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

A fall leaf on Election Day.
Mike Perini / Michigan Radio

Across the state, voters have had a chance to weigh in on a variety of issues this election season.

We have updates for you on the major races in Michigan, but if you want to know more about the local races in your area, you'll need to check your county elections page.  

To review your county's page, right-click on the map below and select "open link in new tab [or window]":

Flag at half-staff near the Capitol in Lansing.
Matt Katzenberger / Flickr

We asked you to share one word that best describes your feeling about Election Day.

Based on the responses, it looks like most people are somewhere between hopeful, nervous, and "meh."

We had a strict one word limit, but one new voter managed to get around the rule to express their excitement.

"omgitsmyfirsttimevotingijustturned18andgotmyvoterregistrationzomg!!!"

You can share your word here, excited or not.

Here are the words bubbling to the top:

Polling place.
Stephen Velasco / Flickr

Tomorrow is Election Day. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Michigan.

Candidates are out making their final push. Mostly, they just want you to get out of your house and vote.

Not a lot of people go out and vote during midterm elections. In our last midterm election, less than half of Michigan's registered voters cast a ballot.

When you head to the polls tomorrow, your ballot is going to be long. Here are two quick links to get your started from the Michigan Secretary of State:

Don't tell the kids, but there is a way to get rid of all that candy.
rochelle hartman / Flickr

It goes without saying that you should NOT tell your kids about these dentists and their plan to buy their hard-earned candy back.

But if you find your house inundated, this just might be a good option - and who knows, maybe the kids will participate if they know there's a little money involved (the dentists pay $1 per pound of candy).

Dave Brandon, for better or worse, was tied to his hire as Michigan football head coach, Brady Hoke.
Adam Glanzman / Flickr

The University of Michigan's Athletic Director, David Brandon, has resigned.

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel made the announcement this afternoon at a press conference. Schlissel said Brandon told him about his decision to resign on Wednesday (Oct. 29). Schlissel said the terms and conditions of Brandon's departure will be released later today. 

People in Brandon's position always have their critics, but the severe storm around Brandon grew over the last several weeks.

2012 election results as depticted by a cartogram - a map adjusted for population size.
Mark Newman / Dept. of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan

Next week, we'll chart another course for our democracy by heading to the voting booth.

By this time next week, we'll know which party will rule the day in Congress and in our state Legislature. We'll also know who Michigan's next governor will be.

So how are you feeling about this big day?

I'm sure we could all take a lot of time to articulate exactly how we're feeling about next Tuesday, but can we find one word that captures it?

That's the challenge we're putting to you here:

The moment GM's Rikk Wilde became the "Chevy Guy."
screen grab from YouTube video

The "number one" fear got the best of GM regional manager Rikk Wilde last night as he presented the Most Valuable Player award to San Franciso's ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner.

Watch Wilde tell Bumgarner about the Chevy Colorado's "class-leading technology and stuff" here:

GM got publicity for presenting the award, and is getting more publicity this morning as bloggers write about last night's awkward moment.

Some are writing about Wilde's "bumbling" performance, while others say he "stole the show."

Good presentation or not, GM says he was there because he loves baseball.

From Jim Lynch of the Detroit News:

On Thursday, a spokesman for General Motors Co. said Wilde is not a regular public speaker but a rabid baseball fan.

"He is a life-long Kansas City Royals fan, so he was suffering the woes of having watched his team just lose Game 7," said Mike Albano, Chevrolet's director of communications. "His day job is selling cars and trucks and that's what he'll be back doing again today.

"And nothing he said was wrong. We've got a lot of stuff in the Chevy Colorado."

A new ad for GM?

Either way, the Internet has a new star

Detroit bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes.
John Meiu / Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC

During a brief hearing this morning in U.S. bankruptcy court, Judge Steven Rhodes declared his intention to make a final ruling on Detroit's plan to get out of bankruptcy.

Rhodes said he'll make his decision during the first week of November.

His announcement comes after the city announced that it had reached a deal with one of its last remaining major creditors. The Financial Guaranty Insurance Company will no longer oppose Detroit's plan to exit bankruptcy under the terms of a deal reached at 2:30 in the morning last week.

FGIC, which stood to lose $1.1 billion, agreed to terms that gives the company the right to develop the area where the Joe Louis Arena and parking garage now stand. The deal also gave them millions of dollars in credits for future purchases and city notes.

Rod Meloni of WDIV-TV was in court this morning live-blogging. He wrote about what we can expect next for the days remaining in Detroit's bankruptcy trial:

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder (left), and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer (right).
Gov. Snyder's office, and Schauer campaign.

Update 11:20 a.m.

As predicted, the debate rages on.

Tons of people have written about this issue over the last year, and today the Citizens Research Council released some more analysis on this question, so we thought we'd add their findings to this post we published last May. (Our investigative reporter, Lester Graham, is also looking into this question and will have more for us in the coming weeks.)

What did the Citizens Research Council find?

You can read the full-report here, but in short they tackled these three questions:

VW edging closer to its desired no. 1 spot.
user PMillera4 / Flickr

They're rounding the 7.5 furlong mark and the standings are:

  1. Toyota
  2. Volkswagen
  3. General Motors

The Associated Press breaks it down for us:

Volkswagen edged out General Motors for second place in the global auto sales race during the first three quarters of the year, but Toyota was expected to keep its lead to stay in first place.

GM said Wednesday that is sold 7.37 million cars and trucks worldwide from January through September. But VW said it sold 7.4 million to nudge GM out of second place.

Toyota won't release its numbers for the first three quarters until late October. But it was in first place in the first half with sales of almost 5.1 million, and it expects the full-year figure to be 10.1 million.

Toyota finished first last year with a record 9.98 million sales. General Motors Co. finished second and VW third.

Jimmy Settles, UAW vice president and director of the national Ford department said, “today we celebrate the commitment to excellence that the hardworking men and women of the Rouge demonstrate every day.”
Ford Motor Company

One of the best selling vehicles of all-time will have a brand new, aluminum-centric design.

Ford announced today that it will add 850 workers to help build its new F-150 pickup truck.

More from the Associated Press:

The company says 500 of the workers will go to the Dearborn Truck plant, where the F-150 is assembled. Three hundred workers will go to the Dearborn Stamping plant and 50 workers will go to Dearborn Diversified, which makes axles and other parts.

Their explanation is simple:

That school in Ohio and the University of Michigan have a bit of a rivalry between their football teams.

The Bank of Ann Arbor Facebook post is at 307 shares and counting - watch it go.

(H/T SB Nation)

This 250-year-old bur oak tree on the University of Michigan's campus will be moved on Oct. 25, weather permitting.
Corey Seeman / Flickr

I hope they have more success than I did.

I tried moving a four-year-old oak tree in my backyard… and failed. Of course, they’ll be using more than just a spade and a burlap sack.

We’ll likely find out over the next few years whether the $300,000 to $400,000 project to move the 250-year-old bur oak tree on the campus of the University of Michigan worked.

The tree is being moved as part of a $135 million, donor-funded expansion of U of M’s business school. The school announced today that the oak will be moved on October 25, weather permitting.

Moving my tree's root ball was hard enough. How in the world will they move a 700,000 to 850,000 pound root ball?

Glad you asked. Here’s a video showing exactly that:

NWF / screenshot from YouTube video

Michigan Radio's MI Curious project puts our journalists to work for you: We investigate questions you submit about our state and its people.

One of the MI Curious questions was submitted by listener Justin Cross from Delton, Michigan. He asked: "What's the status of the Enbridge pipeline in the bottom of Lake Michigan running through the Straits of Mackinac?"

Michigan Radio's Mark Brush has been working to find an answer to the question. Brush says what he found is that Enbridge holds all the cards. The company is willing to talk, and they are aware of people's concerns. 

Gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer (D) and Secretary of State candidate Godfrey Dillard (D) will answer questions from the MLive editorial board during tonight's live Ballot Bash event in Lansing.

Godfrey Dillard is scheduled to appear from 6:45 - 7:15 pm. Mark Schauer is scheduled from 7:30 - 8:00 pm.

You can watch the event below:

Gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer (D) and Secretary of State candidate Godfrey Dillard (D) will answer questions from the MLive editorial board during tonight's live Ballot Bash event in Lansing. Godfrey Dillard is scheduled to appear from 6:45 - 7:15 pm. Mark Schauer is scheduled from 7:30 - 8:00 pm. You can watch the event below:

Live streaming video by Ustream The final Ballot Bash event will be Tuesday, Oct. 14 in Royal Oak featuring U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters (D) and Attorney General candidate Mark Totten (D).

The final Ballot Bash event will be Tuesday, Oct. 14 in Royal Oak featuring U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters (D) and Attorney General candidate Mark Totten (D). 

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Credit an Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

We've been working to find an answer to the question, "What's the status of the aged Enbridge oil pipeline running through Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac?"

It was posed by Justin Cross for our M I Curious project.

One of the first things we discovered was that the company holds all the cards.

The eclipse is happening now. You can watch it online here, or better yet. Go outside and look!

One of our Facebook fans, Ben Wojdyla, reminds us that a big event is yet to come:

If you're vigilant, you can catch the selenelion, a rare celestial occurrence wherein a lunar eclipse and the rising sun can be observed simultaneously. Should occur between 7:30 and 7:45.

Here are the photos being shared on Twitter:

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A lot of us are curious about the oil pipeline running through the Straits of Mackinac.

Michigan Radio's M I Curious is a news experiment where we investigate questions submitted by the public about our state and its people.

As part of our M I Curious project, Justin Cross asked Michigan Radio this question:

What is the status of the aged Enbridge oil pipeline running through Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac?  

Gov. Rick Snyder, U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land, Attorney General Bill Schuette and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson answer questions from MLive's statewide editorial board during tonight's live Ballot Bash event in Grand Rapids.

You can watch below:

The event has concluded. See highlights from MLive here, or watch the recorded event here.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Michigan Athletic Director, David Brandon.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon says the university will make changes to ensure student-athlete safety.

This comes after U of M confirmed overnight that quarterback Shane Morris did play after suffering a mild concussion in Saturday’s game against Minnesota.

Here’s how Morris appeared after the hit:

Brandon issued a statement blaming  “a serious lack of communication” for allowing Morris to return to the game. He says the communication problem involved the team’s medical staff and coaches.

Brandon released the details of the communication breakdown in his statement:

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr speaking at the University of Michigan.
U of M

After voters rejected the state's old emergency manager law in November 2012, Michigan lawmakers quickly came up with a replacement.

State-appointed emergency managers could still take control over local governments and school boards, but under the new law, they could do so for a limited amount of time. 

The new law, Public Act 436, allows for local governments to end a state-appointed emergency manager's term after 18 months. From the law:

If the emergency manager has served for at least 18 months after his or her appointment under this act, the emergency manager may, by resolution, be removed by a 2/3 vote of the governing body of the local government. If the local government has a strong mayor, the resolution requires strong mayor approval before the emergency manager may be removed. 

Orr started work as Detroit's emergency manager on March 28, 2013, so his 18 months is up in the next few days.

Almost everyone thought Detroit City Council and Mayor Duggan would vote to end Orr's appointment, but with Detroit's bankruptcy process wrapping up in court, the talk has changed.

Inside Mountain Town Brewing Co., one of the sponsors of CMU's program.
CMU

CMU's College of Science and Technology announced this week that it's working to create a certificate program in fermentation science.

The college says the program would be "the first of its kind in Michigan to provide a hands-on education focused on craft beer."

Classes in biochemistry, chemistry and microbiology combined with a 200-hour internship at a production-scale brewing facility would be required.

More from CMU's press release:

“As of 2013, Michigan ranked fifth in the nation in number of breweries, behind only California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington,” Ian Davison, dean of the College of Science and Technology, said. “This growing industry contributes significantly to the state’s economy, supporting jobs in breweries as well as in farms producing barley and hops. In 2012, the Brewers Association calculated that Michigan craft brewing contributed 11,666 full-time equivalent jobs and had about a $1 billion economic impact.”

Here's how the Brewers Association breaks down Michigan's numbers:

Cass Tech High School in Detroit.
DPS / Flickr

The Michigan Education Department and four of the state's school districts have been awarded nearly $3 million in federal grants to improve school safety and learning conditions.

The U.S. Education Department announced the grants as part of its effort to improve school safety around, reduce gun violence, and improve mental health services.

More from the U.S. Department of Education’s press release:

To help keep students safe and improve their learning environments, the U.S. Department of Education awarded more than $70 million to 130 grantees in 38 states…

“If we can’t help protect kids and staff, and make them feel safe at school, then everything else that we do is secondary,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “If kids don’t feel safe, they can’t learn. It’s that simple. Through these grants of more than $70 million, we are continuing our commitment to ensure that kids have access to the best learning experience possible.”

Here are the grants awarded in Michigan:

Part of the new line 6B pipeline in central Michigan.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Enbridge Energy has finished laying its new oil pipeline across Michigan as part of its $1.3 billion pipeline replacement project.

Much of the new pipeline was put in the ground near the old pipeline. That old line broke in 2010, spilling more than 800,000 gallons of heavy tar sands crude oil into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River. The company is just finishing cleanup work four years after that spill.

The company finished laying the new section of pipeline in St. Clair County and is taking the old Line 6B pipeline offline there.

Propane tank near Skidway Lake, Michigan.
George Thomas / Flickr

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette reached a $100,000 agreement with Ferrellgas, and is suing AmeriGas for alleged price gouging last winter.

As temperatures fell in Michigan, many propane customers saw their bills skyrocket. Gov. Snyder declared an "energy emergency" in the state.

Schuette said in a statement today that the lawsuit against AmeriGas and agreement with Ferrellgas follow hundreds of consumer complaints related to propane pricing and delivery.

Affected Ferrellgas customers will receive a credit on their bill.

You can see more details in Schuette's statement:

“I’m pleased that we reached an agreement with Ferrellgas on behalf of Michigan consumers before the upcoming heating season,” said Schuette. “Under this agreement, hundreds of Ferrellgas customers who were harmed by pricing errors and the highest propane prices will receive a share of $100,000 in billing credits by October 15th.”

The lawsuit against AmeriGas in Berrien County Circuit Court alleges violations of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

You can read the complaint here.

Dan Dirks, DDOT Director, says they're "beating bushes down" trying to find new drivers.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Detroit News reports drivers are being heavily recruited by the department for the first time in years.

Officials of the city’s much-maligned bus service — plagued with an image problem for being perpetually late and crime-ridden — believe the current environment is ripe for attracting new drivers. Cameras will be installed on all buses by late fall, and transit police are boarding more routes.

Music artists Calvin Harris (left), Lana del Rey (right).
Carlos Delgado - wikimedia commons / Beatriz Alvani - Flickr

How do we know this?

Well, we don’t, but Spotify does.

The Swedish streaming music service released data on “How Students Listen” naming  the “Top 40 Musical Universities in America."

The report is an obvious way to attract attention to itself (and get more subscribers), but the data released is interesting in that it shows what these online services know about certain populations.

Both Michigan State University and the University of Michigan are named in their “Top 40” List.

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.

In August of 2010, crews prepare to remove the broken section of Enbridge's Line 6B pipeline.
EPA

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.

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.

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