Mark Brush

Reporter/Producer

Mark is a senior reporter/producer at Michigan Radio where he's been working to develop the station's online news content since 2010.

From 2000 to 2006, he worked as the technical director and senior producer for Michigan Radio's regional environmental news service known as the Great Lakes Radio Consortium.

From 2006 to 2010, as the unit's co-manager and senior producer, Mark helped transition the GLRC into an award-winning national news service known as The Environment Report.

He has won several state and national awards for his work, including a 2011 national Edward R. Murrow award for best audio news documentary on the future of coal in the United States.

Mark is a graduate of the University of Michigan ('00 MS in Environmental Policy and Planning & '91 BA in Political Science) and has been a "public radio junkie" since 1992. Much of Mark's storytelling philosophy was influenced through his close work with veteran CBC "réalisateur" David Candow.

Ways to Connect

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

The Environmental Protection Agency launched a federal audit -- Governor Rick Snyder appointed a panel to look into it -- and there is a federal class action lawsuit underway.

Everyone wants to know how the water went bad in one of Michigan's biggest cities.

Amir Baghdadchi shows us what his passport picture looks like.
Mark Brush / The Moth

Racial profiling by the police, at border crossings, and at airports is a thing

Recently, Amir Baghdadchi of Hamburg, Michigan told a story about having a "chat" with a government agent, in a windowless room, at the London Stansted Airport.

His story is featured on this week's The Moth's podcast.

Watch his story below:

Inside the Michigan House of Representatives.
user - CedarBendDrive / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Keith Allard and Ben Graham, the two ex-staffers of former Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit against the Michigan House of Representatives.

In their lawsuit, the ex-staffers allege that House Speaker Kevin Cotter’s office ignored their reports that Gamrat and Courser were engaging in an extra-marital affair, and that the two representatives were misusing their office by forcing the staffers to do political work with taxpayer money.

They say they first reported the problems in February 2015. They were later fired in July.

Michigan Radio

We're going to go out on a limb here and say most parents want to know how their child's school measures up in terms of standardized test scores, graduation rates, demographics and so on. 

Another big question parents ask when looking at a school: 

“How many kids are in a typical classroom?”

When you hear people talk about ineffective school systems, you’ll often hear something like, “there aren’t enough desks or books,” or “there are more than 30 kids in that classroom.”

Location of the January, 2015 I-94 pileup involving close to 200 vehicles.
MDOT

Earlier this year, on January 9, a massive pileup along I-94 involved close to 200 vehicles in eastern Kalamazoo County. One person was killed. Today, federal and state officials released a 94-page report that makes several recommendations to improve many parts of the I-94 corridor, including the area around mile-marker 90 where the crash occurred.

Jim Harbaugh pleads his case. Michigan's head coach first arrived in Ann Arbor as a kid in 1973.
MGoBlog / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

At a recent press conference, Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh was asked how he was preparing his team for the upcoming games with Penn State and Ohio State.

Harbaugh responded that he coaches them like it's playoff football: If you win, you get to keep playing.

He likened the games to the pick-up basketball games he played at Pattengill Elementary in Ann Arbor.

Chad Carr (held by father Jason) and his family in Sept. 2014.
Brad Muckenthaler / Flickr

Chad Carr, son of Tammi and Jason Carr, and grandson of former U of M head football coach Lloyd Carr and former U of M safety Tom Curtis, died today at the age of 5.

Chad Carr was diagnosed with a highly aggressive form of brain cancer, known as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, last year.

The family sought multiple treatments for Chad's brain cancer and gave the public updates on his condition. Today, the family announced that Chad died this afternoon.

From the Pray for Chad Carr Facebook page:

Jos Campau Historic District in Hamtramck, Michigan.
Andrew Jameson / Wikimedia Commons

In her piece on tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims in HamtramckWashington Post reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey writes that the city in 2013 "earned the distinction of becoming what appears to be the first majority-Muslim city in the United States following the arrival of thousands of immigrants from Yemen, Bangladesh and Bosnia over a decade."

William Melendez in court.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Former Inkster police officer William Melendez has been found guilty on two of the three charges against him.

In January, Melendez pulled over and arrested Floyd Dent, 57, of Detroit for cocaine possession and resisting arrest. Dashcam footage later revealed how Melendez beat Dent during the arrest.

9-11 veterans: Jamaine Atkins, Sherman Powell, Russ Dotson (top, L-R), Cassie Michael, Curtis Gibson, Andrew Hunter (middle), Eric Fretz, Cody Barnhart, Brendan Lejeune (bottom).
Mark Brush, Paula Friedrich, Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The United States military is currently involved in the longest period of sustained, armed conflict in our nation’s history.

Yet only around 0.5% of the U.S. population is on active military duty.

Contrast that with 9% of the U.S. population who served during WWII, and you can understand how there’s been a growing gap between those who haven't served in the military and those who have.

Listen to how these post 9/11 vets from Michigan describe some of the more awkward interactions they’ve had with people:

The SS Edmund Fitzgerald in May of 1975.
Bob Campbell / NOAA

I had a friend I never met in person.

His name was Mike Simonson and he was a reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio based in Superior.

Mike and I spoke often by phone when he filed stories for the Great Lakes Radio Consortium – the predecessor of The Environment Report.

Mike had done a lot of interviews and research on the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. He spoke with many people who are still personally connected to the ship. He was our “go-to-guy” whenever we looked back on the sinking.

These 14 states were in the bottom of the rankings. Michigan was ranked the worst.
Center for Public Integrity

Fiftieth out of fifty states.

That's where Michigan ranks in a report released today by the Center for Public Integrity.

The last time we wrote about this, Michigan ranked 43rd out of 50. 

Tap water in a Flint hospital on Oct. 16, 2015.
Joyce Zhu / Flintwaterstudy.org

The Environmental Protection Agency says it’s conducting a full review of what happened in Flint.

For more than a year, state officials assured city residents their water was safe. Those assurances turned out to be wrong.

And it wasn’t until some residents got outside experts involved -- who not only found elevated lead levels in the drinking water, but that blood lead levels were also rising in Flint kids – that the state admitted there was a problem.

Numbers on a dry erase board. We had help calculating a 90th percentile.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has been under a lot of scrutiny ever since it was revealed that Flint had a problem with elevated lead levels in its water supply.

The agency oversees how the city of Flint manages its drinking water. And when they made the switch from Detroit water to water drawn from the Flint River, city water officials relied heavily on guidance from the state.

So shouldn’t the state have known about the lead problem?

And why did it take tests from independent scientists to finally push the state to admit there was a problem?

The "Holy Quintet" in Detroit.
Kevin Fox / Fox Photography

Halloween is Saturday, but that won’t stop people from dressing up early.

Youmacon kicks off in Detroit today.

It’s the biggest anime, gaming, and comic convention in the state. The event is in its 11th year, and – along with a lot of other “cons” around the state – it continue to grow.

The popularity of these conventions piqued Lorraine Schleter’s curiosity, so she posted her question to MI Curious:

We are doing some maintenance on our tower in Grand Rapids today. As a result, our WVGR signal (104.1 FM) has been reduced by 50%. We'll be back at full power later today.

A Flint resident holds a jug of tainted Flint water.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder announced the creation of an “independent advisory task force” that will look into the actions surrounding the management and testing of Flint’s drinking water system.

The goal, according to a press release from the governor’s office, is to investigate what happened and to prevent the kind of problems that occurred with Flint’s drinking water system in other systems in the state.

Jalen Watts-Jackson is mobbed by his teammates after scoring the winning touchdown at the Big House. He says the injury occurred when he was tackled by Michigan's Jake Butt.
screengrab / YouTube

Two updates to "The Game" that ended in dramatic fashion in Ann Arbor Saturday night:

Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh visited President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House today. Harbaugh was there for a "higher-education awareness event" according to David Shepardson of the Detroit News.

Gov. Snyder at a press conference this month announcing his plan to overhaul the Detroit Public School District.
screenshot / Livestream

Gov. Snyder's plan would split the current school district in two.

Similar to the GM bankruptcy, there would essentially be an "old" Detroit Public Schools district and a new district.

The old district would pay down the school system's debt with the current school millage in Detroit.

Snyder says DPS is expected to have $515 million in operating debt by June 2016.

Snyder says that debt could be paid off over 10 years using the $70 million a year the millage brings in.

People upset about the safety and quality of Flint's tap water packed a public meeting last January.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After a failed experiment with Flint River water, city officials announced late this afternoon that Flint is returning to Detroit's system for its drinking water.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center says a strong El Nino in the Pacific is increasing chances for warmer-than-average temperatures this December through February.
NOAA

Yes, we're expecting freezing temperatures in much of Michigan and even snow in the Upper Peninsula this weekend, but call your bookmaker (or, rather, your weather futures trader) and plop down your bet on what might happen this winter.

The front of a "Dutch Boy White Lead" paint can. Dust from old paint is still one of the major ways kids get exposed to lead.
user Thester11 / Wikimedia Commons

What’s happening in Flint has some people wondering about what’s happening in their homes.

The Flint water crisis is highlighting the problem of lead exposure in kids.

Lead can permanently lower IQ and cause behavior problems. Researchers have even linked children with elevated lead levels with a higher propensity toward crime later in life.

Now, state officials are urging schools around the state to test their water for lead.

But it’s also important to know what’s going on at home.

Portrait of a Man, Said to be Christopher Columbus.
Metropolitan Museum of Art / Wikimedia Commons

So much so that they're apparently taking it out on statues now.

Google "Columbus statue vandalism" and you'll drum up all manner of news stories about statues where people have expressed their opinion of the Italian explorer.

Today, it was Detroit's turn.

Gov. Snyder is taking heat regarding decisions made by his Emergency Managers that lead to the Flint water crisis
Gov. Rick Snyder / screengrab

Gov. Rick Snyder this morning held a press conference in which he said he supports reconnecting the city of Flint’s water supply back to Detroit’s water system.

Snyder said he will ask the Legislature to provide half ($6 million) of the $12 million bill to reconnect the system. The city of Flint will pay $2 million, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation will contribute $4 million.

Mayor Dayne Walling said he expects the city to reconnect to the Detroit system in two weeks.

Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder made the announcement at 10 a.m. this morning (Oct. 8).

You can watch the announcement below (if it doesn't load, try this link):

He was joined by Flint Mayor Dayne Walling, Director of Environmental Quality, Dan Wyant, Director of the Department of Health and Human Services, Nick Lyon, Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive at DHHS, and Ridgway White of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
flickr user fiatontheweb / creative commons

The United Auto Workers union is threatening to go on strike against Fiat Chrysler.

The company says in a statement Tuesday that it received a strike notice from the union and it continues to work toward reaching an agreement.

A letter to Fiat Chrysler that was posted on the UAW website says the union is terminating its contract with FCA at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

Then MDEQ Director Dan Wyant at a press conference last fall.
screen grab / MLive UStream

Researchers found elevated lead levels in Flint's drinking water, and pediatricians found that the water was likely poisoning some kids in the city. Today, the state revealed that it too had tested kids and their findings seem to be consistent.

Dr. Eden Wells, the state's chief medical executive, said that before the city switched to Flint River water, kids' lead levels in two "high risk" zip codes were 2.7 times higher than the rest of Genesee County. Now they're 3.2 times higher - a statistically significant difference.

Researchers at Virginia Tech received samples of Flint water (both clear and discolored) from residents. Dr. Edwards and his team there were among the first to call attention to lead contamination in Flint's water.
Flint Water Study / Facebook

Yesterday, Gov. Rick Snyder admitted that the decision to switch the city of Flint's water supply from Detroit's system over to the Flint River was not well planned.

“In terms of a mistake, what I would say is, is there are probably things that were not as fully understood as when that switch was made,” Snyder said.

Joan Larsen will replace Mary Beth Kelly on the Michigan Supreme Court.
University of Michigan Law School / screen grab from YouTube video

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder appointed Joan Larsen to the Michigan Supreme Court today.

Larsen will replace outgoing state Supreme Court justice Mary Beth Kelly who will leave the court tomorrow (Oct. 1) to return to private practice.

Larsen is a faculty member at the University of Michigan Law School and special counsel to the dean for student and graduate activities.

Part of a polished Petoskey stone.
Michelle Pemberton / Wikimedia Commons

Tim O'Brien might be regretting the fact that he talked to reporters about the 93-pound Petoskey stone he found near Northport, Michigan.

The Grand Rapids Press story on his haul was the "most read" thing on MLive this morning.

And the stone continued to build momentum on Twitter:

Pages