Virginia Gordan | Michigan Radio

Virginia Gordan


Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.

Virginia joined Michigan Radio after a career at the University of Michigan Law School, first as Assistant Dean of Students and later as Assistant Dean of International Affairs. Before that she worked as a lawyer in Washington, DC, on the development of low and moderate income housing.

Virginia loves the state of Michigan and especially enjoys exploring its lakes (including the Great ones) as often as possible.

The US Capitol
Jonothan Colman / Flickr

An Upper Peninsula man has been accused of participating in the January 6 storming of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. 

Karl Dresch of Calumet appeared by video before a U.S. magistrate Wednesday, one day following his arrest.

federal criminal complaint, with a supporting statement of facts, alleges that Dresch was part of an effort to keep lawmakers from certifying President Joe Biden's win.

Lester Graham

Two Democratic lawmakers are introducing resolutions calling for the investigation and censure of state Representative Matt Maddock (R-Milford).

Representative Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck) and Representative Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Twp.) said each of them had formally submitted one of the two resolutions on Wednesday, and both resolutions would be officially read into the record during the House session on January 19.

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Two Democratic state senators have re-introduced legislation that would ban open and concealed firearms in the Michigan Capitol Building.

The ban would not apply to state law enforcement or Capitol security.

an empty bar
Patrick Tomasso / Unsplash

State officials are praising bar and restaurant owners for their ongoing compliance with the state's emergency COVID-19 health orders.

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission announced this week it has suspended 34 out of roughly 8,500 on-premises liquor licenses since September for COVID-related violations. 

The violations have included the establishment's allowing in-person dining and gatherings and failure to require face coverings for staff and patrons.

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A group of Democratic state representatives said Thursday that a ban on firearms in Michigan's state Capitol building is long overdue.

They want the Michigan State Capitol Commission or the Legislature to immediately institute a ban. They said each has the legal authority to do it and has repeatedly failed to take action.

The lawmakers spoke the day after a mob of pro-Trump extremists forced its way into the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C.  

A hospital emergency room entrance.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Cardiac arrests outside of hospitals went up by 60% during the first 10 weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic over the same period the year before. And there was a 42% jump in deaths from cardiac arrests in the pre-hospital setting.

These were some of the findings of a study of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest records of the Emergency Service Information System in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties from March 23 through May 31, 2020. 

Courtesey of Muskegon Community College

The application deadline for the state's Futures for Frontliners program is December 31, 2020. 

According to state officials, 100,000 essential workers have applied since the program was kicked off in early September. But officials hope even more will apply before the upcoming deadline.

The program offers free tuition towards an associate degree or industry-recognized certificate at community college. It also provides tuition to complete the requirements for a high school diploma.

faucet running water
Marina Shemesh / Public Domain

A temporary statewide ban on water shutoffs at occupied residences due to unpaid bills will last until March 31, 2021 under legislation signed Tuesday by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The legislation also requires water authorities to restore residential service that has been cut because of nonpayment unless reconnecting to damaged pipes would risk public safety. The new law would further require water authorities to identify occupied homes within their service areas that do not have water service, and to report on these efforts.

a classroom of empty colorful chairs
Flickr user Frank Juarez / Creative Commons

The initial unaudited 2020 fall enrollment count is down by roughly 53,000 students from last fall's count for Michigan's K-12 school districts and public school academies.

State Superintendent Michael Rice announced the 3.7% decline Wednesday. 

In a written statement, Rice estimated that about three quarters of the decline is due, in roughly equal shares, to fewer kindergartners, more homeschool kids, and an estimated public school population decrease based on an average annual decrease of 13,000 students over the last ten years.

Women's prison
Michigan Department of Corrections

The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI), a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, filed a lawsuit Monday against the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Muslim and Moorish Science women who are being housed primarily at the MDOC's Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Pittsfield Township.

Ahmad Ardity / Pixabay

Wayne County rolled out a new program Thursday, called "Wayne County Cares," to help county residents who have been affected by the state's recent COVID-19 public health orders that shut down or reduced services at many businesses.

The county is offering a one-time, no strings attached $500 cash card to eligible applicants who must have worked in food service, group fitness, hospitality, or entertainment businesses since March 2020 and meet certain income limits.

A rusty barrel in the woods
Bryce Huffman

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is signing up eligible residents of four West Michigan communities for a study of the potential long term health impacts of exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. The study is called the Michigan PFAS Exposure and Health Study (MiPEHS).

person dropping absentee ballot into ballot box
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

In total, 15,302 absentee ballots were rejected in Michigan's November 3 election, according to figures released Wednesday by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

That's a rejection rate of 0.46%, or less than half of one percent of the record breaking 3.3 million absentee ballots cast.

In comparison, about 1.6 million absentee ballots were cast in the August primary election, and 10,600 of them were rejected.

designer491 / Adobe Stock

Decisions made by Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency to address the unprecedented volume of unemployment claims during the COVID-19 pandemic made the state more vulnerable to fraudulent claims, according to an outside review of the UIA by Deloitte & Touche, LLP. The report was commissioned by the state's Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) in July and released Wednesday. 

Junkyardsparkle / Wikimedia Commons

A third-generation family-owned Big Boy restaurant in Sandusky, Michigan is staying open for in-person dining, despite the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services' three week ban on indoor dining and drinking in Michigan's restaurants and bars. Restaurants and bars may stay open for outdoor dining, carry out and deliveries only under the November 15 order.

The temporary ban took effect on November 18 with the goal of slowing the spread of COVID-19 as it surges across the state.  

user rollingroscoe / morgueFile

A politically diverse coalition of advocacy groups has urged the Michigan Legislature to pass an 18 bill package of criminal justice measures before December's lame duck legislative session ends. 

The 18 bills stem from recommendations for change made in January by the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration. 

michigan state capitol building in lansing, mi
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers from both sides of the aisle joined Governor Gretchen Whitmer Tuesday to announce legislation they say will clear the path to good jobs in Michigan for military families.

The legislation would make veterans, service members and their dependents eligible for license reciprocity in Michigan, provided they are in good standing with no pending disciplinary action and demonstrate competency in their profession through education, training or work experience.

Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Haley Stevens has been elected for a second term representing Michigan's 11th Congressional District.

Stevens defeated her Republican opponent, Birmingham lawyer Eric Esshaki, 50% to 48%, with all votes counted.

voting booths
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced they are getting reports of robocalls to some Flint residents trying to spread misinformation about voting.

The reported robocalls falsely claim the lines are long at Flint polling places, and they wrongly urge voters to delay voting until Wednesday, November 4.

Everyone who wants to vote must be in line to cast a ballot by 8 pm Tuesday, November 3.

Courtesy of Michigan Department of Attorney General

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced multiple felony charges Thursday against Justen Watkins, the self-proclaimed leader of The Base, a white supremacist group that advocates violence, along with another man associated with the group, Alfred Gorman.

Watkins, 25, of Bad Axe, MI, and Gorman, 35, of Taylor, MI, were arrested at their homes early Thursday and taken to the Washtenaw County Jail. 

2020 Census
Adobe Stock

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and  U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) say they may appeal the U.S. Census Bureau's population tally for Detroit when it is announced. 

They described the Bureau's counting efforts in Detroit as "deficient and haphazard," and said that puts the city at risk for an undercount.

"The truth of the matter is, they started later in Detroit, understaffed Detroit, and shut it down earlier for one reason," said Duggan. "There appears to be a national strategy to undercount cities, and it appears to be hitting Detroit most effectively."

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has rolled out a proposed plan he said would help many Detroiters who were overtaxed by the city between 2010 and 2013 due to property tax overassessments. The stated goal is to help Detroiters who were hurt by the overassessments, including many who lost their homes due to tax foreclosures. 

Five city council members have co-sponsored Duggan's proposal, and a resolution was introduced Tuesday at a formal session of the city council. 


Health care workers are slated to be in the first group to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Michigan if it becomes available, according to a draft COVID-19 vaccination plan submitted last week to the Centers for Disease Control by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

straight-party voting
Lars Plougmann

More than half of the three million requested absentee ballots have already been cast, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said at a press conference on Tuesday. 

Benson said that voters have received nearly all of the three million absentee ballots they have requested with two weeks left to go before Election Day. 

"When you reflect on the fact that just under 4.8 million voted in the November 2016 election, the fact that two weeks out, already three million are on track to vote early in this election is just extraordinary," said Benson, predicting that the number of absentee ballot requests will continue to climb.

Ford Truck Plant workers with PPE
Ford Motor Company

Emergency rules have been issued by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) that clarify what employers have to do to help protect workers, customers and communities from the spread of COVID-19. 

MIOSHA is a division of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO).

flickr user Charlie Nguyen /

The Fair and Equal Michigan campaign that seeks to amend Michigan's civil rights law to add anti-discrimination protection for LGBTQ people has submitted more than 483,000 petition signatures to state election officials, according to an announcement by the group on Tuesday.

Elissa Slotkin
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

Two Democratic congresswomen with national security experience want Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to make a public commitment to upholding the military's apolitical role.

Michigan Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin and New Jersey Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill said this is critical because President Donald Trump has used the military for partisan purposes and has suggested he might reject the results of the 2020 election if he loses. 

Motown31 / Flickr -

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has ordered all Michigan public and private K-12 schools to publicly notify their school communities about probable and confirmed school-associated cases of COVID-19. 

Child reading
User Melanie / Flickr -

The package of four bills (S.B. 1172, 1173, 1174, and 1175) would mandate a statewide strategy for identifying and intervening to help students with dyslexia. 

The focus on dyslexia is needed to improve childhood literacy in Michigan because it's the most common learning disability that affects reading and writing, according to the bills' sponsors, Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia), Sen. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake), and Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton).

Two Democratic state senators have introduced a pair of bills this week (SB 1158 and  SB 1159) that would prohibit open and concealed carry of firearms inside Michigan's Capitol building.

The ban would not apply to state law enforcement or Capitol security, and firearms would still be allowed outside on Capitol grounds.