News | Michigan Radio
WUOMFM

News

Courtesy of Andrew Cohn

Today on Stateside, the Upper Peninsula recorded its largest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases this week, and Houghton County’s public schools will close face-to-face instruction starting Monday for two weeks. We check in with the Western U.P.’s health officer to find out more. Also, a documentary filmmaker’s first feature film, set in Michigan. Plus, a journalist and an organizer on Black voters’ roles in the upcoming presidential election.

prison bars
Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan Legislature has approved a package of bills that would help more people clear their criminal records of certain convictions. They now go to Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The seven bill package is composed of House Bill 4980, HB 4981, HB 4982, HB 4983, HB 4984, HB 4985, and HB 5120. The Legislature has given itself a period of two years to put the system in place.

3D rendering of coronavirus
donfiore / Adobe Stock

The Upper Peninsula recorded its biggest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases this week. In response, Houghton County Schools will close face-to-face instruction starting Monday for a two-week period. More outbreaks have been noted in Iron, Menominee, and other counties in the western U.P. 

absentee ballot
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

The Michigan and national Republican parties are asking a judge to reconsider her decision to allow absentee ballots to be counted if they arrive at clerks’ offices after 8 p.m. on Election Day.

This latest lawsuit comes as absentee voting has already begun in Michigan. Republicans are asking Judge Cynthia Stephens to rule that ballots that arrive after 8 p.m. on Election Day – regardless of when they were mailed or postmarked – cannot be counted. That appears unlikely since it would require Stephens to reverse an earlier ruling.

REAL ID driver's license
Michigan Secretary of State

The extension given to drivers for license renewals is about to run out.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Secretary of State’s office extended the deadlines for renewal of driver’s licenses and registrations.

That all ends on September 30th.

Photo courtesy of Carbon Green BioEnergy

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s cabinet members offered more details Friday on the goal of making Michigan a “carbon neutral” state within 30 years.

The plans include adding electric vehicle charging stations at state parks and recreation areas, and working with utilities to reduce emissions.

man holding an american flag in front of a police line
Zac A. Clark / Clark Camera

The following commentary was produced and written in reflection by our Stateside production team.

Tuesday evening, the protests kicked back up in Detroit and Grand Rapids and across the country after a grand jury declined to indict Louisville Police officers for the killing of Breonna Taylor.

The protests were peaceful. Some people - protesters not among them - credit and are counting on Police Chief James Craig to keep protests under control.

Pest extermination helicopter spraying pesticide while flying
bdavid32 / Adobe Stock

The state of Michigan has completed an aerial spraying program over nearly a half million acres in hopes of reducing the risk of a disease spread by mosquitoes.

The state has been dealing with another outbreak of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). Health officials say EEE is one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases in the United States.  It's rare, but has a 33% fatality rate for people who get sick. 

Michigan Radio’s Statement on Diversity begins with a direct acknowledgement that increasing diversity is an “existential question” for the station. Our future success depends on how well we are able to grow and diversify our audience, our news sources and our own staff.

As one of many steps we are taking, we have committed to publishing an annual report on the demographic composition of station staff. This post represents the first of these reports.

Win a ticket to The Moth Michigan Virtual StorySLAM coming up October 6, 2020 at 7: 15 p.m. 

Michigan Radio is giving away five tickets to the show. Each ticket is good for one household online admission. Deadline to enter is Sunday, October 4.  Winners will be notified by e-mail or telephone on Monday, October 5.  Contest rules available here

cartoon of people talking to police about stolen yard sign
John Auchter for Michigan Radio

It's election season, which brings out the yard signs, which brings out the people who steal and vandalize yard signs. I'm sure you've seen the stories in newspapers and the postings on social media. Maybe you've had first-hand experience.

I try not to be too judgmental. I can imagine how in a moment of passion (or, more likely, drunkenness) an otherwise reasonable individual could have a lapse of reason. Naturally, it would need to be followed up with an apology and full restoration. It's forgivable, right? Yard signs are by their nature ephemeral.

Michael Lynn, Jr.
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

People in Michigan have some big decisions to make on November 3. So with the election just over a month away, we’re talking to voters across the state to hear what’s on their minds.

absentee ballot
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Absentee voting began Thursday in Michigan.

Absentee ballots were put in the mail to people who requested them. Registered voters can also stop by clerks’ offices to fill out their ballots.

In a web conference with progressive activists, Governor Gretchen Whitmer noted the election in Michigan was very close in 2016.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has filed suit against a dairy farming operation she says has repeatedly “thumbed its nose” at environmental regulations.

Slater Farms is a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) in rural West Michigan. According to the Attorney General’s office, it collectively owns and manages CAFOs with more than 1,500 mature dairy cows and 400 cattle. Every year, those operations produce about 8.9 million gallons of liquid waste and 1,500 tons of solid waste.

A white sporty car at the Detroit Auto show
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, Cornelius Fredrick died after being pinned down by staff members at the residential youth facility where he lived. A Michigan Radio investigation found that there were plenty of warning signs about the facility—and the private company that ran it—in the years leading up to the 16-year-old's death. Plus, the Detroit auto show is being pushed back until the fall of 2021. We'll talk about what that means for the city's economy. 

back of a police office facing camera
Fred Moon / Unsplash

Four members of the Michigan Black Legislative Caucus are proposing legislation to deny legal protections for police who inflict unjustifiable violence.

State Rep. Cynthia A. Johnson (D-Detroit) says the state may consider imposing an additional requirement on police.

absentee ballot
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

This year, absentee ballots are all the rage.

Michigan voters passed a ballot measure in 2018 that allows for no-reason absentee voting. Now, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused ballot requests to skyrocket. 

Starting September 24, local clerks will begin to send ballots to the 2.39 million Michiganders who have already requested them. That beats the previous record of two million ballot requests, which was just set in August.

Ford Motor Company

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order that bans the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles within 15 years.

Brett Smith of the Center for Automotive Research says the announcement from the largest car market in the U.S. will get the attention of Michigan car companies for sure.

"I think it means they have to double down or triple down on their investment and commitment to battery electric vehicles," he says.

A fast charging station for electric cars.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan's two largest utilities are committing to help build a network of fast charging stations across Midwest states - including Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

Fast chargers can partially recharge an electric car's battery in about 20 minutes, and fully recharge it in about an hour.

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

I met Kyla James in her front yard on a hot day in the middle of a global pandemic. She sat in a chair in the shade of a tall tree, legs folded underneath her.

It had been almost three months since her former student – the one with the beautiful smile and the crazy good computer skills – was killed. Three months of knowing her coworkers were the ones responsible, that all of her former students had been traumatized by it.

She always knew Lakeside had problems. She thought she was helping make it better. Then she saw the report from the state documenting what happened. She learned about the years of violations at Lakeside.

“Even for someone working there, even seeing what I did in being there every day, it was still stunning,” James says. “It was stunning.”

One Michigan county tells the story of a nation plagued by water pollution

Sep 24, 2020
J. Carl Ganter / Circle of Blue

Farms housing thousands of animals are one of several sources contaminating the Pine River and dividing a mid-Michigan community.

Murray Borrello, wearing khakis and a loose-fitting brown button-up, walked down a backroad during the summer of 2019 listening to the sounds of the woods. Water from the Pine River flowed slowly beneath him as he looked out over a bridge.

“Oh, I hear a frog,” the Alma College geology and environmental studies professor said. “That’s a good sign.” 

Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan.gov

Michigan is on the road to carbon neutrality by 2050, per an executive order Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed on Wednesday.

Whitmer made the announcement at a U.S. Climate Alliance virtual meeting. That’s a group of states led by governors who have committed to addressing climate change according to the framework laid out by the Paris Agreement, which President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the U.S. from in 2017.

Courtesy of the artist, Gavin Brown’s enterprise, and MOCAD.

Today on Stateside, a curator who left the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit returned to the institution and spoke with us about working at the overwhelmingly white spaces in the art world. Also, a conversation about the discrepancies in Michigan State University’s number of COVID-19 cases.

Michigan State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers tapped into federal COVID-19 relief money and the state’s “rainy day” savings fund to adopt a finalized budget plan Wednesday and send the bills to Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Leading up to the votes, the process was swift and secretive. There were no hearings, and most lawmakers were briefed on the details just a few hours earlier. But it was widely acknowledged the times are unusual.

The Detroit Cubs at Hamtramck Stadium in 1935.
Burton Collection, Detroit Public Library

It’s been a long time since the historic Hamtramck Stadium has heard the roar of a crowd. One of the few Negro Leagues ballparks left in the nation, it’s stood empty and neglected for years. But in its heyday, back before professional baseball was integrated, it was home to the Detroit Stars. Legendary Black ballplayers like Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson played there. Now, a local nonprofit wants to honor the stadium’s history and restore it to its former glory.

people holding hands in a courtroom
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

New legislation would give sexual assault survivors much more time to take their abusers to court.

Last session the legislature change the law to give survivors of abuse by a doctor at Michigan State University their day in court. Now legislation is being introduced to give survivors of alleged abuse by a doctor at the University of Michigan their day in court.

"Vote here" sign
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Michigan League of Women Voters is seeking to intervene in a federal lawsuit in support of the Michigan Secretary of State, over alleged issues with Michigan's Qualified Voter File.    

The lawsuit, filed by a Republican-affiliated group, seeks to force the state to purge Michigan's Qualified Voter File, claiming there are too many registered voters in some counties, based on the last Census. And it claims that if ineligible voters cast ballots, that will "dilute" the legitimate vote by qualified voters in the November election.

Abigail Censky / WKAR

Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris stopped in Michigan on Tuesday for the first time after she was added to the ticket.

To soundtrack of Motown, Lizzo and Mary J. Blige, Harris traveled from Flint to Detroit, campaigning less than 45 days ahead of the presidential election.

Outside of the Detroit Pistons’ practice facility, Harris talked about her reason for returning to the state.

“To be here and to be present. You know, Jill Biden was here last week, Joe was here the week before. We will keep coming back because so goes Michigan, so goes the rest of the country as far as we’re concerned,” she said.

A cell phone with the apps Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pulled up
dole777 / Unsplash

A new Netflix documentary has social media users rethinking the platforms they frequent. The Social Dilemma revealed some disturbing truths about tech companies and big data. In addition, the Federal Elections Commission recently published an op-ed for Wired magazine suggesting the integrity of the 2020 election is in the hands of Facebook and Twitter. With misinformation and disinformation running rampant on those platforms, the op-ed paints a bleak picture.

Mitigating misinformation

MSU Belmont Tower
EMMA WINOWIECKI / Michigan Radio

Update, Thursday September 23: Michigan State University has updated its online COVID-19 dashboard to reflect cases reported by the Ingham County Health Department, two days after the county's public health director revealed the health department's case count was far higher than what the university was publicly stating. 

The university notified the public of the change, says spokesman Dan Olsen, by contacting reporters Thursday morning and sending out a notice in the campus newsletter that afternoon. 

"The university’s COVID-19 dashboard now reflects the total number of positive cases of MSU students and employees reported by the Ingham County Health Department," the newsletter reads. "It does not include students and employees tested outside of the county and does not necessarily include those who self-reported a positive case to the university." 

That change means the case numbers listed on MSU's site essentially doubled overnight, from 548 cases at the start of this week, to 1,239 cases since July 27th. A spokesperson for MSU said the university is "continuing our ongoing partnership with [the health department] to report this information weekly (each Monday.)" 

Those case numbers are still slightly lower than the 1,250 MSU-related cases Ingham County Health Director Linda Vail said her department had recorded in the last 30 days. Those cases only include those the health department can verify are MSU students, faculty, or staff, Vail said Tuesdsay, and do not include secondary cases in the broader East Lansing community. 

This story will continue to be updated. 

Original post, Tuesday September 22: Michigan State University is knowingly underreporting the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among students, faculty, and staff, according to information released by the Ingham County Health Department on Tuesday.

Pages