Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Cars started lining up at dawn today at a Flint business giving away free water.

Concerns about the safety of Flint’s tap water has created high demand for bottled water. 

But many Flint residents say they have trouble paying for what little bottled water is still sitting on store shelves. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week in Michigan politics, Jack and Emily discuss anguish over Flint’s water, a plan for some Detroiters to pay half price on auctioned homes and a new gun bill moving ahead in Lansing.


Flint's general fund deficit has gone from $19 million to $9 million in two years, and is on track to being eliminated entirely in five years.

That's according to an audit presented to the city council Monday night.

The second bit of good news for the city's fiscal health was legacy costs.

Andrew Pennebaker / Flickr

A small crowd of Flint residents came out to Monday night's city council meeting to protest what they say is discolored, odorous, unsafe water coming out of their taps. 

"It smells horribly," says Cindy Marshall. "I took a shower the other night and my eyes were blood red and burning. I broke out in a rash and was scratching like crazy just from taking a shower."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A consultant’s report says Flint police should stop responding to non-emergency 911 calls. The consultants say that would give police more time to investigate violent crimes in Flint. 

That’s just part of a report delivered by a Washington, D.C. consulting group to the Flint city council, mayor, emergency manager, as well as the city’s police and fire chiefs last night. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint officials tried again last night to convince city residents their tap water is safe to drink. 

Most of the people at the meeting left with doubts.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor says the governor has some responsibility to ensure that Flint residents have “clean, safe and affordable water.”

Mayor Dayne Walling sent a letter to the governor this week.   

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is starting an effort to help people in a low-income housing complex connect with the rest of the city.

The Atherton East apartment complex is literally on the other side of the tracks.  It’s closer to strip joints than grocery stores. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Carriage Town neighbors in Flint are divided by more than fences these days.

A proposal to shrink the size of the neighborhood's historic district has pitted neighbor against neighbor.  

The neighborhood is just north of downtown Flint.   Many of the homes and buildings in the neighborhood pre-date the city’s auto industry. The neighborhood gets its name from Flint’s late 1800’s carriage manufacturing business.

The neighborhood now is a unique collection of restored and blighted homes.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint residents turned out Tuesday to complain about the quality of Flint's water and safety concerns.

Chanting “Clean water…that’s all we want,” a small group gathered outside city hall to protest against the quality of the city’s water and rising water bills.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is getting its fourth, and possibly its last, emergency manager.

Flint city finance adviser Jerry Ambrose is replacing outgoing emergency manager Darnell Earley. Earley is leaving after 15 months to take the same job with the Detroit Public Schools.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint's emergency manager says he will not approve a return to Detroit's water system, even though the city's switch to using water from the Flint River has been rife with problems.

Flint ditched its water contract with Detroit, and began using water from the Flint River instead this spring.  Complaints surfaced early on about the water's taste. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A state emergency loan board approved a modified firefighters contract that Emergency Manager Darnell Early says will save $600,000 in the first year, and $6 million dollars long-term. 

Firefighters had proposed their own concessions, but the State Treasury says those were rejected because they didn't achieve the same cost savings.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint city leaders are trying to quell concerns about the safety of the city’s water.

Concerns were raised last year by a string of water advisories, along with complaints of discolored, smelly water flowing from home faucets. 

This week, Flint residents received notices that their water system violated the Safe Drinking Water Act. Tests conducted last year revealed a higher an acceptable level of trihalomethane or THM.  THM is a byproduct of the chlorination process.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint city council is expected to fill two vacant seats on Monday.

The vacancies were created when two Flint city council members were elected to other offices in November. Former councilman Sheldon Neeley was elected to the state House of representatives. Former councilman Bryant Nolden is taking a seat on the Genesee County Board of Commissioners. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s emergency manager plans to start prepping for the end of his tenure.

Flint has been under an emergency manager since 2011. 

Current emergency manager Darnell Earley’s appointment ends in April.    He’s working now to begin the transition back to local control.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Natasha Henderson admits there are challenges ahead.

Henderson was introduced today as Flint’s incoming city administrator. Starting in February, she’ll take over running the day-to-day operations of a city still struggling to shake off a multi-million dollar budget deficit and ongoing crime problems. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint firefighters’ next contract will be decided by a state board.

Last night, the Flint city council approved an alternative contract to the one the city’s emergency manager wants to impose on Flint firefighters.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A plan to shrink the size of the Carriage Town historic district in Flint is running into opposition from people who live in the neighborhood.

Carriage Town is located just across the Flint River from the city’s downtown core. It’s a mix of neatly restored, large single-family homes and blighted buildings.  

NES Jumpman / Flickr

The Genesee Land Bank owns a lot of property in Flint and the rest of the county. Many of those are houses and other buildings that are vacant, and they have yards. The grass and weeds keep growing, and mowing is expensive. High grass is, at best, an eyesore. At worst, it’s a vector for pests and it increases fire risk.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s City Council may reject a new contract the city’s emergency manager wants to impose on Flint’s firefighters.

The contract calls for wage cuts, pension changes, and a cap on retiree health care costs. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Later this month, manufacturing returns to Buick City in Flint for the first time in a long time.

The last Buick rolled off the Buick City assembly line 15 years ago.  

The 400 acre site has sat largely unused until a year ago when the trust set up to dispose of old GM property sold 18 acres to an Alabama company.

High school girls soccer match during the Flint Olympian Games.
Flint Olympian and CANUSA Games / flickr.com

The Flint school district is cutting funding for decades-old events to foster competition between athletes from the city and Canada.

The school board on Wednesday approved plans to eliminate funding for the CANUSA Games and the Flint Olympian Games after learning that the district's deficit grew to $21.9 million.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Flint Community Schools Board of Trustees approved a revised deficit elimination plan last night. 

But the district’s unions haven’t signed off on a key part of the plan. 

To make the plan work, district officials factored in a 15% pay cut for employees. District officials suggest without the contract concessions, the Flint school district could potentially start down the road to a state takeover.

Ethel Johnson is president of the United Teachers of Flint. She says they’ve already given up too much. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A home was torn down in Flint this morning.

But the home on Parkbelt Drive is different from the hundreds of other blighted homes that have been demolished in Flint in recent years.

An online crowdsourced fundraising campaign paid to tear down the fire-gutted home on Flint’s north side.   The campaign collected more than $10,000. 

Paulette Mayfield owns the house next door. She contributed to the online campaign.

One down, about 9,000 to go.

A Flint ex-patriot's crowd-funding campaign on Indigogo raised more than $11,000 – enough to tear down one of the city's many blighted, abandoned homes.

Freelance writer Gordon Young decided to run the campaign after writing a book about Flint's severe blight problem and its attempt to revitalize itself.

Today on Stateside:

  •         Emails from an order for 500,000 ignition switches by General Motors from December 18th have been released. Jeff Bennett broke the story for the Wall Street Journal and talks to us about the importance of these emails in a pending legal case.
  •           In Ann Arbor, kids caught spray-painting serve their community service time by cleaning up graffiti under the Juvenile Graffiti Removal Project. Listen to Sgt. Thomas Hickey of the Ann Arbor Police Department discuss his creative idea.
  •          Called “the greatest American player of all time” by Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock, Chris Chelios has certainly left his mark on the city of Detroit and the Red Wings franchise. Listen to him discuss his new memoir, Made in America.
  •          While high-profile chemical spills and bacterial blooms have raised concerns about the safety of drinking water in the United States, it’s not the only pollutant reaching the water supply. Listen to chemist Andrea Sella report for the BBC on how the medicines we take are ending up in our environment.
  •          Rebecca Klaper, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences has been studying the presence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) within the Great Lakes. Listen to Dr. Klaper discuss the presence of PPCPs in the Great Lakes.
  •           East Jordan Iron Works has a 131-year history in the state of Michigan. You can’t walk across a street in Michigan without stepping on a manhole cover branded with their name. Listen to VP Thomas Teske discuss the history of the company.
  •          In the fight against blight in Flint, Gordon Young had a goal of raising $10,000 to tear down a single decaying home on Parkbelt Drive in Flint. After contributions from over 150 donors, Young has exceeded his goal by more than $1,000.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s emergency manager is drawing closer to picking a key appointee to help guide the city out from state oversight.

Flint has been run by an emergency manager for three years. But current emergency manager Darnell Earley’s tenure will end in April. 

Earley wants a city administrator to take over his role running the day-to-day city business. 

A national search drew more than two dozen applications. That number has been trimmed to five finalists and one alternate.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new University of Michigan study says we should rethink how we care for teens and young adults who are victims of violence.

For some young people, violent injuries occur with a frequency similar to someone with a “chronic disease”. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A summit in Flint this week will focus on doing more to help young African-American boys and men.

Organizers say young black men face limited educational and other opportunities.

Pastor Reggie Flynn says schools, businesses and churches are failing to meet the needs of young men of color in Flint.

“We have failed in the faith community because we haven’t engaged parents as we should.  We’ve become insular,” says Flynn. “Children shouldn’t be coming into our churches and leaving, and we know they cannot read.”