Mark Brush

Reporter/Producer

Mark is a senior reporter/producer at Michigan Radio where he's been working to develop the station's online news content since 2010.

From 2000 to 2006, he worked as the technical director and senior producer for Michigan Radio's regional environmental news service known as the Great Lakes Radio Consortium.

From 2006 to 2010, as the unit's co-manager and senior producer, Mark helped transition the GLRC into an award-winning national news service known as The Environment Report.

He has won several state and national awards for his work, including a 2011 national Edward R. Murrow award for best audio news documentary on the future of coal in the United States.

Mark is a graduate of the University of Michigan ('00 MS in Environmental Policy and Planning & '91 BA in Political Science) and has been a "public radio junkie" since 1992. Much of Mark's storytelling philosophy was influenced through his close work with veteran CBC "réalisateur" David Candow.

Ways To Connect

Apportionment map from U.S. Census data
U.S. Census Bureau

Update 1:30 p.m.:

It's confirmed. Michigan has NEVER lost population in U.S. Census data history. I asked Vince Kountz of the U.S. Census Bureau in Detroit. He looked at the books and never saw population drop for the state of Michigan. He went back to the 1810 Census, before Michigan was a state. There were 4,762 people in the Michigan territory back then.

  • We had 9,938,444 people in the state in 2000
  • We now have 9,883,640 in the state in 2010.

12:02 p.m.:

The Census numbers are out. You can take a look at what they found with this map.

Golfer teeing off
flickr user - easywebsitesky

When most people hit the links with their buddies, they don't anticipate getting sued for their shanks.

I guess it is America, so you can sue for just about anything. But it doesn't mean you'll win.

The New York Court of Appeals struck down an unfortunate case between two Doctors.

An example of a chromium compound (chrom(VI)-oxide)
user BXXXM - wikimedia commons

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) says it commissioned a study that tested tap water in 35 cities across the United States and found a cancer causing chemical in 31 of the cities they tested.

In Michigan, the EWG tested for evidence of hexavalent chromium in Ann Arbor's water supply and found the chemical at .21 parts per billion. The group says a proposed "safe" level in California is .06 parts per billion.

The group says:

Lincolnway Ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa
flickr user - freddthompson

Fuel-makers blend refined gasoline with ethanol to make it burn more cleanly.

Corn-based ethanol has been considered a much better fuel additive since MTBE was found leaking into groundwater supplies (the CBS News magazine 60 Minutes did a report that led to MTBE's downfall as an additive).

But there's been debate on how much ethanol to allow in gas. The accepted standard has been a 10% mix, which is found in most gas across the country.

Lunar eclipse tonight

Dec 20, 2010
Lunar eclipse
D'Arcy Norman - wikimedia commons user

Update December 21st, 2:00 a.m.:

Well, I woke up... the Earth's shadow is passing over the moon right now. NASA says it'll be in full eclipse starting at 2:41 a.m. and then the shadow will start slipping off the moon at 3:53 a.m.

Welcome to the shortest day of the year! Now... time for bed.

December 20th, 1:12 p.m.

It's not as special as a solar eclipse, which happens in one spot (say in Detroit, MI) around once every several hundred years, but a lunar eclipse is still pretty cool. Even if it does happen around twice a year.

(Written by Eliot Johnson, and Zoe Clark)

Every Michigan resident is familiar with the economic challenges facing the state. From job losses to foreclosures. The challenges we face are daunting. No single person can fix all the broken pieces of the state. But Michigan Radio has been on a quest this year to learn about the little things each of us can do to make a difference.

All this year, Michigan Radio's Morning Edition Host Christina Shockley has been talking to people from across the state about ways to improve Michigan. We call it the Three Things Series because we asked each person for three ways that ordinary Michiganders could help the state.

The response has been amazing, generating hundreds of ideas for each of us to consider and act upon. From recycling to community organizing to drinking more Michigan beer, the ideas we've received have been a diverse collection of potential ways to improve both the state and our attitudes towards it.

Today, we concluded the Three Things Series with an hour-long call-in show. It will air again tonight at 8 p.m., or you can hear it here:

Jack Abramoff testifying at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee Hearing
U.S. Senate

Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist who bilked millions from several Indian tribes including Michigan's Saginaw Chippewas, has officially been released from the Federal Bureau of Prisons

The Associated Press reports Abramoff spent the last several months of his four-year prison sentence on home confinement with an electronic monitoring bracelet. The halfway house he was assigned to set Abramoff up with a job at a kosher pizzeria in Baltimore.

The AP reports that Abramoff worked at Tov Pizza, "a modest kosher pizzeria in a heavily Jewish section of northwest Baltimore. Abramoff, 51, is an Orthodox Jew and wore a yarmulke to work."

Prison bars
Ken Mayer / Flickr

Updated 2:23 p.m.:

Michigan Department of Corrections public information officer John Cordell  reacted to the report by saying, "This is why we do audits. It looks like we came up short. We'll be sure to correct our procedures in the future."

12:11 p.m.:

Auditors say officials at Newberry Correctional Facility in the upper peninsula haven't been listening in enough on their prisoners.

The Associated Press reports:

The prison is supposed to document that it monitors at least 50 phone calls a month by inmates. State auditors say they fell short of that target by half during a three-month period earlier this year.

The auditors said phone monitoring is an important part of keeping prisoners from violating prison policies or state law.

The medium security prison in Newberry can hold 1,072 people.

The Michigan Department of Corrections holds more than 43,960 prisoners in 34 correctional facilities around the state.

Interior of EMU Science Complex
EMU

EMU calls it the largest single construction project in the history of the University.

Today the school put the interior of the Science Complex on display.

AnnArbor.com has put together a slide show of the complex.

The AP reports the $90 million Science Complex was paid for through the sale of bonds and through a 4% tuition increase that was approved in 2005.

Silver carp jump behind a motor boat
USFWS

The Obama Administration announced it will dedicate more resources to keep Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes.

Today, a coordinated group of state and federal agencies released the 2011 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework.

In it the group calls for increased monitoring and further study on the pathways carp can use to get into the Lakes.

The Detroit Free Press reports the framework calls for:

$47 million worth of new projects... to combat Asian carp and prevent their spread to the Great Lakes. The new work includes a new laboratory in Wisconsin that will do increased DNA sampling for Asian carp around the lakes, aiming to take 120 samples per week.

The additional money is expected to come from money that was originally allocated from other Great Lakes clean-up projects.

John Ter Beek
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The ACLU has filed lawsuits on behalf of medical marijuana users in the cities of Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, and Livonia after those cities effectively banned medical marijuana.

Now add the city of Wyoming to the list of cities being sued by the ACLU. The ACLU said it will represent John Ter Beek "a medical marijuana patient who fears being penalized by local officials if he grows or uses medical marijuana in compliance with state law."

The Wyoming city council unanimously passed a ban on medical marijuana earlier this month.

The Changing Gears team has put together a one-hour special Reinventing Our Cities.

It airs today at 2 pm eastern and 1 pm central. You can hear it on Chicago Public Radio, Michigan Radio and Cleveland's Ideastream, or, you can click this audio link to take a listen:

Here's how the team describes the one-hour special:

Dave Hogg / Flickr

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's office released this statement regarding the RICO indictments of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Victor Mercado, former director of the city Water and Sewerage Department, and 3 others:

We are disappointed by continued revelations of the mistakes of the past. Yet, we will not be deterred from our agenda. We will continue to work hard to restructure city government to a level of accountability, transparency and performance for our citizens. We have the utmost confidence in U.S Attorney Barbara McQuade and her team, and will cooperate and not interfere with their investigation.

While these indictments will make it more difficult as we seek a new director for the water department, and continue to make the tough but necessary decisions throughout the city, we will maintain our commitment to the highest ethical standards and those who uphold them for the benefit of our city and region.

One one expert calls it "the biggest auto verdict in the state this year."

Danielle Salisbury of the Jackson Citizen Patriot reports a jury awarded James Fairly and his wife Kimberley Fairley $3.5 million in pain and suffering as a result of traffic accident Mr. Fairly was in.

picasa user david

Kwame Kilpatrick and the others associated in the case are facing charges under the federal RICO statute (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations). You can check the FBI's glossary of terms to see what activities can be charged under RICO. The law was enacted by Congress 40 years ago to prosecute the leaders of organized crime. Before RICO it was difficult to prosecute organized crime leaders who rarely got involved in day-to-day dirty deeds. 

Jim Schaefer of the Detroit Free Press has written up a nice little summary of RICO and how prosecutors have since used it to fight corruption in organized labor, drug gangs, and government officials. He writes:

Prosecutors must prove that there was a “criminal enterprise” at work; that the person being prosecuted conspired with others to commit a pattern of crimes, from violent acts to financial crimes such as bribery, money laundering, wire fraud or extortion.

Federal prosecutors will try to prove that Kilpatrick and those newly indicted today colluded in a pattern of crimes.

Federal prosecutors filed new charges against Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner last Christmas.

Abdulmutallab was previously charged with attempted murder and attempting to use a weapon on mass destruction.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

The new charge of conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, says he acted in concert with others whose names are known and unknown to the federal grand jury.

The charges say he traveled to Yemen to received training in making and detonating the bomb.

Michael Moore at a film festival in Venice
Nicholas Genin / Flickr

Michael Moore has announced that he is contributing $20,000 to help bail out WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (that WikiLeaks link is liable to change).

On his blog post, Moore says he's offering Assange more than just money:

I am publicly offering the assistance of my website, my servers, my domain names and anything else I can do to keep WikiLeaks alive and thriving as it continues its work to expose the crimes that were concocted in secret and carried out in our name and with our tax dollars.

Freighter on the Saginaw River
flickr user ifmuth

The Bay City Times reports the tug boat sank early Monday spilling 800 gallons of diesel fuel.

It's reported that Grand Rapids-based Young's Environmental Cleanup Inc. and Mt. Clements-based HM Environmental Services are working to contain and clean up the spill.

The cause of the sinking won't be known until the tug is pulled from the river. Paul Luedtke of Luedtke Engineering, the company that owns the boat, said:

"We won't know until then and anything before then would just be speculation."

A crane will pull the tug from the water once the diesel spill is cleaned up.

Heroin abuse in Michigan is on the rise. Felix Sharpe of Michigan's Bureau of Substance Abuse and Addiction Services says that 680 people died from heroin overdoses in Michigan last year.
United Nations Photo

The University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research has been monitoring drug use among teens for 36 years. This year's "Monitoring the Future" study had responses from more than 46,000 8th, 10th, and 12th graders.

They found that marijuana use is on the rise. 43.8% of 12th graders said they've used marijuana in their lifetime. That's up from 42% in 2009, and 42.6%  in 2008. From the study:

Marijuana use, which had been rising among teens for the past two years, continues to rise again this year—a sharp contrast to the considerable decline of the preceding decade

Alcohol use, on the other had has been decreasing. 54.1% of 12th graders said they'd been drunk in their lifetime. That's down from 56.5% in 2009, and 54.7% in 2008. From the study:

Alcohol use—and, specifically, occasions of heavy drinking—continues its long-term decline among teens into 2010, reaching historically low levels.

Sweet N' Low, sugar, and salt and pepper shakers
William Hartz / Flickr

I always thought twice before adding those little pink packets to my iced tea because a little voice in my head was telling me they were bad. No proof, just something I had heard somewhere.

As it turns out, saccharin WAS on EPA's hazardous constituent list. It's been on the list since 1980. The substance was put on the list because the EPA's Carcinogen Assessment Group listed it as a "potential human carcinogen."

Lice nit on hair
Gilles San Martin - wikimedia

It's something a lot of parents dread. Lice in your kid's hair.

Pesticides in shampoo form is one way to tackle the problem, but some people go pesticide-free.

Kyle Norris filed a report on Rapunzel's Lice Boutique in Ann Arbor for the Environment Report. I tagged along with her with a camera when she visited a family getting a treatment and we put together this slide show:

Boarded up houses in Flint, Michigan
creative commons

Update 11:30 a.m.:

Just hours after city officials in Flint called a news conference about tying the homicide record, The Flint Journal is reporting that the record appears to be broken. Police are now at the scene of a potential slaying:

Police are at the scene now at Harriet and Donald streets, where there was a report of a man in vehicle who appeeared to be shot. If the death is considered a homicide, it would be the city's 62nd. The highest number of homicides ever previously recorded in the city was 61 in 1986.

Update 11:20 a.m.:

The Flint Journal made a map showing where homicides in the city have taken place. There have been no arrests in 25 of the 60 homicides noted.


View Flint homicides in a larger map

10:12 a.m.:

The City of Flint is holding a news conference this morning about the city's homicide rate. The 61st homicide was recorded last night making this year the worst on record since 1986.

In a press release issued last night, city officials said "police responded to a call at a home in the 600 block of West Ridgeway, on the city's north side, just before 7:30 Sunday evening."

Three people were found shot inside the home. One was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mayor Walling said

"We have reached a tragic milestone in Flint, tying the homicide record established in 1986. Residents must continue to be vigilant about reporting crimes and providing police with information that will get criminals off the streets. I applaud the swift work of our hard working police officers in apprehending a suspect within hours of the city's latest homicide."

Metrodome
John Schroeder - flickr

Update: 10:49 a.m.:

The Lions are reporting that due to "overwhelming" response, free tickets to tonight's NFL game at Ford Field are no longer being offered.

Update: 12/13/10, 9:30 a.m.:

Fans in downtown Detroit are lining up at Ford Field to get free tickets for tonight's NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants. Detroit Lions President Tom Lewand said on WJR this morning that there going to work to make sure everyone can be accommodated, "but I think we're going to be a little oversubscribed."

In case you haven't seen it yet, the NFL has some impressive video of the Metrodome collapsing.

12/12/10, 12:45 p.m.:

The New York Times has put together an interactive before and after photo showing how the roof of the Metrodome deflated after heavy snowfall. The Giants and Vikings were scheduled to play there today.

The NFL moved the game to Ford Field and will be played tomorrow night (Monday) at 7:20pm. The Detroit Free Press reports it'll be the "first ever regular-season Monday Night game at Ford Field."

Is Twitter overated?

Dec 10, 2010
Twitter bird logo icon illustration
Matt Hamm - flickr user

Hash tags, retweets, favs, overheard, nudges... to the uninitiated it's like learning Sanskrit.

To the initiated, it's a modern day language.

But a new study finds that Twitter is not used as often as commonly thought.

The Pew Research Center focused a survey exclusively on Twitter. Previously Pew asked respondents whether they used "the Internet to use Twitter or another service to share updates about yourself or to see updates about others?"

A farm in Michigan
Maureen Reilly - flickr user

Update 2:38 p.m.:

There are more declarations of natural disaster areas in the state of Michigan. The 21 counties I wrote about below were for "excessive heat" disasters. The USDA has also issued natural disaster declarations for frost (the excessive cold occurred from March 1st through May 16th), AND for storms and rain.

The 32 counties that received the frost declarations can be found this FEMA page.

Michigan Representative Pete Hoekstra
hoekstra.house.gov

Representative Pete Hoekstra came into office in the 103rd Congress in 1993. He's going out in the 111th Congress at the end of this year.

Hoekstra announced his retirement in December 2008 when he decided to run for Governor of Michigan.

He lost that bid to Rick Snyder and will soon be out of a political office after 17 years.

Today, the Grand Rapids Press ran an editorial praising Hoekstra's tenure, saying,

Tom Watkins of Northville Michigan has been given the Upton Sinclair Award for education from EducationNews.org.

Watkins is the CEO of TDW and Associates, an educational consulting firm, and a former Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Michigan from 2001 to 2005.

In their release, EducationNews.org writes

Downsizing Detroit

Dec 9, 2010
City of Detroit
Pablo Costa - picasa user

Detroit is a city built for 2 million people, but now has around 800,000. It's ruins have become famous. And some people, like artist Lowell Boileau, have said the problems Detroit faces are like a "slow moving Katrina."

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is leading a plan, called the Detroit Works Project, to shrink the city down to size. To make the city's 139 square mile footprint more manageable for city services like police, fire, sanitation, and water.

Jennifer Granholm
flickr user auberon

3 million jobs in 3 years. That's what soon-to-be-former-Governor Jennifer Granholm called for in her article in the Huffington Post.

Granholm calls for a "Jobs Race to the Top" modelled on the education "Race to the Top" program.

Dangle large sums of money in front of cash strapped states and see if you can get them to change their policies.

Rich Rodriguez coacing UM football players
Rich Dinges - creative commons

It's not just sitting president's who have to worry about their poll numbers, apparently head football coaches do to.

Public Policy Polling gathered information on a subject that really doesn't have much to do with the general public or policy.

Their robot callers ("we can reduce interviewer bias to zero by eliminating the live human interviewer") got responses from 1,224 Michiganders on the subject of Rich Rodriguez.

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