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Isle Royale Queen IV
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Isle Royale is the least visited of our national parks, but it's also one of the most revisited. The pandemic threw a curveball at the Lake Superior island. Ferry service was suspended due to the pandemic, making it nearly impossible for visitors to travel to the island. Restrictions on ferry service have now lifted, but the island has changed in unique ways due to human inactivity.

Unsplash

Today on Stateside, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has lifted the mask mandate for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Two political strategists discuss the move and break down the latest news from Lansing. Also, an update on the sexual assault allegations against the late Robert Anderson, who was a physician at the University of Michigan for decades. And, two park rangers on what’s in store for Isle Royale this year as ferry service to the remote island resumes.

A bald eagle was rescued in Ann Arbor after being found tangled in fishing line
Howell Nature Center Facebook page

A bald eagle was rescued in Ann Arbor after being found tangled in fishing line.

The wire was wrapped around his wing, tying him to a log where he was trapped.

The Humane Society of Huron Valley made the rescue and did an initial exam. They found no major injuries.

The eagle was transported to the Howell Nature Center for further care and rehabilitation.

The Detroit skyline as seen from across the Detroit River.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s Election Commission voted Thursday to put the question of a revised city charter on the August ballot.

The charter revision question has been controversial, and sparked a battle between Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and charter commissioners. Duggan argues some of the proposed changes would drain city finances, and put it back under state control.

workers in the front yard of a home replacing lead pipes
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

President Biden wants to spend more than two trillion dollars rebuilding the nation’s aging infrastructure. One chunk of that would replace all lead pipes connecting homes to city water mains.

"Everybody remembers what happened in Flint, there's hundreds of Flints all across America," Biden said.

The experience of Flint, Michigan, is not only a cautionary tale about the dangers of letting infrastructure decay. But it’s also a warning about the challenges of fixing the country’s lead pipe problem.

gravel mining
Adobe Stock

Supporters and opponents of bills to remove local control over gravel mines testified at a hearing in the state Senate Thursday.

The bills would have the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy approve or deny permits, instead of villages, townships and cities.  

The sponsor of the bills, Democratic Senator Jim Ananich, admitted there were no gravel mines in his district. He also said he had not met with township officials while the bill was being drafted. 

Jamie Capp helps, from left to right, Margaret Clark, Diane Chisholm and Betty Doyle keep a balloon aloft at New Hope Valley assisted living near Saginaw. They've only recently resumed activities like this after months of isolation waiting for COVID-19 va
Brett Dahlberg / WCMU

Three women in their 80s and 90s sat around a table together last month, taking swipes at a bright yellow balloon emblazoned with a smiley face.

Margaret Clark, Diane Chisholm and Betty Doyle are residents at New Hope Valley, an assisted living facility just outside Saginaw.

Their game of keep-the-balloon-off-the-floor was overseen by Jamie Capp, who said it was a bit of physical therapy to get upper-body muscles moving and practice hand-eye coordination.

But Clark, Chisholm and Doyle have only recently been able to start playing this game again.

Courtesy of the Michigan History Center

In your travels throughout Michigan, you might have noticed small, century-old buildings bearing the word “Grange.” If you live in a rural area in Michigan, you may be familiar with these buildings and know what their purpose is. But if not, you might be wondering: what’s a Grange?

So it turns out that rebooting an economy after the shock and lingering effects of a global pandemic is not easy. In fact, it's pretty stilted and awkward.

All this has people understandably frustrated. Many have money to spend, but with limited options. Service industries (such as restaurants, resorts, and hotels) cannot attract enough low-wage workers to staff up. And many manufactured items (such as furniture, appliances, and automobiles) are simply not available because of disrupted supply chains.

John U. Bacon

About 15 months ago, former student-athletes at the University of Michigan accused a former U of M doctor of sexually abusing them during medical exams.

The university’s leaders hired a pre-eminent law firm, WilmerHale, to interview Anderson’s patients and colleagues, examine files, and sort out what happened. They are about to award hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, and have enacted reforms to ensure this never happens again – but that's probably little consolation for the hundreds of survivors. 


blank vaccine registration cards sitting on a table
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Today, on Stateside, we discuss the legality of requiring employees to get a vaccine. Plus, a doctor in training writes about her time at a Detroit hospital during the early months of the pandemic.

[Get Stateside on your phone: subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts today.]

elderly person in wheelchair holding hands with another person
Adobe Stock

A state Senate committee issued a subpoena Thursday to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. It requires the department to share tens of thousands of documents related to the state’s response to the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes and other congregate care facilities.

More than 5,000 people in those facilities have died from COVID. That's just a little less than a third of Michigan's total COVID deaths.

Adobe Stock

This week, Michigan passed the first of the COVID-19 vaccination benchmarks set by the Whitmer administration. Now that 55% of eligible Michiganders have had at least one shot, the state will lift in-person workplace restrictions on May 24.

Telephone
user mconnors / morgueFile

Operators of domestic abuse hotlines across the state say more women are calling them in crisis, as pandemic stress has led to more violence at home.

Eric Stiles, a program director with the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, says they’ve documented an increase in survivors of abuse who have called their statewide hotline in 2021, compared to last year.

The head of a major hospital in Windsor, Ontario wants Michigan to give up some of its surplus COVID-19 vaccines.

David Musyj, CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital, has submitted an emergency application to Health Canada’s special access program. Health Canada is the country’s equivalent of the U.S Food and Drug Administration, and the program allows Canada to procure life-saving drugs abroad if they’re in short supply there.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

On Thursday, environmental groups and Native Americans plan to present Enbridge Energy with symbolic eviction notices. They want Enbridge to abide by Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s order to shut down Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac.

a person holds a vaccine vial
Adobe Stock

Michigan has reached a COVID-19 vaccination benchmark that will soon let people go back to work in the office in person.

55% of the state's eligible population has gotten at least one shot.

The benchmark achieved this week clears the way for a Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Administration order allowing a return to office work.

MIOSHA could give the go ahead to start by the final week of May.

crowds at Ann Arbor Art Fair
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

There will be no Ann Arbor Art Fair for the second year in a row due to the pandemic.

The directors of the three fairs that comprise the annual event held each July in Ann Arbor made the joint decision, saying they couldn’t find a way to make it happen under the State of Michigan’s pandemic restrictions.

Courtesy of Jackson Smith

Wishing you could just go to a concert, listen to your favorite local bands, and relax on a Saturday night? There’s a new weekly radio show, coming to you from the Beaver Island airwaves, that might just meet your Michigan music needs during this socially distanced time. Out in the middle of Lake Michigan, between the Lower and Upper Peninsulas, a new low-watt radio program called Songs from the Trail is broadcasting on WVBI 100.1 FM. And it’s all about Michigan-centric music.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

Today on Stateside, why one maker of PFAS chemicals is challenging Michigan’s protections for drinking water. Plus, an international standoff is brewing over Enbridge Energy's Line 5 oil pipeline. And, two Beaver Island residents send out a radio program from the middle of Lake Michigan.

Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard fears a wave of civil lawsuits if qualified immunity was taken away.Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan RadioEdit | Remove

A group of top law enforcement officials in Southeast Michigan are coming out against a push in Congress to do away with “qualified immunity.”

“Qualified immunity” is a legal doctrine that shields government officials from being held personally liable for damages so long as the officials did not violate clearly established law.

The prospect of changes to the law is raising concerns among law enforcement officials, who fear a wave of civil lawsuits if “qualified immunity” protections are stripped away.  They predict the litigation could bankrupt local governments. 

wood gavel in front of book
sergign / Adobe Stock

In 2018, the Republican-led lame duck legislature prevented  minimum wage and sick time laws from getting on Michiganders' ballots by adopting the proposals and then gutting them. Now, a new lawsuit is asking a court to overturn then-Attorney General Bill Schuette's opinion that the move was legal, and implement the original proposals.

A wide angle shot of the Capitol Building in Lansing
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The overarching sentiment from the public comment period was the same – don’t divide my community into more than one political district.

70 residents attended Michigan Citizen Redistricting Committee's (MICRC) first public hearing Tuesday night in Jackson in-person to deliver public comment. Michael Smith repeated a sentiment that was shared often: boundaries between new political districts shouldn’t cut through existing school districts.

REAL ID driver's license
Michigan Secretary of State

A set of bills aimed at restoring drivers’ licenses for immigrants in Michigan was reintroduced Tuesday in the state legislature during a virtual press conference.

If passed, the Drive SAFE plan (Safety, Access, Freedom, and the Economy) would allow more than 100,000 immigrants, including those who are undocumented, to apply for a driver’s license in Michigan.

PFAS foam on lakeshore
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Minnesota-based company 3M is suing the state of Michigan over its regulations of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or the PFAS family of chemicals. Michigan's regulations on PFAS in drinking water were finalized in August 2020, and are among the most stringent in the country.

U of M Bentley Historical Library

The late Doctor Robert Anderson committed sexual misconduct on “countless occasions” during his nearly four decades at the University of Michigan.

That’s the conclusion of an independent investigation conducted by the firm WilmerHale, and released on Tuesday.

young Black teen receives a vaccine in his right arm
Seventyfour / Adobe Stock

Now that the FDA has expanded its emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, allowing it to be used for kids 12-15, the whole thing gets kicked over to the CDC’s advisory council on Wednesday.

The Advisory Council on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has scheduled an emergency meeting for Wednesday to talk about best practices, or “clinical considerations and implementation” for getting this vaccine to kids.

Picture of the Lansing capitol building
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A legislative committee is moving ahead with measures to enact stricter ethics standards for Michigan lawmakers and the people who work for them, including restraints on the ability to move directly from the Legislature to lobbying former colleagues.

“It may not be perfect in many people’s minds, but it is moving ahead in a direction that I think is more transparent and that can hold those of us that are elected to office more accountable,” said Representative Ann Bollin (R-Brighton), who chairs the House Elections and Ethics Committee.

UAW
UAW

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Borman sentenced former United Auto Workers president Dennis Williams to 21 months in prison. That will be followed by one year of supervised release. Williams has also paid $132,517 in restitution to the UAW.

Williams pled guilty last August to a multi-year conspiracy to embezzle funds for personal benefit.

The money went to pay for private villas, rounds of golf, and high end meals, liquor, and cigars for himself and his friends.

Michigan vows to seek Line 5 profits if Enbridge defies shutdown order

May 11, 2021
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

If Line 5 is still pumping petroleum through the Straits of Mackinac on Thursday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has notified Enbridge Energy, she will consider all resulting profits to be property of the state of Michigan.

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