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wayne county

Brandy Gutierrez was evicted from her house in Lincoln Park. She says no one told her it had gone into tax foreclosure until it was too late.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

In Wayne County, tens of thousands of properties go into tax foreclosure every year.

Most are in Detroit. But it happens in the suburbs too.

Some suburban communities have started buying those tax-foreclosed homes, and turning them over to developers.

But many of the affected homeowners didn’t know that until it was too late to save their homes.

Some tried to fight anyway. But this month, that fight came to a bitter end.

Michigan Dept of Corrections

DETROIT (AP) - Workers have been paid overtime to search for a missing court file as a man seeks a new sentence in the death of an off-duty Detroit police officer.

  For nearly 40 years, Charles Lewis has been serving a no-parole sentence for the death of Gerald Swyitkowski. But Lewis was 17 at the time of the shooting and now is entitled to a hearing to determine if he'll be eligible for parole.

  But Wayne County authorities can't find the court file from the 1976 case. Lewis' attorney, Valerie Newman, says it's "impossible" to represent him without the records.

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

The last presidential debate is over, and a light is starting to appear at the end of the election season tunnel. This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and I talk about whether we'll see much more campaign action in Michigan before voters cast their ballots. We also discuss the ousting of the state Republican Party's grassroots chair over her refusal to back Donald Trump, and a big step toward financial health in Wayne County.


State OKs Wayne County's exit from agreement on finances

Oct 20, 2016
Wayne County

Michigan has approved Wayne County's request to be released from its 14-month financial management agreement with the state.

County Executive Warren Evans announced today that the county had satisfied the consent agreement with the state by eliminating a $52 million structural deficit and restoring overall financial stability.

Evans' office said the county has restructured employee and retiree health care and pensions, and raised the funding level of the county's pension system from 45% to 54%.  Evans said his goal is to increase the funding level to 70%.

Narconon

Carfentanil-laced heroin is showing up in Michigan.

That was confirmed last week, when public health officials in Wayne County definitively linked at least 19 deaths since July to the powerful synthetic opioid.

They were on the lookout for carfentanil after it appeared in nearby states this summer — particularly Ohio, where a late-summer surge in fatal overdoses was tied to carfentanil. There was also a suspected case in Kent County last month.

Wayne County / via Wayne County

The structural condition of an unfinished county jail in downtown Detroit will be assessed as part of plans to complete the project.

Wayne County officials expect the assessment to be completed by late November.

An estimated $151 million has been spent for acquisition and design of the jail along Gratiot Avenue. Work stopped in 2013 due to the project's cost going over what was budgeted.

The uncompleted project costs the County about $1.29 million each month in bond interest and other costs like security and storage, according to a County spokesperson.

In 2013, Gov. Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy held a news conference to announce $4 million to help reduce a backlog in processing thousands of rape kits. Schuette holds a rape kit box.
Rick Pluta / MPRN

Since Detroit discovered some 11,000 untested rape kits in 2009, cities around the country have tackled backlogs of their own. 

Prison bars
powelli / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A Detroit man is going to prison for 25 to 50 years, after his 9-year-old son was accidentally shot by a sibling.

It's one of several cases where prosecutors are going after adults for leaving guns where kids can find them.

On November 9, the 9-year-old boy and his then-10 year old sister were playing in their dad's bedroom and acting out a video game.

Davontae Sanford was wrongfully convicted of four murders at age 14. He was released from prison last month after spending nearly nine years behind bars.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Tuesday was another surreal day in the Davontae Sanford case. 

First came the news that Judge Brian Sullivan was finally dismissing the murder charges against Sanford, more than a month after letting him out of prison.

(Quick explainer: Judge Sullivan already vacated the murder convictions against Sanford, and ordered him released from prison, which he was last month. But ever since, Sanford’s been stuck in limbo, still out on bond and at risk of being thrown back in jail until the charges were dismissed.)

Finally a fully free man

flickr user Joe Gratz / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Two Grosse Ile High School students face up to four years in prison for allegedly torturing and killing a guinea pig, possibly as some kind of pre-game ritual before a varsity lacrosse game.

“The alleged facts in this case illustrate much more than a youthful prank or a pre-game antic. We must take these cases seriously,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement today.

G.L. Kohuth / Michigan State University

Soul artist Erykah Badu will donate proceeds from her upcoming Detroit concert to help process untested rape kits in the city.  

The singer agreed to donate $5 from each ticket to the African-American 490 Challenge, a collaboration with the Michigan Women's Foundation and the Detroit Crime Commission. 

The cost of processing a rape kit is about $490, hence the name of the organization. 

Kim Trent is the President of the African-American 490 Challenge. She says the group reached out to Badu because the singer is vocal about social issues. 

Michigan AG Bill Schuette
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

With just 14 days left to charge former Detroit Police Commander James Tolbert for perjury, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says his office is “watching the case, and we’ll see what decision [Wayne County Prosecutor] Kym [Worthy] makes.”

Schuette declined to say whether he’d step in to press charges against Tolbert if Worthy doesn’t.

“I’m not going to speculate on what I might do,” Schuette said Tuesday. “The point is, we’re watching the case.”

taliesin / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday it will not hear a case where Wayne County sheriffs were found to have violated the First Amendment.

The case goes back to Dearborn's Arab International Festival in 2012. A group called Bible Believers showed up and told the mostly-Muslim crowd that their prophet was "a pervert," and that Muslims were going to burn in hell.

Some hecklers threw plastic bottles at the protesters. Eventually, police told the protesters to leave or be arrested for disorderly conduct.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talked about Flint's struggling water and sewer fund, while Wayne County has its first budget surplus in eight years. He also talked about the life of former Detroit Mayor Roman Gribbs, who passed away yesterday.


city of Detroit skyline
James Marvin Phelps / Flicker

Following extensive efforts to improve its financial standing, Wayne County has a budget surplus for the first time in eight years.

The office of Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said in a statement Tuesday that for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2015 the county had an available general fund surplus of $5.7 million.
 

markbwavy / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is moving forward on a new rule to cut air pollution in part of Wayne County.

The rule will limit sulfur dioxide emissions from two US Steel facilities. They’re in southwest Detroit and two downriver suburbs deemed in “non-attainment” of National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

Barb Rosenbaum is with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Air Quality division.

She says the agency is still working on a larger sulfur dioxide attainment plan for that area, after getting feedback on an initial draft.

Grand Rapids was the fastest growing metro area in Michigan according to new Census data.
Steven Depolo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

New Census figures show the Grand Rapids area is the fastest growing metro area in Michigan.

The numbers released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau say the Grand Rapids area, which includes Barry, Kent, Montcalm and Ottawa counties, grew by 0.9% from July 2014 to July 2015. 

Wayne County, conversely, had the nation’s second largest population decrease last year.

Joe Gratz / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A federal judge has given some Wayne County homeowners suing over alleged illegal foreclosures a partial, early victory.

U.S. District Court Judge Judith Levy granted a temporary restraining owner protecting three families from eviction at least through mid-January.

The families are part of a larger federal lawsuit that alleges officials from Wayne County and several Detroit suburbs illegally “conspired” to seize their homes through tax foreclosure, and sell them off to private developers.

Just a few months after a state-declared financial emergency, Wayne County officials are trumpeting what they call “swift” and “substantial” progress on the county’s budget deficit.

After that declaration from Gov. Rick Snyder – which came at County Executive Warren Evans’ request –Wayne County quickly entered into a consent agreement with the state. That gave Evans substantial power to get concessions from county employee unions.

In 2013, Gov. Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy held a news conference to announce $4 million to help reduce a backlog in processing thousands of rape kits. Schuette holds a rape kit box.
Rick Pluta / MPRN

Wayne County plans to use $1 million to help investigate rape kits found six years ago in a Detroit police property storage facility.

County Executive Warren Evans announced Tuesday that the money will be allocated to Prosecutor Kym Worthy's 2015-16 budget.

The move has to be approved by county commissioners. The money would come from a delinquent tax fund.

Evans also says space will be provided in the county's Guardian Building in downtown Detroit for investigators and members of the Sexual Assault Kit Task Force.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Round two of what’s become known as the “world’s largest municipal property auction” starts this week.

That would be Wayne County’s annual tax foreclosure auction.

More than 26,000 properties remain after the auction’s first round last month, when just over 2,000 properties sold.

The Tricycle Collective is working to help keep families in their homes through the tax foreclosure crisis in Detroit.
Michele Oberholtzer

Wayne County is currently in the midst of the largest municipal property auction in United States history.

Some 30,000 properties are on the auction block, and around 85% of the properties facing foreclosure are in Detroit.

Michele Oberholtzer watched the 2014 Wayne County Tax Foreclosure and saw that many of those properties sold to investors and speculators were occupied homes.

The incomplete Wayne County jail.
Wayne County

The IRS is auditing Wayne County over $200 million in bonds for a jail that was never completed.

The Wayne County Building Authority issued the bonds to construct a new jail in 2010.

The county shut down the project in 2013, after costs skyrocketed beyond original projections.

State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Wayne County Commission has approved the consent agreement with the state by a 14 to 1 vote. The consent agreement will require the county to make deep cuts in spending and address chronic issues in its jails. 

Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate majority leader and senior policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, joined Jennifer White to look more closely at how that consent agreement might work.

The incomplete Wayne County jail.
Wayne County

It will get harder from here.

Wayne County Commissioners have approved a consent agreement with the State of Michigan to deal with the county's fiscal emergency.

Of the 14 commissioners, only one, Jewel Ware, voted no.

The agreement means the county will be able to avoid the appointment of an emergency manager, if it can meet the terms.

Thomas Hawk / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Gov. Rick Snyder is applauding Michigan’s largest county for moving toward a consent agreement with the state.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans has called for a consent agreement to deal with the city’s troubled finances. The county commission approved that option after a state review team last month found a financial emergency exists and Snyder confirmed that finding.

http://www.waynecounty.com/executive/index.htm / Wayne County

With Wayne County in a state-confirmed financial emergency, its leaders are trying to avoid an emergency manager or bankruptcy.

Today, the Wayne County Commissioners went for a third option: a consent agreement.

It’s what County Executive Warren Evans has been pushing for since he asked the state to declare the county in a financial emergency.

Once that emergency was declared, the state gave the county four options: emergency manager or bankruptcy, which nobody wants - or a "neutral evaluation" which basically means mediation, or a consent agreement. 

State of Michigan

Wayne County commissioners will officially decide Thursday how to tackle the county’s financial emergency.

Michigan’s largest county has reported a running budget gap of around $50 million a year, prompting Wayne County Executive Warren Evans to ask the state to step in.

Traverse City Rotary Club / flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM


Governor Snyder has made it official: Wayne County is in a state of financial emergency.

County Executive Warren Evans had asked for the declaration.

Wayne County faces a projected budget shortfall of $171 million by 2019.

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