Flint

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint residents are celebrating local hero, boxer Claressa Shields, who won her second gold medal on the final day of the Rio Olympics.

A standing room-only crowd watched Shields’ fight at Flint’s Berston field house, where Shields learned to box.  A picture of Shields wearing her gold medal from the 2012 London Olympics hangs above the front door of the field house.  

All through the middleweight fight, the crowd cheered and Shield’s sister Briana shouted at her to “knock out” her opponent, Nouchka Fontjin of the Netherlands.

Packing up school supplies.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

More than a thousand backpacks are on their way to Flint school children.

This past week, volunteers unloaded a moving van filled with backpacks.

Rhetta Hunyady, with the Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce, says they want to get these much-needed school supplies into the hands of children whose parents might not otherwise be able to afford to buy them what they need for school.

“And to let Flint kids know that people here in our community and outside of our community really care about who they are and helping them to be successful,” says Hunyady.

Boy eating popcorn.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint boxer Claressa Shields is one win away from defending her Olympic title.

Flint’s Berston Field House echoed to sounds of Claressa Shields’ fans as she dominated her opponent in Friday’s semi-final.  

The 21-year-old Flint native won a unanimous decision over Dariga Shakimova of Kazakhstan. Shields now faces Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands in Sunday’s Gold-medal bout.  

Shields won gold in the 2012 London Games. She can win a second gold medal if she defeats the boxer from the Netherlands on Sunday.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Contractors will soon start replacing lead service lines at more than 200 Flint homes.  But first they need the homeowners’ permission.

The city has hired three companies to fully or partially remove hundreds of service lines.  Representatives of those three companies (WT Stevens Construction Inc., Johnson & Wood Mechanical and Goyette Mechanical) will begin fanning out in specific neighborhoods targeted because their residents are particularly at risk from lead exposure. 

Flint residents paused today to watch local boxer Claressa Shields take to the ring at the Rio Olympics.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint boxer Claressa Shields returned to the Olympic boxing ring today with an overwhelming performance.

The defending Olympic women’s middleweight champion pummeled Russia’s Yaroslava Yakushina to easily win the quarterfinal bout.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It's tough to wrap your mind around the price tag for Flint's lead-in-water disaster.

There's the $58 million the state of Michigan has already spent on filters, bottled water and medical care and testing.

There's the still-undetermined cost of replacing the water lines and pipes damaged by the corrosive Flint River water. 

But there are also social costs.

Marc Edwards, PhD, of Virginia Tech University, holds two vials of water, one from Flint and the other from Detroit. Edwards' research helped uncover the serious problems affecting Flint's water supply.
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Just three days before the federal disaster declaration expires in Flint, Virginia Tech water expert Marc Edwards has released the results of the latest water tests in Flint.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody joined us to explain the results.

He said the results don't really reflect a thumbs up or thumbs down for Flint's water quality.

“It was more something in between," he said. "Marc Edwards talked about the results and how they show that lead levels are coming down, and now the city is somewhat below the federal action level. But, again, much like Flint water itself, the answer is rather murky.”

Michigan’s Treasury Department deserves blame for its role in the Flint water crisis, according to a new report.
Flickr user Ian Freimuth / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

As the Flint water crisis unfolded, most of the blame was heaped upon the state departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services.

But Wayne State University law professor Peter Hammer claims there’s another government agency at fault: Michigan’s treasury department. In a new report, Hammer faults Treasury for its willingness to bend rules when it came to the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) pipeline, and its indifference to whether the city could pay to upgrade treatment plants and guarantee safe drinking water.

Trash pickup is the latest hurdle for the city of Flint.
Flickr user J J / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

The problems continue to pile on Flint: Over the weekend, Mayor Karen Weaver announced that trash pickup was to be canceled indefinitely, due to a dispute between the mayor and city council over which vendor will receive the city’s garbage collection.

Mayor Weaver hoped to grant the contract to Rizzo Environmental Services, which had the lowest bid. The city council decided to continue with Republic, the city’s current trash hauler. Mayor Weaver then vetoed the council’s decision, which led to an override of the mayor’s veto by the council.

On Monday, city officials reached an interim agreement with Republic to resume trash pickup, starting August 2. The arrangement will remain in place until August 12. Officials say trash collection will be delayed by one day for the rest of this week; it should be back on schedule by the start of next week.

A Hillary Clinton supporter at the DNC.
STEVE CARMODY / MICHIGAN RADIO

Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody has had a busy two weeks. He covered the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week, after covering the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last week.

He joined us on Stateside to debrief after the DNC, and provide his take on how the two conventions compared.

“I think each convention had a targeted audience in Michigan and each reached that audience,” he said.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

Michigan will be in the national spotlight this week during the Democratic National Convention.

U.S. Senator Gary Peters will serve as a co-chair at the convention and speakers from the state will include former Governor Jennifer Granholm and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Also on that list is Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, who will speak Wednesday night. Weaver joined us today to discuss the upcoming convention, her speech and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Downtown Flint.
flickr user Tony Faiola / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Flint is in the news a lot these days. Lead contamination of the water; people getting sick, some dying from Legionnaires' disease; one of the most violent cities in the country. 

But Flint is home to nearly 100,000 people.

A new book tells the story of some of those who've made Flint their home. It's called Happy Anyway: A Flint Anthology. The collection of stories was edited by Scott Atkinson

Work crew replacing a lead service line
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint plans to move ahead with plans to remove more lead service lines.

Pipes connecting homes to city water mains are a prime source of lead in Flint’s drinking water.

But so far, of the thousands of suspect service lines under city streets, only 33 have been replaced. 

Now Mayor Karen Weaver says she’s asking the city council to approve contracts with two Flint companies (Goyette Mechanical and WT Stevens Construction, Inc.) to remove 250 service lines as part of a new pilot program.

Attorney General Bill Schuette
Bill Schuette

 

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette faces complex legal hurdles in civil lawsuits against a water company and an engineering company, along with their parent companies.

 

The lawsuit claims that Veolia North America of Delaware and Lockwood, Andrews and Newnam of Texas failed to take proper steps in the Flint water crisis and created a public nuisance. The suit aims to collect money for damages.

 

But legal experts say there are a number of issues that could stand in the way of a potential win for the attorney general in trial or in a settlement.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A $32 million campaign to renovate an historic building in downtown Flint is getting a big boost.

The 90-year-old Capitol Theatre has been a vaudeville house, movie palace, and for many years a vacant, decaying building in downtown Flint.

But the theater has been undergoing extensive renovations. 

Today, The Hagerman Foundation donated $4 million to the project.

Philanthropist Phil Hagerman remembers as a 14-year-old going to the Capitol to see The Sound of Music with his family.

the city of Flint
wikimedia user Flintmichigan / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A recent University of Michigan research analysis shows wage growth in Flint was the seventh-highest nationally in 2015, outpacing growth in Michigan and in major cities around the country. 

Wages in Genesee County, which comprises the Flint Metropolitan Statistical Area, grew 5.7% in 2015. Two other Michigan MSAs ranked in the top 100: Bay City was 26th and Kalamazoo was 37th. With 3.4% growth in real wages, Detroit ranked 101st. 

As a state, Michigan ranked 15th in wage growth, and the Midwest saw stronger growth than any other region.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This fall, water experts from around the world are expected to come to Flint for a summit on water infrastructure issues.

Flint’s water crisis has become a symbol for the problems facing aging water systems.

Bryce Feighner is special advisor on drinking water with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. He’s helping to organize the summit.

Feighner says they’re reaching out to experts across the U.S. and Europe, seeking innovative answers to the problems that Flint and other cities with aging, faltering municipal water systems face.

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It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

With the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan to set the scene, Governor Snyder on Wednesday signed the new $38.8 billion state budget. 

There were some unexpected revenue shortfalls to deal with. State revenues came up more than $300 million short, largely due to corporate tax credits. There was also a $100 million spike in Medicaid payments. 

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announces charges in his team's investigation into the Flint water crisis on April 20, 2016.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says lawyers hired by Governor Rick Snyder won't turn over documents demanded by his Flint investigation team. 

As of now, taxpayers are paying for both the AG's special investigation as well as Governor Snyder's attorneys, which, at least from the AG's special investigator Todd Flood's point of view, are not cooperating fully with the investigation. 

Former chief medical executive Dr. Matthew Davis received an email on the Genesee County Legionnaires' outbreak nearly a year before its public announcement.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

Did the Michigan Department of Health and Human services know about a possible Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Genesee County a year before it was publicly disclosed? Emails recently released by Governor Rick Snyder’s administration raise that question.

Dr. Matthew Davis, who served as the state’s chief medical executive and on Snyder’s Flint water task force, has previously denied knowledge of the increase of Legionnaires’ cases in Genesee County prior to leaving his post in April 2015.

Tens of thousands of water filters have been distributed in Flint.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Volunteers will be going to thousands of homes in Flint this weekend, making sure everyone's got a water filter.

Some 25,000 Flint homes are already using filters, according to the state's count.

But local and state teams are going door-to-door this weekend, to check on some 2,300 homes they still aren't sure about.

Michigan State Police Captain Chris Kelenske is with the state's emergency management team.

Michigan AG Bill Schuette
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that his office has filed a civil suit against three companies involved in the Flint water crisis.

The suit names Veolia North America, Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, and Leo A. Daly Co. as defendants.

Schuette said these companies "botched the job" when it came to providing safe drinking water to Flint.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

After months of wrangling, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is reluctantly agreeing to hook the city up to the new Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline for the city's drinking water.

Emergency managers made the decision to switch Flint’s drinking water to the KWA pipeline as a way to save money. Flint's city council gave its stamp of approval as well. But Flint’s new elected leaders wanted out of the deal because of the cost.

Gov. Snyder speaks at a Flint news conference.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s been almost six months since the Flint Water Task Force blamed the culture of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for the Flint water crisis.

The Task Force said a culture of quote “technical compliance” exists inside the drinking water office.

Its report found that officials were buried in technical rules – thinking less about why the rules existed. In this case, making sure Flint’s water was safe to drink.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver defends Police Chief Tim Johnson (left of Mayor Weaver).
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Police Chief Tim Johnson will soon be certified to be a police officer.

Johnson was appointed Flint’s new police chief back in February. But the career cop allowed his state certification to lapse after he retired several years ago.

Without that certification, Johnson lacked the arresting powers of officers under his command.

Johnson says he was planning to take the two-day class later this year.

“I was trying to wait for the city to reach a calm level where I could go away for a couple of days to get re-certified,” Johnson told reporters today.

Inside the Flint water treatment plant.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint has met an EPA deadline to upgrade equipment at the city’s water plant.

The EPA sent the city of Flint a letter one week ago saying the city had until today to install and have operational equipment to add additional chlorine and other chemicals to the city’s water supply.

Flint gets its tap water from Detroit already treated with chemicals to impede the growth of bacteria and other organisms. But chemicals, like chlorine, lose their effectiveness the longer they are in the system.  

Gov. Rick Snyder at the 2016 Mackinac Policy Conference
Zoe Clark / Michigan Radio

Zoe Clark from It's Just Politics is at the Mackinac Policy Conference and there's been no shortage of news at what many would consider to be the Super Bowl for political junkies. Clark joined Stateside to discuss what hasn't been discussed that much over the last few days:  The city of Flint and the water crisis that continues there.

Georgie Sharp / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

This weekend, AARP officials plan to sit down with older Flint residents to see how the city’s drinking water crisis affects them.

Flint’s water system has dealt with serious problems, including high lead levels.

Paula Cunningham is the state director of AARP. She says about a third of Flint residents are over 60 years old.

“These are very vulnerable folks who need some attention and need our assistance as well,” says Cunningham.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Next week, Flint city officials plan to sit down with contractors interested in replacing lead service lines.

The city would like to remove 15,000 service lines, but for now they only have enough money to replace about 400.

Mayor Karen Weaver admits her “Fast Start” program has been slow to reach its second phase, partly because the sity wants to give smaller, local contractors a better chance to win contracts.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Water experts from across the country are dismissing warnings from an environmental group of high levels of contaminants in Flint’s drinking water.    

The experts say new data actually show Flint’s water improving since the switch back to Detroit water last fall. The water is still not safe to drink or cook with unfiltered.  

At a news conference today in Flint, researchers from Virginia Tech University, Wayne State University and the University of Massachusetts outlined the findings of their recent tests on the city’s drinking water.

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