Flint

Flint
6:41 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Gov. Snyder calls for local ideas for solving Michigan's urban problems

Gov. Rick Snyder, flanked by Flint civic and business leaders, discusses what he heard during a closed door meeting on the problems facing the city of Flint.
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint business and civic leaders sat down with Governor Snyder today to discuss possible solutions to the city’s problems.

The closed-door session focused on crime, education, economic development and other urban issues.

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Flint
1:01 am
Thu June 14, 2012

Paying to keep the street lights lit in Flint

Street lights coming on as evening begins in downtown Flint
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint residents will get a chance this afternoon to have their say about a proposed fee increase to pay for city streetlights.    But what they say may not be enough to prevent the fee from going into effect.

The city of Flint pays for keeping its streetlights lit with money from the city’s general fund.

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Politics & Government
11:24 am
Wed June 13, 2012

FEMA denies request for assistance to flooded Michigan communities

Rain is in the forecast for much of Michigan.
Tom Grundy Flickr

FEMA will not provide disaster assistance to Michigan communities affected by severe flooding back in May.

More than five inches of rain fell in parts of Genesee County near Flint on May 3 and 4.

Several homes and businesses suffered extensive damage. It was enough for Gov. Snyder to declare a state of emergency in the affected areas, but not enough for the federal government.

From the Flint Journal:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has told Gov. Rick Snyder that a request for major disaster assistance has been denied, according to a letter from FEMA administrator W. Craig Fugate.

"Based on our review of all the information available it has been determined that the damage to dwellings from this event was not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments and voluntary agencies," Fugate's letter to Snyder says.

Genesee County officials are expected to appeal the decision.

Economy
9:57 am
Fri June 8, 2012

AP: Nearly 100 city of Flint layoff notices issued

 FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Flint's state-appointed emergency financial manager says police officers and firefighters are spared from cuts taking place this month ahead of the new budget year.

The Flint Journal reports that 98 layoff notices have been issued to city of Flint employees. The layoffs go into effect throughout the month of June. Emergency manager Michael Brown initially said 32 firefighters and 19 police officers could be laid off.

The city recently was awarded a $6.9 million federal grant for firefighters. And Brown says he hopes a grant to support police operations will follow soon. Brown included information about the layoffs in his updated financial and operating plan.

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Arts & Culture
11:12 am
Tue May 29, 2012

On Memorial Day, veterans help shape our understanding of their experiences

Arlington National Cemetery
user Ed Yourdon Flikr

This Memorial Day, Michigan Radio spoke with veterans who have served overseas about how today’s veterans might be remembered.

Brandon Van Wagoner of Flint served in the Navy from 2004 to 2008, including two deployments to Iraq.

He thinks it's still too soon to know how his generation of service members will be remembered on Memorial Day.

“I really think the way we're actually going to see the Middle Eastern combatants isn't going to be completely formed or shaped until later on,” he says.

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Arts & Culture
11:00 am
Tue May 29, 2012

This Memorial Day, remembering a new generation of war victims

Flags at half mast in front of Michigan's state capitol building.
user larrysphatpage Flikr

This Memorial Day, Michigan Radio spoke with veterans who have served overseas about what the day means to a new generation of service members.

Kelli McKinstry of Flint joined the air force in August of 2001. She served in Iraq, and got out in 2007. Now she’s a student at the University of Michigan, Flint.

“I think people are just adapting to the fact that our generation is now war victims, versus Vietnam,” she says.

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Arts & Culture
10:46 am
Tue May 29, 2012

Thoughts from a new generation of veterans on Memorial Day

A wreath laid at Arlington National Cemetery
user Ed Yourdon Flikr

This Memorial Day, Michigan Radio spoke with veterans who have recently served overseas about how they observed the holiday.

Jeremy Suckow of Flint served in the Navy for six years. His memorial day looked a lot like everyone else's. For him, the beer and barbecuing is all part of it.

“We did our time and it's no big deal, and then other guys have gone there and paid the ultimate sacrifice, and why not toast to that, celebrate that,” says Suckow.

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Education
7:25 am
Wed May 23, 2012

Flint school district laying off hundreds of teachers

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - The Flint school board has voted to lay off 237 teachers as part of an effort to eliminate an estimated $20 million deficit for the coming year.

The board voted Tuesday to lay off 108 elementary and 129 secondary school teachers.

Earlier this month, Mlive.com (http://bit.ly/JnOdC1 ) says the board voted to close both middle schools, along with Bunche and Summerfield elementary schools.

Crime
3:20 pm
Tue May 22, 2012

Jury finds Elias Abuelazam, accused serial stabber in Flint, guilty of murder

Elias Abuelazam (file photo)
(courtesy of the Genesee County Prosecutor's office)

Update:

A man suspected of stabbing 14 men in and around Flint, Mich., two summers ago has been convicted of first-degree murder in the first case to go to trial.

A Genesee County jury convicted Elias Abuelazam (EE'-lee-us ah-BOOL'-ah-zahm) on Tuesday of fatally stabbing 49-year-old Arnold

Minor in August 2010. Minor's blood was found on Abuelazam's clothes and in his SUV. Abuelazam was arrested trying to board a plane to his native Israel.

Investigators say Abuelazam asked for directions or help with car trouble before stabbing his victims. Five of the 14 Flint-area victims died. Abuelazam also is charged with stabbing someone in Toledo, Ohio, and is suspected in attacks in Leesburg, Va.

Abuelazam's attorneys argued he was insane that summer. A psychiatrist said he was compelled by violent delusions.

12:27 pm:

A lawyer for an Israeli immigrant charged with murder in a Michigan stabbing spree is telling jurors to find him not guilty by reason of insanity.

Attorney Ed Zeineh says Elias Abuelazam heard voices and saw black clouds two summers ago and fits the profile of a paranoid schizophrenic.

Jurors are hearing closing arguments Tuesday in Genesee County court.  Abuelazam is on trial for the fatal stabbing of 49-year-old Arnold Minor. Prosecutors say he was not mentally ill and should be held criminally responsible.

Fourteen people were stabbed in and around Flint two summers ago, and five died. Abuelazam is charged in nine of those stabbings, including three deaths. He's charged with attempted murder in Toledo, Ohio.

Politics
1:15 pm
Tue May 22, 2012

Court of Appeals rules Michigan's emergency manager process doesn't violate Open Meetings law

Flint Emergency Manager Michael Brown
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled review teams can meet behind closed doors as they decide whether to recommend a state takeover of a city or school district. Opponents of Michigan’s emergency manager law filed the challenge. They say review teams should have to comply with Michigan’s open meetings law.

The ruling essentially upholds the decision to name an emergency manager to run Flint and the state’s consent agreement with Detroit.

Robert Davis filed one of the lawsuits. He says the court made a mistake.

“The financial review teams are able to exercise extraordinary powers, including issuing subpoenas and compelling testimony of local elected officials, and, certainly, since they are discussing financial management of a local unit of government certainly that should be open for every person and every citizen to be privy to,” Davis said.

Davis said he will appeal this ruling to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the Court of Appeals is still deciding whether to allow a referendum challenging the emergency manager law on the November ballot

Flint
10:50 pm
Mon May 21, 2012

Flint election officials are searching for new places for people to vote in November

(file photo)
(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Elections officials are scrambling to find eight new locations where Flint residents can vote in November’s election. 

The city’s five dozen voting precincts are located in 35 buildings around Flint.

But, the U.S. Justice Department says 4 churches used as polling places don’t meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.    And, the Flint School District is also closing 4 schools this summer that have been used as polling places. 

“We’re going to go ahead and close them and try to locate alternate sites, which is hard to do in a community such as Flint which is an older urban area," says Inez M. Brown, the Flint City Clerk. 

Brown says six of the eight polling places are located on Flint’s north side, which may make it more difficult to find enough appropriate locations. 

Sports
1:57 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Young Flint boxer qualifies for London games

Screengrab from a New York Times Magazine video

Flint's hometown darling, 17-year old boxer Claressa Shields, will be heading to London this summer to compete for Olympic gold.

The Detroit Free press reports that Shields confirmed the news from  Qinhuangdao, China where she had been competing in the AIBA women's world championships.

From the Freep:

Shields earned her spot into the Games when England's Savannah Marshall -- who defeated Shields in the second round earlier this week -- won her semifinal match today and advanced to the finals of the middleweight division.

Despite her early round loss, the Free Press writes, standings worked in Shields' favor and she earned one of the few Olympic berths from continental America.

Women's boxing will be making it's Olympic debut in London.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Economy
2:13 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Officials assessing flood damage near Flint, Michigan

A stranded trucked on southbound I-75 near Flint. He was recued by a boat from the roof of his cab.
WDIV Video YouTube

More than five inches of rain fell in parts of Genesee County near Flint, Michigan on May 3 and 4, leading to major flooding and damage to homes and businesses in the area.

Last Friday, Gov. Snyder declared a "state of emergency" in Genesee County, which made state resources available. The next step is to see if federal emergency resources will be made available.

Roger Fonger of the Flint Journal reports:

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are joining state and local officials this afternoon to assess damage to homes and businesses in the hardest-hit areas of the county.

"They will be out for the next few days -- until it's done," said Nicole Lisabeth, a spokeswoman for Michigan State Police's Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division.

"This is for officials to get a really good idea whether the damages might qualify for federal aid and whether we (will) proceed with asking for a presidential (disaster) declaration," Lisabeth said.

Lisabeth said homeowners and businesses that suffered damage might qualify for low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Government
5:38 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

Michigan Gov. declares "state of emergency" after storms and flooding

user tanakawho Flickr

Today, Gov. Rick Snyder declared a "state of emergency" in Genesee County following the severe flooding near Flint, Michigan on May 3 and 4.

The declaration makes state resources available to help with damage resulting from the storms and flooding.

Federal resources could follow.

More from the Governor's office:

The declaration, outlined in a proclamation, was requested by local officials and will ensure that all possible resources, in accordance with the Michigan Emergency Management Plan, are provided to assist local response efforts.

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Flint
1:01 am
Mon May 7, 2012

Coming up with a master plan for Flint's future

An abandoned home on Flint's northside sits in a blighted neighborhood near a paved over site of a former factory
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The city of Flint is developing its first master plan in a half century.

The challenge is charting a future course for a city that some critics have said doesn’t have a future.

First things first.   Cities don’t just change.

They follow a plan.  The master plan outlines where to build homes.  Where to encourage retail stores to open.  Where to let businesses build factories. 

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Flint
2:16 pm
Sat May 5, 2012

What's in a name? What if that name is Flint?

(Courtesy of MINBCNEWS.com)

FLINT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A committee is studying whether Flint Township should change its name to drop the reference to Flint.

Some residents believe the community's reputation suffers when people don't make a distinction between the township and the city of Flint. The city is known for a high crime rate and chronically poor finances. A state-appointed emergency manager runs Flint.

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Weather
2:00 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Drain Commissioner: Overnight rains led to 100 year-flood event around Flint

WDIV interviewed a trucker stranded by the flooding near Flint.
screenshot from WDIV video

The National Weather Service said a minimum of 5.25 inches of rain fell in parts of Genesee County overnight. We're following how the floods are impacting the area.

Update 2:00 p.m.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody was in Flint today. He reports the overnight storms "also knocked out power to thousands of Flint residents... and most of the city’s downtown traffic signals."

The power outage led to the closure of Flint City Hall.

Consumers Energy says thousands are without power in the area. From the Flint Journal:

3,600 customers are without power in the county today -- more than 2,100 in Swartz Creek and more than 1,400 in Flint.

Consumers spokeswoman Debra Dodd said it could be as late as 10 p.m. before service is fully restored.

"We has really bad thunderstorms that did quite a bit of damage," Dodd said.

12:30 p.m.

We got ahold of Genessee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright.

"The Swartz Creek is well out of its banks, near record levels, and it itself is flooding I-75 and I-69. So there's no traffic on I-75 and I-69 near their junction. So as you can imagine that's created a very bad traffic jam on top of the flooding situation," said Wright.

Wright said the Thread Creek, another tributary in the Grand Blanc area, was hit just about as bad.

He says the Flint River will hit flood stage of 13.3 feet at about 1:30 p.m. and they don't expect much relief until that flood stage is reached and waters recede.

Wright said they have crews out looking to see where they can relieve any plugged drain openings.

In the Flint area, the rains exceeded the capacity of the drainage systems and the rivers themselves.

Here's the raw interview:

11:54 a.m.

WDIV interviewed this trucker by phone as a helicopter flew overhead filming him.

The trucker was moving a load of potatoes southbound on I-75 near Flint and was stopped by rising flood waters.

He said he was initially 300 to 400 feet away from the water as safety officials began moving traffic off the highway. As this trucker was backing up, his truck quit, and there he sat.

Here's a link to WDIV's raw interview.

11:44 a.m.

"100-year floods," as they're known, mark a water level that expected to be seen once, or less than once, every 100 years on average.

It's a level that Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright said happened today.

Ron Fonger of the Flint Journal quoted Wright:

"When you get water rising over roads, you've exceeded a 100-year rain event," county Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright said this morning.

The National Weather Service said today that 5.4 inches of rain fell overnight, almost twice as much as the area usually gets in the entire month of May.

The Journal has photos of the flooding.

Fonger reports that "I-69 from Bristol Road to Hammerberg Road and I-75 from Bristol to M-21" are closed.

Fonger spoke with residents in Grand Blanc Township where floodwaters "were so high that boats were brought in to help evacuate people."

Sarah Kleparek, 31, came home from work around 2:30 a.m. and everything thing seemed OK. But an hour an half later she said she heard car alarms start going off and when she looked outside the water was already up to her windows on her car.

Around 7 a.m. this morning, she was able to quickly pull a bag together and evacuated her apartment after firefighters came with a boat.

"It was just so fast," Kleparek said.

We're working to reach Drain Commissioner Wright for comment. Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody will have more on this story later today.

FLINT
3:15 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Flint's Board of Education can't agree on which schools to close this fall

Flint Board of Education members David Davenport and Blake Strozier react as the debate over school closings hit another snag
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Flint’s Board of Education last night deadlocked on plans to close a half dozen schools next fall.   The board argued for more than five hours before giving up hope of agreeing on which middle and elementary schools to close. 

Board member David Davenport strongly opposed two different proposals which would have closed the districts three middle schools and three elementary schools, most on the city's northside.

"That's not fair to the children who are going to suffer," said Davenport, "Because they're going to be packed in or bussed somewhere else."

Several board members also expressed concerns with expanding the student populations at Flint's high schools to include 7th and 8th grade students.

Next year the school district is looking at a $19 million deficit.   Closing schools is critical for the district to stay within a deficit reduction plan submitted to the state.        A point that several Board of Education members repeatedly cited.

"We’ll just have to go back to see if we can craft it so that we get one more vote," said board member Harold Woodson after the meeting, "That’s basically what we need.  One more vote to get it moved forward so…..but it has to happen.”

And it has to happen quickly.  

The Flint Board of Education will soon have to pass a budget plan for next year.   That plan will require decisions to be made as to which schools will be open this fall. 

One member of the public told the board members that they were in a "pickle".   A statement none of the board members appeared to disagree with. 

Politics
2:03 pm
Mon April 30, 2012

Flint protestors gather to oppose emergency manager

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Protesters gathered in Flint to voice their opposition to the emergency manager in their city.

Since last December, Michael Brown, Flint's emergency manager, has been making decisions normally reserved for city council and the mayor. He's expected to present his budget plan for the city during a public meeting with Flint City Council tonight.

Kristin Longley of the Flint Journal reports the protestors gathered outside Flint City Hall before moving inside.

The group of more than 25 Flint residents and community members braved the rain to protest what they consider "taxation without representation" under the emergency manager in Flint.

Brown adopted a budget plan last week that includes fee increases for Flint residents as well as a possible reduction of 19 police officers and 31 firefighters through layoffs and attrition. Overall, city personnel would be reduced by about 150 positions.

Longley reports lifelong Flint resident Ralph Arellano would be willing to pay more taxes for better public safety in Flint - Arello said the emergency manager system "is undemocratic and undermines voters."

"It's all about public safety. There's not one person who lives in Flint who doesn't have some story about public safety," said Arellano, who said his home has been broken into twice. "The decisions they're making are short-term and they're short-sighted."

Protestors put up garage sale signs with the names of some of Flint's assets (ex. Brennan Park and Hurley Hospital) that could be sold off by Michael Brown should he decide to do so.

Flint
7:48 am
Thu April 26, 2012

Flint emergency manager imposes contract changes

Sean Marshall Flickr

Flint's state-appointed emergency financial manager has imposed concessions on two union contracts and pushed through a new city budget for the city.

The Flint Journal reports the changes were among a dozen orders issued Wednesday by Michael Brown.

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