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

Andrew McFarlane / Creative Commons

The waterfront in Traverse City used to be an industrial area. Now it's open space with parks, beaches and bike trails.

With that comes festivals, and some city residents say there are too many. They complain of "festival fatigue." City leaders voted last night to lower the number of festivals allowed in the open space area from six to four.

More from the Traverse City Record-Eagle:

Commissioners said the new limitation would address resident concerns about the number of large events at the Open Space in a reasonable manner. Commissioners split on the question, reflecting the temperament of city residents who offered varying opinions on the need for more festivals.

“We are limiting one event at one park,” Commissioner Jeanine Easterday said before running through a long list of festivals and events that remain. “We are not eliminating events for Traverse City.”

NPC / screen shot from YouTube

Outgoing GM CEO Dan Akerson spoke to the National Press Club this afternoon cataloging all the changes the company has made to make it profitable once again.

The U.S. Treasury sold the last of its holdings in the company earlier this month. The government said they lost about $10 billion on its bailout of over $49 billion.

Akerson said over the last four years, the company has invested more than $10 billion in its U.S. operations, including $1.27 billion announced today.

"There's that $10 billion again. But we're investing it - that will keep paying dividends to the American public that supported this company in its darkest hour," said Akerson. 

Akerson said the company is still in the early chapters of the comeback story and that they still have a lot to prove to people who left the brand for other car companies.

Akerson will step down as CEO on January 15, 2014. Akerson was with the Carlyle Group prior to taking the helm at GM in 2010. The global auto industry will see its first female CEO when Marry Barra takes over in January.

You can watch Akerson's address to the National Press Club below:

Detroit bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes.
John Meiu / Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC

The judge in Detroit’s bankruptcy case says creditors can appeal his recent eligibility ruling directly to a higher federal court.

Judge Steven Rhodes ruled earlier this month that Detroit is eligible to proceed with its historic bankruptcy case.

He also ruled that city pensions can be cut in federal bankruptcy court — despite a public pension guarantee in Michigan’s state constitution.

City unions, pension funds and retiree groups immediately said they intended to appeal both decisions.

GM

GM made the announcement today and said the investments in the manufacturing plants "will create or retain about 1,000 jobs."

The investments will be made in these five plants:

  1. Flint Assembly 
  2. Romulus Powertrain Operations
  3. Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly
  4. Toledo Transmission Operations
  5. Bedford Castings in Indiana

GM says the investments "will support production of a new V6 engine, new 10-speed transmission and an existing 6-speed transmission. They will also fund assembly plant upgrades, including a new paint shop and logistics optimization center."

screen grab from web cam / Detroit Sports Commission

The NHL Winter Classic will be held in Ann Arbor's Michigan Stadium on January 1, 2014. The Toronto Maple Leafs will take on the Detroit Red Wings. Tickets will cost... a lot.

Right now, a hockey rink is being built on top of a football field.

The Detroit Sports Commission has set up a webcam so you can watch the progress. See below:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Legislature wasn't as busy as it was last year passing last-minute legislation, but they were busy.

Here's a rundown of the activity seen in Lansing over the last two days.

New law in Michigan

- Putting limits on abortion coverage

The state Legislature has been busy in its last week of session for the year - from increasing limits on campaign contributions, to issues regarding medical marijuana.

On today's show, we'll get an update from Lansing. Both the state House and Senate passed a voter-initiated law requiring consumers to buy separate policies for abortion coverage. What will this mean for you?

Later in the show, we’ll talk drones. Estimates show there could be some 175,000 unmanned aerial vehicles in U.S. airspace by 2025.

We'll speak to a Michigan entrepreneur who's trying to develop drones for commercial market, later in the hour.

But first, we check in with Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes. On his mind this week is a "re-tooling" of Michigan's auto industry.

The Detroit Institute of Arts
Flickr

Leaders at the Detroit Institute of Arts praised the efforts of federal mediators today saying they're working toward a solution that protect's the museum's collection while giving relief to the city of Detroit.

The collection has been seen as a potential source of revenue by some creditors who are poised to lose a lot of money in the Detroit bankruptcy.

More from the DIA's press release:

At a meeting with the mediators on Tuesday, the DIA expressed enthusiastic support for the work that has been done to date, and pledged to help refine and implement the plan in the weeks ahead. The plan engages national and local foundations among other funding sources to create a mechanism for providing cash for the City, while ensuring the present and future safety of the DIA collection. Details of the plan are still in process, as meetings with the foundation community and others continue. The DIA has begun to mobilize its considerable public support to help implement a fundraising strategy that will satisfy the City’s needs, while ensuring the well-being of the museum for the residents of Detroit, southeast Michigan and beyond.

Clip from Poor Boyz Productions / YouTube

These skiiers stopped in from out of town to "Ski Detroit."

Yes, it's another in a string of "check out how bleak Detroit is" videos. But their tricks are definitely worth watching. There's some pretty creative stuff going on here. (Lyrics in some of the soundtrack are NSFW.)

(H/T Sarah H.) 

You likely saw it unfold on Facebook earlier this year.

In late March, Facebook users began changing their profile pics to show their support for gay marriage.

Facebook tracked analyzed those changes and found that 2.77 million users in the United States made the switch - and the users who made the switch were more likely to live along the coasts or in the Great Lakes region.

GM

Dan Akerson, chairman and CEO of General Motors, will step down on January 15, 2014. Akerson moved up the date of his departure by several months after his wife was diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer.

Akerson's successor will be Mary Barra. She's the executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain.

The 51-year-old Barra will become the company's first female CEO, and will be the first female CEO in the global automotive industry.

Barra was the daughter of a Pontiac die maker, according to Bloomberg:

Barra, 51, whose career started on a factory floor as an intern more than 30 years ago, has been in charge of product development and quality of all GM cars and trucks for 22 months, fostering collaboration and wringing costs out of the supply chain.

In its press release, GM said Barra was a leader in the company's turnaround:

...revitalizing GM’s product development process resulting in the launch of critically acclaimed new products while delivering record product quality ratings and higher customer satisfaction.

“With an amazing portfolio of cars and trucks and the strongest financial performance in our recent history, this is an exciting time at today’s GM,” said Barra. “I’m honored to lead the best team in the business and to keep our momentum at full speed.”

GM announced other executive staff changes as well. Dan Ammann, 41 and GM CFO, will become company president and will manage the company's regional operations around the world. He'll remain as CFO of GM as well. A new CFO will be named at a later date.

And Mark Reuss, 50, will move into the position being vacated by Barra.

Sandra Svoboda of Deadline Detroit profiles one of our favorite NPR people! Gonyea worked out of WDET in Detroit prior to becoming an NPR correspondent. He remembers his work in Detroit fondly "It's where I had great, great years working as a journalist, it's where I learned how to be a journalist. The stories Detroit handed me to cover were just a never-ending stream of really great and rich stories."

The Heidelberg Project / via Facebook

What was built over several decades, is coming down in less than a year.

Last night, the fifth house in the world-renowned art installation on Detroit's east side was burned.

The Heidelberg Project's Clock House burned last night around 11 p.m., according to the Detroit News:

The suspicious fire tore through the Clock House, near Elba Place and Ellery, about 10:50 p.m. Sunday, according to Battalion Chief Edward Voss. Smoke rolled through the neighborhood, blanketing it like fog. Fire crews arrived within five to seven minutes, but it wasn’t enough time to save the art display, said Voss.

It's the fifth house to be destroyed by arson in the last two months.

Heidelberg supporters wonder if the remaining three houses will be standing at the end of the year.

The three remaining houses, according to the News, are the Dot House, the Numbers House, and the Teddy Bear House.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction, and the agency is assisting the Detroit Fire Department in investigating the fires.

The News reports that police have not made specific plans to increase patrols in the Heidelberg area.

Heidelberg organizers have raised nearly $39,000 toward a goal of $50,000 to increase lighting and private patrols in the two-block area.

Michigan Radio's Emily Fox spoke with Guyton after the third house, the Penny House, was burned. Guyton told Fox the fires have inspired him to make more art:

“No matter what happens, the arson fires, the demolitions, that magic in here keeps telling me, do it, do it, don’t stop. Oh, it gives me energy, I’m saying turn it up. I’m like, that’s the best you got?,” Guyton says.

Guyton began the Heidelberg Project in 1986 to call attention to the extreme blight in Detroit's neighborhoods. Anyone who has information about the fires is asked to call the arson unit at the Detroit Fire Department (313-596-2940), or the ATF at 888-ATF-FIRE.

@downwithdetroit / Twitter

Four months after Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990 he came to Detroit.

Why Detroit?

Here's what the Rev. Jesse Jackson had to say, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“It’s the home of Joe Louis, and Nelson Mandela has always admired Joe Louis. ... He’s also always wanted to see Rosa Parks, and she is here. And the real base of the struggle is the labor unions.”

So thousands packed into Tiger Stadium to see him on June 28, 1990.

Rene Passet / Flickr

There was another plot turn in the long story of Detroit's struggles yesterday.

A federal bankruptcy judge looked at all the evidence and declared, yep, the city of Detroit is indeed insolvent.

It's new, for sure, but for many who have lived and worked in Detroit, it's just more of the same.

Derrick May is one the founding fathers of techno music. Detroit was the birthplace of the genre, and May has achieved a lot of success traveling around the world playing shows. (Listen to his breakout hit here.)

You might remember Mort Crim from way back when. He was a senior editor and anchor for the evening news at Detroit's WDIV-TV from 1978 to 1997.

If you don't remember him from that era, you might know him as the Majic Window Guy.

Here are some clips featuring Crim while he anchored at WDIV:

It turns out, Crim was the inspiration for Will Ferrell's Ron Burgundy character.

Detroit bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes.
John Meiu / Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes ruled this morning that the city of Detroit is allowed to protect itself from its creditors under Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy protection. In his ruling, Rhodes said pensions can be treated like any other debt and are subject to potential cuts. We've been following the news as it unfolds today.

Update 3:31 p.m.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette issued a statement today saying he supported the bankruptcy ruling, but was "deeply disappointed" with Rhodes' ruling that pensions are eligible for cuts.

Forget the great cattle drives in the Old West. I want to know more about the "great turkey drives" in the Old East. (This is one more for the "Thanksgiving story files.")

wikimedia commons

Back in 2007, I was doing a story on CAFOs in Wood County, Ohio.

I was waiting for my interviewee to return home when I spotted a gang of turkeys appear at the edge of the woods.

I had some time to kill, so I channeled my inner Marlin Perkins, got out my "shotgun" microphone, and attempted to record some wild nature sounds. (A "shotgun" microphone does not shoot anything, it's simply a long microphone that collects sound from far away.)

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Gratiot County Wind Farm has 133 wind turbines scattered over more than 30,000 acres. It's the largest wind farm in Michigan. Each 1.6 megawatt wind turbine can generate enough power for 350 homes.

And this is what it sounds like when you stand directly beneath a wind turbine that stretches more than 450 feet into the sky with the wind blowing between 10 to 15 mph.

(Listen below - You can hear the turbine slow down - I think it's neat, but I'm a nerd.)

Andrew Duthie / Wikimedia

That's according to Business Insider. Alex Davies and Mike Nudelman produced a map for the magazine showing top car choices in each state using data from Kelley Blue Book.

KBB looked at data going back to the beginning of this year.

Michigan was unique in it's "top car" choice. Most everywhere else, the Ford F-Series of trucks were the most popular. Here are some other states that broke the Ford truck trend.

But Americans elsewhere have different tastes: Florida and Maryland went for the Toyota Camry. Hawaii liked the Toyota Tacoma. Oklahoma bucked the geographic trend — the most popular car there is the Nissan Altima sedan.

It's anyone's guess as to when the ruling will come, but most seem to think the bankruptcy will be approved in some form.

If it's not, at least one expert seems to think bad things could happen. From Crain's Detroit Business:

"If the bankruptcy is disallowed, frankly, expect all hell to break loose," said Anthony Sabino, a lawyer who teaches business law at St. John's University in New York. "Detroit will be at the mercy of its creditors in individual lawsuits spread amongst federal and state courts. That chaos alone could doom the city."

Hell breaking loose? Doomed?

Well, a bomb wouldn't drop, but the downward financial spiral would certainly continue as creditors that haven't been paid would sue for the money they're owed.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Wolves are doing fine in many parts of the Upper Midwest, so much so that people are hunting them now.

But a protected population of wolves on Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior has plummeted.

DTE

Storms swept across Michigan yesterday. First there were tornado watches, then a tornado warning in Newaygo County. Once the watches ended, high winds swept across the state knocking over trees and powerlines.

As of this morning, more than 450,000 homes and business are without power, according to the Associated Press:

Wind gusts were measured at 70 mph in Battle Creek and 77 mph at a buoy in Lake Michigan near South Haven. The National Weather Service reports one person was injured Sunday afternoon in Clare County by a falling tree...

DTE Energy Co. reports 245,000 customers without power, including 70,000 each in Wayne and Oakland counties. CMS Energy Corp.'s Consumers Energy unit reports more than 213,900 customers without service.

Go here for more info on DTE power outages. And here for more on Consumers Energy outages.

Tornado watches expired without any confirmed as of Monday morning, but a possible brief tornado was reported in Newaygo County. The National Weather Service will be in Newaygo County today investigating.

Meteorologist Evan Webb in Grand Rapids says a crew will be in that area Monday. He says another will be looking at an area between Kalamazoo and Lansing where storm damage was reported. Heavy rains also flooded some roadways in the state.

WWTV/WWUP-TV is reporting a partial shutdown of the Mackinac Bridge this morning.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The parents of Renisha McBride spoke to the media today after Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced that her office would charge the man responsible for McBride's death with second degree murder.

Theodore Wafer, a 54-year-old from Deaborn Heights, was arraigned in court today. His attorney said Wafer's gun went off accidentally.

Walter Simmons and Monica McBride say they are happy that Wafer was charged.

Listen to their reaction below: 

 

Renisha McBride.
Family photo

A 19-year-old woman was shot in the face and killed while standing on the front porch of 54-year-old homeowner in Dearborn Heights, an inner-ring suburb of Detroit.

The 19-year-old, Renisha McBride, was black.

The homeowner, Theodore Paul Wafer, is white.

There have been 40 other murders in Detroit since October 1, but this is the one in the spotlight. In a city plagued by so many racial complexities, this story resonates with people.

Here's what we know

Renisha McBride.
Family photo

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced today that the man who shot 19-year-old Renisha McBride on his front porch in the early morning hours of November 2nd will be charged with murder in the second degree, manslaughter, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Second degree murder is non-premeditated murder. It can carry a sentence in Michigan of up to life in prison.

The man has been identified as Theodore Paul Wafer, a 54-year-old from Dearborn Heights.

McBride's family says she was seeking assistance after a car accident. A toxicology report showed McBride was intoxicated at the time. The homeowner said his gun discharged accidentally. 

Here is the 911 dispatch call that came in after the shooting:

We will have more on this story later. McBride's family is expected to hold a press conference at 3 p.m. today.

*This post has been updated.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced today that she is charging the man who shot 19-year-old Renisha McBride with second degree murder.

Here is the press conference courtesy of the Detroit Free Press:

Watch live streaming video from freeplive at livestream.com

*This post was updated at 12:15 p.m.

demccain / flickrriver

That per car fee won't go into effect for another 90 days, as the MDNR transitions into running things on Detroit's Belle Isle under a 30-year lease approved yesterday by a state loan board.

Detroit City Council wanted a 10-year lease. More from Crain's Detroit Business:

Keith Creagh, director of the Department of Natural Resources, said the reason the state sought a 30-year lease was to be able to apply for grants for park improvements that would require such a time commitment.

The city’s argument for a 10-year lease was that following Detroit’s exit from bankruptcy and a reduction in its structural deficit and a move to a balanced budget, it will have the capacity a decade from now to again properly fund and maintain the 985-acre park.

One member of the loan board overseeing the deal said terms of the deal could be revisited in the future. 

Detroit bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes.
John Meiu / Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC

Today is the last day U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes will accept documents from all sides of the Detroit bankruptcy case.

Rhodes will then look at all the evidence and decide whether the city of Detroit can reorganize itself under Chapter 9 bankruptcy laws. 

Rhodes has heard a lot. The city's future path will be up to him.

His decision will be based upon a) whether the city truly has no other options to pay its debts, a b) whether the city negotiated in good faith with its creditors prior to saying bankruptcy was the only way.

No one seems to be arguing that the city has a viable way to pay its debts. And Daniel Howes of the Detroit News argues that defining "good faith" negotiations in exceedingly difficult in this case.

That's because Detroit owes money to nearly 100,000 creditors.

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