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Michigan Civil Rights Commission

Defer Elementary School in Grosse Pointe Park.
Appraiser / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Public schools in Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham are already charging tuition for students outside the district who want to attend. Now, because of budget cuts and declining enrollment, it looks like Grosse Pointe Public Schools might follow suit.

A Flint water meeting in January 2015.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission wants the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a case against Gov. Snyder.

That’s what commissioners decided with a 5-0 vote Tuesday. They ordered the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to file an amicus brief urging the high court to review the issues raised in the case Bellant v. Snyder.

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A long-time top Environmental Protection Agency official worries proposed cuts in the federal agency’s budget will hurt cities like Flint.

Mustafa Ali resigned this week as the EPA’s Chief Environmental Justice official.   He helped create the job two decades ago.  Ali  says he’s leaving the agency because of the Trump administration’s plans to cut the EPA’s budget by more than 20%.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission is out with a report on the Flint water crisis that its authors intend will ensure that “another Flint does not happen again."

Commission chair Arthur Horwitz thanked Flint residents for sharing their stories during their year-long investigation.

“At a time when you placed  trust in virtually no government entity, you looked at this commission and department … and provided us with an opportunity to earn your trust,” says Horwitz.

“You are our last hope,” Flint resident Tony Palladino told the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission report on the Flint water crisis will likely not recommend a lawsuit to seek remediation for people affected by the city’s lead-tainted tap water.

The commissioners received a draft report yesterday. The final report will not be made public until next month.

The commission held three public hearings in Flint in 2016, taking testimony from city residents and others. Beyond the water crisis, the panel also examined Flint’s housing and other issues.

Flint river
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Members of the Civil Rights Commission say there is evidence the Flint water crisis was partially the result of discrimination.

The Commission is working on a report that will include policy change recommendations to prevent similar problems. It's evaluating the water crisis from a civil rights perspective, and is looking at a finding of Governor Rick Snyder's Flint Water Advisory Task Force.

The Task Force found that environmental injustice played a role in the crisis and how it was handled. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission is getting down to work on a final report on the Flint water crisis.

The process began roughly nine months ago when the commission decided to examine what factors may have contributed to the crisis. 

On Thursday, the commission held its third and final public hearing into allegations that classism and racism were root causes of the city’s lead-tainted drinking water.

Commission co-chair Arthur Horwitz says now the important work begins, putting together their findings in a final report.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s top civil rights officials held their first a public hearing on the Flint water crisis today.

Dozens of Flint residents told their stories to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.

“This is not a black or white thing,” Flint resident Tony Palladino testified, “because this water is killing all of us.”

Other speakers complained about racism, water rates, real estate red-lining, and Gov. Rick Snyder.

The commissioners noted a task force set up by Gov. Snyder called Flint’s water crisis an example of “environmental injustice."

Civil rights hearings planned on Flint water crisis

Jan 27, 2016
The Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission will investigate whether the Flint drinking water crisis has violated the civil rights of Flint residents. 

The bipartisan commission unanimously passed a resolution yesterday to hold at least three public hearings, the first of which is expected to take place within 30 days.

"The Commission decided that under the state constitution, as well as the Elliott-Larsen Act, to conduct hearings to try to learn more if discrimination may have occurred," said commission co-chair Arthur Horwitz. 

thetoad / Flickr

The woman who wrote and championed Michigan’s groundbreaking Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act has died.

Daisy Elliott was a state representative from Detroit for nearly two decades.

Fellow lawmakers remembered her as a quiet, gracious woman who fiercely opposed discrimination of any kind.

Her years-long campaign for state-level civil rights protections finally paid off in 1977, when the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act became law with bipartisan support. It declared:

Casino Connection / Flickr

In 1963, Michigan voters approved a new state constitution which set up the first Civil Rights Commission in U.S. history.

The Commission works to ensure each citizen receives equal protection without discrimination

Today, fifty years after the creation of the Commission, Matt Wesaw runs the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. A former state trooper, Wesaw is the first Native American to lead the Civil Rights Department.

Wesaw met with us in the studio to discuss the future of civil rights in Michigan.

Listen to the full interview above.

Casino Connection / Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The new executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights is starting his job this week in Lansing.

Matt Wesaw will begin Monday. He was chosen for the position by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission earlier in October.

Wesaw fills the vacancy left by the retirement Daniel Krichbaum in July.

With his selection, Wesaw is the first Native American to lead the Civil Rights Department. He plans to retire from his positions as chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and president and CEO of the Pokagon Gaming Authority.

Infrastructure and corrections funding are two of the hottest topics in Lansing these days.
Matthileo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission has announced that Matt Wesaw will be the new Executive Board Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

Wesaw will be the first Native American to lead MDCR. He has chosen to retire as Chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and President and CEO of the Pokagon Gaming Authority to take this position. In the past, he was a Michigan state police trooper, and a director for the Michigan State Police Troopers Association. He also served on the Commission of Indian Affairs and won the Native American Financial Officers Association's Tribal Leader of the Year award in 2012.

The U.S. Department of Education has dismissed a complaint from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights over schools’ use of American Indian mascots.

The civil rights department had argued that the images hurt Native American students’ academic performance, and create an unequal learning environment.

But federal education officials say opponents of Indian mascots and logos need to prove that they create a hostile environment for Native American students.

A new draft report finds allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians hurts Michigan’s economy. The state’s Civil Rights Commission is reviewing the report and might take action.

In Michigan it’s legal to discriminate against people who are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender. Housing and job discrimination are a couple of the examples that are allowed by law.

Litandmore / Creative Commons

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission wants public input about bullying. The commission works to prevent and investigate discrimination complaints under state civil rights laws. It’s holding a series of forums across the state to collect the information in hopes of tackling what they say is a growing problem.