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Virg Bernero

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Medical marijuana growers in Lansing may soon have to register with city, if they use an “excessive” amount of electricity.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is proposing an ordinance to require people who continuously use 5000 kilowatts of electricity to register with the city.   

“We have seen a number of cases where the growing equipment used to cultivate medical marijuana overloads the electrical circuits in the home,” says Bernero. “This, of course, creates a fire hazard.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A federal lawsuit alleges the chairman of Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees is running a “racketeering enterprise” in Lansing. The suit targets Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and MSU Board of Trustees Chairman Joel Ferguson, among others.

“This is about an elaborate extortion scheme over a project that some say is worth as much at $380 million,” attorney Mike Cox said.

Cox filed the suit on behalf of two businessmen who pitched the development project in 2012. But he says Ferguson used his political influence to win the project instead.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

An Ingham County judge has issued a temporary restraining order blocking a Lansing hotel from evicting nearly 100 homeless people.  

The owners of the Magnuson Hotel say they want to close for needed renovations.

But the city of Lansing sought the injunction to delay the closing by up to 120 days, saying it needs that much time to relocate dozens of homeless men, women and children living there.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing’s mayor has taken the unusual step of declaring a housing emergency in the Capitol city.

Mayor Virg Bernero declared the emergency after a hotel on the city's south side informed dozens of residents they will be evicted in the next few weeks.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing residents will decide in November if they want to renew a public safety and road millage.

The Lansing City Council approved putting the millage renewal on the ballot Monday. 

The millage raises nearly $8 million annually and costs the average Lansing homeowner about $200 a year.

Back in 2011, Lansing voters narrowly approved a millage increase to pay for police and fire, as well as road improvements. Voters had rejected it six months before.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Lansing has a new city attorney.

The city council confirmed Jim Smiertka Monday night. He replaces interim city attorney Joseph Abood.   Abood came on board after the sudden departure earlier this year of City Attorney Janene McIntyre. 

McIntyre’s unexplained departure and her $160,000 severance package raised questions about transparency at city hall.

Smiertka says he will work to address those concerns.

“I think it’s important to send a signal that going forward there won’t be these issues,” says Smiertka. 

Virg Bernero, mayor of Lansing.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing's mayor has vetoed a city council decision on affordable housing, which may or may not be about affordable housing.

The city council approved a moratorium on tax breaks for affordable housing on a five to three vote.   

Mayor Virg Bernero says the moratorium discriminates against low income residents, so he vetoed it Wednesday.  It will take six votes to override his veto. 

The veto is the latest salvo in a conflict between the mayor and city council involving affordable housing.  

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has not spoken about why Lansing's former city attorney Janene McIntyre resigned, nor why she was given $160,000 in salary and accrued benefits upon doing so.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are still unanswered questions and a growing pile of legal bills swirling around the sudden resignation of Lansing's former city attorney.

Janene McIntyre resigned March 4, but was still paid $160,000 in salary and accrued benefits. Now legal costs related to the separation are mounting.

In the meantime, neither McIntyre nor Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero will say why she left and why she was given such a generous payout. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s something brewing around Lansing’s City Hall.

On March 4, Lansing’s city attorney Janene McIntyre resigned voluntarily, but the Lansing State Journal reports that McIntyre was still paid $160,000 in salary and accrued benefits. McIntyre and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero have repeatedly declined to discuss the details about why she left and why she was given such a substantial payment by the city.

Lansing's mayor wants to move city hall

Mar 22, 2016
Virg Bernero, mayor of Lansing.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing City Hall could soon have a new home.

Mayor Virg Bernero wants to move it from its current location across from the state capitol building to a less developed area several blocks south.

Bernero's chief of staff Randy Hannan says the current city hall building is aging and in need of updates. Hannan says it would cost  at least $50 to $60 million to bring it up to modern standards.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing voters may do away with “golden parachutes” for top city appointees.

A charter amendment on next week’s ballot would limit executive contracts to one year and prevent large payouts. The proposal would allow the mayor and city council to make exceptions. 

The proposal was prompted by the more than $600,000 payout to the city’s former utility director after he was fired earlier this year.   

Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

A federal judge has given an Upper Peninsula Indian tribe a legal victory in its effort to open a casino in Michigan’s state capitol.

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians announced plans in 2012 to build a quarter-billion dollar casino next to Lansing’s downtown convention center. The tribe is also looking at opening another casino in Huron Township. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A union-sponsored poll shows little support for the city of Lansing to sell its electric utility.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero suggested studying the idea of selling the Lansing Board of Water & Light as part of a potential solution to the capitol city’s hundreds of millions of dollars in unfunded health care and pension liabilities. The idea was first raised by a commission formed by the mayor to examine the city’s financial issues.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says the city council is “flirting with disaster."

The council voted tonight to override Bernero’s veto of a change the council made to his city budget plan. 

The council rejected the mayor’s desire to hire an inspector general to oversee Lansing’s utility. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Lansing city council will have to muster six votes to override a mayoral veto when it meets Monday night.

Mayor Virg Bernero issued a veto a few days after the city council passed the city budget for the next fiscal year.

The veto applies to the council’s decision to spend $200,000 to hire an independent firm to audit the Lansing Board of Water & Light.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Lansing city council has rejected the mayor’s plan to keep a closer eye on the city’s utility. 

The Lansing Board of Water and Light’s management has been making changes since it was heavily criticized for its handling of a major winter snow storm and power outage in 2013.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A prominent Democratic politician will be a featured speaker at a marijuana legalization rally in Ann Arbor tomorrow.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is quick to point out he’s never smoked pot. But the former Democratic candidate for governor says he now supports legalizing it.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Two mid-Michigan mayors are trying to lure convention planners looking to move their events out of Indiana. 

The controversy over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration law has many groups rethinking their convention plans in the Hoosier state.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett have posted an open letter encouraging convention planners to look to mid-Michigan.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new campaign to get people in greater Lansing to live healthier is underway.

During his State of the City address this week, Mayor Virg Bernero stepped on a scale.  

As people in the audience let out surprised giggles, a doctor from Lansing’s Sparrow hospital announced the mayor tipped the scales at 198 pounds. Then the doctor added, “That’s a BMI of 30. That makes you clinically obese.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero saved the biggest news in his tenth State of the City address tonight until the end. 

The mayor proposed three city charter changes that would make Lansing's electric utility more accountable to city hall.

The Lansing Board of Water & Light has been under fire for more than a year.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing’s mayor is expected to call for a major restructuring of the city’s electric utility tonight.

When Mayor Virg Bernero takes to the podium tonight to deliver his tenth State of the City address, who will run the Lansing Board of Water & Light will top of the agenda.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Lansing City Council last night approved an ordinance that will require home and business owners to shovel snow from sidewalks faster. 

The capitol city’s old ordinance, which involved mailing citations to property owners, sometimes took so long the snow would melt before the property owner received the notice.    

The new ordinance speeds up the process to 48 hours. 

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says one death last year can be blamed on city residents not shoveling their sidewalks after a snowstorm.

“Life and limb is what’s at stake," says Bernero. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Developers signed an agreement to build a quarter-billion dollar housing and retail complex in Lansing today.

Now they just have to figure out how to build it in a floodplain.

The Red Cedar Renaissance project is intended to transform an old golf course on Lansing’s east side into shopping and dining mecca with a mix of apartments and parkland. 

Developers plan to spend $200 million on the project. Another $76 million is earmarked for dealing with the problem that has long stalled development plans:  flooding.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing’s mayor may have real ‘power’ at his fingertips at times of emergency, if city voters agree in November.

Tens of thousands of Lansing Board of Water and Light customers spent days in the dark last December after a major ice storm.   The utility’s leadership was heavily criticized for a disorganized response to the black out. 

BWL’s response to the storm and its aftermath were the subject of reviews by a panel appointed by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, the state Public Service Commission and by the utility itself.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Lansing is launching an effort to coordinate programs aimed at improving the lives of young people, especially children of color.

Mayor Virg Bernero says the community must work together to provide better opportunities for children and young adults.

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

A U.S. Supreme Court decision this week may pave the way for casino gambling in Michigan’s capitol city.

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero says a $245 million casino project has been “cleared for takeoff” by the high court’s decision in a different casino case.

State officials sued to close an off-reservation casino opened by the Bay Mills tribe. But the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday ruled against the state of Michigan, saying the tribe has sovereign immunity.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The bulk of the Lansing Police Department will move into a temporary home this summer.

Mayor Virg Bernero announced today the city will spend about $1 million to renovate and lease part of the Hill Center on the city’s south side.

The city’s current lease at the Motor Wheel complex on the city’s north side expires in August. Lansing has leased that space for more than a decade.

The new lease is only for four years.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says after nine years of deep budget cuts, the capitol city finally is entering a new fiscal year with a balanced budget.

Bernero unveiled his proposed city budget for next year last night.    

Bernero credits an uptick in property and city income tax revenues for the city’s improved budget picture.  

During the last nine years, the city of Lansing has trimmed its workforce by more than 30% and won contract concessions from its unions.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Manufacturers are taking advantage of lower domestic oil and gas prices, and many of them are using those cost savings to hire more workers.

The boom in domestic oil and natural gas production is fueling growth in manufacturing across the country and especially in urban areas, according to a new report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Lansing is stepping up enforcement of its snow removal ordinance.

About 5% of Lansing sidewalks, roughly 22 miles, are still covered in snow in violation of city ordinance

Beginning today, Lansing police officers are ticketing homeowners and businesses that haven’t shoveled their sidewalks clean of snow.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says this is a safety issue for school children and the elderly.

“This winter….these difficult winter conditions are harder on nobody more than the walker,” says Bernero.

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