Flint

Flint
4:16 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

Flint emergency manager preparing to send budget plans to state

Downtown Flint (file photo)
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Flint’s emergency manager and his staff are working this week to wrap up a budget plan for the city.    The plan will include a request for up to $20 million in bonds to help close the city’s massive budget deficit.

Flint Finance Director Jerry Ambrose hopes the plan will be ready to submit to the state by early next week.   He says the budget plan will address the need to do “less with less”.   Ambrose says layoffs and furlough days are likely.

Read more
Politics
10:19 am
Fri April 6, 2012

Flint's emergency manager wants more time to work on union contracts

Flint emergency manager, Michael Brown.

Earlier this week, Flint emergency manager said he worked out a deal with the city's firefighter's union and hoped to work out deals with the city's other unions by Friday.

The Flint Journal reports this morning that Brown will not meet that deadline:

Flint emergency manager Michael Brown has canceled this month's meeting with city council members until further notice.

Brown had planned to present council on Monday with a 2013 budget, but said Thursday that he won't meet today's deadline for addressing union contracts or the budget and wants more time.

Brown says there's no new firm deadline for hammering out new contracts.

Politics
11:06 am
Wed April 4, 2012

Flint's firefighters union and emergency manager reach agreement

Flint firefighters reach a tentative agreement with city's emergency manager.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Flint's emergency manager, Michael Brown, and the city's firefighters union have worked out an agreement over concessions, Kristin Longley of the Flint Journal reports:

Brown said today that, as of this morning, it's the only signed agreement reached so far. The city has been talking with each of the six employee bargaining units, Brown has said.

He declined to comment on the details of the proposal, saying that the fire union members are expected to review the agreement and vote on it in about 10 days.

Brown hopes to have plan for the city's other unions in place by Friday. He's working to wipe out a budget deficit in Flint of around $11 million.

Auto/Economy
3:06 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

Michigan's falling unemployment rate not isolated to any part of the state

user Thewmatt Flickr

There’s new information showing Michigan’s drop in unemployment is spread out across most of the state.

Last week, the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget reported that the state’s unemployment rate had fallen to 8.8 percent. The last time the state’s jobless rate was below 9 percent was September of 2008.

New data from the state shows the decline was spread widely through Michigan. 

Read more
Station News
1:56 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

Talking emergency managers and having some ale in Flint

A good crowd a the Issues & Ale event at Blackstone’s Pub & Grill in downtown Flint.
Steve Chrypinski Michigan Radio

A full house turned out to hear Michigan Radio’s political analyst Jack Lessenberry lead a discussion on the state’s emergency manager law last night.

The event was part of the station’s Issues & Ale series, and was held at Blackstone’s Pub & Grill in downtown Flint.

Panelists included:

  • Fred Leeb, former Emergency Financial Manager for the city of Pontiac,
  • Dr. Eric Scorsone, Co-Director of the State & Local Government Program at Michigan State University,
  • and Brandon A. Jessup, Chairman and CEO of Michigan Forward

The panelists fielded questions from both Lessenberry and the audience on a variety of subjects related to Public Act 4, including the impact of state revenue sharing cuts, the constitutionality of state appointed emergency managers, and alternatives for cities in financial crisis.

We also surveyed the audience to get their opinion on the Emergency Manager law.

Of those responding,

  • 47% opposed the law, 23% were in favor, and 30% were undecided.
  • Of those opposed to the law, 36% felt it was unconstitutional, 26% objected because it gives emergency managers too much power, 18% opposed because emergency managers can modify/terminate contracts, and 13% because it strips local elected officials of their authority.

The event took place only hours after the Michigan Court of Appeals put a stay on a lower court ruling and reinstated Michael Brown as Flint’s emergency manager.  

Issues and Ale is an event series co-sponsored by Michigan Radio and the Center for Michigan designed to engage people in conversations about important issues facing Michigan... in an informal atmosphere.

Flint
4:32 pm
Mon March 26, 2012

Flint emergency manager back in charge

Flint emergency manager Michael Brown is back in charge, temporarily, after today's court order
State of Michigan

Flint’s emergency manager is back in charge of the city.  At least, temporarily. 

The Michigan Court of Appeals today put on hold a lower court ruling that left questions about who was in charge in Flint.

Last week, Ingham County circuit court judge Rosemarie Aquilina ruled that the state financial review team that recommended the appointment of an emergency manager in Flint had violated Michigan’s open meetings law.  The judge decided that the appointment and all the decisions emergency manager Michael Brown had made since December were invalidate.

The governor’s office appealed the judge’s order, describing it as "devastating."

The Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the case.   The court put a stay on the lower court ruling and reinstated Michael Brown as Flint’s emergency manager.

In her order last week,  Judge Aquilina had directed Flint's mayor and city council to resume their roles.   One of the first things Michael Brown did as emergency manager was to limit the power of Flint's elected leaders. 

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling issued a statement after today's ruling of the Court of Appeals:

"As the legal challenges to PA4 move through the courts system, the Flint community needs to work together to address our long-standing challenges with finances, public safety and economic development. While the courts are flip-flopping on the critical issue of the Open Meetings requirement, I will work every day to make our community a better place for families and businesses."

The timing of the Court of Appeals decision today could be critical.   Flint, like other Michigan cities, is drafting its budget for next year.

Flint faces a budget deficit that could be as high as $20 million.

Environment
2:45 pm
Fri March 23, 2012

Massive Lake Huron water pipeline moving forward

Lake huron from the air
user Brucegirl wikimedia commons

There's a plan for the third biggest Great Lake, Huron, to be tapped by a 72 to 78 inch pipeline.

The Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) is planning to start construction on a pipeline that will carry Lake Huron water to areas around the I-69 corridor of Michigan's Thumb area.

(Karengnondi is a old Petan Indian word meaning "lake.")

The KWA is made up of officials from Flint, Lapeer, Genesee County, Lapeer County, and Sanilac County.

The Flint Journal reports that Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright said the county has started designing the "massive intake to draw water from Lake Huron," and that ground should be broken on the new water pipeline project by fall.

"We are starting the design of the intake," which will allow for construction on that piece of the $600 million pipeline project, Wright said.

The drain commissioner said the intake itself, which is expected to cost about $30 million, will take longer to finish than any other part of the project, and "the design requirements are the same whether any community drops out (of the project) or not."

The City of Flint, initially a partner in the project, might be forced to step aside because of its financial situation.

On it's website, the KWA says the pipeline is being built to "avoid increased water rates from the City of Detroit, which could increase by up to 15% per year."

Politics
8:36 am
Thu March 22, 2012

The Week in State Politics

Contemplative Imaging Flickr

There sure was lots of news this week about Michigan's emergency manager law - from legal wrangling over how the Open Meetings Act affects how financial decisions are made to the reappointment of Flint's Mayor. Michigan Radio's Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry took a look this morning at the latest.

Education
12:30 am
Wed March 14, 2012

Flint school officials start the process of deciding which schools to close

Frank Juarez Flickr

Flint school board members have started weighing their options for closing schools later this year.    They didn’t like the options they were given last night.

The two options presented to the school board last night included closing three elementary schools, one or two middle schools and possibly a high school.

School board members were very much against one proposal that included mixing middle schoolers and high schoolers.  

Read more
Seeking Change
6:51 am
Mon March 12, 2012

Trying to end the violence in Flint

Ifmuth Flickr

The FBI says Flint is one of the most violent cities in the country. Last week, Governor Rick Snyder  unveiled a plan to combat violence there and other Michigan cities. But a group of Flint residents is already working on the problem. They’ve formed the “Urban forum for the prevention of violence” to encourage others in their neighborhoods to pledge to promote peace. Aaron Dunigan has been attending the meetings. As part of our Seeking Change series, I spoke with Aaron about what he is trying to do to end the violence in his city.

Politics
1:24 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Governor Snyder outlines plan to fight crime in Michigan

Office of the Governor

During a press conference in Flint today, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder outlined points from his "Special Message to the Legislature on Public Safety." A press release from the governor's office quotes Snyder:

Read more
Crime
11:54 am
Wed March 7, 2012

Michigan's governor calls for 'smart justice' to fight crime

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R)

Gov. Rick Snyder says Michigan should fight crime by arresting more criminals while also steering youths toward school and jobs and sending some of the accused to drug and mental health courts.

In remarks prepared for Wednesday in Flint, Snyder says the state needs a system of "smart justice" that includes prevention and intervention.

That means making sure those who commit crimes get punished, whether they're involved in retail theft, drug trafficking or murder.

But he says it also means giving inner-city youths a chance to work in parks and receive job training. Under Snyder's public safety plan, ex-cons would get help with literacy and job skills.

Snyder also wants to require that all school-age children attend school in order for their families to receive welfare benefits.

Crime
5:02 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Michigan cities waiting to hear what's in Gov. Snyder's public safety plan

(courtesy of policemag.com)

 Governor Rick Snyder is expected to call for spending $15 million to improve police departments in some of Michigan’s most dangerous cities.    The governor will lay out his plan on Wednesday in Flint.

The FBI ranks Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw among the ten American cities with the highest violent crime rates. 

Gerald Cliff is the Chief of Police in Saginaw.    He knows what he would like to hear the governor say..

Read more
Politics
9:32 am
Tue March 6, 2012

Reopening Flint city lockup among Snyder's plans

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder plans to call for $4.5 million to reopen the Flint city lockup to free space in the Genesee County Jail.

The Flint Journal reports Tuesday the proposal is among those the Republican governor is expected to unveil Wednesday morning during his public safety plan at the Flint City Hall Annex.

Flint emergency manager Michael Brown has said opening the lockup is important because criminals are "laughing at the system."

Snyder says it's unacceptable that Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw rank among the nation's top 10 in violent crime rates for cities with at least 50,000 people.

His plan's expected to include $15 million for what he has called law enforcement "enhancements." He also says changes must include crime prevention and criminal justice reforms.

Economy
1:01 am
Tue March 6, 2012

Home prices tick up in Michigan

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

There’s some good news for people planning on selling their homes in Michigan.

During the last four years, home sale prices in Michigan have been on a rollercoaster, mainly going down.

But Clear Capitol reports today Michigan home prices may finally be stabilizing.

Alex Villacorta is with Clear Capitol. He says an improving job picture,  stronger consumer confidence and more investors buying cheap homes are all contributing to a more stable real estate market.

Villacorta says nationally prices in February were only down about a half percentage point from the previous year.

"Bringing it back to Michigan," says Villacorta, "that fact that prices are actually up 1.2% over the last year is definitely a good sign…and up double digits…about 15% from the low point of 2009.”

But as with all things real estate, 'Location…location…location' is what matters.Villacorta says Grand Rapids’ home sale prices are up about six percent compared with a year ago, while home prices in Lansing and Flint continue to decline.

Politics
2:26 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Michigan governor to deliver public safety speech in Flint

Governor Rick Snyder will give an address about public safety on Wednesday.
Russ Climie Tiberius Images

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder plans to lay out how he hopes to reduce crime during an upcoming special address.

His office said Monday that the Republican governor will unveil his public safety plan at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Flint City Hall Annex.

Snyder said earlier this year that it's unacceptable that Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw rank among the nation's top 10 in violent crime rates for cities with at least 50,000 people.

His plan's expected to include an additional $15 million for what he has called "enhancement" of law enforcement. He also says changes must include crime prevention and criminal justice reforms to help former criminals gain skills and jobs.

Shrinking state and local budgets have left the state with 3,400 fewer law enforcement officers since September 2001.

Amit Hekmati
9:36 am
Mon March 5, 2012

Iranian Supreme Court orders retrial for Flint man sentenced to death

Amir Hekmati
courtesy of FreeAmir.org

An Iranian semiofficial news agency reports that the country's Supreme Court has ordered the retrial of a Marine veteran who was sentenced to death for working for the CIA.

Amir Hekmati's family lives in Flint. 

The Monday report by ISNA quotes state prosecutor Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehei as saying the Supreme Court has found shortcomings in the case and sent it for review by another court.

In January an Iranian court sentenced Arizona-born Amir Hekmati to death for allegedly being a CIA spy.

Sports
12:10 pm
Sun February 19, 2012

Flint Boxer wins Olympic trials

February 19, 2012 Marlen Esparza, Queen Underwood and Claressa Shields (middle) made history on Saturday by becoming the first-ever U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Women's Boxing Champions
(USA Boxing)

Flint boxer Claressa Shields took a big step toward her Olympic dream Saturday night, winning the middleweight title at the USA boxing trials.

USA Boxing summed up Shields performance in the championship final:

Teenage sensation Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) continued her amazing run through the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in her rematch with fellow middleweight Tika Hemingway (Pittsburgh, Pa.). She once again got off to a quick start in the bout, racking up 13 points to 9 for Hemingway in the opening two rounds. She continued to build on her lead in the third to claim at 19-13 advantage with one round remaining. Hemingway could not dent her deficit and Shields went on to win a 23-18 decision. The victory gave Shields the first-ever middleweight crown and completed the trio of boxers who will vie for spots in London. Yet Shields accomplishments didn’t end there, she was also named Outstanding Boxer of the Tournament, only her second in the open division. 

Shields must now prepare for the World championships.  The top eight women boxers at the world championships will qualify for the Olympic tournament in London.

Sports
7:14 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Flint boxer wins again at U.S. Olympic trials

                                      

16 year old Claressa Shields dominated another more experienced fighter in Tuesday's Olympic women's boxing trials.   Shields is now a step closer to her goal of representing the United States at the London Olympics this summer.  

ESPN reports:

Claressa Shields kept up her surprising charge through the middleweight bracket with a 31-12 victory over Andrecia Wasson. The impressive 16-year-old built on her upset of Franchon Crews, the top American 165-pounder, a day earlier.

Read more
Sports
7:47 am
Tue February 14, 2012

Flint boxer convincingly wins her first bout in Olympic trials

16 year old Claressa Shields photographed in January as she trained at Flint's Berston field house
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

16 year old Claressa Shields is the youngest fighter trying to win a spot on the U.S. Olympic boxing team.   

She made her case for representing the U.S. in London this summer by defeating the top ranked woman in her weight class last night. 

Here's what the Seattle Spokesman-Review said about Shields performance last night:

The 16-year-old middleweight from Flint, Mich., turned the first U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Women’s Boxing on end Monday night with a dominant performance in upsetting top-seeded Franchon Crews in a crackling highlight to the opening round.

And on a night when nerves seemed to earn a draw in more than a handful of bouts, the youngest competitor among the 24 trying to take the next step to the London Olympics betrayed none.

“I wanted it – I wanted to fight her as soon as I qualified,” said Shields. “She was saying she’s the best, so if she’s the best, I wanted her. Piece of work.”

It’s hardly over for Crews, a five-time national champion. But now she’ll have to fight her way back in the double-elimination event, as only the champions in the three weight classes qualify for the AIBA World Championships in China this May.

A top-eight finish there guarantees fighters a spot in the first Olympic women’s boxing competition in July.

Shields will face another Michigan fighter in her next bout. Centerline's Andrecia Wasson was the 2010 Welterweight World Champion.

Pages