Flint

Marine veteran gets 10-year sentence in Iran

Apr 12, 2014
freeamir.org

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - An Iranian news agency is reporting that an appeals court has overturned a death sentence of an American man convicted of working for the CIA, instead sentencing him to 10 years in prison. 

The semiofficial ISNA news agency reported Saturday that lawyer Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei says a Revolutionary Court issued the verdict for U.S. Marine veteran Amir Hekmati. Tabatabaei described the verdict as final.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s water customers may need to prepare to pay more for their tap water.

A consultant is recommending the city plan on annual rate hikes for the foreseeable future.

Flint’s aging water system has endured more than a hundred water main breaks since New Year’s Day. The city is also planning on replacing water service from Detroit by tapping into the Flint River and eventually a new pipeline that would reach Lake Huron.

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How do we really get through to kids who are headed down the path to trouble?

There is a group of artists in the Flint area that believes the answer is spoken word and visual art.

The Share Art Project has been bringing artists together with young offenders. It's a collaborative effort among artists at the Buckham Gallery, students and the Genesee Valley Regional Center.

Shellie Spivack is a Buckham board member who chairs the program, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

*Support for Arts and culture coverage on Stateside comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

A former Republican state representative says he was on the "wrong side of history" when he opposed same-sex marriage during his time in Lansing 10 years ago. On today's show, Chris Ward, former representative from Genoa County talked about the gay marriage ban and the future of the Republican Party.

Then, we spoke with a very talented Flint rapper about his music and raising the profile of the Flint community.

We heard from writer Deidre Stevens about the Ca-Choo Club, a very unique way to attract allergy sufferers to Sault Ste. Marie.

Also, as Michigan's Aug. 5 primary and November election draw closer, there are some very tight races shaping up. Who are the voters who could most influence the outcome of these races, depending upon whether they stay home or go to the polls?

First on the show, yesterday was the deadline to file objections to the disclosure statement spelling out Detroit's plan to climb out of its bankruptcy hole.

And yes, objections poured in – long lists of objections to the disclosure statement.

Detroit News reporter Chad Livengood joined us today to tell us who's objecting, why, and what comes next.

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Don't make the mistake of thinking that fresh new music – rap, electronic and more – comes out of Detroit.

Listen to what's coming out of Flint.

Tunde Olaniran is a Flint artist: singer, songwriter, rapper, electropop, rock. Tunde is attracting lots of attention, including a glowing review in the New York Times for his new EP, Yung Archetype.

Tunde Olaniran joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint will not be getting a major federal grant that would have paid to keep many city firefighters on the job.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has turned down Flint’s request for a nearly $8 million SAFER grant. The city has used two previous SAFER grants to pay dozens of firefighters.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint city council is expected to consider a plan tonight that may lead the city out from under state oversight.

Flint has had a series of state appointed Emergency Managers, dating back to 2002 under Governor Engler.

Darnell Earley is the current man in the job. He's outlined a seven- point plan to prepare the city to transition back to local control for the first time since 2011.

Earley’s plan includes addressing Flint’s deficit, legacy costs and strategic planning.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Temperatures across Michigan today are rising into the 50’s.

Warmer temperatures are expected to cause headaches for local water systems.

Water mains could break as surrounding ground thaws.

Flint is dealing with 30 to 40 water main breaks at any one time.

Howard Croft is Flint’s Public Works director.

He expects the number of water main breaks will increase this week…

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials will soon be more aggressive about getting people and businesses to pay their water bills.

Right now, the Flint water department is dealing with 30 to 40 water main breaks at any one time. That’s primarily the fault of the brutal winter weather.

But the water department has another problem and it has to do with inflow of cash.

Emergency manager Darnell Earley says the city is going to start putting more pressure on homeowners and businesses with delinquent water bills.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Five years after Michigan targeted copper thefts plaguing cities like Detroit and disrupting railroads and utilities, plans to better restrict sales of stolen scrap metal are caught in a legislative fight.

Lawmakers are generally in agreement over giving law enforcement more tools to crack down on the problem.

But a provision to make people wait three days for payment for copper wire, air conditioners and catalytic converters is angering scrap buyers and dividing legislators.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

All-time snowfall records could be broken this week in Michigan.

A storm blowing through the state tonight is expected to dump two to eight inches of snow.

What’s on the line this week may very well be bragging rights for generations of people in Flint and Detroit.

Flint is just about five inches short of its all-time snowiest winter. 82.9 inches fell during the winter of 1974-75. So far this winter, Flint has been buried under 77.3 inches of snow. 

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This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockely discuss the trial challenging Michigan's same-sex marriage ban, the mayor of Flint's proposal to fight blight in the city, and what President Obama's budget proposal could mean for Michigan.

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Today we looked at Flint Mayor Dayne Walling’s annual state of the city speech. He gave his speech yesterday and we got him on the phone today.

*Listen to the interview above.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Flint mayor declares war on blight

"Flint Mayor Dayne Walling is calling for a $70 million "war on blight" to help tear down nearly 6,000 buildings in the financially troubled city. Walling made the declaration Monday in his State of the City speech," the Associated Press reports.

Great Lakes 90% covered with ice

All of the Great Lakes combined have 90% ice cover. According to the Detroit Free Press, "that's the most ice cover in 34 years."

Lawmakers want to ban term "retard" from state law

"Michigan lawmakers are looking to remove the terms 'mental retardation' and 'mentally retarded' from state law. Bipartisan bills would strike references to outdated language such as 'retarded' from various statutes and instead use terms such as 'developmentally disabled' or 'intellectually disabled'," the Associated Press reports.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor says his and other Michigan cities need more revenue sharing dollars from the state.

Mayor Dayne Walling delivered Flint’s “State of the City” speech yesterday. Walling outlined a lot of plans for Flint's future. But he says, without more money from the state, delivering basic services will continue to be a struggle.

“Our local communities were the ones that took the longest, most permanent cuts. And we need to be first in line,” says Walling.

But revenue sharing does not appear to be high on the legislative agenda in Lansing.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint Police Department is taking a new approach to solving one of its biggest problems: money.

Flint’s declining tax base has meant deep cuts to the city’s police department for well over a decade. The result has been fewer police officers working with increasingly aging equipment.

The new Flint Police Foundation is intended to help fill the gap between the department’s needs and what its budget will allow.

The foundation will search for donors who can either provide cash or equipment.

Issue Media Group

Cities like Ann Arbor, Portland, and Seattle are known for promoting biking in their cities, but biking hasn't found much of a foothold in many traditional Rust Belt cities.

Some people are trying to change that. Issue Media Group has two pieces profiling those people.

In their publication Mid-Michigan Second Wave, writer Kelli Kavanaugh looks at this trend in Flint. Kavanaugh spoke with Flint native Andy Stamps who founded the Berston Bicycle Club Project. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - There is no direct deposit this week for teachers and other employees in the Flint school district.

They were required to pick up their check in person Friday as the struggling district confirms that it's paying people who actually work. Spokesman Brian Smith tells The Flint Journal it's too early to know if any problems were uncovered.

He says there might be legitimate reasons for someone who didn't pick up a check.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is no longer the most violent city in America – barely.

Flint has topped the FBI’s list of cities of 100,000 or more for per capita violent crime for three years.

But FBI statistics for the first six months of 2013 show Oakland, California has passed Flint, though by a very small margin.

Flint Police Chief James Tolbert credits a 26% drop in murders, robberies, and aggravated assault on the public stepping forward to provide much-needed information on crimes in the city.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Tonight, Flint’s Emergency Manager plans to lay out what has to be accomplished before the city can begin the transition back to local control.

Flint has been under an emergency manager since 2011.

Darnell Earley is the third man to hold the post.   At tonight’s city council meeting, he will present seven points that will have to be met to insure he will also be the last.

“When is the city going to come out of the emergency management? When is it going back into local control? It won’t until we satisfy those seven points,” says Earley.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - The University of Michigan-Flint is responding to a growth in its engineering program by investing in high-tech equipment for the students.

The Flint Journal reports that engineering enrollment has doubled since 2008 and now stands at 320 students. To meet the demand, the school has acquired a $75,000 microscope that magnifies objects 60,000 times and expects to get a $100,000 three-dimensional printer. The department also is hiring two new professors.

Flint Community Schools

There is no doubt that teachers in the Flint Community Schools will be paid through the end of the school year.

That's according to Interim Superintendent Larry Watkins.

Watkins said the state approved the Flint school district's deficit elimination plan today.

The district will get a $2.3 million advance on its state aid payments, and Watkins said the state authorized the district to borrow $3.6 million.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The weather outside continues to be frightful for parts of Michigan even after some areas experienced their snowiest Januaries.

The National Weather Service says up to seven inches of snow is expected to cover the Detroit area Saturday, a day after the region ended January with 39.1 inches of snow -- its snowiest month ever.

Meteorologist Steven Freitag says the previous record was 38.4 in February 1908.

Flint's 32.9 inches of snow also was a January record.

African-Americans in Michigan are murdered at one of the highest rates in the nation. That's according to a study from the Violence Policy Center.

The Center says 31 of every 100,000 black Michiganders was a homicide victim in 2011. That's twice the national rate for blacks and seven times the rate for Americans overall.

Josh Sugarmann is the Center's executive director. He says this is part of a public health crisis in America.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The city of Flint may soon propose new regulations on pawn shops and scrap yards.

Flint police chief James Tolbert says he’s concerned about “the crime behind the crime” of burglaries in the city.

He’s looking at a new ordinance for city pawn shops and scrap yards.

“We’re working on a way where we can better monitor what goes in and goes out,” says Tolbert, though he declined to say exactly how that would be done.

Tolbert says he’s also been talking with other Genesee County chiefs of police about the problem.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint’s emergency manager says a special blue ribbon committee looking at ways to better run the city should continue to meet behind closed doors.

Emergency Manager Darnell Earley appointed the 23 member committee this month. The panel will be meeting for the next several months to study how best to run the city. And those meetings are taking place behind closed doors.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A Flint substitute teacher is facing a variety of charges, including assault and battery, for allegedly duct taping the mouths of several elementary school students on several occasions last year.

A 15 count warrant was authorized on Wednesday.     The incidents allegedly occurred at Flint's Brownell Elementary School.   The unnamed teacher was fired by the Flint school district in December.

Flint city attorney Peter Bade says during the subsequent investigation, the teacher claimed that the school’s principal had placed duct tape on the teacher's mouth.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Flint City Council meets tonight, and for the first time in two years, the council will actually have something to do.

Flint has been under a state-appointed emergency manager for two years.

Current emergency manager Darnell Earley says it’s time for the City Council to get more involved in decisions.

“The way to do that is for them to begin some of their meetings on some issues that we want ultimately the council to have some impact on,” says Earley.

Recently, Earley required the City Council members to attend a session on “good governance”.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint school officials have until Wednesday to deliver a new deficit elimination plan to the Michigan Department of Education.

Flint School Board members tonight will review an agreement calling for a 19% compensation cut to school district employees. Specific wage and benefit cuts will be worked out during the next several months.

The wage and benefit concession was announced last week. The cuts would begin in July and last until 2018, when Flint School District officials project the district will have eliminated its multi-million dollar deficit.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint leaders say a federal court decision is threatening the city’s ability to recover financially.

Last week, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling preventing the city from implementing cuts to retiree health care.  The plan would make Medicare-eligible city retirees pay higher monthly premiums, co-pays and deductibles.  

But the retirees sued.

Flint city leaders were hoping to reap $8.5 million over two years from the retiree health care cuts.

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