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The Associated Press

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

WASHINGTON (AP) - The state-appointed emergency manager who oversaw Flint, Michigan, when the city's water source was switched to the Flint River says he relied on state and federal experts, but the experts failed him and Flint.

  Darnell Earley says in prepared testimony for a House hearing Tuesday that he was overwhelmed by challenges facing the impoverished city and relied on experts from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to advise him.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Governor Rick Snyder has proposed spending $500,000 for campus sexual assault prevention programs in his budget.

  The grant money would be split among universities if lawmakers give it the green light.

  But some advocates say it's not enough for all of the programs they'd like to run. And some students at Michigan State University are critical of administrators and a university policy requiring employees to report sexual misconduct even when the survivor says he or she doesn't want the incident reported.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz website

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - A U.S. House committee chairman leading hearings on the Flint water crisis sparked by lead contamination has visited the city.

Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the oversight panel, met with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver Saturday at the Flint water plant. He also attended a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency open house.

Chaffetz says the "system totally failed and people need to be held accountable."

Weaver says she's pleased by his visit and urges passage of a federal aid package for Flint.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's administration has a goal of creating 1,000 new jobs in Flint as a way of helping recover from the ongoing crisis sparked by lead in the city's water.

  The Detroit News  reports officials in Snyder's administration discussed the jobs goal Friday in a meeting of the governor's Flint Water Interagency Task Force.

Gavel made from dollar bill
Glenn Sapaden / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation that opens the door for raising Michigan judges' pay after 15 years of stagnant judicial salaries.

Judges' salaries haven't increased because their pay is currently tied to Supreme Court justices, who haven't seen a raise in years.

Snyder's office says the measure signed Tuesday would allow regular salary evaluations for trial court and Court of Appeals judges.

The change won't affect Supreme Court justices' pay.

Sign in Flint, Michigan.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Flint polling places needed more ballots due to an unusually high turnout in a city that has been in the spotlight because of contaminated water.

Flint Clerk Inez Brown says it's the first time in her 20 years in office that she's had to send more ballots during the day of an election. She tells The Flint Journal that turnout Tuesday is "unprecedented," especially among voters who want to vote in the Democratic primary.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Meijer arranged a donation of 1,500 water filters in Flint last summer but insisted on anonymity and even offered to give gift cards so the state could purchase them.

Courser-Gamrat websites

  LAPEER, Mich. (AP) - A former state lawmaker forced out of office in a sex scandal says criminal charges against are him are "nonsensical" and "political."

  Todd Courser responded Saturday on Facebook, a day after Attorney General Bill Schuette charged him with perjury and misconduct in office.

  Courser, a Republican from Lapeer County, resigned in September as his House colleagues were poised to kick him out. He had an affair with another lawmaker, Cindy Gamrat, but their legal troubles are tied to their attempt to cover it up.

Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Dept

Update 5:38 p.m.:

The suspect in the Kalamazoo shootings, Jason Dalton, picked up at least one group of Uber passengers after he allegedly shot six people and injured two.

NPR has spoken with an Uber rider who asked us to only use his middle name, Derek, because he's concerned about speaking publicly about this shooting investigation.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

 

State and local officials still are not doing enough to fix problems that caused lead pollution of drinking water in Flint, including having enough qualified workers to make sure the city water system functions adequately, a federal regulator said Friday.

 

A Flint water protest
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. - A newly released email shows that shortly before Flint began drawing its drinking water from the Flint River, an official with the city water plant feared things were moving too quickly.

Mike Glasgow was laboratory and water quality supervisor on April 17, 2014, when he sent a message to officials with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Glasgow said people above him were planning to distribute water "ASAP." But he said he still needed time to train more staffers and update monitoring plans.

James Tolbert
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The heads of Flint's police and fire departments are out of those jobs.

Mayor Karen Weaver said Friday in a press release she's restructuring city operations and has accepted the resignations of Police Chief James Tolbert and Fire Chief David Cox Jr. She's also fired City Administrator Natasha Henderson.

“I’m doing what I told the people who voted for me that I would do," says Weaver, "My focus is moving the City of Flint forward and I feel these personnel changes are necessary to keep us on the right path.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder says the state is working with two Flint organizations to hire 50 residents who will help test the city's water for lead contamination.

Snyder announced Monday that Orchards Children's Services and the Flint YMCA's Safe Places Program will help hire and train city residents this month.

More residents may be hired as needed.

The Republican governor says in a press release that water testing teams need more people to get the job done, and "no one is better suited to help the city bounce back."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Victims' rights advocates say Michigan lags behind some other states when it comes to laws meant to keep guns from domestic abusers.

  More than a dozen states have taken steps in the past two years to strengthen laws that would keep guns from domestic abusers. But Michigan State University legal expert April Zeoli says Michigan has no law to ensure those barred by a judge from owning guns in domestic violence cases don't have them.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

  FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says he's reaching out to Flint's Latino community to make sure residents are getting bottled water and filters during the city's lead-contamination crisis.

  The governor on Friday visited Our Lady Guadalupe Catholic Church, where volunteers are distributing water and filters to the church's predominantly Latino parishioners.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is defending how his office responded to an email flagging a potential link between a surge in Legionnaires' disease and Flint's water.

  The Republican governor told The Associated Press Friday that an aide, Harvey Hollins, asked the Department of Environmental Quality to look into a local official's concerns further. He says the DEQ was skeptical of any link last March and "didn't bring it forward" again.

Gov. Rick Snyder said in a press release: "Heidi [Grether] has decades of experience in environmental quality issues, and has effectively served during times of crises and recovery."
Michigan Radio

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder will propose $30 million in state funding to help pay the water bills of Flint residents facing an emergency over the city's lead-contaminated water supply.

Snyder will brief city officials and pastors about the proposal Wednesday and outline it to lawmakers next week in his annual budget proposal, according to a statement the governor's office provided to The Associated Press.

The 2016 college football season is here!
Anthony Gattine / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

  ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The University of Michigan hired UConn's Warde Manuel as its new athletic director on Friday, bringing back a well-regarded alumnus who once played football for the Wolverines — just like its coach, Jim Harbaugh.

The 47-year-old Manuel, who had been Connecticut's athletic director since 2012, was given a five-year deal by Michigan. The salary was not immediately disclosed.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Senate has unanimously approved $28 million in additional funding to address the lead contamination of Flint's water.

The emergency spending bill includes money for more bottled water and filters and services to monitor for developmental delays in young children. The funds also will help the city with unpaid water bills and cover testing, monitoring and other costs.

It is the second round of state funding allocated since the lead contamination was confirmed in the fall.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

  DETROIT (AP) - The head of a Flint hospital where Legionella bacteria were discovered says the Flint River was suspected as the source of the contaminant that causes Legionnaires' disease.

  Don Kooy says McLaren hospital spent more than $300,000 on a water treatment system and turned to bottled water.

  The state says at least 87 Legionnaires' cases, including nine deaths, were confirmed throughout Genesee County during a 17-month period - a major spike. But officials are unsure about a firm link to the Flint River.

Gov. Rick Snyder's office

Gov. Rick Snyder is hiring public relations specialists to help him deal with the Flint water crisis.

Snyder chief of staff Jarrod Agen says public money won't be used. The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press say the governor has hired the Mercury firm, where Agen's wife is a senior vice president in the firm's Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, office.

Bill Nowling is also on board. He was the spokesman for the emergency manager who guided Detroit through bankruptcy.

Amir Hekmati steps off a plane at Bishop Airport in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After being held for more than four years in an Iranian prison, Amir Hekmati, the former U.S. Marine from Flint, is home. The Flint man was part of a prisoner swap between the U.S. and Iran. Hekmati was arrested in Iran in 2011 while he was visiting his grandmother. He was charged with spying.  At one time, he was sentenced to death. His sentence was eventually changed to 10 years. Hekmati and a handful of other Americans were exchanged for seven Iranians held in the U.S. The Iranians were charged with violating a trade embargo. 

We updated this post as he traveled home. You can scroll below and read up to follow the events.

Church pew with hymnal
Bala Sivakumar / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A priest is leaving a Battle Creek parish after some members of the southwestern Michigan diocese became angered to learn that he led a Minnesota archdiocese during a clergy sex abuse scandal.

Pastor John Fleckenstein wrote in a letter Thursday to members of St. Philip Catholic Church that Archbishop John Nienstedt decided to discontinue his work there "in light of the unintended discord that his presence was causing."

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Michigan Radio

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn his corruption conviction and 28-year prison sentence.

The request was recently made after a federal appeals court said in October it had no interest in taking a second look at the case.

In 2013, Kilpatrick was found guilty of two dozen crimes, including tax evasion and bribery. A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in August affirmed the conviction, but Kilpatrick wanted the full appeals court to hear the case.

A 2001 USMC portrait of Amir Mirza Hekmati.
USMC

(Editor's note: See this post: Follow Amir Hekmati's journey home from an Iranian prison to Michigan for updates as Hekmati makes his way home.)

The AP reports the Swiss plane carrying Amir Hekmati and other Americans from Iran has landed in Geneva, Switzerland.

Amir Hekmati is coming home.

User VanZandt / Flickr

The former archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is coming to Battle Creek.

John Nienstedt resigned from the Twin Cities archdiocese last summer, as county prosecutors alleged the church had failed to protect children from clergy sex abuse during his tenure.

St. Philip Roman Catholic Church’s newsletter says Nienstedt once worked as a pastor in Royal Oak and Detroit.

The Diocese of Kalamazoo issued this written statement:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State emergency center officials say they are working to better understand what has been done and what needs to be done in Flint.  

The governor declared Flint’s lead tainted drinking water a ‘state of emergency’ this week. The city had switched from Detroit water to water from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money, and did not reverse its decision until October.

State officials opened the Emergency Operations Center in Lansing to reporters on Thursday.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court is proposing a rule that would strengthen the ban on sending poor people to jail if they can't afford to pay fines.

Some District Court judges continue to order so-called pay-or-stay sentences, although the U.S. Supreme Court banned the practice in the 1980s.

The proposed rule says a judge cannot send someone to jail for failing to pay a fine unless the defendant can afford it without significant hardship. Judges could come up with a payment plan or waive all or part of the money owed.

Male deer
coloneljohnbritt / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Department of Natural Resources says another deer killed in the Lansing-area appeared to have chronic wasting disease.

If confirmed through additional tests, it would be the fifth deer with the disease, which attacks the animal's brain and nervous system.

There were no obvious symptoms in the 1 1/2-year-old doe that was killed by an archer in Clinton County's Watertown Township, a new location for the disease. The hunter agreed to have the deer tested.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The police chief in Lansing is defending his officers in the fatal shooting of a 24-year-old man who was killed after a two-hour standoff, a house fire and an exchange of gunfire.

  Chief Mike Yankowski says, "We have a justified police shooting at this time."

  The victim was identified as Terrozza Griffin of Lansing, who was suspected of a home invasion Thursday night. After two hours, officers noticed a fire and entered the home but were met with gunfire.

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