News

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Donations of bottled water have been flooding into Flint.

Making sure people have safe drinking water is the top priority in Flint right now. But some people are wondering about one side effect of the water crisis: where all those empty bottles are ending up.

Bull-doser / wikimedia/public domain

Fiat Chrysler is making some tweaks to its current five-year plan.  And some of those tweaks are pretty big. 

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says the company will double down on increasing its ability to churn out Jeeps and trucks.  In the U.S., he says the trend is clear.  

"There's been in our view a permanent shift towards UVs (utility vehicles) and pickup trucks," Marchionne told analysts during an earnings conference call.

City of Holland

Bills in the state legislature would change the process for designating local historic districts in Michigan.

A State House committee heard testimony on one of the bills Wednesday.

It would amend the 1970 Local Historic Districts Act, which provides for local district commissions with the power to review and potentially nix architectural and other design changes within the area.

Kent County to start testing for lead in water

Jan 28, 2016
Karen Blaha / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Kent County Health Department will conduct its own tests of water for lead, copper and arsenic, starting in February. New equipment will be installed next week.

Right now, Kent County tests water samples for E.coli and some chemicals like fluoride and chloride. But lead testing is handled by the state.

According to Allyson Chirio, lab manager for the Kent County Health Department, the new testing capacity is not in response to the Flint water crisis. 

Will Greenberg/Michigan Radio

A group of Ann Arbor teachers held a press conference before Wednesday's school board meeting to express their concern with the district's new teacher evaluations. 

Folks frustrated with the new policy also made their complaints heard during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Linda Carter, president of the Ann Arbor Education Association, said many are unhappy with the implementation of the full Danielson Framework, a research-based evaluation method that Ann Arbor schools have used, in part, for several years. 

Inside the Michigan Senate
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The state Senate could vote as soon as Thursday on emergency funding to help address Flint’s water crisis.

A state Senate panel unanimously approved the $28 million on Wednesday, as well as a provision meant to guarantee all Flint kids age zero to three have access to free developmental screenings paid for by the state.

“We’re actually investing directly in those kids in Flint that are most likely to have been ill-affected by lead poisoning,” said state Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., D-Meridian Twp.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new bill would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to let the public know if their water contains dangerous levels of lead.

Right now, that responsibility lies with state and local officials.

The new bill would give the EPA authority to notify residents of high lead levels if the state fails to act.

Michigan Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow and Congressman Dan Kildee announced the new legislation Wednesday.

Peters said the bill would help ensure situations like the Flint water crisis don't happen again. 

Human Trafficking
Ira Gelb / Creative Commons

Human trafficking is a $32 billion global industry.

Between 2013 and 2014, there were 100 state and 94 federal cases of human trafficking in Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland counties, according to the Michigan State Police.

The law enforcement agency is partnering with the Salvation Army and other agencies to help victims of these crimes rebuild their lives.

University of Michigan football game
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan may have a new athletic director.

According to reports from The Detroit Free Press, ESPN, and a former Boston Globe sportswriter, UM plans to hire University of Connecticut Athletic Director Warde Manuel to serve as the athletic department’s next leader.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Virginia Tech researcher Dr. Marc Edwards is coming back to Flint.

Edwards’ team was the first to discover high levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water last summer. Earlier this month, Edwards announced his team was ending its probe of Flint's lead-tainted water.

Mayor Karen Weaver announced today that Edwards will oversee all water testing by the state and federal governments.

“He is fully independent. He will be reporting to me,” says Weaver.

Weaver adds that Edwards’ work will be paid for with “private donations.”

America always has been, as most of us learned in elementary school, a land of immigrants. Officially, we’ve welcomed them with open arms, since virtually all our ancestors came to this land at some point in the last 500 years, voluntarily or otherwise.

That’s the bright side of our legacy.

The dark side is that once our ancestors got here, they too often wanted to keep any more immigrants from coming, especially from ethnic groups different from theirs. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A coalition of activist organizations filed a complaint in federal court Wednesday morning against Michigan government officials alleging the state has violated the Safe Drinking Water Act during the Flint water crisis.

The suit, filed by the Concerned Pastors for Social Action, the ACLU of Michigan, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., and Melissa Mays, a Flint resident, was filed in the U.S. District Court in Detroit.

Governor Snyder speaking at a Flint water press conference on January 27, 2016.
SnyderLive

There are a lot of questions coming up daily about the water crisis in Flint.

Today, Gov. Snyder, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver, Michigan State Police Capt. Chris Kelenske, Department of Environmental Quality Interim Director Keith Creagh, and Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon worked to address some of these questions at an 11 a.m. press conference.

Watch it below.

Twitter user @khakibluesocks

Earlier this week we asked you to send us selfies that show how you're feeling about this year's elections.

Alberto G. / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Third- and fourth-graders at Savage Elementary School in Belleville did really well on the math section of the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress – M-STEP – last year.

So well, in fact, school district administrators were a little confused.

The M-STEP is designed to be harder than earlier state tests, and students took it for the first time last school year.

Jack Lessenberry.
Michigan Radio

In this Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about why Flint residents are being charged a lot of money for water they can't drink. Flint residents aren't paying those bills, and the city's water utility says it might run out of money by the end of the year. Lessenberry also talks about the problems plaguing Detroit Public Schools. 


The Flint River
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A source within the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality confirms that two employees, Liane Shekter-Smith and Stephen Busch, have been suspended for their roles in the Flint water crisis.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

It seems unthinkable that some people in Flint might still be drinking water from the tap.  

But some undocumented immigrants in the city are just now finding out that lead contamination has made the water unsafe to drink.

That means some babies and toddlers may have been drinking poisoned water for weeks or perhaps months longer than others.

Jessica Olivares knows the new routine of daily life in Flint well by now - buying cases of bottled water at the grocery store, standing in line to get free water at the nearest fire station.

Civil rights hearings planned on Flint water crisis

Jan 27, 2016
Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission will investigate whether the Flint drinking water crisis has violated the civil rights of Flint residents. 

The bipartisan commission unanimously passed a resolution yesterday to hold at least three public hearings, the first of which is expected to take place within 30 days.

"The Commission decided that under the state constitution, as well as the Elliott-Larsen Act, to conduct hearings to try to learn more if discrimination may have occurred," said commission co-chair Arthur Horwitz. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Four of the nation’s largest bottled water distributors are pledging to donate millions of bottles to children in Flint.

The city’s drinking water is contaminated with lead.   And lead can have a detrimental effect on the health and development of young children.

Walmart, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Nestle say they will give more than six million bottles of water to take care of the needs of 10,000 Flint area school-aged children through this year.

Kathleen McLaughlin is the president of the Walmart Foundation. She says there are still some issues to be worked out.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder met behind closed doors with the national president of the NAACP in Flint Tuesday night. 

NAACP president Cornell William Brooks said he, Gov. Rick Snyder and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver had a “frank” discussions about Flint’s drinking water crisis. 

He called his closed-door meeting with the governor and the mayor a “robust conversation about specific reforms.”

The Flint River and the Flint water treatment plant.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, as well as Congressman Dan Kildee, are asking Washington to help enroll all eligible Flint kids in Head Start.

The three sent a letter this week to Blanca Enriquez, director of the Office of Head Start, asking that the program be made available to all eligible children in Flint to help mitigate the damage of the lead-tainted water.

flickr user Joe Gratz / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Thanks to an opinion handed down Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court, some 350 Michigan prison inmates woke up today with a new view on life.

In a six-to-three decision, the High Court ruled that all prisoners who have been sentenced to life without parole for crimes committed as minors should be given a chance to seek parole.

Deborah LaBelle is an Ann Arbor-based attorney and director of the Juvenile Life Without Parole Initiative with the ACLU.

Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

Mark Masters of TDM Realtors in Flint says it's hard to keep tenants and even harder to attract new ones.

"I mean one of the first questions I get, it used to be 'is that a good neighborhood' and now it’s 'is that Flint water,'" said Masters.

Last spring he started getting calls from some of the company’s 300 renters that something wasn’t right with their water.

Steve Carmody

Flint officials say the city’s water utility could run out of money by the year’s end as more and more Flint citizens skip paying bills amid the crisis with lead-tainted water.

City Administrator Natasha Henderson told city council members at a meeting Monday that the public health emergency is driving down collections on water bills. She says it's an "imminent concern" and it is leaving the city in a "very precarious situation."

Vishavjit Singh as Sikh Captain America in New York City
Fiona Aboud

Since 1941, Captain America has been a symbol of American identity, and it continues to be for Vishavjit Singh.

Singh has traveled the country dressed as Captain America, but he's put a Sikh spin on the iconic character: his Captain sports a turban and a long beard.

Featured in Salon and various media around the country, Singh’s Captain has taken the online world by storm.

Back in 1954, the United States Supreme Court ruled that segregation in public schools, the old “separate but equal” notion, was unconstitutional.

 Now what would have happened if after that ruling, some state attorney general in Mississippi had argued: “Well, we understand that applies to the future, but we’ve got some schools that were segregated before that ruling, and they should stay that way.”

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The Marathon Petroleum refinery in southwest Detroit is no stranger to controversy. But its request to increase sulfur dioxide emissions has sparked a major backlash. The company has done a huge expansion of its southwest Detroit refinery in the past few years.

Gov. Rick Snyder delivering his 2016 State of the State speech.
YouTube screenshot - GovSnyder

In most states, if journalists or citizens want to hold our elected officials accountable, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is an important tool in our political toolbox.

A new contractor will run Ann Arbor school buses next year.
Leslie Science and Nature Center / Flickr | http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A vocal group of Ann Arbor teachers and advocates is expressing serious concerns over the school district's new teacher evaluation process.

Linda Carter, the Ann Arbor teachers' union president, said the school board's rollout of the process in November was poorly handled. She said the teachers she has spoken with are confused about the new policy.

“Folks are saying, ‘You know, we really want to take the time, press the pause button, and let's start all over again,’” Carter said.

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