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FBI agents have made another arrest in an ongoing investigation into widespread corruption in Macomb County.

Chesterfield Township Supervisor Michael Lovelock was arrested Thursday morning. Lovelock is accused of accepting more than $30,000 in cash bribes over the course of several years in exchange for helping a company secure a services contract with the township.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0, cropped

The mayor of Warren is defending a social media post that caused some panic and confusion among residents this week.

In a Facebook post late Wednesday, Jim Fouts referenced a “major environmental scandal brewing in Macomb County” that “could be a mini version of what happened in Flint.”

Following the post, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel says his office was flooded with calls about the safety of the area's drinking water.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Hackel scolded Fouts for stirring up panic.

gop.gov / gop.gov

After 24 years, Macomb County has a new public works commissioner: retiring Republican Congresswoman Candice Miller.

The race for that typically low-profile, decidedly un-glamorous job got nasty--and expensive—this year.

Democrat Anthony Marrocco has been Macomb’s public works commissioner for 24 years.

The job description is all about managing sewers and storm drains. But the commissioner also controls important construction permits, and some very large county contracts.

Longtime Macomb Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco, left; retiring U.S. Rep. Candice Miller (R-Harrison Township), right.
via Macomb County, US Rep. Candice Miller

If you live in southeast Michigan, you’ve probably seen ads like this on your TV lately:

And this one:

Clifford Freitas
via LinkedIn

An FBI probe into Macomb County municipal corruption has netted another local elected official, and forced a major garbage company founder to resign.

Macomb Township trustee Clifford Freitas is the second local government official charged with bribery this month.

Frietas allegedly demanded more than $40,000 in bribes to help a waste hauler, Rizzo Environmental Services, get a favorable contract.

That happened despite the fact that Freitas worked for Rizzo, and was supposed to remove himself from any government business involving the company.

FLICKR USER MATT PICIO / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Next month, voters in four southeastern counties will decide if they want to pay a new tax to fund a regional public transportation plan.

The 20-year transit millage will generate about $3 billion to pay for expanded bus service and light-rail train connections. The 1.2 mill tax rate would cost the average taxpayer about $120 annually.

Ned Staebler is with ‘Citizens for Connecting our Communities”. He says the campaign is stepping up its efforts in the final weeks before the election.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

After a long, grueling campaign season, Election Day is only 20 days away. This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Doug Tribou look at ballot battles in southeast Michigan, including an unusual situation in Macomb County, where a Clinton Township Trustee who's running for supervisor is facing bribery charges.

They also discuss L. Brooks Patterson's bid for a seventh term as Oakland County Executive and a mass transit millage proposal in metro Detroit.

Gorchow told us that we need to be more skeptical of polls.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Indiana Governor Mike Pence brings the campaign spotlight to Macomb County tonight. He'll be speaking at the Lincoln Day dinner in Shelby Township. Organizers say it’s the largest crowd in recent memory for the Lincoln Day dinner, and it’s proof that Macomb County is still fertile ground for the GOP message.

Dean Reynolds
via Facebook

An elected official from suburban Detroit faces a federal bribery charge, in what is apparently the first prosecution to emerge from a “long-running” investigation into alleged corruption in Macomb County.

Dean Reynolds is a Clinton Township Trustee. He’s accused of taking between $50,000-70,000 in bribes from a businessman who had a contract with the township.

David Stojcevski
Courtesy Photo / Stojcevski family

“The evidence does not support a federal criminal civil rights prosecution.”

That’s what the government has told Macomb County officials after investigating the death of David Stojcevski.

Stojcevski died in 2014, after a 16-day stint in the Macomb County jail, where he had been serving 30 days on a reckless driving charge.

The cause of death: “acute withdrawal” from prescription drugs.

Harrowing video recorded in the run-up to his death showed Stojcevski behaving erratically and growing visibly emaciated during that time.

candicemiller.house.gov

Michigan Congresswoman Candice Miller surprised many last May when she announced she would retire from Congress. But she surprised even more folks in March when she announced she would run for Macomb County public works commissioner. She will challenge Anthony Marrocco, the longtime county public works commissioner, this fall.

Miller joined Zoe Clark on Stateside to explain why she decided to leave Washington to run for office as a county public works commissioner. 
 

Full-body scanner coming to Macomb County jail

Mar 21, 2016
flickr user FatMandy / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A pass through a full-body scanner similar to those at airport security checkpoints will soon be protocol for inmates entering the Macomb County jail.

The $202,000 scanner is part of a push to crack down on contraband in the facility.

Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham says in recent months there's been an increase in drugs, weapons and other illegal items getting into the jail.

He says the scanner will let employees conduct more thorough searches of inmates.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The presidential candidates campaigning in Michigan Wednesday included Republican Marco Rubio, who made a stop at a Macomb County banquet hall.

The Florida Senator accused Republican front-runner Donald Trump of pulling an “elaborate con job” on voters.

He says this is no time to elect someone who “thinks the nuclear triad is a rock band from the eighties.”

“The world is a dangerous place. This is no time for irresponsibility or recklessness,” said Rubio, promising a “Reagan-style re-building of our military” if he’s elected.

Wikipedia

Macomb County just had to give an armored military surplus vehicle back to the federal government.

But it’s about to get another, very similar one — from the federal government. And it may get a second one, too.

President Obama ordered local law enforcement agencies to return armored personnel carriers and other surplus military equipment received through defense department programs.

It was an effort to quell growing fears about militarized policing nationwide. But it sparked a fierce backlash from many local officials, including Macomb County’s.

Family photo

A federal judge should soon decide if a wrongful death lawsuit against Macomb County officials goes to trial.

32-year-old David Stojcevski died of prescription drug withdrawal during a 16-day stay in the Macomb County jail in June 2014.

His suffering and death – captured on video monitors at the jail and released publicly last month – has drawn widespread attention and condemnation.

Debtor's wing of the Philadelphia Co. Prison in Pennsylvania. Built in 1836, demolished in 1968
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, HABS PA,51-PHILA,672A--2

The inmate who died in Macomb County jail was there because he’d failed to pay a traffic ticket.

Across Michigan and the rest of the country, people are being jailed over failing to repay fines and fees.

It sounds sort of like the old concept of debtors’ prison.

flickr user FatMandy / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Last year, an inmate was placed in the Macomb County jail for failing to pay a traffic fine.

For 16 days, the inmate went through severe drug withdrawals, reportedly losing 50 pounds and suffering seizures and hallucinations before he died. The ordeal was caught by in-cell surveillance video.

Reports indicate that inmate deaths across the country are on the rise, with a particular concern focused on county jails.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Macomb County officials say they’re being unfairly criticized for a jail inmate’s death.

County Executive Mark Hackel vigorously defended Sheriff Anthony Wickersham and jail staff on Thursday.

His comments came after the release last week of a harrowing video that showed David Stojcevski’s slow death in the Macomb County jail.

Family photo

A horrific video showing a naked man slowly dying in a Macomb County jail cell is sparking local and national outrage.

The death of David Stojcevski brings into sharp focus the overlap between some issues that have drawn intense scrutiny recently: deaths of people in police custody, people being jailed for minor offenses because they can’t afford to pay fines, and the opioid addiction crisis.

Dozens of Macomb County inmates to be released

Jun 17, 2015
Jack Amick / Creative Commons

Dozens of Macomb County jail inmates will be released soon due to overcrowding.

An overcrowding emergency was declared on June 2. The county's district and circuit judges had 15 days to reduce the number of inmates.

The 15-day period ended on Tuesday, and the judges failed to release enough inmates.

Oakland Country police cars.
Oakland County Sheriff's Office / Facebook

In counties all across the state, county sheriff's deputies are using a nasal spray to help counteract the effects of opiates.

A nasal spray containing the drug Narcan or naloxone can reverse the effects of a opiate drug overdose.

This week, it saved a 37-year-old man in Macomb County.

Lt. John Michalke of the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department said 81 of his deputies were taught how to administer the drug in early May. On Tuesday, one of them was able to use it to save a man.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

At a meeting of business and civic leaders, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan outlined a number of concerns and looming issues facing the city.

Following a speech at the Detroit Regional Chamber Policy Conference, Duggan was interviewed by Free Press Editorial Page Editor Stephen Henderson about challenges ahead.

via city of Detroit

Detroit officials say they’re confident the fledgling Great Lakes Water Authority will work out—despite concerns and complaints from some suburban officials questioning its future.

The GLWA gives regional players a larger role in running Detroit’s city-owned water system, which services some 4 million customers in southeast Michigan.

States that have some form of LGBT anti-discrimination laws on the books.
ACLU

As our investigative reporter Lester Graham has reported, it is perfectly legal to discriminate against gay and transgender people in Michigan. There's no federal law against it, and there's no state law preventing it.

Some communities do try to prevent LGBT discrimination at the local level.  Equality Michigan lists 36 communities in Michigan with such laws - and now, Macomb County has just been added to the list.

More from the Associated Press:

Macomb County authorities have passed a policy protecting county employees from discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

The county Board of Commissioners voted 8-5 for the change on Thursday. Commissioner Fred Miller spearheaded the policy initiative and says it will ensure county employees are treated based on "their merits," not on "who they love."

... Macomb County officials say the new policy won't provide preferential treatment to one group over another. It employs about 2,600 people.

The county recently changed its human resources handbook to include language about sexual orientation.

But even though there is a local law, it doesn't always prevent discrimination in that community.

Michigan Radio's Graham pointed out that these local laws fuel a misperception that the LGBT community is protected from discrimination:

Part of the misperception about whether gay people are protected is the ongoing efforts at the local level. Twenty-two municipalities have approved protections for LGBT people through local ordinances. [There are more than 22 today.] But, those local laws vary widely in the protections offered. And even the strongest ordinances have problems.

The problems are mainly around enforcement issues. The ordinances, critics say, can become a "paper tiger": the law is on the books, but no one is really watching.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

CLINTON TOWNSHIP – A federal appeals court has thrown out a $2.2 million verdict in a lawsuit by three women who were fired in 2004 at a court in Macomb County.

In a 3-0 decision, the court says Judge Linda Davis has immunity. The case is going back to Detroit federal court to possibly come up with a different remedy for the women.

Patricia Barachkov, Nancy Englar and Carol Diehl were fired at Clinton Township District Court when Davis was chief judge. They said the firings were politically motivated and they weren't given a chance to fight their dismissals.

Refugee children play in Warren, MI in 2015.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Hundreds of people gathered at a Warren park this past weekend for a picnic celebrating World Refugee Day--and the area’s growing refugee community.

According to state data, of the 4658 refugees re-settled in Michigan last year, nearly three-quarters are from Iraq.

And many of them have settled in Macomb County suburbs, particularly Sterling Heights and Warren.

Teacher at a chalkboard explaining to his students
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

There is a high school in Macomb County that has grabbed the attention of educators across the country.

Three years ago, Clintondale High School became the very first in the country to be a "flipped school."

Kids watch teachers' lectures at home as much as they want or need, and class time is when teachers are there to help with what we would otherwise call "homework."

One education expert says maybe online is controversial, but the flipped classroom is a new strategy nearly everyone agrees on. It can be a very good thing for students and teachers.

user tami.vroma / Flickr

The end of summer is at hand and we wanted to find out how the year treated Michigan farmers so far.

They were slammed in 2012 by a cold, wet spring and a hot, dry summer.

Earlier this summer we spoke with Macomb Township farmer Ken DeCock to see how things were going for him and got mixed reviews. So we wanted to check in with him to get an end-of-summer view.

He joined us today from Boyka's Farm Market in Macomb Township. Tree fruit specialist William Shane with the Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center also joined us.

Listen to the full interview above.

Welcome to our post-Independence Day edition of It’s Just Politics and, today, we’re talking Independents.

This week, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel let it be known he wants the “D,” for Democrat, stripped from the column alongside his name in the Macomb County directory. Hackel told The Macomb Daily that he doesn’t think being a Democrat, or a Republican for that matter, really makes a difference in his job as county executive. And, that he doesn’t really consider himself a party person.

This certainly isn’t the only incarnation of Hackel’s independent streak. He has refused to endorse the presumptive Democratic candidate for governor, Mark Schauer. Nor, will he utter an unkind word about Governor Rick Snyder; and he’s been silent on the controversial right-to-work law.

But this latest episode did prompt a statement from Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson, who embraced Hackel and praised his service to the Democratic Party.

We should be clear: Hackel is not making noises about leaving the Democratic Party. But there is a history in fickle Macomb County – Michigan’s hotbed of political disharmony – of Democrats bailing.

via flickr

Oakland County is helping neighboring Macomb County get back online after a fire last week.

That suspected electrical fire seriously damaged Macomb’s IT department—shutting down phones and computer networks.

So Oakland County is offering Macomb staff, equipment and space to start re-building.

“Oakland County has opened up its data center to host Macomb County’s equipment and personnel on a temporary basis in order to get Macomb County back online,” says a press release from Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s office.

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