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

Freighter on the Saginaw River
flickr user ifmuth

The Bay City Times reports the tug boat sank early Monday spilling 800 gallons of diesel fuel.

It's reported that Grand Rapids-based Young's Environmental Cleanup Inc. and Mt. Clements-based HM Environmental Services are working to contain and clean up the spill.

The cause of the sinking won't be known until the tug is pulled from the river. Paul Luedtke of Luedtke Engineering, the company that owns the boat, said:

"We won't know until then and anything before then would just be speculation."

A crane will pull the tug from the water once the diesel spill is cleaned up.

Heroin abuse in Michigan is on the rise. Felix Sharpe of Michigan's Bureau of Substance Abuse and Addiction Services says that 680 people died from heroin overdoses in Michigan last year.
United Nations Photo

The University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research has been monitoring drug use among teens for 36 years. This year's "Monitoring the Future" study had responses from more than 46,000 8th, 10th, and 12th graders.

They found that marijuana use is on the rise. 43.8% of 12th graders said they've used marijuana in their lifetime. That's up from 42% in 2009, and 42.6%  in 2008. From the study:

Marijuana use, which had been rising among teens for the past two years, continues to rise again this year—a sharp contrast to the considerable decline of the preceding decade

Alcohol use, on the other had has been decreasing. 54.1% of 12th graders said they'd been drunk in their lifetime. That's down from 56.5% in 2009, and 54.7% in 2008. From the study:

Alcohol use—and, specifically, occasions of heavy drinking—continues its long-term decline among teens into 2010, reaching historically low levels.

Sweet N' Low, sugar, and salt and pepper shakers
William Hartz / Flickr

I always thought twice before adding those little pink packets to my iced tea because a little voice in my head was telling me they were bad. No proof, just something I had heard somewhere.

As it turns out, saccharin WAS on EPA's hazardous constituent list. It's been on the list since 1980. The substance was put on the list because the EPA's Carcinogen Assessment Group listed it as a "potential human carcinogen."

Lice nit on hair
Gilles San Martin - wikimedia

It's something a lot of parents dread. Lice in your kid's hair.

Pesticides in shampoo form is one way to tackle the problem, but some people go pesticide-free.

Kyle Norris filed a report on Rapunzel's Lice Boutique in Ann Arbor for the Environment Report. I tagged along with her with a camera when she visited a family getting a treatment and we put together this slide show:

Boarded up houses in Flint, Michigan
creative commons

Update 11:30 a.m.:

Just hours after city officials in Flint called a news conference about tying the homicide record, The Flint Journal is reporting that the record appears to be broken. Police are now at the scene of a potential slaying:

Police are at the scene now at Harriet and Donald streets, where there was a report of a man in vehicle who appeeared to be shot. If the death is considered a homicide, it would be the city's 62nd. The highest number of homicides ever previously recorded in the city was 61 in 1986.

Update 11:20 a.m.:

The Flint Journal made a map showing where homicides in the city have taken place. There have been no arrests in 25 of the 60 homicides noted.


View Flint homicides in a larger map

10:12 a.m.:

The City of Flint is holding a news conference this morning about the city's homicide rate. The 61st homicide was recorded last night making this year the worst on record since 1986.

In a press release issued last night, city officials said "police responded to a call at a home in the 600 block of West Ridgeway, on the city's north side, just before 7:30 Sunday evening."

Three people were found shot inside the home. One was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mayor Walling said

"We have reached a tragic milestone in Flint, tying the homicide record established in 1986. Residents must continue to be vigilant about reporting crimes and providing police with information that will get criminals off the streets. I applaud the swift work of our hard working police officers in apprehending a suspect within hours of the city's latest homicide."

Metrodome
John Schroeder - flickr

Update: 10:49 a.m.:

The Lions are reporting that due to "overwhelming" response, free tickets to tonight's NFL game at Ford Field are no longer being offered.

Update: 12/13/10, 9:30 a.m.:

Fans in downtown Detroit are lining up at Ford Field to get free tickets for tonight's NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants. Detroit Lions President Tom Lewand said on WJR this morning that there going to work to make sure everyone can be accommodated, "but I think we're going to be a little oversubscribed."

In case you haven't seen it yet, the NFL has some impressive video of the Metrodome collapsing.

12/12/10, 12:45 p.m.:

The New York Times has put together an interactive before and after photo showing how the roof of the Metrodome deflated after heavy snowfall. The Giants and Vikings were scheduled to play there today.

The NFL moved the game to Ford Field and will be played tomorrow night (Monday) at 7:20pm. The Detroit Free Press reports it'll be the "first ever regular-season Monday Night game at Ford Field."

Is Twitter overated?

Dec 10, 2010
Twitter bird logo icon illustration
Matt Hamm - flickr user

Hash tags, retweets, favs, overheard, nudges... to the uninitiated it's like learning Sanskrit.

To the initiated, it's a modern day language.

But a new study finds that Twitter is not used as often as commonly thought.

The Pew Research Center focused a survey exclusively on Twitter. Previously Pew asked respondents whether they used "the Internet to use Twitter or another service to share updates about yourself or to see updates about others?"

A farm in Michigan
Maureen Reilly - flickr user

Update 2:38 p.m.:

There are more declarations of natural disaster areas in the state of Michigan. The 21 counties I wrote about below were for "excessive heat" disasters. The USDA has also issued natural disaster declarations for frost (the excessive cold occurred from March 1st through May 16th), AND for storms and rain.

The 32 counties that received the frost declarations can be found this FEMA page.

Michigan Representative Pete Hoekstra
hoekstra.house.gov

Representative Pete Hoekstra came into office in the 103rd Congress in 1993. He's going out in the 111th Congress at the end of this year.

Hoekstra announced his retirement in December 2008 when he decided to run for Governor of Michigan.

He lost that bid to Rick Snyder and will soon be out of a political office after 17 years.

Today, the Grand Rapids Press ran an editorial praising Hoekstra's tenure, saying,

Tom Watkins of Northville Michigan has been given the Upton Sinclair Award for education from EducationNews.org.

Watkins is the CEO of TDW and Associates, an educational consulting firm, and a former Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Michigan from 2001 to 2005.

In their release, EducationNews.org writes

Downsizing Detroit

Dec 9, 2010
City of Detroit
Pablo Costa - picasa user

Detroit is a city built for 2 million people, but now has around 800,000. It's ruins have become famous. And some people, like artist Lowell Boileau, have said the problems Detroit faces are like a "slow moving Katrina."

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is leading a plan, called the Detroit Works Project, to shrink the city down to size. To make the city's 139 square mile footprint more manageable for city services like police, fire, sanitation, and water.

Jennifer Granholm
flickr user auberon

3 million jobs in 3 years. That's what soon-to-be-former-Governor Jennifer Granholm called for in her article in the Huffington Post.

Granholm calls for a "Jobs Race to the Top" modelled on the education "Race to the Top" program.

Dangle large sums of money in front of cash strapped states and see if you can get them to change their policies.

Rich Rodriguez coacing UM football players
Rich Dinges - creative commons

It's not just sitting president's who have to worry about their poll numbers, apparently head football coaches do to.

Public Policy Polling gathered information on a subject that really doesn't have much to do with the general public or policy.

Their robot callers ("we can reduce interviewer bias to zero by eliminating the live human interviewer") got responses from 1,224 Michiganders on the subject of Rich Rodriguez.

Detroit's Orchestra Hall
Kellie Petersen, Flickr

The musicians have been on strike since October. The management is standing firm against the demands of the musicians. Holiday concerts have been cancelled, and now the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's Executive Board is weighing in.

In a letter to the community released today, DSO executive board members said they were "joined at the hip" with management during this strike. The 24 board members said,

Congressman Dave Camp with John Boehner.
user republicanconference / Flickr

Michigan Republican Dave Camp is the chairman-elect of the House Committee on Ways and Means. Camp released a statement saying it is a great honor to be selected as chairman:

"Our nation is at a crossroads – facing record debt and an unemployment rate stuck at nearly 10 percent. The decisions we make and the policies we put forward will determine whether or not we get this economy back on track and Americans back to work."

The committee has jurisdiction over revenue for the U.S. government (taxes) and "other related issues" - things like unemployment benefits, tariffs, trade agreements, Social Security, and Medicare.

Camp will take over the committee from another Michigander, Democrat Sander Levin.

Helen Thomas speaking at Cornell University
Matt Hintsa / creative commons

The Anti-Defamation League called Helen Thomas anti-Semitic after some comments she made last week at a speech in Dearborn.

On a radio interview last night, Thomas shot back at Abe Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League:

I'm getting tired of his intimidation. I'm going to report him to President Obama and all the proper authorities. He better stop intimidating me.

Thomas was interviewed by Scott Spears on WMRN radio in Marion, Ohio. Here's a clip:

No comment yet from the ADL.

Colorful used cars
Zelda Richardson

Perhaps another sign that the 'Great Recession' is thawing. Lending to people with a so-so credit score is on the uptick - at least in the car market.

The Associated Press reports "the percentage of loans going to subprime buyers rose 8% in the third quarter, their first year-over-year increase since 2007, according to a report issued Tuesday by Experian, a credit reporting agency."

Robert Bobb
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Update: 5:13 pm:

Emergency financial manager Robert Bobb and his team have already put in place several classroom reforms. Some of the reforms include two hours of math and reading instruction every day for elementary students, requiring all 7th graders to take pre-Algebra, and conducting "quarterly assessments" of students' skills.

First page of the unsealed indictment
Department of Justice

Four Detroit-area residents have been indicted by the federal government for Medicare fraud.

The Department of Justice says Medicare fraud schemes were operated out of Patient Choice Home Healthcare and All American Home Care.

Marijuana plant
USFWS

Michigan's medical marijuana law is intended "to provide protections for the medical use of marihuana."

But a) it conflicts with federal law, and b) it does not provide details on how and where registered medical marijuana users can get their pot. Confusion reigns around these issues and court battles are heating up.

Some cities accept the state law and are regulating pot dispensaries through ordinances or zoning laws.

Others are refusing to accept the law and are passing ordinances that effectively ban medical marijuana.

Here we plan to keep a running tally of how cities across Michigan are reacting to the medical marijuana law. Let us know if you have more information that should be posted here!

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