. Elliott, which still owns 9.5 percent of Compuware, has agreed to vote in favor of the deal.

Thoma Bravo will pay $10.92 a share for Compuware, less than Elliott’s original offer. But Compuware investors are likely to support the deal, which represents a 17 percent premium to Compuware’s stock price last week, and comes after a series of moves intended to create value for shareholders.

Compuware's CEO, Bob Paul, tells the Detroit Free Press that he doesn't expect any big moves for the company and that its headquarters will remain in downtown Detroit.

“Because we didn’t sell it to a strategic competitor, we are firmly entrenched in Detroit,” Paul said.

“The business will continue to operate as is, but just in a private setting now. The leadership team remains intact,” Paul added.

Paul said Compuware’s new owner-to-be, private equity firm Thoma Bravo, is experienced in working with software firms and existing management to improve operations.

The company currently employees around 1,100 to 1,200 people in downtown Detroit, according to the Freep.

Erik Gordon is a professor at the Ross Business School at the University of Michigan.  He says the sale is a sad day. 

He says in the 1980s, Compuware was a giant in the IT industry, when mainframes ruled.  Then, came PCs - followed by wave after wave of innovation.

"Compuware lived in its glorious past, and now has sort of come to at least a soft landing for its future.  At least it didn't close its doors."

Gordon says the situation could be a lot worse, had a rival software firm bought Compuware.  He says Thoma Bravo owns a number of mid-size software companies.

"These are people who really know what they are doing," says Gordon.  "It's not just a bunch of money guys who are going to come and leverage up the deal and take all the money in the middle of the night that they can get out.  These guys run software companies.  So it's a real good development for Compuware."

Robert Davis.
screen grab / WXYZ TV

The Detroit News reports that Robert Davis, a former Highland Park school board member and union activist, will plead guilty to federal theft charges.

Davis was first indicted on the charges back in 2012.

The FBI’s investigation into Davis alleges that between 2004 and 2010, Davis received more than $125,000 from the Highland Park School District through a false invoice scheme:

Derek Jeter in 2009.
Keith Allison / Flickr

The New York Yankees are in town, and the player who has been a Yankee longer than any other is being celebrated by opposing fans.

Derek Jeter plans to retire from the game at the end of this season, and during what could be his last visit to Comerica Park, Michigan has come out to celebrate the player who grew up in Kalamazoo.

With Jeter in town, there's a lot being written about Jeter.

But Jim Baumbach at Newsday wrote a piece in 2012 that gives us a look at Jeter's path from Kalamazoo to the New York Yankees.

Outside the Community Health and Social Services Center in Detroit.
CHASS / Facebook

Part of the Affordable Care Act calls for big investments in community health care centers to increase access to primary health care services. The health care law calls for a total investment of $11 billion over a five-year period “for the operation, expansion, and construction of health centers” throughout the country.

Today, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced that $35.7 million in Affordable Care Act funding will go to 147 health centers in 44 states.

The funding will support 21 new construction projects and 126 renovation projects.

Seven of those health centers are in Michigan. These seven centers will split close to $1.7 million to support construction and facility improvements.

Here’s the list of health centers receiving funding:

judgmentalmaps.com

Want to know where the "Millionaires who like country music" and the "Intensely Boring" live in southeast Michigan? You can find them on this handy "judgmental map."

The wholly inaccurate, satirical map takes a jab at just about everybody in the region. 

It's the latest in a series of "judgmental maps" of major metropolitan regions across the U.S.

Jimmy Carter at a book signing in 2010.
Geoff Holtzman / Talk Radio News Service/Flickr

The former president, who will turn 90 on October 1, will be the keynote speaker at the annual conference for the nation's largest Muslim group.

The Islamic Society of North America's 51st annual conference will be held at the Cobo Center from August 29 through September 1. The theme of the conference will be on "elevating Muslim-American culture."

More from the Toledo Blade:

President Carter will talk on the subject of his latest book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, at a luncheon Aug. 30.

That night, at a session called “Generations Rise: Elevating Muslim-American Culture” -- the same title as the entire conference theme — the outgoing president of ISNA, Imam Mohamed Magid, and four other Muslim speakers will offer ideas for Muslim-American advancement over the next five years. A “secret special guest” is also on the bill.

The Blade reports Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will speak at the opening of the conference, which will also feature "Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, the national leader of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim member of Congress."

Here's one of the Society's promotional videos for the conference:

Aerial shot of flooding in metro Detroit on August 12, 2014.
Michigan State Police

The Detroit metro area typically gets around three inches of rain for the month of August. On August 11, the area got more than four inches of rain in one day.

The rain, as you've heard, wrecked things, and two weeks later people are still digging out.

We heard this morning that people are snapping up new appliances at big box stores in the wake of the flood, so you know that means people are also tossing a lot of material.

The Home Depot in Madison Heights, for instance, has a "flood recovery zone" set up inside the store's entrance. Things like drywall, paint, cleaning supplies, dehumidifiers, and appliances are flying off the shelves.

David Lewinski Photography

Q: What do Detroit, Allen Park, Flint, and Hamtramck all have in common?

A: The cities are all under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager. 

Last month, the city of Lincoln Park joined that list. But we didn't see the protests and outcry that we saw over the appointment of an emergency manager in Detroit. 

When the city of Lincoln Park was turned over to Brad Coulter, a consultant to corporate turnaround specialists O'Keefe & Associates, the mayor of Lincoln Park, Thomas Karnes, was positive.

markgurman.com

Mark Gurman started his tech journalism career in high school. Now he's a junior at the University of Michigan and he's still making good money by breaking stories about Apple Inc.

Michigan Radio's Kate Wells reported on Gurman last year predicting "We will all be working for this kid someday."

Joe Santini / YouTube

The Saginaw County Sheriff's Department received a "Maxx Pro" Mine Resistant Ambush Proof vehicle from the U.S. Army in order to "prepare for something disastrous," according to Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel.

Brad Devereaux wrote about the department's decision to acquire the MRAP for MLive:

The truck's passenger compartment is bulletproof and designed to withstand a mine blast with a v-shaped undercarriage. 

"The V shape resists mine blasts away from the cab. It's very good at what it does," Undersheriff Robert Karl said, noting he found several videos online demonstrating the function.

At the time, Sheriff Federspiel said people shouldn't be concerned about "a military state" because he wouldn't let that happen.

But the giant MRAP makes an impression, and sends a message, whether intended or not.

Here's what these two dudes in Saginaw thought of it (language warning, these dudes are speaking candidly):

Devereaux now reports that the Saginaw County Sheriff's Department is planning to get rid of the vehicle. Federspiel said the plans were made prior to the department being criticized on HBO's Tonight with John Oliver.

This is just one military style vehicle transferred to police departments across the state.

Image of the Packard Plant in Detroit. Crews could start cleaning the site soon.
user memories_by_mike / Flickr

The Detroit Free Press sat down for an interview with the Packard Plant's new owner, Fernando Palazuelo.

He told the Freep that he had to negotiate with former owners of the plant to get a free and clear title. Now that he has that, he says they'll start cleaning up the site in the coming weeks:

Outside Bagley Elementary in Detroit.
DPS

Michigan education officials approved a plan by Detroit Public Schools to cut teachers' pay by 10%.

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan announced today that he signed off on the district's five-year deficit elimination plan.

The Detroit Public School district has been in financial trouble for quite some time. DPS currently has a $127 million deficit.

The Detroit News’ Jennifer Chambers reports that school closures are also part of the plan:

The pay cut, which will impact all teachers and administrators starting Oct. 1, came after the district was forced to make budget cuts to offset expected revenues from a failed countywide tax millage. The wage concession for teachers would generate $13.3 million in savings. District wide, the savings will be $21.1 million.

The district’s financial plan also calls for the closure of 24 schools or buildings over four years, starting with the 2015-16 academic year.

In addition to the cuts, Chambers reports the state’s Local Financial Assistance Loan Board approved a plan that will allow DPS to borrow $111 million in state aid notes to pay its bills.

John Lofy

Dr. Emanuel Tanay died of metastatic prostate cancer on August 5. A visitation is planned for Saturday, September 13 at 11:00 am at the Nie Family Funeral Home in Ann Arbor with a memorial service to follow at noon.

Tanay led an amazing life. Here's more about Tanay from a family press release: 

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Earlier this month, from August 2 to August 4, people living in Toledo were suddenly without water. Pea-green bacteria growing in Lake Erie had released a toxin that got into the city's water supply.

The Mayor of Toledo, Michael Collins, compared what happened in his city to 9/11.

From Tom Troy of the Toledo Blade:

Gov. Snyder / Facebook

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder toured flood-damaged homes in metropolitan Detroit.

More from the Associated Press:

[Gov. Snyder met] a woman who's living in a tent in the front yard of her water-damaged home.

Forty-six-year-old Coreena Dragoi says she moved into a tent after water and mold made her house uninhabitable.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts accompanied Snyder and U.S. Rep. Sander Levin on the visit Monday to the northern Detroit suburb.

Fouts says it's vital to get government aid for his community, where about 18,000 homes sustained some type of flood damage in last week's record-setting rainstorm.

Gov. Snyder asked the state insurance commissioner to look into the damage.

Training in a Black Hawk helicopter at Camp Grayling.
USDOD

A Michigan National Guard investigation into alleged wrongdoing at the Camp Grayling military training base recommended the removal of seven people, including two lieutenant colonels.

Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press reports the investigation alleges theft, destruction of government property and nepotism at the “Maneuver and Training Equipment Site” (MATES) at the base in northern Lower Michigan.

“Many ... employees thought it was allowed to ‘look the other way’ when theft (wood, copper, diesel, time) was occurring, and the majority aimlessly followed direction when told to throw thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment away,” investigating officer Col. Scott Doolittle said in a January memorandum to Gen. Gregory Vadnais, adjutant general of the Michigan Army and Air National Guard.

The investigation was completed in January, and the report was turned over to the National Guard's criminal division.

Base spokesman Lt. Col. Bill Humes says the criminal division concluded earlier this summer that no criminal investigation was warranted.

According to Humes, two lieutenant colonels retired, two master sergeants were fired from their full-time federal government jobs at the base, two other sergeants received two weeks of unpaid leave and one master sergeant was not disciplined.

Two of those fired over the allegations, - Master Sgts. Joe Smock and Renee Reed, are appealing.

More from Egan:

The allegations against Smock mainly related to theft.

“I maintain I never stole anything,” Smock, who remains with the Michigan National Guard as a weekend reservist but no longer works at the base, told the Free Press on Friday …

The allegations against Reed were that she hurt morale and discipline by having an inappropriate relationship with Golnick, and that she improperly used government vehicles.

The author of the report wrote that he fears for the safety of some of the witnesses who have come forward in the probe.

user BGilbow / Flickr

The Michigan Department of Transportation announced yesterday that "nearly all freeways" have been reopened after record-breaking flooding in metro Detroit this past Monday (August 11). 

Today we hear news that two lanes of I-94 will close because of pavement buckling that might be related to Monday's downpour.

The right two lanes on eastbound I-94 near Warren Ave. will be closed according to the Detroit News.

Here's a map showing that location:

Ben Alman

Michigan cereal maker Kellogg announced a broad initiative today to tackle a number of environmental issues.

The company says its efforts will be focused in two areas:

  1. Responsible sourcing, and
  2. Conserving natural resources.

The company says it will “responsibly source its top 10 ingredients and materials by 2020, and validate compliance across all direct suppliers by 2015.”

They also say they will work to be more efficient with their packaging materials and will continue to work on reducing how much energy is used in making their products.

You can read more about all their “Global Sustainability 2020 Commitments” here.

Diane Holdorf is the the company's chief sustainability officer.

The company plans to educate and give resources to its suppliers to be more energy efficient as well as reduce water use and maintain healthier soil.

"We're really trying to look very holistically at the business and what makes sense, not just for us and what's right for the environment and society, but also for our consumers, our customers and our other stakeholders, knowing that not only is it what we expect of ourselves, but it's what others expect of us as well," Holdorf said.

More from John Flesher of the Associated Press:

Under the plan, the Battle Creek-based food products manufacturer will require key suppliers such as farms and mills to measure and publicly disclose their greenhouse gas outputs and targets for reducing them. The company said it will report annually on those emissions and include climate and deforestation policies in the company's code of conduct for suppliers.

Earlier this year, Oxfam International was critical of food companies for not doing enough to combat climate change. They called the Kellogg Company and General Mills "climate laggards."

Oxfam praised this latest effort by Kellogg. 

– Alyse Guenther, Michigan Radio Newsroom

*This post was updated.

Michigan Citizens for Strong and Safe Communities / YouTube

First, let's get a little griping out of the way.

Just look what your Michigan Legislature is asking you to decipher when you step into the voting booth on August 5:

There are many problems with this language.

user Jeff B / Flickr

Everybody has their own philosophy when it comes to merging in construction zones.

Conventional wisdom on the roads seems to be that when faced with an approaching merge, you should just get over as soon as you can and just wait for your turn like a good little driver.

The people whizzing by in the open lane are looked down upon - morally corrupt drivers making a BAD decision refusing to get in line and wait for their turn. 

Watching the other drivers zoom ahead makes you feel like this:

Orchestra Hall in Detroit sat vacant for almost 20 years before renovation started in the 1970s. An iconic building saved from ruin.
screen grab / http://detroiturbex.com/

DEE-twah

The French word for "strait" (détroit) was how it all started in 1701.

A French explorer founded Fort Pontchartrain on the "straits" - the water between Lake Huron and Lake Erie - on July 24, 1701.

It didn't become incorporated as a city until 1806, and the city grew from there.

This population graph shows the timing of the rise and decline of the city:

Sean_Marshall / Flickr

I know what you’re thinking.

This building that once housed Wayne County’s administrative office is perhaps "one of the nation’s finest surviving examples of Roman Baroque Revival architecture, with a blend of Beaux-Arts and some elements of the Neoclassical style."

I was thinking the exact same thing.

Well, I was really thinking it’s a beautiful building in downtown Detroit and I hope it gets some attention.

From the video put together by Mark Schauer's campaign. The alleged "spy cam" on a Republican staffer.
Mark Schauer / YouTube

I guess we should expect it in our politics these days.

Recording technology is getting smaller and some recordings have been seen as game changers.

When David Corn of Mother Jones released Mitt Romney's "47% video," the predictions came in:

"You can mark my prediction now: A secret recording from a closed-door Mitt Romney fundraiser, released today by David Corn at Mother Jones, has killed Mitt Romney's campaign for president."

Mark Schauer
www.markschauer.com

This morning, Democratic candidate for Michigan Governor Mark Schauer joined us on a statewide call-in show.

Here’s a shot of the team getting ready for the show in the WKAR studio:

Schauer answered questions about his plans for education, the city of Detroit, retiree pensions, road funding and more during the hour-long program.

If you missed it, you can listen to it here:


Photo of a can of Stroh's beer taken in 2008.
Kyle Freeman / Flickr

Many of us are more than a little curious about the lives of the rich and famous. 

In the mid-1800s, Bernard Stroh came to the U.S. and began selling beer in Detroit.

The business grew and prospered, but around 150 years later, the family company was bought and broken up.

Kerry A. Dolan of Forbes chronicles the rise and fall of the family in her piece, How to blow $9 billion: The fallen Stroh family.

From Dolan's story:

The Stroh family owned it all, a fortune that FORBES then calculated was worth at least $700 million. Just by matching the S&P 500, the family would currently be worth about $9 billion.

Yet today the Strohs, as a family business or even a collective financial entity, have ceased to exist. The company has been sold for parts. The trust funds have doled out their last pennies to shareholders. While there was enough cash flowing for enough years that the fifth generation Strohs still seem pretty comfortable, the family looks destined to go shirtsleeves-to-shirtsleeves in six.

Frances Stroh, a fifth generation family member, is working on a memoir about the family.

h/t Lester Graham

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