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Today — 30 September 2023Main stream

Detroit Evening Report: Michigan Supreme Court rules judges must use preferred pronouns

29 September 2023 at 23:22

The Michigan Supreme Court has adopted a new rule that will require judges and court personnel to address people who appear before the court by their preferred pronouns.

The rule, which goes into effect, Jan. 1, 2024, was proposed after a Court of Appeals judge wrote an opinion blasting a defendant’s request to be referred to as “they.” But a Supreme Court majority agreed that using one’s preferred salutation or personal pronouns is a gesture of civility and respect. 

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“In order to be fair and impartial, courts, as the face of the third branch of government, must conduct business in a way that does not give the appearance of misgendering individuals, intentionally or otherwise,” wrote Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Welch in the order. “A primary goal of this change is to ensure that the judiciary operates in a manner that is objectively respectful of the individual identity and personal pronouns of the members of the public that we serve, regardless of the subjective viewpoints of individuals working within the court system.”

Two Republican-nominated justices dissented, saying the new rule is unnecessary and has the judiciary needlessly wading into a social debate. 

“To the extent this Court is merely attempting to ensure that all litigants are treated respectfully, this rule change is entirely unnecessary,” said dissenting Justice Brian Zahra. “Our Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 2(B), provides that ‘a judge should treat every person fairly, with courtesy and respect.’ This is accomplished without the proposed rule.”

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Other headlines for Sept. 29, 2023:

  • UAW President Shawn Fain announced this morning the union will expand its strike against Detroit automakers, affecting an additional 7,000 workers at Ford’s Chicago Assembly and GM’s Lansing Delta Township plants. Fain says new Stellantis sites were not added this week because of advances made at the bargaining table on Friday.
  • Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig has announced he will run for a U.S. Senate seat in Michigan, according to two people familiar with the matter. Craig — who was a leading GOP candidate for governor last year before fraudulent signatures on his paperwork derailed his campaign — will compete as a Republican for a seat that has been held by a Democrat for more than 20 years.
  • Colonel James Grady, a 25-year veteran with Michigan State Police, has been named the new MSP commander. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the promotion on Thursday. He succeeds Colonel Joe Gasper who is retiring. Grady is the third Black officer to serve as commander of the Michigan State Police.
  • Gesher Human Services will host a webinar from 1 to 2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 6 on budgeting, refinance and loan forgiveness for those preparing to resume student loan payments. Those interested can register at For more information email or call 248-233-4299. 
  • Detroit’s third annual Black College Expo is set for 1o a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday at Huntington Place. The free event offers students a chance to interview with more than 50 colleges, get accepted and get scholarships on the spot. There will also be seminars, speakers and prizes. Register at 

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Check-in with the Chief: Berkley Public Safety Director Matt Koehn

29 September 2023 at 23:06

If you call 911 in the city of Berkley, all 31 of their sworn officers are ready for anything. And theyre more than just police officers.

7 Action News checked in with Berkley Department of Public Safety Director Matt Koehn, who worked in Farmington Hills for 31 years and in Berkley for six years.

He shared his department's novel approach to public safety.

All of our officers are certified firefighters, licensed police officers and licensed emergency medical first responders, Koehn said. Its a lot of training, a lot of equipment. All of our cars have medical equipment, police equipment, fire equipment, so we do it all. If you call 911 or a non-emergency number here in Berkley, we come. Its not a separate police or fire department.

Koehn said that also makes for a close community.

The department I came from, we had a good relationship between the police and fire departments but here, we are them. So, I am both the police chief and the fire chief, Koehn said.

Koehn said Berkley is 2.6 square miles and has more the 15,000 residents. Crime is fairly low in the city. One of the biggest issues in the city is parking both in residential areas and at businesses.

Its just a very, very dense community, so thats a good problem to have, Koehn said. We have our larceny from autos, we have some breaking and enterings, we have some armed robberies but really, it is a safe community.

The chief says hes proud of how professional the department is. They recently received an accreditation.

Breaking news here: we were accredited on Wednesday. We had an accreditation hearing that we havent even formally announced yet, Koehn said. Were the 62nd department in the state of Michigan to be accredited out of almost 600 departments.

In addition to upgrading department technology and all of the responsibilities that he has, Koehn is also a father of 10 who was born and raised in the city of Berkley.

Civil fraud trial against Donald Trump set to begin in New York

29 September 2023 at 22:38

Former President Donald Trump is headed to court Monday with a weakened case in a $250 million lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

"Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and to cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us," James said.

In an early indication of Judge Arthur Ergonon's view on the matter, he ruled that Trump submitted fraudulent valuations in order to obtain better loans and insurance terms.

He also named elder sons Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and the Trump Organization as those who inflated the company's net worth.

"This is a pretty catastrophic loss for former President Trump," said former federal prosecutor Andrew Cherkasky.

The ruling sets off a domino effect, immediately canceling all of Trump's business licenses in New York and restricting his ability to conduct business in the state going forward because of his "propensity to engage in persistent fraud."

Cherkasky says the ruling will effectively cause the Trump Organization to be disbanded in New York.

"You can't have these commercial enterprises operating within the state and not have a business entity to be able to engage in that business," Cherkasky said.

The judge listed several properties including Trump's own apartment in New York, 40 Wall Street, Trump Park Avenue, as well as out of state properties like golf courses and the Mar-A-Lago resort, as places where Trump overvalued his assets.

These were not small differences. According to the ruling, the former president claimed Trump Tower was triple the size and inflated its value by between $114 million and $207 million.

In his 35 page order, Ergonon wrote "a discrepancy of this order of magnitude, by a real estate developer sizing up his own living space of decades, can only be considered fraud," and called Trump's actions one of someone in "a fantasy world, not the real world."

SEE MORE: Court rejects Trump's effort to delay trial after fraud ruling

"The real estate that you find within the state of New York, that's going to be the sort of thing that's going to be very difficult for him to retain any control over and it looks like right now, it's going to essentially be liquidated and sold off," Cherkasky said.

Trump's lawyers argued he never committed fraud, and all transactions were profitable.

"That is not a valid legal issue," Cherkasky said. "The legal issue here is whether the business was effectively engaged in fraud in the documents that they were filing. And so it's really without regard for whether there was an injury to the companies that were loaning him money."

Trump's son Eric echoed the argument on social media saying they have run an exceptional company and that the family is being persecuted.

The case Monday will proceed for now onto other smaller issues and with damages yet to be decided. Meanwhile Trump's lawyers are being penalized for their arguments before the judge. He sanctioned each $7,500, to be paid within the month. Trump's team sued unsuccessfully to get Ergonon off the case.

The former president, his eldest sons, former attorney Michael Cohen and former CFO Allen Weisselberg are all on the witness list.

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Baby found abandoned at US-Mexico border amid crisis A shutdown that closes national parks would stop millions in revenue Bail bondsman is first Trump co-defendant to take plea deal in Georgia

Baby found abandoned at US-Mexico border amid crisis

29 September 2023 at 22:26

An officer with U.S. Border Patrol shared an image this week on X, formerly known as Twitter, of a baby said to have been abandoned at the U.S.-Mexico border. In the picture, the baby's face is blurred.

Chief Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez posted the image with the title "Heartbreaking News Alert," writing that the baby, estimated to be 2 months old, had been left behind at the Rio Grande City border area. 

Chavez wrote, "This is a chilling reminder of how children are being exploited by human smugglers & criminal organizations every day."

It wasn't clear if a USBP investigation had confirmed the exact circumstances surrounding why the baby was left behind and not in the care of an adult when agents found the young child. 

SEE MORE: House fails to pass short-term funding bill to keep government open

No further information about the child was released by USBP. 

According to reports, it is believed that the infant is a boy.

According to a September report from UNICEF, children have been migrating through countries in Central and South America, along with the Caribbean, at historically high levels. 

Key migration routes include through the treacherous Darien jungle between the north of Colombia in South America into Panama in Central America. Also, migration has increased in other key areas in Central America and into Mexico which borders the United States. 

Migration has also increased from key locations in the Caribbean region. 

Garry Conille, the Caribbean director for UNICEF's Latin American division said, "Gang violence, instability, poverty and climate-related events are, alarmingly, gripping the region and pushing more children from their homes."

In August, two young siblings were found abandoned in Rio Grande City. They were a 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy, according to the U.S. Border Patrol. 

Conille said, "More and more children are on the move, of an increasingly young age, often alone and from diverse countries of origin, including from as far away as Africa and Asia. When they cross several countries and sometimes the entire region, disease and injury, family separation and abuse may plague their journeys and, even if they make it to their destination, their futures often remain at risk."

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Crime rings from Latin American countries targeting luxury homes in Oakland County, sheriff says

29 September 2023 at 21:52

There have been reports across the country of Latin American crime rings burglarizing homes in California and Connecticut. And now Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said it's believed similar "transnational organized crime groups" from Colombia and Chile have been behind a series of burglaries of luxury homes.

The thieves have been after everything from jewelry and expensive clothing and handbags to gaming systems and cash.

"More and more the conclusion is pretty obvious - these are transnational gangs that are involved in this that come from South America looking to do burglaries and violate our communities, not just in Oakland County, but across America," Bouchard said at a press conference Friday afternoon.

Bouchard said the crime gangs are believed to be responsible for eight to eleven burglaries in Oakland County. And he blamed the presence of the gangs on lax border protections and the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) that criminals take advantage of.

Bouchard urging residents to be alert to suspicious activity in their neighborhoods and be sure their doors are locked and security systems are functioning properly and providing coverage to the second stories of homes.

Click on the video to hear from Sheriff Bouchard.

Yesterday — 29 September 2023Main stream

Bouchard appeals to residents to watch out for crime

29 September 2023 at 21:36

The Oakland County sheriff’s department has issued an appeal to residents to help police find organized and well-trained thieves who have been targeting affluent neighborhoods.

Sheriff Michael Bouchard declined to name any specific communities recently affected and said he didn’t want to compromise an active investigation by sharing too many details. He said he couldn’t announce any arrests related to these types of burglaries.

But Bouchard wants residents to know that these crews of thieves will scout a community to pick targets, often breaking in between 5 and 9 p.m. Affluent neighborhoods most at risk, he said, have backyards adjacent to woods, walking trails or golf courses. The suspects often get in through the back of a home, using a second-floor balcony, walkout basement door or windows or doors.

Between eight and 11 burglaries over the last year appear to be connected and resulted in what he characterized as “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in stolen valuables, such as cash, expensive clothing, purses, jewelry and other costly possessions, including home safes, that are easy to remove during a targeted burglary. Many of these items are sold for 20 or 30 cents on the dollar, then resold at full price in other cities, he said.

He said thieves will move stolen goods by car across the country – and move to another community if they’re at risk of being caught.

In August, four men were arrested after pepper spraying employees at two jewelry stores, smashing displays and fleeing.

4 accused of pepper spraying employees, smashing store display cases and stealing jewelry at 2 Oakland County malls

Homeowners can improve security by keeping doors and windows locked, he said, emphasizing that a garage door opener should not be visible in the front seat if a car is parked in the home’s driveway. It’s surprisingly common, he said, for people to leave their car doors unlocked. Other ways to improve home security, he said, is with better security cameras and by having motion detectors on each floor of a home.


Oakland County Sheriff's cruiser. (Stephen K. Frye/MediaNews Group)

A shutdown that closes national parks would stop millions in revenue

29 September 2023 at 21:26

Every year, national parks across the U.S. boost the economy and attract millions of visitors from near and far, many with plans in place months in advance.

Sometimes it's a bucket list trip, a road trip tradition or a life milestone, or just a visit to experience the beauty of nature.

But the fragile environments preserved and protected by the National Park Service are now in jeopardy of closing, at least temporarily. A potential government shutdown could shutter 425 parks in the U.S., ranging from national monuments to seashores to redwood forests.

The National Parks Conservation Association found that surrounding communities could lose an estimated $70 million in revenue every day national parks are closed in October.

Government contract jobs would come to a screeching halt and roughly 20,000 park employees across the country could be impacted.

"If this looks like past shutdowns, that around 85% of those unfortunately won't be able to report to work," said John Garder, the senior budget director of the National Parks Conservation Association. "They would be worrying about when their next paycheck would be."

As visitor numbers grow over the years, staff and funding for parks has eroded.

current spending bill proposal by the House Appropriations Committee aims to cut $433 million from the National Park Service a move some call reckless.

SEE MORE: Utah, Arizona to cover national parks if government shuts down

Meanwhile, Arizona and Utah announced they will provide state resources and funding to keep their iconic parks open in the event of a shutdown.

And on Friday Colorado announced a plan to keep its four national parks open, directing its state natural resources department and parks and wildlife department to work up a plan for the governor's review.

The plan would help preserve the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue the parks bring in every year from visitors.

"Colorados beautiful national parks belong to the American people and help support our local communities and economy," Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement. "The closure of the national parks and other federal lands would hurt state and local economies, small businesses, and park employees."

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Stellantis spared from more strikes this week, convoy rallies at UAW Solidarity House

29 September 2023 at 21:23

It's business as usual at the Stellantis Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit. The automaker was spared from further picketing this week after UAW president Shawn Fain announced the latest facilities to join the strike.

Friday afternoon, a caravan of Big Three workers in vehicles manufactured by the Big 3 made its way to the UAW Solidarity House on Jefferson.

Fain addressed those UAW members in the parking lot, two hours after announcing no new Stellantis facilities will join the strike this week.

It was relevant news to that group of auto workers as the majority of them are employed at the Toledo Jeep Assembly Complex. It was one of the first three sites to strike.

More than 5,500 employees are at that plant, including Detroiters Brandon Horton and Natasha Sanders who've been getting by on strike pay for two weeks now.

"Hearing them not taking action against Stellantis on further closure of plants or striking plants, that's good news. So, that means we're getting them into position that beneficial for all the employees," Horton told 7 Action News.

Sanders said, "I was really concerned because so far we hadn't really been doing a good job of bargaining or coming to the table. So, I was actually happy to hear that they are making some concessions and they're some movement."

What those concessions are and what that movement looks like, Fain would not elaborate on. However, he said before his scheduled Facebook Live Friday morning, Stellantis managed to meet some metrics the UAW set for the automaker. That appears to be similar to what occurred with Ford last week, but it's been a never-ending tango.

Fain told news media, "Bargaining is always a two-way street. We have been willing to make moves on things. We've made movement on things. We try to accommodate some concerns the companies have but at the end of the day then they seem to move the goal line."

Workers are hoping negotiations with Stellantis don't take a step back.

Auston Gore said, "We didn't choose to do this, the companies chose for us to do it because they didn't want to bargain a fair contract for us at first. If they're making progress that's great. That's what they should do."

Lisa Pickens said, "I think it's a good move forward. I hope it continues to go that way. I hope we don't end up moving backward like Ford ended up doing I see, and we shall see from here."

Another convoy to the UAW Solidarity House is planned for 8 p.m.

Bail bondsman is first Trump co-defendant to take plea deal in Georgia

29 September 2023 at 20:45

A bail bondsman charged alongside former President Donald Trump and 17 others has become the first defendant in the Georgia election interference case to accept a plea deal with prosecutors.

Scott Hall pleaded guilty in court on Friday to five counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with performance of election duties, all misdemeanors. Prosecutors had accused him of participating in a breach of election equipment in rural Coffee County.

He will receive five years of probation and agreed to testify in further proceedings as part of the deal.

Hall is one of the lower-level players in the indictment filed last month alleging a wide-ranging scheme to overturn Democrat Joe Biden's presidential victory and keep Republican Trump in power. But the plea deal nonetheless is a major development in the case and marks a win for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis as she pursues a historic racketeering case against a former president.

SEE MORE: Viewer Spotlight: Why Scripps News hasn't aired the GOP debates

Earlier Friday, a judge rejected a request by former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark to move the Georgia election subversion charges against him from state court to federal court.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones said he was making no ruling on the merits of the charges against Clark, but he concluded that the federal court has no jurisdiction over the case. He said "the outcome of the case will be for a Fulton County judge and trier of fact to ultimately decide."

Jones had earlier rejected a similar request from Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. He is weighing the same question from three Georgia Republicans who falsely certified that then-President Donald Trump won in 2020.

The practical effects of moving to federal court would have been a jury pool that includes a broader area and is potentially more conservative than Fulton County alone, and a trial that would not be photographed or televised, as cameras are not allowed inside federal courtrooms. But it would not have opened the door for Trump, if he's reelected in 2024, or another president to issue pardons because any conviction would still happen under state law.

The indictment says Clark wrote a letter after the election that said the Justice Department had "identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple States, including the State of Georgia" and asked top department officials to sign it and send it to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and state legislative leaders. Clark knew at the time that that statement was false, the indictment alleges.

Clarks attorneys had argued that the actions described in the indictment related directly to his work as a federal official at the Justice Department. Clark at the time was the assistant attorney general overseeing the environment and natural resources division and was the acting assistant attorney general over the civil division.

But the judge said Clark provided no evidence to show that he was acting within the scope of his role in the Justice Department when he wrote a letter in December 2020 claiming the DOJ was investigating voter irregularities. "To the contrary, the evidence before the Court indicates the opposite: Clarks role in the Civil Division did not include any role in the investigation or oversight of State elections," Jones wrote.

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Jameson Williams eligible to return to Lions on Monday after NFL revises gambling policy

29 September 2023 at 20:22

The Detroit Lions are going to get Jameson Williams back from suspension early after the NFL revised the gambling policy.

Williams was suspended for six games for betting on non-NFL games in a club facility in 2022. The suspension was handed down in April. Williams later said he was not aware of the rule.

Williams will be eligible to return to all team activities on Monday, October 2.

In a revision of the rules, players who now bet on non-NFL sports in an NFL facility will be suspended for two games for the first infraction, with the number of games increased for each subsequent infraction.

Betting on an NFL game will earn a player a one-year suspension, while betting on your own team will result in an at least two-year suspension.

Raiders' defensive end Chandler Jones arrested

29 September 2023 at 20:13

Chandler Jones, defensive end for the Las Vegas Raiders, was arrested Friday and charged with violating a domestic violence protective order.

According to court records, Jones posted bail after being booked into the Clark County Detention Center. He is scheduled to make an initial court appearance on Dec. 4. 

Chandler's team addressed the arrest in a statement released on X. 

"The Raiders are hopeful that Chandler Jones receives the care that he needs. He, his family and all those involved are in our thoughts. As this is now a legal matter, we will not be providing further comment," the Raiders said. 

SEE MORE: Raiders' Chandler Jones says he was taken, medicated against his will

Jones has been raising concern due to social media posts over the last couple of weeks. That includes saying he didn't want to play for head coach Josh McDaniels and General Manager Dave Ziegler. Jones also claimed he was put on a court-ordered hold and medicated against his will.

The defensive end has not played this season. Last week, the Raiders placed Jones on the non-football illness list, which requires a player to sit out at least four games. 

Las Vegas will take on their division rival, the Los Angeles Chargers, on Sunday. Both teams are currently 1-2 this season. 

This story was originally reported by Jarah Wright at Scripps News Las Vegas.

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DPW worker alerts Berkley couple to house fire

29 September 2023 at 20:06

A Berkley Department of Public Works employee on the job Thursday ended up spotting a house fire and notifying the couple that lives there.

“The employee noticed heavy smoke coming from the home,” said Berkley Public Safety Fire Marshal Lt. Corey Miller.

The employee called 911 shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday about the fire in the 1600 block of Eaton, two blocks south of Catalpa. The DPW worker, Brian LaPine, was driving down the street when he saw the fire.

“The husband and wife and their two dogs made it out safely,” Miller said. “They had no idea their home was on fire.”

Berkley Public Safety firefighters arrived and found smoke coming from the rear of the house.

Firefighters from Huntington Woods, Oak Park and Beverly Hills aided Berkley firefighters.

Miller said the home is a wood frame house and the cause of the fire is still being investigated.

“We found smoke coming from the rear of the house,” Miller said. “We located the fire coming from a wall of the house, near where there are bedrooms and a bathroom.”

After Berkley ban on retail sales of animals, mayor, council back state ban

The fire spread up through the walls to the attic.

Miller said the couple likely didn’t know of the fire because it was inside the wall and no smoke entered the rooms inside the home before they were alerted.

It is too early to determine whether an electrical problem may have started the blaze. Miller said it is not a suspicious fire.

There is smoke, fire and water damage throughout a large part of the home’s interior, though the fire was extinguished quickly.

Unfortunately for the couple that lives there  the house is not habitable now

“They have family relatives they are going to stay with,” Miller said.

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Berkley city photo of Public Safety fire engine.

After Berkley ban on retail sales of animals, mayor, council back state ban

29 September 2023 at 20:01

Berkley Mayor Bridget Dean says she and fellow city council members support pending state legislation that would ban retail sales of dogs, cats and rabbits.

“We wholeheartedly support it,” Dean said of state House Bill 4838, which is now pending before the Michigan House of Government Operations Committee headed by State Rep. Tullio Liberati (D-Allen Park).

“We are asking Berkley residents and residents across the state to support this bill,” Dean said, “and to reach out to the (House)  committee members and let them know they support it.”

Nearly two weeks ago, Berkley City Council members unanimously approved a new ordinance prohibiting retail pet stores in the city from selling dogs, cats and rabbits.

The city vote came months after people protested against a new Puppygram retail store that opened at 28297 Woodward Ave. in February. 

At the time, pet retail opponents complained that most stores in the industry buy their animals from puppy mills, leading to abuse of dog parents forced to breed excessively under inhumane and unsanitary conditions.

Many residents also called for a ban on retail sales of animals in the city and worked with Molly Tamulevich, the Michigan Director for the Humane Society of the United States, who joined in the protests against Puppygram.

Tamulevich told the Tribune at the time that many residents were upset about Puppygram “because they don’t want their city to host a business that is keeping the puppy-mill-to-pet store pipeline open.”

The city ban passed Sept. 18, however, did not close Puppygram’s doors. 

Puppygram moved in before city officials in September enacted the ban, which is not retroactive.

Berkley officials are now set to begin work on a retail pet store reporting standards measure. The measure would include such things as requiring retail pet stores to have health certificates for each animal, and a record of sale meeting USDA standards.

“We see it as a step forward toward curtailing the retail sales of animals,” Dean said. “If the state sees fit to pass House Bill 4838, that will determine if a retail pet store can operate or if they have to shut down.”

State lawmakers in 2018 sought to pass a measure preventing communities from enacting pet sale bans, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Rick Snyder, who said there should be a standard ban.

In a statement after Berkley’s retail pet ban ordinance, Dean said the measure allows existing pet stores already operating to continue to do so for the duration of their current lease and optional lease extensions.

After hearing from residents and retail pet sale opponents, Berkley officials learned where pet businesses received animals from and that most animals are sourced from large-scale inhumane commercial breeding facilities where the animals’ health and welfare are disregarded to maximize profits, Dean said.

Dean said Friday she has spoken with state representatives on the committee that will help decide the fate of House Bill 4838 to phase out the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits.

The bill was introduced  by State Rep. Penelope Tsernnoglou (D-East Lansing) in June.

Tsernnoglou said in a statement introducing the bill that Michigan is one of the top 10 states for pet store consumer complaints to the Humane Society of the U.S.

The bill mirrors local pet store ordinances in cities such as Ann Arbor, Royal Oak, New Baltimore, Woodhaven, St. Clair Shores and a few other communities.

“Puppygram would be gone from the city if the state says that is not what the law” allows, Dean said.

Puppygram pet sales on Woodward Avenue in Berkley sparked a number of protests when it opened in February. The city recently passed a ban against retail pet stores, but it is not retroactive. (Tribune file photo)

Woman charged with arson pleads down from felony to misdemeanor

29 September 2023 at 19:57

The Oakland County prosecutor’s office has reached a deal with a woman accused of setting a car fire in Waterford Township last spring — putting a lesser charge on the table which she pleaded no contest to less than a week before her scheduled trial.

Bethani Ellout, 35, had been charged with fourth-degree arson, a felony, for the March 19 fire in the driveway of 1076 Scott Lake Rd. Police and fire crews called to the scene found the vehicle’s interior burning, according to the Waterford Police Department. But after prosecutors offered her the chance to plead to fifth-degree arson, a misdemeanor, she took the deal on Sept. 28. The fourth-degree felony charge was then dismissed.

Bethani Ellout booking photo

Fourth-degree arson carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and/or a hefty fine — $10,000 or three times the value of the damaged/destroyed property, whichever is greater. Fifth-degree arson is punishable by up to one year in jail and /or a $2,000 fine, or three times the value of the damage/destroyed property, whichever is greater.

Ellout has been in the Oakland County Jail since March 20, with bond set at $25,000. She’s scheduled to be sentenced by Oakland County Circuit Judge Jeffery Matis on Oct. 26.

The car fire was the second one that happened on Scott Lake Road on March 19. Several hours earlier, at around 4 a.m. that day, police and fire crews had responded to reports of a car fire in another driveway on Scott Lake Road — less than 80 feet from the one Ellout is accused of igniting. Flames from that fire spread to an adjacent, unoccupied church. Both the car and church were destroyed.

Months ago, Waterford Police Lt. Scott Good said that case remained under investigation and no arrests had been made. The Oakland Press reached out to Good and Police Chief Scott Underwood on Friday afternoon but hasn’t heard back yet.

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Oakland County Circuit Court (Aileen Wingblad/MediaNews Group)

Metro Detroit garbage truck driver goes out of his way to surprise 5-year-old admirer

29 September 2023 at 19:40

Dominic Hodder, 5, from Van Buren Township spent every Friday morning over the summer waiting for the garbage truck.

And then school got in the way.

His mom Nicole Hodder told us: "He was really bummed because every Friday morning he gets up and he waits for the garbage truck whether he watches in the window or on the front porch."

Dominic even asked his mom to record the truck for him, but he didn't need to worry too much, because it turns out the driver of his favorite truck noticed him every summer Friday morning, too.

"The whole summer I see him running out, hell usually be in the window," said Waste Management truck driver Tyrell Stanley.

Stanley said when he didn't see his friend peaking out one morning, he did the math and realized school must have started.

"I came back around 5 o'clock, I knew he was out of school by then," said Stanley. "Then when I was pulling up the street, I see him running out!"

"Later that day my husband and I were in the living room and we had seen a garbage truck come down the street and I was like, Oh we gotta get Dom, hes gonna be so excited to see the garbage truck! And as we were walking outside, the gentleman was walking up our driveway with a gift for Dominic," said Hodder.

The gift? Dominic's own Waste Management vest.

"Hed already done the route for the day, he came after 5 o'clock just to do this for Dominic," said Hodder. "It just warmed our hearts that he went the extra mile."

The Friday morning that we did the interviews, Dominic watched Tyrell in wonderment as he got to learn all about how his favorite truck and job works.

It was a day this young boy will likely remember for a lifetime, all because this man went the extra mile.

"Thank you!" said Dominic.

Taylor Swift boosts NFL ticket prices for Chiefs vs. Jets by over 40%

29 September 2023 at 19:36

Dear Travis Kelce, look what you made the Swifties do!

The NFL was popular before, but the Taylor Swift and the All-Pro tight end romance rumors have attracted millions of new fans. 

Swifties are rushing to buy tickets, hoping to catch a glimpse of the rumored couple at the games, after news of Swift possibly attending Sunday's game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

On Friday, ticket prices for the game surged over 40%, leaping from $83 to $119,  according to TickPick, an online marketplace.

But the Swift Effect doesn't stop there. 

Swift's attendance at the game last Sunday was a resounding success for the NFL. 

Fox Sports revealed that the matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Bears drew 24.3 million viewers with her attendance. 

Kelce's jersey sales skyrocketed, experiencing an astonishing nearly 400% increase on Monday, according to Fanatics.

Theres no shaking off the Swift-Kelce fever. 

Sure, Kelce is a Super Bowl champ, but he's definitely way more popular now. In just the past week, he has amassed over 500,000 new Instagram followers, surpassing the number he gained after winning the Super Bowl earlier this year. He also gained 570,000 followers on TikTok and 25,000 on X . Overall, he has gained 1.3 million new followers on all his socials in a week.

While the numbers are hot, we need to clarify that neither Swift nor Kelce have publicly confirmed their relationship status. 

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Are government shutdowns the new normal?

29 September 2023 at 19:15

As the clock ticks down on yet another government shutdown, experts say it's a trend that will likely continue in these hyper-polarizing political times.

There have been 20 government shutdowns since 1976, and should lawmakers fail to reach a deal this time around, four shutdowns will have occurred in the last decade alone. And while government shutdowns nearly always end with lawmakers coming to some type of an agreement around appropriations bills, it's the collective trend that could end up costing Americans.

SEE MORE: What's the cost of a government shutdown?

Earlier this week, Moody's investor service the last remaining major credit grader that has given the U.S. a top rating said that a government shutdown could negatively impact the U.S. economy and credit score. According to a Moody's note reported by Bloomberg and Reuters, analysts warned that "a government shutdown would demonstrate the significant constraints that intensifying political polarization continue to put on U.S. fiscal policymaking during a period of declining fiscal strength, driven by persistent fiscal deficits and deteriorating debt affordability." 

The brinkmanship regarding the debt ceiling earlier this year fueled by partisan gridlock factored into credit rater Fitch's decision to downgrade the U.S. economy. 

"The repeated debt-limit political standoffs and last-minute resolutions have eroded confidence in fiscal management," Fitch said at the time. 

SEE MORE: These are the services that would be impacted by a government shutdown

Recent government shutdowns have flattened the U.S. indices, stunting market growth and injecting more economic uncertainty for Main Street, says John Sonsalla, a senior vice president at Washington Analysis.

"Markets and Main Street love predictability," he told Scripps News. "And there's nothing more unpredictable in Washington than a government shutdown. Americans overwhelmingly are concerned about the gridlock's impact on the nation."

According to a recent Pew Research survey, 62% of Democrats and 63% of Republicans said the two parties' inability to work together is a very big problem for the country.

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