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Flint water charges escalate debate over officials’ failures

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The prosecution of former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and others in the Flint water crisis is igniting a debate over whether public officials are being punished for judgment calls. Snyder was charged this week with willful neglect of duty. Other state and local officials were indicted on counts including involuntary manslaughter and perjury stemming from the contamination of Flint’s water. Critics of the prosecution say it could lead health officials to base decisions on limiting liability instead of science. But supporters say the Flint case is unique and criminal charges are needed to make the victims whole.


Guard activated at Michigan Capitol amid increased security

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has activated the National Guard, the state police continues to augment its presence at the Capitol, and crews will install a 6-foot fence around the 142-year-old building before potential protests ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. Michigan State Police Col. Joe Gasper said Friday that an unknown number of demonstrators are expected to gather on the grounds Sunday, a week-and-a-half after the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol. Troopers are being mobilized from across the state and will be joined by the National Guard and local law enforcement.


Michigan tax revenues are $2.1B above earlier projections

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Projected tax revenues in Michigan’s two major accounts will be $2.1 billion higher than previously anticipated over two years. That’s being driven by increased federal unemployment benefits and consumers’ online purchases amid the coronavirus pandemic. Economists in the Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration agreed Friday to economic and fiscal forecasts. The Democratic governor will use the numbers to craft her third annual spending plan. State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks says while the revenue shortfall is not as severe as feared, additional federal COVID-19 relief will be needed. The surplus could be used for unspecified one-time spending.


Ex-Snyder aide quits university board after Flint charges

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — Richard Baird, one of nine former officials charged in the Flint water crisis, has resigned from the Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents. Baird, 64, was a top aide to ex-Gov. Rick Snyder, who was arraigned on misdemeanor charges Thursday. In a letter to the board’s chair Friday, Baird said his decision was very difficult but in the best interests of the university. He said he will be exonerated of the “specious” felony charges — perjury, misconduct in office, obstruction of justice and extortion — but the legal proceedings will “take quite a long while.”


Canton Township man charged in fatal shooting of son, 8

CANTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A man has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of his 8-year-old son in a suburban Detroit home. The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 33-year-old Nicholas Bennett of Canton Township was arraigned Friday. Prosecutors said Bennett was working on a rifle Dec. 15 in a Canton Township home when the weapon fired. The boy was in the room with his father when he was shot. He later died at a hospital. Bennett faces a Jan. 29 probable cause conference and a Feb. 5 preliminary examination. The Associated Press was unable Friday afternoon to determine if Bennett has an attorney.


Detroit plans to resume demolitions with city bond funds

DETROIT (AP) — Work could start this spring on razing about 1,380 blighted houses and other properties in Detroit under the city’s new Demolition Department. Mayor Mike Duggan said Friday that the first $30 million in demolition bid contracts have been awarded to seven companies based in Detroit and that at least 51% of the workers on the projects will be city residents. The work will be paid through bond funds approved last year by city voters. Detroit has demolished about 19,000 vacant and abandoned houses since 2014, but most of that work was paid with federal funds.


Police investigating death of Michigan man in West Virginia

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — Police say a Michigan man has been found dead inside a West Virginia home. Huntington police are investigating the case as a homicide. Police say the body of 23-year-old David Thompson II of Detroit was found at a Huntington home. The city says police were called to the house shortly after 1:30 a.m. Thursday. No further information was provided.


Groups ask court to restore protections for US gray wolves

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Wildlife advocates are asking a federal court to overturn a U.S. government decision that stripped Endangered Species Act protections for wolves across most of the nation. Two coalitions of advocacy groups filed lawsuits Thursday in U.S. District Court in Northern California seeking to restore protections for the predators. The Trump administration announced in October that wolves were considered recovered from near-extinction across most of the U.S. But critics of the move say continued protections are needed so fledgling wolf populations in Colorado and on the West Coast can continue to expand. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said gray wolves have exceeded goals for recovery.


List of officials charged in Flint water crisis, allegations

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The Flint water crisis began in 2014 when the city began taking water from the Flint River without treating it properly, contaminating it with lead. Numerous developments have occurred in the aftermath, culminating with charges being filed against former Gov. Rick Snyder and eight other state or state-appointed officials. The disaster made Flint a nationwide symbol of governmental mismanagement, with residents lining up for bottled water and parents fearing that their children had suffered permanent harm. At the same time, bacteria in the water was blamed for a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.


Key moments in Flint, Michigan’s lead-tainted water crisis

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The charges filed against ex-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and eight other former state or state-appointed officials Wednesday and Thursday is the latest development in a crisis that began in 2014 when the city began taking water from the Flint River without treating it properly. Two former Michigan health officials were charged with involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of nine people who got Legionnaires’ disease during the Flint water crisis, as prosecutors revisiting how the city’s water system was contaminated with lead and bacteria also charged an adviser to Snyder with extortion and perjury.