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. The service was heard on more that 130 stations around the country including WBEZ in Chicago, WAMU in Washington D.C., KUOW in Seattle, and KWMU in St. Louis.

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 board certified public radio junkie" since 1992. He discovered public radio on his commutes to work in his trusty 1984 VW Rabbit. Much of Mark's storytelling philosophy was influenced through his close work with veteran CBC "réalisateur" David Candow.

Ways To Connect

States that have some form of LGBT anti-discrimination laws on the books.
ACLU

As our investigative reporter Lester Graham has reported, it is perfectly legal to discriminate against gay and transgender people in Michigan. There's no federal law against it, and there's no state law preventing it.

Some communities do try to prevent LGBT discrimination at the local level.  Equality Michigan lists 36 communities in Michigan with such laws - and now, Macomb County has just been added to the list.

More from the Associated Press:

Macomb County authorities have passed a policy protecting county employees from discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

The county Board of Commissioners voted 8-5 for the change on Thursday. Commissioner Fred Miller spearheaded the policy initiative and says it will ensure county employees are treated based on "their merits," not on "who they love."

... Macomb County officials say the new policy won't provide preferential treatment to one group over another. It employs about 2,600 people.

The county recently changed its human resources handbook to include language about sexual orientation.

But even though there is a local law, it doesn't always prevent discrimination in that community.

Michigan Radio's Graham pointed out that these local laws fuel a misperception that the LGBT community is protected from discrimination:

Part of the misperception about whether gay people are protected is the ongoing efforts at the local level. Twenty-two municipalities have approved protections for LGBT people through local ordinances. [There are more than 22 today.] But, those local laws vary widely in the protections offered. And even the strongest ordinances have problems.

The problems are mainly around enforcement issues. The ordinances, critics say, can become a "paper tiger": the law is on the books, but no one is really watching.

Federal, state, and local agencies took part in a mock oil spill Wednesday in northern Michigan along the Indian River.

The emergency drill conjured memories of the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill. About a million gallons of crude oil have been cleaned up from that spill. There’s some concern about whether Enbridge has made important internal changes to avoid future pipeline problems.

Carl Weimer with the Pipeline Safety Trust said one of the reasons Enbridge failed to prevent the pipeline break near Marshall, Michigan in July 2010 is not because the company was completely unaware of corrosion and a cracks in the pipeline.

He says Enbridge inspection teams weren’t sharing information with each other.

A sign for a Meijer store in Ann Arbor.
user Monika & Tim / Flickr

Michigan-based retailer Meijer Inc. will pay $2 million to settle charges that it failed to prevent the sale and distribution of products recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

In the settlement, the CPSC says Meijer knowingly distributed more than 1,600 units of about a dozen recalled products. The recalled products were distributed by a third party contractor working for Meijer.

From the settlement:

CPSC staff charges that beginning in or about April 2010, and including until at least in or about April 2011, Meijer received information from the third party contractor regarding the sale of all products handled by its third party contractor but failed to prevent the distribution of the Recalled Products.

The products that were recalled included Fisher-Price toddler tricycles, high chairs by Graco Children's Products, Hoover vacuums and box fans by Lasko.

You can see a list of the recalled items here.

It's against the law to sell or distribute products that have been recalled.

In agreeing to the settlement, Meijer "neither admits nor denies the charges."

More from the settlement language:

Meijer believed that adequate safeguards were in place to prevent Recalled Products from being distributed into commerce and states that any distribution of the Recalled Products was inadvertent and occurred without Meijer's knowledge.

*Correction - an earlier post with the Associated Press byline stated that Meijer sold and distributed the recalled products. A third party contractor that Meijer works with sold and distributed the products. The copy has been updated.

Flowers in a cemetery.
Daniel Incandela / Flickr

You hear about these mix ups from time to time.

Satori Shakoor, host of the Ann Arbor and Detroit Moth Story Slams, tells a funny story about being listed as a male on her driver's license. But this story goes beyond a gender.

Carol Tilley of Brownstown Township found out this year out that the Social Security Administration listed her as dead.

Dignitaries including Michigan Gov. Snyder, Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, Representatives John Dingell and John Conyers, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and business leaders Roger Penske and Dan Gilbert were on hand for a "track signing" ceremony this morning in Detroit.

The M-1 rail project is streetcar line planned for a 3.3. mile stretch along Woodward Ave. in Detroit. The project has received more than $35 million in federal funds, but the majority of its financing comes from private backers.

Rep. John Dingell, D-MI, the longest-serving member of Congress, was admitted into the Henry Ford Hospital earlier this week to treat an infection.

Dingell, 88, took to Twitter to announce his release:

ABC News reports that Dingell is expected back at the Capitol next week, "on Sept. 16 when Congress returns after a four-day weekend."

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan lawmakers recently went around two ballot proposals that sought to end wolf hunting in Michigan.

They passed a law that allows wolf hunts to continue, but they apparently didn't pass their law in time for a hunt this year.

Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press has it:

Gerald Rosen, the bankruptcy judge in charge of mediation, issed the order today.
Detroit Legal News

One big creditor, Syncora, appears to have agreed to a deal with the city this week.

That left one very big fish to fry - the bond insurer Financial Guaranty Insurance Co.

The city owes the group more than $1 billion, and they're not walking away from the money that is owed to them without a fight.

Now the bankruptcy court overseeing Detroit's bankruptcy has ordered FGIC, along with several others, into mediation with the city.

From the order:

It is hereby ordered that, unless otherwise excused by the mediator, the above-named noticed parties shall appear, with counsel and party-representatives with full and complete settlement authority, for continuing mediation on Friday, September 12, 2014, at 10:00 a.m., and continuing day-to-day thereafter as deemed necessary, until released by the mediators…

Robert Snell of the Detroit News reports that FGIC negotiators walked out of talks with the city two weeks ago.

Now, with the Syncora deal close to inked, FGIC is being compelled to try it again.

In a statement Wednesday, FGIC said the firm remains open to a good-faith settlement following the Syncora deal.

“The latest deal reinforces our view that the city has abundant sources of incremental value available ...,” the company said. “However the issue at hand is their willingness to distribute this value fairly and equitably...”

Syncora went from a deal that was going to give the company around 10 cents on the dollar, to a deal that's giving them around 26 cents on the dollar.

Aside from Syncora and FGIC, the other creditors ordered into mediation are:

  • UBS AG
  • SBS Financial Products Co., LLC
  • Merrill Lynch Capital Services, Inc.
  • Ambac Assurance Corp.
  • Black Rock Financial Management
  • Official Committee of Retirees
  • Wilmington Trust Company, National Association, as successor to U.S. Bank National Association, as Trustee and Contract Administrator

Inside the doctor's office.
Jennifer Morrow / Flickr

We're all hearing about concern over a rare respiratory virus that is affecting kids in the Midwest.

So far the virus has been detected in Illinois and Missouri. Medical professionals in several other states, including Michigan, are now testing patients for the virus.

This week, Mark Pallansch, director of the Center for Disease Control's Division of Viral Diseases, spoke with NPR's Robert Siegel about what they're seeing.

President Obama will speak to the nation tonight at 9 p.m. from the White House. He's expected to lay out details of his plan to address the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. 

Tune in to Michigan Radio for NPR's live coverage of the speech.

The president is expected to start speaking at 9:01:30 p.m. and the White House says the president's remarks will run approximately 15 minutes or less. 

More from NPR:

NPR News will provide live anchored special coverage hosted by Robert Siegel that will include the president's speech and analysis.  Robert will be joined in studio by Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman; White House correspondent Scott Horsley; Congressional reporter Juana Summers; and Middle East correspondent Deb Amos will join our coverage from the region.

In advance of the president's speech, NPR's Greg Myre addresses five questions "likely to determine the success or failure of any military mission." 

And the Washington Post tells us why Obama prefers giving these speeches from the East Room in the White House. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Judge Steven Rhodes has suspended Detroit's bankruptcy trial until Monday so the city can work out details of a deal with one of its major creditors.

News of the potential deal broke last night. Syncora, a bond insurer, stands to lose $400 million in Detroit's bankruptcy.

Alisa Priddle of the Detroit Free Press reports the deal the city is trying to work out with Syncora would be worth 26 cents on the dollar vs. 10 cents on the dollar under the city's current plan.

More from the Freep:

Among the goodies are $23.5 million in payment in the form of B-notes; a long-term lease on a centrally located parking garage; a 20-year extension of the lease to run the U.S. side of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel to 2040; and $6.2 million in credits towards the purchase of some parcels of land in the future.

The pause in the trial also gives the city time to reach other settlements with other creditors. One of the biggest is Financial Guaranty Insurance Co.

FGIC insured a deal made under the Kwame Kilpatrick administration that shored up the city's pension liabilities.

Here's how that deal was described by the Freep last spring:

Under former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Detroit sold the pension obligation certificates of participation to boost funding at the city’s General Retirement System and Police and Fire Retirement System to nearly 100%. The city also bought so-called swaps, or derivatives, to permanently lock in steady interest rates around 6% on the arrangement. But three years later, as the national economy tanked, interest rates plummeted, souring the deal.

Robert Snell and Christine Ferretti of the Detroit News spoke with one of Syncora's lawyers, Ryan Bennett.

Bennett said the deal before Syncora now relies on the city settling its issue with FGIC. 

Bennett said he’s not aware of any deals in the works between the city and FGIC. But the holdout creditor could benefit as well from the “shared asset pool” and that Syncora’s tentative agreement “sets a path” for FGIC, he said.

The Freep's Priddle reports that an FGIC lawyer said they need to "better understand the deal" and it will affect the witnesses he calls when the bankruptcy trial resumes next week.

*This post has been updated.

How Michigan's gubernatorial race has changed over the last six months.
Real Clear Politics

Public Policy Polling released a poll today that shows Gov. Rick Snyder leading his Democratic challenger Mark Schauer 43% to 42%. With a margin of error of +/- 3.7%, that means this race is still a toss up at this point.

That wasn't the case six months ago. It looked like Gov. Snyder was on his way, easily, to being re-elected.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Three days after severe thunderstorms knocked out service to 462,000 customers, utility companies are reporting that tens of thousands of Michigan homes and businesses are still without power. More from the Associated Press: 

Detroit-based DTE Energy Co. says 89,000 of its customers were without power late Monday morning, down from 375,000 hit by Friday's storms. Some schools that lost power were closed Monday. DTE says full restoration probably will take until Tuesday or Wednesday. Wayne County has 53,000 outages and Oakland County has 19,000. Crews from Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New York and Tennessee are helping. Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp.'s Consumers Energy unit says about 580 customers were without power Monday morning, down from more than 87,000 affected.

DTE said the storms were among "the most damaging in the companies' history."  

Wind gusts of more than 75 miles per hour caused more than 2,000 downed power lines across DTE’s Southeast Michigan service area. 

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Over the last month, Enbridge has been working to secure their two 20-inch pipelines to the lake bottom, and weather permitting, officials say they should finish their work over the next few days.

Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline runs 645 miles from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario. At the Straits, the single 30-inch pipeline splits into two 20-inch pipelines.

Enbridge says Line 5 carries natural gas liquids and light crude oils. They say it does not carry the heavy dilbit crude that proved so difficult to clean up in the Kalamazoo River oil spill.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Compuware, one of the largest employers in the city of Detroit, is likely to become a privately held company under a proposed deal with a private equity firm.

Thoma Bravo, LLC agreed to buy the company for around $2.5 billion. The deal still has to be approved by shareholders.

David Gelles of the New York Times blog DealBook writes this transaction ends the pressure put on the company by the hedge fund "Elliot Management":

The agreement ends a process that began in 2012, when Elliott took a stake in the Detroit-based company and made an offer of $11 a share to acquire it. Elliott, which still owns 9.5 percent of Compuware, has agreed to vote in favor of the deal.

Thoma Bravo will pay $10.92 a share for Compuware, less than Elliott’s original offer. But Compuware investors are likely to support the deal, which represents a 17 percent premium to Compuware’s stock price last week, and comes after a series of moves intended to create value for shareholders.

Compuware's CEO, Bob Paul, tells the Detroit Free Press that he doesn't expect any big moves for the company and that its headquarters will remain in downtown Detroit.

“Because we didn’t sell it to a strategic competitor, we are firmly entrenched in Detroit,” Paul said.

“The business will continue to operate as is, but just in a private setting now. The leadership team remains intact,” Paul added.

Paul said Compuware’s new owner-to-be, private equity firm Thoma Bravo, is experienced in working with software firms and existing management to improve operations.

The company currently employees around 1,100 to 1,200 people in downtown Detroit, according to the Freep.

Erik Gordon is a professor at the Ross Business School at the University of Michigan.  He says the sale is a sad day. 

He says in the 1980s, Compuware was a giant in the IT industry, when mainframes ruled.  Then, came PCs - followed by wave after wave of innovation.

"Compuware lived in its glorious past, and now has sort of come to at least a soft landing for its future.  At least it didn't close its doors."

Gordon says the situation could be a lot worse, had a rival software firm bought Compuware.  He says Thoma Bravo owns a number of mid-size software companies.

"These are people who really know what they are doing," says Gordon.  "It's not just a bunch of money guys who are going to come and leverage up the deal and take all the money in the middle of the night that they can get out.  These guys run software companies.  So it's a real good development for Compuware."

Robert Davis.
screen grab / WXYZ TV

The Detroit News reports that Robert Davis, a former Highland Park school board member and union activist, will plead guilty to federal theft charges.

Davis was first indicted on the charges back in 2012.

The FBI’s investigation into Davis alleges that between 2004 and 2010, Davis received more than $125,000 from the Highland Park School District through a false invoice scheme:

The New York Yankees are in town, and the player who has been a Yankee longer than any other is being celebrated by opposing fans.

Derek Jeter plans to retire from the game at the end of this season, and during what could be his last visit to Comerica Park, Michigan has come out to celebrate the player who grew up in Kalamazoo.

With Jeter in town, there's a lot being written about Jeter.

But Jim Baumbach at Newsday wrote a piece in 2012 that gives us a look at Jeter's path from Kalamazoo to the New York Yankees.

Outside the Community Health and Social Services Center in Detroit.
CHASS / Facebook

Part of the Affordable Care Act calls for big investments in community health care centers to increase access to primary health care services. The health care law calls for a total investment of $11 billion over a five-year period “for the operation, expansion, and construction of health centers” throughout the country.

Today, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced that $35.7 million in Affordable Care Act funding will go to 147 health centers in 44 states.

The funding will support 21 new construction projects and 126 renovation projects.

Seven of those health centers are in Michigan. These seven centers will split close to $1.7 million to support construction and facility improvements.

Here’s the list of health centers receiving funding:

blog.michiganadvantage.org

Want to know where the "Millionaires who like country music" and the "Intensely Boring" live in southeast Michigan? You can find them on this handy "judgmental map."

The wholly inaccurate, satirical map takes a jab at just about everybody in the region. 

It's the latest in a series of "judgmental maps" of major metropolitan regions across the U.S.

Jimmy Carter at a book signing in 2010.
Geoff Holtzman / Talk Radio News Service/Flickr

The former president, who will turn 90 on October 1, will be the keynote speaker at the annual conference for the nation's largest Muslim group.

The Islamic Society of North America's 51st annual conference will be held at the Cobo Center from August 29 through September 1. The theme of the conference will be on "elevating Muslim-American culture."

More from the Toledo Blade:

President Carter will talk on the subject of his latest book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, at a luncheon Aug. 30.

That night, at a session called “Generations Rise: Elevating Muslim-American Culture” -- the same title as the entire conference theme — the outgoing president of ISNA, Imam Mohamed Magid, and four other Muslim speakers will offer ideas for Muslim-American advancement over the next five years. A “secret special guest” is also on the bill.

The Blade reports Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will speak at the opening of the conference, which will also feature "Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, the national leader of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim member of Congress."

Here's one of the Society's promotional videos for the conference:

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