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Whitmer seeks common ground with Legislature to end pandemic

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has sought “common ground” with the Republican-led Legislature in her third annual State of the State address. The Democrat pitched a multibillion-dollar pandemic relief plan and other policy initiatives Wednesday night. She also touted residents’ grit in a crisis that has claimed thousands of lives. GOP lawmakers, meanwhile, stepped up opposition to her administration’s COVID-19 restrictions. Whitmer said while common ground seems less and less common these days, “it’s never been more important that we work toward it” to end the pandemic.


Man pleads guilty in conspiracy to kidnap Michigan governor

DETROIT (AP) — One of six men charged in an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Ty Garbin appeared in federal court in Grand Rapids, a few hours after prosecutors filed a plea agreement that’s loaded with details about the operation and his pledge to cooperate with investigators. The deal signed by Garbin says the group discussed an incredible scheme to snatch Whitmer at her lakeside vacation home and destroy a bridge to slow down police. The FBI in October said it broke up a plot to kidnap the Democratic governor by anti-government extremists upset over her coronavirus restrictions. Six people are charged in federal court; eight more are charged in state court.


Undersheriff: Man, woman, child died from exposure to cold

WEST BRANCH, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a man, woman and their young son whose bodies were found in a remote area of northern Michigan died from exposure to cold weather. Autopsies were completed four days after a snowmobiler found the bodies outside a pickup truck in Ogemaw County’s Rose Township. Undersheriff Paul Frechette says there was no foul play. Amanda Pomeroy, Douglas Dougherty and son Jacob lived in Bay City and were reported missing on Jan. 16. The boy was under a year old. the undersheriff says their pickup truck was stuck on a rock.


U of M students asked not to leave homes due to COVID-19

Lansing, Mich. (AP) — The University of Michigan and the Washtenaw County Health Department have asked students to avoid leaving their residences to slow the spread of COVID-19 and a more contagious variant. The university saw 175 new cases of coronavirus in the student population at the beginning of the school year. The stay-in-place recommendation is effective immediately and will run through Feb. 7. The health department is asking students to limit leaving their residence to going to classes, going to get food, going to work and other necessary in-person activities. The variant is mutated version of COVID-19 that medical experts say is more contagious. 


GOP: No aid unless counties control school, sports closures

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan House Republicans have proposed a $3.5 billion coronavirus recovery plan that threatens to withhold billions to K-12 schools unless Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives her administration’s power to prohibit in-person instruction and sports to local health departments. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have lashed out over COVID-19 restrictions being issued without their input by blocking 13 of the Democratic governor’s nominees to various state boards. Whitmer is expected to seek areas of common ground in her annual State of the State address Wednesday night, but partisan rancor is unlikely to dissipate in Lansing.


Fiat Chrysler agrees to plead guilty, pay $30M in UAW probe

DETROIT (AP) — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $30 million fine for a corruption scandal at the union that represents its factory workers. Federal prosecutors in Detroit charged the company with conspiracy from 2009 to 2016. The government says company representatives gave more than $3.5 million in cash and other things to senior officials at the United Auto Workers. The money came from a jointly run training center. Fiat Chrysler spokeswoman Shawn Morgan confirmed the company’s planned guilty plea and fine. Edward “Nick” Robinson, who was a union official in the St. Louis area, was sentenced to a year in prison Wednesday for conspiring to embezzle dues. His cooperation helped the government convict former presidents Dennis Williams and Gary Jones.


Snyder team: Flint water case could be doomed over records

DETROIT (AP) — Lawyers for former Gov. Rick Snyder are signaling that a major challenge is brewing over documents possessed by Flint water prosecutors. They told a judge that prosecutors did not use an independent team to screen for records that might be protected by attorney-client privilege or Snyder’s executive privilege as governor. Snyder was recently charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty in Flint, a misdemeanor. Defense attorney Brian Lennon told a Flint judge that he might have to hold hearings to learn more about the records. A spokeswoman for prosecutors says Snyder’s defense team is making a “meritless” attack that will be answered in court.


Dearborn to remove name of former mayor from ballroom

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Elected officials in a Detroit suburb are wiping away part of the community’s segregationist past by removing the name of its longest-serving mayor from a civic center ballroom. The action Tuesday by the Dearborn City Council is the latest move to separate the city from Orville Hubbard’s political legacy, which included efforts to keep Black families from moving into the then-mostly white community. Hubbard, who was white, was mayor from 1942 to 1977. He died in 1982. In 2015, a statue of Hubbard was removed from outside Dearborn’s former city hall to a historical museum. The statue also was removed last June from the museum grounds.


Former Macomb County prosecutor pleads guilty to obstruction

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) — A former suburban Detroit prosecutor has pleaded guilty to obstructing justice in an investigation of how he spent campaign donations. Eric Smith was Macomb County prosecutor for nearly 16 years. Smith admits that he attempted to get three people, including two assistant prosecutors, to make false statements about his use of campaign cash. Smith told a judge that he will “fully accept responsibility” for his conduct. Smith says he’s brought shame to his family. Smith, a Democrat, quit office last March after he was charged in a different case with embezzlement and other crimes. That case is pending.


Detroit to dismiss some tickets issued during Floyd protests

The city of Detroit will dismiss most misdemeanor citations issued last spring during several days of protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Most of the tickets written May 31 and June 2 were for curfew violations as hundreds of people demonstrated in downtown Detroit. Detroit Corporation Counsel Lawrence Garcia says Tuesday that the city expects to dismiss 238 of the 245 tickets issued on those three days. Dozens of demonstrators violated Detroit’s curfew requiring people to be off city streets after 8 p.m. and received appearance citations. Others were ticketed for disruptive or violent behavior. In addition to those in Detroit, charges that stemmed from demonstrations in some other U.S. cities also have been dismissed.