Mark Brush


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.


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
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
Politics & Government
2:15 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Race for Detroit mayor is not close, according to polls

Benny Napoleon (l) and Mike Duggan (r) are running for Mayor of Detroit.
Benny Napoleon Facebook

Mike Duggan leads Benny Napoleon by a nearly 2 to 1 margin, according to a recent Deadline Detroit's poll of 500 likely voters (margin of error +/- 4.5%):

Fifty-eight percent of likely voters surveyed said they would vote for Duggan, while 32 percent said they would cast their ballot for Napoleon, the poll showed.

Ten percent of those surveyed said they are undecided, which is not good news for Napoleon; even if he managed to take all the undecided votes, he would still fall short of Duggan’s total.

A Detroit Free Press/WXYZ poll found a similar result last month.

Election day is 10 days away.

The Environment Report
5:27 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Tracking Asian carp by what they leave behind

Asian carp at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago
flickr Kate Gardiner

Audio for The Environment Report for Oct. 24th

There’s a lot of time, money and effort being spent to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

To keep them out, we first have to know where the carp are.

Biologists often go out and sample water from rivers and lakes to look for carp. They test the water for genetic material, and some of those tests have turned up positive for Asian carp.

Last year, 20 samples turned up positive hits in Lake Erie. The positive DNA hits raise alarm bells that an invasive carp species might be establishing a population in the Great Lakes.

But the presence of carp DNA does not mean an actual fish was swimming in that area.

Read more
2:09 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Watch the Ohio State Marching Band bring Michael Jackson to life

MJ taking shape.
Ohio State TV YouTube

Marching bands around the nation, be warned. Ohio State has taken it up a notch.

Scroll to 4:12 to see Michael Jackson take shape, and then... moonwalk!

It shows what you can do with 230+ band members - or "pixels" for those in the stands.

It's cool and all, but Michigan has a jet pack guy!

(H/T HuffPo Detroit)

Politics & Government
11:53 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Can Detroit really get bankruptcy protection? Hearing starts today, Snyder to testify Monday

Judge Rosen will decide whether the city can protect itself from creditors under bankruptcy protection.
Detroit Legal News

Detroit is NOT in bankruptcy. Not yet, anyway.

That's what the bankruptcy hearing, which started today, is all about.

The federal bankruptcy judge will decide whether the city is allowed to protect itself from close to 100,000 creditors under Chapter 9 bankruptcy laws.

We found out this morning that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, the man who ultimately signed off on Detroit's bankruptcy filing, will testify in the Detroit bankruptcy trial on Monday.

Unions had served Snyder with a subpoena, but his live testimony appeared to be an unsettled issue earlier this week.

Gov. Snyder's lawyer argued that the Snyder's recent three-hour deposition should be enough.

But now his counsel says the governor wants to cooperate and will be available Monday afternoon.

Unions and pension funds want to question Snyder about approving Detroit's bankruptcy filing in July as well as other issues related to the case.

They will try to prove to the bankruptcy judge that Gov. Snyder and Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr had bankruptcy in mind all along - that they did not negotiate in good faith with the creditors ahead of time.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek is live tweeting from today's hearing. Lawyers for the city have already argued in favor of bankruptcy this morning. Now it's time for those opposed to bankruptcy to argue. Here's how Cwiek sums up what their arguments will be:



11:58 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Part of Willow Run bomber plant will be open to the public Saturday

The Wilow Run Factory was built in 5 months, and at the height of production during WWII, it was producing one B-24 bomber every hour.
U.S. Army Signal Corps

A group organized by the Yankee Air Museum has been trying to save part of the historic bomber plant from demolition.

The group says it has raised $5.25 million and needs to $2.75 million more by November 1 to meet the goal.

As part of their "Save the Bomber Plant" campaign, Nathan Bomey of the Detroit Free Press reports that part of the bomber plant will be open to the public this Saturday.

It's a chance for the  public to see the plant one last time before demolition begins.

Read more
2:00 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Tigers manager Jim Leyland steps aside

Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Update 2:00 p.m.

Here's the video from the press conference:

11:30 a.m.

It's official. Jason Beck writes for

Jim Leyland is stepping down as manager of the Tigers, and he will announce his decision today at a news conference scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET at Comerica Park ...

The decision ends Leyland's eight-year tenure leading the team he grew up with, first as a Minor League catcher and then as a manager in its farm system. This season was his 50th in professional baseball, 22 of them managing at the big league level, the last eight in Detroit.

10:36 a.m.

It's not official yet, but talk radio and Twitter are buzzing about the expected announcement that Tigers manager Jim Leyland will announce his retirement decision at an 11:30 press conference this morning.

This from

Jim Leyland won't return as manager of the Detroit Tigers next season, a decision the team will announce in a Monday morning news conference, according to multiple reports.

Here's how the news broke on Twitter:

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek will be at the news conference this morning.

*The headline for this story changed when the information was confirmed by Early reports used the word "retirement." He says he's taking another position with the Tigers, hence the strikethrough above.

12:44 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

The Tigers' Jim Leyland by the numbers

Detroit Tigers

"I hope you enjoyed me as much as I enjoyed you." - Jim Leyland in a statement to fans

Here are some of the significant numbers from Leyland's career as an MLB manager (numbers from the Detroit Tigers):

Read more
The Environment Report
9:00 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Michigan town looks forward to cleaning up mess left behind by chemical company

A granite marker was placed on the site of the former Vesicol Chemical Corp. plant site in St. Louis, Michigan warning people to stay away.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

You can listen to today's Environment Report above.

Forty years ago a chemical mix-up led to one of Michigan’s worst environmental tragedies, and it’s not over yet.

The mix-up occurred in early 1973 at the former Michigan Chemical Corporation plant (which later became the Vesicol Chemical Corporation) in St. Louis, Mich. The company accidentally shipped flame-retardant chemicals to livestock farms around the state.

Farmers thought they were getting a feed supplement. Instead, they were dosing their animals with the toxic chemical PBB.

The problem wasn’t discovered for another year -- and the chemicals were passed up the food chain to humans.

Read more
Politics & Government
2:41 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

We're following today's affirmative action hearing in U.S. Supreme Court

Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court ahead of today's hearing.
Rick Pluta MPRN
Politics & Government
11:09 am
Tue October 15, 2013

As the debt ceiling deadline looms, Michigan's budget director says he's 'nervous'

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or "Super Committee," failed to come up with a compromise to reduce the deficit. Michigan members of the Super Committee spoke about the experience.
U.S. Congress

In today's top story in the New York Times, "officials from several states" described potential consequences should our representatives in Congress fail to meet Thursday's debt ceiling deadline.

Michigan's budget director says the state is preparing for the unknown.

Read more
Politics & Government
10:45 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Is the debt ceiling deadline important? Here’s what Michigan legislators said

Congress is debating the debt ceiling, so what is that?
user kulshrax Flickr

On Wednesday, October 9th, we asked a simple question of the 16 members of Michigan's congressional delegation, "Is meeting the Oct 17th debt ceiling deadline important to you? Why or why not?" You can see their responses below. We're updating this post as the responses come in.

In a news conference on Oct. 8, President Obama warned that "if Congress refuses to raise what's called the 'debt ceiling,' America would not be able to meet all of our financial obligations for the first time in 225 years."

Read more
1:12 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick sentenced to 28 years in prison

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
AP file photo Associated Press

Prosecutors called for 28 years. The defense said he should get no more than 15.

Federal Judge Nancy G. Edmunds gave former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick 28 years in prison.

The sentence today comes after Kilpatrick was convicted last March on 24 counts of public corruption, which included racketeering and extortion.

They New York Times reports that "18 city officials ... have been convicted of corruption during [Kilpatrick's] tenure as mayor."

In a statement to the court, Kilpatrick said, "I apologize to you [Detroiters] for abandoning you." But he also said this, "I've never stolen from the city of Detroit."

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek is at the sentencing hearing and characterized his statement this way on Twitter:

Sarah will have more for us later.

Politics & Government
12:19 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Gov. Snyder questioned under oath in Detroit bankruptcy case


"You were not really committed to working this problem out with me."

That's what Detroit union employees and retirees are saying about Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. They say he was working toward a bankruptcy filing for Detroit all along, and did not negotiate with them "in good faith."

It's a central argument in a court case attempting to stop approval of a Detroit bankruptcy. If it can be proven that the city or the state did not argue in good faith with creditors, it could be a reason to deny Chapter 9 bankruptcy for the city of Detroit. 

Read more
Politics & Government
1:01 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

A week later, and is still experiencing issues in Michigan

This is a screenshot of right now.

You know you’ve got a problem when people start a thread on Reddit titled, “How not to optimize a website.

One Reddit commenter writes...

Dropdowns. That's what killed Obamacare!

The online healthcare exchanges have been plagued with problems since they opened.

Read more
Politics & Government
12:28 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Orr wants regional governance for Detroit Sewer and Water

A Detroit Water and Sewer main under contruction.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Under a plan being pushed by Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department would be overseen by a regional authority - something officials in cities and townships around Detroit have wanted for some time.

The Detroit News reports Orr's office is "fast-tracking" the creation of a regional authority:

Detroit’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, has been working with regional officials and water department board members on a plan. The authority would either own or lease the department, collect revenue from water bills and make payments to the city. The annual revenue could range from $60 million to $120 million, said Bill Nowling, Orr’s spokesman.

The move is critical to Orr’s bankruptcy strategy in part because it would provide the city with a secure revenue stream, Nowling said.

Detroit Water and Sewerage is undergoing a massive downsizing effort. The News reports the goal is to reduce the size of the workforce by 80% by 2017.

There are no details on how the regional authority would be structured yet.

Read more
Government Shutdown
3:50 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Here's how your legislator in Congress voted, and what they said, in shutdown battle

Capitol Hill, Washington D.C.

Republicans in Congress hope to "defund or delay" the Affordable Care Act by attaching language to a bill that would temporarily fund the federal government. If their "continuing resolution" budget is passed, it would end the shutdown.

Democrats won't go for it.

They say debate over the Affordable Care Act is settled. It was signed into law. The Supreme Court ruled on it. And there was a Presidential election in which it was debated. It's time to move on, they say.

Move on? Fat chance. The federal government has been partially shut down over the fight. 

Read more