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Court: Nassar won’t be resentenced despite judge’s remarks

DETROIT (AP) — The Michigan appeals court says a judge who sentenced sports doctor Larry Nassar to 40 years in prison made “wholly inappropriate” remarks about him. But the court says they’re not enough to violate Nassar’s rights and upset the punishment for sexual assault. The appeals court notes that Judge Rosemarie Aquilina stuck to the sentencing agreement. Nassar was a doctor at Michigan State University and at USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians. In 2018, Aquilina sentenced him to at least 40 years in prison after listening to more than 150 victims describe how he had molested them with his hands. The judge called Nassar a “monster” who is “going to wither” like the wicked witch in “The Wizard of Oz.”


Flint joins $641M deal to settle lawsuits over lead in water

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The Flint City Council has signed off on its portion of a $641 million settlement with residents of the poor, majority-Black Michigan city who were exposed to lead-tainted water. Flint’s insurer would kick in $20 million as part of a sweeping deal to settle lawsuits against Flint, the state of Michigan and other parties. The Flint council approved its stake early Tuesday after an hourslong meeting that raised concerns about whether residents were getting shortchanged. Most of the money — $600 million — is coming from the state of Michigan. State regulators allowed Flint to use the Flint River in 2014 and 2015 without treating the water to reduce corrosion. The disaster made Flint a nationwide symbol of governmental mismanagement.


Michigan to allow thousands on food aid to go to restaurants

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan residents who receive food assistance from the state can use their benefits at restaurants. The program could give a boost to restaurants that are prohibited from offering indoor dining because of coronavirus restrictions imposed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration. The health department says more than 300,000 people will soon be able to use their Bridge Card to buy discounted meals at restaurants. Restaurants first must enroll with the health department, which will publish an online list. People who are eligible include those over 60 and people with a disability. 


Critics say EPA allowing more time to fix lead-tainted water

The Trump administration has overhauled the country’s widely criticized, 29-year-old framework to eliminate toxic lead from drinking water. But critics charge that Tuesday’s rules give utilities far more time than before to replace old, lead-contaminated pipes and lines. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the final rule changes, saying they require more replacement of lead-contaminated water lines than ever before. But Erik Olson of the Natural Resources Defense Council says the changes give utilities up to two decades more to replace the worst-contaminated lines. The change comes six years after the Flint, Michigan, water crisis highlighted the dangers and regulatory failures surrounding lead-contaminated water systems.


Whitmer signs bill prohibiting water shutoffs through March

LANSING, Mich (AP) — Water shutoffs will be banned through March under legislation signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The law reinstates a moratorium that was ended by a Michigan Supreme Court opinion. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Stephanie Chang, says the state needs to ensure that during the coronavirus pandemic people have the ability to wash their hands to curb the spread. Whitmer says every resident deserves access to clean water. Detroit announced in early December that it would halt water shutoffs through 2022.


AP: Michigan spent $135M on medical gear early in pandemic

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Michigan spent more than $135 million on masks, gloves and other protective gear during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. That’s according to a nationwide Associated Press analysis of spending last spring, when states were racing against time and each other to protect essential workers. Michigan provided a list of 69 orders placed between late March and early May. The biggest expenditures were for face masks designed to filter out tiny particles from the air. The state also bought gowns, gloves, face shields, goggles and ventilators.


Gov. Whitmer reflects on a divided year for Michigan

LANSING, Mich (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reflected on a tough year for the state during an year-end video conference with reporters on Tuesday. She talked about the state’s response to coronavirus, efforts to reduce racial disparities in health care as well as an alleged plot to kidnap her. “Politics has permeated” work to curb the spread of COVID-19 and impeded the state’s ability to protect residents, Whitmer said. Though she’s proud of the state’s response to COVID-19 and how it’s risen to other challenges, she said there is much work to be done.


Whitmer reduces sentences for 4 men, clearing path to parole

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reduced the sentences of four men who were serving long prison terms, making them immediately eligible for parole. Three of the four men have been in prison for more than 20 years. Michael Thompson and Lawrence Cadroy were convicted of drug crimes in Genesee County. Lorenzo Garrett and Larry McGhee were convicted of drug crimes in Oakland County. Whitmer says each case was vetted by the Michigan parole board. Without clemency, Thompson would not have been eligible for parole until 2038. 


Kalamazoo official apologizes over handling of chief’s exit

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — The city manager in Kalamazoo publicly apologized after acknowledging that the public safety chief didn’t retire but was fired. City Manager Jim Ritsema says disclosures of Karianne Thomas’ departure in September didn’t tell the whole story. Ritsema says he didn’t want to harm Thomas’ reputation. She was ousted after much criticism about how police handled protests related to racial injustice. Ritsema says he didn’t have cause to fire Thomas so she was dismissed without cause. Thomas received severance pay of $150,000. Despite the dismissal, Thomas was eligible for full retirement after serving 27 years with the public safety department. 


UPS worker finds frozen body of 80-year-old Michigan man

CAMBRIDGE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Police say a UPS worker making deliveries in southern Michigan discovered the frozen body of an 80-year-old man outside his home. Foul play is not suspected. Police believe Richard Kokochak died after an accident or health problem in Lenawee County’s Cambridge Township. A UPS employee discovered Kokochak’s body last week in his curved driveway. Kokochak lived in the house with his partner, who was in the hospital at the time. Police say it would have been difficult for a passerby to see the body.