Flint

Auto/Economy
2:47 pm
Mon July 18, 2011

GM to invest $328 Million in Flint Assembly Plant

media.gm.com staff

General Motors will invest $328 million in its Flint Assembly Plant, to prepare the facility to build the next generation of Chevy and GMC full-size pickup trucks.

The plant just added a third shift earlier this year.

Joe Ashton is the UAW's GM Vice President.

He says the profitable trucks made at the Flint Assembly Plant are an important source of revenue for GM.

The UAW heads into contract negotiations next week with Ford, Chrysler and GM. 

Ashton says workers want a lot of different things from their new contract. 

Investigative
3:51 pm
Thu July 14, 2011

Five arrested for Flint arsons

User:benwatts Flickr

Police in Flint have arrested five people for a string of arsons that has plagued the city. Flint residents and law enforcement have been working together to catch them.  David Leyton is the Genesee County Prosecutor who charged the five offenders.       

"The people are fed up, the people don’t want to live in fear, they don’t want their homes burnt down, they don’t want to have a problem where they live, and so they’re stepping up now and that’s going to make all the difference in the world."

Politics
10:39 am
Thu July 14, 2011

Flint considers reopening city jail

Flint is talking to state officials about reopening the city jail. The jail would be a 72-hour lock-up facility that holds roughly 150 offenders. Dayne Walling is mayor of Flint.  

"The city jail is an essential tool for our officers. There has to be an ability to make arrests and put offenders behind bars when they break our community’s laws."

In May, Flint voters said no to a property tax increase to keep the city jail open. Walling says the short term lock-up facility would most likely be paid for through the city’s general fund.

Flint
1:24 pm
Fri July 8, 2011

Flint loses police arbitration case, will pay millions of dollars in compensation

Flint City Attorney Peter Bade
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The city of Flint has lost a multi-million dollar arbitration decision in a discrimination lawsuit involving city police officers.  

In 2006, former mayor Don Williamson created a new unit in the police department called the Citizens Service Bureau, or CSB.    Flint’s police unions objected to how the former mayor selected which officers would be promoted to the new unit. 

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Arts/Culture
8:16 pm
Thu July 7, 2011

Re-imagining Flint, one art installation at a time

Stephen Zacks (right) pitches his "Flint Public Art Project" to the city's mayor, Dayne Walling.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

Detroit’s path to revival has been in the news a lot lately. Drive an hour northwest to Flint and you’ll find a city whose struggles are similar if not worse than Detroit's. But a coalition of artists, city officials and residents is trying to re-write Flint's story through art.

Flint's problems are pretty well documented: murders, arson, blight, poverty, massive police layoffs, and the dubious honor of being named one of the most violent cities in the country.

Plus there's Michael Moore's 1989 movie Roger & Me, which basically memorialized Flint's decline on the big screen. It's a movie Stephen Zacks would rather forget.

"People know Michael Moore, they know Roger & Me, so you respond to that question for your whole life. You keep answering the question: What's wrong with Flint?"

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Auto/Economy
1:07 pm
Wed July 6, 2011

Youngstown mayor will lead President's office for auto communities

Jay Williams
(courtesy of the city of Youngstown, Ohio)

The mayor of Youngstown, Ohio  is the new head of a government office that helps communities hurt by cutbacks in the auto industry.  Mayor Jay Williams starts as head the Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers in August.  

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Environment
9:42 am
Tue July 5, 2011

Karate farmers take back the neighborhood

Hakim Gillard works at the Harvesting Earth farm and he also works at King Karate in Flint.
Photo by Kyle Norris

King Karate is a martial arts studio that’s been in the Flint area for 22 years. But in the past few years, the couple who run the studio have broadened their definition of self-defense…and that’s why they’ve added farming to their arsenal.

18 year old Hakim Gillard has a lot on his plate today.

First he’s got to harvest vegetables for tomorrow’s farmer’s market...

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Flint
4:01 pm
Sun July 3, 2011

Flint's drag racing problem

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Drag racing has become a serious problem in Flint.   But the city is taking steps to put the brakes on the illegal street racers.  

The Flint city council increased penalties last week on people caught drag racing.  Drag racers will now have to pay an administrative fee of up to $900 to get their vehicles out of the police impound lot.  

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Education
1:37 pm
Mon June 27, 2011

Free dental services at Flint Community Schools

User: Limbic Flickr

Fifteen Flint Community Schools will offer free preventative dental services this July.  The services are a part of the Smiles Program, a mobile dental office that provides care to low income students. 

Bob Campbell is Community Manager at Flint Community Schools.

"These are all schools where we have summer programs. So these schools will be already active, and it’s also a good time for the organization because they service the entire state."

Investigative
3:39 pm
Sat June 18, 2011

Flint civil rights activist Robinson fatally shot

Police say longtime Flint civil rights activist and attorney C. Frederick Robinson has been fatally shot. The Flint Journal reports Robinson was killed late last night in Flint at his home. There are no suspects in the case.

Robinson was dedicated to equal rights. In addition to organizing rallies and generating support for the civil rights movement, Robinson was instrumental in the 1968 passage of the fair housing ordinance. Its approval made Flint among the first cities to pass an open-housing referendum by popular vote.

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Politics
4:51 pm
Wed June 8, 2011

Flint prepares to enter new fiscal year with uncertainty

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Flint's new city budget begins July first.  But it's still not clear if city employees will be laid off to make the numbers work.    The Flint city council approved the city's budget on Monday.   The spending plan is based partly on a 15% wage and benefit concession by Flint's city unions.   Concessions that the unions have not agreed too. 

Even though the new budget takes effect July 1st, Flint mayor Dayne Walling insists layoffs are not imminent.   He says decisions on possible staff cuts will be based on monthly reviews of Flint's budget situation.  

 “There is a reality that you can only spend a dollar one time.    And once that dollar gets spent…than its not available for services in January or next Spring.”   

Flint has already laid off dozens of city employees during the past year, as the city struggles with a multi-million dollar budget deficit.

Arts/Culture
2:49 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Making a music video to support Flint

A music video in support of the city of Flint.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids pulled off a $40,000 LipDub video to show that Grand Rapids is not a dying city.

Now there's news of a music video to support the struggling city of Flint that has been several months in the making.

On Saturday, the Flint Journal reports that more than 50 community members were being filmed and chanting "We gone make it, the fight ain't yours alone!" in the downtown area.

The Flint Journal reports:

It was all a part of a scene being filmed as part of the Flint collaboration 25-plus musicians who’ve recently felt led to make an uplifting anthem for the city.

Two months in the making, this scene was among the final, yet most powerful, pieces to add to the original Flint-inspired song and music video.

“It was such a beautiful sight to see,” said Yusuf Bauswell, 38, of Flint.

Bauswell, along with Bernard Jackson -- another Flint musician -- spearheaded the project and sent out a calling for people wanting to support their cause.

The Journal reports that Yusuf Bauswell and Bernard Jackson started writing the song together several months ago. They invited other recording artists to help them out and together they created the song and are now working on making the accompanying music video.

June 20 is the scheduled release date for the video.

Here's a clip of the song along with the call for people to help with the music video:

Politics
2:20 pm
Thu May 26, 2011

Feds investigating Flint City Hall

There are a number of federal investigations going on at Flint City Hall.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Update 2:20 p.m.

Investigators from the U.S. Department of Energy are auditing records from Flint City Hall, according to the Flint Journal. Reporter Kristin Longley writes a "city source" says the FBI accompanied the USDOE investigators:

The investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Energy is auditing the city's use of federal energy grant funds, a federal official confirmed today, following reports that federal officials are investigating Flint City Hall.

The DOE's Office of Inspector General has investigators in the city of Flint examining how a federal grant for weatherization of low-income housing is being spent, said Rick Hass, deputy inspector general for audits and inspections.

Update 11:56 a.m.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody said Mayor Walling's press conference lasted all of 30 seconds. Here's the Mayor's full statement:

The Mayor confirmed there were a "number of ongoing federal investigations" underway.

10:34 a.m.

There's a federal investigation underway at Flint City Hall today. We don't know what federal officials are looking for at this point. Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody will be at an 11:00 a.m. press conference being held by Flint Mayor Dayne Walling and will have an update for us later.

Kristin Longley from the Flint Journal writes:

In the past, the city has been the subject of reports from the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development related to misspent grant funds.

It was unknown whether today's investigation was related to any of the OIG's previous findings.

Weather
5:18 pm
Tue May 24, 2011

Joplin tornado surpasses death toll of Michigan's worst tornado

An F4 intensity tornado moves through Erie, Michigan on June 8, 1953. That same day there were eight tornadoes in Michigan, including Michigan's deadliest - the F5 Beecher tornado killed 116 people as it touched down north of Flint.
NOAA

UPDATE 9:51 pm: Officials in Joplin, Missouri now report at least 122 people have been confirmed dead as a result of the tornado.

 

In Joplin, Missouri, at least 117 people were killed by an F4 tornado and more than 1,000 are unaccounted for, according to the New York Times.

It's the worst tornado to hit the United States in 64 years (181 people were killed by a tornado in Woodward, Oklahoma in 1947), and it surpasses the death toll of Michigan's worst tornado which struck in 1953.

The 1953 Flint-Beecher Tornado killed 116 people in a community just north of Flint. The F5 tornado is listed as the country's 10th deadliest tornado by NOAA's Storm Prediction Center.

The tornado had winds in excess of 200 miles per hour, was 800 yards wide, and traveled on a path for 27 miles. From NOAA:

So great a number were killed by the monstrous tornado that the National Guard Armory building, along with other shelters, was turned into a temporary morgue. The scene of bodies pouring into the Armory (as an intermittent light rain poured outside) was incredibly bleak and horrifying, especially for the families and friends of the victims. At least 100 people waited outside into the rainy night before they could move inside to try and identify the bodies.

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Crime
7:49 pm
Mon May 23, 2011

Flint tops FBI's most violent cities list

Flint mayor Dayne Walling (right) at a news conference, flanked by public safety chief Alvern Lock
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Flint mayor Dayne Walling is not disputing new FBI data that shows his city had the highest violent crime rate in the nation in 2010.  Flint set a record for homicides last year.   The city’s arson rate also soared topping the FBI’s list in that category too.

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Crime
5:24 pm
Mon May 23, 2011

FBI report shows drop in violent crime, Flint and Detroit still top list

The FBI released a preliminary Uniform Crime Report today that lists reported crimes in cities with more than 100,000 people.

Comparing this year's report with last year's - crime is down.

In the Midwest, violent crimes fell by 5.9%. From the FBI's report:

Preliminary figures indicate that, as a whole, law enforcement agencies throughout the Nation reported a decrease of 5.5 percent in the number of violent crimes brought to their attention in 2010 when compared to figures reported for 2009. The violent crime category includes murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

Each city's law enforcement agency submits the number of reported crimes to the FBI. Each year, the agency compiles that data and releases it to the public.

When looking at the cities with the highest number of reported violent crimes per capita, Flint and Detroit are at the top. St. Louis, Missouri and New Haven, Connecticut follow the two Michigan cities.

The Detroit News reports:

Detroit enjoyed declines in murder, robbery and aggravated assault but bigger declines in large cities elsewhere pushed it second only to Flint in the overall violent crime rate. However, the FBI estimates Detroit's population at 899,447, while the 2010 Census put the city's population at 713,717. If the latter figure is used, Detroit's per capita rate exceeds Flint's, with 2,378 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. Flint's 2010 rate was 2,210.

The FBI cautions against making judgments about a city's law enforcement agency based on these statistics, "since crime is a sociological phenomenon influenced by a variety of factors."

Politics
1:56 pm
Mon May 16, 2011

Flint flirts with opening door to state appointed financial manager

The mayor of Flint is expected to take a step this week toward asking the state to review his city's finances. It's a move that could potentially lead to a state appointed emergency manager taking over control of the city.   

The Flint Journal reported over the weekend that Mayor Dayne Walling plans to ask the Flint city council to consider requesting a state  review of the city's finances.   

 It's a move the mayor reportedly hopes will give him or the city council the power to alter city union contracts.   It could also lead to the appointment of an emergency manager.  

Less than a decade ago, Flint's finances were run by an emergency financial manager.    But recent changes in the law have given emergency managers much more power, including the ability to effectively strip  elected officials of their authority and throw out union contracts.  

Flint is struggling with a large projected budget deficit, and recently sold bonds to pay off a portion of the city's debt.

Offbeat
10:33 am
Thu May 12, 2011

Copycat faucet-switching bandit strikes Michigan Radio

The scene at the station this morning. The original faucet had been modified.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Yesterday, we had a Batman in Petoskey.

Today, we have a faucet switcher in Flint.

As Hunter S. Thompson once wrote "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. "

They're going pro in Flint.

This from the Flint Journal:

A man told police on Monday that someone mysteriously switched the faucet of his kitchen sink, according to a larceny report filed with Flint police.

The man told police he went into his kitchen at 9 p.m. Sunday and noticed a different faucet installed at the home on Colonial Drive near Fleming and West Carpenter Roads.

The man didn't know when or how the faucet was changed, but that it was a different one according to the report. The man told police he has insurance.

Staff here at Michigan Radio came to work this morning surprised to see that their faucet had been switched as well (see photo 1).

It now has one of those twisty-turny things screwed onto to the end.

Fortunately, we caught the copy-cat bandit red handed - Chief Engineer Bob Skon (see photo 2).

Skon said he was merely modifying the faucet so water would not flow onto the counter when people wash their hands.

Yea, right... save your story for the police.

Politics
3:01 pm
Sun May 8, 2011

The race for Flint mayor begins

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Tuesday is the deadline for anyone who wants to be the mayor of Flint to get their nominating petition filed with the city clerk. More than 2 dozen people have expressed an interest in being Flint’s next mayor, including the man who currently holds the office.  

Dayne Walling plans to turn in his nominating petitions before Tuesday’s deadline. He’s been mayor since a special election a few years ago.  

“I’ve been in the position for less than 2 years at this point.  A lot of the work we’ve had to do has been to clean up the old messes.”  

Not everyone is happy with the job Walling’s done as mayor. Under Walling’s watch, violent crime has soared as budget cuts forced the city to lay off police officers.

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Environment
1:17 pm
Sun May 8, 2011

Flint "karate farmers" win award

Karate, farming, and conservation go hand in hand, at Flint's King Karate
Flickr user JadeXJustice

Two black belts have combined karate and urban farming, in a push to revitalize a Flint-area neighborhood, and they’ve just won the Small Farmer of the Year award for Michigan.

The award goes to husband and wife, Jacky and Dora King. They run the King  Karate school and the Harvesting Earth Educational Farm.

On their website, the King's say they employ local youth to help out on the farm.

"We have had students who did not know that potatoes grow in the ground, but thought instead they grew in trees!"

The Flint Journal reports the couple beat out farmers in Isabella and Ionia counties for the award.

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the award recognizes farmers based on their conservation efforts, such as preventing erosion and water contamination, and community involvement. The farm also has been nominated for the national Lloyd Wright Small Black Farmer Award.

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