City Pulse News Rewind is a look back at five noteworthy items that made the news over the last week.
Lansing considers ending overnight parking ban
The Lansing City Council Monday began consideration of an ordinance to allow free overnight parking, which is banned from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. That would also end the permit system for overnight parking that was instituted last March. A hearing is set for Aug. 24.
Masks made mandatory in downtown East Lansing
Face masks must be worn in both indoor and outdoor public spaces in areas of downtown East Lansing. Signs have been installed at entry points of the affected areas. The City Council was expected to extend the order at a scheduled special meeting Tuesday (Aug. 11) after Mayor Aaron Stephens used his emergency authority to mandate masks for a week ending Sunday. Violators could face a civil infraction and a $25 fine. Michigan State University also decided on a similar mandate on campus. The city order was issued in anticipation of busier sidewalks as students return. Children under 5 and those who cannot medically tolerate a mask needn’t wear one. Those seated at a restaurant also don’t need one while eating or drinking, but they must wear a face covering at all other times in public.
Big Ten cancels fall season
The Big Ten has canceled the 2020 college football season. Michigan and Michigan State — which both have physicians as presidents — voted to end the season this week. The move came after the Mid-American Conference canceled its season. Some have suggested the possibility of a spring football season, though no decisions have been made as the coronavirus pandemic lingers on through the end of summer. The Lansing School District has also canceled sports and extracurricular activities for this fall.
Primary election brings upsets
Bob Peña is expected to slide into a two-year term on the Ingham County Board of Commissioners in the Nov. 3 General Election after narrowly defeating incumbent one-termer Thomas Morgan in last week’s Democrat primary election to represent the heavily Democratic east side. Peña blocked Morgan’s second term by 52 votes. Incumbent Republican Commissioner Robin Naeyaert secured a third term last week after defeating challenger Gary Gierke by 29 votes to represent the Mason area. Democratic commissioner candidate Erin Graham narrowly defeated Pam Weil to represent East Lansing, replacing Carol Koenig, who is running for judge.
In another upset, Meridian County Clerk Brett Dreyfus was handily defeated by challenger Deborah Guthrie for the Democratic nomination, 6,716 to 2,517. Dreyfus only carried about 27% of the vote, handing the job to Guthrie, who is unopposed in November.
‘Dark money’ campaign to promote Lansing
Lansing NOW, a nonprofit established earlier this year, is designed exclusively to highlight and promote economic development in the city and to “educate citizens” on the progress that Lansing has made in becoming a “leading Midwest capital city,” state filings show. Rules for a 501(c)(4) do not require reporting on who donated.
The nonprofit is run by the political consulting firm Vanguard Public Affairs and registered to TJ Bucholz, its CEO and appointed board member at Downtown Lansing Inc. It launched online just days after Schor’s administration hired Teresa Bingman, a senior consultant at Vanguard, for $63,000 to help orchestrate new racial justice and equity plans for the city. Bingman was hired without a request for proposals for the work. Instead, the city attorney hired Bingman, an attorney, to give legal advice, which does not require an RFP.
The campaign’s exclusive focus on promoting the city of Lansing is eerily similar to Lansing Mayor Andy Schor’s “Lansing’s Time is Now” catchphrase. That and Bingham’s hire are just coincidence, say School and Bucholz, who has political ties to the mayor.