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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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Wednesday, April 8,2015

Blind justice

District Court seeks cameras for City Hall

by Todd A. Heywood
When Anethia Brewer, court administrator for 54-A District Court, walks through the court facilities in Lansing City Hall, she is aware of the security lapses.
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Wednesday, April 1,2015

Courthouse confrontation

Deportation enforcement action skirts policy; city considers establishing īsafe zonesī

by Todd A. Heywood
It’s easy pickings for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers who troll the country for undocumented immigrants. Check public records, identify a target, then wait at a courthouse to snag their prey. It happened two months ago in Lansing when, without notifying Lansing police or court officials, ICE agents showed up at Lansing’s 54-A District Court on the sixth floor of City Hall to arrest Argimiro Hernandez-Garcia, stoking fears among judges and activists that so-called halls of justice were becoming becoming entrapment sites.
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Wednesday, April 1,2015

Raise questions raised

Council members pledge to donate their increase to charities

by Todd A. Heywood
Kathy Tobe considered herself a strong supporter of Third Ward Council Member A’Lynne Boles.That’s until Boles cast the deciding vote to boost pay for Council members, the mayor and city clerk by 20 percent. “I’m really disappointed in her,” Tobe said in a phone interview. “I will be looking at other options for Third Ward now, I guess.”
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