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Today on Stateside, how the pandemic is delaying parole for people who are incarcerated in Michigan, even as prisons continue to have outbreaks of the virus. Also, two grocery store workers discuss waiting for a vaccine after a year of being on the front lines of the pandemic. Plus, why the United Auto Workers corruption scandal isn’t over yet.

An Evening with 1A Host Jenn White
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
7 P.M.
A Michigan Radio Virtual Event

Join Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Doug Tribou for an intimate conversation with Jenn White, the host of NPR's 1A program. They'll discuss what it's like hosting a daily nationwide show that focuses on the most important issues of the day, as well as White’s long career in public media and podcasting. We'll also welcome your questions.

Ann Arbor city hall.
Heritage Media / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

Ann Arbor City Council will finalize their budget for the next fiscal year on May 17. In the meantime, council members have already begun discussions about what items will get funding this budget. One idea that's been discussed is an unarmed crisis response team that would respond to psychiatric emergencies instead of the police.

The idea was first brought up at a council work session on February 22. In a March 1 meeting, Lisa Jackson, chair of the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission, expressed her support for the idea, and encouraged the council to find money in the budget to make it happen.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

An FBI agent is scheduled to return to the witness stand Thursday for a pre-trial hearing for three men accused of being part of an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor.

The pre-trial hearing for defendants Pete Musico, Joseph Morrison and Paul Bellar began Wednesday.  They are facing numerous charges, including providing material support for terrorist acts. 

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor running for another term

23 hours ago
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor is making his plan to seek re-election official. 

Schor was first elected to the city’s top job four years ago. 

Schor touts developments in the city under his administration, including a downtown grocery store, and Rotary Park.

Adobe Stock

Today on Stateside, Wayne State University has a low COVID-19 infection rate among Michigan’s major universities. We talk with the school’s president about how the institution has been keeping case numbers down. Also, an activist discusses the ongoing effort to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to people with disabilities in Michigan. Plus, the co-founder of one homegrown restaurant chain talks reopening at a limited capacity.

Wayne State University
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Many college campuses have been sources of community spread of COVID-19 over the past year. Big schools like the University of Michigan and Michigan State University have at times struggled to curb spread and socialization among the student body. University of Michigan recently struggled with the first cases of the U.K. variant spreading through the state, and the school community currently represents about two-thirds of the total infections in Washtenaw County.

U of M has had more than 5,000 cases to date, with MSU not far behind that number.

detroit fire department fire truck
Flickr

Two Detroit fire fighters were found to have been drinking and driving on the job after crashing their department-issued vehicles. The city is now conducting an audit of the emergency service and re-emphasizing its zero-tolerance policy on working while under the influence of alcohol.

In one case a fire captain nearly crashed his city-issued vehicle onto the Lodge freeway. Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones says police are conducting a criminal investigation into the two incident while the fire department handles an internal probe.

Emma Winowiecki

Minutes is a new project at Michigan Radio to help keep track of what's happening at local government meetings throughout the state. As part of the project, we're providing podcast feeds so you can subscribe and listen to public meetings in your city. Check the list below to find your city, and click the link to listen or subscribe.

If you have problems with any of the podcasts, or you just want to give your feedback, you can email our team at minutes@michiganradio.org. We’d love to hear from you.

All information from local government meetings is public. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to find.

Most cities and counties in Michigan do a decent job of publishing information about these meetings online. But if you go looking for it, you will quickly find yourself in a maze of drop down menus, pdf links and videos that stretch on for hours.

Helping to navigate all this information is a big part of what local news organizations do. But we can’t be everywhere.

So Michigan Radio is trying a new approach.

Today we introduce Minutes, a new project at Michigan Radio to help make public meetings in Michigan more public.

sign that says "vote here"
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An activist group in Northern Michigan is asking past donors to Republican Congressmen Jack Bergman’s campaign to cut off the money.

Bergman was one of more than 100 Republican representatives who voted against certifying the 2020 election results in two states despite no evidence of widespread fraud. The vote was on January 6, the same day a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol.

congressional map of Michigan
Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Michigan’s new Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, which was approved by voters in 2018, is continuing its work of drawing new congressional and legislative districts for the state. In recent weeks, the commission has encountered some challenges related to timing and funding, especially as 2020 Census data needed for the process won’t be available until July. As the group continues meeting virtually — which members of the public are encouraged to get involved in — Stateside took a look at the history of the representation Michigan has now, and why there’s been a movement to change the state’s legislative map.

a crowd of trump supporters stand outside of the TCF center in Detroit
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says Michigan has finished the most comprehensive election audit in the state’s history. In short – there was no widespread voter fraud.

Many of the allegations of impropriety were centered on the Democratic stronghold of Detroit. Benson says the audit proves again that those allegations were completely unfounded.

“These efforts are dangerous, racist and undertaken for personal and political gain. They are also completely meritless as proven by these audits and must be treated as such in the future.”

governor gretchen whitmer standing at a podium
michigan.gov

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said Tuesday that more COVID-19 restrictions can be relaxed.

Restaurants will be allowed to accept twice as many indoor diners, retail shops may allow more customers, and more people will be allowed to attend private indoor gatherings starting Friday.

Whitmer said restaurants will also be allowed to stay open an hour later – until 11 p.m.

Robert Gordon wearing face mask
State of Michigan

Updated Tuesday, March 2 at 5:03 p.m.:

Republicans in the state Legislature say they will hold hearings on severance payments to former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon and a top deputy.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said Tuesday that she cannot go into specifics on a personnel matter, including payments that will total more than $155,000 to Gordon.

Hand holding rainbow LGBTQ flag
Stavrialena Gontzou / unsplash.com

  

Today on Stateside, a major Michigan-based adoption agency is opening up adoption to LGBTQ parents. We spoke with Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who has spent years fighting for LGBTQ families. Plus, a conversation with artist Elizabeth Youngblood about how learning to weave inspired the delicate lines of her sculptures and drawings. 

man wearing a rainbow wristband holds the hand of a child
XavierLorenzo / Adobe Stock

Bethany Christian Services now says it’s open to placing children in homes with LGBTQ parents. The change applies nationwide.

Bethany is headquartered in Grand Rapids. It’s one of the nation’s largest providers of adoption and foster care services.

Rights vs. Regulations: Property rights big barrier to septic system codes

Mar 2, 2021
Soil Science via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

In Michigan, with public health departments fully occupied with COVID-19, septic systems have been pushed back as a priority.

But even before COVID-19, it wasn’t much of a priority in the Legislature, because the last time an attempt was made to get Michigan statewide regulations for septic systems was in 2018.

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Today on Stateside, what is the role of primary care doctors in Michigan’s vaccination plan? Plus, one family talks to us about starting a podcast during the pandemic. And, some advice for adults trying to help kids through the mental health challenges of the moment.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s largest public school district will be re-opening to in-person instruction next week.

Officials with Detroit Public Schools Community District say face-to-face instruction will resume next Monday, March 8. The district suspended in-person classes in November, as COVID-19 case rates in the city climbed in November.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says with infection rates in the city down and teachers having access to coronavirus vaccines, the district can again provide an in-person learning option. 

Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

 

 

Whether the kids in your community are back in the classroom or not, the pandemic has had some serious mental health consequences. There is stress and uncertainty at home, limited contact with friends, and the loss of a school routine. It all takes a toll. That's especially true for the kids who are already in more vulnerable situations. 

an electric plug attaches to an electric vehicle
Chuttersnap / Unsplash

Senator Debbie Stabenow has introduced a new bill that would provide billions in tax credits aimed at incentivizing auto manufacturers to make products that would reduce carbon emissions.

The senior Democrat introduced the American Jobs in Energy Manufacturing Act on Monday. She says the bill would provide support to the private sector in making the transition to clean energy in legacy manufacturing communities.

A new logo for the newly formed Fiat and Chrysler company.
FCA

Fiat Chrysler officials have pleaded guilty for the company’s role in a corruption scandal.

The automaker says it did make more than $3 million in bribery payments to United Auto Workers union leaders.

The deal, reached in U.S. District Court, will require the company to pay a $30 million fine.

gretchen whitmer wearing mask at podium
Michigan.gov

Governor Gretchen Whitmer had an online meeting Monday with Black business leaders. She asked for help getting the Legislature to adopt her budget plans – including COVID-19 response funding.

One of the big controversies is the use of a “social vulnerability index” to help ensure vulnerable populations get their share of vaccines. Whitmer has said that’s also critical to ensuring the most susceptible people can return to work.

Phil Roeder, Flickr Creative Commons

As of March 1, here’s the official state list of who’s eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine: 

  • People over 65
  • Healthcare workers
  • Long term care residents and workers
  • Mortuary service workers
  • Frontline workers, including child care and pre-K through high school staff, and workers at congregate care facilities
  • Food processing and agricultural workers

An image of two alcoholic drinks.
user Dinner Series / Flickr

Doctors have reported high increases in hospitalizations due to alcoholic-related liver diseases during the coronavirus pandemic. A Kaiser Health News article describes admissions jumping by 30% or 50% at university hospitals across the country since March.  

 

 

And Michigan doctors are seeing it too. 

Alcoholic liver disease, or ALD, is a serious condition that can lead to a buildup of fats and the inflammation or scarring of the liver. Liver damage can lead to cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, chronic hepatitis and liver cancer. The beginning side-effects include bleeding, eyes turning yellow or stomach swelling. It can be fatal. 

We keep track of things, we lose track of things, we run track, and listen to tracks. Sometimes though, we confuse “track” with “tract.”

Recently, a graduate student who works closely with Professor Anne Curzan pointed out a job posting for a “tenure tract” position.

Sheila Steele / Creative Commons

Economists predict Michigan’s economic news should improve rapidly the rest of the year. (See report here.)

The University of Michigan’s Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics (RSQE) says the falling number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths due to COVID-19 plus the vaccinations are good signs.

After nearly a year of grief, vaccinations bring joy to Michigan

Mar 1, 2021
Elaine Cromie / Bridge Michigan

For much of last year, Michigan’s nurses and other frontline workers were sometimes called names, cursed at, or lied to.

They scrambled to fill staff shortages, track down masks or other supplies, and, in some cases, as the virus tore through their communities, found there was precious little they could do for thousands of the sick and dying.

Then, finally, vaccines arrived.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers are weighing limitations on what kinds of messages can be placed on the state’s emergency alert system.

The system is used to send messages to Michigan residents’ mobile phones about endangered children and natural disasters.

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