Welcome to “Striketober.” As we reported last week, nearly 1,400 union workers at four Kellogg plants, including Battle Creek, are on strike. “After years of being underserved and taken for granted – & doubly so during the pandemic – workers are starting to authorize strikes across the country,” U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) workers striking at Kellogg are in protest of job cuts and the two-tier wage system, as well as more than 10,000 UAW workers striking at John Deere and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) who are planning to strike.
School districts with no mask requirements in Michigan have higher rates of COVID-19 transmissions than those without mandates, according to new data from the University of Michigan. Districts with no mask requirements averaged 73 coronavirus cases per 100,000 students as of late September, compared to 45 cases per 100,000 students in districts with mask mandates. That’s an infection rate that is 61% higher in school districts without mask requirements. About 42% of school districts in Michigan have mask requirements. In all, nearly 505,000 students attend schools in districts without mask requirements, and more than 748,000 students are in schools with mask mandates. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration has encouraged school districts to require masks but stopped short of issuing a mandate.
Whitmer’s reelection campaign may have to part with $3.4 million in excess contributions by the end of the year, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a court filing. Whitmer previously claimed she is not beholden to the donation limits normally imposed on candidates because of an administrative ruling that allows officeholders facing recalls to receive unlimited contributions. Since she is the subject of several recall efforts, Whitmer was accepting donations that exceeded the cap of $7,150 per donor. The Michigan Republican Party filed a lawsuit in federal court, arguing that the administrative ruling gives Whitmer an unfair advantage. Whitmer has received $8.6 million in contributions for her reelection bid so far this year, breaking a record for the most money raised by a Michigan gubernatorial candidate in an off-year.
A national gerrymandering project from Princeton University has graded Michigan’s 10 preliminary district maps, rating all but one of the congressional maps as an “A,” all three of the state House maps with a “C,” and two out of three state Senate maps as an “A.” The remaining maps received a “B.” The maps are now headed for public comment, including a hearing from 1-3:30 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, at TCF Center, 1 Washington Blvd., Detroit. Once approved, the new maps will go into effect for the 2022 elections.
A man was arrested Friday for allegedly vandalizing a Rochester Hills mosque earlier this month. Ryan Lee Ahern, 33, of Rochester Hills, is accused of breaking glass in a door at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Center with a hammer. The Oakland County Sheriff's Office says it identified Ahern using surveillance footage, but adds that it does not believe the incident to be a hate crime. Ahern is a person of interest in other acts of vandalism at non-religious locations in the area. The incident reportedly happened on Oct. 8 as children played inside the center following evening prayers. "It was not only an attack on the mosque, it was an attack on all places of worship," Imam Shamshad A. Nasir told WDIV-TV. Nevertheless, the mosque says it doesn't want to press charges. "We don't want any penalty," Nasir said, adding, "Let us come sit together and build a bridge for friendship." Ahern faces misdemeanor charges and up to a year in jail.
The cause of death of the 30-year-old woman who died at Michigan's Faster Horses Festival this summer was natural causes, according to a death certificate recently obtained by MLive. According to the death certificate, Melissa Donna Havens died due to complications of obesity, with drug and alcohol use also playing a factor. While a man who Havens was seen with before her death has reportedly not been found by police, Michigan State Police have ruled her death to be an accident and the investigation is closed. Havens was officially pronounced dead at 8:34 a.m. on July 17, according to the certificate. The annual country music festival was one of the first music festivals to return to Michigan following the shutdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic. Michigan officials have linked at least 83 COVID-198 cases to the fest.
It's that time of year again — when we ask for your opinion to select the winners of our annual Best of Detroit poll. Even though it has hundreds of categories in the four counties, we know it's an imperfect poll. Though we tried, we couldn't think of everything. There's no Best Bathroom to use Downtown, for example, or Best Tree on Belle Isle, or Best Detroit Twitter Account, or who knows what else. That's where you come in. This year's Best of Detroit includes a Create Your Own Category and Winner section, so you can shout out someone or something that is, at least to you, the best of Detroit. (Feel free to include your first name and last initial if you want.) Voting is now open at vote.metrotimes.com through Oct. 25. We'll run our favorites in this year's Best of Detroit issue, out on Nov. 24. May the Best of Detroit win!