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Flint

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The deadline for Flint’s commercial water customers to pay their delinquent bills was today.

Flint’s commercial customers owe the city more than a million dollars.   The city may start the process of cutting off their water service next week.

On Friday, the owners of two apartment complexes paid nearly $30 thousand each to bring their accounts up to date.    

“We’re glad that these account holders have stepped up and done the right thing,” said David Sabuda, Flint’s Interim Chief Financial Officer.

Earlier this year, volunteers from Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist Church in Flint unload fresh produce and boxes of food from a mobile food bank.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Many kids in Flint were exposed to elevated levels of lead in their drinking water during the water crisis. One way people are helping to curb the effects of lead exposure is by providing healthy food options to the community.

It's being done, in part, through a mobile food pantry created via Flint's Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

"So far Flint residents have received more than 2 million pounds of food through these mobile food pantries," says MDHHS Communications Manager and Public Information Officer Bob Wheaton.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report finds a majority of households in Flint say they have suffered health problems in the wake of the city’s water crisis.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services asked the federal Centers for Disease Control to conduct a Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response, or CASPER. Researchers visited 182 Flint households.

The last pipes for the KWA were laid earlier earlier this year.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Federal, state, and Flint officials sat down behind closed doors at city hall on Monday to discuss ways to respond to questions about the city’s planned switch to a new water source.

Possibly next year, the city will connect with the recently completed Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline.   The city is committed to switching to the KWA pipeline as its new primary source of drinking water. 

A glass being filled with tap water.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint-area charities are concerned that hundreds of people may be forced out of their apartments as the city tries to get commercial water customers to pay their delinquent bills.

Flint is under pressure from the state to get more of the city’s water customers up to date on their bills.

The city has put many commercial customers on notice that their water could be cut off soon. That includes large apartment complexes.

The United Way’s Jamie Gaskin says charities may have trouble finding enough places for displaced tenants to stay.

Flint's next phase of the Fast Start program will target 788 homes during the next two months.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor hopes to replace the city’s one thousandth lead service line by the end of the year.

Mayor Karen Weaver says phase 3 of her Fast Start pipe replacement program will target nearly 800 homes in the next two months. That’s on top of the more than 200 pipes replaced to date.

Pipes connecting Flint homes to city water mains are a prime source of the lead contamination in Flint’s tap water. The city has enough money to replace another 4,000 pipes next year.

But Weaver says Flint needs more help, especially from the federal government.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s congressional Democrats sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice today asking for a review of a legal provision. The provision seemed to prevent the city of Flint from suing the state of Michigan without the state’s approval.

But it appears the state is prepared to strike that provision anyway. If it does, that could allow Flint to sue the state over the water crisis.

Garbage truck in Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

As expected, the Flint City Council last night approved a multi-million dollar, one-year contract for the city’s trash pick-up.

The city’s state oversight board is expected to give the deal its approval. The contract would pay Republic Services $3.7 million, and carries an option for an additional year.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver wanted to use a different company, Rizzo Environmental Services for the city's trash pickup. Councilman Scott Kincaid fought against Weaver to keep Republic Services on the job.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint city council is expected to vote on a new trash pick-up contract Monday.

For weeks, two competing garbage hauling companies have been emptying Flint’s trash cans.   

Flint’s mayor and city council spent months arguing over which company should get the contract. A majority of the city council wanted to keep Republic Services. Mayor Karen Weaver insisted her choice, Rizzo Environmental Services, had a lower bid.

After weeks of court ordered negotiations, city leaders agreed to give Republic Services a one-year contract.  

For almost eight months, the bipartisan Joint Select Committee on the Flint Water Crisis has been meeting, taking testimony, and struggling to find solutions.

Two days ago, they released a major report aimed at preventing further disasters. Unfortunately, they did this the day of the final presidential debate, which meant it got less than full attention. 


steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint city leaders have reached a tentative deal to end their trash dispute.

Two companies have been picking up Flint garbage for weeks, as the mayor and city council disagreed on which company should have the multi-million-dollar contract.

But last week, the mayor’s choice, Rizzo Environmental Services, was linked to a federal corruption investigation in southeast Michigan. While not named in the indictment handed down against a Clinton Township trustee, newspaper reports claim an official with Rizzo bribed the township official to get its garbage contract.

Flint river
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lawsuits keep piling up in the wake of the Flint water crisis. This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and I talk about a new complaint that calls for a grand jury criminal investigation into Gov. Rick Snyder's legal fees. We also talk about another challenge to Michigan's 180-day time limit on collecting petition signatures and upcoming visits from vice-presidential candidates Tim Kaine and Mike Pence.


Dr. Pamela Pugh has been on the job as Flint's chief public health adviser for less than two weeks.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint residents are being urged to cooperate with an investigation into disease outbreak that may or may not be connected to the city’s water crisis.

Since March 1, more than 130 people in Genesee and Saginaw counties have fallen sick with an illness called Shigellosis. The disease causes bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain, but has not been linked to any fatalities.

Flint City Councilman Eric Mays (right) was escorted out of Thursday's special city council meeting on Flint's trash contract
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint city council is trying to get the city’s state oversight board to decide who should pick up Flint trash.

The council Thursday approved keeping Flint’s old garbage hauler on the job against the mayor’s wishes. The mayor’s chief of staff attended the meeting, but declined to comment. 

Council President Kerry Nelson says Republic is the best choice to empty Flint’s trash cans.

“There’s people that live in this city…that pay taxes…pay water bills….that work for Republic…I will not close the door on them,” says Nelson.

The "Flint Sprint" will tackle 20 different projects in the city over the next 60 days.
Wikimedia user Flintmichigan / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Detroit bankruptcy brought government, foundations and business together, working to get through that historic crisis. Today marks the public launch of an effort to do the same for Flint.

Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes joined Stateside to talk about his latest column about the "Flint Sprint." This project brings a number of businesses -- both big and small -- to tackle 20 different projects over the next 60 days. 

sign that says "Flint Vehicle City"
Michigan Municipal League/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Amid the torrent of headlines about Flint's water calamity, it's far too easy to lose track of the long history of that city.

There are powerful and poignant lessons to be learned in the way rich, vibrant neighborhoods were taken apart and plowed under in the name of "development.”

Communities like the old St. John Street neighborhood.

Charles Winfrey grew up in the St. John Street community. Today he is the executive director of The New McCree Theatre. He joined us on Stateside

Listen to the full interview below.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Monday, the Flint city council will consider contracts for the next round of lead service line replacements.

The pipes connecting Flint homes to city water mains are a prime source of lead leeching into people’s tap water.  To date, the city has replaced about 200 service lines.  

The contracts before the city council would target an additional 700 homes.  The project organizer hopes contractors will be able to replace at least 300 of those service lines before winter weather sets in.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Consultants say cost restructuring may be needed to make Flint’s water bills more affordable.

Even before Flint water was unsafe to drink without a filter, many people tried to avoid turning on their taps because of the cost.

As Flint’s population dwindled, more of the cost of paying for the system fell on fewer and fewer people.   City officials added to the cost by siphoning off cash to pay for other city needs. Thousands of city residents either fell behind on their bills or had their water service shutoff. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor hopes a new court ruling will allow the city to finally end its trash dispute.

For the third time, the Michigan Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling preventing Flint mayor Karen Weaver from choosing the city’s garbage hauler.

For months, Weaver wanted the city to hire Rizzo Environmental Services to empty its trash cans. But a majority of the city council wanted to keep the old trash company, Republic Services, and took the mayor to court.

Centers for Disease Control

An outbreak of a gastrointestinal illness  is easing in Genesee and Saginaw Counties.

Many of the dozens of cases of Shigella occurred in Flint, but peaked weeks ago.

Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain.  More than a dozen people have been hospitalized, but there have been no fatalities.  

Dr. Eden Wells is the state’s chief medical executive. She says it’s not clear if people’s reluctance to use Flint water for basic hygiene is a factor.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint pastors says it’s time for an end to the city’s dysfunctional government.

Mayor Karen Weaver and a majority of the city council have spent months battling over city contracts and other issues. In protest, the city council recently decided not to vote on the mayor’s resolutions for 30 days.

Members of Flint’s Concerned Pastors for Social Action, who’ve supported Weaver in the past, say it’s time for the bickering to stop. The pastors held a news conference at city hall to express their frustration with the growing rift inside city hall.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is getting millions of dollars from the federal government to help reclaim former auto plant sites.

Buick City and Chevy in the Hole were once major auto production centers in Flint. Now, the two empty industrial sites are slowly being reclaimed.

The $2.5 million grant will help with building a new automotive research center in Flint. Kettering University is developing part of the old Chevy in the Hole site for research into new mobility technology.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint police department is expanding its K9 division.

The specially trained dogs are used to track suspects and find illegal drugs.

Flint police chief Tim Johnson credits his department’s four-legged officers with helping reduce crime in the city. Johnson says the dogs do things two-legged officers can’t.

“Let’s face it, even when it comes to tracking a suspect that has committed a crime, and gotten away before we had a chance to get in pursuit of him, a dog it enables us to track him,” says Johnson.

Mike and Keri Webber
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Today marks one year since health officials in Genesee County warned people living in Flint to stop drinking their tap water.

The water is improving, but Flint’s water is still not safe to drink without a filter. But there are stories of hope on this not-so-pleasant anniversary.

Gary Johnson
Gage Skidmore / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Before U.S. lawmakers left town this week, the House approved a funding bill that includes $170 million for Flint. This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rebecca Kruth talk about what needs to happen to get the bill passed once lawmakers return after Election Day. They also talk about Donald Trump's fifth visit to Michigan since he was named the Republican presidential nominee, and The Detroit News' surprising endorsement of Libertarian Gary Johnson for president. 


The Detroit News is one of several newspapers that have traditionally endorsed the Republican nominee, but have decided against it this year.
flickr user Gage Skidmore / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

It's time for another political roundup with Ken Sikkema and Susan Demas.

This week Attorney General Bill Schuette issued a legal opinion that poorly performing schools in Detroit can be closed at the end of the year, which runs counter to what Governor Snyder’s office has been saying.

The Snyder administration concluded that since the schools are part of a newly created district, they have three years before the state could step in and close the worst-performing schools.

Just another example of the attorney general and the governor butting heads.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A Flint city councilman is facing a charge of driving under the influence.  

Councilman Wantwaz Davis is facing a misdemeanor charge following an accident September 3.

Davis refused a breathalyzer at the scene, but prosecutors say a blood test shows he was above the legal limit for alcohol.

Davis claims he crashed his car while he was being chased by two other vehicles.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new garbage hauler will once again be picking up trash in Flint.

On Thursday, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed a lower court order blocking Mayor Karen Weaver from hiring her pick to empty Flint’s trash cans.

Rizzo was picking up Flint trash on Monday. But a judge issued an injunction blocking the mayor from hiring Rizzo without the Flint city council’s approval.

Weaver’s choice of Rizzo Environmental Services has been opposed by a majority of the Flint city council.   The council voted to keep the old contractor on the job.

Congressman Moolenaar said this approval comes at a good time, following the release of a study this month that showed almost twice as many of Flint’s water lines may need to be replaced than originally thought.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

It’s been over a year since the water crisis in Flint became international news.

On Wednesday, the United States House of Representatives approved $170 million to go towards replacing lead water pipe lines in Flint.

The Flint funding amendment to the Water Resources Development Act was co-sponsored by Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint, and Congressman John Moolenaar, R-Midland.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

The U.S. Senate rejected a spending bill on Tuesday to keep the government running through December 9.

A majority of Democrats voted "no" because the bill didn't contain money to help Flint.

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Doug Tribou talk about the impact that could have on the upcoming election. They also discuss Donald Trump's Michigan references in the first presidential debate and calls to reduce recidivism from Hillary Clinton and Gov. Rick Snyder.

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