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via buildingdetroit.org

Detroit city workers, retirees and their immediate relatives could soon qualify for a 50% discount off the purchase price on some city homes.

The deal would apply to vacant homes auctioned off by the Detroit Land Bank Authority. That online auction has been one of Mayor Mike Duggan’s signature initiatives.

Andrew Pennebaker / Flickr

A small crowd of Flint residents came out to Monday night's city council meeting to protest what they say is discolored, odorous, unsafe water coming out of their taps. 

"It smells horribly," says Cindy Marshall. "I took a shower the other night and my eyes were blood red and burning. I broke out in a rash and was scratching like crazy just from taking a shower."

1/26/2015 Update:

The ax has fallen.

  This afternoon, Michigan House Speaker Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant) and the Republican caucus developed a response that was both ruthless and nuanced to the Democratic insurgency on the House Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Pam Faris (D-Clio) has been removed from the House Appropriations Committee and replaced by Rep. Harvey Santana (D-Detroit), who has a history of playing to both sides of the aisle when it suits his purposes. Santana will also serve as the ranking Democratic member.

Abby Rosenberg / Flickr

State lawmakers will try again to crack down on animal cruelty in Michigan.

A state Senate panel will take up a pair of bills on Tuesday that would increase penalties for serial animal abusers. The worst offenders – those who abuse 25 or more animals or who have three or more prior convictions – would face felony charges and up to seven years in prison.

Similar bills failed to clear the Legislature last year.

gophouse.com

Governor Rick Snyder says improving services for the mentally ill is a major civil rights issue. And he says it’s a high priority in his second term.

Alex Ragone / Flickr Creative Commons

Starting a week from today, if you need emergency help in Oakland County, you'll be able to text 911 – as well as call it.

"The sheriff's office in Oakland County just wants to use the latest technology available to identify callers in need," said Mel Maier, chief of  emergency management operations for the Sheriff's Office.

"People are in situations where they can't make a voice call – whether they are a victim or a witness to a crime," Maier said. For example, some people are hearing-impaired or voice-impaired, or a break-in or domestic violence could be in progress.

Today on Stateside:

  • Dr. Matthew Davis, chief medical executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health and professor at the University of Michigan, talks about the measles outbreak, which has made it to Michigan.
Director Clover Adams and Deputy Commissioner Xia Qianbao of the Ocean & Fisheries Bureau from the Jiangsu Province signing a Memorandum of Understanding.
Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Officials from Michigan and China plan to work together on developing advancements in fisheries and aquaculture.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development last week in Lansing hosted a delegation from the province of Jiangsu.

Daniel Weber / Flickr

A controversial gun bill – similar to one recently vetoed by Governor Snyder – has been reintroduced in Lansing.

Michigan Public Radio Network’s Jake Neher has been covering the story. The initial vetoed legislation, he said, was brought to public attention on the last day of the 2014 "lame duck" session, when legislators raised some concern about the bill's language.

Vaccine informational sheets.
user DARWIN.WINS / Flickr

The measles outbreak has made it to Michigan.

After the mounting headlines about an outbreak that seems to have begun in California’s Disneyland, the first Michigan case was diagnosed late last week.

Rob Swatski / Flickr

It became a kind of overnight urban legend.

A couple of years ago, Detroit's "50,000 feral dogs" made national headlines, which in turn drew eye rolls from residents sick and tired of seeing their city depicted as an apocalyptic hellscape, especially when that 50,000 number was sketchy at best.

Lindsey Smith/Michigan Radio

The Next Idea

Michigan’s economy is changing, and our state’s investment culture must change along with it. As we work to diversify by stimulating entrepreneurship, innovation and talent attraction, among many other things, more Michigan residents with money to invest must learn to see that betting on new local businesses is worthwhile, even if the potential for them to fail is high. 

Last week, we told you about Rebecca Scherm, an emerging Ann Arbor author who has broken into the literary scene with her novel Unbecoming

As Kate Wells explains:

House in Detroit.
Jason Irla / Flickr

DETROIT - Mayor Mike Duggan has released a plan to allow Detroit municipal workers, retirees and their families to pay half the price of their winning auction bids for city-owned houses.

Duggan told reporters Monday that the program will help strengthen neighborhoods and return more residents to home ownership.

He says the plan could be in place by mid-February if approved by City Council.

The city owns thousands of empty houses. It is tearing down those that can't be rehabilitated while attempting to sell others to buyers willing to fix them up and move in. Detroit began auctioning vacant houses last year through its land bank.

Last weekend I ran into the managing director of the road commission for one of our state’s mid-sized counties.

She’s both an efficient manager and an intelligent observer of the pulse of her county, which is half urban, half rural. She knows better than most of us that our state's roads are falling apart.

Lyle / Flickr

A controversial gun bill similar to one that was recently vetoed by Gov. Rick Snyder is likely to get a committee hearing this week.

The bill’s sponsor says the reintroduced legislation no longer contains language the governor and others worried could have put domestic abuse victims in danger. Opponents said it would have allowed people with personal protection orders (PPOs) against them to get concealed pistol licenses.

Hart Plaza in Detroit.
Jason Mrachina / Flickr

Michigan’s rate of unemployment is down. Detroit’s is expected to continue to decline. However, Detroit’s rate is still about twice that of the state.

Hovercrafts float on air and are used in ice rescues
Flickr user Eric Bégin

Next weekend, firefighters and rescue personnel can brush up on their ice rescue skills at an event called the Ice Rescue Conference and Education in Muskegon.

Getting snarky

Jan 25, 2015

Remember that time you were kind enough to upload some of your fan fiction to your blog for others to enjoy? Merging Game of Thrones with Twilight was obviously a genius move, so you decided to break the cardinal rule of the Internet. 

You read the comments.

It’s not that they were mean. No, that’s not true. Most of them were pretty mean. Still, others were critical but in a slicker, more sarcastic way. 

Stan Larkin, the first Michigan patient to receive an artificial heart.
University of Michigan

According to the American Heart Association, 5.7 million Americans are currently living with heart failure. These failures can advance to the point where medications, stents, pacemakers, and lifestyle changes are no longer effective options. If that happens, patients may wind up on a list for a new heart transplant.

Michigan Legislature
Matthileo / Flickr

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Zoe Clark discuss calls for bi-partisanship in Lansing now that a new legislative session is underway. Do politicians really mean it though? Or are these calls for compromise just politics as usual?


A classroom of students hard at work at MHacks.
Ari Sandberg

As a self-proclaimed geek with a passion for engineering, I have known my fair share of programmers. Whenever one of them tells me with a devilish gleam in their eye that they've been dabbling with hacking, I jump to the conclusion (often correctly) that they're up to no good.

So when I heard a “Hack-a-thon” was descending on the University of Michigan campus over Martin Luther King weekend, I immediately had a vision of my old robotics teammates: disheveled, manically excited, awake only by the grace of Mountain Dew, trying to break into the secrets of the free world. 

Thetoad / Flickr

State Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Twp.,  plans to introduce a bill next week requiring high school graduates to pass the same citizenship test immigrants take. Students would need to score 60% or higher on the test to receive their diplomas. Lucido says that he hopes the exam will encourage participation and increase voter turnout for elections. If passed, the law would be in effect for the 2016-17 school year.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

State wildlife officials are concerned a large bat die-off in Keweenaw County this month might be a sign of things to come.

The small brown bats died from white-nose syndrome. The distinctive white nose is created by a fungal growth that typically kills most of the bats hibernating in an infected cave.

 We live in an era of what seems to be one of increasing nastiness and pettiness, especially perhaps in politics.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A consultant’s report says Flint police should stop responding to non-emergency 911 calls. The consultants say that would give police more time to investigate violent crimes in Flint. 

That’s just part of a report delivered by a Washington, D.C. consulting group to the Flint city council, mayor, emergency manager, as well as the city’s police and fire chiefs last night. 

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

A group of Republican state lawmakers will try again to protect religious practices against state and local government interference.

The Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) failed to pass before the legislative session ended last year.

State Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, introduced the bill again this week.

“It’s simply all about protecting and preserving the rights that the Constitution provides for all citizens – not just select groups of citizens,” he said.

Brian Turner / Flickr Creative Commons

A Muslim woman is challenging the policy of a suburban Detroit police department that she says required her to remove her head scarf for a mug shot.

Malak  Kazan's lawsuit against Dearborn Heights was filed this week in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

Her attorney, Emir Makled, said the policy violates his client's civil rights and her right to religious expression.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Black women historically have lower rates of breast-feeding than white women do.

An Orgeon-based breast milk company called Medolac said it had a way to help that: it claims its "donor moms" (as the company calls the women it pays for breast milk) report breast-feeding their own kids for longer periods.

One of those women is Andrea Short of Newport, Michigan.

"She was probably four months old when I realized I had an overflow problem," says Short, looking on as her 15-month-old daughter Johanna munches strawberries on the couch.

Rick Snyder wants the U.S., not Canada, to pay for the Ambassador Bridge's customs plaza.
Michigan.gov

Each week I discuss what's happening in Michigan politics with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former state Senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

This week we talk about the agenda Governor Rick Snyder laid out in his State of the State address, and the likely response from the Legislature.

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