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

Image made by Mark Brush

For the last two weeks, people in Michigan have shared their reasons for staying in the state.

We asked people to publish images that capture why they stay after a Gallup poll showed that 37% of us would rather live somewhere else.

This was a project with 10 other public radio stations spread across the country. We all asked our audience members to use the hashtag #whyIstay when sharing a picture.

Thousands of people shared their reasons for living where they do.

imgr

Spring is here and warmer air has finally come to the region, but we're still surrounded by five refrigerators – the five Great Lakes.

Lake Michigan broke a record this past winter for total ice coverage, so you know there won't be many people swimming in the lake over Memorial Day weekend.

The lakes will, however, have plenty of fisherman on them. And with the cold water and warm air, they might experience fog.

But have you ever seen a fog bank like this?

These days are long gone. A gas pump in 1974.
USEPA

The roads are crumbling and people want them fixed.

But just how do we pay for what some are calling a $2 billion a year problem?

Right now, state lawmakers are considering raising revenue through higher taxes on gas, and that's raised a lot of debate around what we pay at the pump already.

The average gallon of gas in Michigan stands at $3.85 today. In Louisiana, by contrast, the average gallon of gas is $3.38.

Why the difference?

Car or human? This "transformer" street performer wants to reassure the kids he's human.
Mark Brush

We in the media world go crazy for anything that might get shared by thousands... nay millions of people around the Internet. 

Entire sites like Gawker, Buzzfeed, and ViralNova are dedicated to getting these shares. The New York Times gazed at its navel and didn't like what it saw. "More shareable content!" they said.

Morel mushrooms spring from the ground in Michigan.
State of Michigan

Listen to Chef Hermann Suhs cooking up morels in his kitchen at Hermann's European Café in Cadillac, Michigan.

This audio postcard was produced by Tom Carr.

Here's the recipe for "Fettuccine Morello a la Chef Hermann"

Ingredients:

collage by Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Last Friday, we asked people to share a photo that represents why they stay in Michigan.

So far, people have shared thousands of photos and tweets using the hashtag #whyIstay.

Public radio stations all over the country are asking their communities the same question. Here's a collection showing all the responses.

Health officials suspect undercooked ground beef.
user i believe i can fry / Flickr

State health officials say they're working with health departments in Kent, Livingston, Oakland, Ottawa and Washtenaw counties to investigate a cluster of recent illnesses due to the bacteria E. coli O157.

The state Department of Community Health and the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced Wednesday that the suspected source of the bacteria is ground beef.

More from the MDCH press release:

Logo design by Harrison Lott

We're launching an innovative journalism project here at Michigan Radio that will allow the public to drive the stories we investigate. 

Ask yourself, "what am I curious about?" and then share that question with us.

Our MI Curious project will launch in the coming weeks with a website that will ask:

"What do you wonder about Michigan, the region or its people that you want Michigan Radio to investigate?"

A computer screen showing HealthCare.gov in action.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

That's one of the lessons drawn from a report put out by the law firm Mehri & Skalet.

The author of the report, Jay Angoff, once led the U.S. Health and Human Services office in charge of implementing the Affordable Care Act.

Angoff looked at the amount it cost to set up health care exchanges in each state along with the number of enrollees in each state through March 31, 2014.

By doing that, he came up with a “cost-per-enrollee” for each state’s health care exchange.

Overall, the average cost-per-enrollee was $922. The average cost was higher for states with their own exchanges, and lower in states with the federally-run exchange.

USDA Forest Service

Researchers are uncovering evidence for a timeline for the arrival of an invasive beetle that has destroyed tens of millions of ash trees in the U.S. and Canada.

The emerald ash borer is native to China. Scientists think it arrived in the U.S. via wood packing crates. The beetle eats through the living part of an ash tree underneath the bark and cuts off the tree's water and food supply. This starves the tree to death.

The ash borer continues to spread across the U.S. The researchers found that it may have arrived in North America a decade before it first was detected.

More from the Associated Press:

Michigan State University researchers collected cores from trunks of more than 1,000 ash trees in six southeastern Michigan counties. By studying them, they determined the year each tree was killed by the emerald ash borer and found trees killed as early as 1997.

The ash borer was detected in southeast Michigan in 2002. The researchers say it would take several years before the beetle population was large enough to kill trees, so they concluded it had been in southeast Michigan since at least 1992 or 1993.

The study is published in the journal Diversity and Distributions.

DIA Archives

The Detroit Institute of Arts is planning a unique exhibition that highlights the year Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo spent in the city.

Between April 1932 and March 1933, Rivera created the famed Detroit Industry murals on the walls of a courtyard at the Detroit museum.

Here’a video of the murals being made at the DIA:

Sherri Welch reports for Crain’s Detroit Business that other museums and private collectors will help the DIA with the exhibition:

"When Rivera was here, he was regarded as one of the most important artists in the world of western art at that time," [DIA Director Graham] Beal said.

Edsel Ford paid for the murals, which wound up costing just less than $21,000 at the time, according to the DIA.

Rivera, seen as one of the greatest muralists of his time, was a very important influence on the artists who became abstract expressionists, Beal said.

And Kahlo's development as an artist took place when she was here in Detroit. Renowned as not only a portrait artist but as a symbol of feminist strength, Kahlo's works range in style from folk art to surrealist.

In its press release, the DIA says most of the works Kahlo created in Detroit will be shown for the first time in the city.

The show is scheduled to run from March 15, 2015, to July 12, 2015.

In all, 80 artworks will be featured in the exhibition, including Rivera's preparatory drawings for the Detroit Industry murals.

The Warren Civic Center.
City of Warren

The city of Warren, Michigan has been wresting with population declines for several decades and with that comes the common problems many industrial cities face - how to deal with vacant property.

Last week, Mayor Jim Fouts announced a plan to relieve the city of caring for some of these empty lots.

If you live next to one, you can buy it from the city for $1.

More from the Associated Press:

Fouts says the buyers will be responsible for closing costs that won't exceed $700 per lot. Additional property taxes will be around $150 annually.

The mayor calls it a "win-win" deal for Warren and the nearby property owners. He says the price is hard to beat, plus the city will no longer have to cut weeds or grass and shovel snow at the sites.

And now the city is hoping to convert some of its empty parcels into a bustling downtown around its city center.

Christina Hall writes for the Detroit Free Press:

In the next few months, Mayor Jim Fouts would like to reveal specific plans for some of those parcels in the city’s downtown — details he hopes will describe a five-star hotel, fashionable movie theater, high-class restaurant, nightclub and grocery store...

After roughly a decade of failed attempts, Fouts believes plans finally are falling into place to develop a bustling downtown in Michigan’s third-largest city.

The mayor says the city's Downtown Development Authority has "received many 'strong feelers from businesses wanting to develop' more than 16 acres around the civic center."

Going from "strong feelers" to actual construction can be a long process.

Gallup

I mean, it's not like we're living in Hawaii, after all.

Michigan is "above the national average" for the number of people who say they'd rather live somewhere else, according to the Gallup poll.

Here was the question they put to the 600 people they reached by phone in Michigan:

"Regardless of whether you will move, if you had the opportunity, would you like to move to another state, or would you rather remain in your current state?"

Editors of the New Republic saw this tweet from NYU professor and Eurasia Group president Ian Bremmer:

The festival in past years.
The Arab American News.com

The festival has been canceled for the second year in a row due to higher liability insurance costs for festival organizers.

The three-day festival in Dearborn celebrated Arab culture and was one the largest gatherings of Arab Americans in the U.S., but it also attracted anti-Islamic protestors and Christian missionaries from around the country.

Niraj Warikoo reports for the Detroit Free Press:

Tensions at the festival broke out in 2010 when a group of Christian missionaries arrived with video cameras to record their attempts to debate Muslims. Some were arrested for disturbing the peace, though later acquitted of most charges. Their arrests drew outrage from conservatives across the U.S.

Another Christian group filed a lawsuit against the city, saying the missionaries were restricted in where they could distribute their literature. In 2012, a separate group of Christians brought a pig’s head mounted on a pole with anti-Islam signs, resulting in some youth hurling bottles at them.

Warikoo reports that Dearborn was forced to pay $300,000 to the Christian missionaries arrested in 2010.

The Arab-American Chamber of Commerce says they’re still looking for ways to move forward with the festival.

Eusko Jaurlaritza / Flickr

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is proposing changes to their rules for oil and gas drilling in the state.

MDEQ leaders say they've had a successful record regulating the practice of hydraulic fracturing in the state for more than five decades, but new practices by the oil and gas industry are leading to the rule changes.

The industry's practice of horizontal hydraulic fracturing, known commonly as "fracking," has allowed companies to extract a lot more oil and gas from the ground.

Lyndon Township

A Ready Mix concrete company wants to dig for sand and gravel on a site north of Chelsea, Michigan. McCoig Materials is planning the mine right in the middle of the Pinckney and Waterloo State Recreation Areas (see the map above for the location of the proposed site).

The plan has drawn opposition from hundreds of residents and other advocates who fear the mine could affect water resources in the area. They also are concerned about the truck traffic that would roll through downtown Chelsea.

Lyndon Township officials will vote on whether the mine should move forward. A meeting has been scheduled next month. From the township:

Detroit skyline.
user JSFauxtaugraphy / Flickr

The city of Detroit has reached a tentative deal with more than a dozen unions that represent thousands of workers in the city.

Mediators for the federal court overseeing Detroit’s reorganization under Chapter 9 bankruptcy announced the tentative deal this morning.

They say the coalition of unions includes 13 civilian unions and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. AFSCME is the city’s largest union.

The mediators say the city and the unions have agreed on the "major aspects" of a five-year collective bargaining agreement. The deal still has to be approved by the federal bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes and by the union's members.

Details of the deal will be released once it’s approved. Chad Livengood of the Detroit News reports he spoke with a source with knowledge of the agreement:

State of Opportunity Reporter Dustin Dwyer shares his thoughts on why a viral video of hockey player Jordin Tootoo giving his stick away to an eagerly awaiting kid makes him sad. It has to do with the young woman in the upper right part of the frame.

Jason Hicks going for his ninth strike.
Amber Taylor / YouTube

We're talking the traditional, pitcher-of-beer, middle America, tenpin bowling.

Chad McClean set the official record in Gainesville, Florida last year. He managed 12 strikes in one minute.

Unofficially, Jason Hicks tied that record at his family-owned Clio Bowling Arcade last month. MLive's Aaron McMann says Hicks actually hit a 13th strike, but it was a second too late.

Here's a video of his last attempt:

Credit David Jesse @freephighered / Twitter

The U.S. Supreme Court released its ruling this morning in favor of Michigan's 2006 constitutional ban on using affirmative action in college admissions.

Six justices ruled in favor of Michigan's ban, but for different reasons. Justices Sotomayor and Ginsberg dissented, and Justice Kagan recused herself from the case.

Have you forgotten about the snow already?
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan is giving school districts more flexibility in making up for snow days this academic year.

Districts that had scheduled more than the required 174 days of school can now hold just that number if they still meet the required 1,098 hours per school year. Schools that exceeded the six canceled days allowed under state law may not need makeup days.

Schools that need to add more days to the end of the school year can receive state funding as long as they have 60% of students in attendance on those days. That's down from the regular 75% attendance requirement.

Gov. Rick Snyder recently signed legislation allowing for the changes after record snowfall and harsh temperatures this past winter.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state's unemployment rate fell for the seventh consecutive month to 7.5% for the month of March 2014.

The unemployment rate is the measure of people who are out of work, but are counted as part of the overall labor force. The labor force is a measure of those folks who are actively looking for work in the last month. See my explanation of the rate here.

user Alain r / Wikimedia Commons

Ever since Stephen Hawking came out with his theory about how black holes work, physicists – including Hawking himself – have been wrestling with a "hole" in that theory.

Hawking postulated that if you threw something like a chair into a black hole, given enough time that chair would "dematerialize." It would disappear, leaving no trace of its existence.

But the laws of physics don't allow for things to simply disappear. Things can change, or be altered, but they can't disappear. You can burn a piece of paper, and it's no longer there, but the carbon, water, and other molecules still exist somewhere. Again, it can't simply disappear.

It's called the black hole information paradox.

PBS' Kate Becker quoted Stanford physicist Leonard Susskind in describing Hawking's theory in her post "Do Black Holes Destroy Information?":

As Leonard Susskind wrote in “The Black Hole War,” his 2008 book on the problem of black holes and information loss, “The possibility of hiding information in a vault would hardly be a cause for alarm, but what if when the door was shut, the vault evaporated right in front of your eyes? That’s exactly what Hawking predicted would happen to the black hole.”

The solution?

Now comes a theoretical physicist and computational biologist from Michigan State University who believes he has solved Hawking's black hole information paradox.

Chris Adami joined us today on Stateside. (You can listen to how he explains his theory above.)

Hawking discovered that black holes emit a glow called the “Hawking radiation.” That radiation, Hawking theorized, consumes the black hole and all things in the hole are lost. Poof! Nothing left.

Adami theorizes that a copy of the chair is made before it goes into the black hole.

More on Adami’s solution from MSU:

Rick Beerhorst tells the story of his failed New York City move.
Failure:Lab / YouTube

It was Bill Gates who declared,"It's fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure."

And it's good to realize that we all fail at times. It's just that most of us try to cover that up, or, at the very least, we don't broadcast our failures.

But that’s not how it works at Failure:Lab.

It’s a program designed to get us thinking about the meaning of failure – to realize that failure happens to everyone and to inspire us to take intelligent risks.

You can see our past Failure:Lab posts here.

Today, we hear about Rick Beerhorst’s failure: his attempt to move his family to New York City.

One of the aerial images near Munising, MI capture from the video.
Roam, Inc. / YouTube

Spring in Michigan's Upper Peninsula means watching the layers of snow melt. Thomas Dolaskie of Roam, Inc. in the UP put together this video of a spring weekend in Munising, Michigan. He writes:

Filmed the first weekend of April, 2014 – we got in the last snowshoe and frozen lake roaming of the year, and watched the waterfalls start to flow. Relax, it's spring. 

Here's the video:

The Detroit Public Library.
DPL / Facebook

Forty-seven year old Timothy Cromer was the focus of the FBI’s raid of the Detroit Public Library back in November 2012. Cromer was the library’s chief administrative and technology officer.

Christine MacDonald of the Detroit News has been writing about this case for some time. She reports that Cromer plead guilty to taking $1.4 million in kickbacks from contractors. Two Detroit Public Library contractors were also charged in the FBI’s case.

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission meets about a wolf hunt in Michigan.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

When the Michigan Natural Resources Commission voted to allow a wolf hunt in Michigan, they did so with the idea that the hunt would help curb the number of so-called "problem wolves" in the Upper Peninsula – wolves that preyed on livestock owned by cattle farmers.

But MLive reporter John Barnes looked at the wolf predation records in the Upper Peninsula and found that one farmer accounted for the majority of predation reports.

The Theodore Levin United States Courthouse in Detroit.
Andrew Jameson / Wikimedia Commons

Mediators for the federal court overseeing Detroit's Chapter 9 bankruptcy say a deal has been reached between the city of Detroit and the Retired Detroit Police and Fire Fighters Association over pension and health benefits.

The deal calls for no cuts to current pension benefits, but does cut future "cost of living" increases in their benefits.

The Association's members still need to approve the plan through a vote.

The potential deal is the first agreement the city has reached with a group of retired workers.

Gas prices from the past at the shuttered Logan's Gas and Deli near Battle Creek.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Every time you fill up, you pay seven-eighths of a cent per gallon of gas for a “regulatory fee” that was originally set up to help clean up the thousands of old underground storage tanks in Michigan.

Those pennies you pay at the pump add up to a $50 million pot of money each year.

It’s called the Refined Petroleum Fund. The fund worked initially. The money helped remove tens of thousands of old underground storage tanks in Michigan. When those old tanks leak, they can pollute the soil and ruin nearby water sources.

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