It’s another beautiful day in East Lansing – perfect weather for the three big outdoor events happening on and around campus today: the Izzo Legacy Run/Walk/Roll; the Spartan Football Kickoff Green and White game (free admission, starting at 2 p.m. at Spartan Stadium); and Admitted Student Day. The last event alone is expected to bring about 4,500 prospective students and 11,000 total visitors to town.
Read on to find out what you might have missed at ELi this week and what you didn't miss, because we're reporting it here first.
What did ELi report this week?
East Lansing’s City Council didn’t meet this week. But on Monday, East Lansing’s Human Rights Commission did meet and discussed an ongoing investigation into an alleged-discrimination case made against landlord DTN. At the meeting, the city attorney told the commission he couldn’t find a key witness. But ELi’s Dustin DuFort Petty tried right after the meeting and reached that person almost immediately. Find out what we learned.
We brought you two East Lansing school board reports this week. Dustin covered the board’s contentious retreat, where Trustee Monica Fink and Treasurer Kath Edsall sparred over issues of leadership and transparency. Luke Day reported out from Monday’s regular board meeting on the updated plans regarding safety and for hiring a new principal for the high school.
Following up on questions from readers, ELi’s Alice Dreger looked at what kind of fact-checking the school district did when hiring Shannon Mayfield, who resigned as ELHS principal following discovery of a “fraudulent” Ph.D. degree transcript. ELi shows you what we found when we compared Mayfield’s job application to the fact-checking records. Check it out.
Luke also reported for our readers on the most recent meeting of East Lansing’s Independent Police Oversight Commission. The meeting continued to focus on concerns about police body cam usage and police treatment of people who may be suffering from psychological crises when police show up. Learn more.
A new bus service has hit the area with service from Frandor (just over East Lansing’s west border) to Detroit and Grand Rapids. Luke’s report explains what to expect.
Alice also brought a publisher’s update this week, including information about our ongoing search for a new executive director and our efforts to bring more happy news. Read it here.
Speaking of happy, thanks to everybody who came out to our sold-out screening of “Storm Lake,” a film about a small Iowa newspaper struggling to survive. Our team loved having conversations with our readers before and after the film!
What didn’t ELi report this week?
More exit interviews of City of East Lansing employees obtained by ELi through the Freedom of Information Act continue to show varied reasons for employees leaving – ranging from finding better jobs to disliking management styles to feeling like Council doesn’t adequately support workers. Staffing shortages are clearly adding to worker stress. ELi will keep following up on this story, but we’ve found no big single cause for the waves of resignations.
On Friday afternoon, the city announced some big news: the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the city in the case brought over the BWL franchise fees. The court essentially ruled the case had been filed too late. In a press release, Interim City Manager Randy Talifarro expressed relief the funds, gathered via BWL bills, will keep flowing to the city. ELi explained back in February that the fee brings about $1.5 million a year in revenues.
On Wednesday and Thursday respectively, the East Lansing Planning Commission named Thomas Hendricks and the Historic District Commission named Michael Christensen as their representatives to the committee tasked with making recommendations to Council on small cell tower installations. The third member of the committee is Glencairn resident Brian Loomis, a member of the citizen group that calls itself CELL (Citizens Engaged for Livable Locations).
Back as "interim" in the role of director of planning, building, and development, Tim Dempsey told Planning Commission his goal was to convene this ad hoc committee “rather quickly” to get standards in place fast, before permits come in for installation of these controversial new small towers. And quick he was: This Tuesday's Council agenda shows a plan to adopt recommendations from the committee.
In his continuing efforts to make connections between teenagers and the city government, Mayor Ron Bacon is forming a youth commission. He has suggested this will be akin to the MSU University Student Commission, which sometimes advises Council on issues of concern to MSU students. Area teens are being invited to apply. Learn more here.
MSUFCU had been saying the credit union's new downtown building will be open this spring, but as typical with construction, now they say it looks like the finishing date will be a bit later than expected. Yesterday afternoon, a worker could be seen hanging off the roof, working on the brick work on the north side. Other workers continued interior finishing.
The Chabad Jewish Center is now operating out of the old Menna's Joint space, next to Black Cat Bistro. On assignment downtown, the ELi team noticed the amusing new sign, showing Sparty charging ahead with a menorah.
One traffic light brought a fair bit of ELi reader mail.
Work on the traffic light at the Haslett/Hagdorn roads intersection has been completed. But the repair didn’t pass without ELi readers sending in a lot of thoughts on that intersection. One reader described the traffic light there as “hanging on by bungee cords and electrical tape for years.”
Another reader wrote in with concern about the timing of lights in that area, which that reader said, “creates a safety risk to motorists traveling eastbound on Saginaw and southbound on Hagadorn.” After we passed this along, Senior Project Engineer Stephen Clayton wrote back, “Thank you for passing on the concern for the signal timing for the intersection. We will make a note of the concerns as we look at possible traffic signal design modifications to that intersection. At this time, there are no light timing changes to the intersection or any other modifications as a result of last week’s work.”
Clayton didn’t respond to our questions about what last week’s work involved. It has only been described as a “traffic signal modification project.” But the "bungee cords" appear to be gone.
What’s coming up?
Community members are invited to attend “Community Connection: Navigating the Community Mental Health System” on Thursday, April 20, from 6-8 p.m. at the East Lansing Hannah Community Center. The event is free, but registration is required.
Earth Day is coming up next Saturday, April 22. ELi will be bringing a rundown of activities you can participate in.
Advance notice on this one: The public is invited on Friday, April 28, to the annual Arbor Day Tree planting in Beal Gardens. Trees will be given out to the first 100 attendees. Arrive by 11 a.m. to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of W.J. Beal Botanical Gardens and the career of Frank Telewski.
Friday, April 28, also marks the return of Books, Bites & Bids in person at the East Lansing Public Library. This annual fundraising event is a big hit with the community. Find out more here.
And No Mow May is just over the hill. Learn more here.
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