News Highlights From the Last 7 Days

City Pulse News Rewind: Couch cleanup fines upheld

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Couch cleanup fines upheld

Lansing resident Kenneth Dagner is stuck with $490 in fines after code enforcement hauled a couch off his front porch and the City Council denied a claim to have the fees waived. Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar said Dagner forgot to check the mail after his son was hospitalized in a hit-and-run accident on the River Trail. Had he checked it, he would've seen a notice that code enforcement picked up his couch and billed nearly $500 for the cleanup. Still, city attorneys considered Dagner notified after the warning was put in the mail. Had Dagner carried it to the curb, city trash workers would've hauled it away for $33. Still, only Councilman Brian Jackson voted this week to waive the fees in the interest of being a decent human being.

'More conservative' police commissioner named

Samuel Brewster, a neighborhood watch coordinator described by Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar as "more conservative than what we would like" on police reform, was appointed to the Lansing Police Board of Commissioners on Monday night. Dunbar told the Council that Brewster wasn't interested in "less punitive models for social justice." Still, only she and Councilman Brian Jackson voted against his appointment, which expires in December 2024.

Lansing explores boozy 'social districts'

The Lansing City Council revived plans this week to use alleys and other downtown spaces for to-go cocktails in Lansing after initial discussions were delayed over the summer. Plans to open at least three "social districts" that provide added space for outdoor drinking and dining between local bars is the subject of a public City Council hearing set for 7 p.m. Feb. 22.

Emergency rental funds offered

More than $27 million in federal funding earmarked for emergency rental assistance is expected to be administered through the city of Lansing this year, city officials announced this week. A resolution to accept the funding was waiting on legislative and gubernatorial approval on Tuesday. Those who need the city's help covering the rent can visit lansingmi.gov/lansingcares.

Open calls for student artists

Student artists can apply for the 36th Annual Art Scholarship and the 11th Ingham Student Art Exhibit through the Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center. Selected students will have their art displayed both in-person and at an online event. Scholarships are also available. The deadline for submissions is March 1.

Visit lansingartgallery.org/education for more details.

Cops report narcotics seizure 

Kevin Christopher Coolman, 29, of Lansing, faces several felony charges after Lansing Police officers said he was caught driving erratically with a handgun, an assault rifle and narcotics near St. Joseph Street and Everett Drive last week. Coolman faces multiple felony firearm charges as well as misdemeanor charges of resisting police and possession of a controlled substance. His bond was set at $750 as the criminal case proceeds later this month in 54-A District Court.

Olivia Letts dies at 93

Olivia Letts, the first Black teacher hired by the Lansing School District, died at age 93 in Chicago. Letts, who was hired in 1951,was widely remembered as a champion for desegregation and breaking barriers for teachers of color.

Repeal of 15 ordinances sought

A committee of the Lansing City Council will consider a proposal this month from Councilman Brian Jackson that aims to repeal 15 ordinances, including laws that prohibit drug paraphernalia, loitering, begging and "annoying" behavior. Some laws carry a disparate impact on certain segments of the population or are simply unnecessary. Council President Peter Spadafore sent the proposal to the Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion before it can head back to the full Council. Read more details at lansingcitypulse.com.

State shares historic opioid settlement

Michigan joined 46 other states this week in sharing a $573 million settlement to resolve an investigation into consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and its role in working for opioid companies, helping those companies promote their drugs and profiting from the ongoing opioid epidemic. Michigan's $19.5 million payment will be used to help abate problems caused by opioids.

Lansing's bond rating drops 

Standard & Poors recently downgraded two of Lansing's bond ratings, citing concerns over dwindling reserve levels, as first reported by the Lansing State Journal. The change from AA- to A+ and from AA to AA- could make it more expensive for Lansing to borrow cash, which would in turn affect the city's ability to move forward with capital projects and road maintenance.

Lansing Mall cinema shifts to drive-in

The vacant Lansing Mall movie theater is on its way to becoming Greenwood District Studios, according to reports from Fox47 News. Local comedian Amaru is reportedly leading the project and plans to replace the existing theater with a drive-in option. It's expected to open in May. 

Greater Lansing pot shops shield equity plans

The state Marijuana Regulatory Agency posted social equity plans of Michigan's recreational cannabis companies this month, revealing licensure application details that have until this week been kept hidden from public view and otherwise shielded from the Freedom of Information Act But most license holders, including every pot shop in Greater Lansing, haven't granted permission to the state to release those plans.

Read more details at lansingcitypulse.com.

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