ICYMI: Detroit City Council under investigation, majority of Michigan students required to wear masks, and more

click to enlarge The Coleman A. Young Municipal Center was raided by FBI agents as part of a widening corruption probe. - Linda Parton / Shutterstock.com
Linda Parton / Shutterstock.com
The Coleman A. Young Municipal Center was raided by FBI agents as part of a widening corruption probe.

It looks like corruption is alive and well at City Hall. Last week, the FBI raided the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center and the homes of council members Janeé Ayers and Scott Benson, both of whom are up for re-election in November, as part of a widening probe into corruption in Detroit. Previously, the FBI investigation led to the indictment of Councilman Andre Spivey, who was indicted in July on one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, accused of accepting more than $35,000 in exchange for votes, and former Councilman Gabe Leland was sentenced to probation earlier this year as part of a bribery scandal. Benson is running unopposed in District 4, and Ayers is facing three challengers vying for two at-large seats: Coleman A. Young, Jr., Mary Waters, and Nicole Small. (Detroit contains multitudes: Hours after the raid, a video featuring the late R&B star Aaliyah was projected onto city hall, celebrating the singer’s life on the 20th anniversary of her death.)

When Michigan’s students return to the classroom for the new school year, a majority of them will be required to wear masks. Last week, Wayne County became the latest to announce a mask mandate for all students and staff as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. The Wayne County Public Health Department on Friday announced a mask mandate for schools and daycare providers, requiring all students, faculty, staff, and visitors — regardless of vaccination status — to wear masks in schools and during school-sponsored indoor events. While the state’s health department has come short of issuing a statewide requirement, it has urged all counties to do so. On Friday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer applauded the decision. "As of today, 179 districts totaling over 53% of Michigan students, are covered by mask requirements implemented by their school district or local county health department," Whitmer said. "That number has increased substantially over the last few weeks, and we expect to see that trend continue as the first day of school approaches."

Speaking of the pandemic, even now, it’s just about as worse as it’s ever been. The daily average for hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the U.S. is now more than 100,000 over the last week, higher than any previous surge except last winter, when it peaked at 140,000 in mid-January. It doesn’t have to be this way. Last winter, nobody was vaccinated because the vaccines weren’t available. Now they are, and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has now been recently granted full FDA approval. If you haven’t yet done so, you can make an appointment to get a free vaccination at vaccinefinder.org. (We all got vaccinated at Metro Times and aren’t experiencing any side-effects, except for feeling slightly less anxiety about, uh, well, you know, everything.)

It’s not Michigan’s infrastructure that’s broken — it’s our entire political system. Case in point: the Michigan lawmakers tasked with investigating the power outages that left 1 million Michiganders without electricity in August have benefitted from an eye-popping $55 million from DTE Energy and the parent company of Consumers Energy, according to a Detroit News analysis. "We’ve asked for years the question of whether the Legislature is regulating DTE and Consumers or are DTE and Consumers regulating the Legislature," said Bob Allison, deputy director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. Adding insult to injury, Michigan residents had the most expensive average residential electricity rates in the Midwest, according to a 2020 report, and the most power interruptions in the region. We think it’s time for public utilities.

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