TUESDAY, Feb. 16 — Here's a weekly roundup of area news:
Happy birthday, Lansing:
The city of Lansing was incorporated on Feb. 15, 1859, making it 162 years old.
Dems consider urging Betz to quit
The Ingham County Democratic Party will consider a resolution this week that rebukes Lansing City Councilman Brandon Betz for inflammatory comments that he made to Michael Lynn Jr., co-leader of the Lansing chapter of Black Lives Matter. Similar to a resolution passed by the City Council, the resolution also “encourages” Betz to “consider resigning his position.” Speaking from his native state of Alaska last week, Betz told City Pulse that he was assessing whether to quit. Lynn also sent a cease-and-desist letter to Betz last week that warned Betz to retract “false and defamatory” statements that alleged that Lynn had threatened Betz and his family.
Lansing aims at Lynn over conduct
In an unrelated dispute, Lynn was accused of misconduct for sharing the city-issued cell phone number of Lansing Police Chief Daryl Green to nearly 2,000 people on Facebook. The disclosure allegedly forced Green to change his phone number and “compromised the operational efficiency” of the Police Department “at a time emotions were running high,” records show. Lynn expects to hear back this week on discipline — which could include his termination.
Audit report dings Lansing
An independent audit shows a series of “material weaknesses” were tied to the budget for the city of Lansing last year — including a list of misstated financial records, a lack of internal oversight and an increased risk of fraud. City officials said some issues have been corrected, but others are likely to persist for years while the pandemic thrusts the city into a lingering state of financial uncertainty. Read details about the report at lansingcitypulse.com.
Skating rink (still) coming
A synthetic ice-skating rink is still expected to be installed on the City Hall Plaza this month, albeit behind schedule from its initial “early February” opening. Officials didn’t have a precise opening date available this week but the 3,300-square-foot-rink — because it is outdoors — will be able to accommodate 66 skaters at any given time under state COVID-19 restrictions.
LEAP launches equity department
The Lansing Economic Area Partnership announced the creation of a new Department of Equitable Economic Planning, which is designed to expand opportunities for low-income people and communities of color in Greater Lansing. Empowering historically disenfranchised communities can help grow jobs and diversify wealth in the community, said Tony Willis, who heads up DEEP as LEAP’s newly promoted chief equity development officer.
National groups push for gay equity
Dozens of national organizations, including the ACLU, joined together last week to call on Michigan lawmakers to adopt a bill for LGBTQ equality being advanced by Fair and Equal Michigan. Following a petition drive, state lawmakers must either pass the bill or send the question to voters on the 2022 ballot. It formally defines “sex” within state anti-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Organizers said it would “finally prohibit LGBTQ discrimination” in employment, housing, education and more.
Okemos man named to state board
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointed Dean L. Anderson, of Okemos, last week to serve on the State Historic Preservation Review Board. Anderson most recently served as the state archaeologist in the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office and retired in 2019.
Hardy receives ATHENA Award
Elaine Hardy, East Lansing’s first diversity equity inclusion administrator and chairwoman of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan, was named the 2020 ATHENA Leadership Award recipient last week by the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. Hardy will receive the award at a virtual ceremony next month.
LCC seeks ‘distinguished alum’
Lansing Community College is accepting nominations to honor one “outstanding” graduate with the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award. Nominations of alumni who have made outstanding contributions to their career and their community through volunteer service must be submitted online by Feb. 28. Visit lcc.edu/alumni or call 517-483-1985 for more details.
No bomb at St. Thomas Aquinas
The East Lansing Police Department said no bomb was found after a threat was reported last week at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish School. The school was safely evacuated and students were relocated to East Lansing High School after the threat was reported. Those with any information about the incident have been asked to call Lt. Scott Sexton at 517-319-6916.
Black heritage concert series launched
The city of East Lansing will host three free children’s concerts to celebrate Black heritage this year — all of them at 11 a.m. on Saturdays at the Hannah Community Center. The Gratitude Steel Band will perform on Feb. 20 and March 6. Rodney Page will perform on April 3. Pre-registration is required at cityofeastlansing.com/childrensconcerts or at 517-333-2580.
Pot patients can smoke on probation
A recent ruling in the Michigan Court of Appeals prohibits judges statewide from banning card-carrying medical marijuana patients from consuming cannabis while on probation. The decision set a new statewide precedent that took 12 years since medical pot was legalized.
East Lansing releases race data
Preliminary reports under review at the East Lansing Police Department show that cops “initiated contact” with Black people at rates higher than 20% for seven of the last 11 months, according to reports in the Lansing State Journal. The city’s population is only 6.8% Black.
Lansing Common FC signs players
The Lansing Common FC soccer team signed its first four players: Julian Birge, Zac Kelly, and Leutrim and Lirim Shefkiu. The team will compete in the Midwest Premier League in May. Tryouts are scheduled for March 14 and April 18. Visit lansingcommonfc.com for details.
LAFCU launches art contest
LAFCU is inviting Michigan artists to create pieces that “depict the words of love and equality” for a contest in which winning designs will be showcased on local billboards. The deadline is March 31. Submissions must include words like “humanity,” “change,” “peace” and “unity” and can include paintings, drawings, photos, sculptures, textiles and more. Visit lafcu.com/loveandequality for more details on how to submit an application for the contest.