Dustin Dwyer | Michigan Radio
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Dustin Dwyer

Reporter / Producer

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Radio’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Radio since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom. He left the station in 2010-2011 to be a stay at home dad, and returned to be part of the Changing Gears project, a collaboration between Michigan Radio, Ideastream in Cleveland and WBEZ in Chicago. From 2012 – 2017, he was part of the team for State of Opportunity, and produced several radio documentaries on kids and families in Michigan. He lives in Grand Rapids with his wife and three kids.

woman in personal protection equipment talking to woman in wheelchair
Wikimedia Commons

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 infections now stands at just over 45,000 thousand cases according to the state of Michigan.

Lately, the daily number of new cases has been trending downward.

But in a briefing last week, the state’s top Medical Executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun noted an emerging concern.

“To date, the vast majority of cases have still been in Southeast Michigan,” Khaldun said. “However, while the rate of rise is slower in Southeast Michigan, we are seeing an increase in the rate of rise in other parts of the state, particularly in the Western part.”

Wayne State University
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

The leader of Wayne State University’s medical school says the Detroit Medical Center is committing an “egregious act” by no longer allowing the university’s pediatricians to see patients at the DMC's Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

Dr. Mark Schweitzer announced the change in a note obtained by Michigan Radio.

The receiving area of butterworth hospital
Spectrum Health

A law firm in Grand Rapids says more than 1,000 doctors at the area’s largest hospital are being forced to sign new contracts, or face salary cuts.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The city of Grand Rapids plans a hiring freeze and budget cuts of $13 million because of the economic fallout from the coronavirus. And the city could be forced to cut even deeper if state and city revenues continue to fall.

City Manager Mark Washington announced the changes during a city commission meeting this morning. The preliminary plan calls for $540 million in city spending during the next fiscal year, compared to $553 million for the current budget.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

People in Grand Rapids will get their first look this week at the city’s projected budget for the coming year.

City manager Mark Washington is scheduled to update commissioners on the city commission Tuesday morning, and there’s a digital town hall scheduled for residents on Thursday night.

The new fiscal year starts in July.

workers removing lead paint from exterior of house
Jamie Hooper / Adobe Stock

Grand Rapids and Kent County have formed a new Lead Action Team. The team will help track and respond to cases of elevated lead levels in kids.

About 1 in 16 kids in Grand Rapids had elevated blood lead levels in 2018, according to figures released by the county. That’s down from previous years. And, countywide, the numbers are even lower.

A rusty barrel in the woods
Bryce Huffman

Minnesota-based 3M will pay $55 million to Wolverine Worldwide to address PFAS contamination in Kent County.

Wolverine Worldwide is based in Rockford. It has said it could spend $113 million to meet its obligations in a settlement with the State of Michigan and two townships over PFAS. That money includes $69.5 million to extend a municipal water system to more than 1,000 residences where PFAS has been found in well water.

lake michigan coastline
Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

While waves and record high water levels pound away at shoreline properties, state lawmakers are trying to pound away on new laws to protect property.

One bill debated Tuesday in the House would allow property owners to build temporary shoreline barriers to protect against erosion, even without a permit.

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

City commissioners in Kalamazoo are scheduled to vote Monday night on whether to raise rates for water and sewer services.

The city’s public services director, James Baker, told commissioners earlier this month the rate increases are needed to help fund improvements to the water system. Those include the replacement of lead service lines, and extending the city’s water system to two townships where harmful PFAS chemicals were found in the water supply.

Ryan Grimes / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan will no longer be able to enforce key parts of its Sex Offender Registry Act, unless state legislators write a new law by this summer.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland issued an opinion today that will force the state to stop enforcing parts of the law that were ruled unconstitutional, and from enforcing any part of the law against people whose offenses happened before April 12, 2011. Lawyers in the case have until March to come up with a plan for how to notify the more than 40,000 people currently on the sex offender registry. Sixty days after that plan is submitted, key parts of the state's current sex offender registry will become unenforceable.

"The law can't be enforced, it has to be rewritten," says Miriam Aukerman, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Michigan. 

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Grand Valley State University is offering a new online degree program aimed at adult students. The program expands on the online degrees already offered by the university.

GVSU president Philomena Mantella  says the new program will offer more flexibility.

The Tesla Model S, first introduced in June 2012
Tesla Motors

The coronavirus outbreak in China is expected to have an impact on the auto industry in the United States.

That’s according to a new analysis from the Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Many residents in northern Kent County say they're happy with a proposed settlement agreement over contamination from chemicals known as PFAS in the area, though some said they wish the agreement would go further. 

The Michigan attorney general's office held a forum to hear public comments on its consent decree Monday night in Rockford. More than 100 people showed up.

Peeling lead paint.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A new package of bills in Lansing could dramatically change how the state handles the problem of lead-based paint.

Lead based paint was banned in 1978, but it remains the leading cause of lead poisoning in the state.

courtesy Tiberius Images and The Right Place Inc.

Michigan’s second-largest city is taking aim at the Second City.

Leaders for The Right Place, Inc., a non-profit economic development firm for the Grand Rapids area, announced a new three-year strategic plan on Wednesday. The plan sets a goal of supporting more than half a billion dollars in new investment and more than five thousand jobs. One way the organization hopes to reach those goals: by attracting businesses from Chicago.

Running faucet
Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

State Attorney General Dana Nessel announced that paperwork has been filed on a proposed settlement with Wolverine Worldwide over PFAS contamination.

Nessel’s office announced a tentative agreement in December. The state and two townships in northern Kent County had filed lawsuits against the shoe company for contaminating water with chemicals in the PFAS family.

Beaumont Health

Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak is facing a formal complaint from the National Labor Relations Board.

The complaint alleges the hospital interfered with its nurses’ right to discuss unionization in the workplace.

Yamaha Watecraft Group on Flickr / cc by 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Lawmakers in Lansing will consider a bill this week that would allow for temporary boating speed limits when water levels are high.

Artie Bryson is supervisor of Clay Township on Lake St. Clair. He told a state House committee last week that boats aren’t usually a problem for homes in the township. But last year, when water levels shot up to record highs, homeowners had to resort to sandbags to keep water out. Boats made it worse.

Judge's gavel
Flickr user Joe Gratz / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Lawyers will make their case in front of a federal judge on Wednesday over what to do about the state’s sex offender registry.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled nearly four years ago that many of the requirements of Michigan’s registry are unconstitutional. But the law hasn’t been changed, and people continue to be on the list.

“The court has said that this registry is so ineffective, that it is also unconstitutional,” says Miriam Aukerman, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Michigan. “And yet the Legislature has done nothing to fix it.”

Lance McCord / Flickr, http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Some schools in West Michigan have been forced to close in the past few weeks because of outbreaks of "flu-like illnesses."

shoulder of a us customs and border protection officer
Glenn Fawcett / U.S. Customs and Border Protection / Flickr

UPDATE: Alireza Yazdani Esfidajani has now been deported, according his attorneys. This story has also been updated with statements from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Michigan State University.

An incoming Ph.D. student at Michigan State University faces deportation after being stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Detroit Metro Airport.

The student's name is Alireza Yazdani Esfidajani. He's originally from Iran. His attorney says he has a valid visa and permission from MSU to study at the university.

guns in holsters on two people
Lucio Eastman - Free State Project - PorcFest 2009 / Wikimedia Commons http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Talk of new gun regulations have led to a wave of gun rights advocates showing up at local government meetings in Michigan.

The gun rights advocates have spoken up in at least 10 counties across the state, asking the counties to declare themselves Second Amendment sanctuary counties.

The local resolutions are not legally binding. But advocates say they are important.

person smoking an ecigarette
fedorovacz / Adobe Stock

The state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency is recalling more than 9,000 vape cartridges by a Detroit company.

The state says 8,020 of the cartridges were never sold, and will be destroyed. The other 1,360 cartridges were sold by Plan B Wellness in Detroit.

Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center says 13 unaccompanied immigrant children have arrived in Michigan in recent months, after their parents were turned back at the southern border.  

Under the current policy, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, adults who seek asylum at the southern border have to wait in Mexico for their asylum claim to be processed.

The policy doesn’t apply to children.
 

courtesy Mackinac Center for Public Policy

A retired United Auto Workers employee says he was forced to pay dues to a fake local union. He’s now suing the UAW.

Jim Shake worked for the UAW as an accountant. Some UAW staff are part of local bargaining units. Shake was not. Still Shake says the UAW forced him to pay union dues to something called “Local X.”

The Bruce Nuclear Generating Station right on Lake Huron in Ontario.
user Cszmurlo / Wikimedia Commons

Michigan Congressional representatives have introduced a resolution to oppose storing nuclear waste near the Great Lakes.

The resolution was introduced by Representatives Dan Kildee and John Moolenaar, along with Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters.

It’s not the first time a resolution like it has been introduced in Congress.

State Rep. Larry Inman talking to reporters
Rick Pluta / Michigan Radio

Federal prosecutors say they will pursue a retrial in the case of a state legislator accused of soliciting a bribe and attempted extortion.

State Rep. Larry Inman (R-Williamsburg) allegedly tried to get campaign contributions in exchange for changing his vote on legislation to repeal the state’s “prevailing wage” law.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Months after the strike at General Motors ended, thousands of workers are being required to work long hours to catch up on a parts backlog.

At least six GM plants – including five in Michigan – are on so-called “emergency status.”

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A former Amway salesperson is suing the company in California, saying he and other sellers should be paid as employees.

Amway says its sellers are “Independent Business Owners” who agree to be treated as independent contractors under the law.

washed away dunes and a deck perched on the edge
Courtesy of Jim Davlin

State officials are working to quickly approve permits for work along the Great Lakes to try to save properties threatened by erosion. The state received nearly 500 permit requests from October through December. That's close to half what the state received for the entire year before that.

It used to take around 90 days to get a permit for a project on the shoreline. Now the state Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) says it takes about a week.

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