Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT


Civil rights director fired for inappropriate comments

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Civil Rights Commission in Michigan has voted to fire the director of the state’s Department of Civil Rights after it emerged that he made inappropriate comments that objectified women.

The commission originally reprimanded Agustin Arbulu after an investigation into remarks he made to a male staffer during a listening session at a middle school in May.

On Tuesday, in a 5-2 vote, the commission dismissed Arbulu as director of the agency that investigates discrimination complaints.

Arbulu was appointed in 2013 to the commission by then-Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican. He has been director of the agency since 2015.

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer earlier this month blasted the commission’s decision to let Arbulu keep his job despite his comments, which a staffer said included such things as “would you look at that woman” and that the staffer should “check out” her butt.


School superintendents sound alarm over lack of state budget

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan superintendents are sounding the alarm about starting school without knowing how much funding they will receive from the state.

For the first time in a decade, no state K-12 budget was in place in July, when districts’ fiscal years begin. The deadline for the state budget is Oct. 1.

Superintendents said Tuesday that they have been thrown in a state of uncertainty, and they are having trouble making hiring decisions when more kids enroll than expected.

The budget is being held up largely over Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s push for a tax increase to fix the roads. She also is seeking the largest increase in classroom spending in 18 years.

Republicans also back a funding boost for schools, though a smaller amount than what Whitmer wants.


EPA proposes $585,000 settlement for Michigan cleanup site

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comment on a $585,000 settlement for cleaning up an old aluminum smelting site in southwestern Michigan.

The EPA says the Alreco Metals site in Benton Harbor, near the Paw Paw River, was in operation for 43 years before the owner filed for bankruptcy in 2008. Waste was exposed when equipment and buildings were dismantled at the 28-acre (11-hectare) site.

The government says it has reached a settlement over past response costs with Service Aluminum Corp., Toyota Motor Engineering and Louis Padnos Iron and Metal.

The public will have until Sept. 26 to offer an opinion.


Invasive water plant found in Michigan’s lower Grand River

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Officials say an invasive water plant called European frogbit has been detected in Michigan’s lower Grand River.

The state Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy says the plant was found immediately upstream of Grand Haven in Ottawa County and in Pentwater Lake in Oceana County.

European frogbit first appeared in southeastern Michigan in 1996. It has spread along the coastal areas of Lake Erie and Lake Huron up to the eastern Upper Peninsula.

The plant resembles a miniature water lily with leaves about the size of a quarter. It forms dense mats that prevent native plant growth, make movement difficult for ducks and large fish, and cause problems for boaters, anglers and swimmers.

A survey is underway to determine how far the plant has gone and how to respond.


Man charged with killing wife by spiking cereal with heroin

DAVISON, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan man has been charged with murder after investigators concluded he spiked his wife’s bowl of cereal with heroin.

The medical examiner initially classified Christina Ann-Thompson Harris’ 2014 death as an accidental overdose. But investigators now believe Jason Harris poisoned her at their home in Davison, 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of Detroit.

Prosecutor David Leyton says the 36-year-old victim was an “incredibly loving mother.” Friends were shocked to hear about an overdose and said she never used drugs.

Leyton says Jason Harris’ siblings told police that he had talked about “getting rid” of his wife. Co-workers told investigators that Harris had been looking for a hit man.

Harris appeared in court Tuesday and was denied bond. It wasn’t immediately known if he has a lawyer who can comment.


Man tried to break windows to free wife, daughter in pond

WATERFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Police say an 83-year-old man jumped into a Michigan pond and tried to break car windows to free his wife and daughter who died in the water.

More details are emerging about the deaths of 81-year-old Mary Syron and 56-year-old Maureen Syron. They drowned last Wednesday in Waterford Township.

Police say Lloyd Syron mistakenly left the transmission in drive when he went into his daughter’s home to get clothes. The vehicle rolled into the pond. The Detroit News says both victims had limited mobility before the accident.

Lloyd Syron is co-owner of Pontiac Country Club.

A neighbor, Marie Bliss, says she can’t imagine how the family is dealing with the losses. She says losing a loved one is tough but two is a “nightmare.”


Indiana just days away from legalized sports betting

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Sports betting is just days away from becoming legal in Indiana and the state’s casinos are lining up to start collecting wagers.

Indiana becomes the 12th state with sports betting when a state law adopted this spring takes effect Sunday.

At least three Indiana casinos, those in East Chicago, Shelbyville and near Cincinnati, plan the opening of on-site sports wagering areas that day. Some others plan similar openings before the NFL season kicks off on Sept. 5.

The Indiana Gaming Commission is set to vote Wednesday on approving sports wagering regulations. Eleven of the state’s 13 casinos and all three off-track betting parlors have received temporary sports betting licenses.

Indiana’s casinos hope to attract gamblers from Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky as sports betting is not yet allowed in those states.


Detroit-area officer who questioned black man resigns

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) — A suburban Detroit police officer has resigned after he questioned a black man when a white woman claimed he was staring at her.

The Royal Oak Tribune says Royal Oak’s police chief disclosed the resignation Monday at a city council meeting. Chief Corrigan O’Donohue said the officer quit Friday “when faced with the consequences of his actions.”

The woman called 911 and reported feeling uncomfortable after 20-year-old Devin Myers circled her vehicle on Aug. 13. Myers says he had parked his car and was walking to a restaurant when he was stopped by police. He believes he was racially profiled.

O’Donohue said the stop shouldn’t have lasted 20 minutes. He said the officer also shouldn’t have asked for Myers’ identification.

O’Donohue said he apologized to Myers two days after the incident.


Detroit center removes name of ex-mayor with racist past

DETROIT (AP) — The home of Detroit’s annual auto show and other major events has officially changed its name to the TCF Center and moved on from its original name, which honored a former mayor known for racist and segregationist policies.

Officials on Tuesday announced that the Cobo Center is no more. The change follows the February announcement of a $33 million naming rights deal with Chemical Bank, now a division of TCF Bank.

Officials have said the name change will save taxpayers millions of dollars and move the riverfront facility toward being financially self-sustaining. It had been owned and operated by the city until 2009, when a regional authority was created.

Officials also say a name change will stop honoring a negative aspect of Detroit’s history. Albert Cobo, who served as mayor from 1950 to 1957, sought to keep blacks out of predominantly white neighborhoods.


Survey finds new auto technology can annoy drivers

DETROIT (AP) — A survey shows that alerts from new driver assist systems are so annoying that some motorists are turning the features off.

The 2019 J.D. Power Tech Experience study also found that frustrated drivers may avoid the systems in future vehicle purchases.

J.D. Power says the findings are a major concern for automakers who want to sell the systems and prepare drivers for automated vehicles.

The survey found that 23% of drivers with systems that keep vehicles in their lanes view the alerts as annoying. The results vary by brand, with up to 30% finding the alerts bothersome in some brands. Of drivers who don’t like the alerts, 61% sometimes disable the systems.

J.D. Power surveyed over 16,400 people from February through July who bought or leased a 2019 vehicle in the past 90 days.