Flint

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Report on Detroit's finances due today

"Governor Snyder is expected to receive a long-awaited report on Detroit’s financial situation today. It’s widely expected that the report will depict a city on the brink of insolvency—and suggest further state intervention," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Flint State of the City addresses violent crime

"Flint mayor Dayne Walling says his city must now make a transition to an era of "reconstruction" after a "generation of decline." Walling told the audience at his State of the City address yesterday that in order to begin that transition Flint must deal with its crime problem. Flint had the worst violent crime rate in the nation last year," Steve Carmody reports.

Sleeping Bear Dunes get $100,000

"The state Transportation Department has received $100,000 in federal funds to extend Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Heritage Trail by nearly five miles. The funding is part of $12.5 million for 29 projects in 20 states to improve access to national parks, forests and wildlife refuges," the Associated Press reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint mayor Dayne Walling says his city must now make a transition to an era of 'reconstruction' after a 'generation of decline.'

Walling told the audience at his ‘State of the City’ address Monday that in order to begin that transition Flint must deal with its crime problem.

Flint had the worst violent crime rate in the nation last year. 

“We have lost too many lives. Too many of our promising youth who were confined to environments that were always dangerous and all too often became deadly,” Walling told his audience.

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Undocumented immigrants to get state IDs

"Illegal immigrants brought to the country as children can start applying for Michigan driver's licenses and state IDs this week. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson's office will begin accepting applications Tuesday," the Associated Press reports.

Lawmakers lobby to maintain Michigan's film tax incentive

"Michigan film producers and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville say they will lobby to maintain the state's $50 million film credits cap. Governor Rick Snyder is calling for a $25 million dollar cap in film incentives in the budget he has proposed. The amount is the same he proposed last year, but lawmakers raised the cap to $50 million during budget negotiations," the Associated Press reports.

Flint mayor to address his State of the City today

"Flint’s mayor plans to use his State of the City address today to talk about how his city can start planning for a future without an emergency financial manager. A state appointed manager has been running the city since December 2011," Steve Carmody reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor delivers his State of the City address tomorrow.

He says he’ll map out a path for Flint to no longer need an emergency financial manager running his city.

Mayor Dayne Walling says now’s the time to begin preparing for life after an emergency manager.

The city has been under the direction of a state appointed manager since December of 2011.

The new emergency manager law that takes effect next month includes a provision that details how cities can get back to self-control.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A judge will consider a request to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Flint’s skyrocketing water and sewer rates this week.

Since 2011, Flint’s water and sewer rates have more than doubled. City officials say the rate increases are needed to cover rising costs in the system.

But Attorney Val Washington says that’s not how the city is using the money.

“Instead of being used what it’s for….water and sewer….related expenses,” says Washington,  “It's being used to pay the general obligations of the city.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A private company will start picking up Flint’s residential trash next month.

Emergency Financial Manager Ed Kurtz says Republic Services can handle Flint’s waste collection for a million dollars a year less than the city can itself.    The two sides signed a contract this week. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Flint is spending money to collect more money.

The city wants to know if some residents haven't filed city tax returns. It will spend $11,000 to get state tax data to determine if there are people who haven't paid the local income tax.

Wikipedia

Sandra Bernhard is appearing at The Ark in Ann Arbor this Friday and Saturday. We spoke with Bernhard about growing up in Michigan and her overall career.

She talks about Flint, a city she grew up in and how she plans to visit the city this weekend with a friend she met through Twitter.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The state Treasury Department is changing the rules for people hired by emergency financial managers.

Barnett Jones was hired last year as Flint’s Public Safety Administrator by the city’s emergency manager.  He resigned earlier this month after it was discovered he had a second full time job as the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department security director.

To avoid having that happen again, the state Treasury Department is inserting language in future contracts that says emergency financial manager appointees can not engage in other employment, unless approved by the EFM.

Flint contemplates its future, through planning

Jan 22, 2013
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The City of Flint is hosting a public forum this evening to discuss its plan for the future.

"This is a chance for a lot of the political leaders and some community people to lay out the process and to get additional information from the audience," said Michael Kelly of the Flint Area Public Affairs Forum. He says the forum will allow city leaders to talk  about assets and challenges that face the city.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The city of Flint plans to use a $25 thousand grant to get the public involved in efforts to reduce blight in the city.

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling says blight is a multi-faceted challenge that includes demolishing abandoned homes and reclaiming neighborhoods.    He says volunteers are critically important to solving Flint's problem with blight.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Some Michigan cities that collect an income tax might soon see a revenue boost.

A state lawmaker wants to increase the tax rate cities can charge.

State representative Andy Schor is looking at lifting the current state cap on city income tax rates.   Four cities (Detroit, Grand Rapids, Saginaw and Highland Park) are already allowed to collect more than the 1% limit on city residents and  .5% on non-city residents.

GM / Facebook

In another blow to the Flint area, GM announced it will close its Weld Tool Center in Grand Blanc.

The plant is located just southeast of the city of Flint.

Workers at the plant make robotic welding tools used to build cars like the Chevy Cruze, the Volt, and the Sonic.

GM spokesman Tom Wickham said the plant's 323 hourly workers and 28 salaried workers will be offered jobs at other GM plants in the region, according to MLive:

The employees were notified this morning the plant would be shut down, Wickham said...

There are no immediate plans as to what the facility will be used for in the future, Wickham said.

Shaun Byron of MLive talked with some of the workers at the plant who were shocked by the news:

Brad Keskinen of Davison worked with GM since 1977 and at the Grand Blanc Township plant since 2007.

“I’m really disappointed. I thought we had a smart, productive workforce. But it’s evident that the work model was set up for failure,” Keskinen said. “And the announcement comes to a shock to us.”

GM recorded the 'economic impact' of the plant as follows:

  • Wages: $46.5 million (2011)
  • Payroll Taxes: $9.7 million (2011)
  • Property Taxes: $866,000 (2011)

Operations at the plant are expected to wind down in July of this year.

The plant was first built by the U.S. government in 1942. Sherman and Pershing tanks were built there.

Stateside: Investigating Michigan's homicide rate

Jan 15, 2013
http://jmc.msu.edu/alumni/madisonian.php?id=23

Though the national homicide rate has declined over the past decades, many Michigan cities are struggling to follow the trend.

Dayne Walling, Mayor of Flint and Gregg Barak, Professor of Criminology at Eastern Michigan University and author of "Violence and Nonviolence: Pathways to Understanding" spoke with Cyndy about the state’s homicides.

“Homicide rates across the country are down to about 4.8 per 100,000…Here in Michigan, the state as a whole is at 6.2. In Detroit, it’s eight times higher…I’m not that surprised in terms of Detroit. Its rate today is no higher than it was when we were identified as the murder capital of the world,” said Barak.

Orbitbid.com

The city of Flint is experimenting with an online auction of things it no longer needs.

It’s unclear how much money the cash-strapped city will get from the auction.

If you’re looking for a used Zamboni, or tractors, or, in some cases, stuff that could be best described as junk, the city of Flint hopes you’ll take advantage of its online auction today.

This is the first time the city has turned to the internet to auction off its surplus equipment, used furniture and other items.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Government and religious leaders from Lansing, Flint and Saginaw came together today to call for new federal gun control laws.

All three cities saw an increase in murders in 2012.

The group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, wants the federal government to require background checks for all gun sales.    It also wants a ban on assault weapons and an expansion of gun trafficking laws.

Darnell Earley is Saginaw’s city manager.   He says something must be done to stop what he calls “neighborhood warfare.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Officials in Flint will review work records of former public safety administrator Barnett Jones who was holding two full-time jobs at the same time.

MLive.com reports City Administrator Michael Brown will look at Jones' schedule.

Jones resigned Thursday after it was learned he also was chief security and integrity officer at Detroit's water department, about 70 miles away.

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Ad claims "right to work" is Pure Michigan

"Michigan’s Economic Development Corporation will continue to use the Pure Michigan brand to promote business growth, including the fact that Michigan is now a so-called right to work state. The MEDC faced criticism for buying a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal this week touting the state's new right-to-work law as "Pure Michigan." It cost $144,000," Lindsey Smith reports.

Flint public safety administrator resigns

"Barnett Jones was Ann Arbor’s police chief before being picked to oversee Flint’s police and fire departments last April. But Jones has also been working as the head of security for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department since May. When news media outlets raised questions this week about Jones’ ability to do both jobs, Jones submitted his resignation in Flint," Steve Carmody reports.

Democrats want to ban "lame duck" sessions

"Some Democratic state lawmakers want to end so-called “lame duck” sessions. If lawmakers pass the measure and voters approve it, the Legislature would be barred from meeting between November elections and the end of December on even-numbered years," Jake Neher reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Flint’s public safety administrator has resigned, amid questions about another full-time job he’s been holding.

Barnett Jones was Ann Arbor’s police chief before being picked to oversee Flint’s police and fire departments last April.    He is a trained firefighter as well as a police officer.    

A Flint city spokesman says Jones mainly focused on Flint's fire department, but he also worked with Flint's police chief Alvern Lock on police matters. 

But Jones has also been working as the head of security for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department since May.

Orbitbid.com

You know you've always wanted a Zamboni.

Now's your chance (just got to find a place in the garage for it).

The cash-strapped city of Flint is selling surplus equipment in an online auction on January 15.

Such an auction is a first for the city, according to the Associated Press.

In addition to the hockey gear, you can pick up sections of chain-link fence, a Chevy S10, a tractor, and a Hobart mixer.

You can check out the 216 items up for sale on Orbitbid.com, the company conducting the auction.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Several of Michigan's largest cities already have eclipsed last year's homicide totals.

Murders in Detroit, Saginaw and Grand Rapids are up over 2011. The 66 homicides reported through Monday morning in Flint are tied with that city's 2011 tally.

WOOD-TV reports that Grand Rapids reached its 18th homicide Saturday night. The number still is preliminary. There were 17 murders there last year, compared to nine each in 2009 and 2010. Grand Rapids recorded 23 murders in 2006.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

66 people were murdered in Flint in 2012. That ties a record homicide rate set two years ago.

Flint’s political, religious and civic leaders have been trying to do something about the city’s high violent crime rate. But gun violence has claimed more than 60 lives for the second time in three years.

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling issued a statement, saying “it is clear that the problem of illegal and military-style guns is widespread and is a major contributing factor to” the city’s homicide rate.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Numbers are adding up to be a growth business in downtown Flint.

The Flint Journal reports that accounting firm Plante Moran has a staff of approximately 50 people and typically hires five to 10 a year since arriving in 2005.

Ken Leslie, managing partner at the Flint office, says internships provide candidates. The most notable supplier is the Flint campus of the University of Michigan. Leslie says people don't want to leave downtown once they're hired.

Fire stations across the state are being left abandoned as fire departments shrink and consolidate. Now a man hopes to transform one of those vacant stations in Flint into a homeless shelter.

John Bone says he's transforming an eye sore into a place where up to 100 people in need can find a bed and a shower.

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Governor Snyder vetoes gun bill

Governor Rick Snyder has vetoed legislation that would have allowed people with concealed pistol permits to carry their guns in school buildings. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"He said that school security measures in Michigan needed a thorough review. He also wants to find a way to better incorporate community mental health workers into schools. Snyder also said in his veto letter to the Legislature that the bill had a fatal loophole that didn't allow for those public institutions -- schools, churches, day care centers and stadiums -- to opt out of the new legislation and prohibit weapons from their buildings. The law specifically addressed only private buildings."

Earlier this week Snyder said the Connecticut shooting would play a role in his decision on the bill.

Snyder's approval rating drops 28 points after right-to-work

"A new poll from a firm that primarily does work for Democrats finds a huge drop in approval for Governor Rick Snyder among Michigan voters. Snyder has a 56-percent disapproval rating, after he supported and signed bills that make it harder for unions to collect dues. That's a 28-point drop," Tracy Samilton reports.

Flint names interim school superintendent

"The Flint school board last night picked a longtime district administrator to be its interim superintendent. Larry Watkins retired from the Flint school district in August. But he applied for the interim job when Flint’s former superintendent announced her retirement last month. Watkins takes charge of a school district that’s running a budget deficit in the millions of dollars," Steve Carmody reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A long-time district administrator has been picked to be the interim Flint schools superintendent.

Larry Watkins likes to say he’s worked for the Flint school district since he was 14, when he was a high school locker room attendant.  He retired from the district in August, after a long career as an administrator.

Last night, the school board hired him back, on an interim basis, to fill the void left by last month’s retirement of Flint’s former superintendent.

Efforts for Freeing Son Inspired Music at Mott

Dec 6, 2012
courtesy of FreeAmir.org

Musical inspiration comes in a variety of ways.  For Dr. Mathew Packer, it came from the imprisoned son of a colleague at Mott Community College.

Amir Hekmati was taken prisoner in Iran – accused of being a spy after travelling there to visit his ailing grandmother.  His family is now working to get him freed.

Packer, a music professor at Mott, heard about the family’s efforts to free him and created a song called “I WILL FLY” which is being performed and recorded for sale to benefit the Hekmati family on Friday afternoon.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s controversial Emergency Financial Manager law has survived a legal challenge.

But the judge’s decision may have opened a new door to legal challenges.

Michigan’s old Emergency Financial Manager law (Public Act 72) was repealed when state lawmakers passed a new law in 2011 giving the managers even broader powers.  However that new tougher law was rejected by voters last month.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - With just three months remaining before winter tax payments are due and with about 8,000 parcels rolling toward tax foreclosure in April, Genesee County treasury officials are ramping up programs aimed at keeping people in their homes.

The county Land Bank already has 9,500 parcels of land to maintain after three straight years of at least 2,300 foreclosures. That's after selling 500 foreclosed parcels earlier this year.

Marijuana in Michigan: What new pot laws mean for the state

Nov 14, 2012
miss.libertine / Creative Commons

Marijuana users across the state are claiming victory after the success of pro-pot ballot proposals in several Michigan cities.

Supporters say decriminalization of the drug in Flint, Grand Rapids, and Detroit shows that Michiganders are warming to the idea of a pot-friendly future.

But beyond symbolic value, how will these votes affect the way marijuana is managed and policed throughout the state?

Michigan Radio is venturing into the morass of overlapping local, state, and federal law to determine how the state manages weed.

We begin with a look at the new laws and how other Michigan towns have chosen to regulate marijuana.

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