News and Analysis from ELi

We can't blame you if you missed some of the news this week.

News and Analysis from ELi
Left to right: East Lansing Library Board Trustee Ameenah Asante, City Manager George Lahanas, and Library Director Kristin Shelley. Dylan Lees for ELi

Before we get to a rundown of the week’s news and what’s coming up, we want to invite you to a special ELi gathering happening downtown at Fieldhouse next Wednesday, Jan. 25, starting at 7:30 p.m. We’ll buy some rounds of appetizers and there will be a cash bar along with a silent auction to benefit ELi. Come chat with our publisher, managing editor and other folks who make up the ELi public news service gang! More details here. No need to rsvp and no cover charge. We really hope to see you!

The biggest story in East Lansing this week was East Lansing City Council’s 4-0 vote to terminate the contact of City Manager George Lahanas. Council also named Police Chief Kim Johnson the Acting City Manager until former fire chief Randy Talifarro gets back to town to become the Interim City Manager. And Council voted to appoint Noel Garcia Jr. to the fifth seat of Council. ELi’s Alice Dreger reported from the Hannah Community Center on the scene and the votes; read her report here.

Following the shake-up, ELi was bombarded with questions via email, text and phone calls about what had ensued. To help clarify the situation, on Wednesday, Alice drew on years of reporting to provide in-depth analysis and answers to questions.

Before all that happened, Alice provided a report out of Council’s Saturday meeting where the five finalists for the council seat gave presentations. On Tuesday, ELi’s City Desk Editor Luke Day discovered as an “add on” to the night’s agenda that Council was planning to terminate Lahanas’s contract and appoint Talifarro as interim city manager. Luke and Alice quickly put out a story previewing Tuesday night’s meeting.

Long-time East Lansing resident Stelisha Formeman speaking to the Library Board of Trustees on Jan. 18, 2023, about what happened to her sons at the library. Dylan Lees for ELi

On Wednesday afternoon, the East Lansing Public Library Board of Trustees’ meeting turned primarily into a discussion of the matter of Library Director Kristin Shelley having called the police on a Black East Lansing High School student after he was misidentified by library staff as having been involved in an earlier act of vandalism. The boy’s mother, Stalisha Formeman, has called for the library director to be removed. Read more in this report by Alice Dreger and Chris Root.

The topic that drew the most public comment at Council this week was the issue of small cell towers potentially being built in front of single-family houses all over East Lansing. Luke brought us a story from that portion of the meeting, capturing the frustrations of homeowners facing what they see as obnoxious utility blight. Read the story here. And yes, we’ll be following up on your questions about this, too.

Earlier in the week, Alice reported on the story of a woman who believes she may have been pushed out of her housing by landlord DTN because she’s a single mom with kids. The Human Rights Commission has undertaken an investigation and has put out a call to ask if others have also experienced housing discrimination. Alice’s report includes some analysis of how the big student market here shapes housing opportunities for people in other demographics. Read it here.

One of the new renderings of the revised plan for Valley Court Park.

Alice also reported that the Parks and Rec Advisory Commission was meeting this week to go over revised plans for Valley Court Park. The City has now made new plans available. You can find the aerial perspective here, the new renderings here and the updated concept plan here.

On Monday, Alice reported that City Council donated $5,000 to the Mid-Michigan Martin Luther King Jr. Commission’s annual event, held in person again for the first time since the pandemic started. Her report also included what else happened at City Council last week. Find that here.

ELi's Alice Dreger interviewing East Lansing Police Captain Chad Pride. Gary Caldwell for ELi

Is it any surprise that we would love it if more people join EL’s “news brigade” reporting ranks?

If you’re a good listener and writer, and you’re motivated about providing nonpartisan local news to the people of East Lansing, be in touch! You can learn more here.

What’s coming up?

Today at the Breslin Center, volunteer law students, attorneys and notaries will be helping people erase old, nonviolent convictions from their public records. ELi’s Al Hargrave-Jackson brought us a special report on this expungement fair.

On Monday, Jan. 23, East Lansing Public School’s Board of Education will meet starting at 7 p.m. in the board room in the high school. When the agenda is posted, you can find it here.

This Tuesday, Jan. 24, starting at 7 p.m., area artists will present “Song of Welcome,” a program of music, stories, poetry & photography in support of refugees who have made the Lansing Area their home. The program is free and open to the public. The event will be hosted by the Haslett Community Church, 1427 Haslett Road, Haslett. We’ll be bringing a preview this week from ELi’s Sarah Spohn.

In City meetings, Council is set to meet Tuesday, Planning Commission on Wednesday, and the Downtown Development Authority on Thursday. Find the city meetings and agendas here.

Will a form-based code be implemented for a southern section of the Bailey neighborhood? Stay tuned to ELi for info. Dylan Lees for ELi

On Wednesday, Planning Commission is expected to take back up the issue of form-based code. ELi will be bringing you a story on that in advance of the meeting, so stay tuned to, or sign up to be an Insider member at $100/year or $10/month to get the news from ELi straight to your email earlier than the general public.

Next Sunday, Jan. 29, MSU’s Broad Art Museum will host a Curator Tour from 1-2 p.m. Join Assistant Curator Rachel Winter for a special walkthrough of the exhibition Zaha Hadid Design: Untold, which explores the life and creative practice of the Broad Art Museum building’s architect, Zaha Hadid, and the work of her studio, Zaha Hadid Design. Registration for this free event is required.

There’s a new primary care practice in town.

Dr. Amy Blaising Wallace contacted us to let us know she has now relocated her direct primary care practice to East Lansing’s northwest side.According to the press release, “Direct primary care practices generally do not bill insurance for patient visits, but rather charge a monthly ‘membership fee’ that covers all visits and contacts for patients with their physician.”  The new practice, Healthy Values DPC, is open and seeing patients at 1675 Watertower Place. Find out more at Dr. Wallace’s website.

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