Public Safety and Crime

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Urban EL Neighborhood Landlords and Homeowners Meeting

Sunday, October 26, 2014

On Monday, October 27, at 7 pm, homeowners from five East Lansing urban neighborhoods and landlords who rent out houses in those neighborhoods will meet officially for the second time to discuss possible changes to property regulation in those neighborhoods. They will discuss a draft list of recommendations that may then be revised and sent “up” for discussion and approval by City government.

Mercury Contamination Investigation at Hannah Community Center Leads to Selective Notification of Citizens

Friday, October 24, 2014

The City is selectively notifying some East Lansing residents of an investigation at Hannah Community Center related to a mishap involving a mercury spill. An email message has gone out from the City addressed to “East Lansing Hannah Community Center Visitors.” The letter advises recipients that a vacuum hose that had previously been wrongly used to clean up a mercury spill at the water treatment plant was then also wrongly used at Hannah Community Center.

Enterovirus Is Here

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Enterovirus is sweeping across the Midwest – and according to a local pediatrician, it may now have reached the East Lansing area. We are in the middle of enterovirus season, which runs largely unnoticed each year from July through October despite millions of infections, but the presentation of one particular strain of enterovirus has been garnering the attention of many East Lansing-area experts and laypersons alike for the volume of cases and severity of symptoms being attributed to it.

BWL Changes Approach to East Lansing

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Apparently in response to numerous complaints by East Lansing homeowners, the Lansing Board of Water and Light (BWL) has decided to change its approach to tree-cutting along its wires in East Lansing's Glencairn, Chesterfield Hills, and Oakwood neighborhoods. BWL is the electric utility provider to these neighborhoods.

With Deer Come Tick-Borne Diseases

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
A field team associated with Dr. Hickling collects and analyzes ticks

This is an interview between Alice Dreger for ELi and Dr. Graham Hickling, an ecologist at the University of Tennessee who specializes in emerging wildlife diseases and their interface with humans and domestic animals. Hickling is a former resident of East Lansing and he continues to collaborate with faculty and students from Michigan State University to conduct annual fieldwork in Michigan. This interview, conducted by email, has been lightly edited for clarity with the final version approved by the interviewee.

Sunset Lane Traffic Study: A Work in Progress

Monday, November 26, 2012

Residents of Sunset Lane between Clarendon and Marshall streets have been working with Todd Sneathen, the City’s Director of Public Works, and his staff, to address neighborhood concerns about cut-through traffic, speeding, and safety. Concerns regarding Sunset Lane traffic were first expressed during the public comment period at a Transportation Commission meeting in Summer 2011 and further analyzed and discussed in subsequent meetings with Mr. Sneathen in 2011 and 2012.

One set of Sunset Lane traffic count and speed data has already been gathered, and additional traffic monitoring on Sunset Lane is expected to start soon. A comparative set of data will also be gathered for Northlawn Avenue between Abbot and Harrison roads. Results will be evaluated, in part, by applying the guidelines developed by the Transportation Commission titled “Action Plan for Addressing Neighborhood Speeding & Non-Resident Traffic Issues.” Once the data are analyzed, an update and announcement of a meeting date with City staff will be provided in the near future.

Duck Walks Off; Mate Wants It Back

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Have you seen this duck? Lately? If so, call the East Lansing Police Department to report your sighting.

The duck, which had been located in Fountain Square  in the Children's Sculpture Garden (just outside the Marriott), has gone missing. Made of bronze, the sculpture is worth $2500. The remaining duck is said to be missing its mate. ELi has been unable to confirm whether the bronze frog, turtle, and young girl also miss the errant bird.

Unfortunately the fowl of interest left no tracks upon departure, leading police to assume it had foul human assistance. Presumably someone pretty buff, because it weighs a lot.

According to a press release from the City, East Lansing Arts Commission Chairperson Kevin Epling has said, “It would be considered an act of good faith for the person who stole this treasured public art piece to return it safely to the sculpture garden enjoyed by children - young and old."

Veterans' Court at 54-B

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Shown in photo: Judge David Jordon, who will soon be retiring from 54-B District Court.

Earlier this month, I began my second year as a veteran mentor in the Matt Brundage Ingham County Veterans Treatment Court, here in the City of East Lansing. Veterans Treatment Court results from the collaborative effort of the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA), Ingham County, 54-B District Court, the Honorable David L. Jordon, and many local veterans and veterans' organizations. My mentee is an Iraq veteran, a paratrooper, and one of those guys we ground pounders called an . . . well, never mind.

As my mentee and I recently sat quietly in the courtroom awaiting our appearance before Judge Jordon and listening to other cases, I couldn't help but reflect back over the past twelve months and the success stories I've been privileged to observe. Veterans Court was established to assist those men and women who, after having voluntarily given up part of their lives to serve our country, need to overcome adjustment challenges upon their return to civilian life. The veterans who appear at this court are fellow citizens who, unfortunately, upon their return, ran afoul of society's expectations. Some of the infractions are more egregious than others.

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

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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.

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