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.

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Environment & Science
3:11 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Great Lakes ice levels approaching record set in 1979

Great Lakes ice levels as of March 4th, 2014. The blue areas show open water.
Credit NOAA

The last time I posted on this (on Feb. 26), the ice levels on the Great Lakes had dropped off.

There had been a slight warm-up and some strong winds that had opened up the water.

But it's been cold since then, and the ice levels have increased on the Great Lakes. Here's a graphic showing you where the ice levels stand as of yesterday. The blue areas show the open water:

As I mentioned in my previous post, ice formation on the lakes is dynamic – constantly changing.

Read more
Economy
2:58 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

The average Michigan family needs $52,330 a year to 'make ends meet'

The MLPP's estimate of monthly expenses.
MLPP

That's for a two-parent family with two kids and where the two parents are working.

Peter Ruark and Cameron Merrill compiled the numbers for the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Their report states that "making ends meet" means just covering the bare necessities.

If you and your partner have two kids, and you make $52,330 a year, the authors say you have just enough to cover your expenses for things like housing, food, healthcare, clothing, child care, transportation, and taxes.

It's equal to each person making $12.85 an hour at a full-time job. 

That's just one living situation the MLPP report looks at. It also breaks down the amount you would need to earn each year to "make ends meet" if you were:

  • single - $21,570
  • a single parent with two kids - $44,164
  • a two-parent family with two kids and you are both working - $52,330
  • a two-parent family with two kids and only one parent is working - $26,720

(They assume child care is not needed in a two-parent family with only one person working.) 

They also broke down the difference in need based on where you live in Michigan. Scroll over the interactive map below to see their wage estimates for each county.

Read more
Arts & Culture
11:05 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Michigan's Charlie White and Meryl Davis will appear on 'Dancing with the Stars'

Meryl Davis and Charlie White at the 2009-2010 Grand Prix Final. Stephen Colbert wanted to know if White's hair was on performance enhancing drugs.
David W. Carmichael Wikimedia Commons

Fresh off their gold-medal win in Sochi, Meryl Davis and Charlie White will ride their fame straight onto one of the most popular shows on television.

Charlie White will be paired up with professional dancer Sharna Burgess, and Meryl Davis will be paired up with dance pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy.

USA Today reports on the next "Dancing with the Stars" lineup.

Olympians Charlie White and Meryl Davis seem to have an obvious advantage. (

Read more
Politics & Government
5:45 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

If this guy doesn't win in Georgia, he'll try his luck in Michigan

Allan Levene figures he has 10 years left to live, and he really wants to serve in Congress.

... and in Hawaii, and in Minnesota.

Allan Levene, a naturalized U.S. citizen from London, England, is running for Congress in four different states.

He can do that.

The U.S. Constitution states that to be a representative in Congress, you only have to live in the state when you are elected.

Levene says if he doesn't win the primary this May in Georgia, where he lives now, he's going to try his luck in Michigan, Hawaii, and Minnesota.

Why? 

Read more
Environment & Science
12:43 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

More action needed to clean up Lake Erie, says international agency

Algae blooms have once again become common in western Lake Erie.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Massive algae blooms and dead zones in Lake Erie: These used to be major environmental problems around the most urbanized Great Lake back in the '60s and '70s, but they are problems once again.

Now, an international agency that keeps an eye on the health of the Great Lakes is calling for more action.

The International Joint Commission, a U.S.-Canadian agency, wants sharp cutbacks on phosphorus runoff getting into Lake Erie.

The amount of phosphorus available in rivers and lakes is one of the main drivers of algae growth. The more you have, the more the algae blooms.

Read more
Sports
2:13 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

The people working to grow the biking culture in Flint and Marquette

Biking in Flint, Michigan.
Issue Media Group

Cities like Ann Arbor, Portland, and Seattle are known for promoting biking in their cities, but biking hasn't found much of a foothold in many traditional Rust Belt cities.

Some people are trying to change that. Issue Media Group has two pieces profiling those people.

In their publication Mid-Michigan Second Wave, writer Kelli Kavanaugh looks at this trend in Flint. Kavanaugh spoke with Flint native Andy Stamps who founded the Berston Bicycle Club Project. 

Read more
Environment & Science
11:17 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Watch a time-lapse video of the ice forming on the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes on Feb. 16, 2014.
GLERL

Update: March 5, 2014, 3:36 p.m.

The Great Lakes are again icing up and approaching the 1979 record. See this post for more.

Original post: February 26th, 2014, 11:17 a.m.

This frigid winter has us watching the record books again. The record for the most amount of ice cover on the Great Lakes was set back in 1979. That's when the ice cover reached the 95% mark.

Read more
Law
5:27 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Feds will investigate U of M for how it handled a rape allegation against a football player

Brendan Gibbons was expelled from U of M in 2013 for allegedly violating the school’s sexual misconduct policy. Gibbons was arrested but never charged in the alleged rape. He had been the starting kicker for the Wolverines.
user Cbl62 Wikimedia Commons

Federal education officials are investigating the University of Michigan’s response to an alleged sexual assault involving a U of M football player in 2009.

Brendan Gibbons was expelled from U of M in 2013 for allegedly violating the school’s sexual misconduct policy. Gibbons was arrested, but never charged in the alleged 2009 rape. He was the starting kicker for the Wolverines until December 2013.

Read more
Politics & Government
2:23 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Reports: Debbie Dingell to run for her husband's seat in Congress

Debbie Dingell.
Wayne State University

A day after Rep. John Dingell (D-Michigan) announced that he will retire at the end of his term this year, it appears that Debbie Dingell will announce Friday that she will run for her husband's seat.

Both the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press say sources are telling them Debbie Dingell will announce her intent to run this Friday.

John Dingell hinted at her intentions during his retirement announcement yesterday.

"If she runs, I will vote for her,"  John Dingell said.

More from Kathleen Gray at the Detroit Free Press:

Debbie Dingell, 60, is the other half of one of Washington’s most powerful political couple. She has been a member of the Democratic National Committee for years, is a member of the Wayne State University Board of Trustees and has held high level positions with General Motors.

She will have about eight weeks to collect at least 1,000 valid signatures from voters in her district to qualify for the ballot.

Detroit bankruptcy
11:46 am
Tue February 25, 2014

LIVE CHAT: Tom Sugrue takes your questions about the future of Detroit

Tom Sugrue
Department of History University of Pennsylvania

Tom Sugrue wrote the book "The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit."

Sugrue is a Detroit native and a professor of history and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. He will be one of the keynote speakers at this Thursday's Detroit Policy Conference.

Detroit Free Press business writer John Gallagher, an author of a few books on Detroit himself, is hosting an online chat with Sugrue at noon today.

Sugrue recently told Gallagher that he leans "toward the pessimistic side" on the continuum of views about the future of Detroit.

Jump in the conversation below. They'll start at noon today.

Politics & Government
3:30 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

U.S. Rep. John Dingell's time in Congress to end, announces retirement

John and Debbie Dingell at today's luncheon.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Update 3:30 p.m.

President Obama issued this statement in response to Dingell's announcement:

Serving nearly six decades in the House of Representatives, John Dingell has earned the distinction of being both the longest-serving Member of Congress in U.S. history and one of the most influential legislators of all time.  After serving his country in the Army during World War II, John was first elected to Congress in 1955 – representing the people of southeastern Michigan in a seat previously held by his father.  In Washington, John risked his seat to support the Civil Rights Act of 1964, fought to pass Medicare in 1965, and penned legislation like the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act that have kept millions of Americans healthy and preserved our natural beauty for future generations.  

But of all John’s accomplishments, perhaps the most remarkable has been his tireless fight to guarantee quality, affordable health care for every American.  Decades after his father first introduced a bill for comprehensive health reform, John continued to introduce health care legislation at the beginning of every session.  And as an original author of the Affordable Care Act, he helped give millions of families the peace of mind of knowing they won’t lose everything if they get sick.  Today, the people of Michigan – and the American people – are better off because of John Dingell’s service to this country, and Michelle and I wish him, his wife Debbie, and their family the very best.

And Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak issued this statement:

"Congressman Dingell served with great dignity and respect. We wish him the best of health and blessings with his retirement.”

1:00 p.m.

Speaking at a luncheon today at the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Rep. John Dingell announced his retirement today.

"I'm not leaving the downriver. I'm not leaving Michigan," Dingell said.

From Dingell's speech:

Around this time every two years, my wife Deborah and I confer on the question of whether I will seek reelection.  My standards are high for this job.  I put myself to the test and have always known that when the time came that I felt I could not live up to my own personal standard for a Member of Congress, it would be time to step aside for someone else to represent this district. 

That time has come.

During a Q&A after his speech Dingell said the single most important vote he cast during his time in Congress was his vote in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

"It was a hard fight, but it solved a problem that was eating at the heart and soul and liver of this country ... [if it hadn't passed] it would have left us with undivided anger and bitterness. We have not solved that problem and there is much to be done."

There's a lot of speculation that Dingell's wife Deborah will run for his seat. Dingell said she has not decided yet whether she will run.

"If she runs, I will vote for her,"  he said.

After his Q&A, the room sang "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow."

11:55 a.m.

You can watch Dingell announce his retirement live below (courtesy of the Detroit Free Press):

*The luncheon has ended.

Watch live streaming video from freeplive at livestream.com

9:38 a.m.

Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress, made his announcement to the Detroit papers this morning. From the Detroit Free Press:

U.S. Rep. John Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat who replaced his father in the House some 58 years ago and became one of the most powerful members of Congress ever, will step down after this year, capping a career umatched in its longevity and singular in its influence and sweep.

Dingell, 87, told the Free Press that he’d reached the decision to retire at the end of his current term — his 29th full one — rather than run for re-electon because it was time, given a list of achievements that any other member of Congress would envy, and his continued frustration over partisan gridlock.

Dingell said "I'm not going to be carried out feet first." From Detroit News' Nolan Finely:

“I don’t want people to say I stayed too long.”

Dingell says his health “is good enough that I could have done it again. My doctor says I’m OK. And I’m still as smart and capable as anyone on the Hill.

“But I’m not certain I would have been able to serve out the two-year term.”

More than health concerns, Dingell says a disillusionment with the institution drove his decision to retire.

“I find serving in the House to be obnoxious,” he says. “It’s become very hard because of the acrimony and bitterness, both in Congress and in the streets.”

So the question turns to who will run for his seat. And being the longest serving member in Congress, you can expect to see many posts around the web highlighting his career.  Here's one we did last year.

*This post is being updated.

Breaking
11:34 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Detroit leaders submit bankruptcy restructuring plan to court

From the first page of the plan of adjustment filed in court today.

The city's blueprint for how to shed billions of dollars in debt while providing basic city services to residents was filed in federal bankruptcy court today.

Your can read it here.

The plan spells out how the city plans to repay the more than 100,000 creditors – those receiving city pensions, retirees, banks, bond insurers and other creditors – can look through the plan to see how they will fare.

The bankruptcy court will now go over the plan and will likely make adjustments.

Among other things, the plan proposes what’s called a "cram down" that will force city bondholders to take big losses.

It also lays out proposed formulas to "modify" – meaning cut – city pensions.

The level of cuts will depend on a number of factors, but the plan assumes a $350 million state contribution to supplement private funds. Officials say the cuts shouldn't go beyond about 30%.

The plan also proposes transferring assets from the Detroit Institute of Arts to a private entity to avoid a possible art sale.

Again, that depends on state and private funds coming through.

Gov. Rick Snyder issued the following statement regarding the plan:

"Detroit’s comeback is underway. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr has submitted a thoughtful, comprehensive blueprint directing the city back to solid financial ground, a crucial step toward a fully revitalized Detroit.  There will be difficult decisions and challenges for all sides as this process moves forward.

The state’s focus is on protecting and minimizing the impact on retirees, especially those on fixed, limited incomes, restoring and improving essential services for all 700,000 Detroit residents and building a foundation for the city’s long-term financial stability and economic growth.

This plan of adjustment is a critical step forward as we look to resolve problems decades in the making.

Let’s use this plan as a call to action for a voluntary settlement as part of the mediation process to resolve the bankruptcy more quickly and soften the tough but necessary changes. We already have witnessed some strong collaboration around innovative ideas. We hope there can be more and that these efforts come to fruition.

Detroit’s long-term viability is not just essential for its residents -- but to all Michiganders."

We'll have more as the story develops today.

*This post is being updated.

Weather
2:52 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

'Thundersnow' is the icing on the cake for this winter in Michigan

Snow falling.
user woodleywonderworks Flickr

Across parts of Michigan, you might have heard this during the torrent of snow this morning:

Marcin Szczepanski with the University of Michigan College of Engineering shot that video while on campus today.

So what is this "thundersnow" stuff?

One theory is that winter has just been partying too much:

Read more
Economy
3:09 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Look at this interactive map for insight into one of Detroit's biggest problems

You can see how Detroit developed over time with this map. The pink parcels are the oldest, the blue a little newer, and the green are the newest.
screengrab of Loveland Technologies' WDWOT map.

The blighted buildings in Detroit have been a major stumbling block for decades.

How do you start revitalizing a city when so much of it is crumbling?

Current estimates put the number of abandoned buildings at somewhere between 78,000 and 90,000, but that's a guess. Nobody really knows the true number.

Read more
Sports
12:21 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Listen to Davis and White describe the secrets of their success in ice dancing

Meryl Davis and Charlie White competing in the 2011 Rostelecom Cup.
user Luu wikimedia commons

They reached the pinnacle yesterday: Michigan's Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the gold medal in ice dancing at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

They became the first Americans to do so, and they did it even with all the pressure of being the favorites to win the competition.

The two came to our studios last year right before their gold medal performance in the World Championships.

Their conversation with Cynthia Canty gives good insight into their solid and steady nature, and how they managed to live up to, and even exceed, the expectations at the Olympics.

Some of the things they credited to their success:

  • A hard-work ethic, even as kids (they're on the ice five hours a day, five days a week)
  • Parents who encouraged them, but were not too pushy
  • An incredible coach, Marina Zoueva of Russia
  • And White doesn't call it "swagger," he just calls it "a lot of confidence." 

Take a listen below:

Politics & Government
12:15 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Administration official says bailout of Detroit was not politically possible

Detroit
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Gene Sperling, the outgoing director of the White House National Economic Council, told this to reporters today, according to David Shepardson of The Detroit News:

“We did not feel we had any available financial tools, and secondly, we did not think that the prospect of legislation was even close to viable," Sperling told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. "To have floated (a bailout) would have given false hope and taken people's eye off the important task ahead so what we tried to do was make clear that the federal government – we did not have tools at our disposal that could be helpful to Detroit."

So a federal bailout isn't politically feasible; is state help any more palatable?

Gov. Snyder floated an idea after private individuals and foundations offered to step in, but with a state Legislature unwilling to raise funds to fix the state's aging roads, money to help Detroit is a long shot.

Environment & Science
3:02 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Ice bridge to Isle Royale is complete, will new wolves cross it?

Lake Superior on Feb. 4, 2014. Can you find the ice bridge to Isle Royale in this photo? It's there.
MODIS NASA

The last time I checked, the ice bridge to Isle Royale had not fully formed, but there's an ice bridge now.

Michigan Technological University's Rolf Peterson confirmed it in an e-mail to me last night.

"There's been a good ice bridge for the past 10 days."

Read more
The Environment Report
10:54 am
Thu February 6, 2014

How emergency responders in Michigan are preparing for the next pipeline break

Workers measure pipe before cutting and removing the section from the Enbridge pipeline oil spill site near Marshall, Michigan. This photo was taken on August 6th, 2010.
EPA

There are close to 70,000 miles of underground pipelines in Michigan carrying all kinds of materials around the state – things like natural gas, refined petroleum, and crude oil.

And for the most part, we really don’t notice these pipelines. That was true in Michigan until one summer day three and half years ago when this happened:

Read more
Law
11:51 am
Tue February 4, 2014

I-96 shooter Raulie Casteel sentenced to prison in Oakland Co., awaits Livingston Co. sentencing

Livingston County Sheriff's Department

A man who shot at drivers along I-96 and connecting roads in 2012 has been sentenced to 80 to 120 months in prison in Oakland County Circuit Court.

Raulie Casteel pleaded no contest but mentally ill to assault and firearms charges last year.

There were nearly two dozen shootings in 2012 that terrified the region for weeks, but no one was seriously hurt.

Casteel's lawyer maintains that Casteel's undiagnosed mental illness prompted his criminal behavior and the shooting incidents.

Casteel still awaits sentencing in Livingston County. He was convicted there last week of terrorism in a related case. He faces up to life in prison for that conviction and is expected to be sentenced next month.

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Offbeat
11:33 am
Mon February 3, 2014

So is there 'anything more American than America'? A look at Chrysler's Super Bowl ad

Bob Dylan in Chrysler's latest Super Bowl ad.
YouTube

"Is there anything more American than America?"

That was the opening line of this year's Chrysler ad featuring Bob Dylan during last night's Super Bowl.

People reacted quickly to the head-scratching question on Twitter:

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