Flint

Politics & Government
2:34 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Crack down or offer amnesty? Flint goes after water theft

Flint has the highest water rates in the county, and they've got a water theft problem.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Police say they're investigating more than 50 water theft cases across the city.

They say they've already arrested 7 people, including a City Water Department employee who is accused of illegally turning on water for residents.

Flint has some of the highest water rates in the county: an MLive analysis this summer showed that an average resident pays $140 dollars a month, while people in the neighboring town of Burton pay less than $58 a month.

And the city raised its rates again in July.

Jason Lorenz is with the city of Flint.

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Health
6:00 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Flint officials working to resolve water issues

Flint Public Works director Howard Croft explains what the city is doing to resolve problems with the city's water system during a news conference this week.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

People in Flint may be a bit wary of drinking water from their taps these days.

Several boil water advisories have been issued in the past month, after tests showed potential problems with bacteria.   The latest pair of advisories were lifted last week.

Howard Croft is Flint’s public works director. He says the problems are due to Flint’s aging infrastructure. 

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Law
2:52 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Flint rejoining Genesee County 911

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is rejoining Genesee County’s 911 system.

Since 1997, the city has been using its own operators to handle emergency calls, but the city’s system is aging and out-of-date.

Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley says the plan is to fold Flint into the county’s 911 system by the middle of next year.

“Our citizens will have access to the most up to date features of next-generation 911, which will include the ability to send text or photos to 911 and other more cutting edge technology,” says Earley.

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Politics & Government
2:00 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Flint gets funds for demolitions and improvements

A demolition in Flint.
Credit Genesee County Land Bank

FLINT – Michigan is giving $2.6 million to Genesee County's land bank to demolish and improve 225 blighted properties in Flint's Civic Park neighborhood.

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority is making the grant with money from the federal Hardest Hit Fund.

The land bank now owns about half of the properties in the Civic Park area, and 71 more properties are recent tax foreclosures. The land bank says most are in need of demolition and greening because of deterioration and theft by metal and other scrappers.

State housing authority acting executive director Wayne Workman says the award will allow strategic demolitions and help preserve the neighborhood.

The Genesee County Land Bank also received $20 million last October to demolish, green, and maintain more than 1,600 properties.

Politics & Government
3:21 pm
Mon September 1, 2014

Flint searches for city manager

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s search for a city manager begins in earnest Sept. 1.

Emergency manager Darnell Earley wants to hire a city manager to serve as a bridge from state oversight of the city. He hopes to choose someone by December.

“I’ve already had some preliminary conversations with some executive recruitment firms,” says Earley. “Although we’re going to do this in-house, I’m going to beg and plead as much as I can for assistance to get that word out so that we can cast the widest net we possibly can.”

A Flint city manager would be joining the city at a time of major change.

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Law
10:55 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Michigan family marks 3rd anniverary of brother's arrest in Iran

Sarah Hekmati at today's rally marking the 3rd anniversary of her brother Amir's arrest in Iran.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Waving signs saying “Free Amir”, a small group in Bay City marked the third anniversary of the arrest of a Flint native in Iran on spying charges.

Amir Hekmati’s older sister Sarah says her family is still struggling to deal with her brother’s predicament.

“Every day we wake up, it’s very surreal and we feel like it’s a bad dream.  But it’s not going away,” says Sarah Hekmati, “We can’t believe that has become three years.”

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Families & Community
2:00 pm
Sat August 23, 2014

Salvaging homes and lives in Flint

Lynette Delgado handles some of the items volunteers removed from a blighted home.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A non-profit group in Flint hopes salvaging parts of some of the city’s blighted homes will help salvage the lives of some of Flint’s most in-need residents.

Lynette Delgado is with the B-Light Restoration Center. She says they are working with private property owners to salvage bits and pieces of homes to be demolished. She says they’re training local homeless and other at-risk individuals to remove architectural features of blighted homes.

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Politics & Government
3:56 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Flint, state officials discuss return to local control

State officials met with Flint’s emergency manager, mayor and city council members this week to discuss a possible plan to transition the city back under local control.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is making progress toward possibly beginning the process of emerging from state oversight next spring. But there’s still a lot to do.

Flint’s been under an emergency manager since 2011.   

State officials met with Flint’s emergency manager, mayor, and city council members this week to discuss a possible plan to transition the city back to local control.     

Emergency manager Darnell Earley says the city still has to show it’s ready to be run in a financially responsible way. 

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Law
6:27 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Flint City Councilman Eric Mays sentenced to jail

After his arrest, several city leaders called on Eric Mays to resign the city council seat he was elected to last year. Mays has refused.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A judge has sentenced Flint City Councilman Eric Mays to 72 days in jail for his conviction of driving while impaired.    

Mays was handcuffed and taken to jail after being sentenced by Flint District Judge Nathaniel Perry, who said the councilman put his own constituents in danger.

Eric Mays is appealing the conviction.

Mays asked the judge to put his jail sentence on hold as he was led from the courtroom. The judge denied the request.   

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Politics & Government
3:33 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Flint voters will likely cast ballots on 6 questions that would reshape city government

Robert Wesley and other members of the Blue Ribbon committee talk to the media about proposed changes to Flint's city charter.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There may be six questions on Flint’s November ballot that would revamp the city’s 40-year-old city charter. 

The paperwork was filed with the clerk’s office today. 

Five of the proposals would eliminate some city offices. The sixth would create a charter commission to consider totally revamping Flint’s city charter. 

Robert Wesley headed up a blue-ribbon committee that looked at how Flint’s city government works. He hopes Flint residents will support the ballot questions.     

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Politics & Government
8:51 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Big crowds expected at Flint's Back to the Bricks this week (but teens face curfew)

Flint Police Capt. Collin Birnie speaks at a news conference featuring members of the task force handling Back to the Bricks security
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Starting tomorrow, the city of Flint will be welcoming more than a half million car enthusiasts to the city’s annual downtown showcase of classic cars.  But the city won’t be as welcoming to unaccompanied teenagers.

The city today announced a 6pm teen curfew downtown during “Back to the Bricks”.

Captain Collin Birnie is with the Flint Police Department.   He says the curfew is in response to problems with unruly teens from past years.

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Stateside
12:07 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Fighting blight in Flint, one house at a time

Credit Fight Blight and Spur Revival in Flint campaign / indiegogo.com

Tackling the issue of blight in urban communities is incredibly challenging.

Recently, the city of Flint, with the help of the Genesee County Land Bank, has torn down 600 properties in its effort to demolish more than 1,500 blighted homes in the city.

It’s part of the Michigan Blight Elimination plan, with support from the Hardest Hit federal grant fund.

Doug Weiland, executive director of Genesee County Land Bank, joined us on Stateside to talk about the plan’s priority and progress.

Meanwhile, some people are taking a very personal approach to dealing with blight in Flint.

There’s a crowdfunding campaign going on right now that hopes to raise $10,000 to tear down a single crumbling home on Parkbelt Drive. 

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Education
10:07 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Flint schools' deficit plan relies on retaining students

The Flint school district has seen a sharp decline in student enrollment for years. The district's deficit elimination plan relies on stabilizing enrollment.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint school board last night approved a plan to eliminate its $20.4 million deficit.  

But the plan relies on the district being able to do something it has struggled to do:  retain students.

The Flint school district delivers its revised deficit elimination plan to the state Department of Education tomorrow.  The plan calls for zeroing out a $20.4 million deficit by the end of 2021.    

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10:41 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Violence is everywhere, and these young people in Flint have had enough.

Lead in text: 
Crime is down in Flint, but the city has still seen more than 800 violent crimes since the beginning of the year. State of Opportunity has the story of two young people trying to deal with the effects of all that violence, and the mentors trying to help them.
The Haskell Youth Center is on the front lines of violence prevention in Flint. They don't use a complicated formula; there are just plenty of positive activities and positive adults. On any given day there are about 200 kids spread throughout the game room, the cafeteria, and a gym where the basketball games never seem to stop.
Politics & Government
5:36 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Major changes proposed to Flint governance

Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley holds a copy of a blue ribbon committee's report calling for major changes to Flint city government.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint city government may undergo some major changes, if the recommendations from a blue ribbon committee become reality.

Before the governor appointed an emergency manager to run the city of Flint in 2011, the city’s mayor ran much of the city’s day-to-day business.   The city council, ombudsman and civil service office also held significant control.

When Flint eventually emerges from state oversight, someone else could be calling the shots.

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Law
3:54 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Flint residents criticize state troopers during a community meeting

Lt. Tom Deasy (right) listens as multiple speakers criticize how Michigan State Police troopers are handling their job patrolling Flint's streets
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State Police troopers faced a barrage of criticism during a community meeting in Flint today. Much of the complaints centered on recent fatal auto accidents involving state troopers.

It was a sometimes emotional three hour meeting between Flint residents and state police commanders.

Many people, including family members of two women killed in auto accidents linked to car chases involving state troopers, blasted the state police.

“You don’t even have a 'Plan B' when you’re chasing somebody,” a woman in the audience, “That just doesn’t make any sense, to come here as a professional and kill people who were not even involved in what you were dealing with.”

Dozens of Michigan State Police troopers are patrolling Flint city streets and assisting with investigations in the city.  The troopers are augmenting Flint's depleted police department, which has been decimated in recent years by budget cuts.

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Arts & Culture
11:17 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Flint's all-female poetry slam team goes to national competition

Sapphire Newby, right, practices with a teammate. The white board behind them lists the original poetry that needs to be memorized before the competition.
Credit Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

The 17th annual International Youth Poetry Slam festival is in Philadelphia this week.

Flint is sending a team made up entirely of high school girls.

They’ve been practicing for months, writing poetry from their own lives about things like family, abuse, mental illness, and love.

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Law
7:45 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Some Flint residents want state troopers to leave town

About 40 Michigan State Police troopers assist the Flint police department on a daily basis. They perform mainly patrol and investigation functions.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Frustration of about the presence of Michigan State Police troopers patrolling Flint hit the street today.

Flint city councilman Wantwaz Davis organized a rally that brought out more than 100 people to Flint city hall.  Davis says state troopers are driving on city streets “like renegades and cowboys.”

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Politics & Government
10:06 am
Sat July 12, 2014

The week in review: Art, oil, schools and money

Credit Julie Falk / Flickr

This Week in Review, while Emily Fox sits in for Rina Miller, she and Jack Lessenberry discuss how selling works from the Detroit Institute of Arts wouldn't make financial sense in helping with the city's bankruptcy, the threat of an oil spill under the Straits of Mackinac, and money problems with Flint Community Schools.

Education
10:27 am
Fri July 11, 2014

So, how big is Flint schools' deficit? Depends who you ask

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Community Schools says it's got a $20 million deficit ($10 million of which was only recently discovered, according to the district.)

But if you ask Lisa Hagel, Flint Community Schools owes another $8.6 million on top of that.

Hagel is the superintendent of the Genesee Intermediate School District, which is now suing Flint schools over allegedly misspending $8.6 million of countywide tax money.  

The money was supposed to go to the Genesee Area Skill Center for vocational training. Instead, it was blended into the general fund of the Flint Community Schools.

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