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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.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report is raising questions about transparency in Michigan Supreme Court elections.

Craig Mauger is with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. He says in 2016 so-called "dark money" helped the two Republican incumbents outspend their Democratic challengers by more than 30 to one.

Steve Johnson / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Wolverines are in and the Spartans are out of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Michigan swept into the Sweet 16 with a big win Sunday in Indianapolis.

Moe Wagner scored a career-high 26 points and spurred a furious second-half rally to send Michigan past second-seeded Louisville 73-69 on Sunday and into the Sweet 16.

The seventh-seeded Wolverines (26-11) have won seven straight, six since a frightening plane accident before the Big Ten Tournament. They also earned a ticket to the Midwest Regional in Kansas City, Missouri, their first since 2014.

How many dashes is too many? For some of you — especially those who are writers — that may be a rhetorical question. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Drinkable unfiltered tap water for residents in Flint might still be a few years away.

  Retired National Guard Brig. Gen. Michael McDaniel, who is heading the pipe replacement program, says he has an optimistic goal of 2019 for all lead piping to be replaced in the neighborhoods.

  McDaniel says pipe replacements are expected to pick up in late April. Construction crews are replacing the old lead lines with new copper ones in neighborhoods most affected.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The debate over publicizing A-to-F grades for every public school in Michigan is not entirely over, despite the surprise decision by top education officials to back off the proposal.

State Superintendent Brian Whiston will default to report cards without any letter grades, to replace color-coded marks that have been criticized. But the caveat remains that the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder could still decide that letter grades should be issued.

It will be a tough sell.

Michigan State University

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Records show a Michigan State University doctor resigned in January after learning the school was considering her termination because she didn't disclose that USA Gymnastics was investigating Dr. Larry Nassar.

People who attended the town hall with Rep. Dave Trott (R-11th) used green and red colored cards to show approval or disagreement.
Tyler Scott

A crowd started gathering before dawn Saturday  for a town hall with Republican Congressman Dave Trott. Hundreds came out to the 8 am meeting, after constituents spent months pressuring Trott to speak with them. 

Despite boos, Trott told the crowd he'll vote in favor of the Republican healthcare reform bill next week, also known ast the American Healthcare Act.  

Grand Rapids police officer directing traffic.
Flickr user lincolnblues / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

A group of law enforcement professionals is working on recommendations to the governor for improving trust between police and the communities they serve. You have through this weekend to give them your thoughts.

Governor Rick Snyder issued an executive order in October to have the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards produce the report. It will focus on three underlying themes: improving community engagement, training, and recruitment.

Governor Rick Snyder
Flickr user Michigan Municipal League / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Rick Snyder and other Republican governors are asking congressional GOP leaders for a do-over on the health care overhaul. Four GOP governors say the plan to be voted on next week falls short.

Anna Heaton is Snyder’s press secretary. She says the plan jeopardizes Michigan’s Medicaid expansion by choking off money for the program.

“Basically, what it does is it shifts the full costs of Medicaid to the states, so it would just be unsustainable and we likely wouldn’t be able to enroll anyone else in our Healthy Michigan program.”

Governor Rick Snyder wants the $2.4 billion dollar in mental health Medicaid money to be turned over to private insurance companies to manage.
A Health Blog / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Rick Snyder wants the $2.4 billion in mental health Medicaid money to be turned over to private insurance companies to manage.

He believes that Medicaid funds will be better spent and more people with behavioral issues and mental illnesses will be better served. Mental health would be integrated with physical health under the HMOs.

Many mental health advocates and patients don’t like the idea.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget was leaked last week. It looked like money to protect the Great Lakes would be cut by 97%. That leaked document was wrong.

Trump’s budget proposal completely eliminated funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Public Domain / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The cost of auto insurance in the state of Michigan is going up. The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) is adding another $10 to its annual fee, coming in at $170 a year.

Thanks in part to Michigan auto insurance law, which requires that all drivers have no-fault insurance policies on their vehicles, the state has some of the highest insurance rates in the country. 

So is it worth it?

Flickr user ifmuth / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

August Snow is a crime novel about a former Detroit police officer fired after investigating the mayor’s office. Snow, the main character, sues the city and receives a large settlement.

After touring Europe and the Mediterranean (taking a world beer tour of sorts), Snow returns to Detroit and settles in Mexicantown, the neighborhood he grew up in. He then begins rehabbing houses on his block.

president donald trump
Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan arts and humanities funding may soon be taking a hit. 

President Trump's proposed budget calls for an end to the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH), one of the largest sources of funding for arts and humanities funds nationwide.

The endowment provides more than $1 million in funding every year to the state of Michigan. 

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich.
Wikipedia

A new bill introduced by Michigan U.S. Senator Gary Peters proposes a comprehensive review of the U.S. criminal justice system. The bill has received bipartisan support, as well as the support of many major police organizations and civil rights groups.

"When you combine all the support, I believe that's the kind of coalition necessary to give this commission the political power to see it's recommendations actually enacted into law," Peters said. 

Mario Hernandez speaking before his appointment with the Board of Immigration Appeals in Detroit surrounded by his family and protestors who support his cause.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Mario Hernandez came to Detroit as an adult from Mexico without a visa in 1998.

Hernandez has since started a small business, raised three daughters, and given back to his community. But he may not be able to stay here if the U.S. The Board of Immigration Appeals is considering his appeal of a deportation order.

Estrella Hernandez, Mario's oldest daughter, says it wouldn't make any sense to deport her father.

Chris Chan / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

JCPenney released its list of 138 planned store closures nationwide, including seven Michigan stores. The closures are part of a plan to "optimize its national retail operations" in order to return to profitability, according to the company. It will also relocate a supply chain facility in Buena Park, California. The closures will cut about 5,000 jobs nationwide. JCPenney says it will provide outplacement support services for eligible associates. Liquidation of the stores will begin April 17.

The stores to be closed in Michigan are:

Lakeview Square Mall, Battle Creek

Alex Porbe / Incite Design

There are people in Michigan who are quietly making pieces of art with a purpose beyond art. 

One of them works in Detroit at a nondescript shop on Mack Avenue. Alex Porbe is with Incite Design, a  fabrication and custom design firm.

Porbe works with architects and project managers, working up designs to complement existing architecture or making a design statement.

Goats can prove useful in managing urban weed populations.
User rlsycle / flickr.com

Battle Creek residents may soon be able to keep hens, rabbits, miniature goats, and honey bees in their back yards. City commissioners are holding a public workshop on Tuesday, March 21, to discuss the proposal. 

The ordinance would include some limitations. It would not allow roosters, or on-site slaughtering. Licensing and permits would be required to keep the animals, and there would be some guidelines for distance from neighbors and shelters for the animals.

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