Public Safety and Crime

City Council Adopts Fireworks Ban; Little Movement at the State Level

Friday, October 5, 2012

On Tuesday, Oct. 2, East Lansing City Council voted unanimously to ban discharge of the loud "consumer" fireworks that have plagued residents since early spring. The ban, which is effective October 10, 2012, applies to 335 days of the year -- all those except national holidays and the days before and after each, which the state's "Fireworks Safety Act" does not allow municipalities to regulate.

City staff have a comprehensive communications plan ready to go, so that East Lansing residents will know about the ban and not be taken by surprise. The One-Pager Plus about the new ordinance also notes the provision in state law that prohibits discharge of fireworks on public property, including streets and sidewalks. (Click on the PDF link above to see the One Pager Plus.) Under this provision, all the neighborhood fireworks displays I saw in Bailey this past summer would have been illegal.

To enforce the state and now the local law, police will need our help. In my conversations with them about this issue, they have been clear about the importance of calling in complaints, a point reinforced by Councilmember Kevin Beard at the Tuesday Council meeting. Calling 517-351-4220, extension 2, reaches East Lansing police dispatch 24/7.

At the state level, Representative Richard LeBlanc (D-Westland) has introduced one bill and plans to introduce two more that would address some of the problems with the state law. On Wednesday, I spoke with a staff member from LeBlanc's office, who said the bills together would allow municipalities to regulate sales, to extend bans to more days of the year (protecting only Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day), and to ban discharge late at night on the remaining protected days. He could not say whether or when the bills would get votes in the House.  Representative Harold Haugh (D-Roseville), sponsor of the current state law, opposes the changes.

Questions about 54B Judge Candidates: Have They Been Practicing Law?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

We previously asked the 54B judge candidates, Andrea Larkin and Mark Meadows, to disclose potential competing interests and to provide their resumes. (Larkin supplied hers, but Meadows declined to provide a resume.) A couple of ELi readers asked me to follow-up on the candidates' answers with clarifying questions about to what extent Larkin and Meadows have been practicing law during the last few years. I reproduce those exchanges here. (I told the candidates their responses would be published.)

Competing Interests of 54B Judge Candidates

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Our local court, 54B District Court, has two elected judges. Becasue one is retiring, we will vote on November 6 for a new judge. There are two candidates: Andrea Larkin and Mark Meadows. I have asked them to answer questions about competing interests, and I reproduce their answers below.

The 54B Court may seem like small potatoes, but it actually matters a lot in East Lansing. As the court's website indicates, 54B judges adjudicate: "criminal cases, including preliminary examinations for felonies and misdemeanors; civil cases up to $25,000 including small claims disputes up to $3,000 and landlord/tenant disputes; civil infractions, including traffic and parking violations."

The consequence is that, if you need to fight City Hall, 54B is where you do it. This is why it is particularly important to understand what relationships the candidates have with those in City Hall, wherein 54B is literally located.

It is also important to note that, "The Court, although operated under the state judicial system, is funded by the City of East Lansing and all revenues not statutorily designated are returned to the City's general fund" (again quoting the court's website). This means that the more the City wins in 54B cases, the more money the City gets.

Here are the questions I put to Larkin and Meadows:

Resumes from 54B District Court Candidates

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Two candidates, Andrea Larkin and Mark Meadows, are running for the position of judge of 54B District Court (the local court of East Lansing). I have asked both of them to supply resumes to share with ELi readers and voters.

Andrea Larkin, a private practice attorney, supplied the resume available in the PDF link shown above.

Mark Meadows, a representative to the Michigan State House of Representatives, declined to provide a resume to the voters. Meadows, who is term-limited and so cannot re-run for his current position, instead pointed voters to a campaign statement.

MDOT Talks to EL Residents about Upcoming Construction

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

There is an informational meeting being held by MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) today at the Hannah Community Center from 4-7pm. This will be an open house format meeting where people can ask questions and get information regarding the construction on Michigan and Grand River next summer. (The construction will span from approximitely the 496 interchange to Park Lake and will include some substantial, albiet short-lived, closures on Grand River in front of campus). Everyone is invited to attend.

The university is planning some pretty substantial road work of its own next summer as well. On that see this website.

City Council Advances Fireworks Ban

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

PLEASE NOTE: This article was published when East Lansing Info was a non-incorporated web-based entity, without a board, witout voted-on standards, etc. As a consequence, the article may not reflect the standards adopted by ELi's board after we incorporated in 2014. We are leaving it accessible and in its original state for transparency purposes. To learn more about ELi's current standards, board, etc., click here.

 

At its work session on Tuesday, September 11, East Lansing City Council discussed a draft ordinance (pp. 316-320 of the packet) to ban discharge of the aerial and other powerful fireworks legalized by the state's "Fireworks Safety Act" of 2011. The ban would affect all days except those protected by state law, and violation would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. These parameters are consistent with bans adopted by other municipalities. The consent agenda for Council's September 18 meeting will include an item to set the date for a hearing and vote on the new ordinance for October 2.

The Bailey Community Association, at its meeting on Monday, September 10, adopted two resolutions to communicate support to Council for strong action. The first urged "East Lansing City Council to support a maximum ban on the discharge of fireworks and to also strengthen the noise ordinance overall". At the Council work session, City Attorney Tom Yeadon said he saw little leeway that would allow the City to effectively substitute a noise ordinance for a fireworks ban on protected days. The second resolution was to urge "East Lansing City Council and City Manager to lobby the state to enact a repeal of the new fireworks law". Council was supportive, and City Manager George Lahanas will raise the issue with the city's lobbyist at their next meeting.

ELPD Advises Residents: Lock Doors and Windows

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The city of East Lansing has issued a press release in which the East Lansing Police Department (ELPD) "is advising East Lansing residents to lock all doors and windows in light of a recent string of home invastions that occurred at apartments in the Northern Tier area last week." The press release indicates that the "ELPD is investigating five reported apartment break-ins that took place during the late night hours of Thursday, Sept. 6 and early morning hours of Friday, Sept. 7.

City Council Schedules Fireworks Issue for Work Session

Friday, September 7, 2012

It's been a noisy summer in East Lansing, after the state legalized the discharge of a class of powerful fireworks without permits or time restrictions. City Councilmembers have suffered along with the rest of us, it turns out, and at their work session on Tuesday, September 11, will begin to consider ordinances to address the problem.

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