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lansing

Lansing's city hall
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing’s outgoing mayor wants to sell city hall and find a new home for the city's offices.    

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero today formally asked for proposals from businesses interested in turning Lansing City Hall’s downtown location into a hotel, office space, residential units or retail space.  He’s also asking for a plan to relocate city offices elsewhere.

A few of the items you can check out at the Capital Area District Library's "Library of Things"
Screenshot from CADL.org

The Next Idea

We think of borrowing from a library and what comes to mind? Books. DVDs. CDs.

Now, through the Capital Area District Libraries in Lansing, you can check out a badminton set, a GoPro camera,  a thermal leak detector or even a sewing machine. Those are just some of the items that they have available in the CADL's Library of Things.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing-area churches are banding together to provide sanctuary to immigrants fighting deportation.

“I officially declare, as of this moment, that All Saints Episcopal Church is a sanctuary church,” Pastor Kit Carlson said, standing in front of her East Lansing church Thursday afternoon. She and other religious leaders announced what they call a community sanctuary effort in the Lansing area.  

Archives of Michigan

 


 

May 18 marks the 90th anniversary of largest school massacre in U.S. history. On that day in 1927, in Bath, Michigan, 38 elementary school children and six adults were killed and nearly 60 others were injured. Andrew Philip Kehoe had packed 100 pounds of dynamite and blown up half of a school. 

A photograph of the Michigan Capitol building
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio file photo

Lansing's City Council did an about-face last night. 

The Council reversed its earlier unanimous decision to declare Lansing a "sanctuary city". The 5-2 vote means the city is not a sanctuary for immigrants, particularly undocumented immigrants.

The Trump Administration has threatened to punish sanctuary cities by withholding federal funds.

The Michigan and Lansing Chambers of Commerce had been urging Lansing's City Council to rescind that earlier resolution.

Rich Studley, the president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, joined Stateside to explain why they rejected the resolution.

Lansing City Hall building
Michigan State Historic Preservation Office / Flickr

The Michigan and Lansing Chambers of Commerce are urging city council members to rescind a resolution which declares Lansing a "sanctuary city."

In a letter sent to the Lansing City Council Thursday, business leaders wrote that they want the declaration removed because it sends the wrong message.

Tim Daman, president and CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Rich Studley, president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber wrote:

Michigan History Center

The story of how Lansing became our state capital starts when Michigan is in its infancy – back in the early 1800s.

When Michigan became a territory in 1805, Detroit was named territorial capital – and for good reason.

“It was the largest city, certainly, and it was also accessible by water, which was very important in an era when roads are, at best, terrible in most places,” said Valerie Marvin, Michigan state Capitol historian.

Potter Park Zoo

Potter Park, Michigan's oldest public zoo, is working to preserve one of the world's most critically endangered species. Now it's waiting on approval to transport an eastern black rhino male from Texas, in hopes that it may breed with of the zoo's female rhinos.

The Ingham county board of commissioners must approve the cost of the move before the zoo can proceed.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Women's Hall of Fame welcomed its latest group of honorees late last year.

Among the five contemporary honorees was Olivia Letts. She was the first African-American teacher hired by the Lansing School District. She started that job in 1951 and from there, Letts spent her life as an advocate for education, community service and civil rights.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

After 12 years as Lansing’s mayor, Virg Bernero says he won’t seek re-election this fall.

Bernero says he will step down as mayor when his term ends in 10 months, citing his family as his reason to not seek re-election.

During his tenure, the Capitol city has weathered the Great Recession, which forced deep budget cuts due to lost tax revenue. Nevertheless, Bernero says Lansing received millions of dollars of economic development during that time as well.

Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Formerly nicknamed the “Dan Gilbert bills” after the prominent Detroit businessman and developer, legislation to give developers a tax incentive for building on blighted land sailed through a full Senate vote and is now awaiting a hearing in the House.  

The same kind of incentives came up in Lansing last year. But they didn’t go anywhere, because some lawmakers were worried it would only help big cities like Detroit.

This time, supporters on both sides of the aisle say the legislation is for cities big and small.

The state of Michigan hasn't had a poet laureate since 1959 when Edgar Guest (pictured in 1935) passed away.
Wikipedia / NBC Radio

Pop quiz: Who is the poet laureate of Michigan?
 

Sorry, but that's a trick question. The state hasn't had a state poet laureate since Edgar Guest died in 1959.

So, we're getting piecemeal poets laureates around the state – in the Upper Peninsula, Detroit and Grand Rapids, for instance. Now, add Lansing to that list.

For the first time, the poetry community in our Capitol city is searching for Lansing's own poet laureate.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

It took two weeks, but the Lansing city council finally has a president.

The deeply divided city council ended its deadlock last night, when it picked Councilwoman Patricia Spitzley to fill its vacant president’s chair.

The new council president is hopeful the eight-member board can now move forward after the sometimes-personal debate.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Lansing city council remains deadlocked over who should lead them this year.

Last night, the council tried and failed again to break a four-four split on the vote for council president. It was the third straight meeting they failed to do their first job of the new year.

City Clerk Chris Swope says the council can’t just flip a coin or pick a name out of a hat.

“They do have to agree. They have to come to some consensus,” Swope said after the meeting, “and that’s what the framers of the charter had in mind.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

In Lansing, the city council will try again tomorrow to pick a new leader.

The council traditionally picks a new president in January. And as is somewhat traditional, they’re having trouble agreeing on who it should be.

The council has met twice already this year, but no one has garnered enough votes to win the center seat on the council horseshoe. Tuesday’s meeting will give the 8 council members a chance to break their deadlock.

This is a pivotal year for the Lansing city council, with four seats up for election this fall.

state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The state's 138-year-old state Capitol building needs $62 million in urgent repairs to its infrastructure, according to the Capitol Commission, which is responsible for overseeing the building and the grounds.

Chairman Gary Randall says there was a big effort to fix the building in the 1980's and 1990's.

state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It is now a new year. With the State House and Senate adjourned until Jan. 11, it's time to get our bearings on what’s likely to be bubbling away on Lansing’s front burner this year.

Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics team of Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta joined Stateside to discuss.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A Kansas City-based developer is buying nearly 260 acres of former General Motors land in Lansing.

The vacant land is being sold by the Racer Trust, which is disposing of GM properties separated from the automaker during its 2009 bankruptcy. 

Chad Meyer is the CEO of NorthPoint Development. He says the company plans to redevelop the land for industrial use, but declined to give specifics or a timetable.

“It’s typically [the] more manufacturing investment intensive [the] project is, the longer it takes to get those details worked through,” says Meyer.

Portland General Electric / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Last week, amid the frenzy that followed the presidential election, the Michigan Senate passed a pair of bills that would mean a dramatic overhaul of Michigan’s energy policy. The bills, which still have to make it through the Michigan House of Representatives, would be the first new energy policy in Michigan since 2008.

We spoke with Rick Pluta, Michigan Radio’s Lansing Bureau Chief, about the new legislation. He told us that, although the two bills both had bipartisan support and passed by wide margins, they also have detractors.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Medical marijuana growers in Lansing may soon have to register with city, if they use an “excessive” amount of electricity.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is proposing an ordinance to require people who continuously use 5000 kilowatts of electricity to register with the city.   

“We have seen a number of cases where the growing equipment used to cultivate medical marijuana overloads the electrical circuits in the home,” says Bernero. “This, of course, creates a fire hazard.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Voters in Flint and Lansing approved renewals of their public safety millages.

Flint police chief Tim Johnson says renewing the millage will help expand the number of officers on Flint’s streets.

“For the last probably four or five months, I’ve really been stretching the Flint police officers across the board and I don’t want them to hit no burnout stage,” says Johnson, “but I can see that coming if we don’t get some more officers in there.”

A Flint firefighters teaches adult volunteers how to escape from a smoky home.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Next week, people in Flint, Lansing and Royal Oak will vote on renewing public safety millages.

Flint police officers are spending their off-duty hours handing out information to promote the vote. Last night, firefighters showed volunteers how to escape a smoky fire, while city officials talked up the millage renewal.  

The renewal vote could be the difference between Flint hiring new firefighters or layoffs.

Artist's conception of proposed Lansing casino.
Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Next month’s presidential election is causing some concern for those backing a proposed casino in downtown Lansing.

More than two years ago, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians asked the U.S. Interior Department to take some land in Lansing into trust for the tribe. 

The tribe wants to build a casino on land next to Lansing’s convention center, but nothing can happen until the Interior Department decided whether or not to take the land into trust.

Homeless man
SamPac / creative commons

The last residents in Lansing’s homeless hotel are moving out today.

The owners of the Magnuson hotel announced in August that they were evicting more than a hundred people. The owners said they were closing the south side hotel so it could be renovated. They gave the residents two weeks to move out.

“Most of the people have some type of disability or no jobs,” says Joan Jackson Johnson, Lansing’s director of Human Relations and Human Services. 

Holman told us some of the top jobs in Michigan are for CNC operators and welders, but employers are having a hard time filling those positions.
flickr user David Urbonas / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

The message we’ve been hearing in Michigan is pretty consistent: employers are having a hard time filling jobs that pay well – jobs that rely on skills in science, math, technology, arts and engineering.

Chris Holman is leading a push to make mid-Michigan’s capital region a national leader in STEAM education and fields.

Holman is CEO of the Michigan Business Network and the Chair of T3: Teach. Talent. Thrive.

T3 released a report last week regarding the “State of STEAM” in mid-Michigan right now.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A federal lawsuit alleges the chairman of Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees is running a “racketeering enterprise” in Lansing. The suit targets Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and MSU Board of Trustees Chairman Joel Ferguson, among others.

“This is about an elaborate extortion scheme over a project that some say is worth as much at $380 million,” attorney Mike Cox said.

Cox filed the suit on behalf of two businessmen who pitched the development project in 2012. But he says Ferguson used his political influence to win the project instead.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

An Ingham County judge has issued a temporary restraining order blocking a Lansing hotel from evicting nearly 100 homeless people.  

The owners of the Magnuson Hotel say they want to close for needed renovations.

But the city of Lansing sought the injunction to delay the closing by up to 120 days, saying it needs that much time to relocate dozens of homeless men, women and children living there.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has not spoken about why Lansing's former city attorney Janene McIntyre resigned, nor why she was given $160,000 in salary and accrued benefits upon doing so.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has taken an unusual step – he’s declared a housing emergency in the Capitol city.

The declaration comes after a south side Lansing hotel informed dozens and dozens of residents they’ll be evicted in just the next few weeks.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing’s mayor has taken the unusual step of declaring a housing emergency in the Capitol city.

Mayor Virg Bernero declared the emergency after a hotel on the city's south side informed dozens of residents they will be evicted in the next few weeks.

The main field at Urbandale Farm used to be a vacant lot filled with downed trees. It’s now used to grow a variety of flowers, herbs and vegetables.
Daniel Rayzel / Michigan Radio

Just a few minutes away from our state Capitol building rests Lansing’s Urbandale neighborhood – an area trapped in the city’s 100-year floodplain.

The floodplain designation led to rising insurance costs, abandoned homes, and vacant lots overgrown with trees. Locals took it upon themselves to make the best of the situation by growing some fruits and veggies, and starting Urbandale Farm.

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