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Photo courtesy of Birmingham Public Schools

The state has proposed an agreement to fix some ongoing problems at Detroit’s wastewater treatment plant.

The consent order from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality cites the Great Lakes Water Authority, which runs the plant, for a number of environmental violations over the past year.

The plant was supposed to stop operating five outdated sewage sludge incinerators in March, 2016. But the GLWA kept using them after a fire seriously damaged new, cleaner replacement equipment that same month.

people praying on yoga mat
Courtesy of Freedom House

It was a close call for Freedom House, the one-of-a-kind Detroit shelter that provides housing, legal aid and a host of other services to help asylum seekers.

Its doors were in danger of closing after its annual grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was slashed by more than half.

needle
Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A jury in Tennessee has found the owner of a Massachusetts lab that sold contaminated steroids not guilty of second degree murder.  

But the jury did find Barry Cadden guilty on multiple racketeering and mail fraud counts.  

Hundreds of people around the country were sickened when their doctors injected them with steroids produced by Cadden's compounding pharmacy.  The steroid medicine was tainted with a fungus. 

mug shot of michael lajoice
Oakland County Sheriff's Office

A former Oakland County credit union executive who embezzled millions of dollars will be sentenced in federal court Thursday.

Prosecutors say Michael LaJoice paid for a “luxurious home and expensive vehicles” by embezzling from Clarkston Brandon Credit Union, where he was the CFO. He allegedly skimmed more than $18 million over 12 years. LaJoice used the money to run a Latin dance studio in Fenton, among other things.

Dr. Larry Nassar
Michigan Attorney General's office

Dr. Larry Nassar has been found responsible for sexual assault, for the first time since this scandal erupted in the fall. 

pontiac silverdome
User Alex simple / Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The city of Pontiac is suing the owners of the decaying Pontiac Silverdome in suburban Detroit for violations of building, safety and zoning codes.

The Oakland Press of Pontiac reports complaints were filed with the 50th District Court after a parking lot was used to store Volkswagen cars amid the automaker's U.S. emissions scandal.

needle
hitthatswitch / Creative Commons

A verdict has been reached in the trial of a Massachusetts pharmacy co-founder charged in a nationwide meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people and sickened 700 others in 2012.

Barry Cadden was charged with 25 counts of second-degree murder, conspiracy and other charges under the federal racketeering law. 

The jury determined that Cadden was not responsible for the deaths, but he was found guilty of the racketeering, conspiracy and mail fraud charges. His sentencing is scheduled for June 21.

A cyanobacteria bloom on Lake Erie in 2013.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Last night I drove almost a hundred miles into Ohio to preside over a discussion with huge implications for Michigan. The topic was the future of Lake Erie, the warmest and shallowest of the Great Lakes and a major source of drinking water for 11 million people.

Capitol Hill
johrling / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Gov. Rick Snyder has written letters to every member of Michigan's congressional delegation to warn how House Republicans' health care legislation would "adversely impact" the state's most vulnerable residents.

Hemlock woolly adelgid
Michigan DNR

Insects and diseases are posing a threat to Michigan's forests.

That's according to a report released yesterday by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The report, which is a part of the National Forest Health Monitoring Program, includes an analysis of issues that threaten Michigan's 20 million acres of forest land for 2016.

An empty big box store - a former K-Mart in Grand Blanc Michigan
Michigan Municipal League

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers and local officials will try again this year to shut down a tax break that’s allowed big box stores to cut their property taxes.

 

The so-called “dark store” loophole allows open and functioning big-box stores to base their property taxes on the value of stores that have been shut down. The value of the empty stores can be further reduced by restrictions on who can buy them.

bottom of chalkboard, with an eraser and chalk sitting on the ledge
user alkruse24 / Flickr

A controversial item in the current budget is the focus of a lawsuit filed today.

 

When the budget was approved last October, the state allocated $2.5 million to reimburse private schools for state requirements like fire drills, background checks, and keeping inhalers in the buildings. 

Wayne County is trying to combat the trend of people skipping out on jury duty.
Bill Ledbetter / flickr

Lots of people haven’t been showing up for jury duty in Wayne County, but they could soon pay a price for skipping out.

 

Of the 62,388  jurors called to appear in court in 2016, 22,255, or about 35 percent, failed to appear, Wayne County Circuit Court Chief Judge Robert Colombo said Tuesday.

 

Colombo said he will start issuing show-cause orders for absentee jurors to come to court, and explain why they couldn't serve. If they aren't excused or don't present a valid excuse, and still fail to serve, they could be fined $250 or jailed.

 

Lansing zoo seeking new endangered rhino

Mar 21, 2017
Potter Park Zoo

Potter Park, Michigan's oldest public zoo, is working to preserve one of the world's most critically endangered species. Now it's waiting on approval to transport an eastern black rhino male from Texas, in hopes that it may breed with of the zoo's female rhinos.

The Ingham county board of commissioners must approve the cost of the move before the zoo can proceed.

DPSCD Superintendent Alycia Meriweather and district staff announce new schools programs in March 2016.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools Community District is following through on its threat to sue the state School Reform Office, even after the state has largely backed off plans to close some of the state’s lowest-performing schools this year.

DPSCD had 16 schools on the SSRO’s “next level accountability” list, which also included eight schools in the state-run Education Achievement Authority. EAA schools will join DPSCD after the EAA winds down in June.

Concealed pistol licenses way up in Mich.

Mar 21, 2017
Ibro Palic / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

The number of concealed pistol licenses approved in Michigan surged 42% last year, compared to the year before. That's according to a recent report from the Michigan State Police.

About 170,000 concealed pistol licenses were issued in Michigan in the year ending September 30, 2016.

That's up from approximately 120,000  issued the previous year, and from about 37,000 issued ten years ago.

According to the State Police, there are slightly more than 600,000 active concealed pistol licenses in Michigan.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

How much do you trust state government and its ability to do its job?

DETROIT (AP) - A candidate who lost an election for Detroit's 36th District Court is getting his robe another way. Gov. Rick Snyder says he's appointing Christopher Blount to a vacancy on the city court. In November, Blount finished third in a race for two seats at 36th District Court.

Jane M Sawyer / morgue file

DELTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Public school advocates are suing to block the state of Michigan from helping private schools with the cost of complying with state requirements such as immunization reporting and safety drills.

I was ten when John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth fifty-five years ago. We were all mad for science then, and if you’d asked any of the kids I grew up with what we thought life would be like in 2017, we would have been sure we’d have colonies on Mars.

East Detroit school and community officials blasted Jensen's appointment in June. They eventually settled on a power-sharing arrangment that limited Jensen's authority.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

An experimental and contentious turnaround effort in the East Detroit Public Schools is coming to an end, as state-appointed CEO Gary Jensen announced Monday he will step down early next month.

The state school reform office appointed Jensen, a former Michigan Principal of the Year, as CEO of four low-performing East Detroit schools last June. The school system is located in Eastpointe, a small suburb just north of Detroit.

He was supposed to have broad powers to make sweeping changes to boost academic performance.

A neighborhood in Detroit
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Detroit has more renters than homeowners for the first time in 50 years, and according to a recent report, this could be a bad thing.

The Detroit Future City report from earlier this month notes that the high number of foreclosures and overall population loss contributed to this.

Anika Goss-Foster, the director of the DFC office, thinks the real issue is the high number of low-income renters.

“It creates all kinds of other multi-layered issues for families that prevents them from thriving and prevents neighborhoods from stabilizing in Detroit,” she said.

Andrew Stein, executive director of City Year Detroit, says Americorps members help at-risk students, and teachers who have to manage large class sizes.
Detroit Public Schools

The leader of a community service program that brings volunteers to work in Detroit schools is urging members of Congress to vote against the budget plan proposed by President Trump. 

Trump's budget plan eliminates the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that funds, among other programs, Americorps. It's one of the 19 federal agencies eliminated in the budget proposal. 

gobankingrates.com reports that Michigan is the most expensive state to own a car.
flickr user Jeff B / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Anyone who drives in Michigan is no stranger to the high cost of auto insurance in the state.

A study from gobankingrates.com finds the high cost of insurance contributes to Michigan being the most expensive state to own a car.

According to the study, it costs nearly $5,000 annually to own and maintain a vehicle in Michigan, with more than half that cost coming in the form of auto insurance premiums.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint will start cutting off service to delinquent residential water customers next month.

The city plans to cutoff water service at two apartment complexes and 18 residential customers that are delinquent on their water and sewer bills.

A city spokeswoman says the accounts have not been paid for at least five months, and have racked up more than $2,500 to $6,000 in unpaid bills.  In some cases, the water and sewer bills haven’t been paid for years.

Veronica McNally's daughter Francesca was just 12 weeks old when started to show signs of whooping cough. Nine days later, she passed away.
Courtesy of Veronica McNally

Baby Francesca was just 12 weeks old when she came down with a cough. Nine days later, she died of pertussis, better known as whooping cough.

The effort to allow any Michigan voter to request an absentee ballot may be close to critical mass in the state Senate. That’s as more Republicans are accepting the idea that anyone who wants to mail in or drop off their ballot should be allowed to without having to lie to do it.

(Support trusted journalism like this in Michigan. Give what you can here.)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has clarified what seems to have been a misinterpretation of NAFTA law, which led to a number of Canadian nurses working in Detroit being denied work visa renewals.

The Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System raised concerns last week that some of their nurses has been denied renewals of a type of work visa called a TN visa. Canadian nurses help fill staff shortages in a number of crucial areas.

Fraser home falling into the sinkhole.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

A sinkhole in Fraser which caused three homes to be condemned will be fixed by September.

The sewer collapsed in December and has affected 11 Macomb county communities. The county has chosen Dan's Excavating to fix the damage. The company won a $33 million bid to do the repair work.

When it comes to ethics and integrity in government, Michigan is a disgrace. That’s not just my opinion. A little over a year ago, the Center for Public Integrity ranked our legislature worst among the fifty states in an analysis of state government transparency and accountability. We have few restraints on legislative behavior.

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