Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EST
Sanders, Biden up attacks as head-to-head race takes shape
DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — The Democratic presidential primary is down to two major candidates, and it shows. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are spending their first weekend as their party’s last top White House contenders sharpening their attacks against one another. Each is trying to demonstrate that he’s the best choice before six more states vote on Tuesday. It reflects the new contours of a race that once featured more than 20 Democrats. This state of play could endure for months as Biden and Sanders wage a protracted battle for the right to face President Donald Trump in November.
BOND FLOP-SCHOOLS FUNDRAISER
Michigan school district finds new way to raise funds
BLACKMAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan school district has launched a GoFundMe-style fundraising campaign for school upgrades after residents voted against a bond proposal in 2018. MLive reports that Northwest Community Schools District started the Invest in Northwest portal in January. It allows people to pick which project they want their donations to go to. Projects include new tennis courts, drumline equipment and risers for the choir. The district hopes to encourage people to give by sharing success stories on the website. The online portal does not have a timeline or total price tag. Some projects have money goals, while others don’t.
State wins lawsuit over license suspensions but offers help
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — State officials say they want to help poor people avoid a driver’s license suspension for unpaid traffic tickets. A federal appeals court last year rejected a challenge to the suspension policy. But the attorney general’s office said a line will be added to tickets and court forms, telling people to contact the local court to arrange an alternative if they can’t afford to pay a fine. The language will be added no later than mid-February 2021.
WATER AUTHORITY-PAYMENT ASSISTANCE
Water authority transfers funding for bill assistance
DETROIT (AP) — The Great Lakes Water Authority is transferring more than $1.6 million to Detroit and Flint for conservation education and to help customers pay past-due water bills. Board members transferred the Water Residential Assistance Program funding from uncommitted 2019 bill assistance funds from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. The authority says close to $1.2 million will go Detroit, while Flint will get more than $470,000. More than 19,000 households are enrolled in the assistance program. Detroit and Flint residents make up 71 percent of all enrollments. Eligible customers receive a $25 monthly credit toward current water bills with any arrears suspended for 12 to 24 months.
Michigan insurers cover virus tests; Medicaid copays waived
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan health insurers say they will cover the cost of medically necessary tests for the new coronavirus for people covered under employer and individual health plans. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, meanwhile, announced late Friday the waiving of testing and treatment fees for Medicaid recipients. Michigan currently has no known COVID-19 cases, but infections have been identified in about half of the states. Plans that will waive copays and deductibles for testing costs include Blue Cross Blue Shield, Blue Care Network, Priority Health, CVS Health, McLaren and Meridian. The change won’t apply to large employers that self-insure but use insurers to administer benefits.
Michigan state senator denies sexual harassment allegations
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan lawmaker who was disciplined after an investigation found “credible” claims that he sexually harassed three women says he harassed no one. Sen. Peter Lucido issued a statement Friday, a day after the state Senate leader removed him from a committee he led and ordered that he undergo training. Lucido notes that the Senate Business Office and its outside lawyers determined the allegations could not be “unequivocally substantiated.” The review, though, found all of the accusers “credible” and concluded it was “more likely than not” that each incident occurred as reported.
University of Michigan won’t change investigation into abuse
ANN ARBOR, Mich, (AP) — University of Michigan leaders say they plan to stay the course with their own investigation into allegations that a deceased team doctor may have molested hundreds of people going back decades. The school’s president and board of regents issued a statement Friday saying they were “overseeing a process that will ultimately serve as the best course of action for the survivors and University community.” The statement didn’t mention state Attorney General Dana Nessel, but Nessel said Thursday that she would investigate the claims against Dr. Robert E. Anderson and how the school dealt with complaints only if the school would cooperate fully. Accusers’ lawyers called the university’s statement shameful.
Date set for guilty plea from UAW ex-president Gary Jones
DETROIT (AP) — The former president of the United Auto Workers will appear in court on March 19 to plead guilty to corruption. The date was set Friday, a day after charges against Gary Jones were unsealed in federal court in Detroit. He’s accused of conspiring with UAW cronies to embezzle more than $1 million. Jones was president for about 1 1/2 years until quitting under a cloud in November. The government said union money was spent on golf, cigars, spas, high-end lodging and booze. Since 2017, nine union officials and a late official’s spouse have pleaded guilty in the government’s broad investigation.
5 workers at Michigan wildlife lab get latent form of TB
DETROIT (AP) — Officials say five people who worked in a Michigan wildlife disease lab were diagnosed last year with a latent form of tuberculosis. The Department of Natural Resources lab processes thousands of deer heads during hunting season to check for chronic wasting disease and bovine TB. TB is an illness caused by bacteria that attack the lungs. It can be fatal, although a latent form shows no symptoms and doesn’t make people feel sick. DNR spokesman Ed Golder says it’s been the department’s “working assumption” that the workers got TB from infected deer. But Golder says, “We can’t say for sure.”
Proposed city budget calls for Detroit pensions funding
DETROIT (AP) — Mayor Mike Duggan has presented a proposed $2.4 billion budget for 2020-21 to the Detroit City Council. The Detroit News reports that Duggan wants to move $30 million from last year’s general fund surplus into a rainy-day fund to help meet increased pension contributions in the coming years. Another $20 million in surplus funds would go into a retiree protection fund. Duggan told reporters Friday that the city is going to stay on top of funding to the pension systems so city workers “never again have to have their pensions threatened.” The budget also calls for $50 million to fight blight and pay for the demolition of vacant homes.