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

Ivan Lisenkov / Wikimedia Commons

Beginning in April, work on the Blue Water Bridge will temporarily cut the number of lanes on the international crossing in half.

Governor Rick Snyder
Rick Snyder for Michigan / Facebook Page

The Detroit Free Press reports that Gov. Snyder will announce plans to merge the two departments in his State of the State address tonight.

More from the Freep:

Mark Brush

Every year, my neighbor knows spring is almost here because he sees me lying under my 24-year-old VW Vanagon looking for the latest leak from my “wasserboxer” engine.

It’s like Groundhog Day. If the thing starts, spring comes early. If not, we’re all one mail-order part away from warmer weather. So when that VW parts place in California sends me the new hose/temp sensor/gasket/fratastat, I fire up the van and summer starts.  

I’ve been lucky. I’ve kept the thing going. The van still has Fahrvergnügen. And we get to park it in places like this:

 

Lauri Rantala / Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Snyder has long said he's wanted e-cigarettes treated more like tobacco products under the law.

In his veto, Snyder said House Bill 4997, Senate Bills 667 and 668 would have kept e-cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products from being regulated as tobacco products under Michigan law.

user Joshuashearn / wikimedia commons

Today, Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed two bills aimed at changing how a person can obtain a concealed pistol permit in the state.

Senate Bills 789 and 790 were passed during the Legislature's last "lame duck" session. 

Gov. Snyder said there were several elements of the bills he supported, but there was one loophole he didn't support -- the legislation, he said, could have put victims of domestic abuse at risk.

From his veto letter:

Forestland in Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula.
user {inercia} / Flickr

Today, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a bill that attempted to keep state officials from managing the state's forests and parks for biodiversity.

Senate Bill 78 was sponsored by State Senator Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, and it passed the Michigan Legislature during last year's "lame duck" session.

From Gov. Snyder's veto letter:

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

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, announced today that much of this federal money will come to Michigan in the form of conservation projects and water quality improvement projects.

Stabenow's office says the money is the result of last years Farm Bill.

The coal-burning Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette, Michigan is being kept afloat by ratepayers in the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin.
WE Energies

The state of Michigan, several energy providers, and a mine operator have all agreed in principle on a plan that could put a stop to costly rate payments for people in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Utility bills in the Upper Peninsula were expected to jump by 30%. That's in a region where annual wages are much lower than the national average.

The Mercedes F 015 "Luxury in Motion" concept car.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

It's the vision behind the Mercedes F 015 concept car. The car was first unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week. 

This week, the car is in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show and there are plenty of reporters/writers/bloggers curious about what the car is all about.

When you look at it, you can see that the car is a concept. I half expected RoboCop to step out of it.

Instead of a traditional car with good visibility for its passengers, the designers of the F 015 seem to be shielding its passengers from the outside world.

GM hopes the Chevy Bolt will make long range electric cars affordable.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

General Motors officials introduced a concept car, the Chevy Bolt, today at the North American International Auto Show. The car company claims the all-electric car has a range of up to 200 miles on one charge and will be affordable to the typical consumer. The company puts the price of the Bolt at $30,000 including a federal tax credit.

If it’s released, the Bolt would compete with the electric car-maker Tesla. Tesla’s Model S has a range of 265 miles on one charge, but the car’s price tag is out of reach for many consumers with a base price of nearly $70,000.

The 2015 VW Golf (left), and the 2015 Ford F-150 (right) at the North American International Auto Show.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Volkwagen Golf was named the North American Car of the Year, beating out the other two competitors nominated for the award – the Ford Mustang, and the Hyundai Genesis.

Update 9:45 p.m.

Michigan State Police now say there were 193 vehicles in total involved in the pile up.

Police say there were 76 semi-trucks involved in the accident. Some caught fire, including one hauling 44,000 pounds of hazardous materials and another with a load of fireworks.

Several hours after the crash, crews were still putting out flare ups.

One of the truck drivers died. The 57-year old was from Quebec. At least 20 people were injured, including two firemen and a wrecker driver.

Detroit from above. Follow the link in the post to find the slider images.
University of Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma's Institute for Quality Communities looks at Detroit from above in 1951 vs. Detroit in 2010.

Over that 60 year span, a lot changed.

Screen shot of a crime map for Detroit from 12/29/14 to 1/4/2015 generated by crimemapping.com.
crimemapping.com

Final numbers are expected to be released this week, but early indications show a drop in the rate of violent crime in the city of Detroit.

Based on this December report from the Detroit Police Department, you can see that homicides, robberies, and sexual assaults are down.

MGoBlog

An analysis by Forbes' Chris Smith values the University of Michigan's football program at $117 million - behind Notre Dame ($122 million) and the Texas Longhorns ($131 million).

Football teams are school entities, so they can't be bought or sold. Smith calculates the value of the program on four things:

The site of the former Velsicol Chemical Corporation in St. Louis is going to take a long time to clean up.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The city of St. Louis, Michigan would much rather be talked about as the geographic center of the Lower Peninsula.

Instead, there's a lot of focus on the legacy of pollution here.

The story of Velsicol Chemical in St. Louis, Michigan is quite complicated. 

Velsicol Chemical operated on the banks of the Pine River in St. Louis, Michigan from 1938 to 1978. It was the site of the infamous PBB mixup. The entire plant was buried in place and now it's leaking.
Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force

There are a lot of former industrial sites in Michigan that need to be cleaned up, but the Velsicol Superfund sites in St. Louis, Michigan are unusual in their size and in the amount of nasty chemicals lurking in the ground where people live, work and play.

The company tried to contain the pollution before, but its solution didn’t work. Ask some of the community members about that original plan and they say they could have told you it wasn’t going to work.

One thing we’ll miss after Rep. John Dingell retires at the end of this year will be his “jingles.”

Dingell releases these jingles each year for the holidays. The longest serving member in U.S. Congress  kills it on Twitter. And today he announced - via Twitter, of course - that his annual jingle is ready:

An ailing robin fledging in Teri Kniffen's yard in St. Louis, Michigan in June of 2013.  Some of the highest levels of DDT ever recorded in bird livers and brains were found in this neighborhood.
Teri Kniffen

All this week we're bringing you stories about the chemical company responsible for the PBB tragedy in Michigan. Michigan Chemical accidentally contaminated the state’s food supply in the 1970s, but the legacy of that company is still very much with us today.

Michigan Chemical – which later became Velsicol Chemical – made more than just PBB, and it left these toxic chemicals behind in St. Louis, Michigan.

One woman insists something is wrong with the birds

Detroit from space. MacLean got a little closer than this.
NASA

It's called getting perspective - climbing up on the mountain and having a look around.

That's exactly what Alex MacLean does. As a pilot and a trained architect, MacLean goes up in the air to find out what's happening on the ground.

He's flown all around the United States, and recently his flight over Detroit was featured in the New York Times Sunday Review.

Today on Stateside:

  • Right now in Michigan, you can be fired from a job, or be denied housing if you're gay. A group of LGBT rights advocates want that changed.
  • Life at the University of Michigan after Brady Hoke’s departure.
  • The rise of celebrity wines. One reviewer says they're not all that good, so why are people buying them?
  • A mother and daughter write about faith and world adventures.
  • What are Democrats in Michigan doing wrong?
Wikimedia Commons

State lawmakers return to Lansing this week after a two week break for deer hunting and Thanksgiving.

Every Republican and Democratic leader at the state Capitol says fixing Michigan’s roads will be the top priority between now and the end of the year.

“Certainly, the primary focus will be on discovering a solution for funding of transportation in Michigan, specifically roads and bridges that are in desperate need of repair,” said Ari Adler, a spokesperson for state House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall.

Adler says the speaker wants more taxes paid at the pump to go to roads.

The "Taxi House" in the Heidelberg Project.
Heather Phillips / Flickr

Another fire has been reported at the Heidelberg Project in Detroit.

The "Taxi House" was burned inside and in the rear, according to the Detroit News. The paper reports it's the 12th fire in 18 months at the Heidelberg Project.

Security cameras and security patrols were put in place in the last year after a string of arsons struck the project.

Lauren Abdel-Razzaq of the Detroit News reported that Tyree Guyton, the artist behind the decades-old installation, was sweeping up outside the burned house on Sunday afternoon.

More from the News:

Although the art installation's brainchild wasn't saying much about the fire, he was sending a message by standing out front of the house cleaning up what he could: He's standing strong and not going anywhere.

"Mother Teresa said, 'what you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build it anyway,' " Guyton said. "That's all I want to say."

He declined to say whether any suspects have been spotted on the organizations security cameras. 

After the string of arsons, the Cultural Landscape Foundation has listed the Heidelberg Project as "among the most endangered in the United States."

The Mackinac Bridge on a warmer day.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Strong winds are sweeping across the state today leading the Mackinac Bridge Authority to take some precautions. Workers will escort some larger vehicles across the bridge. 

From MDOT:

Currently we are experiencing winds of sufficient force in the Straits area to require an escort of certain "high profile" vehicles across the Mackinac Bridge.

Examples of high profile vehicles include pickup trucks with campers; cars with small boats, bicycles or luggage attached to the roof; Ryder or U-Haul trucks; any vehicle pulling a boat; semi-tractors with enclosed trailers and all trailers with side walls over two feet in height. High profile vehicles must be escorted.

Motorists are asked to reduce their speed to 20 miles per hour as they approach the bridge and be prepared to stop. Bridge personnel are stationed at both ends of the structure to provide instructions regarding how and when to proceed across the bridge.

Since the bridge first opened, only two vehicles have gone over the edge, according to the Associated Press and MLive's Fritz Klug. The strong winds can lead to accidents on the bridge. 

Check out the wind map for a visual on how the winds are blowing today.

Vernor's always manages to make these lists. Is it on yours?
user @rogerjfrank / Flickr

If the magazine racks at the grocery story are any indication, we love lists.

Lists of the "top" vacation spots - lists of the "top" TV shows - and lists of the "top"... ahem... bedroom moves.

So why wouldn't we love a list about the state we live in? 

Buzzfeed collected a list of 37 Facts That Prove Michigan Is Undeniably The Greatest State.

Thirty-seven. Wow. That's long. Let's boil it down to 10. It'll save time.

Pick your "Top 10 facts that prove Michigan is the greatest state" below. If the form doesn't load for you, go here to pick your top 10.

The Queen of Soul at President Obama's inauguration.
Cecilio Ricardo / U.S. Air Force

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Christopher John Farley, the Queen of Soul spoke about the success of her recent album, her thoughts on current and past “divas,” and negotiations over her upcoming biopic.

Farley had a broad list of questions, which brought us to some awkward places when Franklin made it clear she didn’t want to discuss some things.

The use of “auto-tune” by some singers was something to which Franklin hadn’t given much thought. Farley wanted to know what Franklin thought of younger artists using the device.

AF: “What is auto-tune? I don’t even know what auto-tune is.

WSJ: “It’s a kind of way of electronically adjusting your voice ..."

 AF: “Oh, please.”

WSJ: “…so it doesn’t sound pitchy - it doesn’t sound wrong…”

 AF: “Oh that’s ridiculous.”

Other interview highlights:

  • Farley asked about Franklin considering the ballet as a career choice – “I love the ballet.”
  • About her thoughts on Nicki Minaj – “Hmmm. I’m going to pass on that one.”
  • Her thoughts about President Obama’s performance in office – “It’s really not for me to say.”
  • About her upcoming biopic – Franklin can see Jennifer Hudson or Audra McDonald playing the role.

You can watch the interview here:

Detroit's riverfront.
Ian Freimuth / Flickr

Matt Helms at the Detroit Free Press reports that Mayor Mike Duggan has some sticker shock over the cost of Detroit’s bankruptcy.

Helms reports that Duggan “is alarmed” that the city will have to pay lawyers and consultants close to $200 million. Duggan worries the payout could put the city at risk of not meeting the terms of the city’s plan of adjustment – a plan the federal bankruptcy judge approved last week.

More from Helms and the Detroit Free Press:

Three people familiar with Duggan's views on the fees told the Free Press that the mayor believes the total fees could climb close to $200 million, an amount he worries could jeopardize the city's ability to meet the bankruptcy's financial terms. That compares to the roughly $100 million that many bankruptcy experts predicted would be the cost when Detroit filed for the nation's largest-ever municipal bankruptcy in July 2013.

A spokesperson for former emergency manager Kevyn Orr disputes that the bill could reach $200 million, saying the fees charged to the city reached $144.3 million as of October 31.

The snowstorm hitting the UP on radar.
NWS

Winter is upon us and we barely had time to dig our mittens out of that box in the basement.

Our compatriots in the Northwoods are being hammered by an early snowstorm.

Officials from the National Weather Service say at least a foot of snow has fallen on parts of the Upper Peninsula and another foot or two could accumulate in some areas before the front passes through the region tomorrow.

Northern Michigan University in Marquette has closed.

More from the Associated Press:

This trail camera photo of a cougar was taken on public land in western Mackinac County in early November.
MDNR

Cougars were wiped out in Michigan more than 100 years ago, but a few of the big cats have been returning.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently confirmed two new cougar sightings in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

MDNR officials say the two photographs were taken this fall – one was taken on a camera phone 30 miles south-southeast of Sault Ste. Marie in late October – another was taken with a trail camera on public land near Mackinac County’s Garfield Township.

Detroit will exit bankruptcy.
Ian Freimuth / Flickr

Federal bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes has approved Detroit's plan to exit bankruptcy. Rhodes' ruling comes after several major creditors reached deals with the city in recent weeks.

The ruling clears the way for the city to shed around $7 billion in debt.

More from the Detroit News:

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