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.

Pages

Auto/Economy
11:28 am
Wed October 19, 2011

UAW membership approves 4-year contract with Ford

A majority of the 41,000 UAW workers at Ford have ratified a four-year contract with the company.

From the Detroit Free Press

The UAW said 63% of production workers voted in favor of the agreement and 65% of skilled-trades workers voted in favor of the deal.

“I am pleased with the strong support for this agreement from UAW Ford members,” UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles said in a statement today. “I believe UAW Ford workers understood the importance of each and every vote.”

The contract needed to pass by a simple majority.

Ratification of the agreement leaves Chrysler as the only member of the Detroit Three without a contract. Chrysler workers began voting Tuesday on a tentative agreement while General Motors workers ratified a deal on Sept. 28.

Ford Motor Company officials say the new agreement will add jobs and improve the company's competitiveness in the U.S.

From a Ford press release:

Ford is adding 12,000 hourly jobs in its U.S. manufacturing facilities through the four-year term of the contract, including in-sourcing work from Mexico, China and Japan. The company also is investing $16 billion in its U.S. product development and manufacturing operations – including $6.2 billion in plant-specific investments – by 2015. 

“This agreement is proof that, by working together with our UAW partners and local communities, we can significantly create new jobs, invest in our plants and people, and make a very positive impact on the U.S. economy,” said Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company’s president of The Americas. “Our agreement is fair to our employees and it improves our competitiveness in the U.S."

Company officials say new production shifts will be added at Auto Alliance International in Flat Rock, Michigan, and at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne.

Transportation
1:22 pm
Tue October 18, 2011

Details of the $46.7 million in federal transit money coming to Michigan

Detroit's Department of Transportation will get $6 million to replace buses.
Matt Picio Flickr

We reported last week about the federal money coming to the state, and Sarah Hulett reported on more details released yesterday.

In case you missed it, here's how the $46.7 million from Federal Transit Administration’s Alternatives Analysis, Bus Livability, and State of Good Repair grant program is broken up in Michigan:

Read more
Economy
2:47 pm
Mon October 17, 2011

Boost in September home sales in Metro Detroit

Metro Detroit saw a boost in the number of home sales and home prices last month.

The Detroit Free Press reports the September increase came from an active summer selling season:

Sales rose 8.2% in September from 4,222 to 4,568 in metro Detroit, according to Farmington Hills-based multiple listing service Realcomp. The data includes sales from Livingston, Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.

Median prices rose 10% from $68,000 last month to $74,900.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reported earlier this month about positive home sale numbers around the state, but housing analyst Alex Villacorta with Clear Capitol expected a decline this winter.

Sports
2:07 pm
Thu October 13, 2011

President Obama to attend MSU basketball game played on aircraft carrier

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson will host the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic on Veteran's Day.
Specialist 2nd Class Joel Carlson United States Navy

President Barack Obama will attend a basketball game between Michigan State University and North Carolina. The game will be held on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson on Veteran's Day (11-11-11).

The game is being branded as the "Quicken Loans Carrier Classic" and it's billed as the "first ever carrier to host a Division 1 college basketball game."

From the Washington Post:

Obama is expected to lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery in honor of Veterans Day and then travel to San Diego for the game.

“This Veterans Day, President Obama will honor our nation’s veterans by laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery and then by traveling to San Diego, California, to attend the Carrier Classic on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson,” the White House said in a statement. “He looks forward to a great game between Michigan State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.”

The nuclear powered aircraft carrier is famed for being the carrier from which Osama bin Laden's body was buried at sea. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

Politics
3:36 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

No more cash assistance for 11,162 recipients, updated notices sent

Last week, U.S. District Judge Paul Borman delayed the cash-assistance cap for some welfare recipients in Michigan. (A new law caps cash-assistance payments from the state to a total of four years in a lifetime.)

The state sent out notices to recipients starting last month notifying them their benefits would cease, but Judge Borman said those notices were deficient. He issued a restraining order against the Michigan Department of Human Services.

Today, the agency sent new notices to 11,162 recipients telling them their cash-assistance payments will stop. The MDHS says the new notices are "in accordance with the ruling by U.S. District Judge Paul D. Borman."

From a MDHS press release:

The reissued notices cite the appropriate legal authority as well as more prominent language on the appeal process, as required in the ruling.

"We are moving forward with the welfare reform passed by the legislature," said Maura D. Corrigan, DHS director.  "These notices, the fourth that have been sent to recipients affected, follow Judge Borman’s directive."

Corrigan said the MDHS has not interrupted benefits to this group yet and continues to help them with job placement programs, food assistance, and help with rent.

The MDHS says that clients have 10 days to appeal the cut-off decision. If the decision is appealed within 10 days, recipients will continue to receive payments until their appeal is heard.

People affected by the cuts can call the Michigan Department of Human Services at 1-855-763-3677 with questions.

Read more
Courts
12:02 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

Abdulmutallab pleads guilty

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

Update 11:53 am

Abdulmutallab's stand-by attorney, Anthony Chambers, says he's "disappointed" with the guilty plea, but said he respects the defendant's wishes.

"Certainly no lawyer worth his weight in salt would recommend a plea to life without parole," Chambers said.

Chamber said he believes Abdulmutallab is misguided and impressionable. He said the young Nigerian will not cooperate with the government.

Asked why he believed Abdulmutallab decided to plead guilty, Chambers said he thinks the statement he read upon entering his guilty plea allowed him to say what he wanted, and avoid a trial. In the statement - which Chambers said Abdulmutallab wrote himself - the defendant said his actions were a reaction to U.S. support of Israel and because of the U.S. killings of Muslims around the world. He called the bomb he carried and tried to detonate on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 a "blessed weapon." He said he was guilty of violating U.S. law, but not the law of the Koran.

Abdulmutallab faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. He will be sentenced January 12.

Update 10:39 a.m.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has pled guilty to all eight charges against him.

From the Detroit News:

He pleaded guilty to eight charges after he returned from a 45-minute recess, ending the most high-profile terrorism case in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds asked him if he wished to waive his right to a trial and plead guilty.

"That's right," he said.

The guilty plea marksa major victory against terrorism for the Justice Department, which was criticized by some for trying Abdulmutallab in civilian court instead of a military tribunal.

David Ashenfelter of the Detroit Free Press reports that Abdulmutallab faces 30 years to life in prison.

10:19 a.m.

The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press are reporting that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is pleading guilty on charges of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound jetliner on Christmas Day 2009.

The Detroit Free Press is live blogging the trial and reports that the judge is going over the penalties with Abdulmutallab now.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett is on her way to the court and will have an update for us later.

Arts/Culture
10:40 am
Fri October 7, 2011

Introducing the winner at ArtPrize 2011 (video)

Rick DeVos and ArtPrize winner Mia Tavonatti answer media questions after the announcement Thursday night.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

ArtPrize 2011 organizers held a press conference introducing the winner, Mia Tavonatti, last night, and Michigan Radio reporter Lindsey Smith was there.

For receiving the most votes, Tavonatti took home the top prize of $250,000 (Tavonatti placed second last year and won $100,000).

She lives in California now, but Tavonatti is originally from Iron Mountain in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Smith described the winning piece this way:

The piece towers in the same performance hall where the winner was announced last night. It’s 9 feet across, 13 feet tall; made up of tiny pieces of stained glass that make up a vision of Jesus Christ dying on the cross.

Tavonatti said "when you bring Christ to town. I just knew he had certain things in store for me. And I wasn't going to tell him how to do his job."

Tavonatti's win was bittersweet. Her mother died early yesterday morning after a bout with pneumonia.

Here's the video of the press conference:

Auto/Economy
5:00 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

UM economist expects slower job growth in 2012

A Ford assembly plant.
Ford Motor Company

In his economic forecast for Michigan released today, George Fulton, Director of the University of Michigan's Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics wrote that Michigan's economy is recovering from hitting bottom in late 2009, "but it has not been a smooth climb, especially during 2011."

The Detroit Free Press writes that Fulton cut his jobs forecast for 2012.

...he expects just 33,000 new jobs next year, down sharply from his earlier forecast of 61,500 positions.

Fulton expects the total number of jobs created from late 2009 through 2013 to be 187,000.

From the report summary:

The continuation of the recovery is supported by steadily rising vehicle sales and an improved U.S. economy over the next two years. Manufacturing continues to grow through 2013, but the largest job gains are in the service industries, led by health services and professional and business services. Government continues to shrink over the period.

Law
10:52 am
Wed October 5, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court to hear case involving Michigan church today

Arguments involving a church in Michigan will be heard today in the U.S. Supreme Court.
wikimedia commons

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case between the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Redford, Michigan and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

At issue, according to the SCOTUS blog (SCOTUS stands for the Supreme Court of the United States) is whether the U.S. government can be involved in church activities. From the blog:

Courts have generally believed that federal employment discrimination statutes do not apply to church employees performing religious functions. The question is whether this ministerial exception applies not simply to religious leaders, but also to teachers at a religious elementary school.

The Associated Press has more on the arguments from the church school employee:

Cheryl Perich got sick, then tried to return to work. Still, the school, now closed, fired her. She complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which sued the church.

Religious groups say the case should be thrown out. The Americans With Disabilities Act has an exception to prevent government involvement between churches and ministerial employees.

But a federal appeals court said Perich’s job as a teacher was secular, not religious, so the exception blocking the lawsuit didn’t count.

Environment
4:18 pm
Tue October 4, 2011

Dow's solar shingles to hit U.S. to markets

Dow's solar shingles will be released in limited markets starting this month.
Dow Chemical

Dow Chemical first unveiled its solar shingle two years ago, with plans for a limited release in mid-2010.

Now the company announced that the shingles will be available to some customers starting this month. The company says they're starting in the strongest markets for solar this month. The shingles will first be available in Colorado, and a "rolling launch" will occur in markets from California to the "East Coast."

In a press release, Dow said the shingle "protects the home like a standard roofing shingle while providing energy that saves the homeowner money":

Dow can now serve the need of homeowners who want to go solar, but aren’t willing to accept the complexity and sub-optimal aesthetics currently offered by bulky, rack-mounted systems.

Booth Mid-Michigan reports that Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris called Dow's solar shingle "a game changer that will address an estimated $5 billion market by 2015."

From Booth Mid-Michigan:

Dow hasn't reported a price for the shingles, but said the cost to homeowners will be set by the channel to market, and will depend on the size and configuration of the home and desired power generation. Dow officials said the cost of solar shingles can be thousands of dollars less than solar panels installed on top of a roof.

Travel
3:19 pm
Tue October 4, 2011

New airport screening measures start today at some airports

No need to de-shoe for some.
user redjar Flickr

Keep your shoes on.

No need to take off that belt or jacket.

And keep that laptop and your toiletries in your bag.

That's the new reality for some passengers going through security today at Detroit Metro Airport.

Detroit Metro is one of four airports where new screening measures are being tested by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (Atlanta, Dallas, and Miami are the other airports).

The new system pre-screens passengers who volunteered for the program. Information on these passengers is cross-checked with other databases by the TSA to determine their risk level.

From the TSA's press release:

“As TSA moves further away from a one-size-fits-all approach, our ultimate goal is to provide the most effective security in the most efficient way possible,” said TSA Administrator John S. Pistole. “By learning more about travelers through information they voluntarily provide, and combining that information with our other layers of security, we can focus more resources on higher-risk and unknown passengers. This new screening system holds great potential to strengthen security while significantly enhancing the travel experience whenever possible for passengers.”

The Detroit Free Press reports that passengers have already seen the benefits, some passing through security in less than one minute.

Some frequent fliers with Delta and American Airlines were contacted and asked to sign up for the pilot program. Members of the "Trusted Traveler Program" with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection can also participate.

TSA officials say the program might be expanded in the future.

If you would like to participate in the pilot, you can contact Delta or American Airlines (if you participate in their frequent flier programs) and try to opt-in , or you can try signing up for the "Trusted Traveler" program online.

Politics
2:03 pm
Tue October 4, 2011

Michigan Senate approves stun gun legislation

Under legislation being considered in the Michigan legislature, individuals licensed to carry handguns could also carry a stun gun.
user jennuine captures Flickr

In this state, the use of stun guns by citizens is prohibited.

Michigan law states that you cannot possess "a portable device or weapon from which an electrical current, impulse, wave, or beam may be directed, which current, impulse, wave, or beam is designed to incapacitate temporarily, injure, or kill."

Now Some legislators want to change that. From the Associated Press:

Michigan residents with permits to carry concealed pistols also would be able to carry stun guns or Tasers under a measure approved by the state Senate.

A key bill in a legislative package that would allow the devices to be carried by properly licensed residents passed the Senate by a 35-3 vote Tuesday. The measure advances to the House.

Michigan would join 43 other states that allow residents to carry stun guns under certain circumstances. Michigan law has banned the use of stun guns since 1976, with exceptions for police
and some other personnel.

Laws that cover the use and licensing of concealed handguns in Michigan also would apply to stun guns or Tasers under the Senate legislation. That includes certain "no carry" zones such as schools and stadiums.

Stun guns advocates say they're effective tools for self-defense.

Or they could be used to subdue someone with an exceptionally long question at a political forum (the genesis of "don't tase me, bro!" phrase) .

Auto/Economy
1:03 pm
Tue October 4, 2011

Ford-UAW deal includes more jobs and U.S. investment

John Fleming, Ford executive vice president of Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs discusses the UAW agreement with reporters this morning.
screen grab fordahead.com

Update 1:03 p.m.

More details of the UAW-Ford agreement emerged after the UAW's press conference. UAW vice president Jimmy Settles reports winning a "a $6,000 settlement bonus for workers and $7,000 in inflation protection and competitive lump-sum payments over the term of the agreement."

Settles said workers will receive a payment averaging $3,700 this year.

Entry-level wages for new Ford workers are similar to the GM agreement. Their hourly pay was raised to $19.28 over the term of the agreement.

The union details where the investments in jobs and upgraded auto plants will occur in the U.S. saying that "jobs, investment and product guarantees in the tentative agreement include":

  • Flat Rock, Mich., second source for the next generation Fusion and next-generation Mustang.
  • Kansas City, Mo., in-source Transit Commercial Van from Europe.
  • Louisville, Ky., new unnamed vehicle in addition to 2012 Escape.
  • Wayne, Mich., in-source C-Max from Europe in both hybrid and plug-in hybrid models.
  • Avon Lake, Ohio, in-source medium truck and frame assembly from Mexico, along with in-source Motorhome Chassis.

The agreement with Ford was recommenced to the union's larger membership. Now all UAW members will vote for or against ratification this week.

10:27 a.m.

The agreement reached between Ford Motor Company and United Auto Worker representatives will lead to more jobs and investment in the U.S., according to the Detroit News.

Alisa Priddle of the Detroit News reports that many of those jobs will be in Michigan:

The figure includes 7,000 jobs previously announced as well as 5,000 additional jobs - the majority of them new and paying the lower, entry-level wage. Ford officials declined to break down the exact split between new and saved jobs. Some the jobs are from in-sourcing of work that has been previously done in other countries, including Mexico, Japan and China.

The UAW says that "proposed agreement also includes $16 billion of investment to produce new models and upgraded vehicles and components by 2015, of which, $6.3 billion will be invested directly into retooling and upgrading plants."

Ford's union workers are demanding more from Ford compared to the workers at GM and Chrysler.

Part of it has to do with bargaining from a position of power. Ford's union workers could strike should an agreement not be reached. Chrysler and GM workers do not have that option. Both Chrysler and GM took loans from the federal government's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). A condition of those loans stipulated that its workers could not strike.

Brent Snavely reports in USA Today on the other reasons workers at Ford hope to achieve more in their negotiations with the company.

Entering contract talks, the UAW and Ford had an unresolved grievance, signed by 35,000 of the automaker's 40,600 workers, alleging that Ford had violated equity of sacrifice promise by restoring merit pay to white-collar workers but not to hourly workers.

But Ford workers say they have more reasons to expect more than UAW members at GM. Ford has made $14.2 billion in profits since the end of 2008. Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Executive Chairman Bill Ford each made $26.5 million in 2010, an amount that many workers find excessive since production workers have gone eight years without a base wage increase. That high executive pay has become a rallying point for discontents in Ford's factories.

Comparing previous contracts, Snavely reports that "Ford pays $58 an hour for wages and benefits, which is about $2 more per hour than GM and $9 an hour more than Chrysler were paying..."

More details of the tentative 4-year agreement between Ford and the UAW will be revealed at an 11:30 press conference. The contract will not be ratified until the UAW membership votes on it.

Politics
12:38 pm
Tue October 4, 2011

Wayne County says Mullin's secretary received more than $15K severance

And the controversial Wayne County severance story continues... Now there's news that Turkia Mullin's secretary, Sheri Galofaro-Mendez, also received a severance when following her boss to her new post.

From the Detroit News:

While apologizing for a controversy over a $200,000 severance to the county's former economic development czar, county officials admitted Tuesday that her executive assistant, Sheri Galofaro-Mendez, got a $15,600 severance from the Wayne County Economic Development Growth Engine, or EDGE, when she left in September.

Galofaro-Mendez followed Mullin when she became director of the Detroit Metropolitan Airport and is now her executive assistant. Galofaro-Mendez also has agreed to follow Mullin's lead and return the money, said Alan Helmkamp, a county assistant executive.

Politics
12:23 pm
Tue October 4, 2011

Wayne County's Ficano says no more severance payments, promises investigation

"There were mistakes in process. "There were mistakes in paperwork. … And at the end of the day, there were mistakes in judgment."

So says the assistant executive for Wayne County Alan Helmkamp in the Detroit News.

Helmkamp was talking about the decision to award Turkia Mullin a $200,000 severance payment when she transferred to a new job in the county.

As Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported, Mullin received the severance payment last August when she transferred from her job as Wayne County’s economic developer (salary $200,000) to become the CEO of Wayne County's Detroit Metropolitan Airport (salary $250,000).

Mullin and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano announced last Friday that Mullin would return the money, but questions from Wayne County commissioners remained.

Ficano promised the commissioners that there would be no such payments in the future.

From the Detroit News:

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano promised county commissioners that he won't allow another severance like the $200,000 paid to the former economic development czar Turkia Mullin.

Ficano said he accepts responsibility for the controversial payout and said he is "launching an internal review."

"You have my full commitment that the review will be expeditious, and that I will put protections in place so that this situation isn't repeated," Ficano said.

News Roundup
9:03 am
Tue October 4, 2011

In this morning's news...

user brother o'mara Flickr

Ford and the UAW reach a tentative 4-year deal

Details will be discussed later this morning. Ford will hold a live stream of their press conference at 9 a.m. and the UAW will talk to reporters at 11:30 a.m.

The Associated Press reports that "the deal is expected to swap annual pay raises for profit sharing checks and will include commitments from Ford for thousands of new union jobs." Union leaders will meet later today to decide whether to recommend the agreement to 41,000 Ford union members.

Trial for "underwear bomber" starts today

The trial for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called "underwear bomber" begins today in Detroit with jury selection. The Associated Press reports on the stakes in the case:

The case seems matter-of-fact but carries high stakes. The failed attack was the first act of terrorism in the U.S. during the Obama administration, and it could have implications in the debate over whether terrorism suspects should be tried in civilian or military courts.

Tigers Win!

The Detroit Tigers beat the New York Yankees last night in game three of their American League playoff. Detroit has taken a 2-1 lead in the best of 5 series.

From ESPN:

Delmon Young hit a tiebreaking homer in the seventh off Rafael Soriano and the Tigers took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series, pushing the Yankees to the brink of elimination.Their hopes ride Tuesday night on A.J. Burnett, the $82.5 million pitcher who was so unreliable this season that he wasn't supposed to get a start in this series. A rainstorm changed all that when Game 1 was suspended Friday, forcing both teams to alter their pitching plans.

Politics
4:18 pm
Fri September 30, 2011

Michigan Film Office suspends incentive applications

The Michigan Film Office is suspending applications for film incentives in the state until the guidelines for new incentives are more clear.
user reinistraidas Flickr

Update 4:18 p.m.

Carrie Jones, director of the Michigan Film Office posted a letter on their website explaining their decision to suspend film incentive applications.

The letter explains that they are waiting for direction from Michigan legislators. She says Senate Bill 569 lays out the parameters of the new $25 million incentive program, but it has not been acted on. From her letter:

Recognizing there are many projects currently planning to submit applications on October 1, we feel this is the best course of action for several reasons – the primary of which are ensuring certainty and consistency within the Michigan film incentive program. With everything in SB 569 subject to change at this stage in the process, we simply do not yet have answers to many of the most basic questions projects have when applying for the film incentives. We also want to ensure all projects approved under the new funding are approved using the same set of criteria regardless of when in the fiscal year they apply.

Jones writes that she knows the legislature plans to take up SB 569, but she does not know when. SB 569 was referred to the Senate Committee on Economic Development last July.

3:56 p.m.

The Michigan Film Office says it is not taking any more applications for movie incentives because there are no guidelines for the program.

The director of the film office released a statement today saying all applications are on hold, and will likely have to be re-submitted after the Legislature passes a new law outlining new incentive guidelines.

Governor Rick Snyder's administration is backing away from Michigan's old program of generous tax breaks for filmmakers. The state has set aside $25 million to support filmmaking in the fiscal year that begins tomorrow (Saturday, October 1), but film office director Carrie Jones says she needs guidance on how that money is to be spent.

Politics
2:28 pm
Fri September 30, 2011

Governor Snyder calls for review of Flint's finances, emergency manager next?

The Flint Municipal Center. State appointed officials will review the city's finances.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Update 2:28 p.m.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett spoke with Mayor Dane Walling this afternoon. She asked Walling to give us a snapshot of where the city's finances are at now.

"The city of Flint has ongoing challenges with long-term operating deficits and also recurring questions about month to month cash availability," he said.

"The fact is, in recent months we've made continued positive progress.

The deficits in the audit will be approximately $12 million all funds combined. That's significantly down from the upwards of $20 million projections that had been done recently.

The cash flow is much stronger than it was prior to receiving the support of the state for the fiscal stabilization bond.

We're healthier than we were, so we're moving in the right direction, but we continue to have audited operating fund deficits, and to address the longer term challenges with post employment benefits  and liabilities there," said Walling.

Hulett asked Walling about his message to voters about the job he's doing in Flint and about the timing of the state review (Walling is up for re-election, and the review will be completed right before voters head to the polls). Walling said he thinks voters understand the complications he faces as the Mayor of Flint, and he looks forward to the results of the state review team.

1:49 p.m.

The city of Flint has been facing financial trouble for some time. Now state officials want an official review of the city's finances.

Governor Synder has appointed an eight member panel to review the city's bottom line. The financial review is the first step in a process created under the state's emergency manager law. Governor Snyder has said he hopes an emergency manager is not needed in Flint.

Kristin Longley of the Flint Journal reports that Governor Snyder is calling for a quick review:

Snyder wants the team to report back to him in half the time allowed under the law. Review teams are given 60 days, but Snyder has asked Flint's financial review team to report its findings within 30 days, Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said.

"He does want it sooner," she said. "That was on the recommendation from the state treasurer."

Here are the eight members appointed to review Flint's finances (from the Flint Journal):

  • Laura Argyle, VP of finance and CFO for the Midland Center for the Arts
  • Gene Dennis, former president and CEO of Universal Systems
  • Darnell Earley, Saginaw City Manager
  • Robert L. Emerson, former state budget director
  • Roger Fraser, Deputy State Treasurer
  • Fred Headen, Director of the Michigan Dept. of Treasury’s Local Gov't Services Bureau
  • Doug Ringler, Director of the Office of Internal Audit Services in the Department of Technology, Management and Budget
  • Brom Stibitz, senior policy adviser in the Michigan Department of Treasury
Read more
News Roundup
9:25 am
Fri September 30, 2011

In this morning's news...

user brother o'mara Flickr

Snyder wrapping up in Asia, highlights mining in the U.P. as one business opportunity

Governor Rick Snyder is wrapping up his trip in Asia with a visit to Seoul, South Korea. Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports the governor is expected to sign an agreement with the Governor of  Gyeonggi Province. The agreement states that Michigan and the province will work together to establish trade.

Of his visit to China, Snyder said he was surprised by the positive response he received from businesses. "Many of them are seriously looking at Michigan already as a good place to do business," Snyder said. He pointed to mining copper or other deposits in the U.P. as one business opportunity for Chinese companies.

Welfare recipients file class action lawsuit against state

Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation that places tighter limits on cash assistance benefits to the poor. It puts a four-year lifetime cap on cash assistance payments from the state.

For some, that cap starts tomorrow (October 1).

Some recipients facing the cap have filed a class action lawsuit. From the Detroit News:

The lawsuit, filed against Human Services Director Maura Corrigan, said immediate intervention is needed to prevent more than 25,000 parents and children from losing benefits. The welfare recipients from Saginaw, Genesee and Macomb counties asked a federal judge to issue a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

Gov. Rick Snyder signed the legislation Sept. 6 and said the state would offer exemptions to those with disabilities that prevent them from working.

Cost of new cars higher as a result of price fixing? The U.S. Department of Justice's Antitrust Division announced that several Japanese executives have plead guilty in a price-fixing scheme: 

Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd., a supplier of automotive wire harnesses and related products, headquartered in Tokyo, has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $200 million fine for its role in a criminal price-fixing and bid-rigging conspiracy involving the sale of parts to automobile manufacturers...  Three executives, who are Japanese nationals, have also agreed to plead guilty and to serve prison time in the United States ranging from a year and a day to 18 months. 

DOJ officials say these are the first charges "as a result of its ongoing international cartel investigation of price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry."

Culture
4:36 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

Census releases numbers on the black population in the U.S.

The black or African American population as a percent of a county's population in 2010.
U.S. Census Bureau

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released its report "The Black Population: 2010."

The 2010 Census found that 14 percent of the U.S. population identified themselves as black, "either alone or in combination with one or more other races."

From a U.S. Census Bureau press release:

Of the total U.S. population of 308.7 million on April 1, 2010, 38.9 million people, or 13 percent, identified as black alone. In addition, 3.1 million people, or 1 percent, reported as black in combination with one or more other races. Together, these two groups comprise the black alone-or-in-combination population and totaled 42.0 million.

Detroit has highest concentration of blacks living in an urban area

Census officials report that of the major cities in the U.S. (cities with 100,000 people in them or more), Detroit had the highest percentage of people identifying as black, or black in combination with other races, at 84 percent.

Here are the top ten:

  1. Detroit, Michigan (84.3 percent)
  2. Jackson, Mississippi (80.1 percent)
  3. Miami Gardens, Florida (77.9 percent)
  4. Birmingham, Alabama (74.0 percent)
  5. Baltimore, Maryland (65.1 percent)
  6. Memphis, Tennessee (64.1 percent)
  7. New Orleans, Louisiana (61.2 percent)
  8. Flint, Michigan (59.5 percent)
  9. Montgomery, Alabama (57.4 percent)
  10. Savannah, Georgia (56.7 percent)
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