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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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.

The "House of Soul" was destroyed by fire this morning.
Heidelberg Project / Facebook

This Tweet came from The Heidelberg Project this morning:

Angelique DuLong / wikimedia commons

DETROIT (AP) — The Wayne County treasurer has given a Chicago developer a one-week deadline to come up with the remaining funds on his $2 million bid for a sprawling former Detroit car plant.

William Hults has produced $200,000 in nonrefundable deposits for the dilapidated auto factory, but has yet to produce the remaining $1.8 million.

The treasurer's office says Hults has until Nov. 15 to pay up.

Hults wants to convert the site into a commercial, residential and entertainment development.

A Texas doctor's $6 million top bid on the blighted property was thrown out last month after she missed a payment.

The No. 3 bid is from Fernando Palazuelo of Peru.

From the John and Leni Sinclair papers / UM Bentley Historical Library

Next week, Sarah Alvarez from our State of Opportunity team will explore the long shadow of a busing and integration case 40 years ago, and the way the outcome fundamentally altered the notion of a neighborhood school for students in Detroit and many communities throughout the metro area.

Check out this post by Kimberly Springer that shows how some Detroit parents were notified that their kids were going to be bused to another school.

The series “Abandoning the neighborhood school” will focus on these topics:

Here's the wolf story as it appeared in a 2011 resolution asking Congress to remove federal protections for wolves in the western Great Lakes region.

Wolves appeared multiple times in the backyard of a day care center shortly after the children were allowed outside to play. Federal agents disposed of three wolves in that backyard because of the potential danger to the children

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.

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.)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 blooms of cyanobacteria (sometimes referred to as blue-green algae) over the last ten years. It was once a big problem in the 60s and 70s, and it has returned as a problem again.

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.

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