Flint

Jame Fairbrother / Flickr

Update 3:50 p.m.:

The city of Flint did not get approval today from the state for a $20 million bond.   The city needs the money to pay its bills.

The state Treasurer’s office asked the State Administrative Board to table the bond request, which it was expected to approve. The Treasurer’s office is concerned that the city doesn’t have a plan to deal with its long-term debt.   

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling is optimistic the city will get some help from the state. 

“I’m confident the city of Flint and the state Treasurer’s office will work together on a short-term, if not a long-term solution here in the next few weeks.”

Flint faces a multi-million dollar budget deficit.   The city has laid off police officers and dozens of other employees and has reached pay cuts with other city unions. But it still might have trouble making payroll in the coming months. 

Update 2:50 p.m.:

The State Administration Board put off a decision on the city's budget plan this morning. The city wants to borrow money in the form of $20 million in bonds to cover its budget deficit.

The Flint Journal has an update from Flint City Councilman Josua Freeman:

By the end of this month or next month, the city will only have about $500,000 in cash on hand, Freeman said. That's not nearly enough money to meet the payroll expenses of $1.5 million to $2 million every two weeks, he added.

"If nothing changes and we don’t improve our cash flow, we're not going to have enough money to operate," Freeman said.

If the city cannot make payroll, a state takeover or Chapter 9 bankruptcy might be next.

12:42 p.m.

The city of Flint wants to issue bonds to cover it's $17 million budget deficit, but state officials have yet to green light that plan.

The State Administration Board was scheduled to vote on that plan today, but it appears plans have changed.

The Flint Journal is reporting the Board voted to remove the city's request from its agenda today. The Journal reports that led to a cancelation of a Flint City Council meeting scheduled for tomorrow:

Tomorrow's City Council meeting to discuss a $20 million bond request from the state has been canceled.

The meeting, which was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, was canceled after The State Administration Board voted to remove the city's request from its meeting agenda this morning...That move came at the request of the state treasurer's office...City Council President Jackie Poplar said she was made aware of the situation and had no comment until she receives further information.

The end of Borders

Borders Book Group Inc. can't pay its bills.

Several reports say the company is expected to file for bankruptcy sometime this week. From Reuters:

Bookseller Borders Group Inc is reviewing bids from liquidators to close hundreds of stores as it works out the final details of its impending bankruptcy filing, according to people close to the talks. The review is part of its plan to close about 200 of its 650 stores, which are a mix of Borders superstores and smaller Waldenbooks shops, these people said. The store closings will remove weak stores that have bled the retail chain's cash in recent years and provide immediate funds from the sale of inventory.

A Border's spokesman is quoted in the report saying, "Borders will not comment or speculate upon Borders' future course. If and when the company has something to disclose, it will do so."

President's Obama's Budget proposal and Michigan

President Obama released his budget proposal to Congress yesterday saying "Even as we cut out things that we can afford to do without, we have a responsibility to invest in those areas that will have the biggest impact in our future."

The Detroit Free Press says the President's budget is a "mixed bag" for Michigan. On the up side, the budget continues to invest in advanced vehicle technology research, it asks that a $7,500 rebate be put in place to encourage electric vehicle purchases (instead of a tax credit), and it would help the state avoid a big payment it owes the federal government for borrowing money to cover unemployment benefits.

And the down side? From the Freep: 

...it cuts in half a program to help poor people pay energy bills, cuts community block grants and Great Lakes restoration funding and ends plans to build an amphibious Marine Corps vehicle that could have created hundreds of Michigan jobs. 

A big day for Flint

The city of Flint will likely find out today whether it can go to the bond market to cover it's $17 million budget deficit.

The State Administrative Board is meeting today at 11 a.m. to decide the city's fate.

If the plan is not approved, the State of Michigan may eventually have to take over the city's finances.

City Administrator Greg Eason told WJRT

"This stabilization bond is critical to the survival of the city over the next three to five years."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

By some estimates, the city of Flint is facing a $17 million budget hole.

Flint's Mayor is hoping state officials will allow the city to go to the bond market to overcome the budget deficit.

The State Administrative Board is meeting tomorrow to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to the city's request.

The Flint Journal reports:

A state board made up of Michigan's top elected officials (or their delegates) is expected on Tuesday to consider the city's application to issue $20 million in bonds, part of Flint Mayor Dayne Walling's budget plan.

The State Administrative Board meeting will take place at 11 a.m. in the Lake Superior Room of the Michigan Library and Historical Center in Lansing. The meetings are open to the public.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reported that without the money, Mayor Walling said the city will have trouble making payroll in March:

“There is nothing more important for our city right now than the bond.   We’ve been carrying a crushing load of past deficits on our shoulders.  And we’ve come to the point where the pooled cash is not there to make payroll throughout the entire month of March without an infusion of cash,” said Mayor Walling.

If state officials do not approve of the bond plan, the state may eventually takeover Flint’s finances.

(official White House portrait)

Flint is planning a major, new community wide effort to encourage fitness as it joins Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" anti-obesity campaign.  Flint is the 500th local community to join the First Lady’s youth fitness campaign which marks its first anniversary tomorrow.  

Mrs. Obama welcomed Flint to her campaign during a conference call with local officials today. 

 “This is a generational problem.  We have to keep driving this issue.  We will do it here at the national level.  But the real work happens on the ground where you are.”

Flint is partnering with the Crim Fitness Foundation to get people to make personal fitness commitments. A kick-off is planned for April. Flint also plans to expand nutrition-related education programs in its schools.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

UPDATE 3:30pm


 


The Finance and Claims Committe of the State Administrative Board unanimously passed the city of Flint's resolution requesting a $20 million fiscal stabilization bond.   The resolution now goes to the full board February 15th. 


 


11:55am 2/0711  


 


Flint city officials will be in Lansing Tuesday. The city has applied for state permission to get a $20 million  ‘fiscal stabilization bond.' 


Flint is facing a multi-million dollar budget deficit this year and other long-term debts. Flint mayor Dayne Walling says the city needs the money to help keep the city afloat financially. 



“There is nothing more important for our city right now than the bond.   We’ve been carrying a crushing load of past deficits on our shoulders.  And we’ve come to the point where the pooled cash is not there to make payroll throughout the entire month of March without an infusion of cash.”  


Walling is optimistic state officials will approve their bond request.  



“If this, for some reason, were not approved by the State Administrative Board, then we’ll get right back to the table with Treasury and we’ll talk about what our options are."


   If the city of Flint can’t get the money it needs, the state may eventually takeover Flint’s finances.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

From General Motors adding another shift at the Flint Assembly plant to expansion in the city's medical and echnology centers, Flint's job picture is brightening.

Flint city leaders say their community posted one of the ten biggest drops in unemployment in the U.S. over the last 12 months.

Between December 2009 and December 2010, Flint's jobless rate fell from 16 percent to just under 12 percent.

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling says the city helped create or keep mare than a thousand jobs by encouraging entrepreneurial businesses.

For everybody who's left, there's a project out there that kept a job here too. That?s the other part of the story. It may not be a new job. It's not someone who's newly employed. But there are another 500 or 1000 people who would have left here if these projects wouldn't have been successful.

This all builds on what our president said in his State of the Union, that we need to create jobs and industries of the future by doing what America does best.  Investing in the creativity and innovation of our people.

Walling concedes people leaving Flint also helped improve the city's unemployment rate.

Flint's unemployment rate is still above state and national levels.

No Michigan housing markets rank among the 25 worst for home foreclosures in a new national survey.    But, that may change by the end of this year.  

Kate Mereand / Flickr

In case you missed it, Newsweek Magazine put out a Top Ten list last Friday. This top ten list was called "American's Dying Cities."

There's nothing like a provocative headline to get people to peek in.

For Michigan, it's the usual suspects: Flint and Detroit.

But many will be surprised that Grand Rapids also made the list.

No doubt about it, there are many urban areas around the country that are in decay. The question is, how do you measure the decay?

The writers at Newsweek said they looked at the latest census numbers (it's difficult to tell who at Newsweek looked at the numbers because there's no byline as far as I can tell):

We used the most recent data from the Census Bureau on every metropolitan area with a population exceeding 100,000 to find the 30 cities that suffered the steepest population decline between 2000 and 2009. Then, in an attempt to look ahead toward the future of these regions, we analyzed demographic changes to find which ones experienced the biggest drop in the number of residents under 18. In this way, we can see which cities may have an even greater population decline ahead due to a shrinking population of young people.

It's also difficult to tell which direction this list goes.

The cities are listed in their scrolling widget in one direction, and in their "view all" list in the opposite direction. So, for what's it's worth, here's the list (from their "view all" view):

  1. Grand Rapids, Michigan
  2. Flint, Michigan
  3. South Bend, Indiana
  4. Detroit, Michigan
  5. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  6. Cleveland, Ohio
  7. Rochester, New York
  8. Hialeah, Florida
  9. Vallejo, California
  10. New Orleans, Louisiana
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Update 11:30 a.m.:

Steve Carmody called in with this update from the news conference:

GM announced that it will add 750 jobs to its Flint Assembly Plant by adding a third shift. No new hires will be made. The pool of workers will come from two places:

  1. people being reactivated from various layoff pools
  2. workers who would like to return to Flint after they were transferred to another plant

10:21 a.m.:

GM is planning a news conference at 10:30am this morning.

Demolished Buick City in Flint, Michigan
blueskiesfalling / wikimedia commons

The Center for Homicide Research published a report on homicides in Flint. It concluded that Flint passed its previous record of 61 homicides (set in 1986) "in large part to a process of contagion."

In other words, once a homicide occurs, it can spark others, spreading like a disease.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Sign of Flint Police Headquarters
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint Police Department is closed on the weekends following the latest round of officer layoffs.

The Flint Journal reports new office hours took effect Saturday, the day after 20 police officers were laid off.

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling laid off a total of 66 police officers this year to cope with a multi-million-dollar deficit. The city also made other cuts.

Michigan's deaf community to turning to Governor Jennifer Granholm in a last ditch effort to stop the sale of the Michigan School for the Deaf in Flint.   Today in Lansing, the state senate corrected a problem in the bill authorizing the sale.  It's now up to the governor to decide if the sale will go through.The Associated Press reports:

The sale of the Flint site of the Michigan School for the Deaf is expected to move forward after a procedural vote of the state Senate. 

Senators gave the bill immediate effect Wednesday, meaning the legislation authorizing the property sale to a developer will be enrolled and forwarded to Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

The Legislature had approved the bill earlier and the state also has approved a tax credit to aid the redevelopment. 

The developer expects to rebuild the school and keep it open. But the sale is opposed by some alumni of the school who say the sale process was not inclusive. They rallied to oppose the bill Wednesday outside the state Capitol.

Michigan lawmakers are wrapping up final votes before ending their 2009-10 legislative session.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan state senators will briefly gavel themselves back into session Wednesday morning, so they can fix some minor language problems in a few bills. 

But, they will likely hear from people opposed to one proposal to sell Michigan’s School for the Deaf. 

Flint has set a new record for murders in the city in a single year.   


This comes at a time when the city plans to lay off 20 police officers later this week. 


Flint recorded its 62nd murder of the year on Monday.  That broke Flint’s previous record of 61 murders in a year set back in 1986, when the city of Flint was much larger.  There are no suspects in Flint’s 62nd homicide of the year. 


And beginning Friday, there will be fewer police officers in Flint. 

sign in Flint, Michigan
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Just a day after tying a record set in 1986, Flint recorded its 62nd homicide of the year. The body of a man was found slumped over in a car parked on a city street.

At a news conference this morning, before the latest murder victim was found, Flint Mayor Dayne Walling blamed the spike in violence in his city on the loss of jobs.

Boarded up houses in Flint, Michigan
creative commons

Update 11:30 a.m.:

Just hours after city officials in Flint called a news conference about tying the homicide record, The Flint Journal is reporting that the record appears to be broken. Police are now at the scene of a potential slaying:

Police are at the scene now at Harriet and Donald streets, where there was a report of a man in vehicle who appeeared to be shot. If the death is considered a homicide, it would be the city's 62nd. The highest number of homicides ever previously recorded in the city was 61 in 1986.

Update 11:20 a.m.:

The Flint Journal made a map showing where homicides in the city have taken place. There have been no arrests in 25 of the 60 homicides noted.



View Flint homicides in a larger map

10:12 a.m.:

The City of Flint is holding a news conference this morning about the city's homicide rate. The 61st homicide was recorded last night making this year the worst on record since 1986.

In a press release issued last night, city officials said "police responded to a call at a home in the 600 block of West Ridgeway, on the city's north side, just before 7:30 Sunday evening."

Three people were found shot inside the home. One was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mayor Walling said

"We have reached a tragic milestone in Flint, tying the homicide record established in 1986. Residents must continue to be vigilant about reporting crimes and providing police with information that will get criminals off the streets. I applaud the swift work of our hard working police officers in apprehending a suspect within hours of the city's latest homicide."

Update 12/10/2010 6:28 a.m.:

A judge has ruled that there is enough evidence against Elias Abuelazam to send his cases to Genesee County Court.  That means Abuelazam now faces one murder trial and five attempted murder trials in connection with a series of stabbings in and around Flint earlier this year.  As the Associated Press reports the number of cases involving Abuelazam could grow:

Abuelazam will return to court Friday for a probable cause hearing in the stabbing death of Arnold Minor in August. Another murder case is scheduled for a similar hearing on Dec. 16.

Abuelazam also faces a charge of attempted murder in Ohio.

___

Update 12/9/2010 6:42 a.m.:

A man accused of a series of stabbings in Genesee County will appear in court today.

Elias Abuelazam will face four hearings, all involving charges of attempted murder in and around the Flint area earlier this year. A judge must determine whether there’s probable cause to send him to trial. Abuelazam has already been ordered to face one murder trial.

Two more probable-cause hearings are scheduled for tomorrow and next Thursday.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

There appears to be rising opposition to the planned sale of the Michigan School for the Deaf in Flint.     Meanwhile, a legislative mistake threatens to delay the sale.    


A private developer wants to buy the 85 acre campus for one point three million dollars.    He’ll then build a new school and lease it back to the state for two million dollars a year.  

The Michigan School for the Deaf in Flint may soon be sold.

In the wee hours of Friday morning, as the legislature prepared to adjourn its 2010 session, state lawmakers approved the sale of the 153 year old school to a private developer for $1.3 million.

The developer plans to renovate some buildings on the 85 acre site and build a new $15 million complex for the school for the deaf.  The state will pay $2 million a year to lease the site.  

Ridgway White is the developer.  He says the current facility needs to be replaced. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A contract dispute between Flint's mayor and the city's public safety unions escalated Tuesday.



Tuesday, the city of Flint sent layoff notices to 20 police officers. The city and the police unions have not been able to agree on major contract concessions to help reduce a projected budget deficit.


Flint firefighters are voting on a new contract and the outcome is far from certain.    The head of the city’s firefighters union says its chances are 50-50.


 Flint firefighters are being asked to approve a new contract that will force firemen to increase contributions to their retirement plan and force them to pay more for health insurance.

Flint police officers will not be getting layoff notices this week after all. 


 50 city workers are expected to lose their jobs to help ease the city’s budget crisis.


 But Flint mayor Dayne Walling says there will be no layoff notices sent to city police officers or firefighters this week.   He says layoff notices will be sent to Flint public safety employees after the holiday weekend, though contract talks with the city’s police officers continue.  

General Motors formally announced today that it is investing more than 160 million dollars in plants in Flint, Bay City and in Defiance, Ohio.


 The three plants produce components for the Chevy Volt, Cruze and a third unnamed Chevrolet small car.


 Bill Jordan says GM’s announcement is an early "Christmas present.”   Jordan is the president of United Auto Workers local 599.    He says GM’s investment shows workers are doing the job right. 

 


The city of Flint has started sending out layoff notices to city employees.
But so far, none of the notices have gone out to those who work in public safety.
The city of Flint is wrestling with an estimated 5 million dollar short fall in this year’s city budget.    The mayor wants the city’s unions to absorb about half of that deficit with double digit wage and benefit concessions.

A Detroit police car
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

CQ Press released it's report "City Crime Rankings" over the weekend and two cities in Michigan made the top five. Detroit was ranked third, and Flint was ranked fourth. The city with the highest rate of crime was St. Louis.

The AP reports this as a list of "most dangerous cities," but the CQ Press says it no longer uses the phrase "most dangerous" because the data used to make the list doesn't necessarily reflect danger.

User respres / Creative Commons

The Genesee County Bar Association is sponsoring a free seminar on how to avoid foreclosure.  It’s one of many free seminars the bar association will offer this winter.

Tatilia Burroughs is executive director of the association. She says they’ve gotten feedback from the public about what topics people would like addressed. She says they include child support, custody, consumer issues, debt collection, and issues having to do with small claims court.

The foreclosure seminar is Thursday, November 18th.  It will be at the Flint Public Library.

Here's a map of foreclosure listings in Michigan:



View Larger Map

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Flint city leaders are working with neighborhood watch groups and others to prevent an outbreak of arson fires this weekend. 

Flint firefighters have battled dozens of suspicious fires in abandoned homes for months.

 City leaders are concerned arsonists may step up their activity this Halloween weekend.

 Police officer Tanya Meeks is the liaison officer between the Flint police department and local volunteer groups.

Abandoned house in Flint, MI
Flickr user jamesharv2005 / Creative Commons

More houses are coming down in Flint. Kristin Longley reports in the Flint Journal that 174 houses will come down by December 31st. That's on top of the 125 houses city crews are expected to take down by the end of the year.

Flint union leader Sam Muma says city crews can't take down all the homes scheduled for demolition:

"There's no way the crews I represent, the city employees, can handle all that. We have a situation quite unique in our time."

Booking photo of stabbing suspect Elias Abuelazam
Arlington, Virginia Police Department

(by Steve Carmody, Michigan Radio)

A judge has ordered the man suspected in a series of stabbings in the Flint area to be held without bond.  

Elias Abuelazam, an Israeli citizen, was arraigned today and spoke briefly during the court hearing.

Abuelazam is suspected in at least 18 attacks in three states in Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia. Five victims died in Flint.

Genesee County prosecutor David Leyton says he will seek the harshest penalty possible against Abuelazam.

Pages