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UNION-AUTOS-CORRUPTION

Former UAW executive charged in widening corruption probe

DETROIT (AP) — A retired vice president is the latest to be charged in a corruption scandal at the United Auto Workers union.

Joe Ashton is accused of getting thousands of dollars in kickbacks from a contractor who made watches for union members. The 58,000 watches are still in storage five years later.

Ashton was charged Wednesday with conspiracy. The case is filed in Detroit federal court as a “criminal information,” which means a guilty plea is expected. Ashton is the 13th person to be charged in a federal investigation of the UAW and auto companies.

The identity of his lawyer wasn’t immediately known.

Ashton was a powerful official who headed the UAW’s General Motors department. He also was a member of the GM board.

UAW President Gary Jones was placed on paid leave last weekend after a key ally was charged.

AP-US-CANDIDATE-RACIST-COMMENT

Candidate who wanted city as white ‘as possible’ gets 4%

MARYSVILLE, Mich. (AP) — A city council candidate in Michigan who dropped out after saying she wanted to keep her community white “as much as possible” still received 4% of the vote.

Jean Cramer ended her candidacy in Marysville in August, but it was too late to remove her name from the ballot. Cramer finished last among five candidates with 180 votes.

Cramer couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. Her phone line was busy.

Marysville’s new mayor, Wayne Pyden, says he believes Cramer might have received votes from older residents who heard her pledge to help senior citizens.

At a summer forum , Cramer created a furor when a moderator asked if the city should do more to attract foreign-born residents. Cramer replied: “Keep Marysville a white community as much as possible.”

CAGE-FREE EGGS

Michigan House backs ban on cages for egg-laying hens

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan would become the fifth state to require that egg-laying hens be housed in cage-free areas under legislation approved by the state House and backed as aligning farms with where the industry is headed.

The main bill is part of a broader update of the state’s animal industry law. The measure would change and delay confinement standards for hens.

Each hen currently must be confined in a 1-square-foot space by April. The bill would instead require each egg-laying hen to be housed in a cage-free system before 2025.

Animal-rights advocates say cage-free housing provides a better quality of life for hens.

The Senate previously passed the bills, so they should reach Gov. Gretchen Whitmer soon once the Senate concurs with a change in the primary bill.

EASTPOINTE-RANKED VOTING

Familiar candidates win under ranked-choice voting in suburb

EASTPOINTE, Mich. (AP) — An incumbent and a former mayor have been elected to the city council in a Detroit suburb under an unusual election method known as ranked-choice voting.

Voters in Eastpointe ranked four candidates for two council seats Tuesday. The preferences were shifted and counted until there were two winners with slightly more than 33.3% of the vote.

Incumbent Sarah Lucido won after the first round. Harvey Curley won a seat after the second round.

Ranked-choice voting was the result of a lawsuit settlement between Eastpointe and the U.S. Justice Department. The government claimed white voters had acted as a bloc to dilute the voting power of black residents in citywide council races.

Lucido and Curley are white. Separately, Eastpointe elected its first black mayor, Monique Owens. Ranked-choice voting was not used in the mayor’s race.

STUDENT ATHLETES

Michigan bills would let college athletes earn money

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers will consider letting college athletes be paid for the use of their name, image and likeness.

Bipartisan bills introduced in the state House on Wednesday are modeled after a proposal signed into law in California in September.

Legislators backing the measures say Michigan should lead on the issue of compensating college athletes because the NCAA is not moving quickly enough. The NCAA Board of Governors voted last month to allow amateur athletes to cash in on their name, image and likeness. Rules and regulations will be finalized by January 2021.

The Michigan sponsors of the legislation are Republican Rep. Brandt Iden, who played tennis at Kalamazoo College, and Democratic Rep. Joe Tate, who played football at Michigan State University.

HAZARDOUS WASTE-INVESTIGATION

Michigan firm, owner sentenced in illegal waste storage case

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. (AP) — A Detroit-area company has been ordered to pay roughly $1.5 million and its owner one year in prison for illegally storing hazardous waste.

The Justice Department announced Wednesday that Judge Stephen Murphy issued the sentence after accepting guilty pleas in February from Madison Heights-based Electro-Plating Services Inc. and company President Gary Sayers.

Authorities say chemicals used in the plating process, such as cyanide, chromium, nickel and others, were stored in drums and other containers, including a pit dug into the ground. By law, such waste must be transported to licensed hazardous waste facilities.

A federal release says Sayers “stonewalled” efforts and warnings for years to properly deal with the wastes. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program spent what the company was fined to clean up and dispose of the wastes.

PASTOR CHARGED-SEXUAL ASSAULTS

Michigan pastor gets 10-year prison sentence for assault

(Information from: Traverse City Record-Eagle, http://www.record-eagle.com)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A man who was a pastor at a Traverse City church has been sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for sexual assault.

Christopher Cox was accused of sexually assaulting men after drugging them. He pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct in exchange for the dismissal of other charges.

Cox was pastor at Long Lake Church. Defense attorney Paul Jarboe says Cox was a “contributing member of our community but obviously there was another side.”

Assistant Prosecutor Charles Hamlin called Cox a “predator” and a “monster.” The Traverse City Record-Eagle says Cox didn’t speak in court Tuesday.

Prosecutor Noelle Moeggenberg has defended the plea deal, saying Cox’s sentence would not have been longer if he had been convicted of additional charges.

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ELECTION 2019-FLINT MAYOR

Flint mayor ousted as recovery, rebuilding trust continue

DETROIT (AP) — The city of Flint, Michigan, will continue to recover from a lead-contaminated water crisis with a new mayor, who will in turn work to rebuild residents’ shattered trust.

Former Flint city councilman and current state Rep. Sheldon Neeley on Tuesday defeated incumbent Mayor Karen Weaver.

Weaver, who served one term, survived a 2017 recall effort. She was elected in 2015, when voters ousted Dayne Walling in the wake of the crisis arising after the city turned to the Flint River for its water supply. The water switch was made while Flint was under control of a state-appointed emergency manager and was waiting for a pipeline to be built from Lake Huron.

Paul Rozycki, a retired political science professor in Flint, believes an “anti-incumbent element” with a general distrust of City Hall benefited Neeley.

ANN ARBOR SCHOOLS

Ann Arbor schools win $1B bond, largest in state since ’94

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Voters in the Ann Arbor school district have approved a $1 billion bond proposal, the largest in Michigan since 1994.

The district says the money will be used to upgrade schools, add classrooms, buy buses and technology, among other priorities. The Washtenaw County clerk’s office says the bond was favored by 53 percent of voters Tuesday.

The Ann Arbor district includes the city of Ann Arbor and parts of eight townships. There are 18,000 students.

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says the bond will “provide for generations of children.” She says some of the 35 buildings will need to be replaced in the years ahead.

The Ann Arbor News says the district has a $9 billion tax base, the largest of any Michigan school district.

GANG NAME-CARVED CHEST

Man pleads guilty to carving gang name into teen’s chest

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A suburban Detroit man has pleaded guilty to carving a local gang’s name into a 15-year-old boy’s chest.

Federal prosecutors said Tuesday that 37-year-old Doniel A. Heard of Canton pleaded guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering and admitted being the leader of a Michigan set of the Bloods street gang.

Prosecutors say Heard and three other gang members beat and robbed the teenager in November 2017, believing he’d “disrespected” other gang members.

Heard then sat on the boy and used a large knife to carve “M.O.B. 662” into his chest as two women held the teen down. M.O.B. stands for “Members of Bloods” with the 662 representing M.O.B. on a telephone keypad.

Heard faces up to 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced March 4.