News Headlines for Thursday September 4th
Trash Cleaned Up
City officials delivered on their promise to get rid of a garbage pile on West Burnham Street. Neighbors say it’s been there since last month when tenants were evicted and createe a health hazard, especially for students walking to school at nearby Coburn Elementary. City Manager Susan Bedsole says the city's code compliance ticketed the property owner to clean up the mess last month. But the owner says that he cannot legally get onto the property until later this month, since it's going into a foreclosure. As of this morning, the neighborhood looks nice again.
Kalamazoo Drug Raid
Kalamazoo Police say they’ll seek numerous charges after a raid on Hotop Avenue. KVET officers seized stolen guns, body armor and what is believed to be cocaine during a search in the 1100 block of Hotop Avenue. Police also say numerous housing violations were found and housing inspectors have condemned the property.
Township Police Contracts
Pennfield and Bedford Townships won’t be going in on a deal for police services. Instead, Bedford plans to contract again with the City of Battle Creek for five years, while Pennfield Township will renew a contract with the Calhoun County Sheriff Department. Both Township supervisors say their boards are satisfied with the services currently provided. Once the contracts are finalized, the county board is expected to vote on the contracts Sept. 18.
Vitamin Tampering Charges
The man accused of loading women’s vitamins with raisins, chocolate chips, and prescription meds and returning them to Meijer stores for a refund says he didn’t mean to hurt anyone. 35-year-old Brian Conover of Richland said in an email to the FBI before his arrest, Conover said he is a poor college student that he has gender identification issues that have caused him "hardship and disownership and made some drug induced bad decisions." Police say Conover was starting college in Minnesota where planned to get his degree in substance abuse counseling. Conover initially said that he returned the products to Meijer because he discovered they had been tampered with, the criminal complaint said. When pressed on his version of events, Conover said he wanted to speak to an attorney and the interview ended.
Murder Trial Delayed in Kalamazoo
There’s another delay in a murder case from last year in the November beating death of a man in Kalamazoo. 27-year-old Drew Thorngate was back in court on Wednesday, charged with beating Francisco Padilla with a baseball bat, tossing him into a dumpster and dousing him with bleach. Padilla died sometime later. Thorngate was found competent to stand trial, but now his lawyers have been granted a motion to see if he was legally insane during the time of the crime. Thorngate won’t be back in court until November 21st.
Meijer is looking to hire 4,800 workers inMichiganas the retailer prepares for the holiday season. Meijer says while most of the opportunities are part time and seasonal, these jobs can provide a gateway to a full-time career with the retailer.
Road Rage Shooting
A family friend says 43-year-old Derek Fleming and his wife were on their way to pick up their children after the first day of school when a 69-year-old man fatally shot him in a road rage attack in southeastern Michigan. Fleming had gotten out of his vehicle to confront the driver of a pickup that had allegedly cut him off. The 69-year old Howell man is in police custody but lawyered-up.
Deer Forest Operator Missing
Southwest Michiganauthorities are looking for the operator of the Deer Forest Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Coloma. Berrien County Animal Control believes Jon Stolarz has skipped town and disappeared. Reports say the USDA contacted Animal Control on Wednesday over concerns for the welfare of the animals that were still at Deer Forest which is the target of a pair of investigations over alleged mistreatment of animals at the petting zoo. Police also found two dogs in crates in Stolarz' home, with no food and no water. He is also wanted inIllinoisin connection with an animal abuse case there.
Creditors who oppose the proposed settlement ofDetroit's bankruptcy case have been having their say to the judge deciding whether to approve it. Today marks the third day of opening statements in the trial over the largest municipal bankruptcy inU.S.history.
License Plate Lawsuit
Michigan's Office Secretary of State has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit over its personalized license plate policies. Under the agreement, David DeVarti ofAnn Arborcan have his “WAR SUX” personalized license plate and the state will cover his $21,500 in attorney fees. Depart and Michael Matwyuk, whose request for "INF1DL" was initially rejected, jointly sued the Secretary of State in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids. Matwyuk was eventually allowed his plate and the Secretary of State's office said its rejection was simply an oversight. But the state defended the denial of DeVarti's plate arguing the word "SUX" has a sexual connotation. But under the agreement, the state won't prohibit the word "suck" and its variations when, in context, the word is being used as the slang term meaning "is objectionable or inadequate."
Insurance Costs Lawsuit
A coalition of medical and consumer groups plans to appeal its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against an insurance fund to the Michigan Supreme Court. The Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault (CPAN) contends thatMichigandrivers have a right to know whether or not they're getting a fair shake in the fees they're charged. Revenue from the fees go to support the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association, a fund that pays for large insurance claims related to car crashes. C-PAN won its case in anInghamCountycourt but the decision was overturned by a state appeals court earlier this year. The MCCA chargesMichigandrivers $186 for each vehicle they insure for unlimited medical benefits for catastrophic injuries and rehabilitation. According to the organization, the fund now controls more than $15 billion in assets that are used to reimburse insurers for auto injury claims over $530,000. CPAN says a recent study found that policyholders have been charged 15-percent more than necessary. The advocacy group says while the fund is a critical part of the state's auto insurance law, insurers still refuse to open the organization up to public scrutiny. The MCCA is a private nonprofit that was created by the Michigan Legislature in 1978.
Most of the spending so far in Michigan's gubernatorial and US Senate races has come from independent sources, instead of the candidates themselves, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. In fact, the MCFN's Rich Robinson says independent spenders have been dominating the "air wars" in both races. While incumbent Governor Rick Snyder has spent one-point-two (m) million dollars on TV ads through Labor Day, the Republican Governor's Association has spent well over three (m) million dollars touting the governor. And while Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mark Schauer has spent 832-thousand dollars, the Democratic Governor's Association has spent four-point-six (m) million dollars supporting him. In the meantime, T-V ad campaigns favoring both US Senate candidates, Democrat Gary Peters and Republican Terri Lynn Land, are also mostly being financed by independent groups instead of the candidate's campaigns. Independent spending accounts for 66 percent of spending on ads for Land, and independent spending for Peters accounts for 85-percent.
MI-Wolf Referenda Language
The Bureau of Elections has issued its proposals for the items voters would see for the two referenda on the November ballot aimed at stopping wolf hunting in the state. Each ballot item must have a description of no more than 100 words. The Board of State Canvassers is expected to approve the final language at its next meeting.
Both referenda are arguably moot long-term because the Legislature approved a petition drive-turned-law that gives the Natural Resources Commission authority to designate game although voter rejection of the proposals would mean no hunting season only for this year.