Kaye LaFond | Michigan Radio
WUOMFM

Kaye LaFond

Data Journalist

Kaye is shared between Michigan Radio and Interlochen Public Radio.  A graduate of Michigan Tech's environmental engineering program, she covers science, the environment, northern Michigan, and stories that involve crunching a lot of numbers.

She lives in Antrim County with her 3 cats. She enjoys anything outdoors, but is partial to swimming in the Great Lakes.

A woman wearing warm clothing holds a sign that says "Shut Down Line 5, No Tunnel".
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Demonstrators gathered in Petoskey on Saturday, opposing the state's plan to build a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac, which would house twin oil pipelines owned by Canadian company Enbridge Energy.

A satellite photo of the Great Lakes
NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory/Flickr

Mayors from Great Lakes cities have united with leaders from First Nations communities to criticize proposed new rules for approving Great Lakes water withdrawals.

The Anishinabek Nation, a political advocacy group representing 40 First Nations communities in Ontario, has joined forces with the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, made up of mayors from the Great Lakes region. The groups are concerned about proposed new procedures for approving water withdrawal requests under the Great Lakes Compact, the agreement governing the removal of water from the Great Lakes basin.

A stacked bar chart shows the division of Michiganders into who voted republican, democrat, 3rd-party, as well as who didn't vote and who isn't registered. 2014 is the highest turnout on the chart.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Voter turnout during Michigan's 2018 midterms was the highest it's been in 56 years. The unofficial results released by the State of Michigan put 2018 turnout at 58% of registered voters.

A stacked bar graph breaks down the votes of the Michigan voting-age population, and includes info on those who didn't vote and/or weren't registered.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

If not voting was a candidate in Michigan's general elections, it would win a lot. The chart above breaks down how Michiganders voted — or didn't — in the last six general elections. 

Midterm elections always draw fewer voters to the polls than presidential years. But, even by midterm standards, Michigan's 2014 voter turnout was unimpressive. It was the lowest it had been in 24 years — since 1990. We published a story and graph on that back then.

Three men and one woman sit at a table on a stage.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

A northern Michigan Indigenous tribe hosted its own political town hall in preparation for the upcoming elections.

The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians invited Michigan candidates at the U.S., state and local levels to discuss environmental issues in a moderated forum last Friday evening in Peshawbestown.

A graph shows three years of test results for lead in water, with the most recent tests, in 2018, clearly being the most elevated.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Benton Harbor is offering to test the water at any home in the city, after initial tests showed elevated levels of lead in eight homes.

A map shows dots representing anchor supports scattered along two pipelines located beneath open water.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Earlier this year, Enbridge applied for a permit to add 48 new anchor supports to its twin oil pipelines that run under the Straits of Mackinac.

Two men in uniforms stand on a boat and a dock.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

 

Frustrated by what they say is inadequate information provided to them by Enbridge, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians sent their own tribal research vessel to the Straits of Mackinac on Thursday to take sonar imagery of the company’s Line 5 pipelines.

 

A man at one table and a panel of 5 people at another table sit on the stage of a full auditorium
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Representatives from federal agencies, Enbridge, and industry and environmental groups testified on Line 5, oil spill prevention and preparedness at a Senate Commerce Committee field hearing in Traverse City on Monday.

A man and two women sit around a campfire, a banner in the background says "Honor the Treaties"
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Water Protectors are camping in Northern Michigan to call for a shutdown of Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline.

 

A map shows the location of MRAP vehicles and M16 firearms that have been obtained by local police departments in the state of Michigan.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

The 1033 program allows police departments in the United States to obtain surplus military equipment at no cost. 

A man sits in front of an old tractor. Signs read "This tractor is the same age as the Line 5 pipeline. Both are as good as new. Not"
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality held a public hearing on Wednesday evening in Mackinaw City, taking comments on proposed new anchor supports for the Line 5 oil pipelines.

A living room, with a couch and a window, is shown with inches of mud piled on the carpet.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Record rainfall devastated large parts of Houghton County earlier this month. Flash flooding killed a 12-year-old boy when the basement of his house collapsed. It damaged hundreds of homes and caused at least $100 million in damage to infrastructure.

Cynthia Drake lives in Ripley, just outside of Houghton. She holds a family photo album caked in mud.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Residents are beginning the process of recovery after flash flooding rocked the western Upper Peninsula Sunday morning, leaving dozens of sinkholes, impassable roads, and reports of damage to hundreds of homes in Houghton County.

A graph shows that Black people have accounted for roughly 20% of the population of Grand Rapids for the last 5 years, while they've accounted for about 40% of the traffic stops.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

 


A year ago, the City of Grand Rapids released a study showing that black drivers are twice as likely to get pulled over as white drivers.

 

Since 2015, the most recent year considered by the study, the entire Grand Rapids Police Department underwent racial bias training. So we wondered, has anything improved for black drivers in Grand Rapids?

There are land use restrictions at more than 2,000 sites around Michigan. Officials say they are necessary at sites with environmental contamination to keep people from coming into contact with harmful chemicals.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

 

At more than 1,600 sites across the state of Michigan, you can’t drink the groundwater. Well, you could, but it wouldn’t be safe or legal.

A graph shows thousands of data points representing water test results in Flint, Michigan.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Last month, the state of Michigan declared Flint’s drinking water quality "restored." To get to this point, it’s taken, among other things, more than 30,000 water tests.

In the 1930s, property assessors graded American cities on a four-point scale, with the worst neighborhoods coded red, giving birth to the term "redlining."
Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America / Creative Commons

It’s been half a century since the federal government banned discrimination in the home mortgage industry. But a new analysis of mortgage data shows people of color are still routinely denied conventional mortgage loans far more often than white people.

Nassar in court.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Dr. Larry Nassar, a former athletic doctor at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison today.  He pled guilty to seven counts of sexual assault in Ingham County court last November.

Last summer Nassar also pled guilty to federal charges for possessing thousands of images of child pornography. More than 120 women and girls tell MSU police that Nassar sexually abused them under the guise of treatment.

Nassar was fired from MSU in September 2016. The university has hired attorneys to investigate who knew what about the allegations against Nassar.

MSU says it has no plans to release that internal review.

Meanwhile, lawsuits against Nassar and the university allege that MSU officials have been receiving reports of abuse since 1999.

Sarah Bird

 

"When can we eat the fish?”

That’s what the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wants to know.

 

Officials in Michigan issue fish advisories. Those recommend limits on how much fish we eat because of toxic chemicals that can build up in fish.

 

Indigenous communities in the Great Lakes are at greater risk because they eat a lot of fish.

 

For years, there was a focus on trying to get tribes to follow the advisories more closely. But some people argue that’s the wrong way to tackle the problem.

 

A small fish is held in a net.
Sarah Bird

 


If you eat wild caught fish from Michigan, you might know about fish consumption advisories. They’re recommended limits on safe amounts of fish to eat, and they're necessary because toxic chemicals build up in fish in the Great Lakes and inland lakes and streams.

There are lead service lines in older communities across Michigan. Because of their age and population size, it’s fair to say the bulk of Michigan’s lead service lines are in cities in Southeast Michigan.

I spent a lot of time trying to determine which Detroit suburbs have lead service lines and how many. I wanted to see how far out into the suburbs lead was found in underground water pipes.

It was relatively easy (albeit an expensive FOIA bill near $2000 for these "public documents") to track down which communities were testing lead lines. But figuring out how many lead pipes were in each community is nearly impossible.

A man stands on building steps and speaks through a megaphone. Signs reading "Dignity and Rage" and "No More Stolen Lands" can be seen in the background.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Students and community members marched on the University of Michigan campus Monday to mark Indigenous Peoples' Day -- an alternative to the Federal Columbus Day Holiday, which many see as a celebration of genocide. 

A pamphlet distributed by the marchers states that Christopher Columbus is "perhaps the most violent symbol possible for Indigenous communities". 

Map showing the land owned by the Huron Mountain Club as of 2006.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Well... it's not an absolute "no."

It's more of a "probably not," given what we've learned about the Huron Mountain Club in reporting this story.

We'll get to the downright practical ways you might get into the club below. In the meantime, we'll just say it doesn't hurt your chances if you’re Channing Tatum, or related to Henry Ford (and even Ford had trouble getting in).

Abdul El-Sayed talks to a voter.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed made a campaign stop in Kalkaska Tuesday night, where he spent an hour speaking to a group of about 25 people. Kalkaska made national news this summer for the Islamophobic views of its' village president, Jeff Sieting. El-Sayed is Muslim, and attendees were happy that he still chose to visit Kalkaska. Danielle Seabolt is the Chair of the Kalkaska County Democrats, who hosted El-Sayed:

Women walk wearing banners that say "Water Protector" and "Defend the Sacred"
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Chants of "Mni wiconi" (meaning "water is life" in Lakota) punctuated the annual Mackinac Bridge Walk on Labor Day, where tens of thousands of Michigan residents made the five-mile trek from St. Ignace to Mackinaw City.

Indigenous and environmental activists came from around the state for a full weekend of events calling for the shutdown of Enbridge's Line 5 oil pipeline. The 64-year-old pipeline runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac and carries up to 540,000 barrels of oil per day.

Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

91 of Michigan’s 363 juvenile lifers have been re-sentenced, one year after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered states to do so.

SPLC's "Hate Map" shows 28 hate groups in Michigan.
SPLC / screen grab

The Southern Poverty Law Center lists 28 "hate groups" in Michigan for the year 2016.

The year before, the SPLC listed 19 in the state.

Hate groups peaked in Michigan in 2010 when the SPLC listed 35 in the state. That peak coincided with a national peak in hate group activity as well - the numbers then fell before rising again.

More from the SPLC:

Bottled water.
John McDonnell / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Back in January of this year, when I first decided to embark on reporting about bottled water in Michigan, I had literally no idea what I was in for. That’s probably a good thing, because I plowed ahead naively optimistic and enthusiastic.

Pages