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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Sports
2:18 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Watch Michigan native Ryan Riess win the World Series of Poker

Ryan Riess takes the title.
WSOP

Championship Poker is like a major sporting event - cheering fans adorned with big block letter T-shirts, and silly hats in the stands - play by play and color announcers - corporate sponsors - and broadcasts on ESPN.

Twenty-three year old Michigan native Ryan Riess won the the championship early this morning in Las Vegas.

His "World Series of Poker" title came with an $8,361,570 payout. A pretty good return after paying $10,000 to enter his first match.

You can watch the winning moment here (An Ace and King of hearts took the pot).

The Associated Press has more on how Riess got his start:

Riess' parents say that like many poker players, their son always had a head for numbers. As a 14-year-old, he became obsessed with poker after watching amateur Chris Moneymaker win the main event.

"In my basement, I had a $10 home game that I ran twice a week, just playing with my friends. I won all the time, which I thought was kind of weird, so I thought maybe I should do this more often," he said, sipping beer from a can moments after his win.

Riess grew up in Watertown, Michigan. He joins Michigan natives Tom "Grand Rapids Tom" McEvoy and Joe Cada as past poker champions.

Election 2013
11:58 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Twenty Pound Carp falls short in race for Ann Arbor City Council

Natural Area Preservation staff

It was a long shot.

The carp was running as a write-in candidate, and we all know how hard it can be to get voters to spell your name right (amiright, Mike Dugeon?!).

In the end, voters in Ann Arbor's 4th Ward cast 209 write-in votes. Not enough to topple the favorite John Eaton, who - as a biped - ran away with the council seat collecting 1,678 votes.

So it's back to normal life - rooting around in muck of the Huron River for the Twenty-pound Carp

He was a gracious loser. He congratulated Eaton on his win and thanked his advisors, "Shelly the beatboxing turtle and John Quackles, the duck who served as legal counsel."

Read his speech below. (If your browser doesn't load it, read it here.)

Read more
Election 2013
11:28 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

2013 Michigan election results

Here are the election results for the races we watched here at Michigan Radio.

Please go to your county's election page for more detailed results in your area.

You can also find information about the races not listed below on the Secretary of State's general elections website.

*Winners are in bold below.

Breaking
10:50 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Mike Duggan will be Detroit's next mayor

At the campaign party for Mike Duggan.
Twitter

Voters in Detroit elected Mike Duggan as mayor of Detroit.

Duggan, the former CEO of the Detroit Medical Center, campaigned hard in Detroit neighborhoods prior to the August 7th primary. He then made history after he won the primary as a write-in candidate after he was booted off the ballot on a technicality.

Duggan becomes the city's first white mayor since Roman Gribbs finished out his term in 1973.

Read more
Election 2013
10:04 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Voters in Benton Harbor reject income tax proposal

Bridge between Benton Harbor and St. Joseph in southwest Michigan.
Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

Benton Harbor residents rejected the idea of an income tax in their community. The vote was 667 opposed and 543 in favor. The city has long struggled with budget problems and is under a state-appointed emergency manager.

Fox 28 reports on the reaction from Benton Harbor's Mayor:

Mayor James Hightower says he's elated that the tax failed.

Commissioner Trenton Bowens says his camp is not giving up, they'll work to get the proposal back on the ballot in May.

Election 2013
9:06 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Voters in Saugatuck and Douglas vote to stay separate

About fifty people at a gathering in Douglas celebrated after learning the results of the election Tuesday night.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

With 100% of the precincts reporting, voters in the West Michigan towns of Saugatuck and Douglas voted not to combine their cities.

The vote was 58% opposed, 42% in favor.

Reports showed the towns could have saved around a half a million dollars in services by combining, but as Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith reported, many in the area felt their towns would lose their identity if they merged.

Updated 1:30 a.m.

Read more
Environment & Science
12:48 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

'Lake Erie has 2% of the water in the Great Lakes, but 50% of the fish'

The 2011 algae bloom on Lake Erie. Significant blooms returned to Lake Erie around 2000-01. Researchers are looking into how these blooms affect fish.

The stat comes from Jeff Reutter, Director of Ohio State University's Stone Laboratory. He says the converse is true for Lake Superior. It holds 50% of the water, but just 2% of the fish.

It's a rough estimate, he says, but it gives you a good understanding of how each of the five Great Lakes have unique characteristics, which present unique challenges in managing these lakes.

As part of our series on how climate change is affecting the Great Lakes, Reutter spoke to us about how Lake Erie is especially vulnerable to temperature variations. It is the southernmost, and the shallowest of the five Great Lakes.

He also spoke about how, unlike the other four Great Lakes, Lake Erie is surrounded by agriculture and a more urbanized landscape.

You can listen to him speak about his "50 and 2 Rule" here:

Lake Erie has seen a resurgence in algal blooms over the last ten years. It was once a big problem in the 60s and 70s, and it has returned as a problem again.

Read more
Election 2013
4:32 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

U.S. Justice Department will monitor elections in Michigan, New York, and Ohio

Specifically, the DOJ officials will be in Detroit and Hamtramck, MI; Orange County, NY; and Cuyahoga and Lorain Counties in Ohio.

In a press release, the DOJ says the monitors will ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act, "which prohibits discrimination in the election process on the basis of race, color or membership in a minority language group."

From the release:

In Cuyahoga, Lorain and Orange Counties, the Department will assign federal observers from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to monitor polling place activities based on court orders. The observers will watch and record activities during voting hours at polling locations in these jurisdictions and Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate the federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.

In addition, Justice Department personnel will monitor polling place activities in Detroit and Hamtramck. Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.

The DOJ says federal observers are deployed every year around the country.

To file a complaint about discriminatory voting practices, the DOJ says to call the Voting Section of the department’s Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931.

Detroit bankruptcy
3:38 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Orr questioned on 'sacrosanct' comment in Day 6 of Detroit bankruptcy trial

Here's the comment Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr made to a public meeting on June 10, 2013. It's on loop, in case you miss it the first go 'round:

This statement was played for the courtroom by a lawyer representing the city's pension funds. He was trying to prove that Orr misled pensioners days before proposing cuts to pensions.

The Detroit News' Chad Livengood and Robert Snell report on the exchange that followed:

“Despite the implications, I wasn’t attempting to mislead anyone,” Orr testified Monday under questioning from city attorney Greg Shumaker.

Orr’s answer caused U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes to interrupt with a follow-up question.

“Excuse me one second,” the judge said. “What would you say to that retiree now?”

“I would say his rights are in bankruptcy now,” Orr told the judge. “I would say his rights are subject to the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution.”

“That’s a bit different than sacrosanct, isn’t it?” Rhodes replied.

Orr continued to deny allegations that there was no attempt to negotiate with creditors "in good faith" prior to the city's bankruptcy filing. It's a pivotal point lawyers for the city's creditors are trying to prove. If they can do it, the city might not be eligible to reorganize under the protection of federal bankruptcy laws.

Orr ended his testimony this morning around 11 a.m.

Next to the witness stand, Snyder aide Richard Baird and former state treasurer Andy Dillon.

Environment & Science
1:02 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Report calls reasons for Michigan wolf hunt 'half-truths and falsehoods'

A hearing held earlier this year in Lansing on a proposed wolf hunt in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

John Barnes, a reporter at MLive, described the reasons given for characterizing the push for a hunt in that way.

One falsehood he found was a quote given to Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody by a Michigan Department of Natural Resources official last May.

Carmody wanted to know if the town of Ironwood, Michigan really was afraid of wolves, after State Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) said the town was "living in fear" of the wolves.

Carmody spoke with Adam Bump, a Bear and Furbearer Speicialist with the MDNR. Here's what Bump said:

Bump now says he misspoke.

Michigan Radio tried to reach Bump for a comment, but he was not available to us.

During an interview on today's Stateside, John Barnes said Bump was confused during the interview.

"He was thinking about a separate incident that did not even occur in Michigan. It occurred in Denver. It had to do with a book he was reading, and he just tripped over his words, he says. And did not mean to infer that wolves are showing no fear of humans. In fact, we checked, and there's no such incident that has been recorded like that in the city of Ironwood. And Adam acknowledges that he made a mistake on that," said Barnes.

One farmer, many wolf kill reports

Barnes also writes about other problems with the argument for a hunt, including the fact that one farmer in Michigan's Upper Peninsula "accounted for more cattle killed and injured than all other farmers in the years the DNR reviewed."

Read more
Business
10:11 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Cereal maker Kellogg Co. to cut global workforce

Kellogg's is the worlds leading producer of cereal.
Ben Alman creative commons

Update 10:11 a.m.

A Kellogg Co. spokesperson said it's too early to tell how these cuts will affect the workforce in Michigan.

The cuts are coming as part of a "global efficiency and effectiveness program" called "Project K."

Kris Charles of Kellogg sent us this statement:

"Project K is a significant, four-year, global program that will reshape our cost structure and serve as a catalyst for our growth strategy.  The likely outcome of this global initiative is that by the end of 2017, we estimate that Kellogg will have approximately 7 percent fewer employees worldwide than we do today.  We aren’t disclosing further specifics about Project K, however, this isn’t a one-size-fits all initiative.  Each of Kellogg Company’s geographic regions and functions will implement the initiatives that make the most sense to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. It’s too early to estimate potential impacts in Michigan or the Battle Creek area at this time."

9:19 a.m.

Kellogg says it will trim its global workforce by 7 percent as part of a cost-cutting plan, with the cereal maker citing weaker-than-expected sales for the year.

The company called the changes "a global four-year efficiency and effectiveness program" in their press release.

The maker of Frosted Flakes and Eggo waffles said it expects earnings per share for the year to be toward the lower end of its previous forecast.

The workforce reductions will take place by 2017.

For the quarter, Kellogg Co. says it earned $326 million, or 90 cents per share. Not including one-time items, it earned 95 cents per share, which was above the 89 cents per share Wall Street expected.

A year ago, the company earned $318 million, or 89 cents per share.

Revenue slipped to $3.72 billion and was short of the $3.73 billion analysts expected.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody will have more on how the cuts could affect workers here in Michigan. The company is headquartered in Battle Creek, Michigan.

Auto
11:41 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Chrysler, Ford, GM, Nissan and Toyota see sales increases

More cars are going to buyers with less-than-stellar credit.
Zelda Richardson

The carmakers posted October sales increases after a sub-par September.

More from the Associated Press:

The gains signal that automakers made it through the 16-day partial government shutdown relatively unscathed. Chrysler even predicted stronger industry sales for the month than most analysts.

"After a choppy start to the beginning of the month, Chrysler Group sales accelerated in the second half of the month with renewed consumer confidence," Reid Bigland, the company's U.S. sales chief, said in a statement ...

Analysts say the 16-day government shutdown in early October kept buyers out of showrooms early in the month, but that apparently was just a temporary slowdown ...

Auto sales have consistently been a bright spot in the U.S. economy. Sales are closing in on pre-recession rates exceeding 16 million, far above the 2009 trough of 10.4 million.

Politics & Government
1:35 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Oklahoma Senator calls Michigan National Park 'another slab of pork'

The historic Quincy mine hoist is part of the Keweenaw National Historic Park system in the U.P.
user hyperboreal Flickr

The words are aimed at the Keweenaw National Historical Park in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

And it's one of many parks called out in Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-Oklahoma) report on wasteful spending with the National Park system.

Read more
Detroit Bankruptcy
2:43 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Sharp exchange between bankruptcy judge and Detroit's emergency manager

Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr.
screen grab NBC Video

It's Day 5 of the Detroit bankruptcy trial and the man at the center of the bankruptcy filing took the stand for the third time.

Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr filed the bankruptcy paperwork with the court last July.

Now Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes will decide whether the city can be protected from creditors by entering into Chapter 9 bankruptcy. He's expected to make his decision sometime in mid-November.

Read more
Clock It
11:18 am
Tue October 29, 2013

Listen to the frantic last-minute comeback from the Detroit Lions game

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford frantically tries to get his team to line up for the next play vs. the Dallas Cowboys.
YouTube screenshot

Some people were throwing their hands up while watching the end of the last Lions game.

They were playing the Dallas Cowboys and were down by six with just about a minute to go.

"Same old Lions," might have been uttered by a few disappointed fans.

Then Matthew Stafford looped a few perfect passes down the field and snuck the ball past the goal line.

NFL Films captured the frantic "clock it!" calls from Stafford. Watch it here:

 

Update: Well, that stinks. The NFL had the video taken down.

As a consolation, you can watch Stafford leading a comeback against the Browns here in his rookie season. He also yells "clock it" in this clip.

(H/T Jim Russ) 

Politics & Government
3:56 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Detroit bankruptcy hearings continue as EM and Gov. Snyder take stand

Detroit's skyline
Joy VanBuhler Flickr

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes is presiding over the fourth day of testimony in the Detroit bankruptcy case.

At issue...

  1. Is it true that Detroit can no longer pay its bills?
  2. Did city leaders negotiate with creditors "in good faith" before filing for bankruptcy protection?

Two of the main players in the bankruptcy filing are in court today.

Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr took the stand last Friday and again this morning.

Read more
Politics & Government
2:54 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Facts about the Detroit bankruptcy

Detroit skyline.
Dave Linabury Flickr

With the bankruptcy trial in full swing, we thought we'd share the following facts with you about the Detroit bankruptcy case.

 

  • State declares Detroit is in a “financial emergency” on March 1, 2013

  • Kevyn Orr appointed as Detroit’s emergency manager on March 14, 2013

  • City files for Chapter 9 bankruptcy on July 18, 2013

Read more
Economy
12:34 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Winning bidder for crumbling Packard plant plans to build modular homes and offices at site

Albert Duce Wikimedia Commons

Last Friday, Jill Van Horn of Ennis, TX put in a winning $6 million bid for the 40 acre vacant Packard plant site in Detroit.

Today, we hear plans for what she plans to do with the site.

From their statement:

Dr. Jill Van Horn, along with her partners and investors from Detroit, Wall Street and International firms, has a complex plan to transform what feel [sic] is an "Internationally recognized symbol of Detroit's decline" into a new economic center on the East side of Detroit.

The Packard site will be renovated, immediately providing thousands of jobs for area residents. The new site will specialize in logistics and construction. Modular homes and offices will be constructed on the site and shipped all over the world. Building supplies will also be made here. One analyst believes that over 6000 trained employees will be needed to fully an this operation. 

Station News
10:15 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Michigan Radio's 91.7 FM signal operating at lower power today and tomorrow

We are making some structural improvements to the Peach Mountain tower that require us to reduce power. As a result, our 91.7 FM signal will not reach as far. Our West Michigan signal (104.1 FM), and our Flint signal (91.1 FM) will not be affected by this work.

Politics & Government
4:25 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Day 3 in the Detroit bankruptcy case could bring Orr and police chief to the stand

Gerri Trager Flickr

Update 4:25 p.m.

Emergency manager Kevyn Orr has taken the stand in Detroit bankruptcy eligibility trial, for what's likely to be a brief bit of testimony before court breaks for the weekend.

The court confirmed that Governor Snyder will take the stand at 1 p.m. on Monday, regardless of whether Orr is finished testifying.

Orr follows Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who testified about the poor state of police service in Detroit when he took over the job in July 2013.

He called Detroit "the most violent city I've ever worked in" (he's also worked for police departments in Los Angeles and Cincinnati).

He said the city needs to take "bold action" to rectify its fiscal problems, but acknowledged he was "concerned" about "hiring and retention issues" if Detroit is allowed to slash pension benefits in bankruptcy.

1:11 p.m.

At issue is whether the state (mostly Gov. Rick Snyder) and city​ leaders (mostly Kevyn Orr) truly negotiated "in good faith" with Detroit's creditors.

Those who stand to lose a lot (city union workers and retired pensioners, among many others) are arguing that bankruptcy was the goal all along - that there was no "good faith" bargaining going on.

We're in Day 3 of hearings in front of the man who will ultimately decide whether Detroit will become the largest city in U.S. history to go bankrupt.

We're not expected to get a ruling from U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes until mid-November.

This morning there was testimony from Kenneth Buckfire, an investment banker who worked with the city of Detroit. Buckfire was questioned about the timing of his negotiations with Gov. Snyder and the city over the city's insolvency.

Read more

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