This week in East Lansing news

This week in East Lansing news
ELi's Dylan Lees shot some beautiful photos of the natural beauty of the Wednesday and Thursday ice storm, including this one. 

East Lansing has been grappling with the fallout of the Feb. 13 shooting on Michigan State University’s campus, with many special events happening in the aftermath. This week, the schools and the city government worked on getting operations back to some semblance of normal. Then came an ice storm, leading to further disruptions.

Here’s what did happen this week:

City Council met on Tuesday night for a meeting that included Randy Talifarro in the chair as interim city manager for the first time. While the meeting did not include any discussion of plans for hiring a permanent city manager, it did include the voting through of a long consent agenda. Talifarro and the four council members present also made comments about the Feb. 13 shooting. Read more in the round-up report from ELi’s Alice Dreger.

Alice also produced a special report out of Council on the city’s five-year financial forecast for the general fund. We promise: this report is written (and illustrated) so that you should be able to understand it, even if you don’t have an economics degree. What’s going on with the city’s pension debt, property values, the cost of staffing and the income tax? And why might a single lawsuit throw everything out of whack this year? Read on.

This week, ELi’s Luke Day also brought a report out of Council covering the city’s new approach to dealing with low-income homeowner requests to obtain exemptions from property taxes. Read that here – and please consider sharing it if you know someone who may be eligible.

At the most recent East Lansing Human Rights Commission meeting, John Metzler from the Peace Education Center gave a presentation on behalf of Mayors for Peace. He encouraged East Lansing to join a growing roster of cities dedicated to the promotion of nuclear disarmament. Find out more about what happened at the meeting in the report we published this week by ELi’s Dustin DuFort Petty.

ELi's Publisher Alice Dreger and our attorney, Brian Wassom, at the Michigan Court of Appeals. (Dylan Lees for ELi)

Some news about ELi:

The lawsuit brought against East Lansing Info and ELi’s Publisher Alice Dreger by real estate developer Scott Chappelle saw a ruling from the Michigan Court of Appeals this past week. As readers may recall, in Oct. 2021, Ingham County Judge Joyce Draganchuk dismissed the case, deeming it without merit. Chappelle appealed, and now the three-judge Michigan Court of Appeals panel has affirmed Draganchuk’s decision.

“This is a thoughtful and carefully considered opinion,” our attorney, Brian Wassom, said about the ruling. “The panel gave Mr. Chappelle the benefit of every doubt, but still had no difficulty determining that his defamation claims against ELi and Ms. Dreger were baseless. This decision should put an end to his vindictive crusade, and serve as a reassurance to journalists across the state that freedom of the press is still alive and well in Michigan.” Read more about what happened.

ELi was honored this week by the reprint of one of our articles by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of EMS and Systems of Care Bureau of Emergency Preparedness. The division shared Alice’s article, “East Lansing’s Paramedics Offered Help as They Recover, Too,” with 44,000 newsletter subscribers, including all licensed EMS providers in the state.

Coming up this week in local government…

On Monday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m., ELPS’ School Board will convene in its traditional location, the board room on the lower level of the high school. The published agenda shows the board is planning to conduct interviews with people who have applied to be appointed to replace Debbie Walton, who resigned her position. The board will also be voting on a number of expenditures and the district wellness policy and take up the safety plan that was not presented on Feb. 13 after the city-wide shelter-in-place order cut the meeting short.

ELPS Trustees Kath Edsall, Terah Chambers and Tali Faris-Hylen at the Feb. 13, 2023, school board meeting. (Dylan Lees for ELi)

There’s no City Council meeting scheduled for this week, but there is a city government meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 28: At 5:15 p.m., the city’s University Student Commission will meet at City Hall to talk heated bus stops, a resolution on towing companies, promotional pamphlets to let people know there are free menstrual products in certain public bathrooms in East Lansing, and a request for a stop sign. Find more info in the agenda packet.

On Wednesday, March 1 at 9 a.m., the school board’s Facilities Committee will meet in the high school board room. The agenda includes disability accessibility in the district, an issue brought up at the last full board meeting, as ELi reported. The committee also plans to discuss the recent power outage at Marble Elementary, custodial services, playgrounds and more. Find the agenda here.

Also on Wednesday, at 4:45 p.m., the East Lansing Library Board of Trustees meets. This is the first meeting since many community members expressed frustration and outrage at the library director having called the police on a Black boy she wrongly identified as responsible for a prior act of vandalism. The meeting has already been rescheduled twice, the first time due to the Feb. 13 shooting, the second time due to the bad weather. Read the backstory here and find the agenda here.

East Lansing’s Independent Police Oversight Commission will also meet on Wednesday. That agenda is not yet posted. When it is, you can find it here.

The regularly scheduled meetings of the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Housing Commission for this week are cancelled.

What’s happening around town?

East Lansing Public Schools Superintendent Dori Leyko asked us to share that Kindergarten Information Night was postponed because of the ice storm this week. It’s now on for this coming Thursday, March 2, from 6-7 p.m. at MacDonald Middle School. No pre-registration is required. This is an informational event for all families and prospective kindergarten and Young Fives students, including families who plan to apply for Schools of Choice this June.

Abi Mason (third from left) and other participants at the Jan. 31, 2023, meeting of "Conscious Conversations" at the East Lansing Public Library. (Courtesy photo)

Michigan State University alum Abi Mason (class of 2020) is convening a conversation series for young adults in our area. As ELi’s Sarah Spohn reports, the conversations happen at the public library and cover such topics as modern love, learning from the past, belonging and acceptance, and more. Learn more here.

Black History Month celebrations continue at the library with a showing of Cinderella on Monday, Feb. 27, at 4:15 p.m. As always, there are a lot more events happening at the library. Find the schedule here.

Free counseling services are continuing to be offered next week for anyone in need of crisis support following the Feb. 13 shootings. MSU has arranged for counselors from the American Red Cross to offer services – and there will also be therapy dogs – at the Hannah Community Center (819 Abbot Road) on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday (Feb. 27, Feb. 28, March 2) from 2-6 p.m. Counselors from Community Mental Health will be at the library (with intermittent therapy dog appearances) Monday, Wednesday and Friday (Feb. 27, March 1, March 3) from 12:30-5 p.m.

Tomorrow (Sunday, Feb. 26), from 1-2 p.m., you can catch a special tour of the MSU Broad Art Museum led by Curatorial Research Assistant Thais Wenstrom. All ages are welcome but you do need to register in advance. Find out more here. Next Saturday, March 4, you can catch Family Day at the Broad.

And hey, the forecast for tomorrow says it will be sunny with a high of 42!

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