Oakland County

Allyson Limon / Flickr

Oakland County is launching a new initiative to help grow tech companies. It’s part of the county’s larger effort to diversify its automotive-dominated economy.

Irene Spanos directs economic development for Oakland County. She says it's already home to nearly 2,000 IT and communication firms that employ more than 42,000 people.

“Oakland County goes on these trade missions around the world and we talk about some of the work that some of our tech companies are working on globally – they don’t think that it’s coming from Michigan,” Spanos said, “We need to change that.”

The Detroit Institute of Arts
Flickr

The DIA was left with egg on its face when news broke of double digit pay increases and $50,000 bonuses doled out to each of its top two executives in 2012, just as the DIA got voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties to say "yes" to a special millage to keep its doors open.

Two years ago, Graham Beal, whose compensation is over half a million dollars a year, got a 13% raise. Annmarie Erickson, the DIA's Chief Operating Officer, got a 36% raise.

Now it seems the firestorm of protest has pushed the DIA to re-think this whole "raise and bonus thing."

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) - Officials in Oakland County have estimated flood damage from Monday's rain storm at $337 million, but warn the amount could increase as more assessments are received.

Communities in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties are trying to determine how much the final costs will be after more than 6 inches of rain fell in some areas.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson says Friday that "the damage estimate does not reflect the magnitude of the task that lies ahead" for residents.

via buildingdetroit.org

  First the flood waters, now the concern is about mold.

Many southeast Michigan basements flooded on Monday.

George Miller is the director of Oakland County’s Department of Health and Human Services. He says to avoid mold, homeowners should remove everything damaged by water from their flooded basement.

“The biggest thing is, the faster you can get the water out of your basement and start to dry it out, the less chance you’re going to have for the mold that everybody’s concerned with,” says Miller.

gophouse.org

Later this morning a legislative oversight committee will discuss a new secretive cell phone tracking device the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department is using.

Not much is known about the device.

It can reportedly trick nearby cell phones into providing data to the police. It can be helpful in tracking people, like missing children and fugitives, but it’s not clear how much more information is collected and what the sheriff’s department does with it.

via Oakland County

Two University of Michigan economists say Oakland County should keep up its post-recession job growth through at least 2016.

U of M economists George Fulton and Don Grimes do the annual county-level economic forecast for Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s office every year.

Their current forecast suggests Oakland County will add nearly 43,000 jobs in the next three years. That’s in addition to the roughly 65,000 it’s added since 2009.

Google Maps

People are getting poorer in Oakland County.

This is the major finding of a report released by Lighthouse of Oakland County today. After analyzing census data, Lighthouse President John Ziraldo says that between 2005 and 2012, the number of people living under the federal poverty line has grown about 77 percent. That's 118,000 people now living in poverty in a county whose overall population hasn't changed much in the same time frame, even if the socioeconomics of the people has.

On top of a rise in people living in poverty is a rise in the working poor – people whose income isn't enough to meet basic needs. Ziraldo says these folks often don't qualify for government programs, but they still need help paying bills and getting enough to eat.

"For all of Oakland County, there's probably between 15 and 20 percent of our overall population that really struggles, every month, to meet their basic needs," he says.

Oakland County is expensive, he says. It's the wealthiest county in Michigan, and the Michigan League for Public Policy says the amount of money a three-person family needs to cover the basics is $47,000.

Michigan State University

The latest Michigan community to fall into financial collapse is the tiny half-square mile community of Royal Oak Township, in Oakland County.

Late last month, Gov. Rick Snyder confirmed a financial emergency existed in Royal Oak Township. That cleared the way for action under Michigan's overhauled emergency manager act, PA 436.

What's happened in Royal Oak Township illustrates the changes and options available under PA 436 after voters rejected the previous emergency manager law in November 2012. We wondered if other communities can learn cautionary lessons from the financial troubles of Royal Oak Township.

Eric Scorsone, municipal finance expert from Michigan State University, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

DeBoer Rowse Adoption Legal Fund

A challenge to Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage is coming to an end in federal court. Arguments have ended and we are waiting for a ruling from U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman within the next two weeks. 

The case involves a lesbian couple from Oakland County and their adopted children. The women want legal joint custody of each other's children for purposes of inheritance, benefits and guardianship, should one of them die.

But state law does not allow gay marriage. Michigan passed a constitutional amendment in 2004 banning same-sex marriage. 

Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown wants to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above. 

user aMichiganMom / Flickr

It's Thursday, which means it's time for our weekly check-in with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

And today he's got his eye fixed on the storm clouds that are gathering over the Detroit Institute of Arts. This particular growing cloud comes from the Oakland County.

Daniel Howes joined us today to talk about the troubles the DIA now faces.

Listen to the full interview above.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Deadline set for the removal of pet coke

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has ordered the removal of all petroleum coke from the city's riverfront.  Detroit Bulk Storage must remove the material by Aug. 27.  The Associated Press reports that the storage company failed to move the pet coke by a previous deadline set by Detroit's Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department.

Jackson city employees face layoffs

Some Jackson employees may be laid off after a blow to the city's budget.  The Michigan Court of Appeals struck down Jackson's storm water fee as an illegal tax.  Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports that "since 2011, the city collected more than two million dollars from the fee to pay for street cleaning and leaf pick up. But without the storm water fee revenues, Mayor Martin Griffin says the city will have to cancel those city services and lay off the city employees who performed them."

Oakland County leverages DIA millage

Oakland County is trying to protect its contributions to the Detroit Institute of Arts.  There is concern that the $23 million in annual millage money from several counties may fall into Detroit's creditor's hands rather than the DIA.  Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports that "Oakland County officials have threatened to revoke its portion of the millage if the DIA’s assets are diminished, or if any of that millage money ends up going to pay off the city’s debts."

DIA

Oakland County is looking to protect itself from the potential fallout of Detroit’s bankruptcy.

Specifically, the county wants to make sure a multi-county millage for the Detroit Institute of Arts doesn’t fall into city creditors’ hands.

Voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties passed the special DIA millage—worth about $23 million annually--last year.

http://www.actionfornature.org/

When you're walking in your favorite park, what do you do when you see trash? Plastic bags, empty bottles, and cigarette butts?

Chances are most of us would shake our heads in dismay at the nerve of someone who would deliberately litter like that and keep on walking.

We wanted you to meet an Oakland County teenager who doesn't just keep on walking. She puts on her rubber gloves and picks up other peoples' trash.

17 year old Brianna Moore has just been recognized by a San Francisco group called "Action For Nature." They've given Briana an International Young Eco-Hero Award for her efforts to clean up her community.

Brianna Moore joined us today from her home in Oak Park.

Listen to the full interview above.

Oakland County officials hope their lawsuit against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac goes to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Oakland and Genessee County treasurers are both suing Fannie and Freddie because they didn’t pay millions in so-called “transfer taxes” on a number of real estate deals.

The mortgage giants have claimed that under federal law, they’re exempt from those state and local taxes because they’re government agencies.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

“The Donald” is coming to Oakland County.

The real estate mogul and television star is scheduled to speak today at the Lincoln Day Dinner at the Suburban Collection Showcase convention center in Novi.

Lincoln Day is an annual fundraising event for state and county Republican Party organizations. Tickets to the meal start at $750.

According to the Detroit Free Press:

via flickr

Oakland County is helping neighboring Macomb County get back online after a fire last week.

That suspected electrical fire seriously damaged Macomb’s IT department—shutting down phones and computer networks.

So Oakland County is offering Macomb staff, equipment and space to start re-building.

“Oakland County has opened up its data center to host Macomb County’s equipment and personnel on a temporary basis in order to get Macomb County back online,” says a press release from Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s office.

The Woodward Spine

Some communities in Wayne County have been using tens of thousands of dollars in property tax money intended to support the Detroit Zoo for their own civic improvement projects.

Voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties approved a property tax increase in 2008 to help fund the Detroit Zoo. 

But the Detroit Free Press reports some Wayne County cities have collected the tax and spent it instead on sprucing up their own downtowns.  In some years, the money has added up to more than $200,000.

Sandy Dorey / Oakland County Parks

The new year will come early for some people in Southeast Michigan. Tonight, Oakland County Parks and Recreation will host its annual "Almost New Year's" party.

The two-hour dance is specially created for the county's developmentally disabled adults. The party not only occurs before the year change, but the year-end countdown happens at 8:30 p.m. instead of midnight.

Sandy Dorey created the event. She says older parents and caregivers often don't want to stay out late on New Year's. She says it's also difficult to make reservations for Dec. 31.

"We just thought, 'It's a celebration.' We'd have the hats and everything else, so we just kick it off a few days early," she said.

VickieMarkavitch Twitter

Yesterday, we covered the proposed education overhaul bill that could drastically change the ways students attend school.

Today, we spoke with Dr. Vickie Markavitch about Michigan’s education system and her view of the proposed changes.

Markavitch, a Superintendent of Oakland County Schools, claims the changes would have a negative impact on Michigan’s schools.

“I’ve been an educator for 46 years. I don’t think we can turn over our next generation to something that is ‘anyhow, any one.’ It’s a corporatization of public education. It really has nothing to do with improving achievement,” she said.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The reward for information in the I-96 shooting spree is now over $100 thousand.

Local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies are investigating 25 shooting incidents along the I-96 corridor from Shiawassee County to Oakland County.  There’s only been one minor injury.

Gene Wriggelsworth is Ingham County’s sheriff.   He says More than 600 tips have come into the task force leading the investigation.   There is evidence linking some of the crime scenes, but Wriggelsworth is not ruling out a possible copycat shooter as well.

WIXOM, Mich. (AP) - The Oakland County sheriff says authorities are investigating at least 16 shootings for any common threads in many Michigan communities.

Sheriff Mike Bouchard says no one has been injured but there have been "some very close calls." He told reporters Friday that cars and people appear to be the targets. Shootings have been reported in Oakland, Livingston and Ingham counties.

Bouchard says the shootings occurred Tuesday through Thursday. Someone shot at five vehicles in Wixom in just a few minutes Thursday.

For the last 40 years, two things have been true. Oakland County, home to most of Detroit’s white-collar suburbs, has been Michigan’s richest county. And L. Brooks Patterson has been Oakland’s dominant
personality, first as county prosecutor, then as county executive. When his current term ends in January, he will have held that office for 20 years.


That’s exactly as long as his longtime political enemy, Coleman Young, was Mayor of Detroit. But while Coleman finally retired after 20 years, Brooks is, at age 73, running again.

Oakland County Michigan

2012 just may go down as the year of election fraud in Michigan.  After scandals involving Jase Bolger and Thad McCotter, now it's the case of the two John Scotts.

The elder Scott is the Republican commissioner of Oakland County. He says this summer he heard about another John Scott, this one a 22-year-old Eastern Michigan University college student,  who was gathering signatures to get on the ballot as an independent. 

The candidates for Oakland County Commissioner in the 5th District.
Oakland Co.

Voters in Oakland Co. will see two John Scott's on their ballot this November; one an incumbant Republican, the other an Independent.

The race for Oakland Co. Commissioner in District 5 is between John Scott (R), Alexandria Riley (D), and John Scott (I).

The Oakland County prosecutor's office says it plans to charge John Scott (I) with election fraud over alleged petition-gathering irregularities.

Chief assistant prosecutor Paul Walton says a misdemeanor election fraud warrant would be issued today in Waterford District Court against the independent candidate for commissioner.

John Scott (I) is a 22-year-old Eastern Michigan University college student from West Bloomfield Township.

The incumbent John Scott (R) says his namesake opponent is trying to confuse the election process.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Commissioner Scott said several of his strong supporters had signed the petitions. When he called them to find out more, he learned John Scott was listed as the circulator on some of the petitions, but the people who signed them said a woman had solicited the signature.

Such tactics constitute misdemeanor election fraud, which carries a 93-day maximum jail sentence, said Oakland County chief assistant prosecutor Paul Walton. The warrant will be issued in Waterford District Court today.

Back in July, the incumbent Republican Oakland County Commissioner promised to challenge his namesakes petition gathering tactics.

From the Oakland Press:

Commissioner Scott is seeking a sixth two-year term in a newly drawn district representing parts of Waterford and West Bloomfield townships.

The commissioner says the other Scott’s filing “is just to confuse the election process."

“Naturally we’ll challenge this,” the commissioner said. “It’s fraudulent because there’s friends of mine signing petitions thinking it’s me.”

Back in July, John Scott (I) said he wasn't aware of the issue, “I didn’t really know who was running at first. I just wanted to get my name on the ballot.”

Scott (I) declined to speak with the Detroit Free Press about the issue.

Oakland County is being recognized this week by the Obama administration for economic innovation.  The county implemented shared online services, allowing 40 communities around Southeastern Michigan to implement features like online bill payments and tax assessments.

Phil Bertolini is Chief Information Officer for the county.  He says this allows communities to select and pay for only the things they need.

L. Brooks Patterson addressing the Oakland County Commission.
screen grab of Oakland Co. video

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson was involved in a serious auto accident on August 9 when a VW Passat turned in front of his Chrysler 300:

Patterson and his driver were not wearing seat belts at the time.

Today, Patterson issued the following statement regarding the civil infraction issued by Auburn Hills Police today for not wearing a seatbelt when he was among victims of a crash caused by a VW Passat that turned in front of his Chrysler 300:

Not wearing a seatbelt was a mistake," Patterson said. "I accept my responsibility and paid the $65 fine this afternoon."

After spending five weeks in the hospital, Patterson was released last Friday and it recuperating at home.

Oakland County

Oakland County officials announced this afternoon that County Executive L. Brooks Patterson was discharged today from McLaren Oakland Hospital.

Patterson has spent five weeks in the hospital after he was severely injured in a crash in early August.

From the Oakland Co. press release:

L. Brooks Patterson
L. Brooks Patterson / Facebook.com

L. Brooks Patterson, County Executive of Oakland County, has been hospitalized since he was involved in a car crash on August 1o.

He had surgery to repair broken bones and a gash on his scalp. The Oakland Tribune reported Patterson suffered from two broken wrists, broken ribs, a broken femur, and the injury on his head.

He's been moved to a hospital rehabilitation unit at McLaren Oakland Hospital and is in good spirits, reports the Associated Press.

Patterson and his driver, Jim Cram, were not wearing seatbelts in the crash.

Two people in the other vehicle were also injured in the crash. The driver of that vehicle has been charged.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard says releasing more than 200 prisoners from the overcrowded  County Jail could have been avoided,  if judges had used alternative sentencing.

He  tells The Detroit News he sent a letter to judges earlier this month, notifying them of the "jail emergency and asking for cooperation to help avoid it."

Michigan law requires sentence reductions if prisoners don't pose a high risk.

Bouchard says beds are being used by inmates who don't need to be in jail, and could have been punished differently, avoiding the problem.

Some officials from Oakland County are trying to turn up the heat on Lansing to pay for a special election.

That election was called to replace Congressman Thaddeus McCotter, who resigned last month.

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley called for the September 5th special election to fill out just the few remaining weeks of McCotter’s term. State officials maintain it’s required by law.

But that leaves local governments in suburban Detroit’s 11th district to pick up the tab.

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