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City Pulse News Rewind: Ballot boxes ready in Lansing

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Ballot boxes ready in Lansing

Ballot boxes are ready in Lansing as the city prepares to begin mailing absentee ballots Thursday. Dignitaries led by city Clerk Chris Swope (above left), Council President Peter Spadafore (depositing a ceremonial ballot), and Secretary of State Jocylyn Benson (not pictured) and others marked National Voter Registration Day with a ribbon cutting at the Alfreda Schmidt Community Center for one of 15 city ballot boxes. A complete list with a map is available at www.lansingvotes.com along with other important election information. Voters should contact the Clerk Swope’s Office with questions at city.clerk@lansingmi.gov or 517-483-4131.

Grand Ledge school chief ousted over Floyd remarks

In June, the superintendent of the Grand Ledge Schools criticized the victim in the infamous Minneapolis police killing. He said had the victim, George Floyd, been a “law-abiding citizen,” it “eliminates” a police confrontation. Monday, the school board eliminated the superintendent. After a seven-hour hearing, board members voted unanimously to fire Brian Metcalf, saying he “compromised confidence” in the district. But Metcalf may have the last word. He has sued the district for $1.4 million for allegedly violating the state Freedom of Information Act on a records request from him.

Lansing welcomes third treasurer under Schor

Desiree A. Kirkland, who has worked primarily in the public sector, joins the Schor administration as city treasurer and income tax administrator beginning Monday. Kirkland was a grant accountant with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. She also served as contract and financial manager for the Ingham County Health Department, internal auditor of the Michigan Supreme Court and chief deputy treasurer of Ingham County. She holds a bachelor’s in accounting from Ferris State University and a master’s in Christian leadership from Arizona’s Grand Canyon University and is pursuing an MBA at Davenport University. Kirkland replaces Judy Kehler, whom Schor named chief strategic officer in July after she became treasurer in 2019, replacing acting treasurer Angie Bennett, who resigned a year ago.

COVID-19 cases surge in East Lansing

More than 3,200 confirmed coronavirus cases have been detected in Ingham County. Nearly 1,500 have been spotted since Sept. 1, 1,250 connected to Michigan State University. County Health Officer Linda Vail also added 11 fraternity homes to a list of 39 large rental properties that remain in a mandatory quarantine in East Lansing. Additional measures, including a broad shelter-in-place order or tougher crowd size limitations may become necessary, she said. “Maybe we just won’t allow indoor gatherings.” Hospitalization rates remain low, though. And the Big Ten will kick off its football season Oct. 24 following a unanimous vote to reverse a ban.

State officials have now tracked nearly 118,000 COVID-19 cases and 6,600 related deaths in Michigan, including another 500 cases and 15 deaths tallied Tuesday. Nationally, more than 6.8 million people are infected and 200,000 have died.

Police divestment not a priority for Council

On a 5-3 vote Monday, the Lansing City Council rejected a proposal by Councilman Brandon Betz to slash $4.6 million from the Lansing Police Department and reinvest in community services. It called for cutting police spending 10%, hiring six social workers for the Fire Department and redirecting the remaining cash for youth education and employment programs, among other social services. Kathie Dunbar and Brian Jackson voted with Betz. Meanwhile, the Council Committee of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion has sent the mayor a proposal to spend $500,000 on four social workers and $125,000 on a full-time grant writer to assist community organizations with grant applications.

Overnight parking ban officially ended

Lansing residents, park overnight on the street if you like. Voting 5-3, the City Council has lifted the ban and eliminated the ill-fated permit system that just got started before the pandemic prompted the city to temporarily end most parking violations. Those who already paid for overnight permits are expected to receive prorated refunds. Residents will have to remove their vehicles for snow plowing or other emergency situations. Council members Carol Wood, Jeremy Garza and Adam Hussain voted against the ordinance change. 

Developers want to buy the City Market someday

The developers of the Lansing Shuffleboard and Social Club project at the City Market building said they’d eventually like to purchase the city property rather than serve out a 40-year lease agreement. The lease allows it, but the city hasn’t committed to selling. The lease agreement comes before the City Council for an Oct. 12 hearing, when the Council will also look at providing loans and tax incentives to the Detroit Rising development group, which plans to spend $3.2 million on renovations.

Detroit Rising’s lease would start out at $24,000 annually and escalate each year by 2.5% or the rate of inflation — whichever is higher. The last tenant, Waterfront Bar & Grill, paid $72,000 annually before eviction, but it didn’t pay an estimated $80,000 in maintenance and utility costs. City officials said Detroit Rising would cover those costs, leaving the city a small profit. 

Lansing woman charged in fatal fire

Why did Abbieana Williams allegedly set a Sept. 3 fire at an Elizabeth Street home in Lansing that killed a grandmother, Melissa Westen, 53, and grandsons Aston Griffin, 8, and his 4-year-old brother, Jesse Kline IV? Police have not revealed any motive by Williams, 21, who remains in custody on three counts each of murder and arson.

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