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DOCTOR-SEXUAL ASSAULT

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.”

WHITMER-YEAR END

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.

FLINT WATER

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.

WHITMER-CLEMENCY

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. 

FROZEN BODY

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.

KALAMAZOO-POLICE CHIEF

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. 

GREAT LAKES RESTORATION

Congress OKs 5-year extension of Great Lakes cleanup program

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Congress has approved a five-year extension of a program designed to deal with long-term environmental injuries to the Great Lakes. The U.S. Senate voted unanimously Sunday to continue the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, as the House did earlier this year. The bill requires President Donald Trump’s signature to take effect. It calls for gradually boosting the program’s annual funding from $300 million to $475 million by 2026. The program focuses on long-term problems such as toxic pollution, invasive species, loss of wildlife habitat and runoff that feeds harmful algae. Projects have taken place in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

WHITMER-BUDGET DIRECTOR

Detroit financial chief becoming state budget director

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says Detroit’s chief financial officer will become Michigan budget director. Dave Massaron will start Jan. 4. Chris Kolb is resigning to become vice president for government relations at the University of Michigan. Massaron says he’s “ready and eager” to work with Whitmer and the Legislature. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says Massaron put the city on a stable financial path. 

VIRUS OUTBREAK-TIP-UP TOWN

Tip-Up Town at Houghton Lake postponed until Feb. 27-28

HOUGHTON LAKE, Mich. (AP) — A popular northern Michigan festival is switching to a February weekend because of coronavirus restrictions. Tip-Up Town USA in Houghton Lake promotes itself as Michigan’s longest-running winter festival, with a polar bear dip, snowmobile drag racing, ice fishing contest and more in Roscommon County. The Jan. 16-17 dates have been switched to Feb. 27-28 because of restrictions on attendance at outdoor events. Tip-Up Town began in 1950, according to the local Chamber of Commerce.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-PRISON TRANSFERS

COVID-19 spikes follow in prisons after inmate transfers

DETROIT (AP) — In prisons around the country, COVID-19 outbreaks have followed transfers of prisoners or prison workers. Nearly all of the 25 state prison systems and the federal Bureau of Prisons that responded to a survey conducted by The Marshall Project and The Associated Press say they had reduced or limited the number of prisoners they moved due to the pandemic. Eight states halted the practice except in special circumstances. The reductions were keeping in line with medical guidelines. But most of those states lifted their restrictions by September and few prison systems heeded the earlier lessons as the pandemic worsened this winter, worrying families of prisoners and correctional officers.