Virg Bernero

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Lansing City Council last night approved an ordinance that will require home and business owners to shovel snow from sidewalks faster. 

The capitol city’s old ordinance, which involved mailing citations to property owners, sometimes took so long the snow would melt before the property owner received the notice.    

The new ordinance speeds up the process to 48 hours. 

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says one death last year can be blamed on city residents not shoveling their sidewalks after a snowstorm.

“Life and limb is what’s at stake," says Bernero. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Developers signed an agreement to build a quarter-billion dollar housing and retail complex in Lansing today.

Now they just have to figure out how to build it in a floodplain.

The Red Cedar Renaissance project is intended to transform an old golf course on Lansing’s east side into shopping and dining mecca with a mix of apartments and parkland. 

Developers plan to spend $200 million on the project. Another $76 million is earmarked for dealing with the problem that has long stalled development plans:  flooding.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing’s mayor may have real ‘power’ at his fingertips at times of emergency, if city voters agree in November.

Tens of thousands of Lansing Board of Water and Light customers spent days in the dark last December after a major ice storm.   The utility’s leadership was heavily criticized for a disorganized response to the black out. 

BWL’s response to the storm and its aftermath were the subject of reviews by a panel appointed by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, the state Public Service Commission and by the utility itself.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Lansing is launching an effort to coordinate programs aimed at improving the lives of young people, especially children of color.

Mayor Virg Bernero says the community must work together to provide better opportunities for children and young adults.

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

A U.S. Supreme Court decision this week may pave the way for casino gambling in Michigan’s capitol city.

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero says a $245 million casino project has been “cleared for takeoff” by the high court’s decision in a different casino case.

State officials sued to close an off-reservation casino opened by the Bay Mills tribe. But the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday ruled against the state of Michigan, saying the tribe has sovereign immunity.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The bulk of the Lansing Police Department will move into a temporary home this summer.

Mayor Virg Bernero announced today the city will spend about $1 million to renovate and lease part of the Hill Center on the city’s south side.

The city’s current lease at the Motor Wheel complex on the city’s north side expires in August. Lansing has leased that space for more than a decade.

The new lease is only for four years.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says after nine years of deep budget cuts, the capitol city finally is entering a new fiscal year with a balanced budget.

Bernero unveiled his proposed city budget for next year last night.    

Bernero credits an uptick in property and city income tax revenues for the city’s improved budget picture.  

During the last nine years, the city of Lansing has trimmed its workforce by more than 30% and won contract concessions from its unions.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Manufacturers are taking advantage of lower domestic oil and gas prices, and many of them are using those cost savings to hire more workers.

The boom in domestic oil and natural gas production is fueling growth in manufacturing across the country and especially in urban areas, according to a new report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Lansing is stepping up enforcement of its snow removal ordinance.

About 5% of Lansing sidewalks, roughly 22 miles, are still covered in snow in violation of city ordinance

Beginning today, Lansing police officers are ticketing homeowners and businesses that haven’t shoveled their sidewalks clean of snow.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says this is a safety issue for school children and the elderly.

“This winter….these difficult winter conditions are harder on nobody more than the walker,” says Bernero.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero used his State of the City speech Thursday to make a pitch for state funding to repair local roads.

Mayor Virg Bernero says the city of Lansing plans to spend three million dollars this year to repair pot hole covered roads in the capitol city. 

But the mayor says the city would have to spend five times that much each year for a decade to fix all of Lansing’s road problems.

In his speech, Bernero called on state lawmakers to use part of the state’s billion dollar budget surplus to help repair local roads across Michigan.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Lansing City Council picked a new president last night.

It’s a routine bit of government business that in recent years has been anything but routine.

Sharp divisions between the supporters and opponents of Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero have made the selection of a council president quite contentious during the past few years. Two years ago, the council needed a dozen votes to select a president. Last year, the selection process was rife with angry accusations.

But last night, A’Lynne Boles was elected president with little drama.  

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing’s mayor wants an independent review of how the city’s utility handled a major power outage last month.

The Lansing Board of Water and Light has been criticized for the long wait many of its customers had before their electricity was restored after the Dec. 22 ice storm. About 40% of BWL’s customers lost power after the storm. Many had to wait for more than a week to have their lights turned back on.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

As Michigan descends into an arctic freeze, many cities and towns are struggling to clean up after Sunday’s big snowstorm.

“It’s just too dangerous for city residents to be outdoors,” Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero told reporters at a news conference today.

Bernero said many residential streets in Lansing are “impassable.”

“As we all remember from the 2011 storm, it takes a minimum of a couple days to clear all 440 miles of roads in the city,” Bernero said. “It will take at least a couple days this time as well. So we ask city residents to please be patient. Be safe.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

UPDATE 8:06pm

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) - Winter has arrived in Michigan with an icy blast, sending freezing rain across a wide section of the Lower Peninsula, knocking out electrical service to at least 382,000 homes and businesses and causing multiple crashes around the state.

The state's largest utilities say it will be days before most of those blacked out get their power back because of the difficulty of working around ice-broken lines.

Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

A federal appeals court has lifted an injunction that was standing in the way of a casino in downtown Lansing.

The Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians wants to build a casino next to Lansing’s convention center.

Michigan’s Attorney General asked for and got a federal court to prevent the tribe from moving ahead with its plans. The attorney general says the tribe’s casino would violate agreements between the state and Michigan’s Native American tribes.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero says he hopes Tuesday’s election results will put an end to “sniping” in city politics.

Bernero easily won his third term as the capitol city’s mayor.  His slate of city council candidates also won. 

Bernero says the results show voters want to end the gridlock on the Lansing city council.

“This is realignment.  This is the voters saying to the council ‘Get with the program’.”]

Bernero believes it’s his ‘program’ the voters want.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Michigan Secretary of State’s office is investigating allegations that Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero’s re-election campaign may have violated state election law by funneling money to a city council candidate.

State law (Section 44 of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act) forbids paying individuals money with the understanding that the money will be donated to a political campaign.   That’s what a complaint filed with the state claims the Bernero re-election campaign did back in June.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Lansing city council Monday night will spend some time trying to prioritize how the city should spend its money.

The city council is required to deliver its budget priorities for the year ahead to the mayor’s office by October First.

Carol Wood is the Lansing city council president.

She says the mayor’s office is supposed to incorporate the council’s priorities as it begins the process of drafting the next fiscal year’s budget.

Wood says the council is looking at a wide variety of ideas. 

Everyone knows, of course, that Rick Snyder was elected governor three years ago. And by now it is safe to say that everyone has an opinion about him. Some think he is saving the state.

Others are vowing to do everything they can to prevent him from winning a second term. But stop for a minute.

Do you remember who Snyder defeated to be elected governor in the first place? Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, the Democratic nominee in what was an impossible year for his party.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

As expected, the Lansing city council last night failed to muster enough votes to override the mayor’s budget veto.

But Lansing’s budget drama is not over yet.

The Lansing city council needed six votes to reinstate the changes it made to the city budget last month.

But only five council members voted to override Mayor Virg Bernero’s veto.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Lansing city council is expected to try to override the mayor’s budget vetoes tonight. But the council does not appear to have enough votes to do it.

The Lansing city council made many changes to Mayor Virg Bernero’s spending plan for next year when it passed the budget last month.    A few days later, the mayor vetoed all the council’s changes.    Now it’s the council's chance to respond.  

Six of the council's eight members would need to vote to override the vetoes.   That appears unlikely.   

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero today vetoed all the changes the city council made to his budget plan for next year.

The city council passed a budget on Monday that axed many of the mayor’s spending priorities in order to avoid new streetlight and fire hydrant fees.  The fees would have added up to about 46 dollars a year for the average Lansing Board of Water and Light residential customer. 

Money for road repairs, economic development, city IT services and personnel hiring were among the line items the city council axed from the budget. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has a long list of items he plans to veto in the budget passed by the city council last night.   

The Lansing city council struggled for three hours trying to agree on amendments to the proposed city budget for next year.  

The numbers got so confused, the council took a forty minute break to give the city’s finance director time to figure out if the budget was still balanced, as it’s legally required to be.

Mayor Virg Bernero says the meeting was extremely disorganized.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Legislation in Michigan House could cap FOIA fees

There is new legislation up for initial hearing this week in Lansing. It is a response to local governments and state agencies charging hefty fees for people to see government records.

"One of the bills would limit most charges for requests filed under the state’s Freedom of Information Act to no more than 10 cents a page. Another would create a Michigan Open Government Commission to hear challenges to government denials of information requests," Michigan Radio's Rick Pluta reports.

Lansing City Council vs. Mayor Virg Bernero

The Lansing city council will vote tonight on a budget for next year. Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports that "the vote will likely put the council at odds with Mayor Virg Bernero." 

The mayor wants to add annual fees for city water and electricity customers. Conversely, the council wants to make several spending cuts including eliminating several new positions the mayor wants to add to the city's payroll. Mayor Virg Bernero will have until Thursday to veto parts of the city budget he doesn’t like. The Lansing city council has until early June to try to override the mayor’s expected vetoes.

Higher education opportunities piloted in Michigan prisons

"After years without funding for prisoners to access higher education, the Michigan Department of Corrections is immersed in several efforts to teach community college courses and vocational training in-house to a small number of inmates who are near parole. Michigan will join a pilot project that hopes to gather enough evidence to possibly resurrect publicly supported postsecondary education in prisons nationally," reports The Detroit News.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Lansing city council votes tonight on a budget for next year.

The vote will likely put the council at odds with Mayor Virg Bernero.

The mayor wants to fill a five million dollar hole in the 2014 budget, with added annual fees for city water and electricity customers. The money would pay for streetlights and fire hydrants.

Last week, the city council dumped the fees from the budget.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Lansing city council has rejected a plan to increase fees on city utility customers.

Today the city council approved a budget plan that axes the 46-dollar utility fee and several million dollars in spending in the mayor’s proposed budget for next year. Final council approval is expected Monday night.

“I think many of us had heard the concerns that people wanted to make sure we were making the cuts that needed to be made,” says Carol Wood, Lansing city council president.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says he wants four more years in office. He formally announced his campaign today. 

“I’m telling you folks … Lansing is on the verge,” the partisan crowd groaned, and then laughed, as Virg Bernero joked at his campaign kickoff.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Time is running out for the Lansing city council to come up with changes to the mayor’s budget proposal for next year. 

The city council must approve a budget plan in two weeks.   Council members have been poring over the mayor’s 112 million dollar budget proposal for the past month.

Carol Wood is the Lansing city council president. She says there are some items that could be cut from the budget. 

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

U.S. Supreme Court looks at affirmative action case in Michigan

"The U.S. Supreme Court will review Michigan’s ban on race- and gender-based affirmative action in university admissions. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is defending the amendment to the state constitution. It was adopted by voters in 2006," Rick Pluta reports.

Flint City Council takes steps to remove EM

"The Flint City Council is asking Governor Rick Snyder to remove the city’s emergency manager and phase out state control of its finances. The council unanimously approved a measure last night to request a state-appointed transition board to oversee the city’s finances," Jake Neher reports.

Lansing Mayor wants residents to pay more for utilities to help with city budget

"Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero wants to close the city’s looming budget deficit by asking city utility customers to pay another $46 a year. Bernero delivered his $112 million proposed budget to the city council last night," Steve Carmody reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing’s mayor is proposing its municipal utility customers pay more to balance the city’s budget next year.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero outlined his budget plan to the city council last night.   Bernero says the city’s budget problems are not quite as serious as expected.    The mayor says better than expected property tax collections and lower than expected city employee health care costs had cut the project budget deficit in half.

Still, Bernero says the city needs to close about a five million dollar budget gap.

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