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.

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Arts & Culture
12:24 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

What's more valuable, 5% of the DIA collection, or Detroiters' pensions?

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s 16th-Century painting “The Wedding Dance” is worth up to $200 million, according to Christie's.
DIA

That's one of the sad questions people are asking themselves in the face of Detroit's restructuring under Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

Detroit pensioners stand to lose their quality of life, and the community stands to lose a significant source of culture and pride.

All the interested parties are working closely with federal bankruptcy mediators to find a solution to the prickly question, but they needed information first.

Part of that information arrived this week.

Christie's delivered its final evaluation of part of the art collection in the Detroit Institute of Arts. The estimated value is somewhere between $454 million and $867 million - a fraction of Detroit's $18 billion debt.

The auction house only looked at part of the collection.

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Arts & Culture
11:30 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Heidelberg Project surpasses fundraising goal for security

The Clock House is no more. It was burned along with several other structures in the world-renowned Heidelberg Project.
The Heidelberg Project via Facebook

The world-renowned urban art installation in Detroit's east side has met its fundraising goal for additional security.

Five houses in the Heidelberg Project were burned down in the last year - three remain.

The Project's effort to raise money for lighting, security cameras, and security patrols has exceeded its goal of $50,000. As of this writing, they've raised $51,330 in their online campaign.

There have been no arrests related to the fires dating back to May, but local and federal officials are investigating.

Tyree Guyton founded the project in 1986 as a response to urban decay in his neighborhood. The city initially attempted to stop the project by tearing buildings down, but once the area gained national and international attention, and attracted tourists, the city embraced the community art project.

Law
12:33 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Man who shot Renisha McBride will find out if trial is next

Last month (November 15), Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced her office would charge 54-year-old Theodore Wafer with second degree murder in the death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride.

Wafer shot McBride in the face while she stood on his front porch in the early morning hours of November 2.

Today, there's a preliminary hearing in a Wayne County district court to determine whether there's enough evidence against Wafer for a trial. Judge David Turfe could make his determination at the end of today's hearing.

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Culture
11:12 am
Wed December 18, 2013

A friendship starts after radio story touches Ann Arbor woman

Keisha had never had a real Christmas tree until she met Judy.
user myeyesinthemirror deviantart

For the next few days we're featuring stories of ordinary listeners who read or heard a story on State of Opportunity and decided to give some of their resources or time as a result. We know many of you have done the same. If you've got a story to share or an idea of how people could help let us know here. If you need ideas of what you could do, check out the resources page. We'll update it with  listener suggestions as they come in.

One of the big reasons people pause in their lives and reach out to someone else is because they feel emotionally moved by someone's story.

That happened to an Ann Arbor woman after hearing the story of Keisha Johnson on Michigan Radio.

In her piece "Life on public assistance, a personal story," Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra introduces us to Johnson who is working hard to create a good home for her children - something Johnson didn't always have as a child.

Judy and her husband were getting ready for their day in their home. But they paused to hear the story: 

"After I heard that, I said to him, you know, something really is motivating me to try to meet this woman."

And so she did. Head on over to the State of Opportunity site to hear more about Keisha and Judy's friendship.

Politics & Government
4:43 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Confusion over who's affected by Michigan's new abortion law

Rick Pluta Michigan Public Radio

There’s a new law in Michigan, and insurance companies and their customers are trying to figure out who’s affected by it.

Starting March 13, 2014, women will be required to purchase additional insurance for abortion coverage. Insurance companies will not be allowed to provide the coverage as part of their normal plans.

But analysts say the new law does not affect some health care plans.

More from Chad Livengood and Gary Heilein in today’s Detroit News:

Confusion reigns about the law, said Rick Murdock, executive director of the Michigan Association of Health Plans, an industry group representing 16 health plans in the state except Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Self-insured employers, who pay directly for medical care for employees, are regulated by the U.S. Department of Labor and not subject to state rules, said Murdock, the office of Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger and some state officials.

Murdock said smaller firms — usually those with less than 150 to 200 workers — as well as companies that don’t self-fund their coverage and people buying private health insurance on their own are “fully exposed” to the law.

That amounts to one in three individuals with group or government-sponsored health plans, according to Livengood and Heilein.

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Politics & Government
10:23 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Traverse City leaders vote to limit festivals

The film festival has become quite popular in Traverse City.
Andrew McFarlane Creative Commons

The waterfront in Traverse City used to be an industrial area. Now it's open space with parks, beaches and bike trails.

With that comes festivals, and some city residents say there are too many. They complain of "festival fatigue." City leaders voted last night to lower the number of festivals allowed in the open space area from six to four.

More from the Traverse City Record-Eagle:

Commissioners said the new limitation would address resident concerns about the number of large events at the Open Space in a reasonable manner. Commissioners split on the question, reflecting the temperament of city residents who offered varying opinions on the need for more festivals.

“We are limiting one event at one park,” Commissioner Jeanine Easterday said before running through a long list of festivals and events that remain. “We are not eliminating events for Traverse City.”

Auto
4:34 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Outgoing GM CEO Dan Akerson says they've 'been trying to fix this airplane while in air'

Dan Akerson speaking at the National Press Club.
NPC screen shot from YouTube

Outgoing GM CEO Dan Akerson spoke to the National Press Club this afternoon cataloging all the changes the company has made to make it profitable once again.

The U.S. Treasury sold the last of its holdings in the company earlier this month. The government said they lost about $10 billion on its bailout of over $49 billion.

Akerson said over the last four years, the company has invested more than $10 billion in its U.S. operations, including $1.27 billion announced today.

"There's that $10 billion again. But we're investing it - that will keep paying dividends to the American public that supported this company in its darkest hour," said Akerson. 

Akerson said the company is still in the early chapters of the comeback story and that they still have a lot to prove to people who left the brand for other car companies.

Akerson will step down as CEO on January 15, 2014. Akerson was with the Carlyle Group prior to taking the helm at GM in 2010. The global auto industry will see its first female CEO when Marry Barra takes over in January.

You can watch Akerson's address to the National Press Club below:

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Law
2:56 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Judge rules that his Detroit bankruptcy finding can be directly appealed

John Meiu Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC

The judge in Detroit’s bankruptcy case says creditors can appeal his recent eligibility ruling directly to a higher federal court.

Judge Steven Rhodes ruled earlier this month that Detroit is eligible to proceed with its historic bankruptcy case.

He also ruled that city pensions can be cut in federal bankruptcy court — despite a public pension guarantee in Michigan’s state constitution.

City unions, pension funds and retiree groups immediately said they intended to appeal both decisions.

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Auto
1:25 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

GM to invest $1.27 billion into plants in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana

GM's Flint Assembly will get an upgrade.
GM

GM made the announcement today and said the investments in the manufacturing plants "will create or retain about 1,000 jobs."

The investments will be made in these five plants:

  1. Flint Assembly 
  2. Romulus Powertrain Operations
  3. Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly
  4. Toledo Transmission Operations
  5. Bedford Castings in Indiana

GM says the investments "will support production of a new V6 engine, new 10-speed transmission and an existing 6-speed transmission. They will also fund assembly plant upgrades, including a new paint shop and logistics optimization center."

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Sports
11:00 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Watch as an NHL ice rink is built in Michigan Stadium

The ice rink being built in Michigan Stadium.
screen grab from web cam Detroit Sports Commission

The NHL Winter Classic will be held in Ann Arbor's Michigan Stadium on January 1, 2014. The Toronto Maple Leafs will take on the Detroit Red Wings. Tickets will cost... a lot.

Right now, a hockey rink is being built on top of a football field.

The Detroit Sports Commission has set up a webcam so you can watch the progress. See below:

Politics & Government
3:01 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

A quick rundown of the bills passed by Michigan lawmakers in the last two days

Michigan's capitol building in December 2013.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The Legislature wasn't as busy as it was last year passing last-minute legislation, but they were busy.

Here's a rundown of the activity seen in Lansing over the last two days.

New law in Michigan

- Putting limits on abortion coverage

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Politics & Culture
4:33 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Stateside for Thursday, December 12th, 2013

The state Legislature has been busy in its last week of session for the year - from increasing limits on campaign contributions, to issues regarding medical marijuana.

On today's show, we'll get an update from Lansing. Both the state House and Senate passed a voter-initiated law requiring consumers to buy separate policies for abortion coverage. What will this mean for you?

Later in the show, we’ll talk drones. Estimates show there could be some 175,000 unmanned aerial vehicles in U.S. airspace by 2025.

We'll speak to a Michigan entrepreneur who's trying to develop drones for commercial market, later in the hour.

But first, we check in with Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes. On his mind this week is a "re-tooling" of Michigan's auto industry.

Arts & Culture
2:00 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Detroit Institute of Arts praises initial work by federal bankruptcy mediators

Flickr

Leaders at the Detroit Institute of Arts praised the efforts of federal mediators today saying they're working toward a solution that protect's the museum's collection while giving relief to the city of Detroit.

The collection has been seen as a potential source of revenue by some creditors who are poised to lose a lot of money in the Detroit bankruptcy.

More from the DIA's press release:

At a meeting with the mediators on Tuesday, the DIA expressed enthusiastic support for the work that has been done to date, and pledged to help refine and implement the plan in the weeks ahead. The plan engages national and local foundations among other funding sources to create a mechanism for providing cash for the City, while ensuring the present and future safety of the DIA collection. Details of the plan are still in process, as meetings with the foundation community and others continue. The DIA has begun to mobilize its considerable public support to help implement a fundraising strategy that will satisfy the City’s needs, while ensuring the well-being of the museum for the residents of Detroit, southeast Michigan and beyond.

Offbeat
3:08 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Stunt skiiers drop in on the ruins of Detroit

Clip from Poor Boyz Productions YouTube

These skiiers stopped in from out of town to "Ski Detroit."

Yes, it's another in a string of "check out how bleak Detroit is" videos. But their tricks are definitely worth watching. There's some pretty creative stuff going on here. (Lyrics in some of the soundtrack are NSFW.)

(H/T Sarah H.) 

Politics & Government
2:15 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Facebook digs deeper into the adoption of equal sign profile pictures

You likely saw it unfold on Facebook earlier this year.

In late March, Facebook users began changing their profile pics to show their support for gay marriage.

Facebook tracked analyzed those changes and found that 2.77 million users in the United States made the switch - and the users who made the switch were more likely to live along the coasts or in the Great Lakes region.

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Auto
9:49 am
Tue December 10, 2013

GM's Dan Akerson will step down, company names first woman as CEO

Mary Barra, 51, will become the first CEO in the global automotive industry.
GM

Dan Akerson, chairman and CEO of General Motors, will step down on January 15, 2014. Akerson moved up the date of his departure by several months after his wife was diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer.

Akerson's successor will be Mary Barra. She's the executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain.

The 51-year-old Barra will become the company's first female CEO, and will be the first female CEO in the global automotive industry.

Barra was the daughter of a Pontiac die maker, according to Bloomberg:

Barra, 51, whose career started on a factory floor as an intern more than 30 years ago, has been in charge of product development and quality of all GM cars and trucks for 22 months, fostering collaboration and wringing costs out of the supply chain.

In its press release, GM said Barra was a leader in the company's turnaround:

...revitalizing GM’s product development process resulting in the launch of critically acclaimed new products while delivering record product quality ratings and higher customer satisfaction.

“With an amazing portfolio of cars and trucks and the strongest financial performance in our recent history, this is an exciting time at today’s GM,” said Barra. “I’m honored to lead the best team in the business and to keep our momentum at full speed.”

GM announced other executive staff changes as well. Dan Ammann, 41 and GM CFO, will become company president and will manage the company's regional operations around the world. He'll remain as CFO of GM as well. A new CFO will be named at a later date.

And Mark Reuss, 50, will move into the position being vacated by Barra.

2:40 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

NPR's Don Gonyea wears his 'Detroit-ness' on his sleeve

Lead in text: 
Sandra Svoboda of Deadline Detroit profiles one of our favorite NPR people! Gonyea worked out of WDET in Detroit prior to becoming an NPR correspondent. He remembers his work in Detroit fondly "It's where I had great, great years working as a journalist, it's where I learned how to be a journalist. The stories Detroit handed me to cover were just a never-ending stream of really great and rich stories."
WASHINGTON - His voice is familiar to Michigan public radio audiences who listened to his reports about the auto industry, labor unions, politics, Jack Kevorkian and other major news events during the 1980s and 1990s. Then, for nearly a decade beginning when George W.
Arts & Culture
2:21 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Only 3 house installations remain after latest Heidelberg Project fire

The Clock House burned last night.
The Heidelberg Project via Facebook

What was built over several decades, is coming down in less than a year.

Last night, the fifth house in the world-renowned art installation on Detroit's east side was burned.

The Heidelberg Project's Clock House burned last night around 11 p.m., according to the Detroit News:

The suspicious fire tore through the Clock House, near Elba Place and Ellery, about 10:50 p.m. Sunday, according to Battalion Chief Edward Voss. Smoke rolled through the neighborhood, blanketing it like fog. Fire crews arrived within five to seven minutes, but it wasn’t enough time to save the art display, said Voss.

It's the fifth house to be destroyed by arson in the last two months.

Heidelberg supporters wonder if the remaining three houses will be standing at the end of the year.

The three remaining houses, according to the News, are the Dot House, the Numbers House, and the Teddy Bear House.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction, and the agency is assisting the Detroit Fire Department in investigating the fires.

The News reports that police have not made specific plans to increase patrols in the Heidelberg area.

Heidelberg organizers have raised nearly $39,000 toward a goal of $50,000 to increase lighting and private patrols in the two-block area.

Michigan Radio's Emily Fox spoke with Guyton after the third house, the Penny House, was burned. Guyton told Fox the fires have inspired him to make more art:

“No matter what happens, the arson fires, the demolitions, that magic in here keeps telling me, do it, do it, don’t stop. Oh, it gives me energy, I’m saying turn it up. I’m like, that’s the best you got?,” Guyton says.

Guyton began the Heidelberg Project in 1986 to call attention to the extreme blight in Detroit's neighborhoods. Anyone who has information about the fires is asked to call the arson unit at the Detroit Fire Department (313-596-2940), or the ATF at 888-ATF-FIRE.

Politics & Government
12:23 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Watch part of Nelson Mandela's speech at Tiger Stadium in Detroit

Nelson Mandela wearing Pistons gear given to him by some of the players at the time.
@downwithdetroit Twitter

Four months after Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990 he came to Detroit.

Why Detroit?

Here's what the Rev. Jesse Jackson had to say, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“It’s the home of Joe Louis, and Nelson Mandela has always admired Joe Louis. ... He’s also always wanted to see Rosa Parks, and she is here. And the real base of the struggle is the labor unions.”

So thousands packed into Tiger Stadium to see him on June 28, 1990.

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