Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

As Michigan descends into an arctic freeze, many cities and towns are struggling to clean up after Sunday’s big snowstorm.

“It’s just too dangerous for city residents to be outdoors,” Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero told reporters at a news conference today.

Bernero said many residential streets in Lansing are “impassable.”

“As we all remember from the 2011 storm, it takes a minimum of a couple days to clear all 440 miles of roads in the city,” Bernero said. “It will take at least a couple days this time as well. So we ask city residents to please be patient. Be safe.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The head of Lansing’s public utility says he won’t resign in the wake of a major ice storm that left hundreds of thousands of people in the dark over the holidays. J. Peter Lark, the general manager of Lansing Board of Water and Light issued this statement Thursday.

As has been reported by some media outlets, I with my wife, traveled to New York to visit my son last week.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing’s public utility says it has restored power to its entire service area. But on the utility’s facebook and twitter feeds, there are more than a dozen people claiming they still don’t have power.

A week and a half after a massive ice storm wiped out power to almost half Lansing’s customers, the public utility claims it has finally restored power to all but some single customers and possibly pockets of streets.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are still an estimated 29,300 customers without power in Michigan today (Saturday) after a major ice storm last weekend. The lack of power and freezing temperatures are beginning to take their toll on many families.

Sara Scott, her husband and their three-year-old son have been staying at her in-laws since Monday. She says her husband is worried that the pipes are going to freeze or that someone’s going to break into their home in Lansing. Plus, she’s two months pregnant.

david_shane / Flickr

It was certainly a fiery, emotional scene at the State Capitol a year ago this month.

That's when the lame-duck Legislature and Governor Snyder rammed through the right-to-work law, and Michigan became the 24th right-to-work state.

The laws took effect in March, making it illegal to force workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

So what do our local government leaders think about right to work?

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A $100 million mixed-use economic development project in Lansing is getting a boost from an Ohio developer.

Voters in Lansing approved putting the old Red Cedar park on the market. The plan has been to create a mix of residential, retail and other commercial space on the land which sits on the border of Lansing and East Lansing.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s homeless face another night of bitterly cold temperatures tonight.

In Lansing, the city’s decision to close one shelter has made finding a warm place to sleep more difficult.

Lansing City Outreach helps people with drug and alcohol problems, and it has opened its doors overnight for homeless people who can't get into other shelters. In the past, the shelter has accommodated 30 to 40 people on a cold night. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan air travelers could see some changes with the merger of American Airlines and US Airways.

The merger creating the world's largest airline became official today.  But the new American Airlines has relatively few flights flying into and out of six Michigan airports.   

Michael Conway is a spokesman for Detroit Metro Airport.  He says the newly merged airline carries only about 6.6% of passengers flying out of Detroit.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

General Motors is heading back to its roots.

The automaker announced today that it will sponsor Flint’s “Back to the Bricks” car show for the next five years. The show features hundreds of ‘classic’ cars and trucks.

“This is an event that is more than just a car cruise and a car show,” says GM spokesman Tom Wickham, “It brings people into a community…provides an economic boost to a community and we need an economic boost.”

About a half million people attended Back to the Bricks in Flint this year.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A Lansing company has announced a major expansion.

Niowave plans to build a $200 million production facility at the Capitol Region airport.

The facility will produce radio-isotopes for use in medical testing.

Terry Grimm is Niowave’s president. He says locating the facility at Lansing’s airport will help with national and international distribution.

“[With] Close proximity to the airplanes. We can quickly get them to the hospitals and processing facilities around the country and even around the world,” says Grimm.

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It's been less than a week since voters in three very different Michigan cities all approved ballot initiatives allowing small amounts of marijuana for personal use on private property.

And that has pro-marijuana advocates hoping those votes will boost pressure on state lawmakers to legalize or decriminalize pot.

Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing correspondent Jake Neher joined us today to give an overview of what efforts are underway.

Listen to the full interview above.

Marijuana plant.

Marijuana was on the ballot on Lansing, Jackson and Ferndale, and voters in all three cities said "yes" to decriminalizing pot.

Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody joined us today to talk about the impact of this vote.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero says he hopes Tuesday’s election results will put an end to “sniping” in city politics.

Bernero easily won his third term as the capitol city’s mayor.  His slate of city council candidates also won. 

Bernero says the results show voters want to end the gridlock on the Lansing city council.

“This is realignment.  This is the voters saying to the council ‘Get with the program’.”]

Bernero believes it’s his ‘program’ the voters want.

Marijuana plant.

Voters in three more Michigan cities approved ballot questions today decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.

Ballot proposals in Lansing, Jackson and Ferndale each passed with more than 60% of the vote.

“This is an historic night ... a landslide by all considerations,” says Jeff Hank, who headed Lansing’s pro-marijuana campaign. “It sends a message not only to our local politicians, but politicians at the state level that it’s time to do something.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

On Tuesday, voters in Jackson, Ferndale and Lansing will decide if they want their police departments to focus less on busting people for small amounts of marijuana.

The results should tell us something about whether Michigan is getting more comfortable with pot.  

In Jackson, Steve Sharpe says volunteers have been handing out fliers and signs, talking with prospective voters and encouraging supporters to get out and vote.   

He admits he’s been waiting for opposition that so far hasn’t appeared.

“No one’s come to me and complained about this,” says Sharpe, who adds when he’s asked if he’s surprised by the lack of a sizable opposition, “I am totally surprised.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Michigan Secretary of State’s office is investigating allegations that Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero’s re-election campaign may have violated state election law by funneling money to a city council candidate.

State law (Section 44 of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act) forbids paying individuals money with the understanding that the money will be donated to a political campaign.   That’s what a complaint filed with the state claims the Bernero re-election campaign did back in June.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Some Lansing city workers have a new three year contract.

The Lansing city council gave the final OK to the contract with the city’s UAW employees last night.  

Under the contract, the city’s UAW employees will pay more toward their retirement benefits.   Also, the families of new city employees will not be eligible for health benefits after the employee retires.   The contract also includes a slight pay increase.   

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Earlier this summer, the state’s House and Senate chambers got facelift. The $370,000 renovations included replacing the chamber’s carpet, which was held together by duct tape in several spots.

Now that carpet is being cut up, and put on the market for anyone who wants a piece of legislative tapestry — er, history.

As the Detroit Free Press’s Kathleen Gray reported, at least 170 people have requested swatches of the Senate’s old carpeting, which are “being sold for $25 for an 8-by-14-inch swatch and $50 for a 27-by-27-inch square.”


They call themselves "Gifts or Creatures."

That's Brandon and Bethany Foote with the song "Relicts and Ghosts" off of their new album "Yesteryear Western Darkness," their second album out from Earthwork Music.

The Lansing-based couple joined us today in the studio.

To find out more, visit

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing cyclists may soon have a new trail to ride their bikes.

The city council recently approved using money from a federal grant to pay for construction of a five mile long bike trail on the city’s south side.

The trail would connect with a more extensive network of trails on Lansing's east side.

Julie Powers is the executive director of the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council.

She says expanding Lansing's bike trails is a great idea.

In Lansing this week, a group hopes to lay the course for developing Michigan's railroads.

There is a growing demand for passenger and freight rail transportation. But the question is how to increase capacity on the rail lines that crisscross Michigan.

Tuesday’s conference at Lansing Community College will try to answer that capacity question.

Pasi Lautala is an engineering professor at Michigan Technological University and the director of the MTU Rail Transportation Program.   He’s also one of the co-chairs of the conference.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing’s historic Old Town district is getting another boost.

The shopping and dining district is just north of Lansing’s downtown.

Mayor Virg Bernero says a developer plans to spend three million dollars rehabbing and expanding an old building into new retail and residential space.

“Vibrant, thriving cities have great buildings… great places for people to live and work,” says Bernero, “and Old Town increasingly, more and more, is becoming that place.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow is hopeful getting a deal on a new Farm Bill won't be derailed by a looming deadline to avoid a federal government shutdown.

The current Farm Bill’s mix of farm subsidies and low-income food programs expires at the end of September. The next day, unless a budget deal can be reached, the federal government may have to shut down.

Senator Stabenow hopes the focus on the shutdown will not delay passage of the Farm Bill.

“Regardless of the broader discussion going on on the budget, we can get this done,” says Stabenow.   

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Schuette will challenge re-sentencing for juvenile lifers

A federal judge says the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down automatic life sentences without parole applies to 363 inmates in Michigan. The judge says the ruling applies to every inmate sentenced as a child and entitles them to re-sentencing hearings. Attorney General Bill Schuette wants the ruling applied to only five Michigan inmates who challenged their cases in federal court, and to future cases. The American Civil Liberties Union disagrees and says the ruling applies to everyone affected. Rick Pluta has more.

U of M research shows association between autism and induced labor

“New University of Michigan research has found an association between autism and inducing or augmenting labor during childbirth. Researchers looked at the birth records of more than 600 thousand children and compared them to the children’s school records. They found a 35 percent increased chance of autism in boys whose mothers’ had their labor induced or augmented. Marie Lynn Miranda, a Pediatrics professor at U of M, says the data is worth further study, but it does not draw a direct link between inducing labor and autism,” Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody reports.

Lansing wants to cut ties with Russian sister city

“Officials in Lansing want to end their community's 'sister cities' relationship with the Russian city of St. Petersburg due to that country's anti-gay policies. The Lansing State Journal and report Lansing City Council voted unanimously Monday calling for end to the relationship. A new Russian law is aimed at 'propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors.' It imposes fines for organizations, plus stiffer penalties for propaganda online or in the media,” according to the Associated Press.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

An insurance company’s planned $100 million expansion in Ingham County took an important step forward Monday night.

The Lansing City Council approved an agreement with a neighboring township which allows the city to collect taxes from the new Jackson National Life headquarters expansion. In exchange, the township would receive some city services.

“This puts us in a position where we can start construction in the fall,” says John Brown, the company’s vice president for government relations,  “And we are very excited about the continuation of the project.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A lot of attention has been paid to Detroit’s mayoral primary on Tuesday. But that’s not the only election in which Michigan voters will be casting ballots this week.

Voters in more than 50 Michigan counties will be casting ballots on Tuesday.

There’s the usual mix of school and library millages.

There are also numerous local primary elections.

Voters in parts of Ann Arbor, Jackson, Grand Rapids, Lansing and other cities will be voting for local city council seats.

More money for Michigan transportation projects?
user theed17 / wikimedia commons

The Michigan Department of Transportation is asking businesses whether they’re interested in partnering with the state for certain projects. That could include taking over the building, operating, or financing of infrastructure projects from the state.

Joe Pavona is Governor Rick Snyder’s special advisor on public-private partnerships.

“I think that this is the direction of the future, and I think is consistent with providing improved customer service and value for Michigan,” he says.

Lawmakers in Lansing are debating how to boost transportation spending by more than a billion dollars a year. Pavona says including private businesses in transportation projects could save the state money and time.

But Michigan’s largest state employees union doesn’t like the idea. Ray Holman is with UAW Local 6000.

“You’re talking about services and responsibilities that are vital. And you’re talking about issues of safety, of course. And we believe that certain things are best handled by the state workforce,” he says.

Right now, MDOT is exploring public-private partnerships involving bridge work, freeway lighting, and two rest areas in Northern Michigan.

It says it’s too early to say whether the partnerships would shift public sector jobs to the private sector.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

The Sister Cities relationship between Lansing and St. Petersburg, Russia might have a limited future. 

Lansing has had a sister cities relationship with St. Petersburg since the early 1990’s, though the exchange program has been dormant for many years.     The push to formally sever the relationship came after St. Petersburg enacted an anti-gay ordinance and arrested LGBT activists in recent weeks.

Jody Washington is a Lansing city councilwoman.   She plans to introduce a resolution next week setting a timeline for reviewing the relationship.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Detroit bankruptcy is topic of national conversation

Snyder, Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing appeared on Sunday morning talk shows yesterday to talk about filing bankruptcy for Detroit. Snyder said he will push to protect the retired city workers whose pensions are on the table. He said the bankruptcy filing included protections for retirees and urged them to remain calm. Orr said on "Fox News Sunday" that there are going to have to be "concessions." Bing on ABC's "This Week" said now that bankruptcy has been filed, leaders have to take a step back before making a decision on a federal bailout.

Flint school district faces more budget cuts

The Flint School Board will take up a Deficit Elimination Plan tomorrow night. The district is wrestling with a nearly 16 million dollar deficit. The Flint school district has made deep budget cuts but more cuts are likely if the district follows the plan to eliminate its deficit by June 2016. The Flint School Board has until July 31st to send its deficit elimination plan to the state.  

Lansing may end its relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia

The Lansing city council will be meeting tonight to discuss its sister city relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia. St. Petersburg recently passed an anti-gay ordinance and police there arrested people at an LGBT rally. Members say they want to send a message to St. Petersburg officials by canceling Lansing’s two decade sister cities relationship with the city.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Possibly ending the city of Lansing’s sister city relationship with St. Petersburg, Russia will be the topic of a meeting tomorrow evening.

St. Petersburg recently passed an anti-gay ordinance and police there arrested people at an LGBT rally.

Some Lansing city council members say they want to send a message to St. Petersburg officials by canceling Lansing’s 2 decade old sister cities relationship with the Russian city.