Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT


Whitmer opposes making schools offer in-person classes

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is unreceptive to Republican-passed legislation that would require public schools to offer in-person instruction to students in kindergarten through fifth grade amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Democratic governor’s comments Tuesday came after several districts recently announced they will start the academic year solely with distance learning regardless of whether Whitmer moves the rest of Michigan into phase five of her reopening plan. The governor says parts of the House-approved plan now pending in the Senate have “merit,” but “other pieces are modeled after the DeVos plan to force schools to put kids back in the classroom.”


Advocates: Shield poor students from pandemic budget cut

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — An education advocacy group says Michigan should shield low-income students from the brunt of a potential K-12 funding cut in the coming school year instead of making an across-the-board reduction to base aid to resolve a pandemic-caused budget hole. The Royal Oak-based Education Trust-Midwest and some business and education leaders launched a campaign Tuesday to protect funding for such students as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and lawmakers grapple with $1.1 billion less in the school aid fund for next fiscal year than was projected previously. The Democratic governor and Republican-led Legislature are hoping for more federal coronavirus relief funding. Advocates say if a reduction is necessary, aid for at-risk students should be protected.


Benson: Take ballot to clerk or drop box so it’s counted

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s top election official is urging people with an absentee ballot to return it to their local clerk’s office or drop box instead of using the mail to ensure it’s counted in the Aug. 4 primary. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson gave the guidance Tuesday, a week before the election. A ballot must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Night to be counted. Voters can only return their ballot to the drop box in their city or township. Nearly 2 million absentee ballots have been issued, 3.6 times the 546,000 that were issued in 2016.


Boy, 15, charged in fatal shooting of 10-year-old relative

WARREN, Mich. (AP) — A 15-year-old Detroit boy has been charged as an adult with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a 10-year-old relative in an apartment that police say was being used like a “flophouse” by a group of young people. The teen was arraigned Tuesday. Orran Baugh of Detroit was shot once in the chest Wednesday in the Warren apartment, just north of Detroit. He later died at a hospital. Police say eight youths — ages 13 to 17 — were interviewed by investigators as witnesses. The Detroit Free Press reports that Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer described their relationships to one another as cousins, and that they were using the apartment “like a flophouse.” 


Plant closings send GM to 2Q loss, but signs of improvement

DETROIT (AP) — Even though General Motors was able to reopen its U.S. factories for the last half of the second quarter, the company still lost $806 million from April through June. The Detroit automaker had to close its plants from March 18 to May 18 due to the coronavirus, but production didn’t resume fast enough to hold off a net loss. GM counts revenue when vehicles are shipped from its factories, so it had little money coming in for seven weeks in April and May. The company reported a loss of 50 cents per share excluding one-time items. That was better than Wall Street expected, with analysts polled by FactSet predicting a $1.77 per-share loss. Revenue was cut in half to $16.78 billion, and that also beat estimates. 


State Supreme Court throws out jury tampering conviction

DETROIT (AP) — Who is a juror? The Michigan Supreme Court says it’s not someone who is simply told to report for jury duty. The court on Tuesday overturned the jury tampering conviction of a man in western Michigan. Keith Wood was distributing pamphlets in 2015 outside the Mecosta County courthouse in Big Rapids. Wood told people they could choose their conscience over the law if they were picked to serve on a jury. Wood was charged with jury tampering and convicted of a misdemeanor. But the Supreme Court says people who haven’t actually participated in a case aren’t jurors under Michigan law. 


Norwegian flag mistaken for Confederate flag removed

ST. JOHNS, Mich. (AP) — Owners of a Michigan bed and breakfast have removed a Norwegian flag outside of their business after being accused of promoting racism from people who think that it is a Confederate flag. The Lansing State Journal reports that Kjersten and Greg Offenecker, owners of The Nordic Pineapple, hung the flag opposite of the American flag after they moved into the Civil War-era mansion in 2018. The red flag, with a blue cross superimposed on a white cross, is a nod to Kjersten Offenbecker’s grandfather, who was born in Norway. The Norwegian flag contains the same colors as a Confederate flag, but the patterns and symbols are different. 


Exam ‘glitch’ causes even more anxiety for aspiring lawyers

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Hundreds of people seeking to become lawyers in Michigan took an online exam that had problems involving passwords. The bar exam is typically a two-day, in-person test. But the coronavirus turned it into a one-day online essay exam with some extraordinary conditions to prevent cheating. The Detroit Free Press says software disconnected the internet on computers and turned on the camera and microphone. At one point, there was a “technical glitch” with accessing passwords for different sections of the exam. Test takers were told they’d get extra time. 


Authorities to exhume body, collect DNA in cold case slaying

BLENDON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Authorities in western Michigan plan to exhume the remains of a woman slain more than 50 years ago to collect DNA in an effort to identify her and solve the case. The Ottawa County sheriff’s office says the remains will be removed Wednesday from a cemetery in Blendon Township and taken to a lab at Michigan State University. Hunters found the woman’s partially nude body in October 1967 near an intersection in Blendon Township, west of Grand Rapids. The body had been at the location three to seven days. An autopsy determined the victim suffered head injuries and had been strangled. Her death was ruled a homicide.


Officer who shot protester with tear gas suspended 2 days

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A police officer in western Michigan has been suspended two days without pay after a man protesting police brutality was struck with a tear gas canister. Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne told reporters Tuesday that an internal review determined Phillip Reinink used unreasonable force on May 30. The victim was shot with a long-range tear gas canister at close range during a confrontation with officers. Payne said Reinink had meant to use a different canister. The incident was captured on cellphone video. Reinink already has served his suspension. He did not face criminal charges.