News

Michigan’s second-largest county has come “roaring back” from the Great Recession.

That was longtime Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s message at his annual state of the county speech Wednesday night.

“The state of Oakland County is strong! Amazingly strong. Vibrant,” Patterson said.

He touted the county’s unemployment rate, which soared to nearly 15% in the depths of the recession. Now, it’s dipped below 5%.

user: mariordo / Wikimedia Commons

Federal safety regulators have told Google the computer in their self-driving car can be considered the driver - in lieu of a human.

One analyst says that decision is a "launching pad" for the technology.

Rebecca Lindland of Kelley Blue Book says many regulations were written long before the self-driving car was a twinkle in Google founder Larry Page's eye. So recognizing the computer as the driver helps to make the technology feasible.

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans is urging the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to reject permit requests that would allow Marathon Oil and US Ecology to increase emissions and  hazardous waste.

The Marathon Petroleum Refinery in Detroit has been embroiled in controversy over its request to increase sulfur dioxide emissions.

"Our request there is: Before you even contemplate an increase in the permitting, that you show us that you're making some concrete steps in controlling the pollution that's already there," Evans said.

Flint officials testify at Congressional hearing

7 hours ago
sign in Flint, Michigan
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Democrats in Congress held hearings today about the Flint water crisis.

Public health experts and Flint officials appeared in front of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

Flint officials testified they need federal money to help address the short and long-term consequences of lead in Flint's water supply. They said state funds are not enough. 

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha directs the Pediatric Residency Program at Hurley Medical Center in Flint. She said educational, nutritional, physical and mental health services must begin immediately.

The Flint River
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A 2010 federal audit of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality showed concerns with the state agency’s ability to monitor for clean water.

The audit, conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, depicted struggles in the MDEQ due to budget cuts, staffing issues, and shortfalls in meeting federal standards for safe drinking water.

The lawyer in charge of state Attorney General Bill Schuette’s investigation, Todd Flood.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

In the wake of the Flint water crisis, there are some who are calling for criminal charges to be filed against Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and other state and local officials.

The U.S. Attorney and State Attorney General Bill Schuette's office, as well the F.B.I., are all investigating to try to find out who is to blame.

But how likely is it that anyone will actually be accused of a crime?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is defending its eGRID system against a critique by an analytics think tank.

Companies all across the U.S. use eGRID to calculate their own indirect carbon emissions based on how much electricity they use. And it's not uncommon to see a company brag about a) their transparency on emissions and b) their progress in reducing their indirect emissions to fight climate change. 

Jonathan Craven

It has been quite a journey for Northport native Nathan Scherrer.

Four years ago, he moved from Michigan to Los Angeles with a few hundred dollars and was working as an intern, hoping to find a way to get into the business of making music videos. He was living off of macaroni and cheese, barely making ends meet, and now, this Monday (Feb. 15), he will be at the Staples Center hoping to hear his name called at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards.

There’s a famous old saying that man proposes, God disposes. Maybe, but in state politics, governors propose, legislators dispose.

The legislature has the power of the purse. Governor Rick Snyder today is unveiling a budget that a year ago, conservatives would have compared nastily to a Christmas tree.

It includes more money – lots of money – for Flint, of course, but also for higher education, community colleges and elementary schools. Higher education would get more, and so would the Healthy Kids’ Dental Fund. There’s even money here to pay for new drugs to treat Cystic Fibrosis and Hepatitis C.

Jack Lessenberry.
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics: Jack Lessenberry talks about Snyder's budget proposal. Snyder is calling for more money for Flint's water crisis, and for higher education. He also talks about plans to replace lead pipes in Flint, as well as a proposal for a city in Wisconsin that has a water contamination problem. The city wants to start getting its water from Lake Michigan. 


House Foreclosure
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The number of U.S. homes lost to foreclosure last year dropped 22.6% from 2014, according to the analytics firm CoreLogic.

Economist Frank Nothaft says there were fewer completed foreclosures nationwide than any year since 2006.

And while the country hasn't yet worked through all of the extra foreclosures to reach "normal" pre-recession levels, "we're getting there," says Nothaft. "I think in the next year or two, nationwide, we'll be coming down to those levels, finally."

But it will take Michigan longer to get through its foreclosure backlog.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit teachers and parents had a “day of action” Tuesday.

It centered around a number of “walk-in” events at neighborhood schools throughout the city.

Those brief rallies were meant to show public support for investing in schools and educators.

They’re designed to complement the recent wave of teacher sickout protests that have drawn attention to deteriorating buildings and other crisis within the Detroit Public Schools.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Detroit parents, teachers, and school officials were in Lansing on Tuesday to speak out on bills meant to rescue Michigan’s largest district.

Demonstrators gathered outside a state Senate committee hearing on Senate bills 710 and 711. Not to oppose the legislation, but to bring attention to the deteriorating state of Detroit Public Schools (DPS).

Courtesy of Bill Schuette

The lawyer in charge of state Attorney General Bill Schuette’s investigation into the Flint water crisis says some people may be charged with serious crimes before it’s all over.

  

Todd Flood says criminal charges could include official misconduct by public officials and involuntary manslaughter, depending on what the investigation uncovers. The inquiry will cover both the lead contamination of the drinking water, and outbreaks of Legionnaire’s disease that caused 10 deaths.

  

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Education Tuesday unveiled its plan to dramatically improve the state's schools in the next ten years. 

Called the "Top 10 in 10 Years," the proposal aims to put Michigan in the top fifth of U.S. school systems. The proposal is the result of a seven-month planning period, with the department taking input from education policy experts and the public. 

Only 17 miles from Lake Michigan's shore, Waukesha, WI, wants to replace its irradiated drinking water with water from the lake
flickr user Rachel Kramer / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Should a Wisconsin city with a contaminated groundwater supply be allowed to siphon drinking water from Lake Michigan?

Waukesha's groundwater supply has a radium problem. Being 17 miles from Lake Michigan, Waukesha's proposed solution is to draw water from the lake. 

But according to the Great Lakes Compact, Waukesha cannot just lay down a pipeline and start drinking Lake Michigan water. It has to ask, and all eight Great Lakes governors have to say "yes."

According to Laura Reese, while Midtown Detroit is seeing some income growth, the rest of the city is only getting worse
wikimedia user Andrew Jameson / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Construction is moving along in Detroit on the new Red Wings arena scheduled to open in 2017.

It’s right across from the Comerica Park, which is across the street from Ford Field.

Do economic development tactics like shiny new stadiums and arenas, casinos, and festival marketplaces really pay off for cities? What really works in urban development?

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor and others want to replace all the lead service lines in the city. Besides the cost, there’s been one huge hurdle: Flint doesn’t know where its lead service lines are.

Frances Kellor reading on a dock
Harvard University, Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America

As our nation continues to lay entrenched in the immigration debate, it might do us well to remember the life and work of a woman from Coldwater.

Frances Kellor rose from very humble roots in Michigan to become a nationally respected reformer. She worked in prison reform and for women’s issues, championed the cause of immigrants, rural and African American workers, and challenged the country to think about what it really meant to be an American.

Loveland Technologies

What happened to Detroit Public Schools?

How did Michigan's largest school system go from boom in the 1840s – packing students into makeshift classrooms in storefronts, churches, and houses because it couldn’t keep up with demand – to bust? In the last 15 years DPS has closed almost 200 schools, and now teeters on the brink of collapse.

Detroit-based Loveland Technologies set out to answer that question in a report compiled after 18 months of research, using 200 years’ worth of documents and records.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and retired National Guard Brigadier General Michael McDaniel.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says the city plans to team up with technical experts from the Lansing Board of Water and Light to replace all the lead lines in one year.

Officials say the Lansing BWL has removed 13,500 lead pipes over the last 12 years at a cost of $42 million.

The Flint lead pipe removal project is estimated to cost $55 million. That’s money the city doesn’t have, so Weaver is calling on the state and Congress to make the money available.

sign in Flint, Michigan
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

General Motors and the United Auto Workers have pledged of $3 million over five years to United Way of Genesee County.

On Tuesday, a press release from United Way announced the money will go toward addressing the various concerns of Flint children.

Jamie Gaskin, CEO of United Way of Genesee County, said in an interview that these kids have both long- and short-term needs. 

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

It’s been almost four months since Flint went back to buying water from Detroit’s water system.

Here’s the good news: Since January, more than 90 percent of water tests have come back below the federal action level for lead of 15 parts per billion.

But there are still some insanely high lead levels in some homes. Take a look at a map of where those are, and you'll see there’s no pattern.

It hasn’t been very easy to defend Governor Rick Snyder lately, but I think he did absolutely the right thing in refusing to testify before a committee of congressional Democrats about the scandal involving the lead poisoning of the water in Flint.

In all likelihood, this would have been nothing but a partisan witch hunt. He would have been asked questions along the lines of, “when did you stop poisoning children on purpose?”

Diccionario / Flickr Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit has a new high school for bilingual students who speak Spanish and English.

Academy of the Americas has expanded from its main building in southwest Detroit.

Previously, all students attended classes in the same location. The new site will house students in grades 8-10.

The high school teaches a curriculum with a 50-50 ratio of both languages, which means students need to have a prior background in speaking Spanish.

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

A state elections board has approved one petition that seeks to recall Governor Rick Snyder, but rejected several others.

The rejected petitions include efforts to remove the governor for his handling of the Flint water crisis. The rejected petitions were mostly due to spelling and grammar errors that could have made the drives susceptible to a legal challenge. 

Recall leader David Bullock vowed the effort to remove Snyder over what happened in Flint is not over.

Water faucet
user william_warby / Flickr

Detroit water department officials have a proposal meant to ensure everyone in the city can afford water.

The Water Residential Assistance Program (WRAP) would give qualifying low-income customers a fixed monthly payment.

Detroit Water and Sewerage Department director Gary Brown says data show that’s a key part of any utility assistance plan.

“When you’re economically disadvantaged, you need a fixed amount of payment to make any monthly payment,” Brown said. “So we hope to do that with this program.”

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

Luke Waid says he was stunned when he got the results from his daughter Sophia's 1-year check-up.

It was August 2014, and a blood test revealed a lead level of 14 micrograms per deciliter. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control considers 5 "high." 

Six months earlier, Sophia's blood-lead level had been fine, Waid says. Then, in April of 2014, Flint started pumping its drinking water from the Flint River. Four months after that, her lead level spiked.

The following month, in September, Waid says doctors did a follow-up test, just to be certain. Same result.

Nike Air Jordan I, 1985
Nike Archives / Courtesy American Federation of Arts

Would you pay $1,000 for a pair of sneakers? How about $1,000 for a pair of sneakers that you would rarely put on your feet? If this sounds outrageous to you, then you might have trouble fitting in the world of “sneaker culture.”

How did the hobby of collecting shoes evolve into a high-demand art form where people are willing to pay as much as four figures – sometimes more – for a pair?

sign in Flint, Michigan
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

If you were to ask the average Michigander what the origins of Flint’s downfall were, you might get a few different answers. Some of those answers would likely be related to the auto industry – specifically, when General Motors left the city in the 1980s.

Pages