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Wednesday, May 13,2015

Help from Hertel

Senator aids same-sex partner to keep house

by Todd A. Heywood
The surviving member of a same-sex Lansing couple will be able to keep his house, thanks to the assistance of state Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., D-Lansing. Mykul Johnson shared the the east-side house for 37 years with D. Thomas, who died in March. Then Johnson discovered that errors on the quit-claim deed on their home threatened his right to inherit it.
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Wednesday, April 29,2015

Out in the cold

City of Lansing bills residents over $90,000 for unshoveled sidewalks

by Todd A. Heywood
Phil Siebert was in the hospital at the end of February, fighting another bout of infection from his chronic upper respiratory issues. On Feb. 23, at 1:23 p.m,. a city of Lansing official walked up to his empty home and taped a bright green notice on his door.
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Wednesday, April 29,2015

The cost of waiting

While Lansing, nation await ruling on same-sex marriage, for one couple itīs already too late

by Todd A. Heywood
In 1977, the world for the LGBT community was a different place. No presidents spoke of equality. A measure to ensure equal treatment under the law had been introduced in the U.S. House but died. East Lansing was one of a handful of local governments that barred discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. A guy named Harvey Milk had just become the first openly gay man in office in American history when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
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Wednesday, April 22,2015

East Lansing ballot battle

Righting historical anachronism or land grab?

by Todd A. Heywood
Underneath the Marriott Hotel in downtown East Lansing is a 30-year-old parking ramp. Most assume it belongs to the Marriott, but that assumption is wrong. The city owns the property, and under agreements it is required to maintain the facility in working condition. To shed this responsibility, the City Council in 2008 asked voters for permission to sell the property to the Marriott. Despite 57 percent of voters saying yes to the proposal, the measure failed because it didn’t reach 60 percent, as required by the City Charter.
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Wednesday, April 22,2015

11 Council candidates

Delgado drops out of at-large race

by Todd A. Heywood
In a surprising turn of events, At-Large Lansing City Councilman Vincent Delgado decided against seeking election to the seat he was appointed to earlier this year. He is not running primarily to spend more time raising his children to be “good citizens,” he said Tuesday after the 4 p.m. filing deadline.
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Wednesday, April 15,2015

Not enough from Niowave

Company misses deadline to soften pole barn facade

by Todd A. Heywood
The battle between downtown residents and the high tech firm Niowave is moving from detente to direct conflict. At issue is whether the company should continue to receive over $650,000 in various tax breaks despite apparently not yet living up to its end of an agreement to complete improvements to a 14,000-square-foot pre-fabricated addition — a pole barn — adjacent to the company’s downtown headquarters in the old brick Walnut Street School.
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Wednesday, April 15,2015

Access denied

Bernero administration blocking access to rental inspection reports

by Todd A. Heywood
You’re in the market for a new rental and know the city of Lansing registers and inspects such properties. You know that information is available on the city’s website, through BS&A’s property database. So you check the property you are considering. The database shows the property is registered and inspected. What you don’t know is that inspectors cited the property for serious issues. The inspection reports are not available online, and may not even be available if your file a Freedom of Information Act request.
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Wednesday, April 15,2015

Dievendorf departs

Equality Michigan once again seeking a leader

by Todd A. Heywood
For the fifth time in less than a decade, the statewide gay rights organization Equality Michigan is without an executive director, after last week’s departure of Emily Dievendorf. Dievendorf had led the agency since the departure of Denise Brogan-Kator in July 2012. Dievendorf has worn many titles, but all were, effectively, executive director of the agency. Neither Dievendorf nor David Wait, Equality Michigan board chairman, returned calls seeking comment on the departure.
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Friday, April 10,2015

Yorko vs. Bernero

Lansing Councilwoman accuses administration of covering up housing issues

by Todd A. Heywood
FRIDAY, April 10 — Fourth Ward Councilmember Jessica Yorko has accused the Bernero administration of keeping housing inspection data from the public in order to “cover up” issues with staffing at the Code Compliance office.
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Wednesday, April 8,2015

Land blank

Blight a concern as vacant lots explode

by Todd A. Heywood
The houses sit side by side on Bluff Street, a block north of Oakland Avenue near downtown. Their lots are overgrown with trees and weeds and trash. The windows are boarded up. Inside the houses are in even worse condition. In one, the ceiling is caving in and the walls are scarred with water stains. The other has been gutted to the wood frame. Two City of Lansing recycling carts sit in front of the buildings, stinking from the rotting garbage.
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