It’s been a big news week in East Lansing.

So. Much. News.

It’s been a big news week in East Lansing.
ELi’s City Desk Editor Lucas Day (left) interviewing ELi’s attorney Brian Wassom outside the Michigan Court of Appeals on Wednesday, Jan. 11. Dylan Lees for ELi

Now-imprisoned real estate developer Scott Chappelle appealed an October 2021 dismissal of his lawsuit against East Lansing Info (ELi) for alleged defamation, and this Wednesday morning, Jan. 11, the Appeals Court heard arguments from ELi’s attorney. Chappelle’s lawyers didn’t show up, even though they asked for the hearing. ELi sent Lucas Day to follow the proceedings. Read Luke’s report and watch the seven-minute hearing.

Just about 13 hours before that hearing, on Tuesday night, East Lansing’s City Council selected five finalists for the one vacant seat on the council. ELi used the Freedom of Information Act to get the 14 eligible applications so you can see them before a decision is made.

The five finalists for the open Council seat are, clockwise from top left: Noel Garcia Jr. (courtesy photo), Mikey Manuel (courtesy photo), Nichole Biber (Alice Dreger for ELi), Abigail Tykocki (courtesy Michigan State University) and Daniel Bollman (courtesy photo).

This morning starting at 9 a.m., those five finalists will be interviewed at an open meeting in the Hannah Community Center. As ELi’s Alice Dreger reported, Council is expected to choose an appointee at the end of the meeting. Stay tuned to ELi today to find out who will serve through the next election in November.

On Tuesday, council also voted 3-1 to declare East Lansing a “Sanctuary City.” Luke Day reported for ELi that Mayor Ron Bacon said he wants to “send out the clarifying call that we are that shining city on the hill.” But Councilmember George Brookover said he thinks this will do little additional good, and could harm. Read on.

ELi also reported out of Council that another pair of 3-1 votes along the same lines resulted in two amendments to the city’s deer cull. Councilmember Dana Watson pushed three motions on the subject, with the third failing. Many citizens came forward to speak in favor of and against the city hiring sharpshooters to kill deer in city parks. Find out more.

ELPS parent Ludie Jones speaking to the school board on Jan. 9, 2023. To the right are Trustees Elizabeth Lyons and Amanda Cormier. Dylan Lees for ELi

ELi’s Dustin DuFort Petty reported from the first East Lansing Public Schools Board of Trustees meeting last Monday (Jan. 9) that one parent brought concerns about outdoor spaces and another about fighting in the high school. Recently elected school board members were also sworn in and officer elections occurred, not without a bit of tension. Read on.

ELi’s Alice Dreger also reported this week on the story of biostatistician and ELPS parent Ahnalee Brincks and her quest to get disease and attendance data out of the district administration. Brincks has resorted to using the Freedom of Information Act for information that she used to be given by her children’s school principals. Learn more.

Ahnalee Brincks standing outside MacDonald Middle School. Dylan Lees for ELi

A leak to ELi of an internal City of East Lansing communication led to us reporting on the resignation of Director of Planning, Building & Development Tom Fehrenbach. Fehrenbach has also been serving as Deputy City Manager, and his departure adds to the turmoil in the city’s leadership. Read the story.

The week started out on a happy note, as ELi reported the sun was out for the first time this year. But then the gloom set back in, and the local mood didn’t lift with Wednesday morning’s announcement from the city, reported by ELi’s Julie Seraphinoff, that East Lansing and Meridian Township residents needed to conserve water due to a water main break. By Thursday afternoon, a successful emergency repair meant area residents no longer had a good excuse not to do the dishes and the laundry.

An ELi reader Carol wrote in about our keeping people informed about the water emergency: “I sincerely appreciate the work ELI does and quite frankly, I get quicker alerts and depth of analysis that other news media don't seem to care about!” We thanked Carol and reminded her that those alerts and deep analysis are made possible by ELi supporters like her.

Also of note this week:

A team of four East Lansing High School journalists brought the story to the Portrait this week about an incident that occurred Wednesday at the East Lansing Public Library. A confrontation resulted in the library director apologizing to a Black teen wrongly accused of having started a fire in October. Read the developing story at Portrait.

WKAR radio reporter Arjun Thakkar interviewed ELi’s Alice Dreger about the Downtown Development Authority’s Evergreen Properties and the decision to again refinance the $5 million bond related to the purchase of those properties. Hear the conversation.

City Attorney Tony Chubb issued a notice on small-cell towers being built around East Lansing, confirming earlier reporting by ELi’s Luke Day.

Coming up around town:

Volunteer law students, attorneys and notaries are gearing up to help people erase old, nonviolent convictions from their public records. Today, ELi’s Al Hargrave-Jackson brings us a special report on an expungement fair happening next Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Breslin Center. Find out how you can register now for free legal help.

Expungement fair organizers Breia Lassiter, Audrea Dakho, Sam Weiser and Alex Padla. Courtesy photo

Motorists and bicyclists are advised that upcoming construction at the Merritt Road-Haslett Road intersection will require road and lane closures in the vicinity starting on Monday, Jan. 16. Read more.

The Broad Art Museum is offering a free DIY journal-making program tomorrow, Jan. 15, from 2-4 p.m. “We’ll be creating journals to help you focus and reflect on your homes, dreams, and anxieties.” Check it out.

The East Lansing School District’s calendar is showing three upcoming meetings this week: The school board’s Academic and Tech Committee will meet on Wednesday, Jan. 18, at 1 p.m. and the board’s Policy Committee will meet the same day at 4 p.m. The Sex Education Advisory Board will meet Thursday, Jan. 19, at 6:30 p.m. All of these meetings will take place in the Board Room of East Lansing High School.

As always, you can find the schedule of upcoming City of East Lansing government meetings at this portal. Agendas are typically posted there a couple of days before a meeting.

Check out what’s coming up at the public library by clicking here.