Flint

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s emergency manager says time is running out for city council members to complete required governance training.

Darnell Earley's appointment as Flint’s EM ends next spring. But it’s unclear if state oversight will continue, or a transition back to local control will begin.

Completing the training is part of Earley’s plan to begin the transition.

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling and two councilmen have completed or nearly completed training for how to manage city budgets and other local government skills.

NYSE

The owners of a Flint pharmaceutical company rang the bell on Wall Street Friday.

The company started in a Flint neighborhood pharmacy nearly 40 years ago.

Diplomat Pharmacy is now the nation’s largest specialty pharmaceutical company.   The company serves about one percent of the nation’s sickest patients by providing drugs for complex treatments for cancer, Crohn’s disease and other illnesses. 

Diplomat started trading its stock publicly on Friday.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A recent analysis by Moody's Investor's Service offers the prediction that Flint will not follow along the bankruptcy path set by Detroit.

Even though the two cities share many of the same problems and challenges, Moody's believes bankruptcy is not in the cards for Flint.

John Pottow is a University of Michigan law professor and a bankruptcy expert. Pottow also says bankruptcy is unlikely for the city right now, because he believes Flint actually has a long term term plan of meeting a balanced budget since a state-appointed emergency manager was appointed several years ago.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint City Council may soon try to push out the city’s emergency manager.

Flint has been under the control of an emergency manager appointed by the governor since 2011. Three men have served as Flint’s emergency manager.  Darnell Earley was appointed to the job a year ago. His 18-month appointment ends next Spring. 

But that’s not soon enough for City Councilman Sheldon Neeley.

“Democracy needs to be restored, today, right now,” says Neeley.

Neeley says the current emergency manager law gives the city council the power it needs to remove Earley.

Participants in the 2013 Flint Zombie Walk
Flint Zombie Walk / Facebook

Tomorrow, Flint will be overrun with the undead participants of its annual Flint Zombie Walk.

The walk begins at 1:00 p.m., with zombie inspired makeovers and registration at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. respectively. 

In addition to the walk, the event will feature vendors, "horror celebrities" and other entertainment.

Proceeds from the event will be donated to the Little Free Library organization. 

For more information, visit the event website.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint school district once again fell short of its student count day forecast.   

90% of a district’s per-pupil funding from the state is based on the fall count day number.    

Flint fell about 150 students short of its projection for this year. Flint gets roughly $7,500 from the state for each student.  The district will now have to redo its plan to eliminate its $20 million deficit. 

Larry Watkins is Flint’s interim superintendent. He’s not disappointed by the number.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT –  The federal government has launched the Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative in Flint to improve the city.

In January, Flint was chosen to be a part of the program, also called SC2. The program uses experts to work alongside city leadership, community organizations, local business and philanthropic foundations to support the cities' visions for economic growth and development.

jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry sat down to discuss what's going on this week in Michigan politics. They covered the high price of water in Flint and Detroit, GM’s decision to move its Cadillac headquarters to New York, and the debates for Michigan governor and the U.S. Senate race.


Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Police say they're investigating more than 50 water theft cases across the city.

They say they've already arrested 7 people, including a City Water Department employee who is accused of illegally turning on water for residents.

Flint has some of the highest water rates in the county: an MLive analysis this summer showed that an average resident pays $140 dollars a month, while people in the neighboring town of Burton pay less than $58 a month.

And the city raised its rates again in July.

Jason Lorenz is with the city of Flint.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

People in Flint may be a bit wary of drinking water from their taps these days.

Several boil water advisories have been issued in the past month, after tests showed potential problems with bacteria.   The latest pair of advisories were lifted last week.

Howard Croft is Flint’s public works director. He says the problems are due to Flint’s aging infrastructure. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is rejoining Genesee County’s 911 system.

Since 1997, the city has been using its own operators to handle emergency calls, but the city’s system is aging and out-of-date.

Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley says the plan is to fold Flint into the county’s 911 system by the middle of next year.

“Our citizens will have access to the most up to date features of next-generation 911, which will include the ability to send text or photos to 911 and other more cutting edge technology,” says Earley.

A demolition in Flint.
Genesee County Land Bank

FLINT – Michigan is giving $2.6 million to Genesee County's land bank to demolish and improve 225 blighted properties in Flint's Civic Park neighborhood.

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority is making the grant with money from the federal Hardest Hit Fund.

The land bank now owns about half of the properties in the Civic Park area, and 71 more properties are recent tax foreclosures. The land bank says most are in need of demolition and greening because of deterioration and theft by metal and other scrappers.

State housing authority acting executive director Wayne Workman says the award will allow strategic demolitions and help preserve the neighborhood.

The Genesee County Land Bank also received $20 million last October to demolish, green, and maintain more than 1,600 properties.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s search for a city manager begins in earnest Sept. 1.

Emergency manager Darnell Earley wants to hire a city manager to serve as a bridge from state oversight of the city. He hopes to choose someone by December.

“I’ve already had some preliminary conversations with some executive recruitment firms,” says Earley. “Although we’re going to do this in-house, I’m going to beg and plead as much as I can for assistance to get that word out so that we can cast the widest net we possibly can.”

A Flint city manager would be joining the city at a time of major change.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Waving signs saying “Free Amir”, a small group in Bay City marked the third anniversary of the arrest of a Flint native in Iran on spying charges.

Amir Hekmati’s older sister Sarah says her family is still struggling to deal with her brother’s predicament.

“Every day we wake up, it’s very surreal and we feel like it’s a bad dream.  But it’s not going away,” says Sarah Hekmati, “We can’t believe that has become three years.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A non-profit group in Flint hopes salvaging parts of some of the city’s blighted homes will help salvage the lives of some of Flint’s most in-need residents.

Lynette Delgado is with the B-Light Restoration Center. She says they are working with private property owners to salvage bits and pieces of homes to be demolished. She says they’re training local homeless and other at-risk individuals to remove architectural features of blighted homes.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is making progress toward possibly beginning the process of emerging from state oversight next spring. But there’s still a lot to do.

Flint’s been under an emergency manager since 2011.   

State officials met with Flint’s emergency manager, mayor, and city council members this week to discuss a possible plan to transition the city back to local control.     

Emergency manager Darnell Earley says the city still has to show it’s ready to be run in a financially responsible way. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A judge has sentenced Flint City Councilman Eric Mays to 72 days in jail for his conviction of driving while impaired.    

Mays was handcuffed and taken to jail after being sentenced by Flint District Judge Nathaniel Perry, who said the councilman put his own constituents in danger.

Eric Mays is appealing the conviction.

Mays asked the judge to put his jail sentence on hold as he was led from the courtroom. The judge denied the request.   

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There may be six questions on Flint’s November ballot that would revamp the city’s 40-year-old city charter. 

The paperwork was filed with the clerk’s office today. 

Five of the proposals would eliminate some city offices. The sixth would create a charter commission to consider totally revamping Flint’s city charter. 

Robert Wesley headed up a blue-ribbon committee that looked at how Flint’s city government works. He hopes Flint residents will support the ballot questions.     

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Starting tomorrow, the city of Flint will be welcoming more than a half million car enthusiasts to the city’s annual downtown showcase of classic cars.  But the city won’t be as welcoming to unaccompanied teenagers.

The city today announced a 6pm teen curfew downtown during “Back to the Bricks”.

Captain Collin Birnie is with the Flint Police Department.   He says the curfew is in response to problems with unruly teens from past years.

Fight Blight and Spur Revival in Flint campaign / indiegogo.com

Tackling the issue of blight in urban communities is incredibly challenging.

Recently, the city of Flint, with the help of the Genesee County Land Bank, has torn down 600 properties in its effort to demolish more than 1,500 blighted homes in the city.

It’s part of the Michigan Blight Elimination plan, with support from the Hardest Hit federal grant fund.

Doug Weiland, executive director of Genesee County Land Bank, joined us on Stateside to talk about the plan’s priority and progress.

Meanwhile, some people are taking a very personal approach to dealing with blight in Flint.

There’s a crowdfunding campaign going on right now that hopes to raise $10,000 to tear down a single crumbling home on Parkbelt Drive. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint school board last night approved a plan to eliminate its $20.4 million deficit.  

But the plan relies on the district being able to do something it has struggled to do:  retain students.

The Flint school district delivers its revised deficit elimination plan to the state Department of Education tomorrow.  The plan calls for zeroing out a $20.4 million deficit by the end of 2021.    

Crime is down in Flint, but the city has still seen more than 800 violent crimes since the beginning of the year. State of Opportunity has the story of two young people trying to deal with the effects of all that violence, and the mentors trying to help them.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint city government may undergo some major changes, if the recommendations from a blue ribbon committee become reality.

Before the governor appointed an emergency manager to run the city of Flint in 2011, the city’s mayor ran much of the city’s day-to-day business.   The city council, ombudsman and civil service office also held significant control.

When Flint eventually emerges from state oversight, someone else could be calling the shots.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State Police troopers faced a barrage of criticism during a community meeting in Flint today. Much of the complaints centered on recent fatal auto accidents involving state troopers.

It was a sometimes emotional three hour meeting between Flint residents and state police commanders.

Many people, including family members of two women killed in auto accidents linked to car chases involving state troopers, blasted the state police.

“You don’t even have a 'Plan B' when you’re chasing somebody,” a woman in the audience, “That just doesn’t make any sense, to come here as a professional and kill people who were not even involved in what you were dealing with.”

Dozens of Michigan State Police troopers are patrolling Flint city streets and assisting with investigations in the city.  The troopers are augmenting Flint's depleted police department, which has been decimated in recent years by budget cuts.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

The 17th annual International Youth Poetry Slam festival is in Philadelphia this week.

Flint is sending a team made up entirely of high school girls.

They’ve been practicing for months, writing poetry from their own lives about things like family, abuse, mental illness, and love.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Frustration of about the presence of Michigan State Police troopers patrolling Flint hit the street today.

Flint city councilman Wantwaz Davis organized a rally that brought out more than 100 people to Flint city hall.  Davis says state troopers are driving on city streets “like renegades and cowboys.”

Julie Falk / Flickr

This Week in Review, while Emily Fox sits in for Rina Miller, she and Jack Lessenberry discuss how selling works from the Detroit Institute of Arts wouldn't make financial sense in helping with the city's bankruptcy, the threat of an oil spill under the Straits of Mackinac, and money problems with Flint Community Schools.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Community Schools says it's got a $20 million deficit ($10 million of which was only recently discovered, according to the district.)

But if you ask Lisa Hagel, Flint Community Schools owes another $8.6 million on top of that.

Hagel is the superintendent of the Genesee Intermediate School District, which is now suing Flint schools over allegedly misspending $8.6 million of countywide tax money.  

The money was supposed to go to the Genesee Area Skill Center for vocational training. Instead, it was blended into the general fund of the Flint Community Schools.

User apoxapox / Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit and Flint areas are getting nearly $9 million to help train new primary care providers.

Most of the money announced Monday goes to the Detroit Wayne County Health Authority for training in family medicine, internal medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology. Flint's Hamilton Community Health Network is getting $900,000 for family medicine training.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the money is part of $83.4 million in Affordable Care Act funding to support primary care residency programs nationwide. Overall, it will help train more than 550 doctors during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

There are more than 12,000 vacant lots in Flint, and Genesee county is trying to change that.

Edible Flint is a non-profit organization that helps residents turn these vacant lots into urban gardens.

The group offers classes, resources and helping hands to get new gardeners started.

This year the group will host its sixth annual Food Garden Tour.

The tour will provide transportation to 15 gardens around the city that showcase different techniques of local growers.

Deb Hamilton is with Edible Flint.

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