Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. EDT
UAW president taking leave amid corruption probe
DETROIT (AP) — United Auto Workers President Gary Jones is taking a paid leave of absence amid a federal investigation of corruption in the union.
The UAW said Jones requested the leave, which is effective Sunday.
The federal government has been investigating fraud and misuse of funds at the UAW for more than two years.
Jones has not been charged. But in a recent court filing, federal prosecutors alleged that seven top UAW officials conspired since 2010 to embezzle funds through schemes such as submitting false vouchers for conference expenses.
In a statement, Jones said he’s stepping aside so the union can focus on negotiating better contracts for its workers.
UAW Vice President Rory Gamble will serve as acting president. He recently negotiated the union’s tentative agreement with Ford Motor Co.
Whitmer orders flags lowered for a week to honor Conyers
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered flags be lowered in the state Capitol complex and in public buildings and grounds across Michigan to honor the late John Conyers.
Flags should be lowered to half-staff starting Monday — the day of his funeral — through the following Sunday.
Hundreds came to pay their respects to Conyers during an open service on Saturday at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The public viewing is expected to continue Sunday.
Conyers, a Detroit Democrat, was one of the longest-serving members of Congress and used his influence to push for civil rights. He co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969.
Whitmer says Conyers’ impact “will not be forgotten.” She cites his work to spearhead criminal justice and voting rights changes.
STATE LAND PURCHASE-ELK HERD
Michigan buys northern land with lake in state’s elk range
CORWITH TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — The state of Michigan now owns a large, long-sought piece of northern property boasting a lake, forests and rare species that’s in the range of the state’s elk herd.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced it’s completed the $3.8 million purchase of the Storey Lake property. The deal to buy roughly 2,000 acres in the north-central Lower Peninsula took about two decades to wrangle.
The land in Otsego and Cheboygan counties sits between other pieces of public acreage: The Pigeon River Country State Forest and a tract of state-managed forest land.
Officials say the property is open for legal hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and wildlife viewing. The public will be invited to participate in developing an access plan.
The land once was in the hands of an owner from Switzerland.
Bills clarify solar panels are exempt from property taxes
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Legislation heading to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer would clarify that rooftop solar panels are exempt from property taxes.
The bills won final approval from lawmakers this past week in the wake of a 2018 State Tax Commission memorandum that says solar panels installed on residential property must be assessed as a component of that property.
Under the legislation, installing, replacing or repairing an alternative energy system with a generating capacity of not more than 150 kilowatts would be considered normal maintenance.
Groups representing environmentalists and the renewable energy industry are urging Whitmer to sign the bills, saying they would fix a confusing statewide patchwork of taxing rooftop panels. Former Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed similar bills, citing ambiguity over a threshold for taxing alternative energy systems installed in the future.
ARAB AMERICANS-MARC LAMONT HILL
Marc Lamont Hill set to speak at Arab American conference
DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Author, professor and activist Marc Lamont Hill plans to speak at a Detroit-area gathering of Arab Americans aimed at confronting issues facing the community.
Hill is set to speak Friday during a three-day conference called MOVE. It stands for Mobilize, Organize, Vocalize and Empower, and is being held at Dearborn’s Henry hotel.
Organizers say Hill will discuss collective power and energizing communities into action.
The Temple University professor is host of BET News. He was a CNN contributor, but they parted ways last year after he spoke about Israel and Palestine at the United Nations.
Hill called for a boycott of Israel and a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.” The Anti-Defamation League and other groups said the “river to the sea” phrase is code for eliminating Israel, but the professor said it was “not a call to destroy anything or anyone.”
Appeals court denies more money for wrongly convicted man
DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit man who was awarded $1 million for spending 20 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit has failed to get an additional $216,000.
Desmond Ricks was compensated for a wrongful conviction. But he actually spent roughly five more years in prison because the 1992 conviction triggered a parole violation that had to be served first.
Ricks argues that he deserves more money. He notes the parole violation was tied to a murder conviction that was ultimately erased.
But in a 2-1 decision this week, the Michigan appeals court said no. Judges Jonathan Tukel and Thomas Cameron say lawmakers wanted to compensate people only for specific convictions that were thrown out.
Judge Kathleen Jansen says it’s “unjust” to deny Ricks the money.
Man who struck sheriff’s deputy in road convicted of murder
PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — A man accused of running over a sheriff’s deputy in southeastern Michigan has been convicted of murder.
Oakland County Deputy Eric Overall was hit outside his vehicle on Thanksgiving 2017 while deploying “stop sticks” to deflate a vehicle’s tires.
Christopher Berak was accused of leading Lapeer County deputies on a chase and deliberately hitting the 50-year-old Overall at a Brandon Township intersection. Berak was convicted Friday of first-degree murder and murder of a police officer.
Overall’s son, Ken, says it was the “outcome we were hoping for.” But defense attorney Steve Rabaut says Berak had no intention of striking the deputy and was reacting to the stop sticks in the road.
The 24-year-old Berak faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
Michigan takes applications for adult-use marijuana licenses
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan is now accepting applications from businesses wanting to get into the marijuana industry in the wake of voters’ legalization of the drug for adult recreational use.
The Marijuana Regulatory Agency began receiving license applications Friday.
Businesses that already have medical marijuana licenses may get recreational licenses as soon as the end of this month since they were previously vetted.
Applicants must pay a $6,000 nonrefundable fee. Those who secure a license will be assessed additional fees ranging between $1,000 and $40,000 annually depending on the license type.
Licenses are available to grow, process, transport and sell marijuana. There also are licenses to run cafes and other marijuana consumption establishments and to organize marijuana-related events.
Local governments can completely prohibit or limit the number of marijuana establishments within their boundaries.
Whitmer orders closer ties with Michigan native tribes
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is ordering Michigan agencies to step up collaboration with Native American tribes in the state.
Whitmer signed an executive directive Thursday affirming commitment to the sovereignty and right of self-governance of Michigan’s federally recognized tribes.
The document outlines a process for communication between tribes and state departments and agencies on matters of mutual concern.
It also makes a first-time requirement of training on tribal-state relations for all state employees who work on matters with direct implications for tribes.
Whitmer issued the directive during a meeting with Michigan’s tribal leaders in Mount Pleasant.
She previously appointed Wenona Singel of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians as her advisor on tribal-state affairs, the first tribal citizen in Michigan history to hold that position.
DE LA SALLE-HAZING
Detroit-area school forfeits playoff game, cites hazing
WARREN, Mich. (AP) — A Catholic high school in the Detroit area has dropped out of the football playoffs because of hazing incidents by players.
An email sent to parents Thursday by Warren De La Salle Collegiate says players were aware of the hazing but failed to report it. The school felt it was appropriate to end the season by forfeiting a playoff game Friday against Birmingham Groves.
De La Salle says behavior that violates the school’s code of conduct and Christian morality “will not be tolerated.” Warren police have been informed.
The Pilots have won three state championship in the last five years.